Friday, February 15, 2008

The 10 Best CDs of 2007 (According to Me)

10. Explosions in the Sky - All of the Sudden I Miss Everyone

All of the Sudden I Miss Everyone It seems like a lot of people were disappointed in this album, but for me this was a beautifully created effort. And if you consider the bonus remix disc when rating this album, it gets even better. There aren't a lot of bands that can weave the atmospheric soundscapes in the particular way EITS do. There's simply something unique about their approach that clicks with me. This is a great album to relax to.

9. August Burns Red - Messengers

Messengers This album has functioned as my weightlifting soundtrack for the last few months. The plethora of blast beats, breakdowns, aggressive vocals, and all around badass-ery gets the blood pumping with each listen. In a scene where bands are content to recycle the same songs over and over and listeners are content to listen to the same recycled crap over and over, hearing a metalcore album that manages to pack this much raw power into 11 songs is unbelievably refreshing. This CD is a powerful kick to the balls, in a good way.

8. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - In Glorious Times

In Glorious Times This is avant-garde, progressive, pseudo-pretentious music at its finest! From the 10 minute opener "The Companions" to the dark twang of "Angle of Repose" to the Oriental flavored "The Widening Eye", there are more genres touched by SGM than you can possibly imagine. To top it all off, the band not only plays traditional instruments, but also integrates a slew of homemade sound-making creations. This album is crazy, as well as crazy-good.

7. Dance Gavin Dance - Downtown Battle Mountain

Downtown Battle Mountain This is such a puzzling release. Initially I thought it was bland, boring crap (probably because they were signed to Rise Records). Then I actually listened to the album. Turns out it is actually pretty damn good. The soaring melodic vocals careening over the post-hardcore instrumentation is what makes this album work. The harsh vocals are a little oft-putting at times, but they'll grow on you. Surprisingly, the instrumentation is actually pretty mature, which I wasn't expecting but later realized helped make this album work. The band strikes the perfect dichotomy between Circa Survive melancholy and mid-career Dead Poetic screamo.

6. As I Lay Dying - An Ocean Between Us

An Ocean Between Us In talking about this album with people, it seems that most people either think it is a big disappointment or some of the best stuff AILD has ever done. From the album's presence in my top 10, I fall into the latter camp. AILD has upped the ante, keeping their sound heavy and maturing their songwriting techniques. People who criticize the "slower" songs I don't think really appreciate the maturity it shows the band having. Once again, As I Lay Dying has created a metalcore gem that is the pinnacle of the genre. And I dare you to find a better one-two punch than "Nothing Left" and "An Ocean Between Us".

5. Machine Head - The Blackening

The Blackening This is metal. Balls out metal. Pedal to the floor metal. Groove-filled, thrash influenced, heavy metal. Who would have thought that Machine Head would be able to top Through the Ashes of Empires? I was expecting this to be a good album, but not as ragingly aggressive as it is. Even the one pseudo-ballad, "Halo", pummels through you. Some may knock this album as being self-indulgent with the 9-10 minute length songs, but I disagree wholeheartedly. Each song is a metal epic all its own. This is a tough metal album to top and I don't know if there will be any bands to do it in the near future.

4. Holy Roman Empire - The Longue Duree

The Longue Duree I really haven't understood all of the hubub around Paramore this year. They aren't really anything more than Fall Out Boy with a female singer. Similar in some small ways to Paramore, Holy Roman Empire are a female fronted post-hardcore/punk band, but the difference is simply the level of maturity between the two bands. Whereas Paramore is a manufactured, cliched, run-of-the-mill band, Holy Roman Empire uses the years of experience that the members of the band possess to craft songs that are both heavy and friendly at the same time. This is the band that everyone should be hopping on the bandwagon for, not that lame ass Paramore band.

3. Strata - Presents the End of the World

Presents the End of the World It's hard to imagine that this is the same band that released their self titled album in 2004. No longer are Strata a hard rock band, but instead they've grown into a very Dredg inspired, versatile, and mature group. It's hard not to have your heart stolen by songs such as "Hot/Cold (Darling, Don't)" and "Coma Therapy". Strata has put all of their emotion on their collective sleeves and reinvented themselves into an infectious modern rock band.

2. Oceansize - Frames

Frames Oceansize is, quite simply, an amazing band. They have yet to release an album that is lackluster and Frames is yet another example of why this band is so good. In the course of nine songs, the band again runs the gamut of progressive rock, creating songs that have no regard for length, structure, or predetermined ideas. Letting songs run their course, no matter how long or short (the shortest song is 6:30 and there are four tracks over 10 minutes in length), Oceansize simply creates gorgeous music. Anyone unable to appreciate what this band does is really missing out.

1. Alcest - Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde

Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde It's hard to really put into words how I view this album. The easiest thing to do is describe it--shoegazer folk pop (and some would throw metal in there, but I sure don't hear much of it)--but that doesn't explain how emotionally personal this album is. Each track (the shortest being a little over 6 minutes long) is simply bathed in the beautiful melancholy of life. The combination of the wall of sound guitars, light rhythm section, acoustic guitars, and ethereal vocals produces a mix of amazing sounds that, despite their differences, go together perfectly. Alcest bleeds life into every song and this is by far the most beautiful album of 2007.

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