Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2007 Round-Up: Top 20 Albums (20-16)

Here's the first chunk of my favorite albums list. Notable exceptions include the Daft Punk live album which I'm categorizing as a compilation, and Body Riddle by Clark which is one of my favorites of the year except it came out last year. Oh well, onward we go.

20. Dragonette - Galore
I don't have the Chromeo album on this list, but I think Dragonette's brand of synth-pop does a lot of similar things. However, it's a little less Hall & Oats and a little more early-90s Madonna. I came to know Dragonette through a large number of truly excellent remixes of their singles, and didn't even know they had released an LP until I happened upon it in a search. The non-remixed versions of the tracks are really great songs all on their own. The lyrics are mostly about sexual promiscuity and other relationship toils driven with a strong female-empowerment streak and a sly sense of humor. It only slumps when it get a little too melodramatic, but those moments are few and far between. This album might get overshadowed by it's club-worthy remixes, but I strongly encourage listeners check out the source material.

19. Caribou - Andorra
This is a modern-day take on a 60s-era Zombies album if I ever heard one. It's certainly good though, full of lush samples and sweet serenades. The first time I listened to this album after buying it on CD it was a sunny late afternoon outside when it had just finished downpouring and was still misty outside. Everything was damp and the low sun cast rainbows of light through the mist and onto damp tree branches. It was a perfect marriage of sound and sorroundings. Andorra has never sounded as good to me as it did that first time, but it is able to remind me of that lovely experience everytime I put it on. I miss the "Lord Leopard" moments of the last LP, but this one does enough different things that are good that I suppose I'll let it slide.

18. M83 - Digital Shades Vol. 1
Even if this is isn't a proper follow-up to Before the Dawn Heals Us it's a fantastic deviation into more all-out ambience that the official LPs only touch on here and there. Compared to some of the other critically touted ambient music released this year, like the new Stars of the Lid, this digital-only release from M83 is quite accessible and varied in its sounds. There are even some vocals in there. Sounds are awash in one another, each overtaking the next in waves. There's a little bit of M83's trademark shoegazery going on here, but it's far from being a "noisy" album. If nothing else, I am now really excited for the next proper M83 album which is due early in 2008.

17. Pantha du Prince - This Bliss
There was a point in time this year where I looked at the music I was listening to and noticed how devoid it was of techno. After a quick look around to see what techno people seemed to like, I found this album by Pantha du Prince. It turned out to be the perfect perscription for my techno-less woes and also a nice break from the jittery blog house atmosphere in which I had encased myself. This Bliss is a serene listen. It hits the baselines, but doesn't flaunt them in your face. The melodies are filled with synth bursts and bell chimes, making the tracks glide along in perpetual motion. I'll be listening to this way after the latest blogtastic single has found its way to the mp3 graveyard.

16. Dungen - Tio Bitar
Dungen have been kind of unsung heroes for me ever since Ta Det Lugnt, and this year's follow-up to that record was unfortunately met with some mediocre critical reviews. After initially liking Tio Bitar quite a bit, I started to believe what the critics were saying, basically that this album was less exciting and more boring than Ta Det Lugnt. Time went by and I came back to it though. Now I think it might even be better than the last album. Yeah it's quieter in a lot of places, but it's not less interesting when it gets quieter. In fact it's enthralling and one of the few straight-up rock albums I really liked this year.

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