And the Best Album of 2007 Is...

Part 1 ~ Part 2 ~ Part 3 ~ Part 4

I'm tired. Bedheaded Jr. is a finicky sleeper. He usually goes for a couple hours, and then has to burp or something, and then gets upset because he's awake, and one of us has to go in to his room and rock him to sleep, because unfortunately no one told us that if you put a baby to sleep that way, then that's the only way they'll go to sleep until you straighten it out. There are lots of little lessons like that about babies that no one really sits you down and tells you about. Fortunately, one of the best decisions we made before he was born was to forgo buying one of those ridiculously rickety glider/rockers you see lined up at a typical Babies-R-Us and instead purchased an overstuffed faux-leather La-Z-Boy and put it in his room, so that when he wakes up, all we end up doing is pick him up, get him cradled in the arm, and kick back on the recliner, and usually end up sleeping that way for the rest of the night, or until he gets hot or burps again. Seriously, if anyone ever asked me for advice before becoming a parent, that's the best I could give them. Those stupid gliders are overpriced death traps; your 300 bucks are better spent getting a big fat recliner you can pass out on without worrying about the baby falling out of your arms or the whole thing tipping over sideways. Whoever gave me that advice, thank you.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was going to finally finish up this list of the best albums of 2007. Man what a mess this turned into. Maybe I should have just picked five. I don't think that would have been possible, so we move on.

Before I name the toppermost of the poppermost, indulge me as I bore you with two worthy runners-up to the title....

Patton Oswalt - Werewolves and Lollipops
Sub Pop

To be honest with you, I probably listened to this album more times in a row than any other record this year. The first time I tried listening to it, I was driving on the Eisenhower, which was a bad idea, so I'd recommend not trying to listen to this while driving unless you've heard it about twenty times or you can drive with tears in your eyes and your face contorted in a rictus of laughter. The first bit, where he riffs on KFC's "famous bowls," pretty much finished me before the thing even got halfway started. Stay tuned while he compares Bush and Cheney to Bo and Luke Duke, meets Brian Dennehy, deconstructs why Episodes 1 through 3 sucked, and tells the story of Death Bed: the Bed That Eats People.

VietNam - VietNam
Kemado Records

If you could criticize this band for any reason, the main one is that their name makes Googling them or finding them on YouTube something of a chore. That's about the only criticism I can think of; this is a great old-fashioned rock record and a solid debut. Their lead singer has a memorably whiskey-stained voice, and their sound is all kinds of swampy blue psychedelia done just right. I remember about ten years ago reading a whole lot of crap about how guitar bands were going the way of disco; the harbinger of that sound's doom was none other than Marilyn Manson, who declared "Rock Is Dead," for some mysterious reason doing so at the end of The Matrix, a film I recall engaging in little by way of a debate about the viability of the rock music genre in its preceding hour and a half. Well luckily, folks, it looks like Marilyn was wrong, not least about this point, and rock is here to stay, thanks to bands like VietNam, Dungen, Sonic Youth, Gravenhurst, Brief Candles, man the list goes on and on.

Without further ado, I present to you:

The Best Album of 2007

Picture: http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/37709-pitchfork-music-festival-2006

Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
Secretly Canadian

I may be prone to hyperbole, but I think I can safely say that Gothenburg, Sweden's Jens Lekman is poised for international superstardom. OK, maybe it won't be that easy; how successful can a skinny, lovelorn troubadour cut from the cloth of Jonathan Richman and Stephen Merritt expect to be in a world where the biggest pop stars are churned out of the rancid karaoke freakshow that is American Idol? Thing is, Jens Lekman makes it look so goddamn easy. This is a man that constructed a memorable hook out of the couplet "She said it was-all make believe / but I thought she said maple leaves." Lekman's songs are full of great, memorable lines, and damned catchy and hummable at that thanks to his Morrissey-by-way-of-Stockholm croon and ace, dreamy samples from the likes of The Left Banke. I count "If You Ever Need a Stranger (To Sing At Your Wedding)", one of the songs off of his first album, When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, among the most perfect ever written ("I know every song, you name it / by Bacharach or David / Every stupid love song that ever touched your heart / Every power ballad that ever climbed the charts"). There's an irresistible irony between the hangdog image of himself he paints in songs like "A Postcard to Nina," where he recounts having to act as a beard for a lesbian friend, and the tympani-laden bombast of album opener "And I Remember Every Kiss," while the album cover depicts him getting a heavenly haircut by hands emanating from above..not to mention him gazing longingly over some mountain sunset before getting in a red and white Cessna and taking to the sky. Yeah. This guy's got everything figured out. If you've seen him play live with his band of Swedish girls in skirts, you'd think the same damn thing.

Jens Lekman - "And I Remember Every Kiss"
Jens Lekman - "A Postcard to Nina"
From Night Falls Over Kortedala

Jens Lekman - "Maple Leaves (7" Version)"
From Oh You're So Silent Jens

Jens Lekman - "If You Ever Need a Stranger (To Sing At Your Wedding)"
From When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog

Buy Jens Lekman Albums Here

(Mmm, Swedish girls...)

As we drool over Jens Lekman's band, I want to take this time to thank you for bothering to slog through this nonsense. You're awesome. I'd also like to list all (or all that I can remember at the moment) of the other records that I enjoyed this year; this is the Honorable Mention section, and this Honorable Mention means a lot more than when you'd win an honorable mention for getting eliminated first in your grade school chess tournament, trust me.

~ Honorable Mention ~

Air - Pocket Symphony
Amiina - Kurr
Bat for Lashes - Fur and Gold
Battles - Mirrored
Black Sabbath - The Dio Years
Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation
Blonde Redhead - 23
Boris with Michio Kurihara - Rainbow
Burial - Untrue
Caribou - Andorra
Castanets - In the Vines
Cass McCombs - Dropping the Writ
The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur
Deerhunter - Cryptograms
Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond
Dr. Dog - We All Belong
Earth - Hibernaculum
El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead
Field Music - Tones of Town
John Fogerty - Revival
Gravenhurst - The Western Lands
Menomena - Friend and Foe
My Brightest Diamond - Bring Me the Workhorse
The National - Boxer
Neil Young - Chrome Dreams II; Live at Massey Hall 1971
The Occupants of Six Across - Holding Hands with Prince Vacuum (which you can download absolutely free right here)
Scout Niblett - This Fool Can Die Now
Steven Wright - I Still Have a Pony
Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters
Wooden Wand - James and the Quiet


Paul said...

Much as I love Patton Oswalt, he's a little off here. Maybe I'm just splitting hairs, but it's not "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People", but rather simply "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats". I mention this only because throughout the film, the bed in question digests a number of things other than people, including some fried chicken and a bottle of wine. And Oswalt makes no mention to any of the other fine, weird shit in the film, like the narration/soliloquy of the dude who has been imprisoned within the walls of the house for a century or so. Also note: this does not constitute a recommendation on my part. But I enjoy these sorts of oddities.

Hope you're having a great new year. And thanks for the honorable mention.

Bedheaded said...

That's funny; it just wants to eat. He was probably just jealous.

Bedheaded said...

Oh, and I forgot some Honorable Mentions. Can you believe it? I'll probably take all year remembering them.

The Aliens - Astronomy for Dogs
Phosphorescent - Pride
The Broken West - I Can't Go On, I'll Go On
Portugal. The Man - Church Mouth

Jon and Jeff both highly recommended Katapult by Circle. Man is that some tripped out shit. Like the Residents if they did death metal. Guys, it would be cool if you could expound on that. Hey Jeff: now that you have a blogspot ID, why don't you follow Paul's example and create your own blog? No pressure. You've probably got better, cooler things to do anyway.

ben r said...

Damn you listened to a lot of records this year. I'm sure you have more new albums on your honorable mention list than I heard all year.

I heard the Patton Oswalt record the other day. Funny stuff. I haven't seen "Death Bed," though.

Happy New Year. Keep up the hot blog action!

jdw23 said...

For years I had a favorite album (Pet Sounds), but not a favorite artist. That changed when I met CIRCLE. So I'm kind of a disciple here, spreadin the word.

They just put out their 7th full length THIS YEAR....yeah, they're THAT kind of band, but I have about 12 or so of their records, and I've yet to tire of them.

Anyway, Katapult is their "black metal" album. All their records sound very different from each other....some are more metal than others, some are heavy on the ambiences, some on the clatter, but it all revolves around the idea of repetition.

I recommend them all!

the cure for lycanthropy said...

Actually, Jon turned me on to Circle...if I failed to mention it, I apologize. I spent one evening at Casa De Wright and my musical tastes have been irrevocably altered (it might have been the flourescent grass, I'm a notorious lightweight). I now own nearly all Circle's albums and a host of other obscure psychedelic shit that I would never have otherwise ventured forth to procure. Thanks, Jon...via Jake's blogspot.
Jake: I've been toying with the notion of a blogspot of my own, if for no other reason than the mp3 aspect of it to put up the weirder stuff I'm listening to, which really isn't all that weird. (right now on heavy rotation:
The Field: from here we go sublime
Burial: Untrue (thanks, Jake, it rules)
Sunburned Hand of the Man: Fire Escape
Grey Daturas: Path of Niners
Gui Boratto: at the Lab stuff
Boxcutter: Glyphic
Caetano Veloso: Tropicalia
Tim Hecker: harmony in ultraviolet
Bohren and Der Club of Gore: Geisterfaust
...so, basically some weird techno and ambient noise shit to read to)
In regards to your assertion that I probably have better stuff to do I must answer: French Homework. The thing is, what I have to say is more prose poetry than contributing to the state of humanity in any way that resembles interactive discourse...so it seems more like masturbation than anything else. Besides...if it cookies, it can't be published in print, and I might have ambition someday.

G o a s t H a r p e w n r said...

Word. I'm taking seven classes (eighteen units) this semester. And I'm already tired. Drinking 'til four A.M. is just incommensurable with an early morning lecture of "Wittgenstein on Color" (the actual course name). Or killing three hours on campus to take in another lecture on Hegel. But eighteen long months from today, if I'm still alive, I'll be a doctoral candidate.

scott said...

Hey Jake, good call (good find) on the Scout Niblett. I tried to like Pocket Symphony for a long time, to no avail. keep up the most excellent blog.