Thursday, December 20, 2007

Our Top 25 Albums of 2007 (10-6)

Today Range Life unleashes another five of its favorite albums of the year. Tomorrow we put all our cards on the table.

See 15-11 See 20-16 See 25-21


Panda Bear - Person Pitch........................

I first fell for Animal Collective over a little song called “Grass,” a track that still puts me in a frenzy each time I hear it. Avey Tare is a force, a powerhouse, a nuclear reactor, as anyone who’s heard “For Reverend Green” can attest. Perhaps that’s partly why I became so enamored by Panda Bear’s sophomore release Person Pitch. Here was a fully fledged album released the same year as Animal Collective’s impeccable Strawberry Jams. A lesser musician might have released a solo album that sounded like a watered-down version of their full-time band. Not Panda Bear.

Much of Person Pitch’s charm is its singularity: the singularity of its sound, of the experience I have listening to it. This is the latest of what I might call event albums. To truly appreciate its intricacies, one must turn off the conversation, turn the volume up, and revel in the trancelike vocals and drumbeats. It’s interesting that the term "singular" would come to mind, as so much of the album is indebted to its plurality. Panda Bear uses an amalgamation of samples such as whirring trains and flickering fire to create a whirlwind of sound. The sounds themselves are not his own, but he makes them his own.

Now when I return to Animal Collective albums I see not only the brilliance of Avey Tare, but also the smudges of Panda Bear’s ethereal sound. It’s a testament to a band in its prime, and to the genius of Noah Lennox.

-Nicole Pope

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible.......................

Neon Bible
may not have lived up to the (unreasonable?) expectations brought upon by their excellent debut and frantic live shows, but it’s certainly not the disappointing follow-up album many “fans” and critics wrote if off as either. Consider for a moment just how boring a Funeral Part 2 would have sounded after repeated listens. Just ask the Strokes what happens when you follow up a fantastic debut with an album that’s more of the same. Sure, some bands like AC/DC and Nickelback can earn a fine living making the same album each and every time they hit the studio, but real artists prefer to challenge themselves, and perhaps their audience a bit in the process. So instead of focusing on what makes Neon Bible “worse” than Funeral (if you can even say that truthfully), lets instead focus on what makes Neon Bible great.

Neon Bible is an album in the truest sense of the word. There is no standout song – a hit single if you will – and no real immediate moment of satisfaction. The biggest rewards come with complete listens with full attention. Songs seamlessly flow in and out of each other, but this is no ordinary ocean. It’s an ocean of noise, filled with crushing waves that are the color of night. Win Butler, who has more or less become the voice of the Arcade Fire, spends most of the album creating a dark landscape, telling tales of people that suffer and sin, stand alone in holy wars, and of average Joe’s and Jane’s who worship the television rather than their God. He’s singing about Earth, America, you, me, and everyone we know. Neon Bible is the Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” call, albeit one that’s not as catchy as the titular song. But it’s brutal, honest, and, for patient listeners, rewarding and hopeful. A sophomore transition to be sure, but slump? Hardly.

-Ryan Bonacker

Feist - The Reminder..............................

Feist tiptoed onto the music scene with Let It Die, an album that is half originals and half covers. Now with the release of The Reminder she dances and frolicks her way to the center of the stage as she accomplishes the feat of completing an album all her own (minus “Sea Lion Woman”). The album displays the evolution of Feist’s love, career, and music. Throughout the album there are hints to to the past, most notably in the explicitly titled “Past in Present.” Although some may believe she’s a goddess, she reminds us that she is only human. The Reminder gives a glimpse into her secret world of loneliness and doubt. “The Water” emphasizes that “some don’t get much company,” while “The Park” beautifully captures her pain “with sadness so real that it populates the city and leaves you homeless again.” The Reminder may have its somber moments, but this is only a memorial of what has been and change may be just around the corner. We often learn from our mistakes and move on with our lives. During “Intuition” when Feist asks the question, “Did I miss out on you?” your answer should be no. Don’t miss Feist’s best album to date. For more on The Reminder check out our album review.

-Jenna Marchant

LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver..............

Sound of Silver
is an upbeat, get drunk, and lose all inhibitions and dance type of album. That is, until midway into the album where the tone shifts into a sobering, self reflecting examination of life. The first three tracks are your prototypical dance songs – heavy beats with lighthearted lyrics.

"Someone Great" takes James Murphy's normally animated vocals and turns them monotone as a synthesized beat with organic chimes accounts the failing of a relationship. The serious tone continues with the next track. "All My Friends" speaks to me. It seems to have me figured out – or maybe my whole generation. Parties, getting with the plan, looking back and analyzing what I would have done differently. It accounts moving from being a child and not knowing who I am to chiseling out myself in 45 turns just as fast as I can. Life passes quickly, and Murphy manages to capture this in 7:37.

Sound of Silver is full of the highs and lows of life.

-Chad Pope

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga........................

Imagine a sun filled, crisp spring day with a bottle of whiskey/coke and Spoon center stage. Are you jealous yet? It was the Spring 2006 Day on the Hill in Lawrence, Kansas. I had listened to their music prior to this occassion but it wasn’t until I heard them live that my interest was piqued.

The news of another album made me extremely happy. I had only the highest expectations for Spoon, and they surpassed them with ease. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is no child’s play. This album holds true to their signature style and expands to include some unexpected delights like “The Ghost of You Lingers” and “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case.” This album also exhibits Brit Daniel's advanced ability to write eloquent lyrics. There is no better example of Spoon’s lyrical progression than the “Rhythm & Soul” line, “tract houses, square couches, short legs and square shoulders, pot holders.” Only a genius would think to use “pot holders” in his music. Spoon’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is just that, genius.

-Jenna Marchant

See our Top Five Albums of 2007.


Femme Fatale said...

"Some might believe she's a goddess"? Might you be one of those people, Miss Jenna? She is pretty damn gorgeous. And that voice...

Girlfriend said...

I'm not naming any names. Those who believe she is a goddess are remaining silent at this point in time. Oh hell, OF COURSE I THINK SHE IS AMAZING! Woo Hoo Feist!
If there was a way to "borrow" her voice (ex. the magical seashell in the Little Mermaid) I think I would do it, if only for one day.