Aquarium Drunkard :: 2007 Year In Review

For brevity’s sake, not to mention our own sanity, the 2007 year in review has been limited to Aquarium Drunkard’s favorite six albums of the year. While there were many fine albums released over the course of the year, the following six LPs received the most play, and upon further review, tend to form into a fairly cohesive snapshot of what the blog (in terms of new music) tends to cover. Also, after the jump, you will find our additional twelve favorite jams from ’07, some of which just barely missed being in our top six. Be sure to leave your top LPs, EPs, videos, concerts, etc., of the year, below in the comments.

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sky_blue_sky.jpg

Having successfully pushed the boundaries of what defines the Wilco sound on their last two LPs, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born, respectively, Jeff Tweedy and company returned in 2007 with my favrite LP of the year, Sky Blue Sky, a mature album that returns to the more traditional song structures found on the outfit’s earlier material.

The past six years have seen major stylistic makeovers in both Wilco’s sound as well as the core makeup of the band members themselves. Other than Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt is the only other original member from the band’s post Uncle Tupelo inception. With an evolving/revolving cast of players, various influences and sounds have melded and co-existed with Tweedy’s vision to varying results. Here, on Sky Blue Sky, this latest Wilco incarnation scale things back and give the audience an album free from studio trickery, krautrock, and other embellishments found on their first two 21st century releases. And it works.

Sky Blue Sky
feels organic, inhabiting a retro space that avoids pastiche, not unlike the group’s 1996 double-album Being There. Those who appreciated the more straightforward and softer side to A Ghost Is Born will find much to enjoy here, as the album’s steady and confident cadence gives the album a flow its predecessor lacked.

Download:
MP3: Wilco :: You Are My Face
MP3: Wilco :: Impossible Germany

Video: Wilco :: What Light (DVD)
——–
Amazon: Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

hissing-fauna.jpg

Near perfect in its conception and execution, it’s clear from the onset of Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer that this is most definitely not your older brother’s Of Montreal.

After one listen to the group’s latest, fans of the group prior to 2004’s Satanic Panic In The Attic will be shocked to learn this is the same outfit that produced the expansively twee, carnival-esque albums The Gay Parade, and Cherry Peel. The degree in separation in both sound and atmosphere could not be more decidedly different.

Having toiled in what Of Montreal’s leader and chief songwriter, Kevin Barnes, has described as the “indie ghetto” for nearly ten years, Barnes took the reins of the group in 2004 ending an era of Elephant 6 styled mass group collaboration. Having complete creative control in terms of songwriting, sound and production, what emerged was the beat heavy, electropop-synth watershed Satanic Panic In The Attic. 2005 saw Barnes further chase his new muse on The Sunlandic Twins mining varied genres until ultimately spinning them into one of his own.

Part three of Barnes’ creative trilogy, Hissing Fauna is the logical next step in terms of sound, but with an added layer of personalization and introspection not so readily and immediately available on prior efforts. When he emotes on the track “A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger,” “I spent the winter on the verge of a total breakdown while living in Norway” backed by the incredibly poppy and upbeat instrumentation it’s as if you wonder whether to laugh or cry with him. Such is the duality of Hissing Fauna. Fifty plus minutes of clever, clever pop saturated in what sounds like a man on the brink of a nervous breakdown. It is also Of Montreal’s best work yet.

Download:
MP3: Of Montreal :: Faberge Falls For Shuggie
MP3: Of Montreal :: Gronlandic Edit

Video: Of Montreal -Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse
———
Amazon: Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer

national-boxer.jpg

Caveat Emptor: The National’s third LP, Alligator, remains my favorite album of the past two years. Nothing has touched it.

The National craft mood music. In the span of four albums and an EP they have created a niche of elegant and dark atmospheric rock bolstered by vocalists Matt Berninger’s languid baritone and everyman poetics.

These are the 21st century blues for those who grew up in the ‘80s. A world view framed by three decades worth of anxiety, mild paranoia, and disappointment. A vision fully, and flawlessly, realized on the group’s third and previous album Alligator.

Now, two years later, The National return with Boxer, a slow burner and natural follow up to Alligator, that riffs and expands on the same themes and motifs while avoiding repetition. For the most part, minus a track or two, Boxer moves at a steady pace creating an “album experience” best taken as a whole. And that whole is one of the best albums released in 2007.

Download:
MP3: The National :: Fake Empire
MP3:
The National :: Mistaken For Strangers

Video:
The National – Mistaken For Strangers
———
Amazon:
The National – Boxer

frankel1.jpg

My favorite album over the past few months, Frankel’s (Michael Orendy) Lullaby For The Passerby is an absolute must for fans of Nilsson, Lennon/McCartney, et al. I recently described the sound of the LP as “the orchestration and instrumentation of latter era Elliot Smith, combined with the songwriting and world view of Richard Swift.” For the uninitiated looking for touchstones, that description, to my ears, pretty much nails it.

Remember when they used to make albums where you had new favorite song each week? Well, they still do; it’s called Lullaby For The Passerby.

Download:
MP3:
Frankel :: X Marks The Spot
MP3:
Frankel :: Tooth Decay
——–
Purchase:
Frankel – Lullaby For The Passerby

spoon.jpg

One of the more consistent rock & roll bands working today, Austin’s Spoon delivered Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga in July of ’07. Like the last three Spoon albums, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga works the Anglophile-cum-Texas angle to near perfection with Britt Daniel’s vocals and guitar front and center. If you’re an existing fan of the band, the record seems like an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile, walking the line between familiar and different, both at the same time. If Spoon are anything, they are consistently consistent, having perfected their niche formula to near perfection.

Questionable album title be damned, new Spoon fans, just coming on board, will find Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga a great place to begin before being inevitably sucked into the back-catalog. And trust us, you will.

Side Note: Always interesting songwriters in their own right, it’s ironic the most arresting track on the album, “Don’t You Evah,” is a cover by the defunct NYC group, and former Spoon tour mates, The Natural History.

Download:

MP3:
Spoon – Don’t You Evah
MP3:
Spoon – Black Like Me
———
Video:
Spoon – Don’t You Evah – Live At Stubb’s 3/17/07
———
Amazon:
Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

the-broken-west.jpg

Already a big fan of the L.A. based band, I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On was love at first listen. Augmenting the sound that initially pulled us in on 2005′s Dutchman’s Gold EP, The Broken West‘s debut LP comes off as a star-crossed musical hybrid deftly balancing the power-pop smarts of Big Star with the atmospheric canyon rock so closely associated with the golden coast’s early ‘70s hey-day. For those steeped in an appreciation of The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and The Band, this 21st century take on West coast rock & roll feels timeless.

Building on the sturdy bones of The Dutchman’s Gold, the band’s exploration of power-pop became, without question, fully realized on I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On. An infusion of peak-era Kinks coupled with the spiritual guidance of Big Star’s “O My Soul,” culminating in one of the best LPs of 2007.

Download:
MP3:
The Broken West :: On The Bubble
MP3:
The Broken West :: You Can Build An Island

Video:
The Broken West – You Can Build An Island (CMJ 2006)
———
Amazon:
The Broken West – I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On

Want more? After the jump continue reading for AD’s additional twelve LPs of 2007 …


Radiohead :: In Rainbows

inrainbows.jpg

Download:
The Album:
In Rainbows

Video:
Radiohead – Jigsaw Falling Into Place (thumbs down version)
——–
Purchase:
Radiohead – In Rainbows

Iron & Wine :: The Shepherd’s Dog

iron-wine.jpg

Download:
MP3:
Iron & Wine :: Boy With A Coin

Video:
Iron & Wine – Not Afraid To Die/Boy With A Coin
——–
Amazon:
Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog

The Besnard Lakes :: …Are The Dark Horse

besnard-lakes.jpg

Download:
MP3:
The Besnard Lakes :: Disaster

Video:
The Besnard Lakes – For Agent 13
——–
Amazon:
The Besnard Lakes…Are The Dark Horse

Thurston Moore :: Trees Outside The Academy

thurston.jpg

Download:
MP3:
Thurston Moore :: The Shape Is In A Trance

Video:
Thurston Moore – Trees Outside The Academy (interview)
——–
Amazon:
Thurston Moore – Trees Outside The Academy

Richard Swift :: Dressed Up For The Letdown

richard-swift.jpg

Download:
MP3:
Richard Swift :: The Songs of National Freedom

Video:
Richard Swift – Kisses For The Misses

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings :: 100 Days, 100 Nights

sharon-jones.jpg

Download:
MP3:
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings :: 100 Days, 100 Nights

Video:
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights
———
Amazon: Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights

St. Vincent :: Marry Me

st-vincent.jpg

Download:
MP3:
St. Vincent :: Now, Now

Video:
St. Vincent – Your Lips Are Red
——–
Amazon:
St. Vincent – Marry Me

Ryan Adams :: Easy Tiger

ryan-adams-easy-tiger.jpg

Download:
MP3:
Ryan Adams :: Rip Off

Video:
Ryan Adams – Everybody Knows
——–
Amazon:
Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger

Andrew Bird :: Armchair Apocrypha

armchair-apocrypha.jpg

Download:
MP3:
Andrew Bird :: Imitosis

Video:
Andrew Bird – Imitosis
——–
Amazon:
Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha

The Good, The Bad & The Queen – S/T

good-bad-queen.jpg

Download:
MP3:
The Good, The Bad & The Queen :: History Song

Video:
The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Kingdom of Doom
——–
Amazon:
The Good, The Bad & The Queen

Panda Bear :: Person Pitch

panda-bear.jpg

Download:
MP3:
Panda Bear :: Bros (edit)

Video:
Panda Bear – Bros
———
Amazon:
Panda Bear – Person Pitch

Band of Horses :: Cease To Begin

band-of-horses.jpg

Download:
MP3:
Band of Horses :: Detlef Shrempf

Video:
Band of Horses – Is There A Ghost?
——–
Amazon:
Band of Horses – Cease To Begin

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+ Download 2007 albums via eMusic’s 25 free, no strings, MP3 trial offer

32 Responses to “Aquarium Drunkard :: 2007 Year In Review”

  1. Pared down and still a tour de force here. A great year in review. Congrats on all the accomplishments this past year – let’s see it continue right into ’08.

    And, as always: werd holmes.

  2. thanks for a wonderful year full of great music!!

  3. Great picks, man.

  4. As always I love coming to your site. Great writing about great music. I am continually thrown down new avenues to explore music that until visiting here was nothing more than a cd I would’ve walked past. by the way the Band of Horses album completely blew me away this year..

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

  5. I know the site’s named for a Wilco lyric, but Sky Blue Sky? Really?

  6. Great best of list. The only one I didn’t see here was The Handsome Furs “Plague Park” I loved that one. Keep up the great work! Best blog on the web in the web?

  7. Great list. I forgot about that Broken West record. Actually, I didn’t, just thought it came out last year. Now begins my “I should have included” list.

  8. Does anyone else feel that St. Vincent’s album is way overhyped? Yes, she is quite good in concert but the album…. not so much

  9. Great call on The Broken West. The album hasn’t left my iPod for 8+ months and will definitely make my top ten of the year.

  10. i’m so happy to see sky blue sky at the top of this list…it’s easily my favorite record of the year, & one that i feel a lot of people dismissed too hastily…enjoyed the rest of the list as well & thanks for all the great posts this year…absolutely fantastic work.

  11. I echo dc’s comments – sky blue sky was so quickly dismissed and now seems to be turning up near the top of many an end of year list. I’ve seen the band 6 times in 5 countries this year and they’ve just got better and better. Keep up the good work!

  12. No Oakley Hall on there? Pretty comprehensive regardless… Keep up the good work.

  13. I only found you this year; been reading intently and loving it and I still didn’t have most of the rekkids on this list. There go my Christmas pennies.

    Anyway, just dropped in to say thanks.

  14. very nice !!!

  15. Nice call on Andrew Bird. Album is real strong. I think the St. Vincent record is great and although it did receive a lot of hype/attention/acclaim, I still think it’s one of this years best.

  16. Agree SKY BLUE SKY is No. 1

    But clearly you missed the fine output of the subdudes of the past several years. Their 2007 album Street Symphony should be on your playlist! More Americana with a bayou flavor. http://www.subdudes.com/
    (A fan)

  17. let me be the first for two reasons… first, great call on Frankel’s 2007 release! after seeing this kid play a live show here in LA it’s safe to say that i was sold. whether he’s solo acoustic or with a full band, he’s always spot on. as for his “lullaby” record, you couldn’t ask for a better sophmore release. it’s a solid spinner from top to bottom… one of those rare records that stays with you throughout the day. Frankel’s live shows are a must, and “lullaby” is a must-have for any collection. looking forward to hearing more from him in ’08 for sure. next, um no Neil Young Chrome Dreams II?? i have to say, i’m a little more than surprised. i know that after 40 years of making records he will more than likely be thrown on multiple TOP lists this year merely because of his legend. but this ain’t like giving Susan Lucci the daytime Emmy award, this is Neil Young. a man who made an amazing record at the age of 62, and has yet to sacrifice his principles for an industry that churns out homogenized dribble. i think what needs to happen is that AD need to put on some nice slippers, a flannel robe, put your feet up with a nice snifter of scotch, grab your best set of cans and revisit “chrome dreams II”. that’s just good medicine…

    thanks for the many great posts this year AD! keep it up…

  18. “Don’t You Evah” happens to be the second single from Ga ×5 in the US. BTW, it’s The Natural History.

  19. PJ Harvey – White Chalk
    Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position
    Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
    Phosphorescent – Pride
    M.I.A. – Kala
    Bill Callahan – Woke on A Whaleheart
    Rufus Wainwright – Release The Stars
    The National – Boxer
    Richard Hawley – Lady’s Bridge
    Manic Street Preachers – Send Away The Tigers
    Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger
    Bloc Party – A Weekend In The City
    Blonde Redhead – 23
    LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
    Robert Wyatt – Comicopera
    Feist – The Reminder
    Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
    Suzanne Vega – Beauty & Crime
    Perry Blake – Canyon Songs
    Nico: The Frozen Borderline – 1968-1970
    Interpol – Our Love To Admire
    Super Furry Animals – Hey Venus!
    Kylie Minogue – X
    Malcom Middleton – A Brighter Beat
    Puressence – Don’t Forget To Remember
    Marc Almond – Stardom Road
    Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover
    Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
    Grinderman – Grinderman
    Lucky Soul – The Great Unwanted
    Brett Anderson – Brett Anderson
    Panda Bear – Person Pitch
    Sarah Nixey – Sing, Memory

  20. [...] 7. For a whole bunch of albums I won’t put on my top 40 list, check out Ryan’s best of 2007 list. It looks a lot more like a reputable indie blog’s list oughtta look like. My list is going to be sheite. I’m too into pop to be indie. Sigh. I don’t even know why you read this shit. Or check out Aquarium Drunkard’s list. He puts me to shame every damn day. It is nice that someone agrees with me about Blonde Redhead and Panda Bear. [...]

  21. Like all of your picks..my only addition would be okkervil river’s disc…would put it right next to Wilco’s album this year…

  22. [...] Other Year End Music Lists by bloggers Aquarium Drunkard [...]

  23. [...] MP3 blog inspired by Wilco lyric picks what for album of the year? [...]

  24. Of Montreal? YES! Hissing Fauna has a kind of back-to-front solidity rarely found on a full length recording. I attempt to turn it off to avoid burn-out, but each time one of the cuts come up randomly, I end up playing the song over again at least 3x. I’ve been living in Sweden for 5+ yrs now, which, for me, makes the lyrics even more poignant and sharp. I would say its my pick for Album of the Year.

    Ryan Adams’ Easy Tiger, which may have more relevance and staying power over time, comes in a close second.

  25. I saw the Wilco coming, not in love with ‘sky blue sky’ but the songs from the album sounded amazing live, such a clean and even upgraded sound. Als, for some reason or another I couldn’t get into Armchair Apocrypha even when ‘the mysterious production of eggs’ is easily one of my most overplayed records, it’s a good album but I guess I just found it a bit dissapointing.

    I really like your selections on Sharon Jones and The Broken West, their lp’s were much overlooked (guilty myself) and they rightfully deserve a mention on any top albums of 2007 list.

  26. Hey I just wanted to say thanks for such a great year of music. I only discovered Aquarium Drunkard in the past year, and man were there some great posts. The Neil Young albums you posted, “Time Fades Away” (finally got to listen to its genius) and “Chrome Dreams,” were just amazing treats. Also, thanks for getting me into Ryan Adams and Band of Horses. Here’s to another great year in 2008 of wonderful music!

    I also agreee that “Sky Blue Sky” is 2007′s best album. Like fine wine, it gets better over time!

  27. Wow! The Broken West are a real discovery for me!
    Well done!

  28. The best album of the year, for me, was The Bees, “Octopus.”

    Check it out if you haven’t already.

  29. What about Rogue Wave’s Asleep At Heaven’s Gate? Amazing list nonetheless.

  30. Great list. I like the Wilco album a lot too – seems to be the “album to leave of your list this year because you’re cool” at a lot of other sites though. Looking forward to checking the rest of these out that I haven’t heard yet.

  31. your best of 2007 list is on my best of the best of the 2007 lists.

  32. [...] that in 2007 Frankel’s debut LP, Lullaby For The Passerby, ranked as one of my absolute favorite albums of the year.  It remains so today.  Frankel is the songwriting/recording vehicle of Michael Orendy who hangs [...]

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