2007 was an unbelievable year for local music in Seattle and has made this an incredibly difficult task, thus a best of 2007 list coming out a few weeks in to 2008. I hope it was worth the wait for you guys and I hope you’ll find a new favorite album or act. Also, this list consists of only local full-length releases as I did a seperate post on my favorite EP’s of 2007. It’s especially exciting that a number of my favorite local releases of 2007 were debut albums, almost half of them in fact, and that means a lot of follow-ups to look forward to in 2008. As you can see, my indecisiveness and the plethora of phenomenal albums, has led this to being my top 12 Local Releases, I couldn’t shave it down to just ten.
12. Laura Veirs – Saltbreakers
Laura Veirs‘ Saltbreakers is a quintessential Seattle album. The language and the mood puts you deep in some damp cedar forest, so evocative you can almost smell the rain through the trees. Long a favorite of local smarty-pants wordsmiths, Colin Meloy and Ben Gibbard, Veirs has claimed her spot as one of the Pacific Northwest premiere song-writers. My favorite tracks off the album include the liltingly lovely “Drink Deep” and the plucky “Cast a Hook.”
11. Das Llamas - World War
Das Llamas debut album, World War is one of the hardest hitting albums of 2007 – filled with riffs that don’t stop and a frantic edge to the whole recording. There’s a jangly roughness to Das Llamas, that reminds me of the drive and passion of early Modest Mouse records. Lead singer’s Kerry Zettel vocals are self-assured in its uniqueness and I think he’s a great rock vocalist, also in the vein of the unconventional Isaac Brock. Clocking in at just over half an hour, I always wish there were just a few more songs for me to enjoy. Especially since the album ends on such a high note, with the building rock crescendo that is “The Wedding Song.”
10. J. Tillman – Cancer and Delirium
The one good thing about this list being delayed, is that I actually discovered one of my favorite albums of 2007, in 2008. Even after just a few listens, I can say without any doubt that local folk guru, J. Tillman’s Cancer and Delirium is one of the great albums of 07. If I’d had the album all year, I am certain it would be much higher on the list, because Tillman’s voice (both physical and metaphorically) has a clarity rarely heard today.
9. A Gun That Shoots Knives - Miracle
Nineteen catchy, clever songs? Now that is an album! With topics as varied as Robot Spiders, the United States Postal Service, and Literacy, Miracle is certainly one of the most eccentric albums of 2007 and definitely the most fun. A Gun That Shoots Knives is also the most heavily represented band on my Best of Lists… the band has released a Best Local Full Length of 2007, a Best EP of 2007, and played a number of my Favorite Concerts of 2007. What can I say, there’s nothing I don’t love about AGTSK.
8. Solvents - Manresa Castle
It may seem strange, but I love music that breaks my heart, music that makes me weep. And the gut-wrenching release, Manresa Castle by Port Townsend’s Solvents does just that, on nearly every listen. There is an achieness to the album that I love, which I see as very similar to two of my favorite albums of all time – Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over The Sea and Dirty Three’s Ocean Songs. The bare bones delivery, of an acoustic guitar, some sparse drums and ghostly strings lays the pain-stakingly honest lyrics in the open for you to share in their woe. It may make me a sad bastard, but its albums like these that last for me… I’ll be listening to Manresa Castle years down the road.
7. Ms. Led - Shake Yourself Awake
Ms. Led offers one of the most interesting and pleasing mixes of influences and sounds the Seattle scene has to offer. Shake Yourself Awake is an album filled with pure punk, exemplary power pop, and 60′s girl group sensibilities and harmonies. Lesli Wood, lead singer and song-writer of Ms. Led is force to be reckoned with – a powerfully dynamic performer on stage and a thoughtful and clever lyricist. The album’s firs track, “A New Agenda” is the most compelling protest song written about life in the Bush era. Impressively, the album keeps the momentum started with such a great track, featuring one stand-out song after another. This summer was all about driving with my windows rolled down, blasting Shake Yourself Awake, and shamelessly singing along.
6. Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies - I’m Gonna Live The Life I Sing About in my Songs
A lot of the bands that I adore would likely have fared better in another era, most often the 70′s or late 60′s. But Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies are of another era entirely, 50′s heart-throbs singing jilted love songs and old standards on Seattle stages in 2007. Shane Tutmarc, has spent the greater part of the last decade proving himself to be one of Seattle’s most talented song-writers crafting album after album of near perfect pop songs for Dolour. With The Mercies as his latest vessel, Shane’s continuing to write one stellar song after another; the band already has another full album recorded in ’07 to be released in early 2008. Until the new release, relish in the debut and songs like “Pressure, Pressure” and the Lennon-esque title track, “I’m Gonna Live The Life I Sing About in My Songs.”
5. Siberian - With Me
Who’d a thunk…. a great Brit Pop record, recorded and written in Seattle?!? That’s just what Siberian did with their 2007 debut, With Me. I’m a sucker and a sap for a good love song, and With Me is filled to the brim with them. I’m just waiting for one of the tracks (put it on shuffle and pick one, seriously) to be picked up and put in some climactic spot in a hit TV drama… I’m vying for Seattle-based Grey’s Anatomy. Whatever the romantic dilemma or pleasure, Siberian has a song for it. My favorite song of the album and one of my favorite songs of 2007, is “Paper Birds” which starts with a line that slays me in it’s simple perfection. It’s a why had nobody every written that line before? (ahem, Lennon/McCartney?? c’mon guys!) The line? “If I’m just an old flame, don’t turn me on, don’t turn me on.” Maybe it’s just me, but I think that’s pure pop/love song genius.
4. Iceage Cobra - Brilliant Ideas from Amazing People
If I was making a 2007 time capsule and I could only include one album, Iceage Cobra’s Brilliant Ideas from Amazing People, would be it. The material on this album were the first songs I heard in 2007 – as Cobra played the New Years Eve Party I attended, taking the stage just after the stroke of midnight. A very good way to start the new year indeed! After that I went to every Iceage Cobra show I could and the album, released in early 2007, went on permanent heavy rotation at my house. I’m sure my neighbors know all the words and riffs, I’ve played it so frequently and loudly. Songs like “Tornado of Knives,” “Dance Floor on Fire,” “Acid Pony,” hell most of the album – are classics in my mind. While unfortunately the original trio that created this brilliant album won’t exist beyond 2007, their songs will stand the test of time.
3. The Cave Singers - Invitation Songs
I love a band that doesn’t easily fit into a mold, who’s sound and style is difficult to describe. The Cave Singers created their own sound and genre with their release Invitation Songs, heralding in the era of spooky folk music in Seattle. Peter Quirk’s voice is an instrument of it’s own to be reckoned with, at once eerie, guttural and pleasingly soulful. I also think the band should be sainted for bringing back the wash-board as a clutch part of a rhythm section. There isn’t a mediocre song on the album and a few of the stand-outs, “New Monuments” and “Dancing on Our Graves” are astounding.
2 The Whore Moans – Watch Out for This Thing
I wish I could say it was love at first listen with The Whore Moans, but it wasn’t. Rather, the band and their album have been the most rewarding acquired taste of 2007. It seems I like the album more with every listen and The Whore Moans have basically started improving on perfection with their live performances. Whatever the most recent Whore Moans show was, that was The Best Whore Moans Show, EVER. Because this band is only getting bigger and better. Another debut, the album is filled with worthy punk anthems such as”X-Ray Eyes,” “Beware, The WolfSpider,” and “Power of Pride.”
1. The Lonely H – Hair
The Lonely H were my best local music discovery of 2007. They boys astounded me upon introduction and have continued to do so with every performance and every listen of Hair. While there have been lots of albums filled with solid songs this year, Hair is filled with instant classics. I believe in my heart of hearts if this album was released circa 1970 (+/- 5 years), songs like “Don’t You Know,” “The Meal,” “For Barbara,” “Hair,” etc… would have provided The Lonely H with a string of top ten and number one hits. We would be mentioning The Lonely H in the same breath as the greats – Queen, Zeppelin… As it were, these Island boys took 2007 by storm – winning over one audience at a time with their infectious performance and throw-back hits.