We are 7 years away from our present year, and though it may not seem like 2007 had a ton of significance, it was a very interesting year for music. We had a Canadian with the most downloaded album on iTunes, we got the final record from a very dynamic duo, and a critically acclaimed LP from a man and his alter-ego. These records are in no particular order and a just a few of the great albums from 2007.
Feist – The Reminder
The Reminder is the 3rd studio album to come from part-time Broken Social Scene member Feist. The record was released on April 23rd, 2007 outside of North America. Both Canada and the U.S. had to wait an extra couple of weeks before receiving it on May 1st. The LP was widely successful, debuting at #16 on the Billboard 200 and selling 31,000 copies in the first week alone. The soft spoken songstress received contributions from Chilly Gonzalez, Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, and Ron Sexsmith which helped it become the best selling record on iTunes that year. Driven by the angelic voice of Feist and her acoustic guitar, The Reminder was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. It featured the popular singles “My Moon My Man”, “1234” and “I Feel It All”. Blender magazine had the album slotted as the 80th best indie album ever.
Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
This was the 7th record to come from psych folk rockers Animal Collective, but the first to be released through Domino. The title of the album was announced by the group through the Collected Animals messaging board 5 months before the album’s due date of September 10th. The LP leaked online on June, 12th and the “leaker” was found and had to write the group a formal apology. Strawberry Jam was recorded in Tucson, Arizona at Wave Lab studios and according to Animal Collective member Noah Lennox, the band made a conscious decision to record in a “dessert setting”. The album received praise from many different media facets with Pitchfork giving it a rating of 9.3/10.
Radiohead – In Rainbows
In Rainbows was self-released on October 10th, 2007 as pay-what-you-can download. The record was eventually distributed in a physical form in the last week of 2007. This was the group’s first release since they parted ways with former label EMI and was the longest gap between projects in their career. Recording again with long time producer Nigel Godrich, the process started in mid-February of 2005. The long wait was accredited to the band finding it hard to regain momentum lost when they took their break. The LP entered both the U.S. and UK charts as #1, by October 2008 it had sold over 3 million copies. Billboard named it the best album of the year while many other publications had it in their top 5. The group was nominated for several Grammy awards and ended up winning Best Alternative Music Album.
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
The second album to come from Arcade Fire, Neon Bible was released on March 3rd, 2007. Most of the album was recorded at a former church turned cafe the band bought and renovated in Farnham, Quebec. Neon Bible had stiff competition, dropping in the same month as new LPs from both The Shins and Modest Mouse, but still sold 91,000 copies in the first week. The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard top 200 and it was cited as an “example of popularization of indie rock” by Village Voice. Though primarily a Canadian group, the LP has strong Americana themes. Win Butler said influences for Neon Bible ranged from Bob Dylan to Elvis Presley. The record was nominated at the 50th Grammys for Best Alternative Album and was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize.
The National – Boxer
Boxer was the 4th LP to come The National and was half recorded inside home studio set ups. The other half was done with producer Peter Katis inside professional studios. Frontman Matt Berninger said “We always kind of work that way, going in and out of studios and then back home. We have little home set-ups. Peter has been a big part of the band for a while, at least in the recording of the records.” They also had a little help from well known artist Sufjan Stevens, contributing to both “Racing Like a Pro” and “Ada”. Matt Berninger’s crooning vocals ring through each song, even in the slower numbers the Dessner and Devendorf brothers layer the instruments to create a massive sound. The album has sold well over 300,000 copies to date and Paste magazine named in the best album of 2007.
The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
The last record the group would release through Sub Pop, Wincing The Night Away was made available January 23rd, 2007. The album was recorded in three different locations, singer James Mercer’s basement, Phil Ek’s home studio and in Oregon City with producer Joe Chiccarelli. The title of the LP is a play on the Sam Cooke song “Twistin‘ the Night Away” – it’s a reference to Mercer’s “Crippling Insomnia”. The opening cut “Sleeping Lessons” was also a candidate for the title as well, referring again to insomnia. The pre-release of the record was fairly hectic, it leaked early from a promo copy in the UK and iTunes accidentally made the album available for download two weeks before the release date. Usually known for their acoustic jams, Mercer turns up the volume on a few cuts and throws in samples as well. It still managed to debut at #2 on the Billboard 200, making that Sub Pop’s highest debut ever.
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
The debut record from Wisconsin’s own Bon Iver was self-released on July 8th, 2007 but was re-released on a grander scale through Jagjaguwar the next year. This album got underway after singer Justin Vernon had parted ways with both his girlfriend and band. He decided to seclude himself in a cabin for 3 months to “hibernate”. This hibernation period was the driving force behind For Emma, Forever Ago. The slow moving, melancholy, acoustic driven songs were written and recorded in aforementioned cabin. Close your eyes and you will picture a man singing alone in the woods. With songs like “Flume” and “Skinny Love”, the album was included on an abundance of year-end lists, with Pitchfork naming it the 29th best record of that year.
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
This is the first album the electro duo released through a major label and it was made available (digitally) on October 2nd, 2007. Columbia records made physical copies available on January 22nd in the new year. The album has sold over 1 million copies worldwide, but never sold over 17,000 in a week. The LP features new versions of both “Kids” and “Time to Pretend”, making their electric synthy sounds all that much more sleek. Reviews from critics were mixed but Rolling Stone decided to give it the 494 spot on their list of their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
LCD Sound System – Sound Of Silver
Sound of Silver was released on separate dates in the U.S. and the UK but both made their way into stores in March of 2007. For weeks before the LP’s due date, the band had the entire album streaming on their Myspace page. Frontman James Murphy said that they would like the album to reach a top 40 position on the Billboard charts and the record landed just outside of that, debuting at #46. The record gained a generous amount of acclaim, with the Guardian giving it a 5 star review and Pitchfork rating it 9.2/10. LCD Sound System received a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album in 2007 and ended up touring with Arcade Fire that same year.
Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare
Favourite Worst Nightmare is the 2nd album to come from Brit rockers Arctic Monkeys and it was first released in Japan on April 18th, 2007 before the rest of the world. The record’s title came from the third track “D is for Dangerous”, but they also played with the idea of naming it “Lesbian Wednesdays”, “Gary Brown” or “Gary Barlow”. This LP was a big change in sound comapared to their debut album, it’s looked at as “faster and meaner” than its predecessor. The first two singles “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “Brianstorm” helped the album again debut at #1 in the UK and sell 220,000 units in its first week. It went 2x platinum and earned them the Best British Album award at the 2008 Brit Awards.
Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Recorded, written and produced by frontman Kevin Barnes, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? was released on January 23rd, 2007. Barnes has stated that this is a concept album; it tells the story of his transformation from Kevin Barnes into his alter-ego Georgie Fruit. “A dark mutation…a black she-male from a demented past time” is how Barnes describes Fruit, who sings half of the album. Barnes credits antidepressants on the album, saying “the real issue was a chemical thing, so when I finally got on medication, that balanced it out. So that helped me have a better perspective on things and helped my relationship with my wife and helped me through the album.” The album is looked at as the band’s best work by both fans and critics with Pitchfork rating it 8.7/10.
White Stripes – Icky Thump
The 6th and final record to come from the Detroit duo, Icky Thump was released on June 15th, 2007. For this album The White Stripes shifted back to their stripped down garage rock sound that wasn’t as prominent on their previous, more piano driven record, Get Behind Me Satan. The album was recorded in Nashville with producer Joe Chiccarelli, with half of it already written before heading into the studio. It took 3 weeks for the recording process to be done, the longest of any White Stripes record. Before its release, a Chicago radio station premiered songs without permission and Jack White was not pleased, calling into the station to express his displeasure. The album managed to debut at #2 in the U.S. and #1 in the UK, and picked up two Grammys including Best Alternative Album.