Cuckoo's Eleven - The Best of 2007

 

Top Eleven Songs of 2007:
Download Best of 2007 iMix

  1. Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks

  2. Amy Winehouse - Rehab

  3. Radiohead - 15 Step

  4. Modest Mouse - Dashboard

  5. Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb

  6. The Apples in Stereo - Energy

  7. The Shins - Phantom Limb

  8. Bloc Party - Hunting for Witches

  9. Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent

  10. The Bravery - Time Won't Let Me G

  11. Kanye West - Stronger

Honorable Mentions:
LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends
Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
Tim Fite - I've Been Shot (download)
Wilco - What Light
Arcade Fire - No Cars Go
Feist - 1234
Art Brut - Pump Up The Volume
The New Pornographers - All the Old Showstoppers
The National - Slow Show
1990s - You Made Me Like It


Guilty Pleasure:
Paul McCartney - Dance Tonight

 

1

Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

"Everyone's unhappy, everyone's ashamed / well we all just got looking at somebody else's page / nothing ever went quite exactly as we planned / our ideas held no water but used them like a dam."

After worldwide praise for 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News, Modest Mouse needed a monumental album to surpass it. They succeeded for two reasons. First, the album carries a prominent Tyler Durden-esque philosophy that some day, you will die; until you accept this, you are worthless. Second, in hiring Johnny Marr, the band gained one of the most influential guitarists of the last quarter century. Marr accompanies his band mates naturally, yet maintains his recognizable signature. It's as if George Steinbrenner woke up one morning and said, "I'm buying Modest Mouse, signing the biggest guns, and making this a band for the ages." Well, maybe not, but it's still a fantastic album.

 
2

Radiohead – In Rainbows

"How come I end up where I started / how come I end up where I went wrong / won't take my eyes off the ball again / you reel me out and you cut the string."

Radiohead earned much buzz over this self-distributed album, which was also the band's first album in four years. While the physical album was not released until 2008, Radiohead proved much with their internet release. While many fans treated the sale as nothing more than an organized internet leak, there was a substantial base of fans who recognized not only the novel concept but also a terrific album. Subtle guitars and strengthened vocals from Yorke hoists this album among its best, reminiscent of The Bends era.

Editor's note: If you're wondering what I paid, I went sentimental and paid £6.10 (wedding anniversary).

3

Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

"You got no time for the messenger / got no regard for the thing that you don't understand / cause you don't talk to the water boy / and there's so much you could learn but you don't want to know."

Known for providing the majority of the score to movie Stranger Than Fiction, this Austin-based band is currently one of the best American bands making music. Contradicting up-beat tempos with melancholy lyrics - the idea that you can bob your head to a song about breaking up with a girl kills me. Well crafted, interesting, and progressive.

4

The Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder

"Simple lives we once left behind / We're so distracted now / Secret lives we left lived inside / We're going backwards now."

Founders of Louisiana's Elephant Six, and the first band signed to Elijah Wood's Simian Records. So far, no reason to crack Frodo jokes. The Apples in Stereo are simply a fun band with strong ties to the prog-pop sound of the 70s.

5

Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

"You say it's money that we need / as if we're only mouths to feed / I know no matter what you say / there are some debts you'll never pay."

The surprise debut of 2004, the Montreal-based band's sophomore effort was the most anticipated album of the year. While Funeral created a microcosm, Neon Bible looked at the world as a whole. It's hard to top a debut that comes out of nowhere, but that's not to say the band's second effort isn't a well-crafted, emotive album with timely, thought-provoking lyrics. Could very well be the single-handed cause why the Loon appreciated so much against the dollar in 2007.

6

The Shins – Wincing The Night Away

"Born to multiply or born to gaze into night skies / when all you want's one more Saturday / but look here, until then / they're gonna buy your life's time / so keep your wick in the air and your feet in the fetters."

Lead singer James Mercer looks a little to much like a young Kevin Spacey. Am I the only one who gets a little spooked by watching this band live? I'm telling you, one of these days he'll walk on stage doing the Verbal gimp walk. Random reference to The Usual Suspects aside, this is a fantastic album.

7

Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

“"If you feel like singing a song / and you want other people to sing along / just sing what you feel / don't let anyone say it's wrong."

Sounding less like experimenting musicians and more like a band than ever before, Sky Blue Sky steers direction away from Radiohead and back to being closer to Uncle Tupelo (in a good way). Recovering addict and frontman Jeff Tweedy's message is straightforward and clear: sometimes surviving to live another day is all that matters.

8

The National – Boxer

"Standing at the punch table swallowing punch / can’t pay attention to the sound of anyone / a little more stupid, a little more scared / every minute more unprepared."

A follow-up to 2005's Alligator, this album sets a late-night empty-street mood which slowly builds into something more. If you're looking for an album to get through the current arctic-like conditions, then this album is for you.

9

Bloc Party – A Weekend In The City

"Now we cling to bottles and memories of the past / Just give me moments not hours or days."

Sophmore effort from the top album of 2005 picks up where the band left off on Silent Alarm left off. More complex arrangements and rhythms accompany loftier lyrics. Darker and moodier, with bigger hooks.

10

Tim Fite – Over The Counter Culture

"I got sixteen scars for my sixteen bars / my exit wounds make record exec goons swoon / I used to think I'd make it on talent and nuttin' else / but I these days a little bit of violence helps / It's as easy as 3-2-1 / All the best rappers get shot by guns."

Forget Eminem. This white boy from the New Jersey farmlands not only lays better tracks than Kanye, but also writes rhymes comparable to the best. After recording an ironic view on America's affluenza epidemic, Fite realized the hypocrisy that would be created if he actually sold his album. Instead, he chose to give the album away for free. Cheers to the ANTI-Records label for supporting Fite - this should have made a much bigger splash.

11

LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver

"You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan / and the next five years trying to be with your friends again."

Never before has an electronic album so successfully strung together a string of tracks which relate lyrically. Dance-punk with a message.

Honorable Mention


 

 

HM

The New Pornographers – Challengers

"More than begin / but less than forget / but spirits born / from the not happened yet / gathering there / to pay off a debt brought back from the wars."

The Canadian indie supergroup returns, sounding as good as ever despite numerous side projects.

 
HM

Peter Bjorn and John – Writer's Block

"And the question is, 'Was I more alive then than I am now?' / I happily have to disagree / I laugh more often now, I cry more often now / I am more me."

Stokholm-based trio blends 60s pop, shoegazing guitars, and infectious hooks will remain (thankfully) stuck in listeners heads for years to come.

HM

Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly, Angry Mob

"We are the angry mob / we read the papers every day / we like who we like, we hate who we hate / but we're also easily swayed."

Follow-up to their debut Employment, this indie rock band returned with a wide range of styles, though mostly influenced by American 70s rock.

HM

Art Brut – It's a Bit Complicated

"I know I shouldn't / is it so wrong / to break from your kiss / to turn up a pop song."

England's most entertaining band returns with more hooks and even more ironic lyric topics. Bar none, the best musical reference to and obsessive compulsive relationship with music since Hendrix's "Manic Depression".

HM

Panda Bear – Person Pitch

"Just because you've got a lot of wax / and all those first editions / get your head out from those mags / and websites who try to shape your style / take a risk just for yourself / and wade into the deep end of the ocean."

Side project of experimental/indie rocker Noah Lennox (frontman to Animal Collective). Considered the album of the year by many critics, Person Pitch oozes reverbed melodic turns. Imagine Brian Wilson working with Brian Eno.


 

 

HM

1990s – Cookies

"I've got a green light / I'm glad we had the party at your place, oh yeah / It didn't feel right, turning back to Amber / red light, red light smells the danger."

Three-piece from Glasgow wins the award for funnest album of the year.

 


Guilty Pleasure of the Year


 

 

GP

Paul McCartney – Memory Almost Full

"I've got too much on my plate / don't have no time to be a decent lover / I hope it isn't too late / searching for the time that has gone so fast."

In the seven years which I've made these lists, only one selection routinely made me want to punch myself in the face. Having listed McCartney's Driving Rain in 2001, I had sworn off buying another McCartney album. Last year, Memory Almost Full gained notoreity as the first album released on the Starbucks label. If you visited a Starbucks that day, you'll remember that corporate locked the station and played the album non-stop, seemingly mocking me. Yet in the wake of finding out that Heather Mills would neither need him nor feed him at 64, Sir Paul's introspection reeled me in again. Perhaps in a year's time I will return to cursing McCartney. Then again, perhaps that's the purpose of a guilty pleasure. I like this album. Sue me.