Monday, December 17, 2007

Andy's Top 50 Albums Of 2007 (40-31)

40. Band Of Horses - "Cease To Begin"
(Sub Pop) (October 9)

Band Of Horse's debut "Everything All The Time" didn't even register on my Top 50 of 2006. Fast forward to now, and it's almost definitely in my top 3 albums of that year. With "Cease To Begin" they have created an album that is very much the same on the surface, but actually pretty different. There is no "Funeral" and nothing that is quite as fun as "Weed Party." The tracks are still loud, Ben Bridwell's Jim James-esque voice is still as arresting as it was on the debut, but overall, the sound has matured. It's not necessarily a subdued album compared to the first, but the band seems like they don't need to have the slow build-up to a giant chorus. It has taken me awhile to get into this album, and I'm still not entirely sold on it, but like Band Of Horses' previous stuff, the songs eventually stick, and I can see that happening with this album. A young band full of experienced musicians, and they're just growing up.
Recommended If You Like: My Morning Jacket, The Shins, early Flaming Lips

39. Eddie Vedder - "Into The Wild OST"
(RCA) (September 18)

It's pretty weird to enjoy something by Eddie Vedder as much as I enjoy this album. Apart from the albums that will be placed in my Top 5, I definitely listened to this more than anything else this year. I mean, it's still Eddie Vedder, still has that ridiculous voice, but without the derivative grunge sounding guitars they have been using for 20 years, Eddie's voice doesn't actually annoy me and instead *gasp* almost makes sense. I love the book "Into The Wild" and plan to re-read it, and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, even though parts of it were outright cheesy. But the songs Vedder wrote for the movie actually work very well as the voice of Christopher McCandless. The lyrics, upon close inspection are pretty laughable on their own, but put into context, they really work, and make someone like me a believer. The cover of Indio's "Hard Sun" sounds almost the same as the original, but it's such a great song, I can't complain. The songs are short, to the point, and create a cinematic experience. My walking around campus album of the year, at the very least.
Recommended If You Like: Pearl Jam, Ultimate Frisbee, 90s Alt. Rock

38. UGK - "Underground Kingz"
(Jive) (August 7)

h Pimp C's tragic death on December 4th of this year, I almost feel obliged to rank this album higher. I won't, because my opinion doesn't really matter, but I will say that with or without Pimp C's death, this is probably the most IMPORTANT hip hop release of the year. It's for sure one of the best double albums in hip hop history, it contains the best single of the year ("Intl Players Anthem"), and it was so good and grand in scope, that all the other southern rappers claiming to be the head of the game WILLINGLY gave up their fictitious crowns to the real kings. Throughout this album, UGK is classic UGK, with some current big names (Rick Ross, Talib Kweli, T.I.), and some classics (Too $hort, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Three 6 Mafia). Of course, since it is a double album, with like 29 tracks total (if you include bonus tracks), not every single song is great. However, CocaineBlunts, the hip hop blog created his own version of the album, to make it onto a single disc, and listening to that (something I do), would make this more or less the best rap album of the year. While there are other hip hop albums that are going to be higher than this on this list, history is going to remember UGK's last release as truly legendary.
Recommended If You Like: Three 6 Mafia, Southern Hip Hop

37. Kathy Diamond - "Miss Diamond To You"
(Groove Attack) (April 30)

The slap bass in this
record is what makes it. It's what separates it from other neo-disco, female-vocal "dance" music. Maurice Fulton's production on this album basically makes it one extra long song. I mean, most of the songs blend together, with little 20 second interludes between them, but god damn, the groove on this album is otherworldly. "All Woman" the big single off the album is clearly just that. A little more upbeat than the rest of the tracks, with a repetitive drum beat, crazy slap bass, synths here and there, whatever. It's pure retro, but unlike anything created back then. Maybe this album is like 60 minutes of "Heart Of Glass" made in the year 2007. There's lots of great acts doing similar stuff right now, but nothing that is based on locking into a groove as much as this is. And it's hardly Kathy Diamond's album anyway, the album is made because of Fulton's productions, great night record.
Recommended If You Like: Dani Siciliano, Roisin Murphy, Italians Do It Better

36. The Dreadful Yawns - "Rest"
(Exit Stencil) (May 1)

Somewhere along the lines, The Dreadful Yawns got described as psychedelic. Listening to this album (or their last album, which I also loved), you would never get that feeling. Maybe their live show is, I don't know. Here we have pure
Byrds or Dead inspired country-rock and and Americana music. Pure, folk-tinged pop songs. The music generally leans more heavily on the feeling of the actual music than the lyrics. I have found that I love this band because how good they are at creating a feeling, their voices are great, but I never really pay too much attention to what they're saying. Maybe that's bad listening, but upon your first listen to this album, I would bet that it has a similar affect on you. This is road-trip across the Midwest music, beautiful stuff full of acoustic guitars, slide guitar, and just enough drums and bass to give it a little bit of punch. They're still virtually unknown outside of their home area, but I hope that changes soon, because they're one of the best around.
Recommended If You Like: The Byrds, Grateful Dead, Teenage Fanclub

35. The National - "Boxer"
(Beggars Banquet) (May 22)

I never like
d The National before, and verbally gave people crap for acting like they were one of the best bands around. With "Boxer", The National have made a believer of me. I don't know if the album is actually better than their other releases or if it was something in me that finally clicked, but I just finally believed the hype machine, and though I wanted to dislike this album, I just couldn't. And I like it more everytime I listen to it. It's clear that Matt Berringer is one of the better songwriters in indie rock, and his slow drawl and monotone delivery really sell it, but the music on this album really gives it an edge that maybe I never felt before. Their are more strings on this album, giving it a pretty big grandiose feel, but not quite as pompous as Arcade Fire. And that's why the National are great. They know when too much is too much. Every song on this album is good, some are great. According to itunes, I listen to "Start A War" a thousand times more than any other track on the album, but that's just me. Anyone can fall in love with "Mistaken for Strangers" or "Slow Show" or "Apartment Story", everyone is going to have a different opinion. I'll be excited for their follow-up.
Recommended If You Like: Nick Cave meets Interpol, Leonard Cohen meets Joy Division

34. Black Pony Express - "Love In A Cold Place"
(Bang!) (February 12)

se guys are from Melbourne, and that's about the extent of what I know about them. Apparently they have a dedicated following and have gotten some favorable reviews, but are nowhere near "big" down there. They're nowhere near "big" up here either, but god bless the internet, for letting me find this record. Black Pony Express have created an album that sound remarkably American. The opener "Resurrection Blues" is just that, sounding like a gothic-blues stomper done by Nick Cave. The following track is a lighter pop-country affair, reminding me of that White Stripes song in Napoleon Dynamite. Then the next song "Midnight Song" is a weeper, with a soaring middle and end. This band knows what they are doing, and their songs are powerful. Everything just comes together, and allows the band to jump from style to style without sounding fake. It sounds complete. Even the songs without vocals are more emotional and well done than most music created this year. Definitely something you should seek out.
Recommended If You Like: Nick Cave, Dirty Three, Will Oldham

33. Radiohead - "In Rainbows"
(Self-Released) (October 10)

What else needs to be written, really? Radiohead has all the power in the world, and they turned the music business on it's side with this record. I'm not going to get into that. You can go onto any music site, any blog, any news site and read about that. It was awesome, that's about it. As for the music, what we have is an album that competes with Radiohead's best work. Not as anthemic as stuff on OK Computer or The Bends, not as experimental as Amnesiac, and a whole lot better than Hail To The Thief, In Rainbows will be remembered as one of the best albums of the 00's. But it's low on my list, for two reasons. One: I've lost my love for Radiohead. They were once my favorite band (I mean The Bends and Kid A were both in my top 5 records of all time, favorite), but I just don't love them like I did, whatever. I will again. Two, I just haven't listened to this enough to fully absorb it. It's a dense record, like most of their releases, it's not something you listen to in passing. But I enjoy it a whole hell of a lot.
Recommended If You Like: Oh c'mon, you've heard Radiohead before.

32. Roisin Murphy - "Overpowered"
(EMI) (October 15)

I found that there was quite a few excellent
dance-pop albums this year. Girls Aloud, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Rihanna, Amerie, etc. My favorite is from former Moloko frontwoman Roisin Murphy. Her first album, 2005's "Ruby Blue" was great for it's own reasons. Matthew Herbert's experimental production, subdued dance grooves, and great songwriting. But with "Overpowered" Murphy has gone 100% pop. I mean in all aspects. Doing shows for Gucci, landing high on singles charts, wearing ridiculous costumes, Murphy is going all out. God damn is it fun. It's smart pop, for sure, but your body is going to move. She is blessed with one of the better voices in the business, and the production on this album seems to fit her voice even better. It's just an addicting listen. Listen to a track like "Cry Baby" and tell me this isn't a future #1 dance single.
Recommended If You Like: Girls Aloud, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Moloko

31. Titan - "A Raining Sun Of Light & Love You & You & You"
(Tee Pee) (February 6)

Pure, unadulterated, stoner prog rock. If that line didn't grab you, this album probably won't. 4 songs, 42 minutes of music. Effect laden guitars, awkward Rush-like time signatures, and some of the fattest ELP style organ you've heard in the last 30 years. Titan have created one awesome record to jam to. Even the title is pretentious prog. But whereas most people who are operating in the genre have pristine production, crisp and clean guitar lines, and superb solos, Titan are noisy as hell. A masterpiece of mess. It's like the interludes of your favorite stoned 70s records. Equal parts King Crimson and Can. Equal parts Sabbath and Comus. This music has been done before, and it's been done better, but I'll be damned if this isn't one of the most fun I've heard. Grow your hair out, don't shower, lose your friends, turn your lights to dim, get on some sort of drug trip and just groove.
Recommended If You Like: Comets On Fire, Hawkwind, Amon Duul II


#30-21 tomorrow.


Searcher said...

Yeah, I feel less strongly about In Rainbows than it sounds like you do, although I think that's partially for me not being into them as much at the moment, similar to what you were saying.

I've been told to listen to The National a lot by some friends, I'll get on that.

macon said...

The lyrics on The Dreadful Yawns album are actually great! Not the most complex stuff, just damn precious.