Thursday, December 13, 2007

2007 Year In Review

Here it is. A list of lists to end all lists. Seven of us contributed and we are going to out more people than the Mitchell Report. This really was a fascinating year in music. Don't believe me? Well then how do you explain Of Montreal's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? being ranked the 9th best album of the year by Jim Freeman and making his honorable mention list? That doesn't happen in just some ordinary year. Take in what's written below and feel free to comment and criticize. And please send all non-music related complaints to nql's HR'll see what I mean. Enjoy.

2007 In Review By Alex Crisafulli

Most Hilarious Pitchfork Review of 2007: On August 16, Joe Tangari gave The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 7: 1967 a 9.9. I picture Tangari in his office mulling over the album thinking, “It’s good…but not quite perfect.”

Most Ridiculous Cokemachineglow Review of 2007: On July 18, this served as the first paragraph of a Christopher Alexander review:

“Lester Bangs couldn't handle the Rolling Stones. Bangs was never a dispassionate critic anyway, but when the subject was Mick and Keith, any pretense of detachment flew out the window, and with it his surgical insight and analysis. That may be why I love his work on the band so much. Read in chronological order (as one can in the 2003 collection Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Tastes), one can see in Bangs not so much a disillusionment, but rather a steadfast refusal to bring truth to his illusions. They remain the gods that saved his life when he was fourteen, and as they continue to make bad record after bad record, it's not so much their own reputation they are sullying, but his own memory. And that's why he's pissed off, and it's no small wonder: Bangs' work on the Stones is an example of what happens when your private obsessions no longer correspond to cultural ones; a sustained note of fear that as your avatars and heroes become irrelevant, so do you.”

Wow, Alexander is really giving it to the new Stones’ release, huh? Nope. This was the opening paragraph for Cokemachineglow’s review of Smashing Pumpkins’ just released Zeitgeist.

Most Overused Expression of 2007: And the Bears go 3 and out.

Top Ten Things Said By Craig Finn to Close Out a Show in 2007
10. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.
9. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.
8. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.
7. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.
6. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.
5. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.
4. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.
3. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.
2. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.
1. “There is so much joy in what we do up here…”.

Top Ten Chicago Concerts of 2007 (that I attended)
10. Wilco @ Millenium Park, September 12, 2007 -- This felt like the unofficial end of summer, but on an unseasonably cool September night at the incomparable Millenium Park, Wilco delivered a great set with Jeff Tweedy and the boys in an exceptionally festive mood. They kept playing well into the night and we kept listening. I italicized the word “listening” because I had the $10 lawn seats and couldn’t actually see the band. But it didn’t matter. When Tweedy called out “Nailed it!” after a pepped up version of “Walken” I knew we were in for a good evening. And not being able to see isn’t always a bad thing….remember Jeff’s appearance at the 2006 Lollapalooza? They played songs from every Wilco album, even serving up some “Casino Queen.” The only disappointing part of the night was their refusal to play their classic “This Is Our Country” from all those Volkswagen ads.

9. Neko Case @ Park West, March 29, 2007 -- Remember having to suffer through that ridiculous “art” show on the overhead screen that seemed like a combination of “An Inconvenient Truth” with some Sesame Street mixed in? Well, once Case took the stage all was forgotten, right? What a great concert. I milked as much as I could out of the Fox Confessor… album so finally seeing the songs live brought me some closure. Now who can we blame for that slide show? I bet Ani Difranco has some blood on her hands.

8. Berto Ramon @ Double Door, November 9, 2007 -- Quite simply, the best unsigned band in Chicago. This energetic yet intelligent hip-hop group brought a capacity crowd at the Double Door to a near Biggie-Smalls’-funeral-procession-on-the-streets-of-Harlem like frenzy.

7. The Walkmen @ Schubas, March 11, 2007 -- Packed in at tiny Schubas, lead singer Hamilton Leithauser raged into the microphone like he had just had a home run taken away for too much pine tar on his bat. Also playing a few new songs with Louisiana-like horns, the Walkmen continue to prove they’re a band that needs to be seen and spit on by and not just heard.

6. The New Pornographers @ Union Park, 2007 Pitchfork Festival, July 15, 2007 -- While De La Soul closed out the 2007 Pitchfork Festival for most people, the New Pornographers closed it out for me. Well, that’s not technically true. On the way home, the homeless guy on the El who swore he only needed a dollar and not my entire wallet pretty much officially shut down the weekend. Still a great couple of days though.

5. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists @ The Metro, April 28, 2007 -- I have seen Mr. Leo five times and this is the one that sticks out. Having to be out of the Metro by 10pm and hustle over to the Hideout, they stormed through their set of mostly new material from the recently released Living With the Living. They didn’t even leave the stage for an encore, they just kept playing until their time was up. It's the show I always wanted to see out of Ted Leo.

4. Matt & Kim w/ Dan Deacon @ Logan Square Auditorium, October 2, 2007 -- The Logan Square Auditorium hasn’t smelled the same since.

3. Okkervil River @ Logan Square Auditorium, September 18, 2007 -- Great show as always/expected.

2. The Hold Steady w/ Art Brut @ The Metro, October 31, 2007 -- I’ll never forget where I was on Halloween night of 2007. It’s the Kennedy assassination of concerts.

1. The Arcade Fire @ Chicago Theatre, May 20, 2007 -- Simply put, the best show of the year. If you read below you’ll see Matt Farra claim that the Besnard Lakes rival the Arcade Fire in concert. Pffft. I’ll believe that when I never see it.

Best of the Rest: Rogue Wave @ The Double Door, Tapes ‘n Tapes @ Abbey Pub, Menomena @ The Metro, Band of Horses @ The Metro, Fujiya & Miyagi @ The Empty Bottle

Top Ten Songs of 2007
10. “Halloweenhead” by Ryan Adams -- Everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) grump reminds us with this song what the Rock N Roll album should have sounded like.

9. “Late Night” by Nina Nastasia and Jim White -- Nastasia at her finest. Simple vocals, simple guitar chords, and simple drumbeats yet there is something brilliant about it. Simple but brilliant….pretend that also applies to this description.

8. “Direct Hit” by Art Brut -- Sure.

7. “Heretics” by Andrew Bird -- Thank God it’s fatal. Thank God what is fatal? Beating on Tina Turner? Hmmm, I guess you could say it’s fatal. But an extra forty-five years is still a long time to live with a supposed “fatal” ailment.

6. “The Sons of Cain” by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists -- When we live in a world plagued by controversial issues like the war in Iraq and whether or not Jennifer Love Hewitt is fat, it sure is nice to have Ted Leo around to tell it like it is. I mean, isn’t it?

5. “(Antichrist Television Blues)” by The Arcade Fire -- The Arcade Fire continues their love/hate relationship with religion with this up-tempo song that culminates with a dramatic ending. And yes, I just gave away the entire plot to Jerry Seinfeld’s “Bee Movie”.

4. “The Underdog” by Spoon -- An undeniably great song culled from an album with an undeniably stupid title.

3. “Rotten Hell” by Menomena -- The lyrics say “rot in hell” but the song is called “Rotten Hell”. I don’t have anything clever to say I just wanted to point that out.

2. “Atlas” by Battles -- Back in July at the Pitchfork Festival I wrote this: “I’m sorry, but if this song (“Atlas”) doesn’t seep into your spine and without warning make you start dancing all over the place I don’t know what to tell you.” I still don’t. When I run out of coffee I play this song. When I run out of this song I’m not fun to be around. The polar ice caps know what I’m talking about.

1. “Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe” by Okkervil River -- This song kicks off one of the best albums of the year, one that examines pop culture imagery, mid-level fame, and even one’s inner thoughts the moments before committing suicide. On this particular song, Will Sheff stretches his vocals to ranges not previously seen while discussing art in the eye of the beholder. By the time he screams out, “Hey, I’d watch it.” you’re already hooked. The song ends and you’ll probably give it another listen because it’s undoubtedly a song that’s not going to give everything away on the first listen and that’s what makes it the best song of 2007. ( Oh, and 54 plays on my ipod. Eat your heart out, Farra.)

Best of the Rest: “Fake Empire” by The National, “The Mending of the Gown” by Sunset Rubdown, “23” by Blonde Redhead, “John Allyn Smith Sails” by Okkervil River, “I Feel It All” by Feist

Top Ten Albums of 2007
10. Rogue Wave Asleep at Heaven’s Gate -- This album came out to decent reviews and for whatever reason was essentially dismissed. Big mistake. Recorded after drummer Pat Spurgeon went through a kidney transplant, the album is dedicated to all those that helped with his ordeal along the way. Filled with quirky pop hits that define the Rogue Wave sound, you’ll breeze through this album and not find a bad song among the bunch. Even though it’s coming in at number 10, had there been a category for most underrated album of the year this would have been in the top spot hands down. Notable tracks include “Chicago x 12” and “Like I Needed”.

9. Band of Horses Cease to Begin -- After the release of 2006’s Everything All the Time, Band of Horses saw the departure of co-founder Mat Brooke. Once Cease to Begin was released, any concern that this would hurt their next effort was dashed away faster than Ben Bridwell’s razor. Other than the beards, you won’t find much change from the last album. But that’s a good thing. Bridwell emerges as the star of the show and pens beautiful songs such as “No One’s Gonna Love You” and “Ode to LRC”. Country influences abound as well with the hook shot “Detlef Schrempf”.

8. Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga -- Did we ever get a decent explanation from Britt Daniel as to why the album was named this? And are we as responsible people ready to accept these sorts of antics without demanding the simplest of answers? I’ll look the other way on this one just let me know that’s where everyone else stands so I can move on. Notables include “The Underdog”, “Don’t Make Me a Target” and “Eddie’s Ragga”.

7. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists Living With the Living -- Would you become a vegan for a year if it gave you the ability to craft a great rock album? Me neither. Good thing Ted Leo is around to do it for us. “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.” is the polarizing track on this record. If you make it past that track unscathed, there’s no excuse not to have this record in your top ten. None. Notables include the “The Sons of Cain”, “Who Do You Love?”, “C.I.A.”, and “Bottle of Buckie”.

6. The Arcade Fire Neon Bible -- I know what you’re thinking. Illinois does not deserve to be in the Rose Bowl. False. The way the system is currently made up, the bowl scenarios play out so the Rose Bowl is able to maintain a traditional Big Ten/Pac-10 match-up. Once Ohio State slipped into the BCS championship game, the logical choice for the Rose Bowl committee was to invite the second best team from the Big Ten conference to face USC. That just happened to be Illinois. If anyone doesn’t deserve to be in the BCS it is Kansas. They played a creampuff schedule, had virtually no notable wins, and were exposed badly on national television when they played the only decent team (Missouri) on their schedule. So what happens? Missouri goes to the Big 12 Championship game and loses to a very good Oklahoma team. The fallout begins, Missouri slips out of the BCS and Kansas takes their spot. If anyone got screwed it was Missouri! Pretty much what the BCS is saying is that Missouri would have been better off losing the week before to Kansas and sitting idle the next week while Kansas inevitably gets their doors blown off by Oklahoma. Unbelievable. And don’t talk to me about playoffs. Playoffs?!? Folks, this the system we’re stuck with and it’s not going to change anytime soon. Notables include “Intervention”, “(Antichrist Television Blues)”, “Windowsill”, and “No Cars Go.”

5. Les Savy Fav Let’s Stay Friends -- I think there needs to be at least one good record like this released each year. Nothing too fancy, just some loud and abrasive guitars with a frontman that sings as if he’s shouting over someone during an argument. I just realized that NME also had this album at #5 on their list. I’m not surprised….they’ve been ripping off nql for years. Notables include “Pots and Pans”, “What Would Wolves Do” and “Patty Lee”.

4. The New Pornographers Challengers -- I thought people low-balled this record when it came out in August and I still do. This is what I wrote back then in a response to a less than flattering Pitchfork review. In fact, I like this album so much I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few names from this “super group” pop up in the newly released Mitchell Report. No one could make an album of this caliber without some sort of performance enhancing drug. Notables include “Challengers”, “My Rights Versus Yours”, “Myriad Harbour”, and “The Spirit of Giving”.

3. Okkervil River The Stage Names -- This should be the album that helps Okkervil River shed the “lit-rockers” label. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. But here they prove they’re just as capable as releasing a good, solid rock and roll album as anyone. Nowhere is this more obvious than in second track “Unless It’s Kicks”. The record reaches an appropriate climax, however, when it channels Brian Wilson in last track “John Allyn Smith Sails” and morphs into a cover of Sloop John B while detailing the last moments of poet John Berryman’s life. Those still clinging to the band’s “lit-rock” image won’t be disappointed as Sheff continues to carefully weave thought-provoking lyrics in the story-telling style that he has made all his own. Notables include the aforementioned “Unless It’s Kicks” and “John Allyn Smith Sails”, and “Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe” and “Plus Ones”.

2. Menomena Friend and Foe -- If you scroll down you’ll notice this album may have received the most acclaim by average of nql contributors. It’s very deserving. One listen to this album and you realize you probably won’t hear anything like this until Menomena puts out their next record. Only Menomena can capture this sort of eclectic musical bravado and groove it into songs that are both bizarre and catchy at the same time. The songs are a testament to the democracy of this band as all three members share song writing and singing duties all the while sharing instruments with the same ease that Bill Clinton and Martina Navratilova used to demonstrate when sharing girlfriends. Notables include “Muscle ‘N Flow”, “Weird”, “Ghostship”, “Rotten Hell” and “Air Aid”.

1. Nina Nastasia and Jim White You Follow Me --All hail the dark horse! Trying to capture the best album in a year filled with amazing music is not easy. I had five potential albums that I thought could realistically fill this spot. The album I kept coming back to was this one. No other album from the past year so consistently keeps getting stronger as it nears the end. Nastasia’s vocals sound haunted at times and beautiful at others. Jim White’s percussion moves the album along and manages to give the album serious depth beyond Nastasia’s vocals. The album doesn’t last much longer than the 30-minute mark which to me is one of its strong points and makes it obvious that anything that wasn’t up to par was left on the cutting room floor. Produced in classic Steve Albini fashion, everything is stripped down to its most simplistic form and proves that Albini is at his best when behind the scenes. At the end of the day, the lyrics are what make this album a triumph and prove that poetry and good songwriting should never be considered mutually exclusive. And that is why this is the best album of 2007. Notables include “Odd Said the Doe”, “Our Discussion”, “Late Night” and “How Will You Love Me”.

Best of the Rest: The Reminder by Feist; Wincing the Night Away by The Shins; Icky Thump by The White Stripes; 23 by Blonde Redhead; Random Spirit Lover by Sunset Rubdown; Armchair Apocrypha by Andrew Bird--AC

2007 In Review By Brian Herrmann

10. Besnard Lakes Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse -- Sometimes all it takes for me to love a record is a strong positive association--like the one I have with Are the Dark Horse. The day I got this album was shitty: rain to freezing rain to snow to ice, stranding my wife in Indianapolis and rendering motorists retarded in Bloomington (driving tests should be administered in the snow…anyone who loses their cool doesn't get a license, ever). But it was also the day I got a cell phone that actually worked, the day I reconnected with an old friend I hadn't spoken to for almost four years, and the day I got Dark Horse. All of these circumstances conspired, leaving me alone in our apartment to get hammered on leftover Miller Lite and to listen to Dark Horse over and over and over.

9. Dälek Abandoned Language -- Abandoned Language machined the spurs off Dälek's previous output while remaining indulgent to their dual predilections for noise and jam: they are hip-hop's Sonic Youth (wanna fight about it?). The packaging and liners are as inscrutable as the hazy lyricism of "Content to Play Villain". And, to me, packaging is as important a part of the message as any beat or couplet. Speaking of, Dälek said, "Never write my songs for consumers / I rhyme it cuz I write for heads with fat laces on they Pumas." Hells yeah.

8. Twilight Sad Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters -- I didn't figure out my adolescence until I was 25 either.

7. El-P I'll Sleep When You're Dead -- Once, aged 14 or so, I set a ping pong ball on fire in my bedroom because my friend Eric told me it would explode when set to flame. It did, but what Eric didn't tell me was that the melting, smoldering plastic would burn a big black ring into the carpet. While my carpet was being destroyed, I was simultaneously exhilarated (sweet, it worked) and terrified (oh shit, it worked). That's what happens when I listen to I'll Sleep When You're Dead: excitement and dread at the same time, an auditory metaphor for our impending sucky future. But maybe it won't be so bad: My parents never said anything about the burn mark.

6. Okkervil River The Stage Names -- Possessed of a different perspective than most folks, Will Sheff doesn't write elegies or songs as much as he writes stories. No simple paean to a lost soul, "Savannah Smiles" isn't about a porn star's suicide, it's about a porn star's suicide's effect on a father who can only see his daughter "age 8" and regret that he may have had a hand in her demise. "John Allyn Smith Sails" is a suicide mission statement ("wise men know when it's time to go") blending elements of truth and conjecture, transforming "Sloop John B" from a song about homesickness into something else entirely. Ultimately, though, The Stage Names is an album about being in the middle (life isn't a movie, after all), composed, ironically, by a band at the height of their craft.

5. The National Boxer -- Matt Berninger writes lyrics like a, uh, writer: vivid with detail and imagery, employing alliteration, sibilance, and anaphora. But his lyrics wouldn't hold up as well if it weren't for the crack band behind him and the moody tension they create. The triptych of "Slow Show", "Apartment Story", and "Start a War"--with their yearning, joy, and resignation, respectively--nail squarely the "unmagnificent lives of adults."

4. The Field From Here We Go Sublime -- I don't possess the lexicon to discuss this album intelligently. I do know that Sublime outed me as a techno fan because I couldn't shut up about it.

3. Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga -- In which Britt Daniel proves definitively that Gimme Fiction (itself a good album) was a speed bump between masterpieces. I've heard Daniel called aloof or distant, but I don't get that impression at all: I would call him unflappable, totally cool, all business. He doesn't show his dick onstage or dress up like a lobster because he doesn't need to; his songs speak for themselves. And as long as Daniel & Co. keep churning out tunes as impeccable as "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb", "Rhthm and Soul", and "The Underdog", I'll keep listening and being pleasantly amazed.

2. LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver -- Sick. The only thing better than listening to Sound of Silver is hearing it live.

1. Menomena Friend and Foe -- It's odd how difficult it was to sum up what I like about my favorite album of the year--probably because Menomena go in every direction on Friend and Foe. The album's multifaceted influences, sharp musical turns, and peaks and valleys evoke the time in which we live--overwhelming, full of duality, ominous, more than a little bleak (where people long to be machines, because machines are useful). Ironically, the song that sticks out most, "Ghostship", is the album's simplest and most straightforward. Riding a bass line fit for its titular vessel, the song is a closed lyrical loop that speaks volumes: Awash in a sea of (mis)information it's hard to judge what has value, to mete out the bullshit, or decide where to place your loyalty. It just takes a little faith to muscle on.

Hon. mention: St. Vincent Marry Me; White Stripes Icky Thump; The Shins Wincing the Night Away; A Sunny Day in Glasgow Scribble Mural Comic Journal; Band of Horses Cease to Begin

Most overrated/over-lauded: Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?; Jens Lekman Night Falls Over Kortedala
Is that you Fauna......and are you the destroyer? Well, whatever the case, Brian thinks you're overrated.

Most anticipated album I haven't heard yet: Wu Tang Clan 8 Diagrams

Best non-2007 album purchased in 2007: Mark Hollis s/t--BH

2007 In Review By Matt Farra

Top Songs To Play in Your Stereo of 2007
10. “Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe” by Okkervil River -- Makes me want to join a fraternity and bong a beer. If this song isn’t in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or the next Zach Braff movie, I will give myself herpes. (16 times played on my play count on Itunes).
Hey Will Sheff, someone has their eyes on you!

9. “Beautiful Life” by Gui Boratto -- Play while your parents are over or while on heroin—or both. Eight and a half minutes to change your life from this Brazilian Warren Zevon. (9 times)

8. “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives” by Los Campesinos -- This Scotland version of The New Pornographers make A.C. Newman and Neko Case seem like Sonny and Cher. Not 1960s Sonny and Cher, rather more like 2007 Sonny and Cher, only with Tiny Tim as Sonny—oh wait, he’s dead too. (14 times)

7. “All The Old Showstoppers” by The New Pornographers -- This Canadian outfit makes Swan Lake’s collaborative effort seem more like Yawn Lake. This was the first song Magic Johnson heard after finding out that there was no sign of H.I.V. in his body. Listen to this song with or without an STD. (19 times)

6. “Is There a Ghost” by Band of Horses -- This song makes their previous hit "The Funeral" seem like a song in a Ford commercial. I predict that you will be hearing this song, very soon, in a commercial for The boys love being able to get some extra cash around the holidays. If this band keeps on pace with putting an album out every year, with songs like this, then they will put out one album every year for as long as they last with at least one song that sounds like "Is There a Ghost". (13 times)

5. “Bros” by Panda Bear -- In just over twelve minutes, this song is perfect to play while watching an episode of Sealab 2020. O.K., that’s a lie. One of my friends told me that last week he was listening to this song when his girlfriend tried to interrupt him and talk to him about something like paying bills or some other meaningless topic. While turning up the stereo, he quickly responded, “Bros before hoes.” (7 times)

4. “All My Friends "by LCD Soundsystem -- While New” York may be bringing James Murphy down, the piano in “All My Friends” made me one happy camper. I think the “intro” to this song might be the best “intro” since the theme song to Mr. Belvedere. LCD Soundsystem was by far my favorite concert of this year. (14 times)

3. “All I Need” by Radiohead -- I just noticed that three of my top ten songs begin with “All”. This song takes me back to "Street Spirit". If Thom Yorke makes “love songs”, surely this is one of them. (16 times)

2. “Atlas” by Battles -- While the beat may be similar to Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People”, this song is just as catchy. This isn’t your mother’s “prog rock” band. This song makes me want to throw up—in a good way. (6 times)

1. “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” by Of Montreal -- While the meaning of this song is obvious from the title, I prefer to focus on the catchy beats in throughout this track. I mean, “come on chemicals.” I still think that if you ask people where in the world Of Montreal is from, the last place most people would pick would be Georgia (the state). (20 times).

Top Ten Albums (In Particular Order) of 2007
10. Radiohead In Rainbows -- Ever heard of them? They are my sleeper album of the year. Seriously, this album is great to hear in the morning, afternoon, or evening. I have listened to this album while seeing a baby delivered and while burying my grandfather. “All I Need” is a song that should be played at the beginning of Cameron Crowe’s next movie. Hopefully their placement at #10 will not affect their album sales.

9. Dr. Dog We All Belong -- This Philadelphian outfit, whose big break came in 2004 when they joined My Morning Jacket on tour. Call them 2007’s David Bowie. Call them Joran Van Der Sloot’s favorite band. But whatever you do, don’t listen to this album on mute.

8. Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? -- It’s easy to forget this album. But I played it every day for two months back in the Spring. Of course that was because it was my first vinyl album, unless you count my collection of Kenny Loggins albums from my parents basement.

7. Spirit If… by Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew -- I don’t quite understand if this is a Broken Social Scene album or a solo effort, but it doesn’t really matter. F—Ked Up Kid is a kick-ass song, even if its title looks like a dyslexic person trying to talk about the father of Britney Spears’ children.

6. Loney, Dear Loney, Noir -- My first of two Sub Pop members. The whole album is fantastic. In the Year of the Swede, leave it to Emil Svanagen to tell Jens Lekman, Beowulf, Dungen and Tiger Woods’ wife to say “Suck It Scandinavians.” After hearing this album once, your significant other will no longer be Loney.

5. LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver -- I would recommend listening to “Get Innocuous”, “Time to Get Away”, “North American Scum”, “Someone Great”, “All My Friends”, “Us vs. Them”, “Watch the Tapes”, “Sound of Silver” and “New York I Love You But You’r Bringing Me Down”.

4. The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse -- While lead singer Jace Lasek’s may look like David Koresh, the similarities do not end there. The cult singer phenomenon from Montreal put a horse in flames on the cover of this album (remember the Branch Davidian and the burning geldings?). While sounding eerily similar to The Beach Boys, this band actually rivals their neighbors Arcade Fire in their concerts. But who wouldn’t, with Hacksaw Jim Duggan as your drummer. HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

3. Band of Horses Cease to Begin -- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Their second album should have been titled Everything All the Time, Again. Ben Bridwell has the bravado of original Sub Pop darling Isaac Brock (of Modest Mouse)—which hopefully doesn’t turn out to be a bad thing.

2. Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha -- I can’t believe I am picking this album so high on a Chicago blog. All I can say is that my wife got the opportunity to talk to the 5 foot nothing violinist after a show, and told him “You are one hardcore whistler.” Take that Peter Bore and Yawn.

1. The New Pornographers Challengers -- This album had me at Play. Tell me a song you skip on this album and I will tell you that Dan Bejar is my next-door neighbor…on both sides of the street. That’s right, because he is that rich.--MF

2007 In Review By Travis Newman

Top Ten Albums of 2007
10. Panda Bear Person Pitch -- If you had asked me in the summer, this would have been in the top five, but my desire to listen to this fell as the weather worsened. Do you think Panda just has a button in his studio labeled “Brian Wilson”?
Best Track – This album has tracks?

9. Liars Liars -- Suffers some from the lack of unifying concept of previous albums, but this freedom also results in some awesome stand-alone tracks.
Best Track – “Plaster Casts of Everything”

8. Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, You Are the Destroyer? -- Like Blur’s 13, but gayer.
Best Track – “Suffer For Fashion”

7. Sunset Rubdown Random Spirit Lover -- Full disclosure; I haven’t had this album long nor listened to it as much as everything else considered on this list, but my love for it was immediate. Spencer Krug’s third straight appearance on my top 10 albums of the year list.
Best Track – Preliminarily, “The Taming of the Hands That Came Back to Life”

6. The Shins Wincing The Night Away -- Sneaky excellent.
Best Track – “Sleeping Lessons”

5. The National Boxer -- If anyone saw their live show, I swear the newly touring violinist was the basis for Todd Barry’s annoyingly mugging and unjustifiably cocky bongo player on "Flight Of the Conchords". This guy made his way towards the center of the stage on the climax of nearly every song with his “see how I’m playing the shit out of this violin!!!” posturing, while the rest of the otherwise muted band shot incredulous glances at one another.
Best Track – “Fake Empire”

3.(tie) Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga -- This album along the aforementioned three could all be album of the year as far as I’m concerned. Listening to GGGGG through headphones underscores the studio brilliance of this perfect indie pop album.
Best Track – “The Underdog”

3.(tie) LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver -- Bookended with perfect openers (“Get Innoccous”) and closers (“New York I You”) “Hipster-bating” James Murphy incorporates Hipster loves (Krautrock, Bowie/Eno, Post-Punk) into a tight and dance-y album.
Best Track: Instant Anthem, “All My Friends”

2. Menomena Friend and Foe -- Ingeniously composed pop songs; I’ve loved this album wire-to-wire, and it gets better every listen. I wouldn’t argue with anyone choosing this as AOTY.
Best Track – “Evil B” in close race

1. Radiohead In Rainbows -- Subtle in its brilliance, there’s a good reason why it’s the most obvious/least sexy pick for AOTY
Best Track: “Reckoner”

Others Receiving Votes: Les Savy Fav; Deerhunter; Andrew Bird; Animal Collective; Caribou (although 9th best album of 1966); Okkervil River; Marrdest Mouse; A Place to Bury Strangers; CYHSY; Justice

Top Songs (in no particular order) of 2007
“All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem
“Reckoner” by Radiohead
“Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe” by Okkervil River
“Melody Day” by Caribou
“Imitosis” by Andrew Bird
“Song For Clay” by Bloc Party
“D.A.N.C.E.” by Justice
“The Underdog” by Spoon
“Don’t You Evah” by Spoon
“Suddenly It’s A Folk Song” by Future of the Left

Most Disappointing Albums of 2007
1. Bloc Party A Weekend in the City -- 75% of the album sounds like the soundtrack to a Noxzema commercial

2. Interpol Our Love To Admire -- Our Creativity To Admonish

3. Dungen Tio Bitar -- Rare misstep for a Swedish band

4. Voxtrot S/T -- You know how their E.P.s usually had 3 outstanding songs and 1 or 2 in the ‘meh’ category? They reversed that ratio for this album.

5. Pearl Jam S/T -- Wait…I’m not sure if I even listened to this album. I guess that’s the problem.

My Holiday Gift of 2007
With it being cheaper and easier for bands to get their name out there these days with the internet, and blogs, and DIY success, here’s five suggestions to help some bands simplify their names, so they can be easier to remember for the increasingly short-attention span of today’s audiences:

1. Any Graveyard (A Place to Bury Strangers)
2. Pacman Jones (Panic! At the Disco)
3. Biker Boyz (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club)
4. Windbreaker (My Morning Jacket)
5. My Morning Jacket (Band of Horses)--TN

2007 In Review By Matthew Schuhmann

Top Albums (from 1-10) of 2007
1. The Shins Wincing the Night Away
ritalin + prairedoggin' = indie goldenboys

2 - Band of Horses Cease to Begin
(beards + sloppy joes) / equestrian sports = Detlef Schrempf

3 - New Pornographers Challengers
Carl Newman = red head
red hair = awesome
therefore Challengers is good

4 - Dethklok Dethalbum
cartoons + metal = Briefcase Full of Guts

5 - Art Brut Its a Bit Complicated
Eddie Argos is Rock, the rest is just details

6 - Ween La Cucaracha
brown + = boognish

7 - Don Caballero World Class Listening Problem
don cab = good

8 - Avenged Sevenfold Avenged Sevenfold
Carrie Donovan + barbed wire = denver omelet

9 - Battles Mirrored
helmet + tomahawk + don cab + Storm & Stress = (insert something clever)

10 - The Hives The Black and White Album
black + white = hives

HONORABLE MENTION: Baroness The Red Album; LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver; Panda Bear Person Pitch; Qui Loves Miracle; Wolves in the Throne Room Diadem of 12 Stars--MS

2007 In Review By Jim Freeman

Top Ten Albums (from 1-10 )of 2007
1. Menomena Friend And Foe -- Upon first listen, I knew this truly innovative album would rank high on my favorites list. Multiple non-traditional “rock” instruments give this album a unique and fresh vibe. No matter how much I may have overplayed this album, the whimsical melodies and biting lyrics never seemed to get old. “So I won't let how I sincerely feel here stand in my way”—my clear-cut favorite album of the year.

2. The New Pornographers Challengers
3. The Arcade Fire Neon Bible
4. Caribou Andorra
5. Les Savy Fav Let’s Stay Friends
6. Liars Liars
7. Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
8. Radiohead In Rainbows
9. Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
10. The National Boxer

Honorable Mentions: Peter Bjorn and John Writer’s Block; Thurston Moore Trees Outside The Academy; The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse; Sunset Rubdown Random Spirit Lover; LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver; Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha; Deerhunter Cryptograms; Band of Horses Cease To Begin; Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?—JF

2007 In Review By Ryan Bigg

Top Ten Albums (from 1-10) of 2007
1. The National Boxer -- Never, in my life, have I come across something that is such an utterly perfect companion for any imaginable mood, except maybe a McGriddles....and that is just a maybe.

2. Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
3. Arcade Fire Neon Bible
4. Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha
5. LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver
6. Peter Bjorn & John Writer's Block
7. Okkervil River The Stage Names
8. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
9. Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
10. Band of Horses Cease to Begin

Also-Ran: Shout Out Louds Our Ill Wills; Radiohead In Rainbows; The New Pornographers Challengers; Maximo Park Our Earthly Pleasures; The Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McGriddles* ; Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank; Ted Leo & Pharmacists Living With The Living; The Apples In Stereo New Magnetic Wonder

*(although, technically, not an album, some sort of recognition needs to be given to this culinary wonder)--RB

Thanks to all those that contributed, for those that missed the deadline feel free to post any thoughts on 2007 in the comment section.--AC


Alex said...

We have a quick correction already. Matt Farra's top songs were mistenly listed in the wrong order. It's his fault because they were sent to me in a very confusing manner. That said, what's listed as his #10 is actually his #1. So "Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe" was his top song of the year and one of the few things he actually got right. I apologize for the confusion.

ewf said...

Most overused phrase of 2007--"At the end of the day..." More like, "At the end of your life" if I hear that again. Good taste in music all around. Except for that Schuhmann feller. What's his problem?

ewf said...

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, where is Panda Bear>>>>???

James said...

more like ga ga ga ga gag me with a Spoon!

Alex said...

At the end of the day, there is a good chance that I use that phrase all too often. But duly noted, "at the end of the day" needs to take a break for awhile.

Panda Bear was on there, I believe. Didn't Farra make a mention? I'm surprised there wasn't more St. Vincent or Kanye...these are omissions I made as well. Not sure what is wrong with me.

Alex said...

It has come to my attention that Los Campesinos are Welsh and not Scottish. Hey Farra, nice fact-checking. Jackass.

Travis said...

I made a couple of conjunction related mistakes:

Friend and Foe (not or)

Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe (not but)

Travis said...


There were a bunch of albums I never got around to listening to, to include Kanye and St. Vincent (who I hear is some kind of girl).

Most overused phrase of 2007 - "It's not my first rodeo"

Best Trend of 2007-
The use of vocoder in virually every other Top 40 Radio song.

Blake F. Ecksnow said...

I referred to them as Scottish on purpose. If it gets the best band of 2008 all hot and bothered--then they know where to find me.

Alex said...

I really like that St. Vincent album and I may have looked past it. Styx used a vocoder to simulate the robot talking in Mr. Roboto so you can thank them for getting the bus rolling.

Post Paint Boy said...

"I know what you’re thinking. Illinois does not deserve to be in the Rose Bowl."


Jim P. said...


1. Radiohead: In Rainbows - I like this band from England. 'Reckoner' might be their best song.
2. Spoon: Ga, etc. - Somehow, their songs keep getting better.
3. Panda Bear: Person Pitch - I wish the Animal Collective album was this good.
4. The Shins: Wincing... - I thought this sucked at first, then I was too lazy to find something else to listen to, now I love it. Same thing happened with Room on Fire a couple years ago.
5. Arctic Monkeys: Favo[u]rite Worst Nightmare - just really solid. 'Do Me a Favo[u]r' is awesome.
6. Black Lips: Good Bad not Evil - I'm a sucker for the '60s British Invasion sound - this is a little better than the Caribou album musically. The album cover is worse though.
7. Klaxons: Myths of the Near Future - someone should tell the NME about this band.
8. Menomena: Friend and Foe - If I was to make this list months from now, it might be higher.
9. LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Bowie - I like Bowie and computers, ipso facto, I like this album.
10. Shout out Louds: Our Ill Wills - Sweden must be represented.

Most overrated: Arcade Fire - Neon Bible. It's not good.

Most disappointing: Bloc Party, Interpol, Voxtrot, Arcade Fire - all because their albums are crap. Animal Collective and Future of the Left - because their albums are only good when I expected them to be great.


Alex said...

You watch...Illinois will give USC a run for their money.

Nice list.....but Arctic Monkeys?!? Didn't we all agree they sucked two years ago? (Although to be honest I haven't even heard one song off their latest album).

bcp said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog (Listen to My Eyes). Solid breakdown of the albums, songs and bands of 2007, you guys certainly covered all the bases and are pretty dead on.

Look forward to coming back to the site.


Chris said...

Thanks for checking out my blog and for the debate. Maybe I'll put that album away for a little while and give it another try.


Travis said...

Did I read it wrong, or was there seriously no Menomena in Pitchfork's Top 50?

This is worse than the 5 minutes of Duel I watched last night.

Alex said...

Fo real? Didn't they also call it the best album thus far when they reviewed it back in Feb. or so? Maybe they didn't want to copy us.

Blake F. Ecksnow said...

I am sure PFM was pissed at this site for none of its writers having Lil' Wayne in the Top 20--which they did. Not to knock Lil' Wayne, but don't you think that putting a lil' bit of Wayne at #16 makes them Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. If only a Person Pitched in at PFM--then we wouldn't be In Rainbows.

James said...

Oh my, Peter Bjorn and John came out last year? Where has the time gone? Best album of 2008--Black Mountain-In the Future. It is in the future, and it is good! Get it? I don't think I do.

Alex said...

Writers Block did come out in 2006 but wasn't released in the U.S. until February of 2007 so it counts. Plus, the use of "Young Folks" in Grey's Anatomy, House, that Hyundai commercial Sportscenter, Real Sex 19, and the Phil Spector murder trial all happened in 2007.

Brian said...

Travis, I was also appalled by the omission of Friend and Foe from PFM's top 50. I scrolled back through the article twice to make sure I wasn't having a seizure. There's no way Robert Wyatt's new album is better than F&F. No way. And PFM picked The Pelican as one of the year's best songs. It's good, but I can think of like 6 better songs on F&F itself. Oh brother.

eXTReMe Tracker