Tim Avery’s Top Seven Albums of 2007
Seven albums struck me as a good number for 2007; it also happened to coincide with the number of albums I could not leave off my “best of” list. Here they are in order:
1. Neon Bible, by The Arcade Fire.
If Bruce Springsteen were reincarnated as an Indie-rocker, and brought a chorus of children along to record, he might capture what The Arcade Fire has managed to on Neon Bible. This album is more significant in scope and meaning that anything since Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, and I would argue that it will be more influential, so long as enough people listen to it. It is one of a very few albums I would dub must haves.
2. The Shepherd’s Dog, by Iron and Wine.
Sam Beam may be the most image-driven songwriter in America. The revolving-door of characters on this album stupefies the listener. Beam creates worlds within The Shepherd’s Dog, worlds almost Flannery O’Connor-esque in their brooding religious tone. The album also marks a drastic sound-shift towards what might be called world-music. The drums and instrumentation are more encompassing, difficult to swallow at first for longtime Iron and Wine aficionados, but worth enjoying to the last note.
3. Sometimes Things Just Disappear, by Polar Bear Club.
The long-awaited follow-up to the hands-down best EP I’ve ever heard—The Redder the Better—is packed with complex and powerful songs reflecting the internal state of one Jimmy Stadt. Whereas The Redder the Better roiled with fist-thrown anthems and socially-conscious stabs at the state of America, Stadt reached within to produce an album screaming with Rivers-Cuomo-a-la-Pinkerton-esque personal purgation. Fist-raising fans may react indifferently to this masterpiece, but it’s real and the words nearly choke you, and that makes for an amazing album.
4. Get Better, by Lemuria.
Another long-awaited full-length from an upstate New York band, Lemuria’s Get Better has simply done what its title claims: gotten better. This trio has played more shows in basements and houses, added more to the upstate underground scene through booking, hosting, creating and maintaining a label (Art of The Underground), and rocked harder, and cuter, than anyone I know while doing it. They’ve built not only a band, but a community, and improved their songs, their playing, and their town’s (Buffalo, N.Y.) scene in the process. This album seethes pop-punk with tenacious lyrics sung by Sheena, Jason and Alex in wonderful harmonies. Perfect for a drive, for a sing-along, or for a show; get Get Better!
5. The Flying Club Cup, by Beirut.
Bigger and brassier than his first full-length effort, Zach Condon brought us this huge-sounding and strange album in September, 2007. I can’t get enough of it; Condon just pries open lost treasure-chests of European folk, and somehow melds them with pop-styling. I can listen endlessly to this album.
6. Changing the Wheel, by White York.
Buffalo, New York-based White York describes themselves as punk, soul, and country. Changing the Wheel is a throwback to the golden days of Against Me!, with Alex Douglas and Matt Cole trading raspy, emphatic lyrics over a twanged-out Telecaster that just fits marvelously. The sound quality is solid as it comes for a DIY pressing, and the lyrics are painfully insightful, sometimes scathing commentary on a country gone mad. Simply put, I LOVE this band, and this album is as real and raw as they come.
7. Presents, by Sakes Alive!!
Although they formed in August, and traded drummers last month after recording this demo, Sakes Alive!! are already making huge waves in the punk and post-hardcore waters. Chris Vandeviver’s lyrics are image-heavy, thought-provoking, passionate and poetic all at once. The songs are Chris’ genius set to an edgier-than-pop form of punk. I can’t wait for something more from these guys, but as it stands I have to give them a ton of credit for throwing these three powerful tracks out there for us. Take a listen to “Our Mistress the Sea,” on their Myspace, and you’ll be flat-out steamrolled. Thank you, and please… give us more!
—Timothy C. Avery