Friday, December 21, 2007

Best Albums of 2007

Welcome to the very first (and hopefully not the last) OngakuBaka Top 10 albums of the year list. Before we jump right in to our picks, I’ll explain the guidelines for the selection process.

1. These records are in no particular order.
2. No live records, “Best of” collections, box sets, or re-issues. The albums chosen had to be material released in 2007. Yes, we know that Black Mountain record is awesome but it doesn’t drop until 2008, so it didn’t make the cut.
3. Like our top 5 album covers of ’07 list, this is a joint effort. If Dan and I didn’t agree that an album deserved to make the cut, it didn’t make the list.
4. And yes, we know we cheated a little.

Things like this always come with criticism, but don’t badger us because you’re pissed that we left that shitty Interpol record off of the list, or a variety of other things that didn’t deserve the praise that they received this year.

With that said, here are our honorable mentions for 2007:

Pissed Jeans - Hope for Men
White Stripes - Icky Thump
Health - s/t
Jesu – Conqueror
High On Fire - Death Is This Communion
Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum
Adult. - Why Bother?
The Ponys - Turn the Lights Out
His Name Is Alive - XMMER
Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
The National - Boxer
Radiohead - In Rainbows
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond
Phosphorescent – Pride
Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals
The Ohsees - Sucks Blood
Marnie Stern - In Advance of the Broken Arm
Caribou – Andorra
Frode Haltli - Passing Images

…and now without further ado, the top 10 records of 2007:

1. Liars - Liars

I don't even know what to say about this album, other than it rules. Any fan of the band knows that each release has sounded drastically different from the last. Their sound (for this album) has progressed into a perfect mixture of all previous albums, with solid song structure, strangely danceable songs, ghostly vocals, organ/synth showcases, and, of course, the usual experimentation. A good variety of tracks here.

2. Numbers - Now You Are This

...similar to their 2005 release in ways, but with a louder Krautrock influence. Sounds a little like the huggable vocals/guitar rhythms of Deerhoof mixed with a louder version of the incessant buzz heard on any Broadcast album. You'll like it a little more after each listen.

3. The Go - Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride

The bands coming out of Detroit these days seem to be perpetually stuck in the year 1969, which is just fine by me. Howl On the Haunted Beat You Ride is a fun little throwback pop rock record, and most of these songs wouldn't sound out of place on a Nuggets compilation. This is some great warm weather music, and definitely worth a download.

4. Raccoo-oo-oon - Behold Secret Kingdom

This album has the potential to be the best psych-whatever album of 2007. With droning guitars, blaring saxophone, and reverb drenched vocals, Raccoo-oo-oon's sound has developed into something truly interesting. Imagine Comets on Fire, Acid Mothers Temple, and a harsher Animal Collective in a 3-way of epic proportions. If you're looking for an album that is capable of holding your attention, or for something that makes you feel incredibly badass while cruising in your car, than this album has your melted face written all over it.

5. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam + Panda Bear - Person Pitch

Warning: Before you listen to this album, throw out every expectation you may have. Ignore previous albums and side projects. There's no doubt this is AC, and standing alone, this album is wonderful, but listeners expecting to hear something that lives up to the greatness of Feels (for example: me) will be thoroughly disappointed. I'm currently on my second spin of the record, and, fortunately, it is already growing on me. It almost sounds like an adolescent version of Feels, with a strange innocence to both it's lyrics as well as it's sound.

Download Strawberry Jam

According to, "The third solo album fron Animal Collective's Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) is completely unlike its predecessor, as it is both upbeat and electronic, sounding like a spacey, 21st century Beach Boys album."

Download Person Pitch.

6. King Khan & The Shrines - What Is?! + Mark Sultan - The Sultanic Versus

The problem with the entire garage rock genre is that most bands are derivative as hell; completely content with stealing some riffs from The Sonics and then calling it a day. King Khan and his many side projects may not be the most original music you'll ever hear, but Khan is light years ahead of his contemporaries. He seems to be heavily influenced by not only British invasion R&B acts like The Kinks and The Animals, but groups like Funkadelic and Sly Stone, as well as Motown. Overall this record (and the same goes for King Khan's 2004 release with The Shrines, Mr. Supernatural) is a lot of fun and really catchy. If you haven't already, make sure to download The King Khan & BBQ show record I posted a few months back too.

Mark Sultan (a.k.a BBQ of the King Khan & BBQ Show) is gradually becoming one of my favorite songwriters in quite a while. His blend of rock & roll, punk, R&B, and surf music is nearly flawless. The one man band has delivered another rock solid album that, although isn't quite as good as his work with King Khan, is entirely killer.

7. A.A. Bondy - American Hearts

Talk about a huge surprise, this album came out of nowhere and haven't been able to stop listening to it for almost a week now. A.A. Bondy is Scott Bondy, former frontman of the mildly successful and utterly forgettable band Verbena. Apparently the guys in Verbena were really holding Scott down because his first solo outing, American Hearts is absolutely incredible. Bondy plays well crafted folk tunes with sparse arrangements that really allow his great lyrics to be at the forefront of the songs. I could not recommend this record enough, it's really the sort of record that you could play for almost anyone and they'd enjoy it. Download this immediately and then go out and buy ten copies and give them to your friends.

8. A Place to Bury Strangers - A Place to Bury Strangers

Shoegaze of the late 80s and early 90s is back with a vengeance. A Place to Bury Strangers are the self-proclaimed loudest band in New York, and I doubt there is anyone out there who would dispute their claim. The band's frontman custom builds his own "Supersonic Fuzz Gun", "Interstellar Overdriver", and "Total Sonic Annihilation" pedals which are used by bands such as Lightning Bolt, Wilco, and TV on the Radio. What makes the band so great is that they aren't loud for the sake of being loud. Underneath the layers of reverberated sound is some incredibly catchy tunes. Their self-titled debut is one of the best, if not THE best release of 2007, and an essential addition to my record collection.

Download A Place to Bury Strangers

9. The Besnard Lakes - Are the Dark Horse

It's hard to deny how good this band actually is. Their comparisons to Arcade Fire was an immediate turn-off for me and I never bothered to download the album (well that and the fact that I would always mistakingly read their name as "The Barenaked Ladies"). Well, after seeing the badass album cover, I thought I would give it a try, and this is really good stuff. A mixture of The Beach Boys, Olivia Tremor Control, and Black Mountain would be more appropriate comparisons. Just because they are from Montreal, have a piano, and are led by a married couple, doesn't mean they deserve to be compared to such a band. With their more inviting vocals and catchier hooks, they have solidified Arcade Fire as an incredibly boring band. So if you're a part of the Arcade Fire bandwagon, hop off that one and head over to The Besnard Lakes'. The track "Devastation" makes this album well worth the listen.

10. Boris with Michio Kiruhara - Rainbow

After getting a chance to see Boris and Michio down in Ohio, I started listening to this album pretty religiously. Only a few tracks pack the punch of releases such as Pink, Heavy Rocks, and Akuma No Uta, but Boris and Michio Kurihara have created a well-polished psych rock album in the vein of Michio's band Ghost.

Download Rainbow


Joel Lindelof said...

Nice. My favorite album of the year is hands down "Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride". Gald it made your list.

Anonymous said...

American Hearts is down. any chance you can re-up?
thanks, and great post, as always.

Unknown said...

Can you please put the Besnard link back up?