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Webcuts Top 20 Albums of 2007

Craig’s Picks   Caleb’s Picks
1. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
(Merge)        

Spoon

The only thing wrong with this album is that there is nothing wrong with this album.
[ Full Review ]

  1. Jacob Golden – Revenge Songs
(Independent/Sawtooth)        

Jacob Golden - Revenge Songs

It has been a long time between drinks, but Jacob Golden’s second album was worth every minute of its five year gestation.
[ Full Review ]

2. Sloan- Never Hear The End Of It
(Yep Roc)              

Sloan - Never Hear The End Of It

The albums ironic title reflects the intense musical content of 30 songs squeezed into one cd, and while the thought does come to mind from time to time, when you start to get sick of one song, it’s already out the door and another has started. Amongst these 30 songs are some of the classic Sloan gems you’ve come to expect, with a freshness that belies album number 8 from these pop genius Nova Scotians.

  2. Interpol – Our Love to Admire
(Capitol/EMI)              

Interpol - Our Love to Admire

“Mammoth”, “Pioneer to the Falls”, “Pace is the Trick”, “Wrecking Ball” — the titles on the sleeve were not so subtle hints to the nature of the tracks within. These are huge, epic songs built around the best rhythm section in the business, incredible dual chiming guitar assaults, moody synth and piano coupled with Paul Banks singular voice and obtuse lyrics.

     
3. Ted Leo and The Pharmacists – Living With The Living
(Touch & Go)              

  Ted Leo and The Pharmacists - Living With The Living

For heart on the sleeve roots rock reggae with a finger pointing political pounce, Ted Leo never fails to disappoint. Sometimes a little
too earnest for his own good, his intentions can’t be faulted and his enthusiasm is unbounded. Living With The Living is the sound of one man still kicking against the pricks.

  3. Tegan and Sara – The Con
(Vapor/Sire)              

  Tegan and Sara - The Con

Another long awaited disc, the fifth from Sara and Tegan Quinn, was filled with more hooks than a fishing tackle box, juxtaposed by tales of growing pains and dysfunctional relationships. [ Full Review ]

     
4. Okkervil River – The Stage Names
(JagJaguwar)

 

  Okkervil River - The Stage Names

At first listen, The Stage Names left me unimpressed, and in as much as I was probably wanting Black Sheep Boy Part 2, this was never going to be the case. From sullen strums to dancehall stomps, repeated listenings were to bear fruit, and as Will Sheff sang “what gives this mess some grace unless it kicks, man” it’s a sentiment that holds true from start to glorious sea-shanty finish.

 
4. Shout Out Louds – Our Ill Wills
(Merge/Dew Process)

 

  Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills

Yes Shout Our Loud’s sophomore release borrows heavily from the holy trifecta of ’80s UK alternative bands (i.e. those beginning with C, N and S) but it’s also informed by the rich history of Swedish indie music, adding lush orchestration and layered percussion (credit must be given to Björn Yttling’s excellent production), resulting in one of the years finest pop records.

     
5. The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
(Sub Pop)

 

  The Shins - Wincing The Night Away

The experimental approach to songwriting was the key to the success of this album. Where a band could’ve easily recreated the sounds that had brought them to the level of popularity they now enjoyed, The Shins decided to throw all that aside and take a chance, that when viewed from the other side, still sounds undeniably like The Shins, and undeniably a perfect pop record.

 
5. Anthony Reynolds – British Ballads
(Hungry Hill/Spinney)

 

  Anthony Reynolds - British Ballads

The debut album from the former Jack and Jacques lead singer (with help from friends such as Dot Allison, Vashti Bunyan and Colin Wilson) is a plush affair of sweeping ballads replete with piano, beautiful strings and reverb drenched guitar. Odes to life in rural England, (“Country Girl”, “A Quiet Life”), childhood (“The Disappointed”) and breaking up, (“Song of Leaving”) are among its treasures.

     
6. Faker – Be The Twilight
(EMI)              

  Faker - Be The Twilight

Faker’s LA album was less a distraction and more a distillation of the ground covered and material written since their debut. There’s no filler or wasted moments. Nathan Hudson chooses his words carefully, the self-proclaimed ‘addicted romantic’ now finding himself on the rails, looking for the positive amongst the negative and channelling it into a captivating listen.

  6. The Concretes – Hey Trouble
(Licking Fingers)              

  The Concretes - Hey Trouble

I know I’m in the minority but I actually preferred Hey Trouble to Taken by Trees’s Open Field (Victoria Bergsman’s, The Concrete’s ex-lead singer solo project). Lisa Milberg takes over lead vocal duties with aplomb and the shift from twee 60’s folk to a more new wave, rockier direction pays off.

     
7. PJ Harvey – White Chalk
(Island)              

  PJ Harvey - White Chalk

PJ Harvey has reinvented herself so many times now that you’re never sure what you’re going to get one album to the next. White Chalk is her piano album, and it’s at times a bleak, meditative listen. The simple instrumentation finding an uneasy balance with Polly’s forceful, haunting voice. Lyrically, it’s more dark introspection that you’ve come to expect with a more pastoral, Victorian edge.

  7. Feist – The Reminder
(Polydor)              

  Feist The Reminder.jpg

iPod and eBay ad overexposure aside: “1234” is still a brilliant pop song. What’s more it’s joined on The Reminder by a dozen others. True they don’t all reach the heights of that bittersweet number, but they do demonstrate how much of a musical chameleon Leslie Feist is. Pop, jazz, folk, country and rock are all handled with adroitness, and sung with her amazing sultry voice.

     
8. The Scare – Chivalry
(OK! Relax/Below Par)              

  The Scare - Chivalry

One wonders what this album could’ve sounded if the band hadn’t been so laced with whisky, but even if Chivalry was to lose half it soused charm, it still would sound 10 times better than any other punk rock band out there.

  8. The Honeys – Star Baby
(Origin/MGM)              

  The Honeys - Star Bar

It’s been 19 long years since Perth/Sydney siders The Honey’s 1988 debut Goddess (disregarding the splendid Ultimo compilation) and 16 since they originally called it quits, but it may’ve well have been yesterday for the freshness of the songs here. Star Baby fused folk, rock and country with Andrea Croft’s angelic voice and tales of heartbreak.

     
9. John Doe – A Year In The Wilderness
(Yep Roc)              

  John Doe - A Year In The Wilderness

Ex-X frontman, turned alt-country troubadour, John Doe finesses another slice of weary Americana fused with a little spit and spite that you’d come to expect from this well-journeyed songwriter. With help from the likes of Aimee Mann and Jill Sobule, A Year in the Wilderness sounds a more appealing prospect than you initially thought.

  9. The National – Boxer
(Beggars Banquet)              

  The National - Boxer

Sitting somewhere between the despondency of Joy Division and the late night melancholy of The Tindersticks, Boxer is the fourth and most accomplished album from Brooklyn’s The National. Matt Berninger’s gravelly baritone and his often inscrutable lyrics provide a mesmerising focal point against a backdrop of opulent orchestral rock.

     
10. Grinderman – Grinderman
(Mute)              

  Grinderman - Grinderman

Taken from the perspective of four guys sitting in a room, trying to make the antithesis of the record they normally would, Grinderman is a success. A shift to a more abrasive sound permeates, but the lapse in character, when the men stop trying to be boys, is where the rewards here lie. It’s a mixed bag, but an enjoyable listen all the same.

  10. Damn Arms – The Live Artex
(Unikron)              

  Damn Arms - The Live Artex

Melbourne’s Damn Arms are damn hard to categorise. Rock or dance? Punk or post-punk? New wave or synth-pop? In the end the point is moot because with The Live Artex they released one of the best albums of the year regardless of genre. A bass heavy mix of rock and electronica that’s so sleazy you’ll be heading for the shower by the album’s end.

     
Honourable Mentions
 
Honourable Mentions
     
Interpol – Our Love To Admire
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
Electrelane – No Shouts, No Calls
The Honeys – Star Baby
  Coco Electrik – Army Behind The Sun
Stars – In Our Bedroom After the War
Beruit – The Flying Cup Club
1990s – Cookies
LCD Sound System – Sound of Silver
     
Top 3 Concerts of 2007
 
Top 3 Concerts of 2007
     
The Police
Wembley Arena, London
(20.09.2007)              

The unexpected return of one of the most dynamic bands of the 80s (a reformation only eclipsed by that of the legendary Led Zeppelin), set the scene for one of most amazing live performances this year. Their tour may have generated the most cash for any live artist this year but it was also the one that set aside any doubt they were doing it just for the money. Like proud parents going through old photo albums, The Police tore through their greatest hits while we stood and applauded, the songs sounding as fresh and vibrant as they did in the 80
s.

Sloan
40 Watt Club, Athens, GA
(15.05.2007)
The Jesus and Mary Chain
Brixton Academy, London
(07.09.07)

  Faker
The Tivoli, Brisbane
(29.11.07)              

The highlight came near the end of Faker’s firery indie rock set: mid-way through hit “Hurricane”, after nearly an hour of stalking and running around the stage singer Nathan Hudson climbed one of the three metre high speaker stacks before jumping off, much to the behest of the security. That, ladies and gentlemen, is entertainment.

Ben Kweller

The Zoo, Brisbane
(23.10.07)
Shout Out Louds
The Zoo, Brisbane
(29.09.07)

     

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