31 December 2007

Albums in the Year 2007

As opposed to 'Albums of the Year 2007', on account of this isn't a finished list. It's just a list of how things apparently stand at the end of the calendar year, having not heard certain things I really want to, but while still wanting to do something timely for once. Rest assured, it will soon be 2005 once more. Then I might do 2007 before 2006 to maintain at least some semblance of zeitgeist. So here is a top ten, with brief notes.

01. Dillinger Escape Plan Ire Works

Not as much of a leap from earlier albums as I'd hoped, but they do the speedy stuff as well as ever (OK, not as well as they did on Under the Running Board), and the slightly 'braver', rocky, stuff is fantastic. The last song on the album is seriously the best new song I have heard all year.

02. The Wildhearts The Wildhearts

I didn't think it would get topped for a while there, but then I thought the same thing about Melt-Banana so what can you do. The album flags a bit near the end, but the first half is so good (in a bizarro stuck-in-time kinda way) that it doesn't really matter. When everything is either Nemo or drone, it's great to hear some prog-thrash-pop-metal.

03. World's End Girlfriend Hurtbreak Wonderland

I don't listen to this kind of 'post rock' any more. And at eighty minutes it's way too long. That said, WEG regularly attains heights of tender beauty the likes of Sigur Ros will never again reach and Arcade Fire/Explosions In The Sky et al never would anyway. The quality has outed! And what a surprise that it was someone Japanese.

04. Melt-Banana Bambi's Dilema

Speaking of the greatest rock nation in the world, here's Melt-Banana. Have to admit I slightly over-killed on mp3 before the album came out, but this poppiest album from the band is still a catchy adrenaline rush that is still as heavy as one would want it to be. Bubblegum grindcore!

05. Pig Destroyer Phantom Limb

Speaking of grindcore, there's this lot. Having not yet received my Baroness vinyl, I have no idea whether this is the best album of the year with Baizley artwork, but it is fantastic anyway, as well as being smart, horrible and technically pretty dazzling. It's a bit of a shame the metal media is trying to suggest this as some form of all-time grindcore highpoint (as though Brutal Truth and Discordance Axis never happened), but it's thrilling and not too long.

06. Boxcutter Glyphic

This is one of a few albums for which I have written initial blog thoughts, but further thoughts indicate it is rather disappointing on side one/some of two, but really opens up into cool musical shapes as the record goes on. Whether this was a result of Barry not wanting to initially alienate fans of the first album or what I don't know, but I do think it's the superior album to Burial at the moment (as I admittedly did with their debuts at this time last year). Very good stuff that could end up being considered Boards Of Canada-level-ish.

07. Bloody Panda Pheromone

Still waiting for a vinyl release of this one, therefore I have yet to buy it. However from listens to bogus mp3 files on duff speakers, I am digging this a great deal. What's not to love about slowcore bludgeon riffola while a strange woman screams the lyrics in a style somewhere between a black-metal dude and the late, great Johnny Morrow? Pithy Kerrang-style lazy comment: it's Melt-Banana's secret mutant sibling that's been locked in the attic all its life!!!???!!?!

08. Shining Grindstone

Like the Jaga album in 2005, this was a great early contender for album of the year whose excellence has not at all dissipated over the subsequent months. Weirdly Dillingerish offering from the bombastic arm of the Norwegian jazzrock crew, this album is both testing and sumptuous. A touch cold at times, but that just bolsters the cool-Scandinavian aesthetic.

09. Burial Untrue

Said stuff about this tres recently pon de blog, so read that. This is great. 'Archangel' and 'Raver' especially. If for whatever reason you haven't yet heard this album, these be the songs in which to dip toes.

10. Mira Calix Eyes Set Against the Sun

Had to mention this one really, especially seeing as it seems to have got no press at all (so apols to The Tuss, Landstrumm and Villalobos, who all just miss out on the ten. But try to have a good new year boys). Musically like the best possible Liars album - well, about on a par with Drum's not Dead, probably - this one really stretches out over its four sides of too-good-to-be-bog-standard-120g vinyl. Despite the end of the nineties seeing Mira making clonky noise electro, this is more tender, like an idyllictronic take on what Leila was doing on Courtesy of Choice. A new Leila album would be nice...

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