My Favorites From 2007

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Dez 19 2007, 1h21

25. Nihill - Krach

This is the most terrifying music I have ever heard. That's pretty much the only reason why it's on my list, but I think it's a good one. Dark, satanic riffs that are repeated endlessly and hypnotically under some of the most awful noises to ever come out of a human mouth. I can't really judge the merit of the music much beyond that because I've only listened to the album straight through twice. Both listens were exhausting on my psyche, and had a lasting effect on my mood that I had to sleep off. Now, being that I'm the kind of guy who considers harsh japanese noise "good homework and study music," I think that says something. This album will take you to a dark place.

24. The Angelic Process - Weighing Souls With Sand

After the 5 second intro track ends and the first note of Million Year Summer is played, you know this album is going to be epic. Ultra-fuzzy but not noise, ultra-heavy but not metal, The Angelic Process to me is the term “metalgaze” fleshed out to its fullest extent possible. It plays all the same cards as a lot of other bands who have a reputation for being epic, what with the loud-to-soft-to-really-loud and everything. The only difference is that their softs are dark, but peaceful tribal ambiance, and their louds are louder than almost anything out there- a cataclysmic wave of distortion that is pure ecstasy every time.

23. Burning Star Core - Blood Lightning 2007

This is, without a doubt, my favorite drone album of the year. Very slow beautiful and mind-altering, and more memorable than his contemporaries. I found out not long ago how much of its intended effect is lost without headphones. If you have this album, but haven't cozied up to it with a good pair of headphones, I suggest you do so.

22. Pygmy Lush - Bitter River

Great stuff from ex-members of Pg.99. This is the only album on my list that would qualify as "screamo," but it is a lot more than that, really. It starts off with one of the most amazing, insane, balls-to-the wall openers I have ever heard, then immediately goes into some lo-fi, depressing acoustic folk music, tape hiss and everything. Then it moves into some more reflective, whispery folk (this time with a whole band), and ebbs and flows through grungy, emotional hardcore and lots more screaming, before coming to a close with a 25 minute ambient track and Throw The Jockey, which is comparable to an acoustic Stray Cats song with revolutionary lyrical themes. The only thing that I have heard that comes anywhere this is I Would Set Myself on Fire for You, but there stuff is much more Americana. Pygmy Lush, however, reminds me more of Tom Waits, and subsequently is much better.

21. Earthless - Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky

Earthless has to win guitar solo of the year, because the WHOLE FUCKING ALBUM is one fat, bloated cock-rock freakout guitar solo. That's really all you need to know about this album. It has the tried and true psychedelic formula of three long tracks that symbolize the liftoff, floating, and comedown periods of an acid trip, then closes with an excellent cover of Cherry Red by The Groundhogs. A buddy of mine knows these guys, and told me that while they were writing and recording, they were constantly drinking, smoking, and blaring Blue Cheer's Vincebus Eruptum, so that should give you a good idea of where this is coming from.

20. Radiohead - In Rainbows

They're fucking Radiohead, how could they not be on this list? While this album is great, and this band will always be sentimental tome for a variety of reasons, this album simply isn't as strong as their last three. I could hear boos and hisses from the gallery as I finished typing that last sentence, but I appreciated their experimental tendencies and the direction they were going in. This album has some of that, and can still be considered a step forward for the band, but it isn't a step forward for music in general like Kid A is. And forget that you can download it legally for nothing, the physical album costs $120 retail. WHAT THE FUCK.

19. Torche - In Return

The only thing separating some of this band's songs from mainstream alt-rock a la The Foo Fighters is a couple of octaves in the rhythm section. On the other hand, their other songs will either punt you into outer space or stomp you into the Earth's molten nickel inner core. Though I've heard that when this band performs live they shed all aspects of their sound besides the ones that skull-fuck you, this kind of diversity is pretty fucking cool to hear from a metal band. Usually when a metal band tries to diversify its sound it borrows musically from jazz, or, even worse- *shudder*- classical. These guys take from space rock and the beach boys and are still brutal.


18. Melt-Banana - Bambi's Dilemma

Another band that is fearlessly exploring pop within a genre that is supposed to be all-angry, all-the-time, Decibel accurately called MxBx either the grindiest pop band or the poppiest grind band. I don't know what the fuck these guys are anymore. The lead instrument in the second half of the album is a fucking theramin, but the drums are still playing blast beats, and the singer sounds like a cartoon character. Also, I didn't really think about it until I saw them live in July, but their guitar player is INCREDIBLE. Seeing him onstage with his army of pedals is truly a sight to behold.

17. Voice of the Seven Woods - Voice of the Seven Woods

This guy (Rick Tomlinson) is amazing. Really great, mostly instrumental, vaguely psychedelic folk. As expected, there are lots of meandering finger-pickings here, but he also slides into some upbeat Middle-Eastern stuff (I don't know enough about world music to call it anything more than "stuff") and about halfway into the album explodes into an amazing Ben-Chasneyan electric guitar solo. This album makes my imagination go crazy, and takes me on a journey every time I put it on.

16. Clockcleaner - Babylon Rules

A for Attitude here. In the same year that The Horrors put out their drivel, Clockcleaner released this album to remind me that it IS possible to ape The Birthday Party and still be really good. Even counting the stuff made in its heyday, 99.99% of goth-rock is shit, but some of the bands that were actually good are among my all-time favs. Babylon Rules is dirty, nasty, and depraved, but the songs are distinct and well-developed, with some really cool guitar work. Though a good number of their songs are over five minutes long, they seem to pass at the same rate as any 2-minute outburst of dark art punk.

15. Magrudergrind - Rehashed

Their name is terrible, but Jesus these guys are pissed. And that’s a good thing. They make more noise than any other 3-piece I can think of besides Ed Gein, and unlike all the other powerviolence bands that are still around, Magrudergrind is actually powerviolence. And powerviolence is the shit. ‘Nuff said.


14. Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters

Up until this last summer, I had almost no familiarity with black metal. I always thought that it was all in the vein of Dimmu Borgir and Emperor, and didn't want any part of that shit. Then I heard Immortal's Damned in Black album and everything changed. Though I am still new to the genre, from what I have heard thus far I prefer the American stuff to the "True, European Blacks Metals \m/" because it seems to be less formulaic and more impressionist. This is my favorite black metal album, second only to Nachtmystium's Instict:Decay. Two Hunters has a ‘something’ that no other music has given me before. It is beautiful in a way that I have never experienced, and I can't wait to explore this genre more in 2008.

13. Balboa & Rosetta - Project Mercury + Rosetta - Wake/Lift

I threw these two releases together because I didn't want to give off the impression that I loved Rosetta SO much that it took up two spots on my Best-of list. I really don’t: I included Project Mercury here because everyone needs to listen to Balboa- they are one of the most underrated screamo bands around. That being said, there isn’t too much I can say about Rosetta that hasn’t been thrown around already. I guess the reason why I love Wake/Lift so much has to do with the Denver scene. Denver kind of sucks, and right now there are several really mediocre post-rockish metal bands that play shows all the time that make me want to fall asleep. Also, one of the only decent DIY venues in town books out-of-state bands that are the same ordeal. It was getting to the point where I was burnt out on this shit, and if I saw a band set up without microphones, I knew I was probably going to walk out. Then I saw Rosetta. Oh, man. I had never even heard of these guys, and they were the opening band on a bill with like 5 other groups, but they fucking KILLED, and I have been in love ever since.

12. Homostupids - The Intern Lp

Okay, this is either the most brilliant or the most retarded album of the year. I can’t decide, but even if it’s retarded it still rocks. All I know is these guys are the exact opposite of pretentious, and every time I listen to them my stereo just gets louder and louder. They sound like Pissed Jeans if Pissed Jeans wasn’t on Sub Pop and was actually good.

11. Khann - Tofutopia

One of those bands that tries to everything, but Khann actually pulls it off. Grind, sludge, screamo, hardcore, black metal, etc., etc., these guys pick out bits and pieces of just about every extreme rock sub-genre and nail them together into something that is unified as a whole and, more importantly, INTENSE. Mostly though, the focus is on grind and sludge. Fuck yeah. It’s dirty like Eyehategod, but passionate like Orchid, and fucking a million miles per hour like Pig Destroyer. I can't even imagine what these guys must be like live.

10. Architect - All Is Not Lost

Top Ten time. This is where it gets serious. I think this is the most pissed off album of the year. If anything, it’s the saving grace of metalcore in 2007. They carry on the tradition of Deadguy better than anyone else out there right now. It’s been a while since a band with such a blunt political agenda has made this much of an impact on me. It’s almost a half-hour long, giving the perfect dose of mathematically heavy hardcore. And the obligatory long, slow song is actually good enough not to skip! Their music has the kind of urgency to it that actually gives me faith in a revolution, if only for a minute. When I listen to this album, I seriously want to torch a bank or something. As a debut album, this stuff kicks ass, even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Hopefully they will innovate a little on their next album. Too bad they like Ron Paul.

9. Om - Pilgrimage

This is OM’s third album, and let me tell you, this band keeps getting better. They really don’t change their sound at all from release to release, they just improve on it. What they do, they do incredibly well, and nobody else can imitate their sound. For a two-piece, there is a lot to take in, at least coming from bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros. Thanks to him, Om is the only intelligent stoner metal band I can think of. His lyrics make Tool look like Chevelle, and unlike The Mars Volta reading them multiple times with a dictionary handy can actually prove to be fruitful. Also, his bass lines are more complex than they seem on the surface, and are heavy as fuck, in any case.

8. Souvenir's Young America - An Ocean Without Water

My love for this band- and more importantly, this album- boils down to the fact that I am a sucker for harmonicas and slide guitars. I have also listened to a lot of Tangerine Dream this year, and I love metal. This album has all of that: tribal drumming, cold oscillators and synths, a debt to Ennio Morricone, an immense heaviness. Listening to it will make you feel like Clint Eastwood in a sci-fi movie where he gets a ray gun, but still wears a cowboy hat and chews on a fucking gnarly cigarillo. In this way, the album sometimes borders on cheesy, but it deftly avoids any calling cards that would concretely denote it as so. Think Jodorowsky, or the beginning part of the second League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where they guy is riding a magic carpet around on Mars. The album is beautiful and familiar, but it has some exotic elements to it that pull you into its world.

7. Six Organs of Admittance - Shelter From The Ash

I had low expectations for this album, because I really thought Sun Awakens was his worst effort so far, and when I took Comets On Fire’s into consideration, I really thought that maybe Ben Chasney was done making good music. How wrong I was! Only time will tell, but I think that this album might in the future be reflected on as Six Organ’s best. The production quality is stellar. Whereas Pitchfork might call it “overdone,” it feels fully-realized to me. There is a lot going on, with rolling atmospherics on almost every track, finger picking, vocals, and badass solos soaring over it all. While we’re here, the solos are the best he has ever done. The drumming is loud and epic, and really helps to give a lot of the album (particularly the longest track, Final Wing) more of a post-rock feel than I have heard from Six Organs. It might be more accessible, but that is only because it has more purpose, power, and emotion than his others.

6. Raccoo-oo-oon - Behold Secret Kingdom

The problem with free-folk bands is that they put out too many albums. Raccoo-oo-oon has put out 6 full-lengths and god-knows-how-many splits and seven-inches since forming in 2005, and being that most of their ideas are mediocre and half-baked, [artist[Raccoo-oo-oon’s catalogue will quickly become as difficult to get into as The Fall’s. Lucky for me, I had the good fortune of randomly acquiring this release first, and being blown away. I think that free-folk is an interesting phenomenon, but at the same time I do the psychedelic show at my college radio station, and sift through a massive amount of it. The majority seems to draw only from bands in their locale (New York, Finland, SoCal, New Zealand), and is highly self-derivative in that respect. Raccoo-oo-oon is from Iowa, so they don’t have a local scene to lean on. Behold Secret Kingdom draws a little from art-punk and has a little bit of odd heaviness to it. This is one of the best things to come out of “New Weird America” so far.

5. The Locust - New Erections

I haven’t seen this album on anyone’s top albums list anymore. This tells me that The Locust is no longer a cool band to like, and people who like them are categorized as stupid scene kids who know nothing about grindcore. To anyone who thinks this: Fuck You. This band isn’t grind, this band is art. Even people who still do like this band tend to hate New Erections because they’re still creaming their pants over Plague Soundscapes. That album came out almost 5 years ago, and has been ripped off a hundred times. It’s time to get over it. The fact that they refuse to repeat themselves is what makes them so amazing. The songs on this album are slower, darker, scarier, and more diverse while still managing to be utterly schizophrenic and impossible to recreate. Things have gotten even worse since 2003. This is the new soundtrack to the apocalypse.

4. Pig Destroyer - Phantom Limb

I swear to god, every time I listen to this album it feels like I gain about 40 pounds and my hair grows about 9 inches. If that was the case, though, I would be a seven-ton blob with a mane that blanketed the Denver-Metro area, and you would have heard about me on the news. But seriously, how can you not feel like a fat metalhead when you crank Loathsome and rock the fuck out? That song ain’t grind, friends. Half of this album isn’t. They finally figured out how to put the brutality of Prowler In the Yard back into the sneering artiness that was in their last two albums. Their distorted vocals sound awesome, too- I don’t care what anyone says. Nobody could sound that psychotic without a little digital assistance. This album rocks almost as hard as my number one, and I have actually given myself a bangover just from rocking out to it in my room. I drove to Indiana over the summer to see these guys headline at DudeFest, and was amazed to actually be able to identify their songs. I’ve never heard music this brutal sound so crisp live.

3. Boris with Michio Kurihara - Rainbow

Boris are gods among men, and Michio Kurihara… well, I don’t like Ghost. But together, these guys make the most delicate, beautiful album of the year. Rainbow opens up sounding a lot like the opening track from Pink (CD version), but the title track that follows it is something different entirely, a sparse, mellow number that vaguely reminds me of Can’s Mushroom. The next song, Starship Narrator, sounds like eastern chant put through a late-sixties hard psych filter. The album then sinks into hazy melancholia for almost the rest of the album, coming back up for air only in the second the last song, Sweet No. 1. The guitar solos (Kurihara’s presumably) are just as heartfelt as any of the legends from the first psychedelic period. Like them, he is able to invoke the full spectrum of human emotion through them. Other similarities with the Summer of Love are drums played backwards, and an overarching Eastern feel, mainly because, well, they’re Japanese.

2. Health - HEALTH

I saw this band open for The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower in October of 2006, and even though I had never heard of them before, I thought they put on a much better show than The Plot. This might have been due to the fact that The Plot had less than ten shows left to play before being finished as a band, but Health was still absolutely nuts any way you cut it. Their debut album sounds a lot like Liars at their most experimental, what with the tribal drumming and the nonsensical song structures, the vague danciness and what have you. HEALTH is more intense and hypnotizing than Liars though, and this album demands the full attention of the listener. It is violent at times and beautiful at times, often within the same song. The recording style and the thin, haunting vocals make it feel as if it were being performed in space. It is strange, but cold; inhuman. Better yet, alien. I had lost most of my faith in noise rock until I heard this album. Health is pushing music in a new direction. This band has already been getting a lot of buzz lately; if they put out another good album (and honestly I think they can do even better), they’re gonna be huge.

1. Graf Orlock - Destination Time: Tomorrow

This isn’t the best album of the year, HEALTH is. But dammit, this band is like potato chips! Destination Time: Tomorrow is the first album I’ve heard in a long time that has gotten me so addicted to it that I actually have to play it twice in a row to get my fix. Whereas all of the other fast, heavy bands on this list are just plain mad (and maybe a little bit evil), this band makes me feel like I can charge an oncoming pickup and take it out. It’s REALLY pissed, but life-affirming at the same time. The premise of the band is so brilliant it’s crazy that nobody has thought of it yet. Use movie quotes in songs, but not as intros or conclusions. Instead, use them in the meat of the song to drive it forward. All their lyrics are movie quotes as well, cut up Burroughs style to the point where they bear no actual resemblance to the movie they are "quoting." This concept, so simple it’s almost stupid, makes Gorlock’s songs catchier and more memorable than any other grind band could hope to be. But musically, it’s still 100% legit. The catchiness is in the quotes (which are mostly from 80’s action films), get it? I could go off on the artistic merits of turning pieces of Die Hard into an anti-capitalist anthem, but I'm not sure you would buy into it any more than they do. The only downside is that every single one of their songs is very illegal, and if they ever get big enough they will probably be forced to break up under penalty of law. In the end, it’s raw and pissed, but still fun. Best of all, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Just listen to it, now.

Comentários

  • RatDay

    We basically listen to a ton of different things, but I got a few bones to pick here: In Rainbows is WAY better than Hail to the Thief, though your placement of that one is about right, give or take. HEALTH's record is great, but not as good as New Erections. They put on a better live show than the Locust (or just about anyone else), but I really don't hear it fully translating onto plastic. Sorry. You talked about how fun Destination Time: Tomorrow is but you made no mention of The Dream Left Behind! COME ON! That has to be the best idea for a song in ages! And my FINAL complaint is my most important: Where is WARS? I guess you've only just realized the power of Sixth in Sixes, but now that you have, Wars should be way up there! Facryinoutloud! Oh, and good job including the Rosetta album. They played a show with a ton of other bands around here like two years ago, and I never really followed up on that. Very sweet live, though. Maybe this will get me to try it out...

    Dez 19 2007, 23h50
  • Khanatist

    Awesome list. Although I wouldn't even agree with the top places, I see how you listened to each of the albums with passion and gave them dedicated short-reviews. I highly appreciated this.

    Dez 19 2007, 23h56
  • playfuckingfast

    thanks guys. i'm on christmas break and had nothing better to do last night. plus, these bands deserve it. Khanatist: I am still looking forward to seeing your list for 2007.

    Dez 20 2007, 6h03
  • BlitzzkriegBill

    Pig Destroyer and The Locust both made it into my top ten too. Well done.

    Jan 12 2008, 22h37
  • televisionangel

    Also, I didn't really think about it until I saw them live in July, but their guitar player is INCREDIBLE. Seeing him onstage with his army of pedals is truly a sight to behold. fucking right. i saw them earlier this year and he absolutely blew me away.

    Jan 25 2008, 22h40
  • RedArmada

    Very informative list (even though I'm reading it mid-2008). I'm gonna' have to pick some of these albums up now!

    Jul 4 2008, 23h28
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