Catch up on the first two installments of our countdown here and here.
The Top 20 Albums of 2007
Part Three: Every Step Is Moving Me Up
“This Is How We Walk On the Moon” – Arthur Russell (mp3)
by Danish Aziz & Alex Carnevale & Will Hubbard
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.
“Let Them Knock” – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (mp3)
“Nobody’s Baby” – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (mp3)
9. Andrew Bird, 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.