Monday, December 17, 2007

2007: A Year in Albums - Paul Bost

It seems like as the years go by, the album becomes less and less relevant. I mean, I still buy a lot of albums but it seems that I rarely listen to them in their entirety. There are exceptions, though, like when I'm driving cross country and I can't stand one more hour of Jim Rome. It's then that I remember that the album's a legitimate artistic form, like a triptych for painters or a pieta for sculptors. Yeah, this sounds like gobbledlygook, but the point is this: there's still something to be said for the album and the merits of full and repeated listening.

That said, I think the best of these albums have great stand alone tracks and a cohesive quality that sets them apart. Also, if there was anything that I paid attention to this year more than any other year, it was vocals. I like Archers of Loaf and Dinosaur Jr. as much as the next guy (unless the next guy's wearing Doc Martens and an SST t-shirt), but vocals should be more than an afterthought; just like a great melody can save shitty lyrics, a great voice can salvage an otherwise unremarkable song.

Lastly, as if you care, there are some older artists that have been getting much more airplay in my house than the following artists, but they didn't put out albums this year (that I know of, at least). Still, I'd feel remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed the music of Bad Brains, The Left Banke, Tony Allen and Afrika 70, and Linda Ronstadt.

Enough w/ the preamble . . .

Top 20 Albums of 2007

1) Deerhoof – Friend Opportunity
2) The New Pornographers – Challengers (their serious record) w/ extras ordered from Matador (unreleased tracks and demos, the Christmas e.p., and a yet to be uploaded live concert)
3) Cass McCombs – Dropping the Writ
4) Gonzales – Solo Piano
5) Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (comeback player of the year)
6) Panda Bear – Person Pitch/Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
7) Brad Laner – Neighbor Singing
8) The Clientele – God Save the Clientele
9) The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
10) Grinderman – Grinderman (album opener of the year)
11) White Williams – Smoke (funniest sounds of the year)
12) Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
13) Sloan – Never Hear the End of It
14) Bill Callahan – Woke on a Whaleheart (song of the year: Sycamores)
15) The Shins – Wincing the Night Away (great first half of the record but loses steam after "Red Rabbits")
16) Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (the Satanic Panic in the Attic era was far too short)
17) The Rosebuds – Night of the Furies
18) Dr. Dog - We All Belong and Takers and Leavers
19) Citay – Little Kingdom

Good Listens
The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse
Blonde Redhead - 23 (sounds good, but also like they're treading water)
Celebration – The Modern Tribe (talk about vocals elevating a song - holy guacamole!)
Dungen – Tio Bitar
Enon - Grass Geysers . . . Carbon Clouds
Field Music – Tones of Town
Future of the Left – Curses (best lyrics of any album this year)
Joan as Police Woman – Real Life
Les Breastfeeders – Les Matins de Grand Soirs (I bought the Hives album but I like this Hives album more)
M.I.A. - Kala
Michio Kurihara – Sunset Notes
No Age – Weirdo Rippers (aah, memories . . . to some of us, The Smell is known less for No Age and more for Extreme Elvis)
Pissed Jeans – Hope for Men
Santa Maria – Santa Maria (Michelle McMahon: check this out if you haven't already; I think there's a Concretes connection there)
Sissy Wish – Beauties Never Die
Slow Six – Nor’easter
St. Vincent – Marry Me
White Stripes – Icky Thump

I still haven't picked up the following albums, so these are officially on my Xmas list:

Wilco – Sky Blue Sky (the fact that I've heard this, like it, and love the band makes not having this record a crime)
The Fiery Furnaces – Widow City (this sounds pretty similar to E.P., which is the only thing I've ever really liked by them)
Meg Baird – Dear Companion
Boris and Michio Kurihara - Rainbow
The Good, The Bad, and The Queen (w/ my new found love for Tony Allen, perhaps the best supergroup lineup ever)
LCD Soundsystem - Sounds of Silver


paul said...

Oh cool, it's nice to see the Sissy Wish album get a bit of love.

Thom said...

Paul -- Good stuff. The Deerhoof and C. McCombs albums will probably be in similar spots on my list. Am not feeling the new New Pornos, though. I'm surprised to see the Arcade Fire up in this piece. Thought you had some kind of problem with them. Also, I agree with your Shins comment.

It is getting harder to find the time to listen to full albums -- and to be able to do so when you can really pay attention to them. Not having a CD player in the car doesn't help.

katiejo said...

feeling somewhat out of the music loop this year, i am surprised at the number of albums on your list that i have actually listened to. i love that panda bear album, and agree with you about the shins album. also, i have been wanting to get the new pornographers album, so your number 2 placement is a confirming sign to me. i can't say the of montreal album really stands as a whole but there are a few great songs on it. great list overall...good guidance for future listening.

Paul said...

The New P's record has grown on me exponentially since my first listen. Lyrically, it's their best record yet, and Carl Newman continues to be one of my favorite writers of melodies.

"Neon Bible" was a shock to me, as well. Although I think "Funeral" has some great moments, it's always struck me as the aural equivalent of a Max Fischer play. "Neon Bible" is still pretty ambitious, but its not nearly as precocious or U2-ish. Also, "Ocean of Noise" is simply one of the most beautiful songs of the year.

Another thing: contrary to appearances, I did listen to some hip hop and, for lack of a better word, electronic(a) this year, but no albums really struck me from those particular camps.

thom said...

Also, I don't think I've heard of Brad Laner. Great album title. I will check it out.

Sheila said...

I think you'll really dig the Brad Laner record. It reminds me of Caribou, although I've only heard bits and pieces of Andorra (still waiting to find that one used).

Paul B. said...

Oops. "Sheila" is me. I must not have logged out of Second Life. Hey!

Ricky said...

I'll have to listen to "Neon Bible." Bought it during the release week but have yet to press play. I'm curious to hear that "Ocean of Noise" track now.

I enjoyed the Gonzales album as well. Bought the album after you turned me onto his remix of Jamie Lidell's "Multiply." One of my regrets this past summer was not going to the Getty Center to hear Jamie Lidell play a concert - probably would've been great.

katiejo said...

i wondered if your mom was posting on this blog, and surprised that she would say "dig" and be so well versed in brad laner and caribou. i thought maybe she was taking an active approach to be more a part of your life or to stay in touch with her clients. :)