Posted by: Dave on December 19, 2007 at 1:35 am

BandofHorsesCeasetoBeginFor the second year in a row, there was no obvious, A-plus-caliber, Album of the Year (in my opinion). But several relative newcomers and a few dependable veterans delivered exceptional artistic statements – reassuring music lovers that true artists will continue to make quality full lengths. Here are my picks for the 20 most complete, ambitious and well-executed albums of 2007 (followed by 20 honorable mentions). As usual, I focused mainly on rock, hip hop, metal, pop, electro/dance, r&b, and alternative country.

1. Band of Horses Cease to Begin (Sub Pop)
2. Menomena Friend and Foe (Barsuk)
>>Watch Video Review
3. Bright Eyes Cassadaga (Saddle Creek)
>>Watch Video Review
4. White Rabbits Fort Nightly (Say Hey)
5. Portugal. The Man Church Mouth (Fearless)
6. Patrick Park Everyone’s In Everyone (Curb Appeal)
7. Saul Williams The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust (The Fader)
8. The Good Life Help Wanted Nights (Saddle Creek)
9. Okkervil River The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)
10. Aesop Rock None Shall Pass (Definitive Jux)
11. Parts & Labor Mapmaker (Jagjaguwar)
12. Macromantics Moments in Movement (Kill Rock Stars) >>Watch Video Review
13. Youth Group Casino Twilight Dogs (Anti-)
>>Watch Video Review
14. The Bird and the Bee The Bird and the Bee (Metro Blue/Blue Note)
15. Tim Fite Over the Counter Culture (Anti-)
16. Arctic Monkeys Favourite Worst Nightmare (Domino)
>>Watch Video Review
17. The National Boxer (Beggars Banquet)
18. Pharoahe Monch Desire (SRC/Universal Motown)
19. Avenged Sevenfold Avenged Sevenfold (Warner Brothers)
20. The Veils Nux Vomica (Rough Trade)

Honorable Mentions

21. Wilco Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)
22. El-P I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (Definitive Jux)
>>Watch Video Review
23. M.I.A. Kala (XL)
24. The Beauty Shop Crisis Helpline (Believe Music)
25. The Shins Wincing the Night Away (Sub Pop)
26. Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum)
27. Voxtrot Voxtrot (Playlouder)
28. Elvis Perkins Ash Wednesday (XL)
29. Arcade Fire Neon Bible (Merge)
30. Nine Inch Nails Year Zero (Nothing/Interscope)
>>Watch Video Review
31. Feist The Reminder (Cherry Tree/Interscope)
>>Watch Video Review
32. Iron and Wine The Shepherd’s Dog (Sub Pop)
33. Joan As Police Woman Real Life (Cheap Lullaby)
34. Dinosaur Jr. Beyond (Fat Possum)
35. Kings of Leon Because of the Times (RCA)
>>Watch Video Review
36. Maria Taylor Lynn Teeter Flower (Saddle Creek)
37. The Noisettes What’s the Time Mr. Wolf? (Universal Motown)
38. Alicia Keys As I Am (J Records)
39. The Comas Spells (Vagrant)
40. CocoRosie The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (Touch and Go)

7 Responses to “Top 20 Albums of 2007 (Plus 20 More)”

  1. Steve Says:

    When did the White Rabbits sneak in there? They’re probably going to make my top five as well. If you haven’t seen them live, you must. I saw them at Siren, which has all the makings for a terrible time. One of my favorite perfomances of the year. Hope all’s well in Chi-town. Say hello to Leah.

  2. Dave Says:

    Well, they just snuck in there as of this posting. Admittedly I missed Fort Nightly earlier in the year, and just caught up with it a few weeks ago. Better late than never, I say. Merry Xmas to you, Kate and all in NYC.

  3. Jon Says:

    You OBVIOUSLY never listened to GA GA GA GA GA.

    It’s by far the most brilliant album of the year. And, I’m sorry. I support them because they now live in Charleston, SC, but Cease to Begin actually never delivered anything new. It merely just sounds like a b-sides album to Everything All the Time.

  4. Ben Says:

    An original list. Not my taste, but you bring it for real.

    I’m finally getting around to putting together my own list, and it’s turning out to be a pretty depressing endeavor. My initial reaction is to say that 2007 was a down year. But then, due to other developments in my life, I worry that maybe it’s not music that’s on the way down, it’s me.

    Is music today really crap? Or am I getting old?

    Hip hip hasn’t thrilled me in over a year. Believe it or not, I think my favorite h-h single this year is probably from Devin the Dude.

    I like the new Timbaland-JT-Nelly stuff, but not all that much. Kanye does nothing for me anymore.

    Outside of The Ark and Sophie Ellis Bextor, the Northern European pop isn’t hitting me like it did the past few years. Web-geek electronic stuff has gone in this dubstep direction that’s too rugged and jagged for my melodic tastes.

    The folky, wimpola direction indie rock has been on for a couple years fails to fire the passions like the frazzy noise that converted me as a younger man.

    I look back on 2003-2005 and it seems like there was so much more going on. So many more fresh singles, so much coming out in tune with my personal tastes. But it’s hard to separate that judgement from my own POV.

    I know there’s plenty of empirical evidence that hip hop is falling off (sales, being the biggest). But I don’t hear much complaint from other music nerd types like myself.

    How would you compare 2007 to earlier years this decade?

  5. Dave Says:

    Agreed, Ben. It was definitely a bit of a down year for music. A couple years ago, one great new artist after another was emerging, releasing classic albums and occasionally getting love from the masses (Kanye, My Chemical Romance, The Killers come to mind off the top of my head).

    But that didn’t happen this year. Some promising newer indie rock bands emerged (as listed above, Band of Horses, Menomena, White Rabbits, Portugal. The Man), but except for the possible exception of Band of Horses, they’re unlikely to make a wider impact in music and do anything to help boost sales of rock music.

    It truly was a dissapointing year for mainstream hip hop. T.I. had some great songs. UGK had a couple, too. And Jay-Z actually had sort of a comeback. But we saw the fall of 50 this year and Kanye is trying to carry the torch for creative hip hop, but Graduation paled in comparison to Late Registration, which was a far cry from College Dropout – at the moment, he’s on the decline.

    Some great things did happen, though, in indie-minded hip hop this year. I agree that Devin the Dude was a premier artist this year. In fact, later today when I reveal my Top 20 Songs of the Year, you’ll see Devin’s name high up on the list. Also El-P, Aesop Rock, Saul Williams, Lifesavas, Grayskul, Pharoahe Monch, Tim Fite, Brother Ali and more did nice things. With Kanye paving the way for Lupe Fiasco and allowing for a Common resurgence, maybe there’s hope that more intelligent MCs can get some mainstream love.

    And here’s hoping 2008 brings bigger and better things. I’m hoping British MC/vocalist Estelle will emerge as the next Lauryn Hill.

  6. Ben Says:

    Well, it’s a relief that you agree. Though the possibility remains that I’m still getting old.

    When I talking about a dropoff in hip-hop, I’m also talking about the the hot “crunk” tracks we saw flying out of Atlanta, Houston, Miami, et cetera — Lil’ Jon, David Banner, Mike Jones, Outkast and the rest — that seems to have fizzled as a quality hitmaker. What am I left with? Lil’ Wayne and Young Jeezy. Ugh.

    For what it’s worth, here’s my top 20 album list. As expected, I think we have zero overlap.

    20. Junior Senior – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
    19. Jay-Z – American Gangster
    18. The Field – From Here We Go To Sublime
    17. DJ Kicks: Bookashade
    16. Ellen Allien – Fabric 34
    15. Devin The Dude – Waiting To Inhale
    14. Kylie Minogue – X
    13. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Trip the Light Fantastic
    12. Prefuse 73 – Preparations
    11. Tobias Thomas – Please Please Please
    10. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
    09. Ulrich Schnauss – Goodbye
    08. The Clientele – God Save The Clientele
    07. The Modernist – Collectors Series Pt. 1: Popular Songs
    06. Bebel Gilberto – Momento
    05. Various Artists – Jay Deelicious: 1995-1998
    04. Lindstrom and Prins Thomas – BBC Essential Mix
    03. Go Home Productions – This Was Pop
    02. Apparat – Walls
    01. Caribou – Andorra

  7. Dave Says:

    Jon, unforunately I heard GA GA GA GA GA plenty. What an overhyped piece of crap! Easily the least interesting thing Spoon’s ever done. If you think Band of Horses phoned it in – which they didn’t…instead they dramatically improved up on the promise of Everything All the Time – you might revisit Britt Daniels and co’s sleepwalking snoozefest this year and compare to their past achievements.

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