This has been a pretty great year for music. Besides the crazy stories ranging from Amy Winehouse‘s rise and fall from grace, Britney‘s further fall from grace, disappointing albums from bands poised to make the jump, like Bloc Party, Fountains of Wayne, The Shins and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Arcade Fire and The National make the jump from the second-tier into the pantheon, Eddie Vedder‘s first solo album, Radiohead dropping a “pay whatever you want for it album” and Oink getting broken up practically on the same weekend, Evil Knievel making peace with Kanye and then with God within days of each other.
Reunions began with Rage Against the Machine at Coachella, continued with Dinosaur Jr.!, found The Police at The Roo and Fenway Park, and ended with Led Zeppelin. Amazon launched it’s own Mp3 music store to compete with Apple, but that seems like such a funny idea. Ghostface Killah and Wu-Tang Clan planned to release albums on the same day and of all things Wu-Tang backed down and moved their release date back a week. Solid albums from solid bands like Wilco and The White Stripes, not to mention Jack and Meg’s unconventional surprise tour of Canada.
Besides the news stories, musically there was so much out there, so much good stuff that it was impossible to listen to everything or even give every album a fair shake, unless you’ve got a staff of ten, are Pitchfork or leave it up to your readers like Stereogum.
And along the way I realized that this year I’ve listened to more music than I ever have in my life, but I’ve never felt so removed from it. I would listen to an album for a week or a day, make a snap judgement, then move on to the next one. Certain albums I’d revisit time and time again.
I’m not sure this was a preferable way to consume music, but you can’t be informed unless you’ve heard as much as possible.
Still, I remember a time when I’d listen to one to three albums a year and those three albums would all mean something to me.
Regardless, during the past month I’ve had just about every album from 2007 on rotation in my iPod, which was on 10 hours a day in one last attempt to listen to everything. We’ve got a bunch of stuff coming up in the next few weeks – underrated gems, big disappointments, honorable mentions and then of course we’ll roll out our favorite albums over the course of next week.
Here then, are 30 albums we just never got around to listening to or giving a fair shake. Some of these we’ve never heard, some we listened to only at a cursory glance. Many of these have been ranked very highly by the endless tide of year-end lists from Stylus, Harp, Paste, Uncut, etc. Go to David over at Largehearted boy or Rex at Filmoculous to see all year ends aggregated.
To be honest, these thirty are just the ones we thought of off the top of our head and with a little more surfing and looking at other lists we could have easily produced another 50 albums or so for this list. Take a gander, because this list below would do anyone’s year-end list justice. But these are the albums we didn’t even get a chance to listen to. That should be indicative of just how good music was in 2007.
- Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
- Panda Bear – Person Pitch
- Okkervil River – The Stage Names
- M.I.A. – Kala
- Beirut – The Flying Bear Cup
- Deerhoof – Friend Opportunity
- Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
- Liars – Liars
- Kanye West – Graduation
- Norah Jones – Not Too Late
- Bruce Springsteen – Magic
- Neil Young – Chrome Dreams II
- Paul McCartney – Memory Almost Full
- The Gourds – Heavy Ornamentals
- Kings of Leon – Because of the Times
- Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond
- Queens of the Stoned Age – Era Vulgaris
- Foo Fighters – Patience, Silence, Echoes and Grace
- Les Savy Fav – Let’s Stay Friends
- Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero
- Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future
- Eddie Vedder –Into the Wild
- Interpol – Our Love to Admire
- !!! –Myth Takes
- Editors – An End Has a Start
- Silverchair – Young Modern
- Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
- Dr. Dog – We All Belong
- The Everybodyfields – Nothing is Okay
- The Hives – The Black and White Album
I love holiday music and as I get older I find that what I love is the more traditional recordings by various artists. I’m not talking about old stuff by Burt Ives, but what I mean is classic reinterpretations. Two Christmas albums I’ve been loving came out last year. The first is the box set by Sufjan Stevens. It’s exquisite.
The other, which also came out last year and one that I’m just getting around to listening to is from, of all people, Billy Idol.This is the general reaction upon hearing the album for the first time: Holy crap! Is that Billy Idol? Holy Crap! He can carry a tune! Holy Crap this is actually really good! Trust me, pick up Happy Holidays, then don’t tell anyone it’s Billy Idol and let them discover for themselves. Their facial expression will be the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season. In a word – priceless.
Unfortunately video evidence of this happening has been promptly removed from YouTube, which is a shame.
Lily Allen 2.0
It’s unfortunate that British musician Kate Nash is going to get slagged for being derivative of Lily Allen, however, on her debut album Made of Bricks, Nash manages to set herself apart from her contemporary. What’s obvious is that both young performers (Nash was born in 1987 afterall) have a very similar ungrammatical, cockney sing-speak delivery.
The differences, however, end there. Whereas Lily Allen borrows heavily from dub, ska and reggae, for that summertime party vibe, Nash’s influences are more from the dancy Brit-pop of the early 90’s. Her sound is much more skewed towards pop-rock, as opposed to dance-pop and lyrically she has at this stage a little bit more on her mind. It’s easy to think that Kate Nash could have a longer career than Lily Allen, charting a less risque Madonna type of path, i.e. not so whorish, where she reinvents and tweaks her sound over and over again.