Here now the long-awaited top five albums of 2007. Enjoy.
The Top 20 Albums of 2007
by Danish Aziz and Alex Carnevale
Part One: Bad Good Evil
Part Two: Better Than Burial
Part Three: Every Step Is Moving Me Up
Part Four: The Body Electric
5. Justice, †
This is time capsule music, proving dance music can also be full of feeling, and in the case of †, poignant as well. Seriously, the first time I heard DVNO I cried like a baby.
discodust: how long did it take you to finish the album? and did you end up having any leftover tracks?
justice: it took us one year to make the album, we finished it in march 2007 and we only have one track that we finished and that didn’t make it on to the album. a lot of bands have like dozens of tracks and then select the best ones but we are too slow to work like this, so we just took our 3 tracks that were already finished and then decided on making one track like this, one like that, one like this, one like that and that we just made it like that. we knew if we wouldn’t have sorted it all out before it would have taken like 8 years to finish the album because whenever we’re making music, we don’t know where we’re going to and we just lose ourselves.
Buy it here.
I can see the argument for this album being the No. 1 album of the year, but every time we compare it to the next five albums, it loses a little something. An album that should end up spawning more singles than Automatic for the People, and this is the best track:
“DVNO” – Justice (mp3)
Tricia Romano in the Village Voice:
This permeability between rock and techno sometimes gets Justice defined as nu-rave, the trendy revival of early-’90s techno with a nod to indie rock. “I think the phenomenon is real, but I am not sure nu-rave is a good word to describe us,” says De Rosnay, who was getting off a bus in Paris when we talked. (His cell phone battery was on the wane, and it was hard to understand his thick French accent.) “For sure, at least [the phenomenon] does exist. It should be called new big beat.”
Whatever you call it, Justice, like Daft Punk, are using it to reinvent French dance music’s image. Unlike London, Berlin, or New York, Paris isn’t known for its hot club scene. In the mid-’90s, Daft Punk gave it a shot in the arm, rescuing it from Gainsbourgian affectedness. Now, Justice is the medicine. “It has started again to be cool,” says De Rosnay. “For three or four years, it was really boring to play in Paris. But now when you play, the people that are coming are between 17 and 24—they are going out for the first time. It’s really cool to play for them.”
Before they made The Song, Justice had never even heard Simian’s original—nonetheless, they used “Never Be Alone” to win a 2003 remix contest sponsored by Virgin France. “It was just an excuse to do music,” De Rosnay says. “We did the vocal and the track without knowing the original track.” The boys lost the contest, but met Winter at a “cheese party,” as the Daft Punk manager and Ed Banger label head recalls it, later that year. Two days later Justice were signed just on the strength of The Song. In 2003, Winter released it as a single and sold 5,000 units; a year later, DJ Hell picked it up in Germany for his label Gigolo Records, where, according to Winter, it went on to sell 20,000 copies. (In dance-music terms, this is like going quadruple platinum). Up till now called “Never Be Alone,” the track was re-released by Virgin Records U.K. in 2006 with a new title—”We Are Your Friends” hit the Top 20 U.K. singles chart and took dancefloors hostage everywhere.
“TTHHEE PPAARRTTYY” – Justice (mp3)
“TTHHEE PPAARRTTYY (acapella version)” – Justice (mp3)
“Let There Be Light (DJ Funk’s Boutique remix)” – Justice (mp3)
4. !!!, Myth Takes
Myth Takes is !!!
Nic Offer on the band’s sound:
I would just say we trekked into music that’s strange and funky, the most funky, weirdest sounding stuff we can turn out. And we are really into the hooks. Everybody works on hooks; hooks are the things that catch you. I mean what really makes a good hook, like even in pop, is the unpredictability. So we worked really hard on that.
Funny, innovative, hard, aurally pleasing: !!! is all things to all people, and Myth Takes pulls it off again and again. Myth Takes consists of 10 tracks, each representing some of the most wacked-out riffs and anthems imaginable. So much fun it needs a room of its own.
Nic on the album’s opening….
It was actually just a loop of a jam. We just kept playing it and playing it and were kind of amazed by this, like “where did this come from? It’s so weird.” And I was just holding down that E minor chord and it had a rockabilly feel and just felt unexpected from us.
Nominally termed dance punk, when you sit down to listen to a !!! song, it could be over before you know it, it could have a solo where you least expect it, you don’t know what to expect, exactly.
“Break In Case of Anything” – !!! (mp3)
“Bend Over Beethoven” – !!! (mp3)
“Yadnus (Still Going to the Roadhouse remix)” – !!! (mp3)
“Heart of Hearts (Scottie B remix)” – !!! (mp3)
“Bend Over Beethoven (Original Nashville Jam)” – !!! (mp3)
“Myth Takes (The Brothers remix)” – !!! (mp3)
Ants in My Trance’s best remixes of 2007.
3. Common, Finding Forever
Kanye’s favorite rapper is Common. My favorite rapper is Eminem, but he didn’t have an album this year and is now apparently nearing 300 pounds. Still, Em’s never made a rap album as good as Finding Forever-almost no one has.
With a voice that makes you believe in God, and a talent for lyrics that makes John Lennon look like Yoko Ono, Common even makes Kanye up his game on their collaborative efforts on Finding Forever:
“Southside” – Common feat. Kanye West (mp3)
“Start the Show” – Common feat. Kanye West (mp3)
Kanye finally sounds like he might eventually stop caring what some people think of him; Common lost that fatal flaw a long time ago. Common working with Kanye is like Bright Eyes dating Kourtney Kardashian, or me dating anyone.
I asked Danish to summarize Common’s oeuvre to this point.
Can I Borrow a Dollar – promising
Resurrection and One Day It Will All Make Sense – even more promising
Like Water for Chocolate – crossover high water mark
Electric Circus – post Erykah Badu weirdness
Be – the comeback ft Kanye
Finding Forever – “Be” the sequel, the windy city strikes back
On the confessional “Misunderstood,” Common explains this ability to ignore the people that matter and write about the folks who do. “Most every girl want to do it now and then/being me is devouring.” It’s harder and harder for a genius to survive, but its worst corrupter is untold fame and notoriety, so I’m glad God’s keeping the best rapper in the world fairly modest.
“The Game” – Common (mp3)
“Driving Me Wild” – Common feat. Lily Allen (mp3)
“Forever Begins” – Common (mp3)
2. Simian Mobile Disco, Attack Decay Sustain Release
Simian Mobile Disco’s instaclassic “Hustler” was actually released in 2006, but combined with the other burners on Attack Decay Sustain Release it’s hard to overstate this album’s importance to 2007 and the “New Big Beat” boomlet. In the prom of a year that was 2007, LCD Soundsystem was the social-climbing, calculating and intelligent student council president; if we were giving out superlatives they’d get the coveted “Most Likely To Succeed” (I won this my senior year of high school, and now my female counterpart is in her final year of law school while I’m holding it down at This Recording so I’d say those things are uncannily accurate). Justice was that dude with the cool older sibling who got him partying at too early of an age – everyone liked him, but they mostly just appreciated his knack for knowing where and how to get the rest of us drunk.
SMD, though, they’re harder to label. Like the marching band geek who smoked pot and played soccer, these guys are hard to categorize. Rising from the ashes of the criminally overlooked pop/rock band Simian – their height of fame in the US was getting a song featured in an American Eagle commercial – they were way ahead of the trend of rock bands finding their inner disco queen. Since they have only one album and a some remixes to work with, when performing live they usually decide to just play their album front to back. And get this, that’s just fine because every song on here is made to please by musicians who have ears for hits. If 2007 was defined by “new” dance music, and SMD are the archetype, then nobody can say this is all just a bunch of glitter – disco got something to say.
“Hustler” – Simian Mobile Disco (mp3)
“System” – Simian Mobile Disco (mp3)
“It’s the Beat (the teenagers remix)” – Simian Mobile Disco (mp3)
Spin‘s number one album of the year. Our number one album of the year is
1. Hot Chip, Made in the Dark
Hot Chip’s third LP, Made in the Dark, was clearly in the can for quite some time. It’s a strange phenomenon of most works of art, to make music from a certain time and place and then promote that music in another time and place. And since music can no longer realistically hope to represent the ups and downs of a decade or even the better part of a year (what could “Gimme More” mean now, how can we even listen to it without weeping?) music better leave time and place alone.
For the most part, the songs on Made in the Dark largely evade any determination of time and place. The trademark beats are there-basslines to get feet moving, peaked or on the ground. “Hold On” is the “Over and Over” of this album, made all the more astonishing by the fact that the acoustic version has been around for awhile. There was never an inkling that this would be a great dance song.
These songs are first and foremost dance songs. Take the funky “We’re Looking For A Lot of Love.” The crazy thing about this song is that Elvis could sing it and Daft Punk could do it and Patti Smith could do it and Phil Collins would absolutely murder it with some drums, and honestly this song deserves a Timbaland remix so bad they should mention it in the leaked’s edition mortifying watermark.
PF: So it’s more of everything: more slow, more fast…
AT: More of everything, yeah, more of everything is probably the easiest way to describe it. That way it could be read as more of the good things, more of the bad things, more of the okay things, just more. Excessive and…no no no, it’s not really [laughs]. Quite a lot of strength in certain tracks, and quite a lot of overloading in other ones.
PF: Other than the heavy metal influences that you mentioned earlier, are there any new directions or left turns that people might not be expecting?
pound for pound passes along hot chip’s essential mix
Interview with Alexis Taylor:
AT: There’s one that is kind of wrestling with the idea of making an R. Kelly kind of slick r&b number, but it maybe ends up sounding more like Randy Newman’s “Short People.” Maybe that’s the strange turn.
PF: Which song is that?
AT: That’s “Wrestlers.”
PF: It doesn’t sound like there was a specific mood or sound you guys were aiming for then, just more of the whole variety of moods.
AT: The records I’ve grown up listening to, like a lot of Prince records or whatever, they don’t really work on one mood. On Sign ‘O’ the Times or something you go from a sort of ballad like “Slow Love” to “Hot Thing” the next minute. So if you think that of the two main songwriters in the band– that’s me and Joe– one of us was listening to music like that, and another person was listening to the Beatles’ White Album or whatever from an early age, then you realize why all of our albums go from one mood to another so readily. It’s because that kind of eclectic music has been our first musical background and inspiration from a long time ago, and that stuff goes in really deep, I think. What you listen to when you’re eight years old or whatever.
There are other people I like – Will Oldham or someone – who might make a record where it’s just acoustic guitar and harmonium and voice for the whole record, and those records are amazing to me. I kind of wish we could do something like that, just a bit more restrained. But we don’t really seem capable of that; we seem to want to jump all over the place stylistically every time. And I don’t think it doesn’t work to do that.
I think it totally makes sense as a record to me, this record, in the way some of those other records I was mentioning do. We didn’t set out to make something with one mood. What we did set out to do was show that we’re a band as much as originally having been a duo, so this album represents the whole live sound of the band, what you hear on stage, a bit more than we’ve ever been able to represent before. Because we never really tried to do that before.
While Made in the Dark didn’t get an official release in 2007, it’s the best rock’n’roll record done this decade and it’s already here to for us to enjoy. These songs are frickin’ standards – they work fast and they work slow. “In the Privacy of Our Love” is going to be made famous by a commercial. “Hold On” and “One Pure Thought” best dance song everyone will soon hear ad nauseum. “We’re Looking for A Lot of Love” is funny and moving, and “Whistle for Will” is practically an elegy. This is good songwriting on a level that defies genre. The multifurcated cover says it all. This is going to be the biggest record of 2008, and it whets the appetite for how much time this band might have together, and all the awesome songs they are going to write.
“Hold On” – Hot Chip (mp3)
“Hold On (acoustic version)” – Hot Chip (mp3)
“Don’t Dance” – Hot Chip (mp3)
“Wrestlers” — Hot Chip (mp3)
“We’re Looking for a Lot of Love” — Hot Chip (mp3)
Danish Aziz is the senior contributor to This Recording. Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.
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