Sunday, December 16, 2007

Favorite Albums of 2007

I tried this last year and it was kind of fun, so here goes (I'm not normally one to write about music, so bear with me).

Top Ten Picks:
  1. Animal Collective: Strawberry Jam
    This year I was on the lookout for music that would grab me. Animal Collective's Feels currently stands out as one of my favorite albums, so I was anticipating nothing short of amazing from these guys, and they delivered. I'm at a loss to describe this album. On the surface it sounds loud and primitive—almost tribal. They take something perfect like a pop song and distort it until it's almost unrecognizable. Harmonic tones, hoots, and screams work seamlessly together. My connection to this music is probably grounded in a fascination with art that can be both beautifully striking and grotesque at the same time. They manage to find that musical pleasure point in my head. Take it for a ride if you're looking for something strange but powerfully fulfilling.

  2. Of Montreal: Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
    This is as close to pop ecstasy as I want to get. Kevin Barnes takes it up a notch as he ventures into a funkier, bouncier sound. It's dark at times, and more personal. Sticking with the "music that grabs you" criteria, this was the album I couldn't get out of my head for weeks after I first listened to it. Melodies play like candy that you can't get enough of. It's catchy, fun, and weird (noticing a pattern yet?).

  3. M.I.A.: Kala
    I was head-over-heels with her last album, Arular, so again, big expectations here. You can tell she had something larger to say on this album, as her artistic voice is more present. The dance hooks are still there, but this is a bumpier more scattered landscape. I'd almost consider it the dance counterpart to Strawberry Jam if not for it's tribal beats alone. It's political and demands your attention...AND you can dance to it!

  4. Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
    This was the surprise album of the year for me. Straightforward, driving, perfectly crafted indie rock. And so refreshing! These guys just keep getting better.

  5. Caribou: Andorra
    A great album for so many reasons. It hearkens back to 60s psychedelic pop with a electronic update that feels contemporary. It's hypnotic, almost daydreamy. I usually listen to it when I'm on a long drive (maybe that's not a good thing).

  6. Radiohead: In Rainbows
    Undeniably Radiohead, with a subtler approach for a change. It takes a couple listens to get into because it's more subdued. A stunning album, nonetheless...and fun to download.

  7. Feist: The Reminder
    Beautiful song-writing, lovely voice, catchy likable that Apple snatched her up to launch their new iPod nanos. This one is more diverse and ranging than her last album, which is great. Best of all, you can listen to it when your Mom's in the car!

  8. Kanye West: Graduation
    I'll admit I was hoping for more from Kanye, but he still delivers one of the best hip-hop albums of the year. And amazingly he continues with a fresh sound.

  9. Panda Bear: Person Pitch
    It's probably not fair for the guys from Animal Collective to make it into two spots, but so what. This sonic beauty is the brainchild of Noah Lennox, better known as Panda Bear when he's with the band. I don't think I've fully grasped what it's about, but it's sonically one of the most ambitious experimental albums I've ever heard. It shares a melodic likeness to Brian Wilson—layers and layers of instrumentation, sounds, and lyrics. At times it's a bit too much to digest in one sitting. But again, it reaches to the core of everything I look for in music. And its perfect to listen to when I work on my art.

  10. Architecture in Helsinki: Places Like This
    This was by far the most fun album I listened to all year. I got an energetic preview of it at a live show last spring that I'll never forget. The album doesn't quite recreate that energy, but it comes close. They've channeled the B52's on this one and it definitely makes you want to get up and dance.

Also worth checking out...
(if ten would allow more)

Wilco: Sky Blue Sky
The Go! Team: Proof of Youth
The Shins: Wincing The Night Away
Okkervil River: The Stage Names
Lavender Diamond: Imagine Our Love
Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
The Clientele: God Save The Clientele

Feel free to leave your personal list of favorites in the comments section. I'd love to hear what people are listening to outside of my sonic bubble.

(Favorite Albums of 2006)


Unknown said...

A nod of the hat Bob - I've always respected your tastes in music. I'm with you for most of the list. The Spoon and Radiohead albums were highlights on my list too. Graduation continues to grow on me.

As for Kala, I may be the only person disappointed with that disc. It feels joyless and overproduced to me.

The most glaring omission - LCD Soundsystem. Sound of Silver has fantastic depth - well worth checking out. I also liked Boxer from The National; though not as much as their previous album.

Hope you and Loren are doing well.

Bob Flynn said...

Thanks, Ran! Somewhere along the way I missed Sound of Silver last year...I'm catching up now.

Kathy said...

Love MIA too!! Great albums, both..

Kathy said...

Here's a couple of other 2007 records which I love. I must confess that, throughout 2007, I spent a lot of time 'catching up' with music from 2006 (and previous years) :)

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Mark Ronson - Version

Marie Digby - Start Here EP (and whatever else she's got on itunes)

Bob Flynn said...

Arcade Fire definitely put out a great album. I saw them live, too. I listened to sooo much music last year that I really intended this to be very really personalized list of MY favorites. For example, I recognize Animal Collective didn't necessarily make the best album of the year, just the one that undeniably moved me the most. M.I.A is overproduced, but that's kind of her has a digital sharpness that you either like or you don't.

I'll check out Mark Ronson and Marie Digby, thanks for the tip!

noseguy said...

Since I agree with the majority of your picks, especially Animal Collective, Radiohead, Of Montreal and Caribou, I'd like to toss a few more that might fit in your brain..

The Bees -Octopus
Fields -Everything Last Winter
Younger Brother -Last Days of Gravity
Jim Noir - Tower of Love (re-released 2007)

Bob Flynn said...

Thanks, I'll have to check them out. Always love to dip into new music. I have to say since December, my list would have already shifted a bit. I'm really liking LCD Soundsystem now that I've had the chance to digest it, and Justice's album (Cross) is also growing on me quite a bit (both from last year).