Drawer B’s Top Albums of 2007

Posted January 7th, 2008 by Eric Greenwood · 13 Comments

Albums are ranked solely based on listening habits.

Eric Greenwood:

1. Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Polyvinyl

This could have been a catastrophe. It’s an indulgent morass of diary-style lyrics so severely private it’s often too uncomfortable to ingest were it not for the countless hooks, layered, pitch-perfect harmonies, and unforgettably catchy synth riffs. I couldn’t put this record down for weeks on end.

2. LCD Soundsystem, Sounds of Silver, DFA/Capitol

James Murphy makes no attempt to couch his influences in subtle pockets of homages; he blatantly rips off his favorite bands, and those bands just happen to be my favorite bands as well. No one writes dance music for aging record collectors quite like this guy.

3. Interpol, Our Love to Admire, Capitol

I knew this record would be snubbed soundly. It was only a matter of time before the backlash set in, but this is the wrong Interpol record to dismiss, as it showcases a band growing into the grand gestures it once only pretended to understand.

4. Arctic Monkeys, Favourite Worst Nightmare, Domino

“Too English” has never been a criticism that made any sense to me. Blur suffered the same generic write-off from American critics, which just made me think American critics were morons. Music is music, regardless of the accent. Alex Turner is the best lyricist working today, and this record proves that his band’s music has almost caught up with his words.

5. Radiohead, In Rainbows, Self-released

If this had come out earlier in the year, it would probably be my number one pick; This is the gorgeously weird dystopian malaise to OK Computer’s melodramatically obsessive odes to paranoia and corruption.

6. Band of Horses, Cease to Exist, Sub Pop

Ben Bridwell wisely follows up his band’s unexpectedly successful debut without altering the strategy too much. Bridwell’s soaring tenor is still drenched in reverb, and it can be both quietly plaintive and a charging aggressor, depending on the mood of his bandmates. In either case, Cease to Begin is a darkly romantic and arguably superior follow-up.

7. Battles, Mirrored, Warp

Instrumental music has extra work to do to compensate for its lack of human interface, but Battles delivers the goods. The band’s dime-stop technical precision is almost as impressive as its mutated prog symphonies.

8. The Good, The Bad and The Queen, The Good, The Bad and The Queen, EMI

Blur front-man Damon Albarn furthers his chameleon-like versatility with yet another successful incarnation. This quietly understated record is a gloomy postcard to London, serving as a mature distant cousin to his Britpop masterpiece with Blur, the incomparable Parklife album.

9. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Merge

The formula is easy and works every time: write good songs. Britt Daniel’s edgy snarl never grows tiresome, especially when he accents it with such taut, soul-inflected rock. It’s not that Spoon records are all that different from one another, but Daniel’s songwriting chops always manage to impress.

10. The National, Boxer, Beggars Banquet

It’s taken The National years to perfect its subtle and unpretentious mix of dour poetry and country rock on an unlikely foundation of post-punk, and Boxer is the band’s nuanced hour of majesty.

K:

1. Jens Lekman, Night Falls on Kortedala, Secretly Canadian
Not my favorite Lekman album, but that didn’t stop me from listening to this record more than any other in ’07. I’m completely smitten with Jens and his live show was by far the best one I caught in 2007.

2. Burial, Untrue, Hyperdub
I came late to this record but made up for lost time by listening to it any chance I got. It’s haunting and moving and probably the only record in my list that I’ve recommended to everyone I know.

3. LCD Soundsystem, Sounds of Silver, DFA/Capitol
Eric said it best (above), James Murphy makes music for aging hipsters. Aping the songs of my youth will always ingratiate you despite the fact that it makes me feel like a complete sheep.

4. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend, XL
It was bound to happen and despite not wanting to like this indie-rock Paul Simon rip off, I couldn’t turn it off. I hate when that happens.

5. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Merge
I never really cared for Spoon until 2007. Sure they had some catchy songs on previous albums, but I never connected with Britt’s lyrics until Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. A Kinks for the Merge generation.

6. Maps, We Can Create, Mute
This was what I listened to before Burial’s Untrue came along. The intersection of atmospheric electronica and pure pop bliss. Gorgeous music for drifting through space or hurdling through public transit tunnels. Drugs not required. For fans of MBV, Spiritualized, Ulrich Schnauss and Her Space Holiday.

7. Blonde Redhead, 23, 4AD
In An Expression of the Inexpressible this was not, but as previously mentioned, nostalgic sounds of my youth will get you far and this has them in spades. I still can’t believe this album was made by Blonde Redhead.

8. Interpol, Our Love to Admire, Capitol
Eric convinced me to re-visit this record a few months after it came out. He said it was all he was listening to at the time. I gave it a few more spins and indeed it grew on me. Turn on the Bright Lights is still by far my favorite Interpol record, but Our Love to Admire proves that there’s a lot more to Interpol than meets the eye (or ear, as it were).

9. The Maccabees, Colour it In, Fiction
I am a complete and total sucker for BritPop and The Maccabees nail it. A unabashed pastiche of all the right influences. It likely won’t stand the test of time or win any awards for originality, but we’ll always have 2007.

10. Battles, Mirrored, Warp
Other worldly percussion that works its Calgon magic on me whenever it comes on. If Richard D. James discovered the guitar and made a record, this is what I imagine it would sound like.

Kevin Langston:

1. Okkervil River, The Stage Names, Jagjaguwar
2. Akron/Family, Love is Simple, Young God
3. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Merge
4. The Twilight Sad, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, Fat Cat
5. Elvis Perkins, Ash Wednesday, XL Recordings

Logan Young:

1. Radiohead, In Rainbows, Self-released

If the message was in the medium itself, then apparently I didn’t get the memo. What I did get though were 10 incredibly provocative, totally gratis tracks from the most consistently awesome band in the business. Granted, it took half the record before my Catholic guilt started to surface, so as soon as I get paid for writing this I’ve got some errands to run. First, to Carolina First on Forest Drive to cash the check, and then immediately over to Papa Jazz where the deluxe edition lies waiting for my conscience to catch up with my wallet.

2. Einstürzende Neubauten, Alles Wieder Offen, Potomak

I read somewhere that Joyce learned Norwegian just to read Ibsen’s plays. I learned German to study with Karlheinz Stockhausen and scam on unsuspecting fräuleins in West German discothèques. Now that I’ve got that whole word order thing right, I’ve come to the realization that Blixa Bargeld is the best Teutonic bard since Goethe. Lines like “I had a word, an alien one, most inimical to me” as John Cusack on the bridge in High Fidelity would say “just kills me” – even some 200 odd listens later.

3. Thurston Moore, Trees Outside the Academy, Ecstatic Peace

A few months later, here in critical Pazz and Jop mode, what strikes me most about this album is how well its constituent songs stick together as a cohesive unit (something I just didn’t hear in offerings from Battles, those Animal Collective freaks, even Spoon.) And yet, I’m the most hard for the errant few that don’t. I don’t know what you were doing locked in the bathroom at the onset of puberty but chances are it wasn’t “Thurston @ 13.”

4. John Wiese, Soft Punk, Troubleman Unlimited

If by “soft” you mean “loud as a BM in an empty restroom” – and punk really is the complete obliteration of all that’s come before it – well, then yeah. Here, Wiese proves yet again that Americans can be just as powerful and abrasive as anything spewing forth from the Pacific Rim aesthetes. Extra points awarded for Kaz Oshiro’s brilliant cover design.

5. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible, Merge

Best lyric of the year: “When they say they’re cuttin’ off the phone, I’ll tell ‘em you’re not home.” Best way to avoid any Mary J. Blige-like drama when talking about this band and, moreover, this record: unceremoniously reference any line from the first verse of “Intervention.” That should suffice…even for John Kennedy Toole.

6. Deerhoof, Friend Opportunity, Kill Rock Stars

This is what happens, Larry, when you record an album between opening stints for the lads at the top of this list. Just so you know, Satomi Matsuzaki is my newest indie infatuation. I would gladly give up drinking for a week to spend 12 minutes alone with her in my older brother’s basement. Having never had the chance, I’ll have to settle for the 11:45 of “Look Away.”

7. Faust/Nurse With Wound, Disconnected, Art-Errorist

Remember when Kurt Cobain and Michael Stipe were gonna do something together? Well, Cobain shot himself after catching Harvey Keitel’s wee-wee in The Piano so that didn’t exactly pan out. If, like O.J., they did do it and it sounded anything like this here wet dream cum true, I would still be wearing my In Utero tee shirt and forcing myself to say nice things about R.E.M. post-Automatic for the People.

8. Lou Reed, Hudson River Wind Meditations, Sounds True

It’s 2008 and Laurie Anderson’s best boo is still up to his same old tricks. But just because the joke’s on you doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good one. Equal praise goes out to tribute album titan Hal Willner. (Like Bowie on Transformer, Loopy Lou couldn’t have done it without him.) Bottom line: If Lou Reed does in fact practice Tai Chi, then I did not trade my copy of Interpol’s Our Love to Admire for this one.

9. Tristan Perich, 1-Bit Music, Cantaloupe Music

The always adventurous avatars of new music over at Cantaloupe soundly outdid themselves this time around with this stellar objet d’art. Housed in a signed, limited edition jewel case with it’s primitive electronic guts out there for all to see, New York City’s Perich took his love for old-skool glitch and combined it with just enough hipster kitsch to make the whole ordeal worthwhile. Think Nintendo meets Christian Marclay.

10. Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, Epic

With Johnny Marr on guitar full-time and original drummer Jeremiah Green back in the line-up (not to mention three songs worth of backup from Portland pal James Mercer), this could’ve been a contenda’ for something other than dead last. Unfortunate as that is, it was still the best rock record put out by one of the Big Four labels this year. If it’s not a put-on, then Isaac Brock is a certified raving lunatic who desperately needs immediate psychiatric help. I think a lot of it is though, and just like Sammy Johns and that itinerant broad he boffed in his Chevy van, “that’s alright with me.”

Tags: lists

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 K // Jan 7, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Whoops… I totally forgot about Arctic Monkeys. Did that really come out in ’07? Oh well.

  • 2 bigcitysheep // Jan 7, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Thumbs up to Kevin Langston’s #1 placement of Okkervil River.

  • 3 Eduardo // Jan 7, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Nice to see Of Montreal on that first spot. I haven’t heard some of these albums… I’ll try to check them out. Thanks.

  • 4 K // Jan 7, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Yeah, I’m curious about a couple on Logan’s list that I never even heard about. Perhaps we should all listen to something listed above that we haven’t heard or if you’ve heard it all already, perhaps give one of the listed records another listen. I know I should like Elvis Perkins, but I just couldn’t get in to his record. I’m going to give it another spin.

  • 5 Logan Young // Jan 7, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    I just posted some commentary – it may or may not help. I totally forgot about The Good, The Bad and The Queen record and never got around to listening to the whole of Vampire Weekend. Kevin’s The Twilight Sad was on a lot of people’s favs that I trust, but I must admit I never even heard of ’em. I’d gladly give that Blonde Redhead another spin.

  • 6 bigcitysheep // Jan 8, 2008 at 9:17 am

    K, seeing Elvis Perkins live (opening for Okkervil River :)) made me a fan. My husband and I picked up the CD at the show, but I was disappointed to find that the studio versions of the songs didn’t translate as well. Still, my other half had the CD on heavy rotation in our house for a couple months, so I eventually warmed to it.

  • 7 K // Jan 8, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Yeah, I saw Elvis Perkins at Bonnaroo and figured I’d like the album, but it just didn’t grab me.

  • 8 Tug // Jan 8, 2008 at 11:01 am

    I need a copy of that Faust/Nurse With Wound, Mr. Young.

  • 9 Eric Greenwood // Jan 8, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    yeah, faust is super fun to listen to. enjoy that.

  • 10 Logan Young // Jan 8, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Love a few tracks off Perkins’s “Ash Wednesday” – not as an album though. Granted, “While You Were Sleeping” is one of the best lyrical jaunts of the year.

    The Faust/NWW split isn’t as hardcore unlistenable as some of their previous works, actually. If anything, it was suprisingly accessible – in Faust/NWW terms, of course.

    See for yourselves my dears at http://www.brainwashed.com (might also wanna check their review of Mr. B’s Anakrid stuff):

    “Lass Mich”
    http://media.brainwashed.com/common/sounds/mp3/faust_nww-lass_mich.mp3

    “Disconnected”
    http://media.brainwashed.com/common/sounds/mp3/faust_nww-disconnected.mp3

    “It Will Take Time”
    http://media.brainwashed.com/common/sounds/mp3/faust_nww-it_will_take_time.mp3

  • 11 K // Jan 8, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Yeah, that NWW stuff was definitely not on my list of things Logan liked that I should check out. (no offense, L.) I have to admit I find it really amusing that NWW and Radiohead are in the same list.

    Speaking of Thom and the gang, I’ve listened to In Rainbows at least a dozen times but I can’t figure out what all the hype is about.

    I even tried the In Rainbows / OK Computer compilation, which made it better, but I still was bored every other song. And I’d consider myself a fan of Radiohead. The songs aren’t bad, but they don’t strike me as anything more than a logical extension of OK Computer, about a decade late.

    I’m looking forward to checking out Tristan Perich.

  • 12 Tug // Jan 9, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    What’s the In Rainbows/OK Computer comp about? I don’t think I’ve heard of it.

  • 13 K // Jan 9, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Hey Tug, here you go.

    To create the 01 and 10 playlist, begin with OK Computer’s track one, Airbag, and follow this with In Rainbow’s track one, 15 Step. Alternate the albums, track by track, until you reach Karma Police on OK Computer, making All I Need the tenth track on the 01 and 10 playlist. Follow Karma Police with Fitter Happier from OK Computer, for tracks eleven and twelve. These two tracks act as a bridge between the first ten and the following ten tracks on the 01 and 10 playlist. Then continue to alternate the albums again, picking up with Faust Arp on In Rainbows, with Electioneering on OK Computer as the following track.

    Radiohead – 01 and 10 playlist:
    1. Airbag (OK Computer)
    2. 15 Step (In Rainbows)
    3. Paranoid Android (OK Computer)
    4. Bodysnatchers (In Rainbows)
    5. Subterranean Homesick Alien (OK Computer)
    6. Nude (In Rainbows)
    7. Exit Music (For A Film) (OK Computer)
    8. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi (In Rainbows)
    9. Let Down (OK Computer)
    10. All I Need (In Rainbows)
    11. Karma Police (OK Computer)
    12. Fitter Happier (OK Computer)
    13. Faust Arp (In Rainbows)
    14. Electioneering (OK Computer)
    15. Reckoner (In Rainbows)
    16. Climbing Up The Walls (OK Computer)
    17. House Of Cards (In Rainbows)
    18. No Surprises (OK Computer)
    19. Jigsaw Falling Into Place (In Rainbows)
    20. Lucky (OK Computer)
    21. Videotape (In Rainbows)
    22. The Tourist (OK Computer)

    via http://puddlegum.net/radiohead-01-and-10/