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Year End Lists - Staff

100-76 | 75-51 | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1

30. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois

[Myspace] // [Review]

Weirdly enough, Illinois is so damn awesome for the same reasons that so many albums released this decade were not. If the 90s were too lazy and apathetic to care, than the following decade was the total opposite. Too much music was concerned with soaring ambitions and pretensions and that sort of bullshit – and it was mostly all because of this album. Gleefully pretentious and zealous, Illinois is a simple singer/songwriter album dressed up in the fanciest and most ridiculous outfits available, all while thankfully being completely honest yet self-deprecating at the same time. Despite being presented as an embodiment of a state, Illinois succeeds and belongs on this list primarily because it exceeds those high-reaching standards, simply by never losing track of the hopes and feelings of its creator. And more than just that: it never loses the listener as well. Not even the record’s ostentatious nature could hamper Stevens’ gift for creating music that’s accessible and invitational, which is why Illinois truly deserves its following. All those ornate, elaborated singer/songwriter records that followed succeeded in copying Illinois’s aesthetic, but if only they would have recognized the record’s scope. If only. - Cam

29. Radiohead – In Rainbows

[Myspace] // [Review]

I remember waking up at 6 AM on October 10, 2007, and–before showering, eating, brushing…

100-76 | 75-51 | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1

50. Cursive – The Ugly Organ

[Myspace] // [Review]

Sometimes I wish every band would be like Andrew W.K. (who is crazy in a good way) but more often than not bands end up having a Tim Kasher (who a lot of times seems crazy in a bad way). Still, you can’t argue with results. The Ugly Organ almost completely abandons what Cursive did on Domestica, which was a complex, multi-layered indie album rife with aggressive post-hardcore moments to mirror its relatively simple story perfectly – a man and his wife on the road to divorce. Instead, The Ugly Organ throws much more into the mix, including Pinocchio and lyrics where Kasher actually refers to himself as opposed to a doppelganger. There are strings and hopefulness aplenty, and I would say that the end of “A Gentlemen Caller” is the most inspiring thing ever if “Staying Alive” didn’t sit at the end of the album like the Incredible Hulk about to tie helicopters into pretzels with its message of holding on. Overall, while Domestica might be a better musical statement, The Ugly Organ offers more of everything and also it won’t depress the hell out of you. – Channing Freeman

49. Tool – Lateralus

[Myspace] // [Review]

It is hard for me to define exactly why I disagree with the Tool haters, why…

100-76 | 75-51 | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1

75. Say Anything – In Defense of the Genre

[Myspace] // [Review]

Max Bemis released his craziest and most ambitious project only after he became decidedly less crazy. In Defense of the Genre turned a lot of preconceptions about Say Anything on their heads (the loner persona, the winding canyons of his earlier songs), but mostly the album proved that Bemis had plenty of ideas beyond how much he hated everyone and everything. While the songs were shorter and less complex, they were also devoid of bullshit, and the fact that In Defense of the Genre has less filler in twice the material than …Is a Real Boy speaks louder praise for the record than anything else. Some of Bemis’ best songs are contained within, including the triumphant, lick-heavy “Shiksa (Girlfriend)” and the longing “Plea.” – Channing Freeman

74. Isis – Panopticon

[Myspace] // [Review]

Panopticon’s opener “So Did We” contains seven lines of lyrics, and they are all sung only once throughout the track. The rest of the song is made up of some of the most hypnotizing metal put to tape, and while Isis could only seem to get it perfectly right for one album, Panopticon stands as a pinnacle of post-metal. The rest of the songs are all similar in their approach yet wholly different…

100-76 | 75-51 | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1

100. The Blood Brothers – Burn, Piano Island, Burn

[Myspace] // [Review]

The Blood Brothers were one of the essential post-hardcore acts that this decade has seen. Their third full-length album, …Burn, Piano Island, Burn reciprocates such praise, as its off-kilter style combines vocalists Jordan Blilie and Johnny Whitney nasally wails with unrelenting and challenging songwriting created a mixture that was unorthodox, yet accepted. With a lack of any real musical constraint, The Blood Brothers vicariously lived through different climaxes and sounds unaccustomed to many. From the bass-synth gem in “Cecilia and the Silhouette Saloon” to the overflowing emotion in “The Shame,” …Burn, Piano Island, Burn wears its heart on its sleeve, and wears it damn well. – Ryan Flatley

99. Unwound – Leaves Turn Inside You

[Myspace] // [Review]

Unwound always had a textural ear. Throughout the beginning of their career the group always managed to make excellent tone choices that put their records into a more sophisticated level of rock. Where many groups use noise and dissonance as transitional parts of their music Unwound seemed to thrive melodically in their more abrasive sections. Leaves Turn Inside You is the opus of that exploration. From the first few moments of “We Invent You” Unwound’s sound is in a different place than they have ever…

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