(Disclaimers): I don’t own the Panda Bear, M.I.A, or LCD Soundsystem records, so I guarantee you those are not my top three albums of 2007. Hopefully that means this list will read a little different than most ”Best Albums of 2007″ currently on the inter-webs. Also, for the sake of new content and all the fabulous albums released this year, I decided not to include Elvis Perkins in Dearland’s Ash Wednesday in the Best Albums of 2007. While the album was officially released this year, I fell in love with it in 2006 and it topped last years annual lists. This list covers albums recorded and released outside of Seattle, my local list of Best Albums will be coming to you soon. I can never just decide on 10 albums, so this list, like the world’s loudest amp… goes all the way to eleven!
Abbey’s Best Albums of 2007 – National Releases
11. Fionn Regan – The End of History
Amidst all the rock, I am a shameless sucker for a great folk album. Fionn Regan’s The End of History suited me perfectly this year, as it is at once plucky and melancholy. I may have heard this album more than any other this year, because it was deemed day-job friendly. This album was my pleasant background noise for much of the year and my momentary lyrical escape from the daily grind.
10. Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future
Even the saddest of sad bastards needs a great dance album to keep them company, and this quirky album is mine. I feel like this should be a guilty pleasure, but it’s not… it’s just damn good. (Even if my favorite song somehow uses and rhymes “Lady Diana and Mother Theresa” in a chorus.) The Klaxons translates amazingly well live too, the boys are filling the bigger venues of the UK and Europe, while playing venues like Chop Suey and The Crocodile (r.i.p) stateside. If you have the chance to see them live, do. And when you see them, for gods sake Seattle, dance!
9. The White Stripes – Icky Thump
Part of me just wants to say, it’s Jack White doing what he does best – writing White Stripes songs; and leave it at that. But that’s not giving Icky Thump the credit that it’s due. There are some great straight up old White Stripes songs on the album like “300 M.P.H. Outpour Blues,” but I also love the songs that seem to be taking the band in a new direction. “Conquest” is epic and theatrical, and I’m certain it will end up in some Quentin Tarantino film down the road. While “Little Cream Soda” has Jack White channeling a bluesy maniacal ee cummings.
8. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
It’s not Funeral, but it is a damn fine album. Win Butler’s voice is sounding better than ever, he seems to have somehow packed even more pained emotion into his vocals on the album. While Funeral was an album of personal tragedy, Neon Bible focuses it’s lens on the greater tragedies we are all facing. The images painted in this album are as frightening as they are completely apt. (Antichrist Television Blues) is easily the best Bruce Springsteen tune that the Boss never wrote. When we saw The Arcade Fire this year, Win dedicated the song to Jerry Falwell, and it was bitter perfection.
7. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Andrew Bird astonishes me. So clever (“something apropos, i don’t know…”), singing songs about cell division as a metaphor for lust and love, composing upbeat songs and then slaying you with heartbreaking lyrics. As you’ve seen his song Heretics was hands down my favorite of the year, largely for doing the later so well. A hundred listens and I still discover some new layer I’d never noticed, he is the master of complex pop-songs. (which is not as oxymoronic as it might seem.) Add it all up, plus he is a freakishly talented whistler, and you have one of the most unique artists making music today.
6. Bowerbirds - Hymn for a Dark Horse
When I first discovered Bowerbirds (thank you john darnielle), I listened to nothing else for weeks. This entailed streaming 6 songs from the bands website, continuously – as the album had yet to be released. I love an album that establishes it’s own sound and language and Hymn for a Dark Horse, does so richly. With lush three part harmonies and a lyrical ease, Bowerbirds released one of the most simply pleasing albums of 2007.
5. Figurines – When the Deer Wore Blue
In a year where Brian Wilson-esque pop was lauded (Panda Bear, anyone?) it was Denmark’s Figurines who made my favorite psychedelic pop album of 2007. When The Deer Wore Blue is filled with one catchy song after the next, with stand-outs including “Good Old Friends” and “The Air We Breathe” – a Beach Boys pop and Arcade Fire choir epic and my #2 song of 2007. The Figurines are also the only band who has made my back to back best of year lists (their 2006 release Skeleton clocked in at #8 last year), here’s to hoping 2008 brings a three-peat from my favorite Danes.
4. Menomena – Friend and Foe
Menomena sounds like no one else making music today. Or for that matter, anyone else I’ve ever heard. It is the rarest of pleasures to find a band that defies easy explanation or comparison, but Menomena’s been happily stumping me all year. To me, Friend and Foe, listens like an off-kilter rock opera. Despite being a trio, Menomena’s songs are lavishly orchestrated with a symphonic cacophony of unexpected sounds and plenty of melodrama in the lyrics.
3. Radiohead – In Rainbows
Very few things in life are worth a four year wait… In Rainbows is one of those rarest things. I am still having an internal debate as to whether In Rainbows is the best Radiohead album ever. Songs like “Reckoner” and “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” make a pretty compelling argument. I love that In Rainbows seems to take a little bit from each of the bands previous albums and expand upon what worked best, as well as exploring new sounds. I’m hoping Radiohead finds their way out West, if they do it’s certain you’ll see that show at the top of next years lists.
2. Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
Very few albums have ever enchanted me the way that Beirut’s Flying Clup Cup does. I imagine I’ll be just as taken with this record twenty years from now as I am today. I have compared it to just about my favorite record of all time, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over the Sea. (A pleasure which no other album has ever had.) Flying Club Cup has a cohesive sound and mood that I love to get lost in, just as Aeroplane does. I can’t wait to hear what Zach Condon conjures up next.
1. The National – The Boxer
Yes, my favorite national release is from The National. Funny how things work out this way. This is by far my most listened to album of the year and my most beloved. The National have crafted their own sound and language over the course of their career and it’s so wonderful to see them reach critical acclaim with an album that stays completely true to it. Matt Beringer’s voice sounds better to me than just about anyone else in music today.