Culture Bully & DJ MDSB Present: The Best of 2007
Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: Lists, Mashups, Music.
#1) LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver
It’s not that Sound of Silver is the best album of the year musically speaking, but lyrically it’s what touched me most in 2007. Don’t get me wrong, the churning, building piano on “All My Friends” and the progressive girth of “Get Innocuous” are just two examples of James Murphy’s brilliance, but I look at the lyrics on the album as his true triumph. My initial attraction came from that of “All My Friends,” a song that shouldn’t necessarily speak to me given my age, but does nonetheless. Earlier this year it was the line, “You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan, and the next five years trying to be with your friends again” that really hit home for me when first listening to Sound of Silver. In an instant Murphy summed up my year, defining the struggle between living a passionate life with those you love while at the same time attempting to grow up and find complacency. But as the album continued to open itself up to me various other lines became important and stood out, including what is essentially the entire song for the album’s title track, “Sound of silver talk to me makes you want to feel like a teenager until you remember the feelings of a real life emotion of teenager, then you think again.” Through Murphy’s conscious decision to develop Sound of Silver as an album that spoke in autobiographical terms he proved that he is evolving as both a musician and a human, and therein lies its beauty.
DJ MDSB “All My Friends” (mp3)
(LCD Soundsystem vs. John Cale vs. Franz Ferdinand)
#2) The White Stripes Icky Thump
If The White Stripes were my family, at this point in time I’d be cursed as a nepotistic fool. If The White Stripes were a country, some would probably curse me blindly nationalistic. The past two years I have loved The Raconteurs self titled release and The Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan above all others, and this year (with one exception) I’ve gone and done it again. Icky Thump is probably a far finer album that those previously mentioned here, it waves through effects, instruments and themes that were all somewhat foreign to the band previous to this recording, and in the process the album showcases itself as another classic rock album in an ever-wavering genre.
DJ MDSB “I’m Slowly Gettin to Poppin” (mp3)
(The White Stripes vs. Rich Boy)
#3) M.I.A. Kala
Earlier this year, after listening to Oliver Wang’s review of Kala for NPR, I wrote “Kala is a direct result of globalization, a direct result of mainstream pop, rap and rock, and without those influences it would have never been made; a scary thought indeed – that there might be an up-side to the down-sides of globalization.” Therein lies the amazement of the album, it is a summation of countless influences, influences gazed at lovingly from an outsider’s view. Kala is what music will probably lean towards in the coming years as the distances that once forced separation now begin to force languages, people and ideas together; Kala is as much the future as it is the past
DJ MDSB “Paper Lip Gloss” (mp3)
(M.I.A. vs. Lil’ Mama)
#4) Justice Cross
Easily the most anticipated electronic album of the year, Cross delivered a unique stretch of tracks that blended technique and innovation, ultimately serving as a collection suitable for any dance floor.
DJ MDSB “Phantom Party and Bullshit” (mp3)
(Justice vs. Notorious B.I.G.)
#5) Lil Wayne Da Drought 3
Contending whether or not Lil Wayne is the best rapper alive really doesn’t matter, Weezy will tell you how it is no matter what you think; what does matter however is his consistency and prolificity this past year. Vibe said of the man earlier a while back, “This year Wayne has hit his stride, releasing an almost unfathomable amount of music. It seems that every morning a new mixtape, freestyle, or feature has popped onto the Web, turning the mediocre meanderings of any number of artists into must-listens,” before releasing a list of The 77 Best Lil’ Wayne Songs of 2007. What is certain about Da Drought 3 is that it’s sharp tongued, tightly knit, honestly funny and about the best thing to come out of hip hop in 2007.
DJ MDSB “Do The Upgrade” (mp3)
(Lil Wayne vs. Architecture in Helsinki)
#6) Turbo Fruits Turbo Fruits
Truly throwing this list into a mess is that of Turbo Fruits’ self titled debut, released through Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! label. Two thirds of the band also holding role in Be Your Own PET, Turbo Fruits was as much a tribute to Mudhoney-leaning grunge as Be Your Own PET was to Bad Brains’ reckless energy. Is it a better recording than In Rainbows, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead or even Graduation? Probably not; but it is a fun, exciting, rejuvenating breath of fresh air in terms of the year’s standard, ambiguously commercial releases? That, it most definitely is.
#7) Radiohead In Rainbows
The shame of In Rainbows is that the method in which it was released initially overshadowed much of what the release was about, that being that there is indeed new Radiohead material being released. Historically, I haven’t always been an honest fan of the group; like most I thoroughly consider OK Computer the peak of the group’s career, but feel that they lost me with Hail To The Chief Thief and even Amnesiac to some degree. Returning a decade after their triumph and delivering such a brilliant (rock) album is something that I don’t think anyone anticipated heading into 2007; In Rainbows entirely re-solidified the band as one of the best on earth (again).
DJ MDSB “Krispy Step” (mp3)
(Radiohead vs. Kinfolk Kia Shine)
#8) Klaxons Myths of the Near Future
It’s been a phenomenal year for the Klaxons, Myths of the Near Future being released internationally and the band subsequently keeping up a crazy touring schedule to help support their efforts. Aside from all that however is the music, which takes The Rapture’s dance-punk fringe and presents it as something fiercely volatile yet vulnerable at the same time. The brashness of tracks such as “Four Horsemen of 2012″ are balanced entirely by the beautiful simplicity of “Golden Skans.” All in all, not bad for a few young lads from England.
DJ MDSB “Can I Work It Like That” (mp3)
(Klaxons vs. Gwen Stefani & Pharrell)
#9) Kanye West Graduation
The problem with hating on Kanye West is that, for the most part, he backs up his words with some serious game. The publicity stunt that was his albums sales race against 50 Cent resulted in his favor and by the way he spoke of it at the time there was no reason why it wouldn’t have gone down that way (and in spite of all the 50 fans, he was right). Kanye had two brilliant singles and music videos out before Graduation had even leaked on the internets and as such the album settled as a bit unfulfilling after the first few listens. As time went on however it quickly aged into one of the best releases of the year and one that will likely be looked back as one of the best of this decade. Again, just like Kanye said it would.
DJ MDSB “Doe Boy Life” (mp3)
(Kanye West vs. Three 6 Mafia)
#10) El-P I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead
I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead is possibly the most underrated and overrated album on this list. Underrated in that it could easily be the best album of the year, overrated in the sense that just as easily as it could be genius it could too be just a simple bump in the road of hip hop’s history. That being said, it’s my belief that listeners will likely look back on this album as a not simply a strong piece of music but as an album that influenced the way in which artists began perceiving their poetic craft differently and altering it as such. El-P’s anything but a fresh face in the scene, but I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead serves as a single swipe that made Dr. Dre, Timbaland and Missy obsolete as producers and should forever question list makers as to his standing as one of the best MCs of the decade.
DJ MDSB “Flyentologist History Month” (mp3)
(El-P vs. Death From Above 1979)
#11) Yeah Yeah Yeahs Is Is EP
No matter how strong a fan of the band I am I can’t help but feel that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are better in moderation. 2006’s Show Your Bones glimmered at times but proved to be too much to take as an entire album. While not as sonically sharp the group’s Is Is EP took the band back to the basic idea behind its amazing debut EP and proved that the band isn’t simply better when approaching music in terms quality over quantity, but they’re one of the best of the generation.
DJ MDSB “Tambourine Down” (mp3)
(Yeah Yeah Yeahs vs. Eve & Swizz Beatz)
#12) Aesop Rock None Shall Pass
Earlier this year a local review criticized this release, claiming “None Shall Pass has been done before by Aesop. The album shows he isn’t looking to push onto new artistic ground or recreate his image.” For a year that proved insane lyricists vastly important I can’t help but reflect on this sort of review without smiling and just shaking my head. Aesop was just one of many Def Jux artists this year who helped remind everyone of why hip hop is an art and not a corporate commodity. What was important in 2007 was the idea of like minded artists putting effort into making sure that they didn’t simply repackage old material but that they made sure that they pushed their own musical boundaries; case in point: None Shall Pass.
#13) Menomena Friend and Foe
Without following detail too closely Friend and Foe could be compared roughly to Battles’ latest masterpiece Mirrored. Well…the albums aren’t anything alike, but they’ve clearly been lumped together in that category the kids are calling “indie,” so in that sense I’ll contrast the two. While Atlas was fantastic, it lacked something that I felt Friend and Foe had, (sorry, this is a made up word) upfrontidness. Mirrored experiments with a balance between being passive and hostile, all the while however it fails to entirely grasp the listener. Not to the same extent as something such as Stars of the Lid, but Mirrored flirts with becoming a mere collection of sounds that can slip easily from the mind’s focus…plain and simple, I don’t think the same can be said of Friend and Foe.
DJ MDSB “Friend & Fergie” (mp3)
(Menomena vs. Fergie & Ludacris)
#14) Deerhoof Friend Opportunity
As unsurprising a thought as it might be – Deerhoof’s latest, and most easily accessible album, may very well be the band’s most complete. The band’s numerous previous efforts have been aggressive in nurturing passionate and creative music, but eventually neglected the listener in its search for substance. Those same sentiments cannot be said of Friend Opportunity however. The album conclusively sounds as something that was recorded with the listener in mind; an intent, it appears, that Deerhoof may have been better off for if only it had made the same attempt ages ago.
DJ MDSB “Believe Over Here” (mp3)
(Deerhoof vs. Young Jeezy & Bun B)
#15) Brother Ali The Undisputed Truth
The same man that would later play to his home town as the opening act for iconic MCs Ghostface Killah and Rakim fell prey to the media’s eye earlier this year for reasons that possibly had little to do with the words and music on his latest album The Undisputed Truth. While it was great that widespread outlets took interest to the Minneapolis MC it seemed that such interest was a bit slanted, Esquire even hyping Ali as “the world’s best albino Muslim rapper.” While not a single-heavy album, The Undisputed Truth spoke of Ali’s journey, his struggles and his triumphs – often citing his relationships as guiding lights the record proved that Minneapolis hip hop is more than just Atmosphere and that Ali is more than just a sideshow attraction.
[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]