15Modern Life Is War
Midnight in America

Though Modern Life Is War will always have a hard time living up to the critical and popular success of Witness, Midnight in America proves that they are fairly unchanged by expectations. Midnight in America is consistently powerful and gripping, if only less so than fans were hoping.
14Venetian Snares
My Downfall (Original Soundtrack)

A breakbeat album with very few beats. Aaron Funk stretches himself to embrace the world of post- tonal 20th century composers like Bela Bartok. My Downfall plays like a splicing of Funk's genius 2005 album, Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett and Aphex Twin's often overlooked and equally dissonant, Drukqs.
13American Steel
Destroy Their Future

The only thing dragging down American Steel's first LP in 6 years is that it loses its luster in the context of their entire discography. That hasn't stopped me from thoroughly enjoying tracks like "To the Sea," "Smile on Me," and "Old Croy Road," which perfectly appeal to both older, crustier punks, and newer, cleaner pop-punkers.
12Between the Buried and Me

Though my love of Between the Buried and Me has certainly waned over the past few months because I listened to this album ad nauseum, objectively, Colors is just as vibrant as it was the day I got it. The instrumental performances are insane, as to be expected, and this time Between the Buried and Me have a penchant for writing truly epic tracks.
11Dirty Projectors
Rise Above

The Dirty Projectors' LP, Rise Above, is a wormhole journey through the mind of Dave Longstreth. Though he often channels Frank Zappa, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and the original Rise Above by Black Flag, the album is still original and interesting. There isn't a boring track and the entire album builds up to one of the best songs of the year, "Rise Above," which closes out the album beautifully.
Strangers in Our House

Upbeat, hip indie from Brooklyn that doesn't fail. I never thought I'd live to see the day, but Meneguar is here. All the energy of The Strokes are here, but without the silly electronics. All the abstruse and lofty lyrics of The Arcade Fire are here, but with the accompanying pretentiousness. All the artistic integrity of The Decemberists or Lightning Bolt is here, but Stranger in Our House is actually good.
9Minus the Bear
Planet of Ice

I was always a fan of Minus the Bear but found that their idiosyncratic, laid back style didn't quite stir me as much as it should have. Planet of Ice broke me out of my complacency by introducing dense, intricate song structures and bombastic prog musicianship. They even dabble in the kind of electronica that could make Lali Puna blush
Magnetic North

Hopesfall has written an album that exists as an extension of their 2004 album A Types. The taut songwriting and amazing vocals are back, and sometimes even better. The production is awesome and every song is packed with wonderful ideas. Hopesfall are essentially the best band to mix pop-punk and post-hardcore still actively working on that amalgam today. Despite a weak final three songs, amazing tracks like "I Can Do This on an Island" and "East of 1989; Battle of the Bay" undo any mediocrity Hopesfall may have fallen into.
In Rainbows

Radiohead has almost become more relevant as legends or rock stars than artists. Despite In Rainbows being a media clusterfuck, it's their second best album, falling only to the immaculate Kid A. As an album it is certainly complete, but it's the individual tracks like "Nude," "Videotapes," and "House of Cards" that steal the show. Oh ya, did I mention that even their special edition disc 2 rules too?
6Ghastly City Sleep
Ghastly City Sleep

Ghastly City Sleep's debut album plays like a quiet exploration into an arctic soundscape. As I listen to the hushed tones of "Ice Creaks" or the soft synthesizer of "Suchness," I think of myself traveling along a musical tundra. This album is both uplifting and lonely. More than any album of 2007, Ghastly City Sleep captures mood and tone. It's a neat little listen too, neither an EP or a proper LP, and it snuck its way onto many individual staff lists.
5Hot Cross
Risk Revival

Hot Cross stuns again, but this time the instrumentals are slightly stripped down and rugged while the vocals are the haymaker. Overall, the album has a much more youthful, straight-forward sound, which is likely the result of losing a guitarist, Josh. There's only one lame song ("Cardiac Silence") and a handful of godly ones ("Turncoat Revolution" and "Blame Truth" being among them). Even if it doesn't challenge as much as Fair Trades and Farewells, Risk Revival finds its niche and shreds away all the same.
4 Justice

Justice's ? is the best mainstream pop/dance album since Daft Punk's Discovery. Though at moments it rips off Discovery's catchiest sections, Justice find their own niche in the grimier and more aggressive passages found throughout the album. Though pop tracks like "D.A.N.C.E." and "Phantom pt. I & 2" are perfectly sweet, tracks like "Genesis," Let There Be Light" and "Waters of Nazareth" steal the show with their immaculate sampling, sandpaper synths, and relentlessly catchy and pulsing beats.
3The Pax Cecilia
Blessed Are the Bonds

The Pax Cecilia's second LP Blessed Are the Bonds is forged from the same fires that gave listeners Circle Takes the Square's As the Roots Undo and Dredg's El Cielo. It is epic, original, heavy, pensive, and savagely compelling music. It is transcendent. It taps into something above normal perception and does this with a strange lack of pretentiousness. The sound is a mix of post-rock (Engine Down), alternative (Dredg), metal (Isis), and screamo (City of Caterpillar). The musicianship and songwriting are beautiful and the emotional weight of the album is relentless. And to top it all off, the album is free (www.paxcecilia.com contacts.html).
The Alchemy Index: Vols. I and II...

In general, the first half of The Alchemy Index points to success. There are questionable aspects to both discs, but in general the cons are vastly outweighed by the pros. The Fire disc is a great exploration of the heavier moments on Vheissu. The album is explosive and intense, with Dustin ripping his vocal cords to pieces while the rest of the band unleashes their heaviest material yet. The Water disc, excepting its opening track, is nearly flawless. Interestingly, it also continues a strand that was started on Vheissu's slower, more pensive tracks like "Atlantic." It's a collection of beautiful and wistful songs that all have lush arrangements. The Water disc feels exactly like it was recorded underwater. Thrice has produced another stunner.
1The Kidcrash

The Kidcrash's first LP since their reincarnation as a post-hardcore band rather than a pop punk band is the best mix of catchy and challenging I've heard all year. The changing feels and intricate guitar lines make for an intriguing listen but the awesome sense of melody and amazing songwriting keep this album from just being self-congratulating math rock or bizarro circus music. Jokes is unequivocably my number 1 album of the year. Check out the three split EPs they released this year too.
December 23rd 2007

  [ Edit ]

For me, 2007 was a pretty straightforward year in terms of me consuming music. I listened to a lot of music and it was good. However, there were a few notable trends to the way the year unfolded. The second half of 2007 was stacked with huge releases, though in retrospect, the best albums came out earlier. The Kidcrash and Justice snuck up on me in the summer and managed to linger despite heat from popular releases by old favorites like Thrice and Coheed and Cambria. And speaking of old favorites, artists like Dillinger Escape Plan, HORSE the band, Against Me!, and The Weakerthans all released massively subpar albums. Another trend that shouldn't surprise anybody who knows me is that I think most of the albums that have received a lot of hype this year (Panda Bear, M.I.A., etc.) from big music review outlets (Pitchfork, Stylus, etc.) are massively overrated. Maybe next year a hardcore band that isn't Fucked Up will get some points.

In general, for next year I expect more of the same as this one. The year is going to get awesome pretty quickly with releases from Xiu Xiu, The Mars Volta, and a little later, Murder by Death. We can also assume there is going to be a Venetian Snares LP. Also, on a personal level, I'm graduating from college this June and will likely be relocating to either New York, LA, or, ideally, San Francisco, which means I can start going to concerts consistently instead of just experiencing live performances via youtube. I'll find out about bands in an organic way instead of just finding them on blogs and the like (no offense Sputnik). Above are my Top 15 albums of the year and below are my awards, starting with the albums that just missed my Top 15.

Honorable Mentions for Top Albums of 2007:

Burton Wagner - 21
Meet Me in St. Louis - Variations on Swing
Little Brother - Get Back
The Cape May - Glass Mountain Roads

December 23rd 2007

  [ Edit ]

Best EPs of 2007

1. Comadre / Trainwreck Split
2. Drowning With Our Anchors - Demo EP
3. Tera Melos - Drugs to the Dear Youth
4. Envy - Abyssal
5. The Kidcrash / Coffin Dancer Split
6. Ampere / Daitro Split
7. Tera Melos / By the End of Tonight - Complex Full of Phantoms
8. Twain Harte - A Sunny Place for Shady People

Biggest Disappointments of 2007

1. Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works
2. Strung Out - Blackhawks Over Los Angeles
3. Against Me! - New Wave
4. HORSE the band - A Natural Death
5. The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
6. Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell
7. Crime in Stereo - Is Dead
8. Tartar Lamb - 60 Metonymies

Biggest Surprises of 2007

1. Dirty Projectors - Rise Above
2. The Kidcrash - Jokes
3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
4. Justice - Cross
5. The Pax Cecilia - Blessed Are Our Bonds
6. Meneguar - Strangers in Our House
7. Minus the Bear - Planet of Ice

Best Rerelease of 2007

1. Maps and Atlases - Trees, Houses, Swallows

Best Albums from Previous Years I Didn't Discover Until 2007

2000: Karate - Unsolved
2001: American Steel - Jagged Thoughts
2002: EL-P - Fantastic Damage
2003: Million Dead - A Song to Ruin
2004: The Pax Cecilia - Nouveau: A Theatre of the Air
2005: Gospel - The Moon Is a Dead World /
Daitro - Laissez Vivre les Squelettes
2006: Girl Talk - Night Ripper

Most Anticipated of 2008

Thrice - The Alchemy Index: Vols. III & IV - Earth & Air
The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath
Murder by Death - Red of Tooth and Claw
Xiu Xiu - Women as Lovers
My Morning Jacket
Circle Takes the Square

Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2007

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From what I've heard from this list, there's some really great stuff on here. Also, don't know if you care or not, but Justice's album is known as 'Cross' in the database here because of the goofy symbol. Also, humongous comments that drip with your palpable ego, but nevertheless still interesting and entertaining to read.

December 23rd 2007

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I honestly don't understand why Midnight in America got so little recognition. Anyway, I sympathize with your feelings about the whole "no hardcore points" deal, as well as your miscellaneous 2007 lists and all that.

December 23rd 2007

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Destroy Their future rules, good to see it on here. Still disagree about the weakerthans and crime in stereo though.

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - We Cool?

December 23rd 2007

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I only have 2, 7, 9 and 12. 2 and 7 are amazing, 9 is overrated, and 12 is a little long winded but still good.

south_of_heaven 11
December 23rd 2007

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I had no idea that Kidcrash would be #1! No idea!

December 23rd 2007

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I'm gonna try to listen to a few of these now, and maybe give The Kidcrash a second chance.

December 23rd 2007

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Would have been cool to see A Wilhelm Scream on here, but eh. I disagree with the Against Me! thing, but yeah that was obvious. Other than that, good list. I'm gonna check that Rise Above album.

Oh, and 123456 on that Crime in Stereo album being disappointing.

December 23rd 2007

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Yeah, I dont think anyone had A Wilhelm Scream, but oh well.

Interesting list, I haven't heard 1, guess I'll check it.

December 24th 2007

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don't agree with the order, but overall a great list. nice to see btbam, minus the bear, and thrice on there.

December 24th 2007

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Great list(s) man. Would you care to elaborate on why Tartar Lamb was a disappointment for you? Was it just because it was missing all the crescendos?

December 24th 2007

  [ Edit ]

I dunno. I thought it was interesting but I didn't care about it that much. It never snagged me like all of Toby's other stuff did.

December 24th 2007

  [ Edit ]

I dunno. I thought it was interesting but I didn't care about it that much. It never snagged me like all of Toby's other stuff did.

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