In Which Our Full Countdown of the Top 20 Albums of 2007 Is Collected In One Place For the First Time

Enjoy the finest albums of 2007. We recommend you only interact with the past via these albums. We also recommend you do not read the Village Voice list, it is MPAA propaganda. This is the real thing. 

The Top 20 Albums of 2007

by Danish Aziz & Alex Carnevale & Will Hubbard

It’s that time of year.

This year was all about realizing big albums didn’t deliver, pretending to like them anyway, and finding something else to put on. If In Rainbows was so great, why aren’t you listening to it? We liked Thom Yorke’s solo album better. Hell, I liked In Rainbows, but some artists were doing more than conducting marketing experiments. For the DJs that will head this countdown, it was about finding something real to hold onto after dance music needed them. For rap auteurs going against the grain of what had been done before them, it was about engaging with worlds other than their own. And for the indie rockers, god bless you all. It’s amazing that you’re able to exist when there are so many exactly like you.

20. Handsome Furs, Plague Park

We hand it over to Spin:

While his Wolf Parade co-leader, Spencer Krug, floods the market with side projects, Dan Boeckner only needs the one — a homegrown affair that finds his wife Alexei backing his rich, vaguely Elvisy vocals and fuzzed out guitars with sequencers and drum loops. But lest that description evoke cold, tossed-off self-indulgence, songs like “Cannot Get, Started” and “Sing! Captain” are every bit as earthy and exultant as the ones Boeckner churns out in his day job, if not more so. He doesn’t just invite you into his basement, he hands you a pillow and a big mug of tea.

When I saw Handsome Furs this year at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, they were playing the same night as Animal Collective and The New Pornographers. The fact that these two bigger acts probably sucked away a lot of the people who would’ve paid to see Handsome Furs didn’t stop the husband & wife duo from putting on a spectacular show. It was all the more impressive when Dan revealed he was recovering from rolling on E the previous day (he was also pretty upset that Neko Case is more famous than Dan Bejar). Considering all the impressive acts pouring out of Montreal, the city should consider adopting a legendary name a la Wu Tang’s Staten Island and “Shaolin” – I suggest “Agincourt.”

D.A.

More Handsome Furs here.

Handsome Furs on hype machine.

“What We Had” – Handsome Furs (mp3)

Why I Oughta’s Top Ten Albums.

19. Cilvaringz, I

I

This dude has a funny story in that he relentlessly tried to get his tape to RZA, and when he finally succeeded RZA signed him to his label and he became a Wu-Tang guy. From the press kit:

In 1999, after numerous letters and CDs, Cilvaringz, now on his fifth trip to New York, decided to camp in front of the Razor Sharp Records office during office hours and wait until RZA or any of his close associates came by.

Cilvaringz relates: “I knew he was in town from talking to Clan associates whom I met during my previous visits to New York. It was only a matter of time before RZA would stop by the office, so the best thing was really to just wait. I didn’t trust anyone with my demo but him.”

Cilvaringz is of Moroccan descent, and this album, if a little bit for kids, was one of our favorite rap albums of the year probably because of that.

– A.C.

“Jewels” – Cilvaringz feat. GZA/Genius (mp3)

Good Bad Not Evil cover

18. The Black Lips, Good Bad Not Evil

On the first listen, they sound like the music your new son (damn him!) is playing from his garage and you’re like, “Dude, you have been listening to too much Nirvana, grunge ended many moons ago.” The Lips don’t care, they are having too much fun. When I saw them live this year they didn’t set anything on fire or pee in anyone’s mouth, but they sure came close. Doing shows in the Palestinian Territories only helped to cement their gangster status. In a time where the most popular indie rock is the perfect marketing music to accompany shampoo sales, the Black Lips are a breath of fresh rock.

D.A.

“Good Bad Not Evil” – The Black Lips (mp3)

Spot the Monster had GBNE No. 1.

17. Tegan and Sara, The Con

Meditative, at times even borderline scary, thematically interesting, catchy. It all applies to The Con which comes with the most fun booklet of the year. Originally called Sugar, Spell It Out, no better album has almost been made with such a bad name.

The making of DVD is fun stuff.

“I War Married” – Tegan and Sara (mp3)

“Soil, Soil” – Tegan and Sara (mp3)

“Call It Off” – Tegan and Sara (mp3)

“Like O, Like H” – Tegan and Sara (mp3)

“Are You Ten Years Ago” – Tegan and Sara (mp3)

These illustrations remind me of the music-not spare but giving, while keeping in mind a philosophy of restraint.

-A.C.

16. Caribou, Andorra

If Elephant 6 decided to go back into business and relocate to Canada, Andorra would be their first release. The production on this album far surpasses any of Caribou/Manitoba’s previous work and is full of infectious pop gems that will inevitably have “psych” attached inserted into their descriptions. Think Beach Boys and Of Montreal laying down tracks while whacked out on Dramamine.

Caribou myspace

Caryn Ganz review.

“Desiree” – Caribou (mp3)

The Milk of Human Kindness

Dan Snaife on his favorite recent concert:

I went to Glastonbury last week. That was a lot of fun. And it was great, but I didn’t get to see a lot of music. In fact, the best concert wasn’t that at all. The week before, I went to Paris to see Daft Punk play in this weird electro-futurist looking venue, and inside is this inverted pyramid, so they’re inside this pyramid-shaped building, or whatever. And all these French people went totally fucking crazy for it; it was totally fucking amazing. I’ve been dying to see them, especially since that Coachella show everyone was freaking out about. So I was like, fuck, I got to see them play, you know. I’m a big fan. I’m a firm believer in the them being sort of the pop band of our time. They have so many amazing songs.

Pitchfork review if you want to fall asleep.

– D.A.

15. Simple Kid, 2

The Kid on his resemblance to Beck:

“I kind of just ignore them really. The Beck [comparison] is too prevalent, really, for me… I think on the next album I’m not going to use any banjos or beats because I don’t think my actual songs sound anything like his, it’s just the way they’re dressed up.”

A holdover from 2006, 2 got its US release in 2007. The classic single “Serotonin” shows why Simple Kid may be the biggest young talent in music. Lyrically gifted, Simple Kid should probably produce all of Fiona Apple’s albums from now on. I would love to see those two get it on.

2

Buy it here.

– A.C.

Simple Kid website

“The Twentysomething” – Simple Kid (mp3)

“Lil King Kong” – Simple Kid (mp3)

“You” – Simple Kid (mp3)

“Serotonin” – Simple Kid (mp3)

14. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver

LCD Soundsystem website.

Sound of Silver

Murphy takes his multi-tasking very seriously. “I have my accounting online; I totally watch every penny,” he admits, claiming his business head comes straight from his father, an accountant. “There were days when I first moved to New York, when I was eighteen, when I’d come home and report everything I’d spent, like ‘Today I bought a muffin.’ And as a kid, I built a studio in my bedroom: Every inch of floor and wall was covered, but it was totally organized.”

In keeping with his obsessive work ethic, Murphy’s conversation is packed with grand judgments: “John Lennon was an idiot!”, “Jimi Hendrix was a gigantic barrel of charisma!”, “Coldplay — what the fuck are they doing?” It’s a drama that stems from his earlier days as a Tri-state-area punk rocker. “This one band I was in, we would only release 7-inch vinyl,” says Murphy, cracking up, “and never on the same label twice. We’d never be photographed, and we’d never use overdubs — because that was ‘false.'”

“Get Innocuous” – LCD Soundsystem (mp3)

His hardcore stance began to crumble, however, when in 1999, working as a self-taught engineer after college, he ended up co-producing a project with Goldsworthy. The London trip-hop talent and the American indie-head surprisingly found common ground through bands like Can, the Ramones and the Smiths. “It was like, ‘You’re chocolate, and I’m peanut butter!'” Murphy says with a laugh. “We’d go out dancing and do ecstasy.” The experience drew the former punk deeper into a world he’d always considered taboo: dance music. And when Murphy read Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s book on disco, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, the pieces started to come together: There was a link between punk and disco cultures. “There were these people who deejayed fourteen hours a day, seven days a week,” he explains. “Their whole life was devoted to the people they played for. And that’s incredible.”

Punk rockin’ accountant’s son finds disco – sounds about right. Sound of Silver wears its influences on the record sleeve, but still sounds fresh. “Someone Great” is the second best song of the year (word to Rich Boy), “Get Innocuous” is the second best dance song of the year, “North American Scum” is the song most likely to make a blog rocker pogo with pleasure, and “All My Friends” is guaranteed to touch the soul of any yuppie commune. All that adds up to number 14 on our list, what could lay ahead?

– D.A.

Photo

Grammy nominees, if you were wondering. You probably weren’t:

Best Electronic/Dance Album
(For vocal or instrumental albums. Albums only.)

  • We Are The Night
    The Chemical Brothers
    [Astralwerks]

  • Justice
    [Downtown/Vice/Ed Banger]
  • Sound Of Silver
    LCD Soundsystem
    [Capitol Records/DFA]
  • We Are Pilots
    Shiny Toy Guns
    [Universal Motown]
  • Elements Of Life
    Tiësto
    [Ultra Records]

13. Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam

Noah Lennox received overwhelming and much deserved attention this year for Person Pitch, his second solo record under the moniker Panda Bear. But in 2007 Lennox also had his hands in Animal Collective’s excellent Strawberry Jam, which combines much of the smooth pop of the band’s well-received 2005 release, Feels, with equal parts of the punchy, manic transcendence they mastered on 2003’s Sung Tongs.

“Chores” – Animal Collective (mp3)

“For Reverend Green” – Animal Collective (mp3)

Most welcomed on Strawberry Jam is the strong lyric and vocal performance by lead singer Ave Tare—on the stand-out track “For Reverend Green”, his idiosyncratic sing-scream shifts build toward a triumphant, unhinged chant that would make any hardcore fan smile.

– W.H.

“Cuckoo Cuckoo” – Animal Collective (mp3)

Top songs of 2007.

Panda Toes, Year End Wrap Up

12. UGK, Underground Kingz

RIP Pimp C. On December 4, 2007 half of UGK was found dead in the Mondrian Hotel in Hollywood. He was 33. The so-called Tupac of the south was a true special voice behind the mic. It’s really sad that after 6 albums there is no more UGK as we once knew it.

“Like That (remix)” – UGK (mp3)

The best misogynist jam since R. Kelly and Biggie’s “Fucking You Tonight.”

“Real Women” – UGK feat. Talib Kweli (mp3)

And they then go and write a song like this, and totally redeem themselves, to women, I mean. (“Never gonna give you black and blues” pretty much is the greatest thing since Joe Torre’s Safe at Home foundation.)

I’ll get Danish to put together a UGK retrospective with pictures of himself dressed like Pimp C. It’s one more way we can honor the legacy of one of the realest MCs in the game.

A.C.

11. Chromatics, Night Drive

I like Burial as much as the next guy, but if transcendent mood music is what you’re looking for, Untrue is an off-kilter arrow and Night Drive is the target. It’s hard to believe these guys are from Portland when their music elicits the feeling of the 1970s New York City depicted in some bleak disco movie, but what can’t Portland do these days (besides have a real economy)?

– D.A.

Pitchfork review

Chromatics myspace

“Running Up That Hill” – Chromatics (mp3)

“In the City” – Chromatics (mp3)

Italians Do It Better website.

100 Days, 100 Nights

10. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, 100 Days 100 Nights

The most fun you can have without laughing, Sharon was born the same year as my parents, but has a much better voice than either of them. Still, 100 Days 100 Nights sounds like a record from before even Sharon was born.

Read more about Sharon here.

Jones’ backing band was hired to play with one of the top Billboard artists of the year:

“[Industry executives] always told me I didn’t have the look, you know?” Jones sighed. “They told me I was too dark-skinned, too short, you know, too fat. And then once I got past 25, they told me I was too old. So when I was left out of [Amy Winehouse’s album], I thought, ‘That’s OK.’ But it was good — wasn’t weird, it was great. The Dap-Kings were doing some stuff; it’s great that there’s demand for them. But I was still thinking, ‘Get your own band!’ ”

What sets this particular album apart?

“Something’s Changed” – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (mp3)

Has blues horns, blues guitar, blues voice, why does it feel so good?

“I’m Not Gonna Cry” – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (mp3)

One funky guitar line later, you don’t even remember what crying is.

“100 Days, 100 Nights” – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (mp3)

The call-response section vaults this one up to classic status. It’s really rare that you could dance to a song and have some kind of relations during it as well. This is the bridge SJ and the Dap-Kings have crossed.

– A.C.

“Let Them Knock” – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (mp3)

“Nobody’s Baby” – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (mp3)

9. Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha

Armchair Apocrypha

When I was just a litle boy I threw away all of my action toys while I became obsessed with apparitions…

You’ve been playing with innovative musician Martin Dosh lately – how has he pushed your musical boundaries?

Andrew: We’ve only just started touring together and we’re really starting to challenge each other to mix it up every night and try new things. Right now it’s at a very cool stage of collaboration. He does similar things to what I do like looping where he makes his own drums and kind of mixes himself onstage and does a sort of collage.

“Self-Torture” – Andrew Bird (mp3)

“Heretics” – Andrew Bird (mp3)

A lot of [my] songs have a big leap, like there’s two strains going on. In this case, it’s my current state of mind, and then the mind completely wanders to a whole different universe, and I see how one might have something to say about the other. I was imagining this real-estate agent out on the Russian steppes. “Offering views of exiting empires, such breathtaking views of Scythian empires.” I’ve always been fascinated by these obscure corners of history. I sit there and look at maps of the ancient world, where there’s so many of these fantastical names, tribes that you know nothing about. The Visigoths, the Gauls. And of course, the Huns. And they’re always at the edges of the empires—they’re shown as an arrow piercing into this empire. When I was in eighth grade, I got particularly fascinated by the Scythian empire, because they were a little bit lesser-known. And that became my thing. My identity in eighth grade was connected to the Scythians. So I resurrected them through this song.

Music prodigy Andrew Bird keeps hope alive for popular prodigies like Molly Lambert, Margot Tenenbaum, and Deep Blue. Unlike most anal studio musicians, Bird excels in the live setting. He has a flair for the dramatic, whether it be the elaborate Badalamenti-style intro to “Self-Torture” or the jarring, wild opening to “Dark Matter.” Even found sound is heard in the aural wilderness of Bird’s brave new world. On “Yawny at the Apocalypse”, the langorous, lush instrumental close to Armchair Apocrypha, Bird has settled down into an orgasm that belies any notion of age of genre, relying completely on beauty to make meaning. It’s an astonishing balancing act for one of the most exciting young musicians of this period.

– A.C.

Top 30 songs of 2007.

8. Menomena, Friend and Foe

Friend and Foe

Menomena are yet another band hailing from the PDX on our list, and they make me feel bad for dissing the Rose City’s economy. If Portland is the all-white Brooklyn of the left coast, then Menomena are our TV on the Radio. Weird but still pop, they take the stranger territory charted out by more avant garde bands and turn it into an impressive, intricate, and “accessible” sophomore effort. The album and band’s signature sound is best exemplified by “Wet and Rusting.” Sudden drops and builds combine with driving rhythms, sullen pianos, synth surges, bells, and acoustic guitar to produce a song drenched in the rainy energy of their hometown.

– D.A.

“Air Aid” – Menomena (mp3)

“Muscle’n Flo” – Menomena (mp3)

“Rotten Hell” – Menomena (mp3)

Buy Friend and Foe here.

27 albums you shouldn’t miss this year.

7. Magik Markers, Boss

Interviewed this year by the Village Voice, Magik Markers singer Elisa Ambrogio asked, “When you look at most of the vapid, soulless douches currently writing songs and making records, do you not think with even the slightest effort you could do better?” Our sentiments exactly.

my darling elisa

“Taste” – Magik Markers (mp3)

“Bad Dream/Hartford’s Beat Suite” – Magik Markers (mp3)

I saw the Markers twice in 2007, and neither time were they very intriguing—they were characteristically loud, neurotic, and sloppy, yes, but somehow managed to look a trifle bored by their noisy, shoot-em-up, flopping-on-the-ground antics of yore. Their newest LP, Boss, another lyrical triumph for Ambrogio, finds the band in more overtly melodic territory than usual; in fact, the delicate piano ballad “Empty Bottles” may be the album’s best track. Does it make me a vapid douche that I never thought I’d listen to a Markers song before going to bed?

W. H.

Magik Markers wiki

Their label, Ecstatic Piece, official site

Bradley’s Almanac best of 2007.

6. Timbaland, Timbaland Presents: Shock Value

The album I listened to most this year, Shock Value is full of fun hooks that could be singles, from the biggest singles maker of his generation. The collaboration with Elton John on the piano and the remix of Nina Simone’s Sinnerman (“Oh Timbaland”) alone justify purchasing this one.

At the center of these songs is partying woman who thrills Timbaland but causes him a lot of grief, a meme I am sure most of you can understand.

i got a feeling she keeps me in the dark

This is what Frank Sinatra’s Duets could have been, this is Beethoven doing Duets. I hope Timbaland sticks to his own material for a little while, as his career as a solo artist has provided me with the most entertaining moments of the year. The I’m dating-a-whore story of his collaboration with She Wants Revenge, “Time,” the interplay with Sir Elton John on “Two Man Show,” the exhilaration of Timbaland’s songwriting for the freaking Hives…I mean, this guy could start a dance party in a bookstore.

A.C.

Timbaland myspace

“Oh Timbaland” – Timbaland (mp3)

“Come Around” – Timbaland feat. MIA (mp3)

“Release” – Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake (mp3)

Danish Aziz is the senior contributor to This Recording. Will Hubbard is the senior contributor to This Recording. Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

Untitled Records’ best of the year.

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)

bountee Dance

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)

Myth Takes

4. !!!, Myth Takes

Myth Takes is !!!

Nic Offer on the band’s sound in an interview with Bmore Live:

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.

takes.jpg

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.

– A.C.

“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.

– A.C.

“The Game” – Common (mp3)

“Driving Me Wild” – Common feat. Lily Allen (mp3)

“Forever Begins” – Common (mp3)

Attack Decay Sustain Release

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.

– D.A.

“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.

– A.C.

“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.

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Tyler gawkerbaited.

Enough covers of Wonderwall to make you nauseous.

Matt Henriksen and Gram Parsons.

5 thoughts on “In Which Our Full Countdown of the Top 20 Albums of 2007 Is Collected In One Place For the First Time

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