The “Best” Albums of Two-Thousand Seven – TWO LISTS!

ONE TAKE:

Peter McVeeder writes:

Each and every year, I find myself thinking how interesting it is when December rolls around. The year winds down to a culmination of holiday parties, folks who you’ve seen every day or not for a handful of years… more food sitting before you at a table than you have consumed in a fortnight, to which you always eat more than you should have… and the need to encapsulate the finest of the year’s mainstream arts in a barrage of ‘Best of’ lists. You hear questions like: “Ooh, which movie is going to win the Oscar?” “Who do you think is the Best Actor?” and “Do you think Rolling Stone is going to play it really safe with their Album of the Year choice, and that Pitchfork is going to proclaim an uber-cool indie band you’ve never heard of as their #1?” The thing I have come to realize is that there really isn’t a “best album of the year.” It’s subjective and completely opinionated — and I love it. Who did they pick? Do I agree? Have I ever heard of this band? You really picked them? As a music lover and admitted audiophile, I find myself drawn to these lists, looking forward to them, thinking about my own for weeks before I share it. The discourse is important, and it excites me to participate in it.

So without further ado, I present you with the “best” albums of two-thousand seven (Key Tracks from each album are indicated in concluding parentheses):

1. Radiohead, In Rainbows. In full disclosure, I believe that Radiohead is the best band to have emerged during my lifetime. That being said, when I heard they were releasing their long-awaited follow-up to Hail to the Thief on their own, sans label, and it would be out in ten days, available by download, for whatever you wanted to pay for it, I grinned like a school girl and thought, ‘But of course you are, and why wouldn’t you be? You’re Radiohead. You can do anything you want.’ And when I downloaded it at approximately 11:45pm on October 9th, I discovered just how beautiful and haunting and seducing and rock-n-rollin’ it was. And I find it amazing. (Bodysnatchers, Nude, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Reckoner, Jigsaw Falling Into Place, Videotape. Also check out ‘Last Flowers To The Hospital’ and ‘Up On The Ladder’ from CD2, a bonus for those of us who shelled out forty pounds for the discbox. A pretty penny, yes, but the album on 2LP sounds so good that it’ll make your dick tingle, or perhaps your left nipple.) There have been three albums that have stood out in my head for the past month as the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best albums of the year for a month now. The problem is that their order fluctuates at least every day, if not multiple times a day, so as of Jan 2nd 6:07pm PST, they are:
2. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. I knew Spoon was good, but damn, they’re really this good. Front to back, it’s a solid, wonderfully textured album, and it is immediately likeable. (Don’t Make Me A Target, The Ghost Of You Lingers, Don’t You Evah)
3. The National, Boxer. My brother turned me onto these guys after he saw them in Milwaukee. The lead vocals remind me of Crash Test Dummies; it’s deep with a tinge of emotional truth. Along with Ga x5, it is full of piano-splashed, awesome rock songs which get under your skin. (Mistaken for Strangers, Brainy, Guest Room, Santa Clara)
4. Band of Horses, Cease to Begin (Is There a Ghost, No One’s Gonna Love You, The General Specific)
5. Consequence, Don’t Quit Your Day Job. Best hip-hop album of the year. Hip-hop gets a bum rap in the era of commercialized gangsta rap, with the “skeeting” of the dirty souf and the bling, bitches, and Benzes. Oh Consequence raps about that too, but with Kanye producing multiple tracks, flows about life’s dramas and dreams, and top lyrical creativity (my personal favorite is “Good morning America / And good morning to Erica / Who gave me good head while watching Good Morning America”), I haven’t stopped listening to this album since I got it in the spring. (Don’t Forget Em, Uptown, Callin’ Me, Uncle Rahiem)
6. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible. I got their first album Funeral in 2004 and listened to it religiously (and I guess I still do), so I had high hopes for this album. Although not as groundbreaking/seminal as its predecessor, it is an eclectically-full, epic and layered album. Keep it real, Win Butler, you’re a modern-day Springsteen. (Keep The Car Running, The Well And The Lighthouse, Antichrist Television Blues)
7. Little Brother, Getback. The Heez declared ‘Good Clothes’ to be the Halloween Weekend Song, and that was it. Poignant, political, storytellin’ and smooth. (Sirens, Good Clothes. Also check out their mixtape And Justus For All by Mick Boogie.)
8. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black. Sure, she’s a trainwreck, her break-out single ‘Rehab’ chronicling this fact, but somehow the soul of Aretha found its way into the pipes of this 23-year-old from the UK, and you couldn’t deny it. Mark Ronson gets snaps for the retro production and capturing an era of yesteryear. I can’t wait to see how long she remains relevant in the public eye and what she sings next. (You Know I’m No Good, Back to Black, Addicted. Also check out the song ‘Fuck Me Pumps’ from her reissued first album, Frank.)
9. Lupe Fiasco, The Cool. On the heels of last year’s Food & Liquor, Lupe delivers another solid, creative hip-hop album. (Superstar, Paris Tokyo, Hip-Hop Saved My Life)
10. Bruce Springsteen, Magic. The Boss rocks like we all know he could/can. This album has the timeless Bruce Springsteen sound, and some of its songs rank among the best in his catalog. (Radio Nowhere, Girls In Their Summer Clothes, Devil’s Arcade)
11. The Shins, Wincing the Night Away. I fucking love this album. It was so great to hear this band’s evolution in such songs as ‘Sleeping Lessons’ (one of my favorites of the year) and ‘Sea Legs’. (Sleeping Lessons, Australia, Sea Legs)
12. Kayne West, Graduation. An undeniably great hip-hop album, but his flows were stronger on Late Registration. My only beef with Graduation is that for as much shit as Kanye talks, I wish he could rap as well as he produces beats. (Stronger, I Wonder, Flashing Lights)
13. Okkervil River, The Stage Names (Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe, Unless It’s Kicks, Savannah Smiles)
*14. The Debut, This Record Is About Cars (Whisper, The Photograph Song, Calm Objective Opinion, Defense Wins Championships, Castawayz)
15. Feist, The Reminder
(I Feel It All, My Moon My Man)
16. Wilco, Sky Blue Sky (Either Way, Impossible Germany, Walken)
17. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver (Someone Great, All My Friends, Us V Them)
18. Jay-Z, American Gangster (Pray, No Hook, Roc Boys)
19. Ryan Adams, Easy Tiger (Two, Halloweenhead, Pearls On A String, I Taught Myself How To Grow Old)
20. M.I.A., Kala (Boyz, XR2, Paper Planes)

The following are the next ten best albums (21-30). I ranked them, but it’s not important. Just know that they’re all pretty solid, too, in alphabetical order:
*The Alarmists, The Ghost and the Hired Gun (Light a Smoke, Walking Away)
Arctic Monkeys, Favourite Worst Nightmare (Brainstorm, Old Yellow Bricks, 505)
Bloc Party, A Weekend in the City (Hunting for Witches, Uniform. Also check out their new single, ‘Flux.’)
**Daft Punk, Alive 2007
*Foreign Born, On the Wing Now
(Into Your Dream, It Wasn’t Said To Ask)
Interpol, Our Love to Admire (The Heinrich Maneuver, Mammoth, Rest My Chemistry)
Mark Ronson, Version (Valerie, Apply Some Pressure)
NIN, Year Zero (The Beginning of the End, The Good Soldier, Capital G)
Peter Bjorn and John, Writer’s Block (Object Of My Affection, Young Folks, Up Against The Wall)
Simian Mobile Disco, Attack Decay Sustain Release (Sleep Deprivation, Hustler, I Believe)

Honorable Mentions:
Broken Social Scene, Kevin Drew’s Spirit If…
Silverchair, Young Modern
David Vandervelde, The Moonstation House Band
Low, Drums and Guns
Panda Bear, Person Pitch

Worst Album of the Year: Battles, Mirrored. A fucking horrible mess.

*Support your local indie music scene (The Debut and The Alarmists from Minneapolis, Foreign Born from LA). These guys all kick ass, buy their albums.

**I would have placed Daft Punk much higher on the list, as the album itself is amazing, but given the fact that it is basically a remixed and re-edited, greatest-hits live show, it was noted but not ranked. But go get it anyway, “Around the World / Harder Better Faster Stronger” is dope.

ANOTHER TAKE:

GrindHustle writes:

What a big year for music. So much great music came out that cutting down the list was incredibly tough, and a number of great records didn’t make the list. Oh well. These records did. Cheers!

1. The National – Boxer
2.
Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
3. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
4. Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals
5. Cloud Cult – The Meaning of 8
6. Blitzen Trapper – Wild Mountain Nation
7. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
8. M.I.A. – Kala
9. Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger
10. Lupe Fiasco – Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool
11. Okkervil River – The Stage Names
12. Dr. Dog – We All Belong
13. Little Brother – Get Back
14. Radiohead – In Rainbows
15. Explosions In The Sky – All of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
16. Daft Punk – Alive 2007
17. Rilo Kiley – Under The Blacklight
18. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
19. Kanye West – Graduation
20. Handsome Furs – Plague Park
21. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81
22. A Band of Bees – Octopus
23. Thurston Moore – Trees Outside the Academy
24. Working For A Nuclear Free City – Businessmen & Ghosts
25. Rich Boy – Rich Boy / Lil Wayne – The Leak EP (tie)

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