Sometimes I think it takes me waaay too long to come up with my Top 20 albums of a given year. There are a lot of internal debates and arguments that really have no right answer. Really, you reach a point where all the albums are good but how to rank them gets to be quite the challenge. This year was chock full of good music (not matter what the naysayers might groan). I counted something like 175+ albums worth mentioning in 2007, and that is only a tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything that was released in the year. However, I did whittle it down to 20… well, 22 if you count my 2 EP exception (EP’s don’t count as real albums).
If you’re interested in some sub-lists, like my albums “with apologizes” (albums I didn’t hear but should have) or “best imports” or “most disappointing” (hint, the band who made it rhymes with Milo Biley), check it out here.
So, here we go:
#21 The EP’s – Two EP’s made me happy this year, and really, they would be in the top 20, but it seems unfair to me to include EP’s versus albums. They’re both UK pop, and they’re both brilliant in their own cute way.
Los Campesinos! Sticking Fingers Into Sockets (Thanks to igLiz for this band!)
Kate Nash Foundations (Really, this is only a U.S. teaser EP for her great debut, Made of Bricks).
#20 Peter Bjorn & John Writers’ Block
Sure, everyone likes this Scandinavian band and I was a little behind the curve on them, but this is such a luscious pop record.
#19 The Fratellis Costello Music – Yeah, OK, this album is nothing special, but it didn’t stop me from listening to it over and over. The sort of bubblegum rock they record is just taking a page off of the 60’s British rock that makes me filled with glee.
#18 Tender Forever Wider
The newest album on the list, it’s that synth pop that I am a total sucker for. It might not be as infectious and well-constructed as the Blow’s brilliant Paper Television or YACHT (see above), but it is ridiculously charming.
#17 Architecture in Helsinki Places Like This
A great dance album, just chock full of energy.
#16 Jay-Z American Gangster
Well, it’s no Black Album, but it was a heck of a lot better than Kingdom Come. Jay-Z might be the biggest act in the world right now, not sure what to make of that.
#15 M.I.A. Kala
There are a lot of M.I.A. haters lurking around TIG, but I think she can be briliant. She’s not always brilliant, but when she gets it right, it’s dumbfounding (well, at least to me).
#14 The Long Blondes Someone to Drive You Home
A perfect post-punk return to Siouxsie and the Banshees with the New Wave synths bogging them down (no, I’m not dissing Siouxsie, really). The Long Blondes recorded a disc that is populated with ready-made hit singles, if only radio was interested (and boy, is Kate Jackson is sizzling).
#13 Tullycraft Every Scene Needs a Center
Probably the most mature and diverse Tullycraft album, but that is not to say that they’re missing any of their ageless fun and whimsy (did I just use the word “whimsy”?) Why this disc hasn’t gotten more press baffles me… maybe they’re too busy listening to messes like the Animal Collective.
#12 Busdriver Roadkill Overcoat
Thanks to igAsh for this guy. It is the sort of nerd rap that I gravitate towards (see also Del, MC Paul Barman, etc.) and Roadkill Overcoat is full of obtuse references and complex production.
#11 New Pornographers Challengers
I might be the only person in the universe who liked Challengers better than Twin Cinema. Go figure. There just seemed to be a lot more to offer on this album by the Canadian supergroup, but maybe I was just in the right mood for a new New Pornographers album.
#10 Bat for Lashes Fur & Gold
Think of Bat for Lashes something like PJ Harvey 2.0: the band is really one woman, she makes songs that are dark and sinister and the songs are seductive as all heck.
#9 Amon Tobin Foley Room
I don’t think Amon Tobin has ever recorded an album I didn’t like, he’s just that good. DJ’s seem to be a thing of the past, at least any DJ who is meaningful in the current music scene, but Amon Tobin seems to have been immune from this. (Oh yeah, and any album with the Kronos Quartet gets points from me, too.)
#8 Patrick Wolf The Magic Position
This album has so many high points (and its fair share of album filler, too). Wolf put together some of those unforgettable pop songs that will never get heard, but maybe that is what makes it so exciting (and check out Wolf’s outfit on this clip from Conan).
#7 Radiohead In Rainbows
Possibly the most anticipated “surprise” release of the year. No one really saw it coming, but then the whole world was talking about Radiohead, their “screw you record industry” moves and, well, a darn good album on their part. That being said, I haven’t listened to it as much as I expected. (By the way, not sure if this is the official video for “All I Need,” but it is great anyway).
#6 YACHT I Believe in You. Your Magic is Real.
One (former) half of the Blow, YACHT took that next step to put together a synth pop gem. It isn’t as lovelorn as Paper Television, but it makes up for it with just plain enjoyment.
#5 Beirut The Flying Club Cup
I feel like Beirut is slowly filling in that Neutral Milk Hotel-shaped hole in all of our hearts. The album draws in so many influences and so many sounds that each listen feels new.
#4 Dizzee Rascal Maths & English
First of two albums in my top five that weren’t technically ever released in the U.S. Dizzee has the leg up as Maths & English was released digitally, but that just baffles me as the album is the most “America friendly” Dizzee has recorded. It is just filthy, from start to finish.
#3 Cats on Fire The Province Complains
My find from Finland (and lacking a U.S. release), Cats on Fire put down one of those melancholy pop albums that you wish Belle & Sebastian could record. It is only a matter of time now before Cats on Fire wins the hearts of all the dark-sweater-and-bespectacled modern rockers of the States.
#2 Jens Lekman Night Falls Over Kortedala
You just knew he would record an absolute gem. All his talk about retiring was just he Scandinavian version of Jay Z’s posturing, and what he went and did was record an album that matures his sound, tackles new directions and is generally impossible to ignore. (And how charming is this version of “The Opposite of Hallelujah” recorded in Japan with a makeshift band?)
#1 LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver
Congratulations! You made it, and is it any surprise what you find at #1 for 2007? Pretty much since the first time I popped Sound of Silver in and heard it unfold, I knew this album was special. James Murphy is so dynamic and captivating, creating club anthems (“North American Scum”), techno-ballads (“Someone Great”) and even a classic crooner (“New York I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down”). It might not seem monumental yet, but just you wait.
Honorable Mentions: Ghost Stories – Quixoticism; Grinderman – Grinderman; Jose Gonzalez – In Our Nature; Okkervil River – The Stage Names; Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond; Blue Scholars – Bayani; Bloc Party – Weekend in the City; Interpol – Our Love to Admire; Bright Eyes – Cassadaga; Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog