Top Ten 2007: a Biased Retrospective

I have a yearly tradition where every January I make a playlist of everything in my library that was released ten years prior. Probably because I'm a sucker for nostalgia, but also because it's important to remember great music isn't always current. And most of it isn't on the radio. Pay attention, kids.

The more familiar I am with an album, the more it brings back a flood of memories for me to revisit in the context of song. Example: I distinctly remember the first time I heard Brand New's Sowing Season - I was in a friend's basement in Green Bay watching Chuck Norris films, drinking too much Cuervo, and eating far too much Taco Bell. And it was great.

But that record came out in 2006, so let's focus on these instead: ten pretty damn fantastic albums that all came out within twelve months of each other. It's my hope that maybe one of you out there 1) hasn't heard these and 2) grows to appreciate them half as much as I do.

These albums veer all over the place in terms of genre and tone. I wouldn't have it any other way. Let's jump in!

Some Pretty Neat Records of 2007:

Thrice, The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water (post-hardcore, alternative rock)

My absolute favorite Thrice album(s), these two combined EPs brilliantly wove their elemental concept into every song. Fire is raw, heavy and unforgiving with post-hardcore riffs and intense lyricism; Water is absolutely drenched (zing!) in a wash of delays, reverb, and cool harmony. I'm very partial to their dabbling in electronica, too.

     Listen to: The Flame Deluge, The Whaler

The Bird & The Bee, The Bird & The Bee (indie pop, electronica)

I can't quite put my finger on why I love this record, but it's just... really well put together. Tons of jazz influence, old pop stylings mixed with modern lyrics--Inara George, full stop. It's catchy, poppy, and still wholly unique.

     Listen toAgain & Again, Preparedness

Various, Death Proof Soundtrack (rock, pop)

Does this count? Of course it does, it's my website. Fight me.
It's news to absolutely no one that Tarantino picks really great music for his films. But near as I can tell, this soundtrack (and the film it belongs to) seemed to go completely unnoticed at the time. On this album you'll find frayed and soulful jams, moody deep cuts from forgotten classic films, and... dialogue excerpts from the movie. Okay, you can skip those.

     Listen toBaby, It's You (Smith), Down In Mexico (The Coasters)

Zhong ChiEasy World (electronic, trip-hop)

I honestly can't tell you how I stumbled on this gem. Zhong Chi is a Chinese singer who grew up in Denmark, she doesn't have a Wikipedia, and Google told me I spelled her name wrong. This record is a great combination of 90's-style electronica, hard rock, folk, and modern sensibilities. I get it, that doesn't really tell you how it sounds. Just check it out.
...Actually, y'know what? Emiliana Torrini's Love In The Time Of Science. That's what it sounds like.

     Listen toEasy World, 12:44

The Chariot, The Fiancee (metalcore)

Ah, The Chariot. They might only do one thing, but they do it very well: Chaos. This is workout music, blazing-through-term-papers-at-3AM music, taking comfort in your inner rage music. When Josh Scogin was still fronting Norma Jean, I was learning my first panic chords. It's short and not at all sweet. And that's pretty neat.

     Listen toAnd Shot Each Other, Heard This Noise

The Dillinger Escape Plan, Ire Works (progressive metal, mathcore)

No less chaotic than The Chariot, yet far more refined, is DEP's Ire Works. This record divided people; the old die-hard fans that only listen to one genre hated how "soft" they got, and everyone else with good taste loved it. Half relentless mathcore, half sophisticated melodic and harmonic departures, this is one heavy, solid release. And the guitars are tuned to standard. What the damn hell, Weinman!

     Listen to82588, Dead As History, Horse Hunter, Mouth Of Ghosts... like, the whole album. It's 38 minutes long.

Aesop Rock, None Shall Pass (hip hop)

No, not A$AP Rocky. God. Every time.
90% of the time I've no clue what Mr. Ian Bavitz is talking about--but boy, does he say it well. And the PRODUCTION on this thing! Some of the best beats, sounds, samples, guitars, you name it are present on this beautiful record. Just hearing this makes you feel like a slightly cooler person.

     Listen toNone Shall Pass, Coffee

Interpol, Our Love To Admire (post-punk revival, new wave)

These probably-too-hip LES rockers got a lot more melancholic and melodic on this one, and it's no coincidence that it's my favorite album of theirs to date. Put it on when it's crappy outside and you'll feel like they're scoring the film of your life.

     Listen toPioneer To The Falls, Rest My Chemistry

Atmosphere, Sad Clown Bad Summer 9 (hip hop)

I have to thank my longtime musical collaborator/platonic life partner Zak for starting yet another tradition: on the first warm spring day of every year, I drive around blasting Sunshine with all the windows down. You can't help but have your spirits lifted by this EP. It's positively bursting with sunny nostalgia, and a love of life despite its struggles. And dope, phat beats. Did I say that right, kids?

     Listen toSunshine, RFTC

Nine Inch Nails, Year Zero (industrial rock, electronic)

I doubt I was the only one pleasantly surprised when this album dropped. There was a six-year gap between The Fragile and the overwhelmingly 'meh' With Teeth, and then two short years later this sprawling, frenetic concept album appears. The artwork, lyrics, tone, and multiple POVs create a natural, scarily realistic progression of 1984 that doesn't feel cheesy or overdone. Which makes me wonder if Muse just stopped listening to other people's music in the two years before The Resistance.
...Oh, and the music's top-notch too.
     Listen to: The Warning, The Great Destroyer, In This Twilight

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