Top Ten Albums of 2007
Well it’s getting to be the time of year again where I post my top ten albums of the year for one or two people who actually give a shit…
Let me just preface this thread by stating that there was a lot of good music released this year and that it was completely possible for me to post up the top 25 albums of 2007, and that trying to come up with a list of the top 10 albums really took a lot of time and a lot of spins. You’ll see that this list can be a bit skewed to one side of the music spectrum as I mainly listen to metal, but I do listen to a little bit of everything. There were some albums released this year that I haven’t heard yet and will not get a chance to hear until next year, most notably, Mark Knopfler, Radiohead, Sheavy, and Witchcraft’s new ones, which are all probably worthy of a spot on this list.
10. El-P – I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead
With rap/hip hop going downhill faster and faster with each passing year, it’s good to see some people out there having fun and making entertaining music. When this record came out in early 2007 I already had it on my list of top ten of the year; nothing has changed since.
9. Boris/Michio Kurihara – Rainbow
Boris jams with renowned Japanese psych guitarist Michio Kurihara on this release, upping the ante on all future releases. This release sees Boris at the pinnacle of their 10+-year career. Not one to stick with one certain type of music, Boris has already conquered the drone, doom, and noise genres and is now looking to do the same with the psychedelic metal. While you can’t understand a fucking word they are singing, unless you speak Japanese, you can just let the music do the talking for you. It’s actually rather cool how Boris has gone about this release as they have toned down their sound, while Kurihara has made his, well, pretty damn loud.
8. Wintersleep – Welcome to the Night Sky
I can’t quite put my finger on what separates this release from their previous two; all I know is that it rocks. Paul Murphy sounds more confident than ever in his vocal delivery and the band, as a whole, sounds more together. I think part of this is due in part to Tony Doogan producing the record, who also did amazing work with Mogwai on their last album.
7. Clutch – From Beale Street to Oblivion
Nothing that this band has released has ever failed to impress me. Some albums take quite some time getting used to; take for instance, their last album, Robot Hive/Exodus. That particular disc took over two years to appreciate; now I think it’s one of the best in their catalogue. As anybody who has listened to these guys knows, while their sound generally stays the same, they’re always changing it up. They started off as a hardcore/metal band and have progressed into some of the best rock/blues bands around. As always, Tim Sult plays the ever-loving shit out of his guitar, proving that he still is a master of his craft. The organs that were on Robot Hive/Exodus are even more prevalent here, further enriching the songs.
6. Neurosis – Given to the Rising
Ahh, yes, Neurosis presents us with a return to their great, classic sound! This sounds like the album that should have followed Times of Grace. That’s not saying that A Sun That Never Sets and The Eye of Every Storm were bad -- they weren’t, they just never demanded repeated listens. I’ve listened to this thing three times over in the past four hours and can go back for another at any time.
5. Rush – Snakes and Arrows
The 18th full-length album from my favorite band to ever grace the face of this earth sees them releasing one of the best records of their past twenty-years together, and surely the best since Counterparts. While Test for Echoes had some decent songwriting, a lot of the lyrics were cheesy as hell. Vapor Trails was a solid album that was marred by lackluster production, but this newest release has great songwriting, great lyrics, and a great sound, culminating in some of the best music these guys have laid to tape in over ten years.
4. Pig Destroyer – Phantom Limb
These guys, for me, have always fallen short on their previous albums to the potential that I felt they could live up to. Their last release, Terrifyer, came close, but ultimately failed. I had given up on these guys and wasn’t concerned about this release whatsoever until I was persuaded to try it out by someone whose opinion I respect. Holy shit, these guys came out of the gate running and never stopped. There is not a weak track on this album and the band sound tighter than ever, almost like an early Mastodon. They can only improve their sound from here, and I now look forward to future releases.
3. Jesu – Conqueror
Justin Broadrick is getting old, and, to be blunt, his music is starting to show signs of aging as well. I’m ok with that though, as I’m growing older as well. Broadrick was the genius behind industrial/metal band Godflesh. His new project, Jesu, is a continuation of Godflesh, but something entirely different in its own right. Each release finds his sound getting less metal and more shoegaze. That’s not saying there isn’t any metal here, there’s plenty of it, it’s just not a full-on aural assault as his work used to be.
2. Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet/Nil Recurring EP
While these are two separate releases, they should have been released on one disc, as thematically, they are one in the same. This is my favorite band to ever have been assembled in a long, long time. I only started listening to them about 6 years ago when they released In Absentia, but quickly retrieved their entire back catalogue after hearing that album. These guys are like a fine wine or Scotch; they just get better with age.
1. Baroness – The Red Album
This is Baroness’ first full length and first release on Relapse Records. I was expecting something akin to a heard of wild elephants trudging through my speakers, but to say I was surprised is an understatement – I was surprised that it was this fucking good. These guys have really improved in the past two years, and they did it by toning down just a tad bit. Sure, Baizley still screams, but it’s usually a discernable scream to where you can actually hear what he is saying, and yes, he does sing at times as well. The twin guitar lead of John Baizley and Brian Blickle reminds me, at times, of Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham trading licks in the great band known as Thin Lizzy.
This album is comprised of four instrumental tracks and six tracks with vocals. Most tracks start out with a good one to three minute instrumental introduction before they start to kick your ass. The sticker on the front of the album says “For fans of Mastodon, Explosions in the Sky, Clutch, High on Fire, Mogwai, Isis, Municipal Waste.” While I can hear elements of each of those bands within this masterwork, I also hear other past greats. These guys aren’t ashamed to let you hear who influenced them, but they do a bang-up job of it. I called Mastodon’s Blood Mountain album last year the Metal release of the decade, and maybe one of the best of all time. I could make the same argument with this composition. This is simply an amazing piece of work and has therefore received the prestigious award of Geof Coffman’s Album of the Year. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer, about ten hours longer.
Runner’s Up: Aesop Rock – None Shall Pass; Cephalic Carnage – Xenosapien; Coheed & Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume II: No World for Tomorrow; Blackfield – Blackfield II; Municipal Waste – The Art of Partying; Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank; Coliseum – No Salvation; Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog; Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works; Do Make Say Think – You, You’re a History in Rust; 3 – The End is Begun; High on Fire – Death is This Communion; Ween – La Cucaracha; The Red Chord – Prey for Eyes; Richard Thompson – Sweet Warrior; Irepress – Samus Octology; KMFDM – Tohuvabohu; Grinderman - Grinderman
Disappointments: Lucinda Williams – West; The Chemical Brothers – We Are the Night; Pelican – City of Echoes; Arcade Fire – Neon Bible; Dream Theater – Systematic Chaos; Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone