Dec 8, 2007

Best Of 2007

Benjamin Evans - Adorno Concerto (2007)

When makes an album "best" of the year? What does it mean to call Radiohead's new album the best... that it's the most intriguing electronic-influenced rock album crafted in rural England with an unlimited budget and press coverage? Do the best albums have the best promise, the best musicianship, the best passion? Do they make the best statement with the best ideas? Do they swell and crash the best? Do they best reinvent lost traditions or invent new ones? Do they make the most impact? Do they best remind you of your best times? Do they best culminate a body of work or best take a new direction? I cannot decide. Albums are best for different reasons. And therefore my Best-Of-List is always more complicated. This year I've settled on outlining my ten best reasons for excitement about 2007 music as demonstrated through some of my favourite albums of 2007.

1) Strongly Vulnerable New Folk:
Subtle new voices that sound classic yet fresh; potential that excites hope when looking forward.

Meg Baird - Dear Companion
Chris Garneau - Music for Tourists
Mirah and Spectratone International - Share This Place
Christine Fellows - Nevertheless
St. Vincent - Marry Me

Meg Baird - Do What You Gotta Do (mp3)

2) The "Will Oldham" Factor:
Oldham asserted his broad relevance this year by dropping names like Matthew Barney, Bjork, Meg Baird, R. Kelly, and even Zach Galifianakis; but more importantly retaining a clearly unique sound that strongly influences new artists.

Bonnie Prince Billy - Ask Forgiveness
TD Reistert - To Sleep the Sleep EP
Phosphorecent - Pride
Sam Amidon - But This Chiken Proved Falsehearted
Valgeir Sigurðsson - Ekvilibrium
Magnolia Electric Co - Sojourner Box (I realize this is the "Jason Molina" factor, but it just seemed to belong in this grouping)

Sam Amidon - Tribulation (mp3)

3) Appropriating Unexpected Influences:
This year indie simultaneously esteemed non-traditional influences and retained an incredible whiteness, starting a new chapter in the book on white appropriation of non-white music.

Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
Mark Ronson - Version
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (actually released in 2006)
Bjork - Volta

Beirut - Sunday Smile (mp3)

4) Unique Takes on Spoken Word:
Fresh perspectives embrace alternatives to the sung vocal.

BARR - Summary
Andy Ditzler - Songs From Yes and No
Talib Kweli - Focus
CocoRosie - The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn
El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead
Saul Williams - The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Stardust

BARR - Half of Two Times Two (mp3)

5) Unapologetic Dance:
Sweaty, energetic beats were the muse for recklessly danceable albums and many standout singles that aren't represented here.

Justice - †
MIA - Kala
YACHT - I Believe in You. Your Magic is Real.
Spank Rock - Bangers and Cash

MIA - Paper Planes (mp3)

6) Emotive Indie Rock Soundscapes:
"Interesting indie rock" survived increasingly frat-leaning indie rock to continue arguing its thesis that complex songwriting, collage instrumentation, and passion is the new sound.

Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

Sunset Rubdown - Mending of the Gown (mp3)

7) Electro Deconstruction:
There are few things cooler than taking apart a Casio and listening to it bleed noise.

Dan Deacon - Spider Man of the Rings
Health - Health
Crystal Castles - Air War
Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future
Beatrix*JAR - Golden Fuzz (and all the other benders)

Dan Deacon - The Crystal Cat (mp3)

8) Subtle Pop Beauty:
Pop will thrive as long it stays this cute.

The Bird and The Bee - Bird and The Bee
Patrick Watson - Close To Paradise (actually released in 2006)
Vic Chesnutt - North Star Deserter
Feist - The Reminder

The Bird and The Bee - Preparedness (mp3)

9) Strong Releases From Big Names:
Stunners from some of the best established working musicians set the precedents for the musical landscape of 2007.

Radiohead - In Rainbows
Kanye West - Graduation
Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocolypta
Bjork - Voltra
PJ Harvey - White Chalk
Sigur Ros - Hvarf-Heim
Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

Andrew Bird - Imitosis (mp3)

10) Madison Contributions:
Significant releases from Madison-connected musicians are making impact.

Marla Hansen - Wedding Day
Pale Young Gentlemen - Pale Young Gentlemen
A Catapult Western - A Catapult Western
John Statz - Our Love Was Made For Canada
The Inlets - Vestibule EP (actually released at the end of 2006)
She Is So Beautiful / She Is So Blonde - Self Titled
Sleeping in the Aviary - Oh, This Old Thing?
John Statz - Our Love Was Made 4 Canada

Pale Young Gentlemen - Fraulein (mp3)


At Saturday, December 08, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

St. Vincent. Yummy.
My picks here:

At Saturday, December 08, 2007, Blogger beth wick said...

I really like your breakdown for album of the year.

I was surprised that The Shins and Okkervil River didn't make the cut for the "Emotive Indie" category.

I realize Phantom Limb was played to death, but overall that album and "Stage Names" were pretty great.

At Saturday, December 08, 2007, Blogger Kyle said...

Yeah, there are many things missing of course. Imagine limiting the list to only ten albums total! I couldn't do it...

At Saturday, December 08, 2007, Blogger Jenny said...

Oh how this makes me wish I had a working computer to get music on and that Mike would figure out where he packed my iPod.


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