A Re-Examination of 2007

Those colorful leaves and the cool breezes signify more than just a change in season for me - the Year End List Season is almost upon us! In about a month every music blog lurking in cyberspace will begin posting a run down of the 2008 albums that you just can’t live without. Sensory overload and empty pockets notwithstanding, it’s a great time to be a music fan - as all of your favorite online resources will help you fill in the gaps with everything you might’ve missed out on the first time around.

But, as beneficial as they are, these lists are all lacking one key ingredient: hindsight. Often Year-End lists are hastily compiled and are heavy on trendier music that won’t necessarily stand the test of time. So, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the list of my own 20 favorites from last year and see what I would do differently now that I’ve lived with these records for the past 10-22 months. Somewhat surprisingly, there are only a few minor changes that I would make:

20. Deer Tick - War Elephant

War Elephant remains a startling debut from (the very young) John McCauley’s song vehicle, but more for several truly breathtaking songs than the whole lot of them together. Much promise is shown, and I expect Deer Tick to land much higher in the future, but as an album War Elephant would be just shy of making a revised list.

19. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
18. Okkervil River - The Stage Names
17. Band Of Horses - Cease To Begin

These albums would remain toward the bottom of my Top 20, where they were last year. Each still get the occasional listen, but I‘d swap Band of Horses and Andrew Bird - the former coming across as a somewhat pale imitation to their excellent 2006 debut, the latter’s gorgeous songs and arrangements still resonating after almost 2 years.

16. Battles - Mirrored
15. The Roadside Graves - No One Will Know Where You’ve Been

Sonically, Battles and the Graves could hardly be further apart, but they remain bunched together here on the list. The Roadside Graves have recently signed on to release the follow up on Autumn Tone Records, and judging from the demos that are going around, it sounds to be very promising.

14. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd’s Dog

An unfortunate casualty to the revised list, and one that I hesitate to make as I‘m a huge fan of everything Sam Beam does. But after a year or so of listening to Beam’s most challenging work yet, I find a bit more restraint would have served a handful of these songs better - I’m looking at you, “Carousel”, in particular.

13. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime

I just spun this the other night, late at night and with my headphones, and was still taken by the wide open electronic soundscapes of Axel Willner. Absolutely deserving of its spot.

12. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

Though this year’s Skeletal Lamping hasn’t grabbed me, last year’s schizo-pop masterpiece is still a daring, rewarding listen. And damn if “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” isn’t one of the best songs of the past few years.

11. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

There’s a handful of top notch singles on the sophomore album from Canada’s most known indie-rockers, but overall I find myself skipping through a bunch of the murkier album tracks. Still in the 20, but down a few notches.

10. Phosphorescent - Pride
9. The National Lights - The Dead Will Walk, Dear
8. Burial - Untrue
7. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
6. A.A. Bondy - American Hearts
5. The National - Boxer
4. Handsome Furs - Plague Park
3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
2. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
1. Panda Bear - Person Pitch

After re-examining my list, I can safely say that I wouldn’t touch my Top 10. Those were my 10 favorites 11 months ago, and they remain so. And I’m happy with the order too.

So that leaves War Elephant and The Shepherd’s Dog out…..but what slides in? Well, that would be Jens Lekman’s Night Falls Over Kortedala, which I didn’t hear in its entirety until late in 2007, and The Twilight Sad’s Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters, which was excellent last year and has only grown since.

The new list:

20. Band Of Horses - Cease To Begin
19. Okkervil River - The Stage Names
18. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocryhpa
17. Battles - Mirrored
16. The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters
15. The Roadside Graves - No One Will Know Where You’ve Been
14. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
13. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime
12. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
11. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
10. Phosphorescent - Pride
9. The National Lights - The Dead Will Walk, Dear
8. Burial - Untrue
7. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
6. A.A. Bondy - American Hearts
5. The National - Boxer
4. Handsome Furs - Plague Park
3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
2. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
1. Panda Bear - Person Pitch

Pop Headwound is going on vacation for a week or 2 - we’re moving this weekend and I’m not sure when I’ll be up and running again. Talk to you soon though….
---------------------------------------

6 comments:

Chuy said...

Awww... I'm a bit disappointed to see War Elephant drop off. I have to say I absolutely love the entire album (which you turned me on to). I agree that some songs are much stronger than others, as I could listen to Ashamed on repeat for a couple hours a day, but I still absolutely love it.


Great post!

James said...

I'm glad I introduced you to Deer Tick. Yeah - tough call on that one, but I find War Elephant to be 4 or 5 amazing songs and just as many that I skip every time now. When I listen it's stright to "ashamed" or "Dirty Dishes" or "Diamond Rings" and a few others.

Honestly though, I think the guy has tremendous upside and I can't wait to hear what he does next....

Anonymous said...

good idea to revisit your old list!
it's nice to be reminded of last year's jewels...

Martin said...

Outstanding post PopHead. Your writing and music selection continues to be melifluous and soulful. As well as transcendent and magnanimous. I love you, and hope to one day bask in your effervescent glow.

James said...

Mom?

Wayne said...

Hey James,

Good luck with the move.
Having just moved recently I know
it is a big job.
Look forward to reading your words upon your return.