In ’07, indie rock’s most grandiose and dramatic band returned, grander and more dramatic than ever before. With its sweeping choruses and lifting arrangements, Neon Bible is a true album, consistent in quality, feeling, and theme. As far as quality goes, tracks like “Neon Bible,” “Keep the Car Running,” and “Intervention” are on par with their fines work, while the awe-inspiring swell of “(Antichrist Television Blues)” is not only their most well crafted song, but one of the best songs of the decade. The theme and feeling of the album, one of loss, foreboding, fear and trepidation, but not without a sense of hope, carries throughout the record. Sure, Neon Bible might blow the bad times out of proportion, but not without harping on the good that may come.
Don’t Miss: Intervention, (Antichrist Television Blue), Keep the Car Running, Neon Bible, Ocean of Noise, No Cars Go
4) Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings
Who would have thought an album influenced by 8-bit Nintendo samples and frozen computer blips would also be the most sincerely fun album of ’07? Shockingly, Spiderman of the Rings is just that; a tour-de-force of wacky, fractured dance music. Deacon is a bit like Willy Wondk, a cracked genius inviting the listener to tour his factory of high pitched whines, cat synths, and Saturday morning cartoon character samples. Sure, it’s a little scary at first, but if allowed, Spiderman of the Rings will coax you into a glass elevator of sound and invite you to a place where everyone plays drums and sings.
Don’t Miss: The Crystal Cat, Wham City, Trippy Green Skull, Snake Mistakes, Pink Batman, Jimmy Roche
3) Against Me! – New Wave
It’s getting really hard to defend these guys against the increasingly loud “Sellout!” shouts coming from the punk community, what with their MTV commercials and their upcoming tour with stadium all-stars and ticket price increase inducing Foo Fighters.
Perhaps the best weapon in Against Me!’s arsenal against these naysayers is New Wave, the best punk / rock / punkrock record of the year. Butch Vig’s grungy gloss not only gives the Florida punks more push, but takes nothing from their give-em-hell attitude and their “stand for something” attitude. From the opening notes of “New Wave,” its obvious that all the commercials and tours and record gloss and major label singings don’t mean a god damn thing; New Wave is the sound of a band hitting their stride, and challenging the rest of the world to keep up.
Don’t Miss: New Wave, Thrash Unreal, Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart, Piss and Vinegar, The Ocean, Americans Abroad
2) LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
When Ben Folds said “everybody know / it sucks to grow up,” he did it with his tongue in cheek as a catchy one-liner for a piano ballad. When James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem say the same thing, the spend an entire album doing it, and making one of the most heart-wrenching dance albums of all time in Sound of Silver. There’s a lot to get down on here; tunes like “Watch the Tapes,” “Get Innocuous,” and “Us v Them” are all so tight and dance floor ready that you’d be shocked to hear it was made by people and not machines. Murphy’s dry wit is still present on “North American Scum,” a track that both pays tribute to this fine section of the hemisphere while taking the piss out of the more electro-friendly folks in Europe.
However, it’s the two song movement of “Someone Great” and “All my Friends” that make this record such an emotional triumph and stylistic statement. The former, an 80s influenced track about dealing with loss while the world keeps spinning, is as poetic and accurate a depiction of suffering one will find in pop record. The latter, a piano lead locomotion of a song that is the best single of the year, is a melancholy diary entry about growing old and losing touch with those we came up with and, in essence, ourselves. Lines like “you spend the first five years trying to get with the plan / and the next five years trying to see all your friends again” cut to the bone of the reluctant adults everywhere. Sound of Sliver is a painful, accurate, and beautiful success of an album, one that will stay with you, long after it’s left the CD player.
Don’t Miss: North American Scum, Someone Great, All my Friends, Watch the Tapes, Us v Them, New York I Love you but You’re Brining me Down
1) El-P – I’ll Sleep When Your Dead
2007 was not a good year. The globe is heating at an alarming rate, yet those in a position to make a change are too busy debating gay marriage and lambasting misguided pop stars to make a difference. The most powerful country in the world is losing a war and losing friends around the world, turning themselves into an international rallying point for the evil of the world, yet the bigger concern seems to be that there will be no new TV shows next season. It is a dark time, dressed up in electronic denial; we would hear the horns of Gabriel if not for the Ipod ear buds in our ears.
None of this is lost on El-Producto, the author of this year’s most brilliant record, the pitch black I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead. El-P, for better or worse, refuses to turn away from the realities of the world. Instead, he looks into the gaping maw of the oncoming destruction and screams at it, both in defiance of what is to come and as a prophetic wake-up call to the rest of us. To call this a rap record is to belittle what El-P has made; it’s a mirror being held to our faces, forcing us to look what is coming, whether we are ready for it or not.
As compelling and dark as the album is, it wouldn’t be nearly as impressive if El-P wasn’t a top notch producer and rhyme-sayer. He lyrics, as dark and dense as the front page of the New York Times, flow in and out of the songs, not caring about where they fall as much as how they sound and frame the song. His ADD flow is sharp when entwined with his beats; his work on “Drive,” “EMG,” and “Up all Night” is as dark and twisted as anything else in the album; so complex and grand a puzzle that it takes multiple listens before you figure out there is no answer, that El-P holds all the keys,
The few guests on the record all give their best for El-P. The kooks from the Mars Volta, who produced the epic “Tasmania Pain Coaster,” find their focus for the first time in years, while label mate Aesop Rock lends his syrupy slick flow to the awesome “Run the Numbers.” But perhaps the most telling and brilliant moment on the record is found, not surprisingly, at the end of things. “Poisenville Kids No Wins/Reprise (This must be our Time)” produced by El and Cat Power, is the last stage, acceptance. Because in El-P’s world, there is no hope, only acceptance of what we must all go through together, for better or worse. “If I have you live / you have to live / weather you like this shit or not.”
Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe we can still save ourselves, but you’ll have to forgive El-P for being a pessimist. As it stands now, I’ll Sleep When Your Dead is the perfect album for modern life; dark, perverse, hard, and honest. If the world ended tomorrow, this would be the album that was played the day after, a giant "I told you so" and "what now," addressed to the wretched survivors and the roaches.