Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Our Top 25 Albums of 2007 (21-16)

Today we continue our Top 25 Albums of 2007 with 21-16. Stay tuned throughout the week as we reveal five albums each day. Friday, the big guns come out.

Need a recap? Check out 25-20.


Battles - Mirrored...............................

Battles aren’t fucking human; it’s the only way to explain just how incredible Mirrored is. I’m convinced that the dudes in Battles are actually futuristic time traveling aliens that, during a routine abduction here on Earth, picked up someone with musical taste that leaned heavy on post-rock and jazz fusion. In exchange for keeping certain body parts off limits during probing, the abductee gave the aliens LSD and a few of his or her favorite record. The aliens would take the drugs and the records back to their home planet in the future, ingest the drugs, listen to the records, and study them meticulously for centuries. They would then learn how to play multiple instruments, record a few EPs and, eventually, Mirrored. But because they were so underappreciated on their home planet, they decided to not only to jump back to our current century, but found a home in New York City, where blending in with the rest of the populace would be less difficult. This theory also explains Tyondai’s hair and why critics are hailing Mirrored as a glimpse into the future of rock music.

Yes, time traveling aliens. Or was it robots…?

-Ryan Bonacker

Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala................

Fun: 1. what provides amusement or enjoyment; specifically : playful often boisterous action or speech (Thanks webster.com.)

If, when listening to this record, you feel as if you’ve heard some of the songs before, then you just might have. Jens Lekman is notorious for sampling fellow artists and reinterpreting their work. Keen to what is hip in this day and age, Lekman samples soul and baroque pop from those whom, in their days, were just as sharp. Night Falls Over Kortedala is a storybook of common life and extraordinary experiences. Lekman’s lyrics speak about the war in Iraq, a woman who loves another woman, and the triumphs and perils of Swedish life. The hopeless romantic and the cynic alike will appreciate this album’s peculiar phraseology and style.

-Jenna Marchant

The Shins - Wincing the Night Away................

In the past The Shins have often been predictable, but they challenged listeners with the release of Wincing the Night Away. My first time hearing the album had me pausing as I tried to convince myself that I was listening to The Shins. They had strayed away from their previous gritty, semi-polished sound and dabbled with experimental additives. After the release of Wincing The Shins suffered major blows from their critics, often related to the production quality of the album. Such critics are missing the point.

James Mercer, an admirable songwriter, used his fanciful lyrics to grab his listeners and hold them tightly. I once heard his lyrics described as "grotesque." I asked myself, is this referring to the corpse on the floor and the dog getting hit by a train, or due to the band trying something different? The Shins sought thrills and took risks with this album, which is more than can be said for many other successful mainstream bands. The band deserves respect for expanding and experimenting with their sound. Trial and error is life and, with results this promising, I only hope they will try and try again.

-Jenna Marchant

Caribou - Andorra.................................

Talk about shit luck. Poor Dan Snaith has been on the verge of a breakthrough for what seems like ages. Way back in 2003, before a lawsuit forced Dan to switch from Manitoba to the current Caribou moniker, he released an album titled Up in Flames. This album not only scored 8.6 out of 10 from the highly regarded Pitchfork Media, they named it their fifth favorite album of 2003. To put that in perspective, Up In Flames was only one spot behind Radiohead, and ahead of Pitchfork favorites like Broken Social Scene, the Unicorns, Jay-Z, Deerhoof, TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, Cat Power, Menomena, My Morning Jacket, and not one, but two Decemberists albums; as well as critical darlings The Wrens, and Califone; not to mention popular favorites like the Strokes and Outkast. Yet, here we are four years later and hardly anyone remembers that album, while many of the bands Manitoba/Caribou were ranked above have seen their profiles skyrocket. Unfortunately for Dan Snaith, it appears that critics are quick to praise his work, and even quicker to forget it ever existed.

Five seconds into Andorra’s first track, “Melody Day,” a song that is probably a hit single in an alternate universe, I was convinced that this would be the album to finally change Caribou’s bad fortune. “Melody Day,” like the majority of Andorra, is an excellent psychedelic-pop album with tinges of modern electronics and plenty of loud, awesome drumming. If not for another animal- named performer’s own excellent psychedelic masterpiece, Caribou would no doubt have had a stranglehold on listeners with a craving for loopy, trippy pop music. Regardless of its competition, Andorra is an accomplishment in its own right. It did, after all, make our prestigious top 25 list. If its ranking seems a little low, just remember what can happen to bands that get ranked in the lower end of a year-end list. They might be your favorite band next year.

-Ryan Bonacker

The New Pornographers - Challengers................

Power pop is definitely not my bag, but The New Pornographers have me reconsidering this notion. Challengers opens with AC Newman, though it could have been any number of the band’s talented vocalists. “My Rights Versus Yours” chugs away with its hooks within verses as it builds toward the climax, a return to verse and Newman’s crisp clear vocals. The unique call and answer “Myriad Harbor” lets Dan Bejar steal the show. Neko Case lends her talent in the heart breaking titular track that, without the normal pop payout, drags its feet to give a feeling of caution as the characters plan to start a new life in secrecy. The strength of this band comes from the culmination of many talents working together to create one amazing album.

As the band members’ solo careers bloom, questions of the band remaining together should be quieted. Challengers, the newest addition to the Porno’s consistent catalogue, is a testament to the power they have when they are together.

-Chad Pope

Continue with Albums 15-11.

No comments: