Dez 22 2007, 4h20
Yet again it is time for my annual list of what I consider to be the best albums of the year. I know everyone and their grandmother publishes "best album" lists every year so mine certainly isn't special. However, years from now it will be interesting to see if I still feel as strongly about these albums as I do now. And so, without further ado, I present:
My favorite albums of 2007:
(1) Radiohead - In Rainbows
A lot of people seem disappointed by this album and I can't see why. Musically it is their most cohesive and consistent album since OK Computer. I was in India around the time Radiohead announced they would be selling the album via download so thankfully I missed all of the media coverage which let me focus on the music when I finally heard the album. It's lush, beautiful, and at times heartbreaking, and every time I listen to it I'm filled with joy.
(2) Rush - Snakes & Arrows
I'll admit I'm a Rush fan, and I thought Vapor Trails was a fantastic album (which most other fans seemed to dislike). It took me a good 10 listens to really appreciate Snakes & Arrows and, like In Rainbows, it is an excellent album precisely because it feels cohesive and consistent. I will never forget as I traveled through Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand this past autumn while listening to Snakes & Arrows, somehow the lyrics fit perfectly with my journey through the heart of Southeast Asia.
(3) Low - Drums & Guns
Low took a radically different approach on this album. When I saw them live during their second tour after The Great Destroyer (they had canceled part of the first tour due to Alan's psychological problems) they previewed songs from Drums & Guns but they sounded like they would fit on The Great Destroyer, so no revolution there. When Drums & Guns came out I was amazed, and admittedly, horrified at the stripped down electronic approach (now I think I know how Radiohead fans felt when Kid A came out) but in time I came to see the music for what it was, classic Low, and lyrically darker than ever. My only gripe about this album would be the stupid way the music was mixed making it virtually impossible to enjoy on headphones which is how I listen to most of my music.
(4) Melt Banana - Bambi's Dilemma
What can I say, another Melt Banana record. There was talk from the band that they were taking some sort of radical approach on the new album involving "bass and theremin" and unfortunately I think we were being fooled (or I missed the theremin). Musically it doesn't differ much from Cell-scape except that half of the songs are more pop-ish while the other half hearken back to older and crazier Melt Banana (think Speak Squeak Creak). I think it's precisely this dual approach that weakens the album. I have to admit I really do like the two techno-ish (if you can even call them that) tracks on the album and it makes me wonder where MxBx is heading in the future.
(5) Calla - Strength In Numbers
This album didn't break any new ground but I found it infectious, and the amount of times I listened to it is a testament to that. I'm a huge fan of Calla's first two albums and while I understand, and have been disappointed by, their evolution away from that more experimental music I continue to listen to them because they make good music. I think Aurelio has some of the most distinctive vocals and guitar melodies in music and that is a huge appeal, though it may not justify a "best of" rating. In fact I can't really say why I like this album so much except that it's catchy, moody, and the undertones of violence make it just dangerous enough to be enjoyable.
Sigur Ros - Hvarf/Heim
I'm obsessed with Sigur Ros. I'd been recording my own ambient-ish guitar music (inspired largely by Pink Floyd, Landing, Stars of the Lid, and Labraford) years before I heard Sigur Ros and when I finally heard them I knew that they had recorded what I'd been hearing in my head for years, the ideal music (these days I think Hammock has perfected it as well), the 'music of the spheres' if you will. So obviously, any new Sigur Ros album is of interest to me. I was disappointed to find that Hvarf/Heim breaks no new ground, but that doesn't entirely surprise as it was meant as a supplement to their documentary Heima and they have announced a new album in the works anyway. Despite the sameness of the sound of the new album, I find the first disc in particular lovely, and if Í Gær doesn't send chills down your spine then you're hopeless.
Stars of the Lid - And Their Refinement of the Decline
Another SoTL release and unsurprisingly it's a sonic continuation of their Tired Sounds album (though it bears a closer sonic resemblance to Brian McBride's solo work which I find superior to almost anything SoTL has ever released). I probably haven't listened to it as much as I should have and for that reason I can't say much more except that it is definitely worth a listen; in fact anything that makes you glow with warmth like SoTL does is worth a listen.
There are a number of album that I have listened to in bits and pieces that deserve a mention because they have potential but I did not give them a honest enough listen to really rate them relative to the ones above so here they are: Blonde Redhead - 23, Amiina - Kurr, Acid Mothers Temple - Crystal Rainbow Pyramid, Maserati - Inventions For a New Season, and finally Om - Pilgrimage, which I've just discovered last week.
If anyone actually reads this post and has any 2007 album recommendations that they think I would enjoy please let me know! Thanks, and have a happy new year!