That’s right, it’s what you’ve all been waiting for. Kent and Brent’s Best Albums of 2007 List! Don’t everyone get up at once. Look, we both know that we are the only ones who care. Indulge us.
We agree on the best album of the year, which I believe is a first. Kent fought the desire to move his number one down after reading Brent’s so that this horrible agreement wouldn’t happen.
- Amy Winehouse – Back to Black – Amy Winehouse most likely has about two years to live. Hopefully she can keep it together to record a few more albums with the same producer. Winehouse has a great voice and delivery, but whoever is responsible for the music production deserves most of credit for this album, it’s almost flawless.
- Menomena – Friend & Foe – I’m the only person that likes this album. I think they made it just for me. Layers of odd instruments, heavy on piano, bizarre strong structures, songs that are somehow dark and happy at the same time. Plus, that part at the end of Rotten Hell where the everything but the vocals fades out and then comes crashing back gets me every time. It’s a big finish ending worthy of Arcade Fire’s last album. The lack of the big finish is also why I cut Arcade Fire from my best of list. I saw Menomena live and it was one of the most disappointing shows I’ve ever seen. They needed about 3 more musicians to really do their music justice. It’s worth noting that the Arcade Fire show I saw this year was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. But it was the Menomena show that sparked the Great Lost Music Debate way back when. Way to go Menomena!
- The Shins – Wincing the Night Away – Brent’s going to leave the Shins off. I’m going to leave off Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire. This way we get to include all the popular picks in our best of list. I’ve said before, I came late to the Shins’ party. I only saw that movie where Natalie Portman made them famous within the last year. Besides Amy Winehouse, this may be the only album Leslie and I can agree on that came out this year.
- Jens Lekman- Night Falls Over Kortedala – On this abulm, Jens Lekman includes a song about pretending to be the boyfriend of lesbian friend and going to her father’s house so he won’t find out she’s gay. Jens Lekman is Swedish, so he can’t say “father.” He says “fodder” instead. The song is brilliant. He’s got another song about cutting off the tip of his finger when his girlfriend hugs him. He wrote that one for Leslie.
- The National – Boxer – I’m a sucker for baritones. Especially when they sing about drinking and the end of relationships. I could have used this album in college. Now I don’t have much use for end of relationship songs, but I can still appreciate.
- Okkervil River – The Stage Names – Okkervil River is so sincere. They really can’t do much wrong in my book. The Stage Names is not Black Sheep Boy, but even an off album from Okkervil River is a worthy album. I have to skip the Savannah Smiles song when I listen, but I don’t care all that much. The Sloop John B song more than makes up for the album’s one pedestrian track.
- Bishop Allen – Bishop Allen & the Broken String – When I first heard this album (thanks to Brent), I said, wow, that Click Click Click Click song would be great in a commercial. Now it’s in a commercial. It used to be that you lost all your indie cred when you sold your song to be in a commercial. Now Of Montreal actuals changes the lyrics of their song for Outback Steakhouse. I was hooked on Bishop Allen from the first song about the Monitor and the Merrimack. Plus, instead of ripping off the Beatles, Rolling Stones, or the Beach Boys, Bishop Allen rips off Paul Simon.
- M.I.A. – Kala – Will including MIA on the list appease Jamie? She’s a rapper, right? Probably not. Oh well. I wasn’t as thrilled with Kala as I was with last year’s Arular, but it really grew on me. I can’t decide what my favorite track is. Is it the one with the 10 year Australian Aborigine kids about going fishing, the Pixies’ Where is My Mind? redo or the one with the Clash sample? Maybe it’s the one with the cash register and gunshot samples. Beats me. MIA is weird. And fun.
- Black Lips – Good Bad Not Evil – I thought this album stunk when I first heard it. Now I can’t put it down. Maybe since it’s the album I’ve been listening to all through December I’m over-rating it, but it rocks all the way through. Maybe I’ve been living in Atlanta too long. I don’t know. I’ve always been kind of a sucker for that hipster Velvet Underground-type sound, but that’s not their only style. Veni Vidi Vici is a great track. I think Dave could get into the Black Lips. Good luck, Dave.
- Tegan & Sara – The Con – I don’t know if it is Tegan or Sara, but one of them has a voice that sounds processed, but I don’t think it is. I love it. This album makes me feel like I’m getting a glimpse into what it’s like to be a 13 year old girl.
Honorable Mentions (or, release an actual album instead of a 4-song EP and you can be in the Best Of list):
- Black Kids
- Oh No! Oh My!
Other good albums that I had to leave off because I wanted 10, not 13 albums:
- St. Vincent – Marry Me
- Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
- Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – You Can’t Buy a Gun When You’re Crying
Albums that I left off my 2006 list that I shouldn’t have:
- The Blow – Paper Television – Electronic music with great lyrics from a very confused, yet confident person.
- Man Man – Six Demon Bag – Tom Waits meets Captain Beefheart in a dark alley. They get in a fight.
- The New Pornographers – Challengers – Soulless music that would probably be pretty good if it wasn’t recorded by a bunch of pretentious drama majors all competing with one another for the spotlight. See: Broken Social Scene.
- Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover – What gives? The last album was so good, and this one is a train wreck. Also in his category: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Some Loud Thunder and Rilo Kiley’s Under the Blacklight.
On to Brent’s List:
Amy Winehouse â€“ Back to Black – When you can survive Brent Kosterâ€™s problem with overplaying albums throughout the year, and still be listenable in December, you have done something remarkable. I did my damndest to kill this album, and it would not die. It sounds great, and apparently it is immortal.
Arcade Fire â€“ Neon Bible – I killed this one! In your face, Arcade Fire. I have no idea anymore. There are like 4-5 songs I really like, and they were the first ones to die. I canâ€™t find anything else worthy of killing. They are safe for now. Or until they show up in a movie, and I decide I like them.
Bishop Allen â€“ The Broken String – This album came into my care in late summer, meaning I have not had enough time to kill it yet. But I have a feeling I will. It was a little gem that I found, and held precious. Until they ended up using their Click Click Click song for a camera commercial. Bully for them. They sing about boats and Chinatown. I saw them live, and there were 3 guys dancing to their songs like it was a 311 concert. It was cute.
Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala – You cannot kill Jens Lekman. I have tried to describe him about 20 times, and I keep erasing it. I guess I will do it this way. He is from Sweden, which means he says a â€œdâ€ sound instead of a â€œthâ€ sound. It is one of his many charms. His music is sweetie pie music. Whatever that means.
Los Campesinos â€“ Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP – This is a 7 person group. They sound like most 7 person groups. Lots of spunk and no clear direction. Letâ€™s hope that one of the 7 persons does not become a huge asshole and take the band over, making 4 of the members leave, and making the band lousy.
Modest Mouse â€“ We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank – Isaac Brock eats people. I donâ€™t care what anyone says. He does. And I donâ€™t care what anyone says, this band has gotten better. They are like Tom Waits. They just get more and more fucked up.
The National â€“ Boxer – I donâ€™t expect other people to like this band. I like them, and thatâ€™s good enough for me. I can see how they could be boring, and I think they are a little but cheesy. But when we saw them live they made fun of my brother for yelling out â€œMr. November.â€ Then they played it, and it was my greatest moment of 2007. (List to come).
New Buffalo â€“ Somewhere, Anywhere – She wrote the 1 2 3 4 song that Feist sings on that Ipod commercial where sheâ€™s dancing with all the people. She sings very earnest songs about being happy and sad. And itâ€™s perfect go to sleep music. Chelsey and I try out new sleep music all the time, and she took the crown, besting Feist, St. Vincent, Caribou, Wilco, A Sunny Day in Glascow, Stars, Rebekah Higgs, Iron & Wine, The Brunettes, and Beirut.
The New Pornographers â€“ Challengers – The most disappointing moment on 2007 was not getting Kent to like this band. I donâ€™t want to talk about it.
Oh Know! Oh My! â€“ Between the Devil and the Sea â€“ EP – Every song is good. There are 4 songs. Big woop. But still, they are four of my favorite songs this year.
Okkervil River â€“ The Stage Names – Okkervil River is my favorite band. I am probably too old to have a favorite band. They also skew nerd. Which is a problem for me. I like to act like Iâ€™m cool. This album keeps getting better. It will never be great. Itâ€™s like a kid brother that everyone knows isnâ€™t going to make varsity like his big brother. But he tries out anyways, and ends up being the team trainer. But everyone likes him okay. Just not as much as his brother.
Polyphonic Spree â€“ The Fragile Army – This band beat out Of Montreal for the â€œI donâ€™t much care for this band, but this album is good award.â€ I am currently working on shortening that award name. Itâ€™s not really fair though, in that I really hated Of Montreal, whereas I just didnâ€™t really care about The Polyphonic Spree. But I like this album. Itâ€™s very good for marching around and thinking about how you might not be a complete idiot.
Spoon â€“ Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga – Dumb name notwithstanding, this album is devoid of the dumb songs that usually doom a Spoon album for me. I think the best song of the year is on it, and I think that itâ€™s like the reverse story of the Okkervil River album. Itâ€™s like the kid brother who is better at everything than its big brother. I cannot relate to it.
Okay, I will now put them in some kind of orderâ€¦
13. Oh No! Oh My!
12. New Buffalo
11. New Pornographers
10. Polyphonic Spree
9. Okkervil River
8. Arcade Fire
7. Los Campesinos
6. Bishop Allen
5. The National
3. Jens Lekman
1. Amy Winehouse
Not bad. Look at me!
By the way, we have collected a sampling of our favorite songs into one easy-to-listen to CD. We spent a long night of drinking and hand-picking these songs, and you are guaranteed to love every one of them (if you love the same music we do). Let us know in the comments if you want a copy.