Wow. Took me long enough huh? Well here it finally is…sort of. Instead of stuffing all forty of my favorite albums in to one post, which doesn’t give enough time and love to each deserving album, I’ve decided to split it into 4 posts: albums 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, and then finally my top ten favorite albums of 2007. This way you not only get more in-depth analysis of each album but I also get to split one post into four, allowing me to have more consistent new material, and allowing me to be lazier. It’s a win-win situation.
If 2006 represented my first full year of immersion into the independent music scene, 2007 represented my rapid growth as a listener, from a wet-behind-the-ears blogger with no idea what to expect to a seasoned veteran with a more polished, refined taste. I’ve started to learn the ins-and-outs of this crazy industry though, to be fair, I’m still fairly new, and cannot claim to be some sort of musical expert. Some bloggers have done things differently, looking at the top songs or other things, but I believe that, even in the age of the internet with people stealing individual songs, the full album still stands as the most wholesome and telling example of an artist’s work, and I would like to give these bands the respect they deserve by recognizing their albums, rather than individual singles. This is all irrelevant really, because you guys probably just want to see the list. Fine, here we go then, with albums 40-31:
40) T.I. – T.I. Vs. T.I.P. [buy]
While T.I. is not my favorite rapper, his follow up to 2006’s King was my most anticipated hip-hop album of the year. When I first listened to T.I. Vs. T.I.P., I thought that “Tell ‘Em I Said That” and “Help is Coming” were going to be the first singles, so I listened to them over and over again, and fell in love with both, especially “Tell ‘Em”. Then I researched and realized that “Big Shit Poppin” and “You Know What it is” were the singles, and I was thoroughly disappointed, as I thought that “Big Shit Poppin” was quite possibly the weakest song on the entire LP. So, instead of getting upset, I just pretended that “Tell ‘Em I Said That” was the single, and promptly fell back in love with the album. This could top a “best party albums of 2007” list easily.
39) Holy Fuck – LP [buy]
This album came out of nowhere to rock my world, with songs like “Lovely Allen” (featured on the second Instrumental Mixtape) and “Super Inuit” leading the charge. The electronica adventurers from Toronto have crafted an almost entirely instrumental album packed with intense synths and choppy basslines. I feel like, along with Daft Punk, this is the music that robots party to, and since I wish I was a robot, I like partying to this.
38) Bear Colony – We Came Here to Die [buy]
I wrote about this album way back in February and I hadn’t listened to it much since then, but I rediscovered it as I went over my list. I’ve yet to see this album on any top albums list, which just goes to show how many good bands there are out there, and how many get overlooked. Lead vocalist and songwriter Vince Griffin was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2005, and ended up writing all of We Came Here to Die in a hospital bed, so naturally he tackles serious, difficult dilemmas through his melodies and lyrics. His songs are not grim, though, and he does a wonderful job of balancing the strain of his situation with images of hope and determination. All in all, a very well-crafted debut from the multi-talented Griffin.
37) Voxtrot – Voxtrot [buy]
The hotly anticipated debut from Voxtrot fell just slightly short of my expectations but, to be fair, songs like “Start of Something” and “Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, & Wives” (off of their impressive EPs) set the bar ridiculously high. That’s not to say, however, that their self-titled LP is not solid, especially on songs like “Firecracker”, which sounds like a blend of ATG favorites Ted Leo and the Shins. This album didn’t get enough recognition, and I’m expecting a strong follow-up from the quintet from Austin, as well as more new music from Voxtrot-ter Jared Van Fleet’s side project, Sparrow House.
36) Wilco – Sky Blue Sky [buy]
Wilco’s sixth album doesn’t take quite as many chances as their past few albums, as Jeff Tweedy and the gang rely heavily on a country-inspired sound that never seems to fail them. In doing so, the album sounds more coherent than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or Summerteeth, and is consistently enjoyable, yet doesn’t deliver masterpieces like “Jesus, Etc.” or “Heavy Metal Drummer”. Highlights include “What Light” and “The Thanks I Get” (which is a bonus track).
MP3: Wilco – “What Light”
35) Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank [buy]
Nathaniel over at I Guess I’m Floating summed the album up pretty nicely in his editorial back when the album leaked, and he also very eloquently asked all of the naysayers to kindly shut up. Yes, the album doesn’t sound much like their older stuff. Yes, the album is a bit more commercial than their older stuff. But is it every bit as good as their older stuff? You bet. While I’d still give the edge to The Moon & Antarctica in a head-to-head matchup, songs like “Fire it Up”, and even the unbearably infectious “Dashboard” demonstrate Modest Mouse’s depth, and showcase the skills of their newest member, Johnny Marr. Oh, and check the Shins frontman James Mercer’s guest spot on “Florida”, my favorite on We Were Dead.
34) Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala [buy]
I fell in love with Jens Lekman upon hearing “Black Cab” (off of Oh You’re So Silent Jens), so Night Falls Over Kortedala only reaffirms said love. With vocals that sound more like little stories rather than songs, Lekman has created an album that takes listeners back to the pop music that dominated the charts four decades ago. However, his incorporation of lush instrumentals and catchy-as-shit melodies keep the music both fresh and enthralling. Lekman allows the listener to choose whether to sit back and enjoy the beautiful pop melodies or take a deeper listen and grapple with the complex melodramas that he delivers so eloquently.
33) Common – Finding Forever [buy]
My relationship with Common’s music changes with every listen. At times, I get frustrated with his flow (see: his verse in Kanye’s “Get Em High”) and with his appearances in both Gap and Cadillac commercials (which hasn’t been received well in the music community) as well as his acting in Smokin’ Aces. Other times though, I can’t help but enjoy his creative, nostalgic samples of soul and gospel classics, from Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (on “Misunderstood”) to Gil Scott Heron on “The People”. Kanye produces most of the tracks, which as a whole are a bit more obscure, dark and solemn than your typical ‘Ye hooks. Common goes out on a limb more on this album, with more ambitious, quick rhymes that are maybe less accessible, but more profound and interesting than usual. Common may not have found forever, but he’s definitely found a more suitable sound.
32) Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – Living with the Living [buy]
If you told me a year ago that I would not absolutely worship anything Ted Leo ever made, I would’ve laughed in your face, so consider me shocked to be putting this album at #32, and not #1. I am not at all disappointed in the album though, as I figured Mr. Leo and the gang were heading in this direction, and I cannot expect a band to constantly give me the same old sound that I’ve grown to love. This album reaches back to the punk-era sounding more like Fugazi, what with more gritty guitar riffs and drum patterns, and ultra-political and socially aware lyrics. Ted has always voiced his opinion on society, whether it be through his music or through his postings on the band’s website, but Living with the Living removes the allegories and subtle insinuations in songs like “My Vien Ilin”, opting for more overt and direct attacks on government and the administration with songs like “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.” and “C.I.A.”. While this may not be exactly my style, Ted’s signature melodies can still be heard in songs like “Army Bound” and “A Bottle of Buckie”, keeping each and every listener satisfied.
31) Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter [buy]
Singer/songwriter Josh Ritter experiments more on this album than he did on 2006’s mostly acoustic Animal Years, giving the album a more sunny, if not carefree, vibe. Ritter still strips down to an acoustic guitar and cello on songs like “The Temptation of Adam” (my favorite on the album), demonstrating his versatile and unique voice, and immense songwriting talent. This album invokes images of artists such as Elliot Smith or Ryan Adams, and he seems to be on to something with The Historical Conquests. Highlights include “The Temptation of Adam” and “To The Dogs or Whoever”, with an country-folk electronic sound that reminds me of Eels, only better.
That’s it for today. Stay tuned for albums 30-21, and make sure you go pick up these 10 albums if you haven’t already. Also, if this format really truly bothers you, or you don’t really care about my opinion that much, let me know ASAP and I’ll just put together a less in-depth top 40.