OK, it seems to be list making season, so I’ve been working on my very own top twenty albums for 2007. However, as I’ve bought more than twenty albums this year, that means that some albums (twenty-five, to be exact) aren’t going to fit. But a lot of them are still really good releases and ought to be acknowledged. So that’s what I’m going to do now. (Note: These aren’t in any real order. I’ve found it hard enough to rate the top twenty, let alone attempting to rate these ones).
THE HALF GOON HALF BLOG NOT QUITE TOP TWENTY OF 2007
21. Gotye – Mixed Blood
I was this close to shoving this into the top twenty, but despite ARIA treating it as a full album, I just can’t. It’s a remix compilation, and as per last year, I can’t admit it as a real album. But it’s got some great remixes (and covers) on it. The highlights would have to be the Karnivool version of The Only Way, as well as the Düosseüdo remix of Heart’s A Mess, as they take the songs in completely different directions to the originals. Mixed Blood has also avoided the pitfall of many remix compilations by involving no shitty rapping.
22. The Polyphonic Spree – The Fragile Army
Another very difficult one to not include in the top twenty. The Polyphonic Spree sound just like they always have – big swirling orchestrations and choruses and general happiness. And it’s awesome stuff. But The Fragile Army has no real standout like Together We’re Heavy’s Hold Me Now or Two Thousand Places. Sure, Mental Cabaret is good, as is Running Away, but they’re not great.
23. The Hives – The Black & White Album
The Hives tried new things for this album – with the addition of creepy instrumentals and slickly produced beats, it’s not so straight-up rock as Tyrannosaurus Hives was. And on a track-by-track level, it sometimes works. But as a full album, it sounds a little disjointed and uneven. If this was cut down to twelve tracks, getting rid of fillers like A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors and Puppet on a String, this could have been much stronger. I much prefer balls-out Hives rock to what they’ve experimented with here.
24. Bumblebeez – Prince Umberto & The Sister of Ill
I bought this on the strength of Dr Love – 4 minutes of silliness and a video in which a fat guy has a phone scrawled on his stomach which people prodded. But apart from grungy rocker Freak Your Loneliness and beat-heavy Rio, it’s too much filler, not enough songs. Sure, it has a lot of good sounds, and every track has a different feel, but sometimes that level of experimentation is just hiding a lack of personality. Sometimes coherence is a good thing.
25. The Cops – Drop It In Their Laps
This is another that was very nearly in the top twenty. The Cops really nailed that 80s synth-rock sound on this album, and that’s a sound I really like when it’s done right, especially when it’s something like Call Me Anytime, which flies along at a wonderful pace, building up to a big cacophony of guitars and cymbals in the choruses. It also delves into near-INXS territory on some tracks, which is cool. White boy funk forever!
26. Powderfinger – Dream Days at the Hotel Existence
Oh, Powderfinger. I remember, back in 1998, you were so much more rock than you are now. Double Allergic and Internationalist are classic albums in my book, and Vulture Street is a great basic rock record. But Dream Days kind of merges Vulture Street with Odyssey Number Five, and it doesn’t quite work for me. While there’s nothing offensive about this record, like any Powderfinger record really – I think it was TISM who said that Powderfinger are the sort of band who’d be most likely to wear creams – there’s just nothing really great about it. Also, Bernard stuck another horribly political song in, and I get sick of overtly political tracks in music. Especially when it’s pure filler like this was.
27. Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future
If I were doing a list of most stupidly fun records of 2007, this would be up near the top. There’s nothing to really ‘get’ with the Klaxons debut album – you just need to appreciate big dumb rave/rock tracks and lyrics that seem to be about space travel or something. But when I listen to it I get a weird feeling. I don’t know why, but I feel uncomfortable. Which sucks because I like this album.
28. Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder
Another album which could have been made better by cutting out useless tracks. Of the twenty-four tracks on this, ten aren’t needed. They’re not even intros, just throwaway snippets and some demonstrations of something called a ‘non-pythagorean scale’. So while the songs that are on this are really fun and poppy, it’s ruined by all the unnecessary rubbish.
29. Suburban Kids with Biblical Names – #3
Yeah, more Swedish indie pop. I don’t know what else I can say about it. It’s definitely got its own thing going on, they seem to be massive geeks, and it’s a fun record, but apart from Rent A Wreck, Loop Duplicate My Heart, and Noodles, all the songs are kind of samey. They also kind of blend into each other, so if you listen to this album in a shuffle, sometimes you’ll lose the end of songs because they’re cut off.
30. The Shins – Wincing the Night Away
I don’t know of a more overhyped indie band than The Shins. Yeah, this is a solid album, and it’s THE indie album of the year, but I got sick of it. Also, it’s boring. The end.
31. Immaculate Machine – Fables
I listened to Immaculate Machine a whole heap this year. They’re pretty much like The New Pornographers (I believe the singer is AC Newman’s niece or something), and Fables is full of the same brand of power pop. So I can’t help but like them. I guess this is another one where there’s no reason why they’re not in the top twenty – they just aren’t.
32. PNAU – PNAU
If this entire album was just like its first track, With You Forever, which features Luke Steele (of The Sleepy Jackson) on vocals, it would be undoubtedly awesome. But it’s not. Basically, the first three tracks are really good, but then it sort of gets stuck in the same trance/dance loop for the rest of the album. I guess I should have expected that, but I didn’t.
33. MIA – Kala
I only bought this last week so I haven’t really managed to give this a good listen. I’d really only heard the major singles from this album – Boyz, Paper Planes, BirdFlu and Jimmy, before buying, and listening to the entire album now, I’m thinking it should maybe have stayed that way. She’s absolutely massacred that Down River track that those Aboriginal kids did a few years ago.
34. Battles – Mirrored
I really wish I’d heard this earlier. Mirrored is so freaking awesome. Really, all you need to hear is Atlas – you can download it via pitchforkmedia.com (that’s a link if you didn’t notice). It’s 7 minutes of stomping drums and altered vocals and guitars and it’s wonderful. The rest of the album is much like it, and it’s a heap of fun.
35. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
This is at the top of a heap of charts this year, including Pitchfork’s! Why not mine? Well, it’s because I’m slow on the uptake and only bought it last week. So I’m still listening to it. But what I hear I like. Even though it’s not in my top twenty, I recommend it if you’re into dreamy floaty pop sounds that may or may not quite be songs. More details may follow.
36. The Basics – Stand Out/Fit In
It’s straight up 60s pop rock, doing what the Beatles and Kinks did all those years ago. With a bit of the Police thrown in for good measure. It’s technically very good, but I got bored of it quickly. Still a fun pop record, but.
37. Akron/Family – Love is Simple
Another one where I came in late. Apparently they’re part of the ‘freak folk’ thing that Devendra Banhart’s part of. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But the music’s fun. It can also get really freaking annoying, especially in the later tracks.
38. Grinspoon – Alibis & Other Lies
Yeah, I don’t know about Grinspoon. Maybe they should have left it a couple of albums ago and gone their separate ways. They can still rock, but it’s not very interesting rock. Maybe this was a little too polished as well. Rock needs to be a little rough around the edges, and apart from Phil’s bug-picking scars (that’s a shitty Ice reference, people) it’s completely devoid of roughness.
39. I Heart Hiroshima – Tuff Teef
I bought this on a whim after seeing them support Regurgitator. Maybe I shouldn’t have. It’s fairly simple guitar/drums/bass, and half the songs sound the same. So do the other half.
40. Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly, Angry Mob
In an early blog entry this year, I described this as being ‘seriously good’. That was probably because I had nothing to compare it to. It’s good, but apart from Ruby, I barely listen to Yours, Truly, Angry Mob anymore. Probably because it’s devoid of any warmth.
41. Bloc Party – A Weekend in the City
Apart from the first single The Prayer and Hunting for Witches, this was a dull album. Why can’t Bloc Party write really good songs in time to put on their albums? They failed to put Two More Years on their first album, and now they’ve failed to have Flux ready for A Weekend In The City. Poor effort. Now that is a really good song!
42. Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero
Apart from Survivalism and Capital G, I didn’t really get into this at all. I mostly bought it because the CD has this really cool colour changing dye like those t-shirts that respond to heat.
43. The Octopus Project – Hello Avalanche
This was one I bought without really thinking. Basically, The Octopus Project is instrumental indie-pop. There’s plenty of electronic squelches and stuff, and it’s fun to listen to, but it gets real boring real quickly. One of my few real disappointments from eMusic.com this year, because they said it’s good.
44. The Panics – Cruel Guards
This is actually an incredibly good Australian album, and is probably number twenty-one on my list. The musicianship is incredible, and there’s some beautiful pop songs. It’s only out because I bought it just a few weeks ago and haven’t listened to it enough to really ‘get’ it. If I’d bought it two months ago, it would definitely be in the top twenty. A pity, really.
45. Mary Timony Band – The Shapes We Make
Good, but gets to close to early ’90s alt-rock. And I hate early ’90s alt-rock.
Well, this took way too long to write and for little payoff. Time well spent! Up next, the actual countdown (from twenty to one, just in case you haven’t caught on. I know it’s a difficult concept.)