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12.24.07 Staff Picks: Top 50 Albums Of 200712.27.06 Staff Picks: Top 15 Of 2006
12.27.06 Top Albums Of 200608.28.03 Staff Picks: Top Albums of 2009

Staff Picks: Top 50 Albums Of 2007

An eclectic journey through 2007 based on staff consensus.
50Lindsey Boullt

What do you get when you take a San Franciscan guitar teacher, Jerry Goodman from The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and some of the strongest session musicians together in a studio? Essentially, Mahavishnu for the 21st century. Boullt sounds like a new and improved John McLaughlin with metal influences. Even while maintaining a rather unknown persona, Boullt nearly received some Grammy nominations, and proves that guitar virtuosos can compose too. He shreds better than almost anyone in the business, but in moderation, letting some of his melodies and other musicians on the recordings shine. A certain surprise for the year. --Tyler Fisher
49The Fall of Troy

A lot of people complained about this album. For many, it was one of the most anticipated releases of early 2007.The echoes of the incredible guitar lines found on 'Doppelganger' still ringed in everyones head, and people were craving for more of that kind. But the audience was disappointed when they got served something different. Most of the songs are not that fast and crazy anymore. More settled and subtle if you want to call it that way. I have to confess, I thought the same way too. But the album began to sink in, and it turned out to be an absolute grower. In fact, I now think that the album overall is much more consistent and thought through than 'Doppelganger' was. It's a great piece of music, and absolutely deserves to be on this list. --Jens Classen
In Stormy Nights

'In Stormy Nights' is a worthy release of being filed under the rest of Ghost's great records. While the album as a whole is far from being perfect, moments of it are some of the most gorgeous and interesting things I have heard. Ghost have been around for over twenty years and while I certainly love them as a band, I still feel like they have a perfect record inside of them. Maybe it is just wishful thinking, but I always look forward to a new release from the band and constantly being surprised with the new twists and turns they decide to throw into their music. As such, 'In Stormy Nights' does nothing to diminish my excitement for the next Ghost release. --Jared W. Dillon
47Stephen Marley
Mind Control

Stephen has finally come out of the woodwork with an album I feel will get endless nods come summertime. There are a few reasons for this. First and foremost, Stephen is a Marley, which ?for better or worse? guarantees him some exposure. Thankfully, he's more than a name; in fact, I'd go so far as to say he's probably the most talented Marley, and yes, I'm including Bob. But, perhaps the biggest reason why this album will, or at least should, be a success is because it's the perfect blend of Reggae, Hip-Hop, Raggamuffin (and more). It seamlessly melds genres I feel carry a summertime vibe, all the while retaining the true Marley spirit. Much of that does have to do with the name, as well as appearances from brothers Julian and Damien, but it doesn't hurt that Damien sounds comparatively the most like his father. You're probably asking what a perfect blend of Reggae, Hip-Hop, Raggamuffin (and more) sounds like. I guess the simplest way to explain this is by saying that many times during the album you'll have difficulty pinpointing the genre. I could go on all day, and pretty much have. This is a scarily solid album devoid of any weak tracks. An essential summer listen. --Tyler Munro

Liars seem to have approached their self-titled album with much the same goals as with all of their other records; namely to challenge themselves just as much as their listeners. Experimental as always, catchy as hell and full of odd humour, Liars may well go on to be the band's definitive work. What is obvious now more than ever is that Liars' refusal to become complacent is perhaps the thing that sets them most apart from any of their peers. As it stands, 'Liars' is an appropriately titled, highly worthwhile piece of work that the band and any of its fans should be extremely proud of. --Andrew Hartwig
45Angels of Light
We Are Him

Listen to these city boys. The bestial sounds of 'We Are Him' act as soundtrack to some exaggerated Appalachian courting ritual. But the affectations of Michael Gira's Angels of Light belie the fact that these are New Yorkers in hokum garb. Straw hat-wearing noise mongers, highwater art punk carpetbaggers, dead set on reenacting a dark, Southern Gothic fiction, complete with roadshow grotesqueries. Whether or not this makes for art verite is beyond the point; like any good liar, Gira lulls us into his own vision of country, spiritualism and romance. And it's simply more fun to believe than to dissect the lie. --Louis Arp
44Dan Deacon
Spiderman of the Rings

If I ever met Dan Deacon in real life, I wouldn't know what to say (have you ever seen this guy?). 'Spiderman of the Rings' is one of the worst album titles of the year, but damn if the music (wacky electronica on a sugar high) isn't the most amusing/amazing. "Wham City" is epic in the most fun way possible. --Joe Katz
Heroin Diaries Soundtrack

It all began with a diary that even its author had forgotten about. Written at the apex of his drug-addicted hell, Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries begins with its anti-hero at his lowest ebb, and charts his recovery-ish with brutal honesty and no little amount of dignity. Interspersed with surprisingly eloquent readings from the text, The Heroin Diaries soundtrack is a collection of thirteen radio-primed rock singles, a near-perfect cohesion of Sixx's perfect pop smarts and nose for a classic melody. He's helped by renowned producer/guitarists DJ Ashba and James Michael, the latter adding flawless and understated vocals to his extensive songwriting credits. If 'Dead Man's Ballet' and 'Van Nuys' recall the theatricality of Meat Loaf, singles 'Life Is Beautiful' and 'Accidents May Happen' soar with the weight and genuine intensity befitting the best effort in a decade by three of pop rock's underappreciated genuises.
42Dirty Projectors
Rise Above

One wonders about the reliability of Dave Longstreth's memory. By all accounts, 'Rise Above' is Longstreth's attempt to reproduce Black Flag's 'Damaged' from the ground up. All from memory, of course. Yet Longstreth's reading of the seminal hardcore band's full-length debut is positively Beefheartesque, spastic and seemingly unmeasured in its fits of clattering noise and specious rhythms. Longstreth's unbalanced warble further subverts things while swooning strings, guitar arpeggios and fill out the framework offered by the original tunes. The result leaves that framework barely visible, but not without offering a difficult, but ultimately rewarding, something. --Louis Arp
Abandoned Language

As far as Rap in 2007, no one pulls off weird quite like Dalek and their 'Abandoned Language.' It's a rap album in shoegaze's clothing; soaked in fuzz, but not so much that you can't hear MC Dalek's powerful wordplay. It takes a lot to pull of a 11 minute long song, especially for a rap group, but anyone who's heard 'Language' (and its opening track) now knows just how well it can be done. --Joe Katz
40LCD Soundsystem
Sound of Silver

Summer of 07 is over for most, yet for the Southern hemisphere the months keep on warming towards summer, and if any song captures the spirit of summer vacations with friends, it is "All My Friends." Sure "North American Scum" doesn't live up to its hype, but that doesn't render it irrelevant. Rather every song on the album contributes in a unique way, each song serving as a focal point with "All My Friends" standing tallest and as one of the highlights of 2007. --Daniel Incognito
39The Dead C
Future Artists

Having a reputation for creating some of the most noisy, chaotic, disturbing, and erratic music The Dead C are at it again with their 19th full length studio album in 20 years. Although the New Zealand trio is often categorized with notable noise-rock groups such as Lightning Bolt and Wolf Eyes, The Dead C have a much more cryptic and haunting atmosphere. With 'Future Artists' we see Bruce Russell and co. head for a much more avant-garde and spontaneous sound leaving behind some of their patented drone influences. That being said 'Future Artists' contains the trio's signature doom/drone sound while incorporating spiky electronic effects and chaotic vocal stylings into their sound. Like most albums released by The Dead C, Future Artists takes the listener through one abrasive ride. --Chris Jackson
38Damien Dempsey
To Hell or Barbados

Critically exalted in his native Ireland, Damien Dempsey's notoriety has only recently spread beyond the far-flung Irish diaspora. To Hell Or Barbados, his most accomplished effort to date, blends his twin loves of gutsy Irish folk, descended from the likes of Christy Moore and Luke Kelly, and the reggae of Bob Marley, while forays into hip hop ('Serious') and electronic ('The City') are just as well executed. Built like a boxer, Dempsey's most impressive feature is his booming voice, a thick Dublin accent he can deliver with as much delicate grace as brute physical force. Highlights include opener 'Maasai,' paying homage to the proud African tribe of the same name, and the title track. Patriotism plays a strong role in all of Dempsey's songwriting, and 'To Hell Or Barbados' is a history lesson in itself, d0cumenting the forgotten slaves of the West Indies, the vanquished Irish during the brief reign of Oliver Cromwell. --Dave de Sylvia
37Joanna Newsom
Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band

It's already been discussed at length why Joanna Newsom's sprawling, majestic 'Ys' would prove nearly impossible to follow up, even for a songwriter as wonderful as Newsom is. So needless to say, the fact that 'Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band EP' is just that (an EP of Newsom and her band) is in no way a disappointment. In fact, it's one of the best choices Joanna could have made. The EP houses 2 remakes of classic Newsom tunes, performed by the folk singer and her touring band ('Ys's' "Cosmia" is fleshed out superbly, while 'Milk Eyed Mender's' "Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowery" is left relatively unchanged) and the gorgeous original "Colleen." --Joe Katz
36PJ Harvey
White Chalk

Songwriting heiress PJ Harvey comes back with a shock tactic: instead of making guitar pop, she switches to piano and makes some beautiful music. This is the sound of a young woman who has grown and grown throughout her career and this album completes the development process. A gentle, touching record. --Derek McArthur
A New Beat From a Dead Heart

Who'd expect a hardcore relic to release one of the most personal releases of 2007? 108 shocked alot of fans with probably the finest hardcore record since Modern Life's 'Witness'. Instead of attacking the suburban perspective most hardcore fights for, 108 guise their feelings in realms of religious freedom and their Krishna beliefs. --Jared W. Dillon
34 El-P
I'll Sleep When You're Dead

It's not often that a white guy redefines the course of hip-hop with his debut album, but that's precisely what El-Producto did with Company Flow's Funcrusher Plus. He's done a lot in the ten years since (inluding forming Def Jux, for one thing), but what he hasn't done is make too many solo albums. 'I'll Sleep When You're Dead' is only album #2, and it trumps 'Fantastic Damage.' Not a lot's changed - El's vision of hip-hop is still a dense, dark, forward-thinking one, and the rest of the Def Jux crew make guest appearances - it's just better than, arguably, any other album produced by El-P. Oh, and rck heads should listen up - other guests include The Mars Volta, Daryl Palumbo, Trent Reznor, James NcNew from Yo La Tengo, and Cat Power. --Nick Butler
Given to the Rising

'Given to the Rising' makes a strong case for Neurosis being the most consistently great bands to ever make music over an extended period of time. Going back to the heavy and crushing roots of past records, Neurosis craft a brutal masterpiece that puts other "post metal" bands to shame. You won't hear a heavier album in 2007, and probably won't hear much outright better either. --John A. Hanson
32Between the Buried and Me

The members of Between the Buried and Me are the Franz Liszts of metal, making 'Colors' their version of Liszt?s 'Sonata in B Minor.' Purely virtuosic in nature, 'Colors' met two opposite reactions, those who celebrated its complexity and those who criticized it for a lack of musicality, often saying it exists purely to show off that yes, the members of Between the Buried and Me can play their instruments. While it plays a little on the long side, the entire album flows as one while flying through multiple genres per song. The last five minutes of ?White Walls? are worth the entire listen anyway. --Tyler Fisher
31The 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 ( --Nick Greer
30No Age
Weirdo Rippers

What No Age lacks in instrumentation they make up for in sheer brilliance on 'Weirdo Rippers.' Every song drips in the same ethereal sonic bliss, even when the band unleashes their raw side on tracks such as Boy Void, Dead Plane, or the frustratingly good opener Every Artist Needs a Tragedy. Liars are the obvious comparison here, but No Age's music is much simpler and easier to digest. If that doesn't seem like the biggest compliment, listen to this and see why it is. 2008 will be No Age. -- Joe Katz
V: Havitetty

Consisting solely of two 30-minute tracks, it would be fairly easy to write off Moonsorrow's latest release as too long by default, an adequate release undermined by its length. But that wouldn't explain my love for the album and how it works almost flawlessly as a whole, starting with the patient strings to "Jaasta Syntynyt / Varjojen Virta"'s intro that builds into Ville Sorvali's strained cry, rarely letting up until V: Havitetty rolls into its second half. Even so, what truly marks V: Havtietty as 2007's most notable metal release is its centered focus, drawing its folk influence without repetition. This is up for debate, but in a year of unexpected highlights, no album caught me off guard as hard and unexpectedly as Moonsorrow's V: Havitetty. --Lewis Parry
The Reminder

Who would have thought that Feist, the indie pop patron that lived prominently in the smoky, cabaret ballroom, would just as easily slip into the mainstream so fluidly and gracefully? That's assuming she did at all (iPod commercial and Grey's Anatomy notwithstanding), her titillating "1234" void of (and I quote from a popular radio station) "a good beat to dance to." This small misstep aside (?), 'The Reminder' stands head-and-shoulders as the year's best pop release, loose and lively when appropriate ("I Feel It All") or slow and palpable when needed ("Intuition"). That it features her best song (the lovely outro, "How My Heart Behaves") only cements Feist as a growing songwriter, one that might not have tapped into the mainstream she seemed destined for (you can breathe easy, back pocket believers), but at least now she's poised for it. That alone makes 'The Reminder' irresistible; everything else is just bonus. --Lewis Parry
27Hot 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. --Nick Greer
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. --Nick Greer
25 Sigh
Hangman's Hymn

Aggressive without coming off unbearably opprobrious, all the while remaining enticingly harmonious, 'Hangman's Hymn' is both the band's fastest and most insistent all the while being perhaps their most fun to listen to. It manages to blend complex ideas and themes in such a way that they can be taken, and understood, on endless levels. Sigh's interpretive use of the Requiem lends itself to analysis, yet all the same, can be glossed over in hopes of just enjoying the music. The music holds its own, with its effective blend of symphonics, black and thrash metal. Toss in the band's affinity for progression and the avant-garde and you're in for, if all else fails, an intriguing listen. But all else doesn't fail. This is an album to beat in 2007 in ANY genre. --Tyler Munro

Nick Cave grows a moustache, straps on a guitar and along with the 'mini Seeds', remembers what it's like to be 17 again with the most ass-kicking album he's released for a great number of years. In the hands of lesser songwriters, 'Grinderman' could have turned out a great disaster, but tunes like "Get It On" and "Depth Charge Ethel" rock out more so than bands who are half Grinderman's age. In a category of its own, "No Pussy Blues" deserves special mention as by far the year's greatest single with the winning combination of Cave's gut-bustingly hilarious lyrics, his madman-like delivery and the filthiest, fuzziest, most gloriously rock n' roll riff of the year. --Andrew Hartwig
To the Nameless Dead

Primordial state that if The Gathering Wilderness seemed impenetrably dark and hopeless, To the Nameless Dead is like C?chulainn, climbing to his feet and fighting to his inevitable demise, only in hopes that he will take his enemy down with him. Noting C?chulainn is not important for its mythological significance, but rather for the sense of pride it emits. Pride, along with a sense of inevitable death are what make To the Nameless Dead a worthy successor to The Gathering Wilderness, and as such, a strong competitor for best of 2007. The fact that the band's musical output is as strong as ever doesn't hurt. The sense of pride I mentioned is impossible to miss. Carried alongside the band's typical gallop, Empire Falls comes out running. Alan Averill's voice is powerful, gravelled and seemingly war torn and melancholic, occasionally spurting bits of pride and vanquish and into the band's mix of folk and metal. The folk is implicit, mind you, distinctly lacking typical wind noises of the genre, vying for a more organic take on the music of their country. At this point you'll realize the band's true strength; they are intensely powerful. When needed, the guitars encapsulate the rest of the band, and when not, they still fall into a wall of sound. The vocals are delivered passionately and emphasised with both fury and melody. The drumming, as always, is highly rhythmic and perhaps the most distinguished characteristic of the band, serving as the true catalyst for their sound. --Tyler Munro
22Raine Maida
The Hunters Lullaby

Raine Maida's The Hunters Lullaby (no apostrophe) expands upon the blueprint set by his debut EP Love Hope Hero late last year. Simplicity is the Our Lady Peace frontman's key aim here, removing many of the obstacles rock music traditionally puts between vocalist and listener and instead using sparse instrumentation (guitar, piano, hand drums) to subtly supplement his half-sung, half-slam poetry confessional. He broaches issues both political and personal (and often both wound together) directly and frankly, picking his words carefully and delivering them with just as much precision. For highlights, check pessimistic/optimistic closer 'One Second Chance' and the haunting 'Earthless,' or anything else from this unusually consistent first effort. --Dave de Sylvia
21Blonde Redhead

When I first heard '23,' I was tempted to start making comparisons to 'Loveless.' However baseless any comparison might be, the fact that it even crossed my mind speaks volumes about the quality of this album. Where Blonde Redhead once sounded like Sonic Youth, on this album (the first one they've produced themselves) they've pitched themselves somewhere between Interpol and MBV, with occasional shades of Cocteau Twins. As a result it's the most lush, beautiful thing they've released yet. The melodies, crucially, are every bit as impressive and expressive as the music and the production, and the album is flawless in its consistency. Not many bands peak on their 7th album - Blonde Redhead just might have. --Nick Butler
20Fair to Midland
Fables from a Mayfly

One of the most intriguing and innovative albums of the year, Fair to Midland's 'Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True' is somewhat of a smorgasbord, kitchen-sink sort of album that incorporates an enormous variety of genres without being superfluously over-the-top. The Texas-based quintet flawlessly segues from piano-driven alternative to crunching hard rock to elements of progressive and folk as well. This mishmash of ideas could easily spell disaster, but on the whole, the transitions are seamless, thanks in part to vocalist to Darroh Sudderth's impressive range and Matt Langley's creative, expressive tickling of the keys. Tracks like album opener "Dance of the Manatee," "April Fools and Eggmen" (a track where Langley absolutely shines), "Upgrade^Brigade," "Tall Tales Taste Like Sour Grapes," and "Vice/Versa" best represent how fluidly and effortlessly the band maneuvers through the different styles they incorporate into their unique sound. A must-listen album from 2007, without question. --Jom
The Emperors New Clothes

From appearances, Tom Withers aka Klute seems no more than your average musician and skater. 'The Emperor's New Clothes' however is an album that strives to be all that it can be, with Withers exploring a huge array of sounds, melodies and beats. "Our Leader" and "Hell Hath No Fury" demonstrate his skill at crafting melodies soft and mesmerizing. And the contrasting jarring bass lines of "Toiler" and "We Control the Vertical" seem to forget the confines of Drum & Bass, instead just going with what works, what sounds good. With no pretensions about what his music should sound like, Klute has created an album that is honest, rewarding and rich in sound. --Daniel Incognito
18The National

It wasn't until I saw The National tackle the stage that I fully appreciated Boxer's subdued emotion. Seeing Matt Berninger turn from jittery and awkward between songs to passionate and unconstrained in the context of his lyrics makes repeat listens to Boxer all the more excellent. While it might take patience to unravel the passion caked in layers (building from pianos to sprawling horn sections in "Fake Empire" or crowded in the lyrics of "Ada"), Boxer is nothing short of rewarding and excellent. Any praise is well worn and almost redundant here, but here goes: Boxer is damn near essential --Lewis Parry

Justice's 'Cross' 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. --Nick Greer
16Animal Collective
Strawberry Jam

This sure is one weird album from Animal Collective. This drives the collective into an even more effects-riddled direction but instead of being more effects than substance like 2005's 'Feels,' they show their songwriting skills more. If they manage to top this next year then I think it will be very high up my list for 2008. --Derek McArthur
15Arcade Fire
Neon Bible

I don't what was more exasperating - the people who expected Arcade Fire to release a terrible second album and drift into obscurity, or the ones who expected them to top Funeral. Pessimism or fantasy; I can't say either is my bag. I expected a damn good album, and that's what I got. Not that Neon Bible is without its surprises - "My Body Is A Cage" sends more chills up the spine than even "Crown of Love", and "No Cars Go" is transformed from an average EP filler into killer material. "Black Mirror", "Intervention", and "Ocean of Noise" provide other highlights, and "(antichrist television blues)" shows that they can even be playful when the mood takes them. It's not up to the standard of their debut, but it's broader in scope, bigger in sound, and more consistent. Simply put, it feels like another bold step toward a thrilling career. --Nick Butler
14 Do Make Say Think
You, You're a History in Rust

'You, You're a History in Rust,' like every other Do Make Say Think record before it represents true musical growth and an unparalleled willingness to try new things. As can be rare for post-rock albums, 'You You're a History in Rust' flows as a whole, rendering some of its most essential moments useless outside the context of the album as a whole. From the heavy and anthemic "The Universe!" to the front porch folk picking of "A Tender History in Rust", 'You, You're a History in Rust' puts on display the band's willingness to chart new musical territory and in true Do Make Say Think form, betters its predecessor and thus the rest of the band's catalogue in the process. --Andrew Hartwig

Matthew Cooper, under the moniker of Eluvium, composes the most evolved and full album of his career by combining two of his greatest strengths: warm, electronic chords with accessible solo piano melodies. He accomplishes what many of his contemporaries cannot, true album flow, with incredible aptitude. In closing song ?Repose in Blue?, Cooper orchestrates a fireworks show. Nothing could give more closure to such an epic album. --Tyler Fisher
12Tartar Lamb
Sixty Metonymies

Kayo Dot's Toby Driver is a prolific and highly reliable musician when it comes to dynamic and entirely unique compositions. 'Sixty Metonymies' may have stripped Kayo Dot of their bombast, but in those darkened corners of minimalism lie some of Toby's most eccentric melodies yet. A mind blowing release beautifully accented by Mia Matsumiya's absolutely incredible violin playing. --Jared W. Dillon
11Streetlight Manifesto
Somewhere in the Between

After arguably releasing the best third-wave ska album ever with 2003's 'Everything Goes Numb,' it's likely been an agonizing four years for Streetlight Manifesto fans, but it was well worth the wait. "The Receiving End of It All" may be the best song in the genre, but what makes this album so stellar is the brass and woodwind section - comprised of Mike Brown (alto and baritone sax), Jim Conti (alto and tenor sax), Mike Soprano (trombone), and Matt Stewart (trumpet) - and these four men deliver an absolutely stunning performance throughout. As expected, charismatic ringleader Tomas Kalnoky's anthemic, dissertations-for-lyrics manner of storytelling again returns, another album highlight. From "We Will Fall Together" to "What a Wicked Gang Are We" - and every track 'Somewhere in the Between' - this album absolutely slays and is bar-none of the best releases in 2007. --Jom
10Say Anything
In Defense of the Genre

If there was one record this year I truly thought was going to disappoint, it was 'In Defense of the Genre.' Say Anything?s last album, '?Is A Real Boy,' while quite good, suffered from being way too long, as songs poured on chorus after chorus until you plainly started to get annoyed. Then, with the new this album would have two discs, on the inside I pretty much gave up on it. I hoped outwardly that it would be good, but I never really expected it to be anything but a worse version of '?Is A Real Boy.' When I actually heard 'In Defense of the Genre,' I pretty much figured out what a giant idiot I am. The greatest strength of 'In Defense' is that, while it claims to be defending a certain genre (pop punk you'd figure), it's so hard to pin it down to any one genre of music in particular. The best you can do is just call it a 'rock' album made by a pop punk band. Where some songs may exhibit a show tunes influence, others are heavily electronic and almost belong at a club. Say Anything bring arena rock back, Descendents-styled punk/pop punk, some hip hop grooves, all while touching on nearly every major genre of music associated with rock and punk music. --John A. Hanson
9Minus the Bear
Planet of Ice

Minus the Bear have always been fun, groovy, and at times hilarious, but with 'Planet of Ice,' they decided to push their limits with a more serious album. Inducting Alex Rose into the band as a permanent keyboardist, the wealth of sounds the band uses expands heavily on this album, from the seductive "White Mystery" to the perfect progression of "Part 2." This is the album that guitarist Dave Knudson can rank with with former band Botch?s 'We Are the Romans,' even if they are completely different albums. 'Planet of Ice' mixes indie rock with more advanced guitar interplay, prog rock structure, and dance grooves. A stunning achievement. --Tyler Fisher
8Pharoahe Monch

Organized Konfusion broke up in 1997. In the ten years since Monch was forced to go solo, he's only released two solo albums. With a lesser talent you'd suspect it was a lack of ideas; with the most talented member of one of the greatest rap duos of all time, you know he was just making sure shit was perfect. And yes, for the first 7 tracks, 'Desire' is absolutely perfect. His adaption of "Welcome To The Terrordome" might even be - whisper it - better than the original, and even if he's made strides toward the mainstream since the days of "Fudge Pudge", he still finds time to experiment on "Trilogy". This is every bit as good as the first two OK classics. Seriously. --Nick Butler

Who would have thought that Battles' off-beat combination of masterful musical proficiency of traditional instruments with quirky melodies and robotic electronics would prove to be such a hit with mainstream audiences? Who knows how it happened, but God knows they deserve it because ultimately, Battles hit their groove with 'Mirrored' and created a perfectly unique niche in the math rock genre. --Andrew Hartwig
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. --Nick Greer
5 Thrice
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. --Nick Greer
4Panda Bear
Person Pitch

That Panda Bear ends up being more animalistic than the animals are collectively (and largely more humanistic because of it) proves that they may just work best on their own primal instinct. That means 'Person Pitch' is not only the year's most luxurious, crass, and ambitious album, but also the year's most comforting. Curl up with this Panda Bear; he's got a lot to say. --Lewis Parry
In Rainbows

What can I say about 'In Rainbows?' It is arguably the biggest album of the year, partly because of the free-market capitalist style of selling the album and partly because it is Radiohead, but mostly because of what the album symbolizes. For ten years, fans have waited for the follow up to 'OK Computer,' and they received 'Kid A,' 'Amnesiac,' and 'Hail to the Thief' in return, none of which really answered what 'OK Computer' established. 'In Rainbows' finally achieves that goal in its dark, schizophrenic atmosphere and the guitars? sudden return to prominence. Still, the stark minimalism represents a path that the band could follow for years to come. --Tyler Fisher
2 The Kidcrash

The Kidcrash's 'Jokes' was a monolith of hope for the emotional hardcore scene. Not has a release as revolutionary for the genre been as powerful since 2005's 'The Moon is a Dead World'. Dynamic, emotional, and ferocious. --Jared W. Dillon

If Burial had his way, 'Untrue' wouldn't be topping this list. Out of biased loyalty, I feel every right to keep it here as I do to tell you to step off and leave the man be; our praise is interfering with his work. But as they say, suffering is art, and 2006's response to the dubstep producer's debut was enough to send him into a frenzy, one that found him so distracted by perfecting his work that it made him uneasy. An album as characteristically flawed and emotional as 'Untrue' couldn't come from something as manufactured as that, so Burial went about devouring his own work and, in haste, created something uplifting. Which brings 'Untrue' to its core, a humble slice-of-life story that happens to take place within the confines of London's seedy club culture. Its locale is every bit as essential to his wispy synths as Burial's decision to keep himself hidden; it is reflected in his work, his tender longing in "Archangel" ("Holding you / Kissing you") violated by the hungry stalker in "Near Dark" ("I can't take my eyes off you"). That 'Untrue' works as both a realistic take on the burrowed underground and a dreamlike fantasy of the same dance floor brings to light Burial's greatest asset, which is his subtle molding of what his mind knows and what his heart feels. And through grimy electronics, kitchen noises and R&B beats, he allows his own ghost hardware to go unbothered by precedent, and ends up setting his own. --Lewis Parry
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