Forever In Green: Top Ten Albums of 2007

December 28, 2007 at 5:27 am Leave a comment

10. Kevin Drew- Spirit If…
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Kevin Drew established approximately how much his sound influenced Broken Social Scene on his first solo release, “Spirit If…”. A sprawling album, Spirit was hard to swallow at first. It seemed to be an overambitious attempt at topping the sonic levels of his previous outfit. Time, however, has a way of tempering even the most irritable of beasts, and “Spirit If…” found itself becoming a gentle soundtrack to late, foggy nights driving to the beach.

Kevin Drew- Safety Bricks.mp3

9. Bjork- Volta
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Bjork is in a dangerous stage as an artist. The first half of her career is over, and she no longer has anything to prove as an innovator; the real question is whether or not she can remain vital and fresh as she enters middle age. “Volta” proves that she is fully capable of aging gracefully by experimenting with subtlety. She no longer has to be directly in your face for the listener to notice her, she can instead flit about like a ghost and conjure up the spirits of the sea with an army of brass. Clever cameos by Timbaland and Antony unlock elements to her storytelling we have not seen until now.

Bjork- Dull Flame Of Desire.mp3

8. Matthew Good- Hospital Music

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Matthew Good has never sounded this confident before. The angst and paranoia are present as usual, but there is a crisp edge to his voice that indicates that he is not just phoning it in. There is just a hint of something that sounds like a victory over some sort of demon. “Hospital Music” is a celebration of everything that Matt has accomplished as a solo artist. The orchestral sections bleed into sparse acoustic arrangements, which connect to both alt country and rock stylings. This is the album he has always wanted to make.

Matthew Good- The Boy Come Home.mp3

7. Wilco- Sky Blue Sky
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If “A Ghost Is Born” was the sound of a space invasion, than “Sky Blue Sky” is the soundtrack to a day at the beach. Abandoning the electro-clash experimentalism of their previous two releases, Wilco have embraced many elements of their country tinged beginnings but have put yet a new twist on them. Allowing lead guitarist Nels to completely indulge in his deepest guitar solo fantasies might be the best move Jeff Tweedy made this year. “Sky Blue Sky” is like a robo-folk-jazz juggernaut that finds Wilco at simultaneously their most relaxed and focused in years.

Wilco- What Light.mp3

6. PJ Harvey- White Chalk
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“White Chalk” is the sort of album that only comes once in a career, and PJ Harvey has quietly delivered it into our laps amidst little fanfare. Short and to the point, this album has no space for filler, delivering a perfect little gem at the perfect moment in her career. This has established Polly Jean as a versatile and essential artist who is capable of doing anything. She had little knowledge of piano prior to this release, and it is without a doubt one of the best piano records of this decade so far. Melancholy, beautiful, and raw, “White Chalk” was not one to miss in ’07.

PJ Harvey- White Chalk.mp3

5. Foo Fighters- Echos, Silence, Patience, And Grace
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Skeptics be damned, Dave Grohl is a legend. This is a vital record. Yes, it is missing the fervent, frantic mid-90’s alt rock of their self titled release, or “The Colour And The Shape”. But those albums have already been made!! This record has set up a new forum for Grohl to expound upon the experiences he has accrued over the last decade of his life and make mature and important American rock and roll albums. This is a great start, with haunting acoustic dirges such as “Stranger Things Have Happened”, and the McCartney-esque “Statues”. The cast of characters that have stuck with him over the years are beginning to expand their roles and breathe more life into the songs. Look out for these guys to be setting the standards for the next decade of your life, just as much as the previous one.

Foo Fighters- Statues.mp3

4. Peter And The Wolf- The Ivori Palms

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Red Hunter has quietly pumped out some of the most poignant and affecting acoustic tunes for a while now. At this point he deserves to be in the new school of future greats, right up there with Jeff Tweedy and Will Oldham. The concept for his new album came to him in a dream, which seems to correlate with the mythology he has built around himself. One envisions Red to be a train hoppin’ whiskey chuggin’ troubadour. “The Ivori Palms” is filled with slightly more adventurous fare than his previous outings, expanding the percussive repertoire and adding even more voices to reinforce the heavenly harmonizing of the beautiful Dana Falconberry.

Peter And The Wolf- Southern Moon.mp3

3. Radiohead- In Rainbows
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Enough has been said about the digital/free nature of this release. What matters is that after all the hullabaloo, it holds up as the best Radiohead album since Kid A. Devoid of filler, “In Rainbows” manages to combine the alt rock approach of their earlier work and pair it with the atmospheric aesthetic of the latter part of their career. These songs have been circulating around in bootlegs for a while, but they managed to create an atmosphere where they sound fresh and cosmic to ears familiar or not. Nothing too revolutionary here, just straight up high quality tunes. Radiohead manages to maintain their elder statesman supremacy over modern alternative music.

Radiohead-All I Need.mp3

2. Of Montreal- Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
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Its hard to believe it’s already been close to a year since this came out; it is so firmly embedded in my subconscious I feel like it has always been there. This year was indisputably the year for Of Montreal. They made the jump from starving artists to indie darlings gracefully. While hardly their best album, it marks the transition of the band from a vision of cute, hip, and smart, to a vision of the vast landscapes of pop supremacy. Kevin Barnes has his eyes set in the sky to become the most eclectic madman of our generation. A look back over the last decade would indicate that he has more than accomplished this goal, it’s about time he got his due.

Of Montreal- We Were Born Mutants Again With Leafling.mp3

1. Animal Collective- Strawberry Jam
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Its official, Animal Collective is an institution. After trying on the guise of a psychedelic noise outfit, a freak folk duo, and a rock band from the cosmos, they have now taken a stab at pop group and succeeded. With every release, they seem to grow tighter and tighter as a group, reinforcing the common thread that keeps them all together, while completely reinventing themselves. “Strawberry Jam” finds them at their most accessible, but perhaps at their most experimental. Avey Tare’s vocals have finally risen out of the mix to reveal hidden raw emotion and clever wordplay, and the rest of the group have fused their resources into crafting an album of sugary sweet soaring melodies. It hits much quicker than its predecessors but leaves perhaps an even more scorching mark in your memory, leaving a sticky strawberry stain on your brain.

Animal Collective-Fireworks.mp3

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