Thursday, November 29, 2007

Best Albums of 2007

Most “Albums of the Year” lists are totally useless. This one is even more so. In addition to the usual problems of comparing art, needing more time to fully judge a record, etc., I haven’t heard anything close to all the music released this year. My scope is limited. That being said, I love music. I enjoy lists. So since everyone else is doing it, I present: The Top Ten Albums Liz Heard in 2007.

(Feel free to mock and judge).

10. Amy Winehouse: Back to Black
Back to Black was technically released in the UK in 2006, but it was released stateside in 2007, and let’s be honest: U.S.A. #1! Winehouse’s soulful voice is a perfect fit for her music’s new twist on an old sound, just as it is for her train wreck of a personal life. Eartha Kitt could only insinuate what was going on in smoky mid-century jazz clubs; Winehouse lays it all on the table with heartache, humor and the best eyeliner since Bowie.

9. Beirut: The Flying Club Cup
Wunderkind Zach Condon took a trip to Europe in his late teens and returned with a love of Balkan folk music, which he decided to put to an indie rock beat. How pretentious can you get? Well, probably not much more, but what saves Condon's recordings under the name Beirut is that they’re also really freakin’ good. The Flying Club Cup, his second full-length sounds like a hung-over Arcade Fire. In a good way.

8. Lily Allen – Alright, Still
Again, it came out in the UK last year. Again: U.S.A. #1! Lily and Amy are both young British gals with oft-blunt lyrics, but the comparisons end there. Alright, Still runs the pop music gamut with the sounds of British Invasion rock, ska and borderline hip-hop. It comes together into a sugary confection of an album that sticks in your head no matter how hard you might try to fight it. So don’t fight it.

7. Of Montreal: Hissing Fauna, are you the Destroyer?
The sound of a nervous breakdown. And its got a good beat and you can dance to it!

6. Okkervil River: The Stage Names
A great album doesn’t have to be crazy new. Okkervil River took old school folk/rock and played it extremely well. The Stage Names is vaguely a concept album about a band and their personal lives (I think) but all that matters is if it’s fun and interesting to listen to. And it is. Very much so.

5. MIA: Kala
The Sri Lankan/British daughter of a terrorist/freedom fighter who made her name as a visual artist/rapper, M.I.A. has a lot going on. She brings it all into her music, combining Timbaland beats with world music and lyric samples from the Pixies (among others) on her second album. Sometimes it sounds like the soundtrack to a killer rave, other times like a street battle in Falluja. M.I.A. would probably say same difference.

4. Jamie T: Panic Prevention
This album got no love in the American press and the one English person I mentioned it to practically laughed at me. Screw them. London white boy rapper Jamie T’s got a pubescent voice and a sharp eye for the way his peers spend half their lives trying to construct a self-image, only to go drink themselves into oblivion. Some people say they prefer The Streets. I say those people need a pint and a shag.

3. Radiohead: In Rainbows
If people spent as much time on In Rainbows' music as they did its unique payment model, they’d find one of the most accessible Radiohead albums since OK Computer. And for only $However Much You Wanted to Pay!

2. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
Neon Bible didn’t reach the dizzying heights of Funeral, but there’s undeniably still something about that blend of strings, guitars, organs and militaristic drums that breaks and heals your heart at the same time. Its like going to church – if church actually made you feel better.

1. The National: Boxer
Like a lot of the best albums, this one’s a grower. You’ll think its just average until you find you can’t live without it. It’s basic mid-tempo rock with a few power chords and tinkling pianos thrown in, but singer Matt Berninger’s deep baritone makes everything he says sound more profound, and around 4 pm every weekday, I don’t so much want to listen to this album, as I need to listen to this album. That’s how you get to be #1 on this list.


Red said...

Excellent list, Liz. I'd, of course, add Magic (because I am so obsessed with Bruce), Sara Barelles' Little Voice and Damien Rice's 9 Crimes, but none of them would win me cool points with the Pitchfork crowd.

I just realized you left Rilo's latest off the list! Does this mean they are not longer your favorite band?!?!?!?

Liz said...

Two of my fav bands - Rilo and Bright Eyes - put out new albums this year, and neither made the list. I don't even think they would have made my top 15. Its a real soul searching time for me. However, I still consider The Kiley my fav band. Their other stuff is just too good.

Tiffany said...

Liz is a lot better at the album commentary than I am. My comments would have been along the lines of...

Okkervil River- I like the pretty piano. It's pretty.

Arcade Fire- The lights at their show almost gave me a seizure.

Amy Winehouse- She can never again go to rehab, even though she probably should.

Tiffany said...

And Liz, the Boxer never made it past average for me. I'll keep trying for you though!

Tiffany said...

And Liz, the Boxer never made it past average for me. I'll keep trying for you though!

Dave H said...

Nice list, Lily Allen rocks.

Timinger said...

Where is LCD? I do heart the National, but "New York's the greatest when you got someone to pay the rent/ Is this the furthest we can get from the government?" is clearly the stanza of the year. And Lily- c'mon, that was soooo 2006.