The Best of 2007…So Far (20-16)

October 13, 2004 Posted by admin

kurt-vonnegut

It’s always a masochistic affair trying to assimilate musical moments and then rank them. It’s also a grossly subjective and forgetful process that, for good or bad, tends to annihilate context in favour of a less emotive but lasting resonance.

Despite this, we do it, because in a sense it defines a period of our lives in a snapshot of creative expression. Alongside the smoother gradients of our continued musical education, it demonstrates what we have deemed as most relevant and consistent within an evolving musical identity. It also aids a process of discovery, helping elucidate much which we have yet to cover on the site.

Of the three such lists we’ve compiled, this was in many ways the least trying. For starters, we were unanimous in our choice of the number one and while the relative positions are ultimately completely irrelevant, we managed to achieve general agreement fairly quickly.

On reflection, the list consists of a satisfying mix of debuts, sophomore releases and more mature fare. What is a little surprising to me is the weighty contribution of the computer. The subduction zone that occurs where traditional instrumentation and electronic music collide is, I believe, one of the most intriguing areas of the musical landscape. The variety of ways in which this is achieved in this list is encouragingly diverse.

So who didn’t make it? Most notable is the absence The National’s Boxer and Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, though our respective reviews of the albums should highlight much of the reasoning. Another divisive exclusion is that of The White Stripes’ Icky Thump. In a positive sense, Vampire Weekend’s EP release nearly made it on the strength of its three tracks but ultimately didn’t. Likewise, EP releases from Caribou and Zookeeper proved exceptional yet ultimately unsubstantial enough to warrant inclusion and, though I first heard it this year, The Bang’s Shiny unfortunately predates 2007.

Anyway, here are the first five of our top 20 Best Albums of 2007…so far.

20. The Polyphonic Spree – The Fragile Army

Ignore the flowing robes and messianic haircuts that lend themselves to some sort of vague notion of apocalyptic dualism. The Polyphonic Spree’s choral euphoria is a cult worth falling for. While it may not be their best work, Fragile Army tones down the acid child imagery and succeeds in being more unashamedly enjoyable. Take whatever hypnotic sedatives they’re offering and settle in.

Listen:

The Polyphonic Spree – Running Away

19. Stars – In Our Bedroom After the War

While Stars usually puts even my tolerance for indie pop to the test there is something very seductive about the sound on this album. Surface appearances are often deceptive with bands like Stars and on first listen many songs can easily be passed on without further listening. To do so would be a shame, however, there is a lot more here than meets the eye. While it is not everyone’s cup of tea listening to the sweet sound of Amy Millan on a sunny day is certainly one of life’s true pleasures.

Listen:

Stars – My Favourite Book

18. White Rabbits – Fort Nightly

Fort Nightly was a big grower for me. While at first I didn’t really get what the fuss was about, this is a debut that is busting with potential. While the band doesn’t offer up anything uniquely creative their fundamentally solid sound is something that is quite rare for a debut release. Two vocalists, two drummers and two guitarists mean that while not revolutionary, White Rabbits deliver their music with a lovely richness and depth.

Listen:

White Rabbits – Kid On My Shoulders

17. Sam Skarstad – Serkus

Serkus is a wholly ambitious album and whilst it doesn’t always achieve what it sets out to, Skarstad must nevertheless be applauded for his efforts. At times and in places, the songs transcend their uncomplicated structures to convey truly rich impressions to the listener. Read our review here.

Listen:

Sam Skarstad – Boat

16. Linfinity – A Manual For Free Living: Installation

Of the entire list to follow, I view this release as the most under-appreciated. Linfinity does not seek to be new, but instead pays worthy and enthusiastic homage to half a century of rock memorabilia. Perhaps it is because I have heard much of the second instalment of this grand project, perhaps I give to much credence to an intriguing mixture of familiars, regardless, I recommend that you seek this out and listen. Read our review here.