best of 2007

I said I’d bend the rules a bit, but here’s the ten best albums I heard this year, in alphabetical order:

  • The AliensAstronomy For Dogs: add a Lone Pigeon to a few remaining Betas, and the result is funkiness. This album has more earworms than is safe. They are even better live.
  • Animal CollectiveStrawberry Jam: I pretty much have to be alone and sitting down to listen to this. For Reverend Green especially; it’s all involuntary limb movements, sinuses exploding with joy (this probably doesn’t happen to you, I hope), and ullulating Oo oo weeuh yeh … ee yeh yeh etc for me. Other Animals didn’t do so badly either this year: Panda Bear’s Person Pitch was joyful, and even the bafflingly backwards Pullhair Rubeye from Avey and Kría had something.
  • ColleenThe Golden Morning Breaks (2005): very sparse but beautiful notes. I’ll Read You a Story is the sound that angels make.
  • A Hawk And A Hacksaw And The Hun Hangár Ensemble: featuring magyar madness, crafty cimbalom, and the only piece of bagpipe music that won’t make you want to hack your ears off with a meat cleaver. It’s doubly nice that it features Zach Condon actually playing with his heroes, rather than just trying to sound like them.
  • Ideal Free Distribution: lush 60s rhythm and harmonies, with a ton of mellotron laid on top. Poppy enough that no-one I’ve played it to doesn’t like it.
  • Dan Jones and The SquidsTotally Human: Dan has clearly listened to a lot of both Robyn Hitchcock and The Minutemen, and has come up with a noisy but thoughtful album, which we play all the time.
  • Old Man LuedeckeHinterland (2006): merge sly alt.country lyrics with pretty clawhammer banjo, and you’ve got the Old Man. Bonus points for coupling the words “oracular bent” in a song, and getting away with it, too.
  • Ken ReaumeFour Horses: Ken quite modestly compares himself to Elliott Smith and Nick Drake. He’s easily the equal of both. Beautiful fingerpicking and whispered confessional lyrics.
  • Jesse Sykes & The Sweet HereafterLike, Love, Lust, & The Open Halls of the Soul: you’ll fall for Jesse’s world-weary lisp and the drawling psych guitar. I did (and unfortunately discovered her other two albums, Reckless Burning and Oh My Girl, are almost identical. Oh well; very good, but very samey).
  • Porter WagonerWagonmaster: if you’re gonna go, go out on a high note. That’s exactly what The Thin Man From West Plains did. It’s very straight country, but the decades of experience polish it brighter than rhinestones.

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