Tier 3

music / / poetry / / philosophy / / -ology by Nick Courtright

Albums of Note: The Last 2007 Music Best-Of, I Promise


Propelled by striking percussion and haunting vocal samples, Untrue wraps its listener in mystery and the feeling that something very wrong is going on nearby, something very passionate and very disturbing. Repetitive but diverse, this slow-working incantation almost wants to be dance hall-ready dubstep, but escapes that label by featuring enough interlocking rhythms and ambient moments to make dancing difficult. But, more than anything, the album is just too damn emotionally-intense for the club.

Drowning absolutely everything in reverb, Untrue feels like music from the afterlife, transported directly to you for the purpose of promoting unease. But the mystery of Burial extends far beyond its lost-in-the-abandoned-factory eeriness—no one knows who Burial is. And this anonymity and distance is perfect for this album, one that never ceases to be both pleading and forlorn, lovely and despairing.

September Collective All the Birds Were Anarchists

At times almost unconscionably beautiful, the piano-driven All the Birds Were Anarchists is what happens when laptops go right—using naturally constructed sonics and an air of the haphazard, the humanness behind the album is never lost. This first release by September Collective—a side project of the more well-known Barbara Morgenstern—serves as a soothing backdrop to everything else’s endless racket, and is a piece of work that upon close inspection exceeds its delicate initial impression. And although this may be an album that won’t immediately lift you from your seat in a fit of applause, its complicated tapestry of subtleties is sure to grow on you.

Andrew Bird Armchair Apochrypha

Few in indie music today are so obviously intelligent as the Chicago-based Andrew Bird, a man whose meticulously-crafted music transmits a genuine air of intellect. Far from willing to rest on the laurels of his previous album, he’s taken this impression to a new level with the sneaky Armchair Apocrypha, an album that at first may seem too clean, but eventually grabs you by the throat and holds on until it’s too late. And that, when it comes to incredibly well-structured and intricate songs with spot-on lyricism, is a good thing.

With a slew of quotables (“thank god it’s fatal,” “time’s a crooked boat,” etc.) and a distinct awareness of the album structure as a whole, Armchair Apocrypha is an at-times-poppy and at-times-heartbreaking journey of an album. Using practically equal parts violin, piano, and guitar to drive the songs, Bird has expanded the palette of his previous albums, while intensifying the seriousness and complexity of his songs. And, because of this, he has created a work worthy of a good fifty or sixty straight-through listens. At least.

Do Make Say ThinkYou, You’re a History in Rust

Do Make Say Think have carved themselves a fine little niche in the post-rock world, gathering fans over the years with jazz-and-rock-influenced instrumental opuses. And You, You’re a History in Rust maintains this momentum and develops it with a not-to-be-underestimated sense of balance and consistency. Pretty much, if you want some instrumental music you can rock out to—and something a little more varied than Explosions in the Sky— this is your place to go.

Built around the relentlessly intense “The Universe!”—a song which blends cascading guitars with a two-drummer setup to fill a room with noise, and offer a thrashing counterpoint to the slow-burners of the rest of the album—You, You’re a History in Rust is the work of very skilled musicians doing what they do. And while they cheat on one song by using vocals (how dare they!), this is still an album you should reach for when you want to get the blood pumping, but not the mind tripping over words.

Panda Bear Person Pitch

When it comes to describing Person Pitch, you may use words like “delirious” or “psychotic” or “eastern,” or phrases like “techno blender” or “synthetic eeriness.” Hell, you may even say it’s “like a post-enlightenment Brian Wilson in a playground of crayola-colors, loops, and high-grade ecstasy.” But really, when it comes to Panda Bear’s statement album—one that ensures he’ll never again be simply an Animal Collective side project—none of those flailing attempts at description seem to grasp what’s going on.

Person Pitch is one of those albums where an entire article could be written about each track, from the bouncy “Comfy in Nautica,” to the devastating thirteeen minute shock of “Bros” (perhaps the most captivating—and seizure-inducing—song of the year), all the way through to its subtle tail end. Said simply, Person Pitch just plain kicks its listener in the gut. And while the mystery of the album was perhaps enhanced by Panda’s near-refusal to tour in support of it, that’s just fine by me—when I can remember thinking way back in March, “There’s no way in hell this isn’t going to be one of the top five albums of the year,” that’s a pretty good sign something strangely brilliant is happening.

Sunset Rubdown Random Spirit Lover

And this is quite possibly the best album of the year, as well as one of the most shockingly overlooked. You can read about it here.

* * *

And here’s a list of some other albums of 2007 it would be wrong not to mention:

MGMT‘s Oracular Spectacular
Caribou‘s Andorra
Animal Collective‘s Strawberry Jam
Of Montreal‘s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer
Kanye West‘s Graduation
Deerhoof‘s Friend Opportunitytier-3-best-music-2007.png
The National‘s Boxer
Sage FrancisHuman the Death Dance


1 Comment»

  tier3 wrote @

Note: email if you’d like any of these albums, and I can help you get them.

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