Best of 2007 - Part I

A note about our process: we had each of our five staffers submit a list of their noteworthy albums of '07, then compiled them all in order of number of votes each title received. That makes this - what? Best of the year? Most popular / unanimously noteworthy of the year? A semi-arbitrarily-arranged list of good tunes? Yeah - we like that last one. Okay, here we go:

LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
RELEASE DATE: 20 March 2007
Sounds of Silver solidifies LCD's place as one of the most important artists of the moment. It's not hype. We'll look back on these guys as the Joy Division of today.

LCD breaks down the genre system from within, re-envisioning the Berlin Bowie/Eno/Fripp collaborations, the Taking Heads, Can, 70s punk, disco, and 90s art electronic simultaneously. They derive from these and other sources and make something entirely their own - each song burrowing its way into your head, both musically and - more surprisingly - lyrically. James Murphy and company give us the musical space and lyrical hooks to personally fill the music with our own vibes, lines from our own lives. "Us, and them, over and over again."

Le Loup - The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly
LABEL: Hardly Art
RELEASE DATE: 11 September 2007
At what point does an act officially cross over from "buzzword" to "staple?" Hopefully, when they top our year-end list. The collective responsible for this epic, sweeping electro-banjo gem of an album has garnered universal critical praise, but the name's conspicuously absent from the lips of tastemakers outside the media. Well, if the divergent tastes of our staff is a microcosm of the mesh of aesthetics that exists out in the public, the fact that heavy underdog Throne conquered our democratic process is both pleasant and frightening. It suggests there's a broad audience out there waiting to fall in love with this band - just as soon as they find out who the hell this band is. We beg of you! - talk about this album.

M.I.A. - Kala
LABEL: Interscope
RELEASE DATE: 21 August 2007
Which is stronger - our outrage at the botched and hazy politics behind M.I.A.'s denied Visa application (which would have enabled her to enter the US and produce an album with Timbaland), or the relief at the near-certain conviction that this incarnation of Kala is miles better than the stifled ghost it should have been? The worldly parade of sound that marches through Kala was at least partially the product of an accident, but in retrospect, thank goodness it happened. If she'd gone through with the original plan, we're pretty certain the end result wouldn't be anywhere close to this high on the list.

Panda Bear - Person Pitch
LABEL: Paw Tracks
RELEASE DATE: 19 March 2007
Panda Bear (née Noah Lennox) is a self-described nomad, so it makes sense that Person Pitch plays like a roadtripping temporal vehicle, wandering loosely through the ages. Lennox makes good on the soundscape aesthetic, twisting archaic instrumentation and found sounds into a complex and unmistakably current mesh. But for all the detail, Person Pitch is unmistakably a solo album, proving that Panda Bear aims to supply not just a supplementation to Animal Collective's discography, but a distinct and viable alternative.

SuperMayer - Save the World
LABEL: Kompakt
RELEASE DATE: 21 September 2007
Save the World, presented as the collaborative effort between Superpitcher and Michael Mayer, might be more aptly described as a cyborg amalgamation of their talents. There's certainly an ominous bent to this release, like maybe the world they're saving exists in some ominously close parallel universe, one we're doomed to crash into if we aren't careful . At times grotesque and desperate, danceable and mellow, Supermayer's ability to sweep across the spectrum of a genre makes this one of most impressive electronic releases of the year.

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
LABEL: Domino
RELEASE DATE: 19 September 2007
It's official: Animal Collective is immune to pressure. After Feels, their best album to date by nearly unanimous consensus, it would have been so easy for our favorite benchmark band (was there ever another group you felt more confident namechecking at a party?) to offer a disc worn heavy with signs of collapse. Instead, this lovable juggernaut put out a release that is just as good - probably better - than their breakout. Not a bad year, especially considering the equal and simultaneous success of Panda Bear's solo album, Person Pitch.

Cassius - 15 Again
LABEL: Astralwerks
RELEASE DATE: 23 October 2007
This is the best offering to date from the French artist Cassius. Rather than walking a line between dance and rock, 15 Again creates dialectics out of these extremes (both band members are into hard rock, funk, and beats). This synthesis exists on the album level, with Pharrell Williams onboard for portions of the effort, songs like "Rock Number One" play with rock sensibilities, while tracks like "Jackrock" or "Cactus" reside in the driving post-techno arena. This schizophrenia also pleasantly pervades within many of the tracks. Beats, soul, rock, experimental electronic all toss into the cyber-funk house rock salad.

Simian Mobile Disco - Attack Decay Sustain Release
LABEL: Interscope
RELEASE DATE: 11 September 2007
Attack Decay Sustain Release is a sterling emblem of this duo's unapologetic allegiance to the club scene. This release succeeds as a dance album because the Simian dudes took measures to keep it that way - analogue recording, oft-improvised vocals, relentless sequencing, et cetera. Most impressive is the compression of swarming, club-length original song versions into the compact, punchy offering delivered through our stereos.

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
LABEL: Columbia
RELEASE DATE: 22 January 2008
MGMT is awful in concert, but we don't mind, because they're great in the studio. Oracular Spectacular is really the anthem pop find of the year. It's pretty clear that they love Bowie, particularly that early 70s varietal (Diamond Dogs, Ziggy Stardust, Man Who Sold the World). They stick their sound in your head good, like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth.

Coco Rosie - The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn
LABEL: Touch and Go Records
RELEASE DATE: 10 April 2007
Definitely one of the more trippy spins of the year, Cocorosie seems to have hit their groove with The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn. Our friends at Touch and Go were raving about this one long before its release. No one here was disappointed. Described on this site as follows: "Parts are dreamy and parts are savage, but, as with an opera where death represents a secret heaven, the whole record feels like a black diamond in the snow."

M83 - Digital Shadows
RELEASE DATE: 3 September 2007
Digital Shades is one of the better atmospheric electronic releases this year (along with Burial's recent dubstep revisions). Digital Shades was inappropriately and annoyingly termed a "shoe-gaze" album by many in the websphere. Why does everyone hear Bloody Valentine or Ride in every band that owns electronic equipment? Rather, Digital Shades is almost symphonic in its inception (structured movements, recurring themes, etc.). Since M83 is a French act, Jean-Michel André Jarre pops immediately to mind. Some will also notice Vangelis' soundtracks or "Music for Airports" Eno. There's also a little bit of the Reich Remixed feel here too. Like their namesake, the Messier 83 galaxy, Digital Shades is far off sounding and filled with supernovae. The trip is warm, though. It's also more dense and layered than you first think.

Datarock - Datarock
LABEL: Nettwerk
RELEASE DATE: 10 July 2007
You hear a lot of influences on this album. It starts with mid-70s XTC. There's Krautrock-tronica, the Klaxons, The Van Shes, 80s synth pop, The Talking Heads, to name a handful. Datarock masters all these sounds and reforms them into their own operator-with-a-pocket-calculator worldview. That's dangerous terrain. This album could have easily veered off into the incomprehensible or purely novel (occasionally it nears the latter edge). But sometimes an album is so derivative that it becomes its own beautiful, goofy thing.

Honorable Mentions:

Air - Pocket Symphony
LABEL: Astralwerks
RELEASE DATE: 6 March 2007

Bassnectar - Mesmerizing the Ultra
LABEL: Om Records
RELEASE DATE: 24 April 2007

Battles - Mirrored
RELEASE DATE: 22 May 2007

Beirut - The Flying Cup Club
LABEL: Ba Da Bing Records
RELEASE DATE: 9 October 2007

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum
LABEL: Graveface
RELEASE DATE: 22 May 2007

Blonde Redhead - 23
RELEASE DATE: 10 April 2007

Boyz Noize - OiOiOi
LABEL: Last Gang Records
RELEASE DATE: 25 September 2007

Busdriver - Roadkill Overcoat
LABEL: Epitaph
RELEASE DATE: 30 January 2007

Caribou - Andorra
LABEL: Plug Research
RELEASE DATE: 21 August 2007

Celebration - The Modern Tribe
RELEASE DATE: 9 October 2007

Charlotte Gainsbourg - 5:55
RELEASE DATE: 24 April 2007

Copy - Hair Guitar
LABEL: Audio Dregs
RELEASE DATE: 10 April 2007

Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings
LABEL: Carpark Records
RELEASE DATE: 8 May 2007

Deerhunter - Cryptograms/Fluorescent Gray EP
LABEL: Kranky
RELEASE DATE: 6 February 2007

Dirty Projectors - Rise Above
LABEL: Dead Oceans
RELEASE DATE: 11 September 2007

Dungen - Tio Bitar
LABEL: Kemado
RELEASE DATE: 15 May 2007

El-P - I'll Sleep when You're Dead
LABEL: Definitive Jux
RELEASE DATE: 20 March 2007

Ewan Pearson - Piece Work
RELEASE DATE: 25 September 2007

Feist - The Reminder
LABEL: Cherry Tree
RELEASE DATE: 1 May 2007

Frog Eyes - Tears of the Valedictorian
LABEL: Absolutely Kosher
RELEASE DATE: 1 May 2007

We have more favorites, so many in fact, we're bringing you Part Two of the Best Albums of 2007 next week.
Related Downloads
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Le Loup
song:We Are Gods We Are Wolves
album:The Throne of the Third Heaven…
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Panda Bear
song:Comfy In Nautica
album:Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)
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song:The Art Of Letting Go
album:Save the World (Kompakt)
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song:Two Of Us
album:Save the World (Kompakt)
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Animal Collective
album:Strawberry Jam (Domino Records…
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