20. A Place to Bury Strangers – A Place to Bury Strangers
While the album couldn’t capture the overwhelming “I’m a stalk of wheat in a raging hurricane” feeling of their imposing live show, I’m not sure I’d want that. There are sharp songs here that have a utility beyond sensory overload.
19.Chromatics – Night Drive
Portland’s Chromatics actually recorded and sorta released two discs this year, and while a combination of the sleek disco anthems from In Shining Violence and Night Drive would have probably cracked the top ten, this stand alone was close enough to a mandate for dreamy obsession.
18.A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Scribble Mural Comic Journal
I sort of expected the Daniels clan to shoo away the fog on their full length debut and boy, they sure didn’t. Bewildering sonics and lovely left turns galore (whoa, they’re Aphex Twin fans!) filled in for the clarity. We finished ahead.
17.Liars – Liars
It was a bit of a recording rush job and in places that’s exactly what it sounds like, but it’s gratefully humanizing too. They don’t just listen to This Heat albums a smoke human bones, apparently.
16.Handsome Furs – Plague Park
Of all the Bruce-sters littering this year’s release calendar I like this one the best, because I believe it the most. The minimal, broken throb of these songs are like the claustrophobic shack that Dan Boeckner’s wail is desperate to escape. It’s the starkness I trust. I mean, if you’ve got string arrangement cash lying around, what’s to complain about?
15.Panda Bear – Person Pitch
I don’t begrudge Noah Lennox the accolades that his blissed out breakout generated, but let’s just be real for a sec. The droning echo that permeates these seven songs only morph into coherence during four. Surely it’s worthy of note, but it’s not suited for the tip top pinnacle.
14.Various Artists – After Dark
For decades it was like Giorgio Moroder had predicted a future that never came to pass, and then it suddenly came to pass!
13.the Fiery Furnaces – Widow City
I had a real Road to Damascus (or, uh, Plane to Oregon) moment with this album recently when I realized it was really, sincerely great. Sure, every insult you could throw at them still applies; it’s too long, Matt F’s penchant for annoying synth tones remains occasionally sadistic, and there are just too many words in there to immediately process. Once you soldier past that though, it’s so human, funny, and even raucously heavy that it’s a shame its makers seem borderline autistic. I mean, “Japanese Slippers” is the pop song the Fall never really wrote, and by now they’ve lost scores of people who might never come back to hear it.
12.Frog Eyes – Tears of the Valedictorian
Valedictory status is conferred on Herr Mercer for expanding his dark and vicious murder ballads to the point that even pure beauty could find a place to rest its head. The tears come because he has to realize that even a career best like this won’t free him from his cramped “cult artist” box.
11.Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
I’m not sure if this album was that much sharper and more enjoyable then the rest of the band’s work, or if I was only now ready to be this intensely charmed by them. Swiss efficiency with barbeque pit warmth.
10.PJ Harvey – White Chalk
On a purely intellectual level, I’d have to respect the idea of White Chalk and how far PJ pushed herself from standard operating procedure. Made almost entirely on an instrument she barely knew and even performed in a vocal register that’s not naturally her own, it’s a profoundly brave artistic statement. That the songs should be so soft and creepy and memorable all at once makes it easy to admire and enjoy. Easily her best record since To Bring You My Love, I’d say.
09.Glass Candy – Beatbox
Maybe three records from Italians Do it Better in one top twenty list is too much, but it’s all exciting music. After slogging through James Murphy’s Fabric compilation I know quite well that even when studiously selected, vintage disco was seldom this laser focused or as killer on headphones for ears removed from the dance floor. Ida No’s affected New Yawk voice makes her my least favorite of producer Johnny Jewel’s girls, but his production here is too sharp for that quibble to rate.
08.Electrelane – No Shouts, No Calls
The early career knock on Electrelane was that they were way too deep in the Marxist lounge shadow of Stereolab to really be taken seriously. In reaction, the ladies morphed themselves into a brooding instrumental rock monster, handing their initially breezy charm to Albini’s waiting claws. They seem to have put all that behind them now, on an lovely, lonely album that’ll be a worthy swan song if this temporary hiatus they’re on inches into permanence. A touch monochromatic maybe, but it’s hard to get sick of golden glow.
07.Radiohead – In Rainbows
It took a while for me to get around the fact that the album’s punk single was actually its marketing plan, and that the music itself was quite modest and subdued. But once I let go of my memories of the band as a pessimistic flag for warming shrugged teenage shoulders, I ended up liking it quite a bit. As did everyone. That should not be read as an endorsement for Thom to continue writing about his sex life, however.
06.Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover
Probably the most snubbed album of the list making season, Spencer Krug’s second opus in as many years dove deeper into ancient mythology and inscrutable personal clues. It doesn’t give up its charms immediately, but it may be even stronger than my favorite record of 2006 (although clearly in a tougher year for competition). Krug’s fan dance of the specific and the vague left you feeling like a hallucinating priest; feeling the weight of confession without any lucid understanding of what sins were actually committed.
05.Deerhunter – Cryptograms/Fluorescent Grey
I defend the inclusion of Fluorescent Grey on the spotty foundation of its function as Cryptograms side three on the lavish vinyl LP. But the addition doesn’t feel like a cheat, so much as a fuzzy idea gradually inching into focus. So much menace and so much sweetness. Did you see that 30 Rock episode where Andy Richter continually played out the day before his horrible ski accident over and over again? If you filmed that plot as a gothic punk art installation, this could be its soundtrack. “I was sixteen, I was sixteen…”
04.Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
Animal Collective’s sound settles down to form some quasi traditional song– still bizarrely positive and full of alien joy but now decipherable without some tribal/hipster Rosetta Stone. Person Pitch tricked us momentarily into thinking that Panda Bear was the band’s floating soul, and then this Avey Tare dominated set blew it away. Far far away.
03.M.I.A. – Kala
02.LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
These two seem intrinsically linked to me, both for their exceptional ability to stuff party playlists and my sneaking suspicion that at this point I’ve got pretty much nothing to add to the mountainous discourse they’ve inspired thus far. Both are made of borrowed bits from decades of pop music, held together by superlative production and force of personality. Both are kept out of the top spot by the objective realization that their standout tracks are slightly too much better than the songs they leave behind.
01.Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, are You the Destroyer?
Looking back now, it seems hopelessly naive to have held out hope that someone would make a better record than this during 2007. It seemed fairly perfect in its own supremely damaged yet deeply life affirming way when the seedy undernet delivered it about fifteen months ago, but i guess I’m one of those never satisfied types. Really, it didn’t leave my personal top spot for even a week of adulterous love with another album. I had this tigress back at home and besides, they didn’t know what to do with me.