So before I launch into the topic promised by the title, please watch this until the 45 second mark. You do not need to enjoy American football in the slightest in order to find it hilarious. I promise.
Anyway, this was a horrible year for music. In order to fill out a list of top albums of the year I needed to include a couple of things I've only had for about a week. Maybe nothing new sounds good because I am getting old, or maybe nothing new sounds good because it is bad. But regardless, don't interpret that as damnation via faint praise. Some of this shit is pretty amazing. And if you're looking for one Best of 2007 list without fuckin' Radiohead or Modest Mouse on it, you're home, brother.
10. Qui, Love's Miracle – To be honest, this album isn't terribly noteworthy. But in a very weak year, adding David Yow as a frontman is more than enough to carry the day. There are a couple of pretty ferocious moments here.
9. PJ Harvey, White Chalk – Overproduced, but she's really on a roll. We sat through a couple of middling albums and now I feel like the payoff begins…
8. Battles, Mirrored – The addition of vocals (or whatever you'd call this) really doesn't do anything for me. This is easily my least favorite Battles recording.
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A middling Battles album, however, is like Superman with the flu – it's still better than 99% of what you'll find.
7. Future of the Left, Curses – McLusky it ain't, but it'll do.
6. Dinosaur Jr, Beyond – This really shouldn't be any good, and when I first heard of the possibility of a new album a few years ago….let's just say I (and the rest of the world) cringed and prepared for the worst. Maybe it played the expectations game well, because it sounds downright decent.
5. Nine Inch Nails, Year Zero – It's as good as With Teeth was bad. That says it all.
4. Saul Williams w/ Trent Reznor, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust – An all-time great title over a bizarre, unlikely collaboration that has to be heard to be believed.
3. Shellac, Excellent Italian Greyhound – Long-awaited, and in some ways disappointing. It's not end-to-end solid like we've come to expect. Very uneven. "Genuine Lulubelle" is probably their worst song ever, and "Be Prepared" may be the best. It's worth it, even just for the high points.
2. Parts and Labor, Mapmaker – You may need to be a musician in order to care about this one – maybe even a drummer – but this is one of those albums that leaves you feeling disoriented, unsure of whether you're lying on the floor or the ceiling. I'm not really sure where something like this comes from. My best guess is drugs and lots of practice time.
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1. Queens of the Stone Age, Era Vulgaris – This is essentially the Wu-Tang Clan of white people music. The lineup is never the same and no two albums sound much alike. I still miss Nick – the screaming, mic-swallowing id balancing out Josh's stoner-mellowness – but this is an album concept as strange and distant as it is effective. It may sound like AM radio played through a coffee can, but it works.