2007 Recap: 100 albums to hear, pt. 2 (No. 75-51)

By • Dec 26th, 2007 • Category: Columns

75. “Chase This Light” (Interscope)
Jimmy Eat World
Released: Oct. 16

Now in its third release as an mainstream name, the Arizona act has grown accustomed to writing music with arena-filling expectations. The band’s DIY principles are all but gone on this, its biggest sounding release to date. Yet it also stands as its most reserved collection of tunes.
Hear: “Let It Happen” and “Carry You”

74. “Living With The Living” (Touch & Go)
Ted Leo and The Pharmacists
Released: March 20

The face (and flawless voice) of counter-culture politics, Ted Leo slips back into his old habit of allowing his leftist anthems to hover around the six-minute mark. But on the ones in which he does self-edit, his swaying voice belts out with the to-the-point timeliness that all rock’n'roll should practice.
Hear: “The Sons of Cain” and “Army Bound”

73. “Reunion Tour” (Epitaph)
The Weakerthans
Released: Sept. 25

The key to The Weakerthans always has been to never flaunt the complexity of the band’s guitar pop tunes and seemingly commonplace storytelling. Although the songs sound like simple faux-folk numbers upon first listen, dissecting the tracks reveals a complex world of musicianship and lyricism.
Hear: “Civil Twilight” and “Tournament of Hearts”

72. “At The Foot Of My Rival” (Curb Appeal)
The New Amsterdams
Released: Sept. 25

Matthew Pryor must be a ball of emotion. As a side project for the pioneering “emo” (whatever that word actually means) front man of Get Up Kids, on his first release since leaving longtime home Vagrant, the alternate avenue for Pryor’s heartstrings might be his best ever … under any band name.
Hear” “A Beacon In Beige” and “Wait”

71. “In Our Bedroom After The War” (Arts & Crafts)
Released: Sept. 25

Toronto seems like an overly productive place, until you realize that the bulk of the albums coming from the Canadian city all have ties to the Broken Social Scene. Then it just becomes a productive circle of friends as opposed to an entire postal district. So is the case with these 13 songs. But with Stars’ (and the BSS’s) growing reputation, members must be careful not to continue in the line of exaggerating production values.
Hear: “Take Me to The Riot” and “Midnight Coward”

70. “Mirrored” (Warp)
Released: May 22

If high school classes used this formulaic and precise album as a teaching tool, calculus might be a whole lot more fun. Well, at least it would be tolerable. The intricate stop-and-start timing of this math-rock debut combines the theatric showmanship of the bandmates, but also their hard-rocking histories.
Hear: “Atlas” and “DdiamondD”

69. “Night Falls Over Kortedala” (Secretly Canadian)
Jens Lekman
Released: Oct. 9

This solid display of baroque chamber pop and orchestrated structures sounds like a tongue-in-cheek love affair with love songs. Lekman’s deep bellowing voice recalls the sappiest Vegas lounge singers, and his witty (read: sometimes silly) lyrics are cause for pause. But despite this comedic potential, in fruition it is a genuine gorgeous blend of seriousness and the humor within our quests to be taken seriously.
Hear: “Sipping On The Sweet Nectar” and “And I Remember Every Kiss”

68. “It’s A Bit Complicated” (Downtown)
Art Brut
Released: June 19

On the band’s second record of conceptually sloppy and meticulously casual rock’n'roll, Eddie Argos ups his almost-spoken vocals on par with his bands bolder sound. Instead of sounding like a bar band with highbrow leanings, they seem like full-on professionals remembering their campy start.
Hear: “Direct Hit” and “People In Love”

67. “Of Others” (Two Thumbs Down)
Mt. St. Helens
Released: Aug. 28

Releasing an album every four years, on three different labels no doubt will affect an act’s sound. Thus, on the Chicago band’s third output since 1999, they finally have cut those influence chords that plagued their early work, and seem less concerned with the sonic blasts that made them the loudest band on the planet. And the result is the quintet’s catchiest album yet, with winding guitar parts and jitterbug timing that still allow for the familiar strained shouts.
Hear: “Want Out” and “Centicorn”

66. “Cease To Begin” (Sub Pop)
Band of Horses
Released: Oct. 9

The Seattle band’s second album in as many years is the first without co-founder Mat Brooke. The responsibility – or maybe freedom – to take the reigns fell to vocalist Ben Bridwell, and was parlayed into a spacey mix of his tenor layered over ambient but psychedelic rock.
Hear: “No One’s Gonna Love You” and “Islands On The Coast”

65. “Cross” (Vice)
Released: June 11

The next in France’s long line of dance pop is the first of the Internet age. Riding the international success of widely circulated Web acclaim, the Paris ensemble utilizes electronic music’s experimental expectations to the fullest degree, cutting and pasting odd structures over up and down tempos.
Hear: “D.A.N.C.E.” and “Newjack”

64. “Baby 81″ (Sony)
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Released: May 1

A return to form of sorts, the California fuzz-rock band recalls the Jesus and Mary Chain-esque days of their first few releases, while working them into the bluesy honky-tonk of their 2005 output, “Howl.”
Hear: “Not What You Wanted” and “All You Do Is Talk”

63. “Twilight Of The Innocents” (WEA)
Released: July 2

If this really is to be the Irish power-poppers final LP as front man Tim Wheeler has said, they went out with the group’s best effort in years. The band has hinted that from this point forth, their chunky brand of sing-a-longs only will find homes on Internet-ready singles.
Hear: “I Started A Fire” and “You Can’t Have It All”

62. “Person Pitch” (Paw Tracks)
Panda Bear
Released: March 20

One of several projects from Animal Collective member Noah Lennox plays like and “Idiots Guide to Indie Rock,” combining hints of every genre that drew fans away from commercial radio at the start of the decade. With Beach Boy purity masked by lo-fi recording, Lennox textures dense instrumentation around traditional pop elements into this richly fulfilling release.
Hear: “Bros” and “Comfy In Nautica”

61. “Costello Music” (Cherry Tree/Interscope)
The Fratellis
Released: March 13

This debut record is what it sounds like when three Scottish friends grow up with an evident love of 70s glam, but can’t pull themselves away from the teenage temptations of spending time boozing in late-night pubs. It’s a confident and self-entertaining anthology of smiling rock’n'roll that is both hard rocking and quirky enough to be a downright good time.
Hear: “Henrietta” and “Ole Black ‘N’ Blue Eyes”

60. “Our Love All Around” (Capitol)
Released: July 10

The weakest of Interpol’s three LPs is a result of stepping outside the New Yorkers’ Manchester-leaning comfort zone. By leaving their droning post-punk influences a bit, the group explores a slightly grander sound.
Hear: “The Heinrich Maneuver” and “Mammoth”

59. “Cryptograms” (Kranky)
Released: Feb. 6

The Georgia art-rock ensemble’s full-length is the epitome of back-loaded. Although the first half is a challenging orchestration of instrumentals and hard-to-follow sounds, the second portion is a collection of psychedelic numbers on par with the best pop experiments.
Hear: “Strange Lights” and “Hazel St.”

58. “Spirit If …” (Arts & Crafts)
Kevin Drew
Released: Sept. 18

Who’d have guessed, an album produced by members of the Broken Social Scene, featuring musicians from the Broken Social Scene, and written/performed by the Broken Social Scene’s leader has the same theatric and swooning structures as those dream-poppers. What are the odds?
Hear: “Lucky Ones” and “Safety Bricks”

57. “Say No! To Being Cool, Say Yes! To Being Happy! (Modular)
The Softlightes
Released: Feb. 13

On arguably the best-titled of any 2007 release,the whimsical and lo-fi pop with a reliance on acoustic guitars isn’t that bad either.
Hear: “Heart Made of Sound” and “If The World Had Cookies”

56. “None Shall Pass” (Definitive Jux)
Aesop Rock
Released: Aug. 28

Relocating to the West Coast two years ago hasn’t hurt this New York rapper the way that many NYC-underground purists feared that it might. In fact, it’s freed him up to expand his rhymes and toy with beats in a way that only perennial summers can.
Hear: “None Shall Pass” and “39 Thieves”

55. “Kingdom Of Fear” (Fierce Panda)
Released: April 16

The “new rave” movement is in commercial and critical swing, and these Glasgow natives help secure the genre’s position in culture’s current vocabulary on this raucous debut of sweaty groove tunes played with live instruments.
Hear: “OK” and “Reactor Party”

54. “The Flying Club Cup” (Ba Da Bing!)
Released: Oct. 19

On his first full LP with a complete band’s backing, Zach Condon finds himself more nestled in the sounds of Eastern Europe than he’s ever been. And instead of resembling a rambling loner, his music now better represents its eclectic and collaborative heritage.
Hint: “Nantes” and “St. Apollonia”

53. “Can Cladders” (Drag City)
The High Llamas
Released: Feb. 19

Sean O’Hagan has released about as many “Pet Sounds”-ing albums as Brian Wilson has. In fact, it’s almost worth calling the chamber sounds of these multi-part harmonies O’Hagan’s – and not Wilson’s – forte.
Hear: “Sailing Bells” and “Clarion Union Hall”

52. “Fantastic Playroom” (Universal/Island)
New Young Pony Club
Released: July 9

On this Mercury Prize-nominated record, the Londoners might be too reminiscent of 80s girl-lead pop outfits to be groundbreaking, but it’s a testament to how well retro can age if handled with care.
Hear: “Ice Cream” and “Talking, Talking”

51. “The Shepherd’s Dog” (Sub Pop)
Iron and Wine
Released: Sept. 25

On his third LP for Sub Pop, Sam Beam invokes the spirits of great 1970s folksters such as Tim Buckley and Nick Drake. The plus melodies and acoustic numbers are as passionate as anything those iconic musicians recorded.
Hear: “Pagan Angel and A Borrowed Car” and “Boy With A Coin”

Northwest Herald, Dec. 26, 2007

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