Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Favorite Records of 2007

Despite what the little link says at the bottom of the post, these are my (Stonedranger's) favorite albums of the year. DL's will be coming a little later today in another post that will also say "Defensive Listening" at the bottom. Cool? Let's do it (we're missing a couple download links, but they will be there some time today):

Favorite DJ Mixes (Not in order):

  • Spank Rock, Fabriclive 33
  • Jesse Rose, Body Language Vol. 3
  • Lindstrom and Prins Thomas, Essential Mix
  • Ellen Allien, Fabric 34
  • Booka Shade, DJ Kicks
  • Keith P, Bass Music
  • Skull Disco
  • Prince William, XXXL (We Shot a Mix Vol. IV)
  • James Murphy and Patrick Mahoney, Fabriclive 36
Honorable Mentions (Albums):
  • Cass McCombs, Dropping the Writ
  • Ariel Pink, Scared Famous
  • A Place to Bury Strangers, s/t
  • YACHT, I Believe in You, Your Magic is Real
  • Psychedelic Horseshit, Magic Flowers Droned
  • Bjorn Torske, Feli Knapp
  • Modeselektor, Happy Birthday
  • Ulrich Schnauss, Goodbye
  • Dan Deacon, Spiderman of the Rings
  • M.I.A., Kala
  • Dirty Projectors, Rise Above
    Soft Circle, Full Bloom
  • Health, Health
  • The Clientele, God Save the Clientele
  • Pissed Jeans, Hope for Men
  • Electrelane, No Shouts, No Calls
  • Wolves in the Throne Room, Two Hunters
  • Big Business, Here Comes the Waterworks
    Strategy, Future Rock
  • Gui Boratto, Chromophobia
16. The Tough Alliance, New Chance: Although this is a Scandinavian dance pop record with dream pop tendencies that incorporates Afro-beat, reggae, house, hip hop and Latin influences effortlessly, it's still surprising how strange this album is. The two teenagers behind Tough Alliance seemingly came out of nowhere this year (although they've been making music for several years) to create a sugary sweet pop record that is way too emotionally complex, powerful, and memorable for two damn kids to have made. This is just a really fun pop record that doesn't feel stupid. 16 is a strange number to start a year end list with, I know, but I just had to say something about this album.
LINK- "A New Chance"
15. No Age, Weirdo Rippers: So L.A. hardcore is cool again and all that shit, but to me the real story here is how this is only sort of a west coast punk record. Of course there are some total fist pumpers on here for sure, but whenever No Age starts getting into noise build ups and ambient/shoegaze experiments is when the album gets really interesting, making the fast/loud ones seem that much more urgent while injecting a degree of variety and sophistication that separates this album from a pack of similar art/core west coast releases this year. They remind me of the excellent Japanther in many ways, but that never hurt nobody.
LINK "Everybody's Down"
14. Black Moth Super Rainbow, Dandelion Gum: Another record that I couldn't get away from this year, this one had a mood all its own, and the album cover probably provides a pretty good visualization of its sound. Technicolor, abstract and just a little bit goofy, bits of Air, Beta Band, Stereolab and various hip hop influences combine on a record that you'll either love or hate: if you can hang with the robot vocals found on pretty much the entire album, you'll enjoy discovering all the surprises found in the bright sounds and generous grooves. If not, then I don't know what to tell you. Probably a good album for French new disco kids to listen to on a weed break or whatever it is they do when they aren't getting their pictures taken. LINK "Neon Syrup for the Cemetery Sisters"

13. Times New Viking, Present the Paisley Reich: It's rare to see the phrases "harsh noise" and "power pop" used to describe the same record, but you could probably apply both of those descriptors to this record and end up being sort of right. Times New Viking sort of remind me of the punk rock I listened to in high school and junior high, and the album kind of sounds like it was recorded by the same dude who recorded my friend's high school punk band in his parents' garage, but it all totally works far beyond nostalgia. The fierce, bassless lo-fi aesthetic is completely perfect here, as the ultra catchy sing song choruses found throughout shine through with an even greater sense of urgency and excitement thanks to the savvy, less-is-more production choices. Coming off as a long lost late 80's/early 90's Olympia band with a jones for the Descendents and X Ray Spex, Times New Viking have produced an energetic, instantly charming punk as fuck sing along album that I'm praying I'll get to hear live some time soon. LINK "Devo and Wine"
12. Phosphorescent, Pride: This one really struck a chord with me the instant I started listening to it, as the opening lines " I don't want to take it baby, I don't want to break it baby, I don't want to try and make you anyway" start to spread out from a simple acoustic guitar/voice set up into a haunting production with a full band (although lone member Mathew Houck plays every last note) that inhabits a dreamy, almost otherworldly space without wandering far from the organic qualities that make this record so pleasant. The whole thing is quiet, loose, and certainly not a pick me up, but it sounds like it was written by a person who has spent a bit too much time in isolation, and the chance to peer into such an existence is quite rewarding when it sounds this striking and sad. LINK "Wolves"

11. A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Scribble Mural Comic Journal: I'm actually a bit surprised by the lack of attention this album received in the blogosphere, because I though it was one of the most interesting and truly adventurous new records I heard all year. A Sunny Day in Glasgow on Mushrooms would probably be a more complete and appropriate name for this band, as their entire debut record seems to maintain a relaxed, breezy disposition with a clear level of paranoia and chaos resting beneath the surface. Bits of shoegaze, early IDM and avant noise/ambient sound collage are peppered throughout an album that always seems just about ready to ditch song structure and melody all together without ever actually doing it. A truly gorgeous and easy collection of songs that takes risks and rewards listeners who stick around for at least a couple spins.
LINK "No. 6 Von Karman St."
10. King Khan and the Shrines, What Is?!: Fuck. The reason this album rules is actually pretty simple: it is completely exciting in every way that you could possibly expect a rock n roll album to be. I like Black Lips as much as the next dude I suppose, but to me, this was the "garage" record of the year by a long shot. Mixing varying dosage levels of punk, soul and motown in addition to a spastic, electrifying brand of rock n roll that very few people seem to be able to capture anymore, King Khan digs through the vaults to produce a record that succeeds where so many others like it have failed-- it sounds as dirty and authentic as you could want it to without ever resting on the laurels of a well executed genre exercise. It sounds like King Khan is hearing all this music for the first time.
LINK "Welfare Bread"


9. Burial, Untrue: So it seems that this has become the album that you have to include on your 2007 "Best of" list if you want to seem edgy and cool, but shit, denying its greatness because everyone else is jamming to it would be just as bad as singing its praises for the same reason. The truth is, Untrue is probably the most approachable dubstep album ever produced, but that doesn't mean it is any kind of dubstep-lite: dark, druggy liquid basslines rumble in the background as vocal samples and rushes of reverb fade in and out like the soundtrack to a dream as Burial deconstructs R&B and hip hop in a way that someone really needed to. It's still headphone music for record dorks in most parts of this country, but we're lucky enough here in Dallas to have an excellent dubstep night with a great soundsystem (Dub Assembly at Green Elephant) that allows us to hear this material in the right context: loud and with an audience.
LINK "Near Dark"


8. Studio, Yearbook 1: One of the most surprising records of the year for me: two Swedish dudes were somehow able to take The Cure, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, and even a dash of New Order to make what was primarily a kraut influenced rock record that ended up sounding like a space disco party mix gone pop. Reads like convoluted bullshit, right? Well try listening to it, because that is really what it sounds like.

LINK "No Comply"

7. Ricardo Villalobos, Fabric 36: Villalobos sort of has a reputation for being a druged out buffoon on a permanent "K" trip, but the thought and precision involved in creating the material found on this, one of the best Fabric records ever produced, could not have come from someone who didn't know exactly what they were doing. These all original tracks build up in such a subtle manner that you don't even realize the direction their headed, and by the time the album takes off at the end with two tracks heavily influenced by anthemic South American folk pop, the fact that people all over the world are calling Villalobos' material "protest" music doesn't seem quite so surprising anymore, even if the dancefloor is the place where he thinks it will all go down. A truly stellar collection of tracks that form the kind of full length many probably doubted Villalobos was capable of making.
LINK "4 Wheel Drive"

6. Various Artists, After Dark: I know this isn't an album in the sense that it isn't all original material performed by a single artist, but I had to give this one some serious props since it happened to be one of my most listened to records of 2007. These days, most people who read music blogs are more than familiar with the existence of "Italo Disco," so citing it as an influence is no longer the hipster trump card it once was. But where so many who dabble in the genre are simply rehashing long lost dancefloor classics in order to cash in on cool currency, the groups on Italians Do it Better have created a musical universe all their own, taking Euro disco, early German electro and traces of funk influenced American mainstream disco and turning into something that stands entirely on its own. Most of these tracks are icy, sexy, and a bit audacious, but their heavily stylistic nature never overshadows the great substance to be found in the production, which will likely render this group of artists something more than a passing hipster fad.

5. Caribou, Andorra: Dan Snaith always seems to make the kinds of records I would love to make if I made music. Andorra is pure psychedelic pop for the present era, and it is Snaith's greatest achievement as a musician thus far. Heavily steeped in the 60's without ever looking to the past for more than a moment, every song on this album is immediately memorable thanks to a set of influences that ranges from The Zombies to Silver Apples to Arthur Russell and somehow finds quite a happy medium among them, thus helping to push the evolution of psychedelic pop in all the right directions without a single nod to Elephant 6. LINK

4. The Field, From Here We Go Sublime: The label "minimal techno" seems to universally strike fear in the hearts of almost all American audiences, but The Field presents a pretty good argument for how this bias might be overcome. Of course, the only real reason why someone might want to call this a "minimal" record is because of its spot on the Kompakt roster, because when you consider its mesmerizing layers of sound, subdued nostalgic samples and somewhat dancefloor friendly beats, the real achievement of this record truly shines through-- it caters to no particular genre army while revealing the possibilities for emotionally accessible dance music to reach a broader audience. Sure, it's cold, strange, and very Euro, but the mysterious space it inhabits proves quite inviting whenever you permit yourself to stay there for a little while. A perfect soundtrack to a winter of ups and downs.
LINK
3. Panda Bear, Person Pitch: There probably isn't much else that can be said about this album that you haven't already heard, but as a person who was skeptical of its greatness at first, I can say that it took me a little time to figure out exactly what was going on here. Put in its proper context, Person Pitch is an album that is probably stuck between a rock and a hard place in the sense that it is entirely too strange to receive proper recognition from the mainstream as an achievement in pop, while at the same time remaining accessible and familiar enough to be dismissed in some circles as "not breaking any new ground." All that is well and good, but when you permit yourself to get lost in its surprising song construction, triumphant samples and warm, sunny production, "proper context" doesn't seem to matter too much anymore. LINK
2. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver: Just when it seemed like it was time for everyone to start getting sick of this smart ass James Murphy character, the guy went ahead and stuck it to the cynics with an album that was leaps and bounds beyond LCD Soundsystem's exciting yet spotty debut. A lot has been made about some of the slower, more melodic song oriented pieces on the album ( "Someone Great," "All My Friends"), but the dance tracks were equally thrilling-- "Get Innocuous" sounds like David Bowie should have sounded on Let's Dance, and "Watch the Tapes" brims with the kind of excitement that you probably wouldn't expect from "a fat guy in a t-shirt doin' all the singing." The only near misstep is probably album closer "New York I Love You," an obvious ode to Berlin era Lou Reed, but the balls it took to close this album out with a slow, heartfelt piano/vocals piece more than makes up for its initial awkwardness. And oh yeah, I ended up really liking it after a while too.

1. Jens Lekman, Night Falls Over Kortedala: Vice Magazine's review of this record ended with the sentence "The only thing gayer would be to put a homo getting a haircut on the cover." When I first read it, I thought it was one of Vice's funniest reviews in a long time, but it didn't stop me from coming back to this album time and time again in just about any circumstance I encountered over the past few months. I listened to Lekman's larger than life post-modern pop both in moments of great happiness and at my lowest point of the year, and it resonated with me in those contexts more than anything else I listened to in 2007. Not that it's an emo cry fest by any stretch, but the unique combination of sarcasm, sadness and joyous sing-alongs made it pretty perfect for just about any mood. This choice for a #1 is probably more directly motivated by personal experience and circumstance than any other choice I made while making this list, but that is part of why this record was so much fun to listen to, and it's probably why it will be the album that brings me back to these times when I listen to it in the future. But I'm seriously not a homo, dude, I'll totally kick your ass.
LINK "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You"

32 Comments:

Blogger Chad said...

WOOOOOOO! Jens for the win!

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Call, SR. I love Jens!

8:14 AM  
Blogger el tocadiscos said...

well done, sir. well done.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

too bad the new leaked hot chip didn't make this list.

it's so good

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not surprisingly, a solid list. are you doing guest lists this year too?

11:39 AM  
Blogger aaron said...

fuck yes! king khan and the shrines record is soooo badass. glad you agree. did you go the show at gloves?

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where the F is matthew dear??

12:52 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

who's matthew dear?
the only record of that whole list i've heard is Big Business, and not even all of it.

anyways..

best albums of the year (in no particular order except the #1 slot)

1. "Final Recordings" - Chromelodeon

2. "La Cucaracha" - Ween

3. "s/t tape" - Angry Businessmen

4. "pwn teh n00b" - Electro Static Discharge

5. "Dethalbum" - Dethklok

6. "Rise of the Tyrant" - Arch Enemy



Biggest Disappointment: "The Else" - They Might Be Giants.

bye 07

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you can tell by this list, it was a pretty weak year for music.

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you thought this was a weak year for music, you should probably pull your head out of your pretentious ass.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

well just weak for the kind of music 4:30 listens to. duhhh.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Untrue is definitely the album of the year for me.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous uncle beef said...

no, this year pretty much sucked for music. couple of bright spots here and there, but dismal for the most part.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

poor alex never heard of the others.
where you been kid?

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For such a cranky SOB, that's a hell of a Year End list. Well played. Kudos.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

i mean ive heard OF the bands, just never got a listen! Too busy listening to too much dorky music, hence why one of the best albums of the year (to me) is called "pwn teh n00b"

so there ya go.


i guess i dont go out to Good Records enough.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think yours is the first list i've seen without lil wayne.

lil wayne is the bloggers token black guy.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous 4:30 pm said...

I really like about 6 records on this list, but there isn't a true "classic" in the lot.

I'm just not into mashups, 80's flashback electropop, gimmicky dj's, or crooners with horrible voices. So yeah, i should say that it was a weak year for my taste in music.

I don't worry though, because in six to eight months everyone will disown half of these groups.

12:44 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

wow 430... would you mind telling us some of the music you DO like? I'm sure it will blow our minds.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Blackeyed Donkey said...

http://www.allez-allez.co.uk/

this site posted some of the best mixes of the year!!
Zombie Zombie and Studio's mixes are tits!

1:57 AM  
Anonymous sean said...

awesome list, i love the top few the most. LCD was actually number 2 for me as well. #1 was "Dystopia" by Midnight Juggernauts, even though it's only released in Australia so far. those damn aussies give me tingly sensations so much that i'm writing a review for the album when i get back to town. check em out if you like spacey electro dance type shit.

2:57 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Wow.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question: how does one determine if an album is a "classic" if it's been out for less than a year?

And seriously, no matter what your taste in music, there is always new music coming out that you will be into. In this day and age, it takes a few minutes' work to find said music, and tons of it. So if you consider any year a "weak year" for music, either you have extremely narrow musical tastes, or you're just plain lazy.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a pretty great year for music.. glad to see TNV on your list, awesome band, awesome people, awesome record. You should have seen them at J&J's back in March or with Yo !

And this was far from a weak year as far as I'm concerned: Clockcleaner, Times New Viking, Busy Signals, Carbonas, the Lamps, Pissed Jeans, Psychedelic Horseshit, Holy Shit!, Cococoma... all of these bands put out mindblowing LPs (plus a lot of them played in the area) this year and I can't even start to think of all the great singles that came out. Totally amazing year for music.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your honorable mentions list is beter than your actual one.

7:44 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I thought this was a pretty great year for music too... I really like that Clockcleaner album, but I've only been listening to it for a week or two, so I didn't include it on my list.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YACHT!!

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Kiss that ass, people. I find it dick-throbbingly amusing how you lame cunts anonymously kiss the asses of your anonymous WSJR music journalist leaders. Fucking pathetic, bottom-feeding chumps. That's what you are! You're all a bunch of fucking chumps.

I couldn't find ONE band that I even halfway liked in your god awful list you eletist, quiet-cool, ladder-stepping fools.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. Happy New Year!

:B

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously. Not one damn band that I like. And I listen to a shit ton of "new music". Not one. They all just suck. It's as if you're puposefully overlooking all the good bands in the world, and going WAY too far out of your way to simply support the local bands. Just because your friends are in the band doesn't mean you should kiss their ass and make your ass look like an ass-kisser, does it? We aren't stupid.

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now....Happy New Year!!!! Yaaayyyy!!! It's a new fucking year! Whoopeee-fuckin'-doo!!!!

11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lovely, i just brought tons of another emo backgrounds in my blog
http://www.emo-backgrounds.info

12:31 PM  

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