2007- it’s hard to believe five years have already passed. In most ways it’s difficult to analyze 2007 as it seems such a short time ago and most of the artists relevant in ’07 and still relevant today. I will, however go on record stating that the decade of 00-09 was a very strong decade for music (despite what many baby boomers and gen-xers think) and 2007 was one of is very strongest years.
My five favorite albums of the year- M.I.A. “Kala”, LCD Soundsystem “Sound Of Silver”, Radiohead “In Rainbows”, Animal Collective “Strawberry Jam” & Of Montreal “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer” all made my top 30 albums of the whole decade and Spoon’s “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” and Kanye’s “Graduation” were both top 50. In all of those cases outside of Radiohead, Animal Collective & Kanye those albums represent my favorites by those artists. Though all of those albums made major dents, at least in the indie-world, none other than Kanye and the “Paper Planes” single from M.I.A. achieved popularity with the masses. Like the early to mid nineties 2007 was a year dominated by outsider music, even most of the best pop music from that year was weirder and a bit left of center- check out tracks like Robyn “With Every Heartbeat”, the Veronicas “Untouched”, R Kelly “I’m A Flirt” or the 3 great Rihanna singles from 2007 for an example (Umbrella, Don’t Stop the Music & Shut Up and Drive). There was plenty of great stuff to be heard throughout the rap, dance, pop & rock worlds- offering the listener a potpourri rather than one dominant sound. One thing the year was short on was great albums by longtime artists with only relatively minor, if still solid and underrated, albums by Wu-Tang Clan & Jay-Z as well as Bruce Springsteen’s best album since “The Rising” with “Magic” and one of the very best Radiohead releases (“In Rainbows” already mentioned above). Dinosaur Jr’s very good comeback record and Wilco’s “Sky Blue Sky” making much of an impression. Nearly every other great release were by post-millennial bands.
As I mentioned before indie-rock was hugely successful in ’07 and it could be split into many different camps. There were the institutions and/or more general indie-ROCK acts. Already mentioned were Wilco, Dinosaur Jr., Radiohead & Spoon. Arcade Fire also came out with their excellent follow-up to their classic debut “Funeral” with “Neon Bible”. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s put out a pretty great EP with “Isis” & the Shins came out with their third album, the still strong if slightly disappointing “Wincing the Night Away”. Mellower, folkier bands were having their day in the sun as well. Band of Horses released a strong follow-up album to their great debut with “Cease to Begin”. Okkervil River gave their strongest album to date with “The Stage Names”. Brooklyn cult-band the National who had seemingly come out of nowhere with 2005’s “Alligator”, upped the ante considerably with “Boxer”, which would propel them into the upper ranks of the indie-world where they remain today. Perennial dark horse Iron and Wine, up until then an almost entirely solo, acoustic act, switched gears to become a full fledged band where the instruments were as much of a factor as the singing and strumming. Though they have never released a mediocre album, 2007’s “The Shepherd’s Dog” remains one of their best. Slightly weirder bands ventured into psychedelic and noise-rock territory including the aforementioned Animal Collective, Deerhunter, who’s 2007 album “Cryptograms” put them on the map, Deerhoof, Animal Collective member Panda Bear’s acclaimed solo album “Person Pitch”, Liars, Battles and Dirty Projectors. Williamsburg, Brooklyn vets Les Savy Fav delivered perhaps their finest single album (not counting the great “Inches” collection) with “Let’s Stay Friends”. L.A. Post-hardcore bashers No Age debuted with a collection of their 7″ singles called “Weirdo Rippers”. Alt music hero Nick Cave’s new punk band Grinderman released their self-titled debut which also ended up reigniting his color career. The saviors of British indie Arctic Monkeys followed up their now classic debut with a pretty great follow-up as well. Though 2007 was not as strong on the singer-songwriter tip two outstanding albums on that front were earnest and brokenhearted Swede Jens Lekman’s “The Night Falls Over Kortedala” and Canadian and Broken Social Scene member Feist’s surprise mass hit 2nd album “The Reminder”.
LCD Soundsystem’s “Sound Of Silver” was a dance music/indie rock crossover that was almost universally loved by both groups of people. LCD would have made it a big year for dance music on their own but there was much else going on in the genre in ’07 as well- and it spanned much territory. French duo Justice debuted with “Cross”- an album filled with bombast and lack of subtlety not really seen since the days of Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim. Brooklyn group Escort made new millennial disco music without computers or samplers- the music sounded straight outta 1978 and it was as good or better than much of the original stuff. Baltimore weirdo Dan Deacon released his debut album of hyped up, cartoonish but somehow still brainy and totally fun techno. Simian Mobile Disco’s “Attack Decay Sustain Release” was another great dance music debut. Britain’s Klaxons started off a needlessly hyped faux genre craze called neo-rave, which made little sense, but their debut “Myths of the Near Future” still had plenty of gems to offer. The After Dark compilation, released on the indie Italians Do it Better label, featured artists like Chromatics and Gui Boratto featured a specific neo-Ital Disco that has risen in prominence in the ensuing years. In England the Hyperdub label was busy releasing tracks by artists & DJ’s combining house, ambient & dubstep music. The most prominent artist on the label was the mysterious Burial who released his 2nd album “Untrue”, which is to date the best loved album in the genre.
KANYE WEST- GRADUATION
LES SAVY FAV- LET’S STAY FRIENDS
PANDA BEAR- PERSON PITCH
THE TOUGH ALLIANCE- A NEW CHANCE
SPOON- GA GA GA GA GA
RADIOHEAD- IN RAINBOWS
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE- STRAWBERRY JAM
OF MONTREAL- HISSING FAUNA, ARE YOU THE DESTROYER?
THE NATIONAL- BOXER
JAY-Z- AMERICAN GANGSTER
OKKERVIL RIVER- THE STAGE NAMES
ARCADE FIRE- NEON BIBLE
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM- SOUND OF SILVER
IRON AND WINE- THE SHEPHERD’S DOG
FEIST- THE REMINDER
JENS LEKMAN- NIGHT FALLS OVER KORTEDALA