Monday, December 10, 2007

Top 25 albums of the year (according to me)

Today is the beginning of my year end wrap up. I'll have some more lists this week, including my songs of the year post. Before I get to the list, I just want to say that I can't remember a year in which as much great music was released as this one. I initially set out to do a list of my ten favorite albums this year but that soon became impossible, then it was 15, then 20, and finally i settled on 25. Truth be told, i probably could have made a top 50, but that's just a bit too much i think. So here it is, my 25 favorite albums of the year. The top 5 are for sure my 5 favorite but beyond that it's not so clear cut. I tried to put it all in order but it's hard to decide. Basically, if you think I like the #6 album exponentially more than #25, you're wrong. Hope you enjoy it.

25) Film School - Hideout

Apart from having my favorite album art of the year, Hideout continues on the path that Film School's previous albums followed, but it's bigger and more grand than anything they've done in the past.

MP3: Film School - Lectric

24) Caspian - The Four Trees

I got into Caspian by accident. I went to see This Will Destroy You and these guys from Massachusetts happened to be playing too. They blew me away. Expect big things from this epic Post Rock band in the future.

MP3: Caspian - Asa

23) Marissa Nadler - Songs III: Bird On The Water

This songstress from Boston released one of the years most subtly beautiful albums. She reminds me a bit of a more melancholy Joanna Newsom. Check out here Take Away Show with La Blogoteque here.

MP3: Marissa Nadler - Sylvia

22) Blonde Redhead - 23

Blonde Redhead have been around for a while but this is the first of their myriad of albums that has really grabbed my attention. I'm a sucker for walls of shoegaze-y guitars and those are abundant here. You'll get lost in this one for sure.

MP3: Blonde Redhead - 23

21) St. Vincent - Marry Me

Marry Me is one of the most impressive debut albums I have ever heard. Annie Clark has talent for days and it shines through in her songs. I definitely expect lots of great albums from her in the future. Check out her beautiful Take Away Show here.

MP3: St. Vincent - Paris is Burning

20) Interpol - Our Love To Admire

Turn On The Bright Lights is one of my favorite albums released in this decade, and while Interpol have never been able to match their debut masterpiece, they have consistently released enjoyable albums and this one is no exception.

MP3: Interpol - No I In Threesome

19) John Vanderslice - Emerald City

I love the way John Vanderslice albums sound. His classic approach to recording (nothing digital, all tape) lets you hear every bit of the music, nothing is clipped or "corrected". I love it when people stubbornly resist change.

MP3: John Vanderslice - White Dove

18) The Forms - The Forms

The Forms released their debut, Icarus, way back in 2003 but as the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. It's a very applicable colloquialism to use here, because when I heard about this new album it quickly became one of the more highly anticipated arrivals of the year. Well worth the wait. Watch for the subtle time changes, absolutely brilliant.

MP3: The Forms - Knowledge In Hand

17) Panda Bear - Person Pitch

I love fucked up pop songs and this is an album absolutely brimming with fucked up pop songs. Noah Lennox (aka Animal Collective's Panda Bear) has come up with one of the greatest pop tinged pieces of psychedelia to be released in a long time. "Bros" is a timeless classic that our children will be blown away by when they start doing drugs.

MP3: Panda Bear - Comfy In Nautica

16) Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

There was no way that Neon Bible could top Funeral. It simply wasn't possible, and anyone who was expecting it to is a sucker who was bound for disappointment. With that being said, this is a great album. It's political without sounding whiny, and in this day and age of really boring and self satisfying "protest songs" it's a welcome treat.

MP3: Arcade Fire - No Cars Go

15) Radiohead - In Rainbows

Definitely the most talked about release of the year, and perhaps the most talked about in quite some time. Radiohead's latest LP isn't the masterpiece that some label it as but it got everyone talking, and the day of it's digital release, dubbed Radiohead day by everyone I know, was the most interactive musical experience I have had since downloading music became an option. It felt like it used to feel the Tuesday a big album was released.

MP3: Radiohead - All I Need

14) Low - Drums and Guns

Drums and Guns backpedals a bit from the heights of The Great Destroyer and in doing so perfectly bridges the divide between it and Low's earlier, more minimalist output. It seems as if they've found a comfy little nest there and I hope it allows for many more albums as good as this one in the future.

MP3: Low - Murderer

13) The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse

This one is a grower. After my first few listens I wasn't overly impressed, but give it some time to sink in and you'll find yourself going back again and again. The 1-2 combo of album opener "Disaster" and it's second song mate of "For Agent 13" make for one of the better album opening duos of the year.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes - Because Tonight

12) Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

I never expected this from Sam Beam. Beam's first album, the absolutely divine The Creek Drank The Cradle is a graduate level course in the "more is less" credo, yet here we are 5 years later and Iron & Wine have released the best folky psych rock album I may have ever heard. In fact I don't even think there is another album like this one that I have heard. Brilliant.

MP3: Iron & Wine - Boy With A Coin

11) Songs Of Green Pheasant - Gyllyng Street

Gyllyng Street came out of nowhere. I had never heard of Songs of Green Pheasant before this release but I will definitely remember them now. The story of how Duncan Sumpner got signed to Fat Cat is pretty amazing. You can read about it here. The album cover describes the songs inside incredibly well. Put this one on the player on a rainy day and get lost in it.

MP3: Songs Of Green Pheasant - Boats

10) Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature

Jose Gonzalez may be best known for his reinterpretations of other people's songs ( see his cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats" from Veneer or Massive Attack's "Teardrops" on this album) but his own songs shine through on In Our Nature. The Besnard Lakes had the years best 1-2 punch, but Jose has the years best album ending 1-2 punch in closing tracks "Fold" and "Cycling Trivialities".

MP3: Jose Gonzalez - Fold

9) The National - Boxer

I proclaimed this album "Best of the year (so far)" a few months back, and it's surely a testament to how good so many albums were this year that it landed at #9 on my list. I'm sure most of you have heard this already, so you know it's good. Any other year this would have been much nearer the top of the heap.

MP3: The National - Mistaken For Strangers

8) Explosions In The Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

Explosions In The Sky may be my favorite band. I love every second of every song they have ever released. When i initially set out to make this list I had this album in the high teens but before I published the list, I decided to listen to all of the albums a few times a piece and make any necessary changes. With each successive listen this one moved closer to the top. if I had listened to it 10 more times it probably would have gone even higher.

MP3: Explosions In The Sky - Catastrophe and The Cure

7) Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - Spirit If...

I'm really surprised that I haven't seen this album on more year end lists. From front to back, Spirit If... overflows with great songs. I also really love the idea of this album, I love how it keeps the Broken Social Scene ideal intact while allowing the focus to be shifted to the stylings of one member rather than the sound of the collective as a whole. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series.

MP3: Kevin Drew - Tbtf

6) Beirut - The Flying Club Cup

I honestly did not expect to love this album as much as I do. Gulag Orkestar immediately caught my eye last year with it's unique take on Balkan and French sounds but it seemed like any further albums would invariably sound like a retread of Gulag Orkestar. I was 100% proven wrong. Zach Condon's band of musicians have produced one of the most satisfying listening experiences of the year and by defying my expectations have definitely found a permanent place in my record collection.

MP3: Beirut - Nantes

5) Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

With each successive release, I expect some sort of drop in quality, yet I am constantly proven wrong. Not only does Spoon's creative output remain strong on the curiously titled Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga but it may be the best complete album that they have released since 2001's Girls Can Tell. At this point I am officially assuming that the combination of Britt Daniel and Jim Eno can do no wrong.

MP3: Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb

4) Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

This is a classic album. I bet I'll be marvelling at it when I am much much older than I am now. I've been a fan of Andrew Bird's for a number of years but not until this album was I left in complete awe of his range of talents. The whistling, the beautiful violin, the loops, the fucking songs! It's all so good, and when you throw in an phenomenal drummer/overall musician like Martin Dosh, you get something really really special. Be sure to check out Andrew Bird's Take Away Show here.

MP3: Andrew Bird - Dark Matter

3) Menomena - Friend & Foe

Honestly, any of these top three albums could be #1. This album kills me. I've lost track of how many times I have listened to Friend and Foe in it's entirety. While Menomena may have initially caught people's attention because of their unique songwriting approach, by this point they have transcended the novelty tag. The fact that three guys make this music and that they can pull it off live amazes me to no end. If you haven't seen them live yet, do yourself a favor and do so. It will make the album even better. Be sure to check out there Take Away Show here, it features the most unabashed display of musical joy by children that I have ever seen. If the sight of those french kids dancing doesn't make you smile the biggest smile your face can make then you are already dead.

MP3: Menomena - Wet and Rusting

2) The Twilight Sad - 14 Autumns and 15 Winters

I saw The Twilight Sad 4 times during SXSW and once more since. If they played Emos once a week I would go every week and I would happily be deaf by week 10. This album will be with me for my entire life. It speaks to me in a way I can't describe. I've heard the band's sound described as "scratching and itch I didn't think I had" before and that is really fitting. "That Summer At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy" starts with the simple, yet unbelievably profound line of "I'm 14, and you know...". Yes, I know, I really do know. I can't believe this isn't my favorite album of the year because it's one of my favorite albums ever, but this isn't just any year and the best album of this year isn't just any album.

MP3: The Twilight Sad - That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy

1) Caribou - Andorra

Caribou's Andorra is one of the best album's I have ever heard. Simple as that. The sonic territory covered on this album spans decades and genres effortlessly. If the album itself hasn't impressed you enough already, which I find hard to believe, watch this 8 minute mini documentary on Dan Snaith and the creation of this masterpiece. I have spent countless hours pouring over Andorra's 9 songs and am still hearing things that I never noticed before. This is the best example of a "headphone album" that I can think of, it overtakes your senses and envelopes you in sound. I love experimental soundscapes and music that pushes me in directions that I would not go on my own, but at heart I am a sucker for Pop, you get all of that here too. Your head is bobbing and your toes are tapping and then you soundlessly mouth the word "wow" to no one except yourself. This will happen. Goddamn I love music. Best of the year, and this year that is definitely saying something.

MP3: Caribou - She's The One


mp3hugger said...

Glad to see you aren't fawning over the Radiohead album which left me really cold. Caribou are ace though, very thorough list.

marathonpacks said...

nice list...some stuff here doubles up on mine as well. thanks for the link to the caribou clip-hadn't seen that.

Wayne said...

Great list, agree with many of your choices. I also am surprised that Kevin Drew isn't showing up everywhere. I love that album. I also love the Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs releases. Oh, I agree with you too about EITS, everyone seems to be forgetting what a good album that is.

Danny said...

Handsome Furs are one of the bands that were real close to making the list. It was incredibly difficult getting it down to 25. I still feel like I left off a few great albums. Thanks for the comments everyone.

John (SideOneTrackOne) said...

You have Annie Clark on the list, and that's all that matters. = )

Ashley Garmon said...

Danny Boy, you just saved my life. I'm in hotel room in Oceanside, CA with a new laptop and empty itunes library. What's a girl to do? Download songs off this list, of course. We drink cocktails soon, yes?

Danny said...

We drink cocktails whenever you want Ashley. In fact I'm surprised I haven't randomly run into you at Mohawk recently, it's sort of become my defacto cocktail destination.

elly ( said...

hey, just wanted to say i dig the list. i am truly glad to see caspian in there. personally, its my favorite of the year. i've seen em live quite a few times and they are just amazing. anyway, just wanted to drop the line.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that even after losing touch we still have similar tastes. Nice one.

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