Top 50 Albums of 2007

Treble staff
Top 50 Albums of 2007

Unfuckwithable…that’s the word coined by our fearless leader, my sailor-mouthed brother. I guess that’s what happens when you live close to a Navy base in San Diego. He was referring to our end of the year albums list in comparison to the rest of the lists permeating the internet and print magazine music world. I have to agree. Our list is absolutely unfuckwithable. Twenty-one Treble contributors tried to whittle down their listening experiences, which are legion, to a final list of what made them believe that 2007>2006. That being said, the Treble staff have argued fairly vociferously either shouting down or shouting up particular entries.

In my introduction to the Top Albums of 2006, I did a little bit of prognosticating (which means predicting the future, not something obscene as it may sound) and upon going back, I’ve realized that six of the seven bands I mentioned made our final list. Yet, as much as some of these entries may fall under the `predictable’ category, there are some that may surprise you, some you may have never heard, and some that may never be heard from again. The list is diverse, to be sure. But if I had to pick just one word…unfuckwithable.

(But, in order to try and top my fortune telling feat from last year, look out for albums by Hot Chip, Jason Collett, British Sea Power, the debut of Atlas Sound, new ones from Destroyer and Devotchka, Silver Mt. Zion, a solo Colin Meloy, and also Frightened Rabbit.)

50. WilcoSky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)

There was a sense of distress on Wilco’s last offering that didn’t seem to be fully realized until Jeff Tweedy entered rehab for simultaneous depression and pain killer addiction. To say A Ghost Is Born was a step backward for Wilco was inevitable being as anything following the modern classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was destined not to measure up. But what Ghost also seemed to do was deviate in a way the yielded an almost unfinished product of sorts; elongated songs that hardly went anywhere mixed with boring constructions that never got off the ground, it seemed a friendlier collection of b-sides and demos than an actual album. With Sky Blue Sky, Wilco returns with a slightly elated and wholly acceptable approach to songwriting and manages to continue their quest of progression in a mild mannered fashion that is reminiscent of the softer sounds our own AM radio used to offer. Easier listening but not exactly easy listening, Sky Blue Sky shows that Wilco can smile again despite the pressures and demons of the past. – Kevin Falahee

49. Rilo Kiley – Under the Black Light (Warner Bros.)

You may be sick of hearing this, but it bears repeating since it’s true: Rilo Kiley’s major-label debut, Under the Blacklight, is more adventurous than 2004’s More Adventurous. Under the Blacklight is a fine pop album with a seedy underbelly, and all of the upturned noses of those too eager to proclaim “Sell out” are not going to change that simple fact. It’s a definite, dance-friendly departure for the band, but one which still allows Jenny Lewis’s vocal talents and Blake Sennett’s guitar work to shine. Songs like “Silver Lining” and the cell phone ditty “Breakin’ Up” are instantly catchy reflections on relationships that have (thankfully) come to an end. When all the talking leads to touching and then sex on Under the Blacklight, it’s usually sex of the sordid variety, as is the case with the trick-turning “Close Call,” the thumping, strutting “The Moneymaker,” or the promiscuous yet deceptively poppy “Smoke Detector.” But the question is now if Rilo Kiley’s next album will continue in the same adventurous vein as a strutting, shaking, funky Fleetwood Mac. Will their follow up to this album be their own equivalent to Tusk? The adventure continues. – Hubert Vigilla

48. The ShinsWincing the Night Away (Sub Pop)

Despite or because of their massive following, few people have taken the courage to stand up and ask, `Do The Shins have the makings of a good prog band?’ And even if no one really wanted to know, The Shins happily obliged. Before Wincing, the band was somewhat tempered in their imaginative leaps and bounds. While Buddyhead referred to James Mercer as a bastard love child of Brian Wilson, it seemed, with their first two albums, that they were content with the wussy indie band as wussy pop band arrangement. Once you get past Wincing‘s very tweemo and, hence, soon-to-be very dated title, however, The Shins got tired of simply being whimsical and started being mystical. The Shins still belt out near-perfect pop songs but this time with more grandiosity and creative ambition. Tracks flourish with melody and eccentricity unforeseen in previous efforts. These aren’t small club songs, these are arena songs. Songs like “Phantom Limb” and “Sleeping Lessons” see them playing like a humbled Genesis (pre-Collins as frontman) providing warm, fuzzy embraces for radio pop fans and indie fans who refuse to acknowledge Frank Black as Black Francis. – Chris Morgan

47. KlaxonsMyths of the Near Future (DGC)

Kids decked out in fluorescent playing a modernized version of disco. Falsetto driven dance punk with glowstick brandishing, air-raid sirens and day-glo. Whatever the hell you want to label Klaxons isn’t likely to change my opinion of them. They stand for two things that I’m all about—being young and wearing ridiculously bright colors. Still, I’ll admit I’m not in love with the whole “leaders-of-the-alleged-nü-rave-scene” thing they’ve got going nor am I sold on releasing six singles, regardless of how much ass each and every song kicks. Even as the twists and turns of 2007 would lead me away from Myths of the Near Future, in this month of reflection I’ll give credit where it’s due. “It’s Not Over Yet” is the band’s homage to “old ravers” Grace and songs like “Atlantis to Interzone” and “Golden Skans” capture the essence of what Klaxons are all about—fun, fun, fun, dance, dance, dance. Most seem to take polarizing positions on the band but in my own fight to embrace a youthful enthusiasm, I’m siding with the neon Britons. – Tyler Weir

46. Dan DeaconSpiderman of the Rings (Carpark)

Dan Deacon is essentially a cartoon. His dual pane eyeglasses and glowing green skull on a stick have come to be just as infamous as the music he creates, which is every bit as cartoonish. The album is called Spiderman of the Rings after all, and that very album is inhabited by “Woody Woodpecker,” “Pink Batman” and “The Crystal Cat.” The sounds to which these titles belong certainly live up to their nomenclature. With synths sputtering out of control, dance beats skipping steadily and erratically, and Deacon’s own distorted voice whirring like a robotic insect. This is bizarre music. It is also a whole lot of fun; not in the way LCD Soundsystem is fun or The White Stripes are fun, but in the way dressing up as a superhero on Saturday morning, high on Cocoa Puffs, and running around the house with a bedsheet tied to your shirt is. I’m sure Dan would agree. – Jeff Terich

45. The White StripesIcky Thump (Warner Bros.)

Let us not be foolish, the fake twincest duo Jack and Meg White love them some old fashioned power. Not “rock” power, just power. Since breaking out Detroit’s less interesting rock scene (ever heard of The Holy Fire?) the former spouses have molded themselves into a classic cult of personality. Post-White Blood Cells albums pound the cultural pavement with Stalinist bravado and crush dissent with acidic riffs perfect for burning through souls like a cigar through paper. All the battle scars of their aesthetic appear in full: the drunken blues, Jack’s cackling croon, the obscure cover song (“Conquest”), the homage to (rip off of?) Peetie Wheatstraw’s famous repeated catchphrase in “Little Cream Soda” (“Oh well, oh well, oh well“) and all that Led Zepplin mandolin bullshit that people seem to love. At least they had the good sense to use bagpipes somewhere in there. It’s a good effort that slightly expands their palate while mostly retaining their consistency. Will Jack White be remembered fifty years from now? I somewhat doubt it. But he fooled GQ, that’s for sure. – Chris Morgan

44. GrindermanGrinderman (Anti-)

Between writing films like The Proposition and writing music for films like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Nick Cave got back to making dirty, grimy, macho, and let’s not forget fun, rock `n’ roll with the four-piece powerhouse Grinderman. Cave, along with Warren Ellis, Jim Sclavunos and Martyn Casey, has created something primal and brutal while packing each song with hooks and riffs galore. “No Pussy Blues” is not only one of the hardest rocking songs Cave has written in a while, it’s also the funniest, as he lists off everything he tried to do to get some, but failed at doing so, before letting out a frustrated “dammit!” With songs like “Electric Alice” and “Grinderman,” the band creates abrasive, even somewhat trippy sounds, while “Go Tell the Women” is a sedate and serene, albeit blunt tune, with Cave ultimately declaring “go tell the women that we are leaving.” Grinderman is mustaches and sweat, distortion and unholy howls, and it’s the best thing that testosterone has been responsible for all year. – Jeff Terich

43. Band of HorsesCease to Begin (Sub Pop)

If Everything All The Time was a wave of overstated, lush musicianship then Cease to Begin could best be described as the subtle undercurrent quickly restoring the sea to its rightful owner and dragging pieces of shore along its way back home. Disclosed by the band themselves as a conceptual return to their native state of South Carolina, Cease keeps the handcrafted brilliance of its predecessor in tact while also gripping to a less somber and overall simpler, more youthful step to their art. It’s not an abandonment of the vastness achieved in the Pacific Northwest as it is a tinge of comfort sound to the overall, bridging the coasts with a stomp and a boot slap. – Kevin Falahee

42. StarsIn Our Bedroom After the War (Arts & Crafts)

If any one album on our list will be questioned about its Top Album status, this is it. Many people were disappointed with the homogenous feel of the album, and when the album did break out of itself, it was with songs like “Personal” and “Barricade,”, songs too stark, laid too bare for many people’s taste. Granted, after the eruption of praise and fandom for Set Yourself on Fire, it might have been tough for any album to have satisfied the mob hunger Stars had unwittingly set in anticipation. Regardless of what was what expected of Stars, In Our Bedroom After the War is what they delivered. The album continues Stars’ chronicle of the modern romance, but takes unusual stances, viewpoints unfamiliar to listeners. On Set Yourself on Fire, almost all the songs seem homogeneous from beginning to end, progress only in amount of instrumentation and volume, and often times the progression seems separate from the theme of the song. In Our Bedroom seems much more concerned with a story-like progression, both in song and in album, and more concerned with textual ideas. This may be part of the reason for some disappointment with the album, that it is not as pop musically centered as its predecessors, but then again, who says that’s a bad thing? – Paul Bozzo

41. EditorsAn End Has a Start (Kitchenware – Fader)

With minimal airplay and the strength of their amazing debut album The Back Room, Editors became the Indie Darlings of 2005. They then returned this year with An End has A Start, which rivals The Bends as follow-up albums go, and puts them on the verge of being the next greatest band of the decade. So what exactly am I, and a legions of Editors fans, hearing that most of the music world is missing? An honest and beautiful darkness best displayed in the song “The Weight of the World.” Beginning with triumphant drum beats, an echoing guitar riff signals the shadowy vocal by Tom Smith, “Every little of piece of your life will add up to one…will mean something to someone.” More than mope rock, Editors have transcended the Joy Division and Interpol comparisons. Editors don’t make music for the sake of sadness. I hear the optimism in singer Tom Smith’s voice and the anticipation of enormous potential in band members Chris Urbanocwiz, Russell Leetch and Ed Lay’s rhythmic brilliance, reaching for greatness with every beat and riff in their musical arsenal. I told an old friend that 2006 would be the year of Editors. I guess I just missed it by 365 days. – Adrian Cepeda

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