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Arts and Entertainment

Top 100 Albums of 2007 (75-100)

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75. The Cave Singers - Invitation Songs

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According to Seattleist, guitarist Derek Fudesco makes "sammiches" during the day and strums hypnotic lines by night. The Cave Singers encapsulate all that I love about the Northwest. Invitation Songs is chocked full of cozy, folk-bluegrass-tinged battle songs. "Helen" is built upon one savory guitar line and handful of reverb. Think Mountain Goats meets Will Oldham.The Cave Singers - "Lena"

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76. Busdriver - RoadKillOvercoat

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This madman put on one of the most memorable shows I witnessed this year (See: FYF). I've always referred to him as "verging schizophrenia" because of the multi-faceted nature of his live perfomance. He switches back and forth between two microphones, singing into one and spewing nonsensical words into the other. He's the most acerbic MC I listened to this year, but half of the time I can barely distinguish what exactly he's attempting to convey.Busdriver - "Casting Agents and Cowgirls"

77. Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

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Whether you think he's a bumbling hippy, who let his own freak folk gimmick get to his head, or a distinctive innovator devising masterful records, one thing is certain: Devendra Banhart is deliberately trying to make his obscure music more accessible to the masses. He's done so on his latest XL released effort by simply making his vocals and his overall tone more digestible. Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon is a mesmerizing collision of free jazz, 70's rock and roll, Brazilian folk, sock hop, and even motown elements.

via LAist: Devendra Banhart's departure from arcane folkDevendra Banhart - "Seahorse"

photo by Matt Craig

78. Celebration - The Modern Tribe

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Baltimore-based Celebration are best known for sounding a hell of a lot like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV On The Radio. So it should come as no surprise that Nick Zinner (of the YYY's) and David Sitek (of TVOTR) helped bring this album into fruition. I'll give it to them though, somehow I don't hate it. Their brand of cabaret punk or prog-punk, whichever jargon you prefer, is steadied by pummeling organs and unconventional, tribal-esque drumming.Celebration - "Heartbreak"

79. Starfucker - Starfucker EP

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You'll be considered either mentally ill or brazen if you put a band who has garnered nothing more than an EP's worth of material on your top 100. I'm hoping for the latter. I have a lot of faith in anyone willing to go by the name of Starfucker. Portland's Josh Hodges made waves when he performed at the 2007 PDX Pop Festival and I've been following him ever since. This debut EP shows room for vast improvement, but the material is so promising that the word improvement carries no meaning. Think Ratatat meets Pinback. Starfucker - "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second"

80. Division Day - Beartrap Island

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Where to begin? There's so much to say about Division Day. They are, without a doubt, one of my favorite local bands. I've seen them more in the past year than I've seen my own family. Well, maybe not, but that should give you some indication as to how important they've become to the LA scene. Front man Rhoner Seignitz's vocals are inimitably saccharine, which could be easily mistaken for whiny. Well, don't be mistaken! Beartrap Island is one of the most memorable efforts from the LA scene since the Silversun Pickups.Division Day - "Hand To The Sound"

81. El Ten Eleven - Every Direction Is North

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El Ten Eleven are probably the most efficient band you've never heard of. The duo churn out some of the most enthralling instrumentals I heard this year. Think Tortoise meets the Mercury Program. Every Direction Is North is a slight departure from their previous 2005 self-titled effort in that experimentation is the premise. "Hot Cakes" is the harbinger of this change. Instead of the usual hammer-off/hammer-on tone, they opt for straightforward, abrasive chords, wailing notes, and disco beats.El Ten Eleven - "Hot Cakes"

82. The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur

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Jason Swinscoe and his down-tempo, Jazz outfit have put out yet another astounding release. Ma Fleur is not nearly as good as Man With A Movie Camera or Motion for that matter. However, this album captures some of the most intense synergy amongst musicians I have ever heard. Add Patrick Watson, one of my favorite canucks, to the mix and bam, you've got a masterpiece. It's clear that super-groups of this caliber rarely form, let alone survive beyond a couple of albums.

The Cinematic Orchestra - "To Build A Home"

83. Sa-Ra - The Hollywood Recordings

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Kanye was too busy this year blowing smoke up our asses to properly promote the albums released by his label, G.O.O.D. Music. Sa-Ra and Consequence put out solid albums, but both failed miserably due to awful promotion. I feel the former received the strong arm moreso than the latter. Sa-Ra spend most of their time in good ole Silverlake. They've proved they can handle the knobs through a variety of vinyl EPs. However, The Hollywood Recordings showcase their ability to craft distinctive Parliament/George Clinton-esque funk jams as well as hot hip-hop tracks.Sa-Ra - "Hey Love"

84. Mice Parade - S/T

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Adam Pierce likes anagrams and I like Adam Pierce. Every record he creates a complete mess of syncopated, overly complicated drum parts and meandering keys. I hold each mess close to my heart because it strikes the perfect balance between order and chaos. Nothing could be more melodically experimental.

Mice Parade - "Sneaky Red"

85. Voxhaul Broadcast - Rotten Apples EP

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L.A.'s own Voxhaul Broadcast are something to write home about. Sure, they tend to sound a lot like The Strokes and even the Walkmen. Regardless, we should all be proud to call them our own because their debut Rotten Apples EP is stupendous. I will forever associate "Rotten Apples" with LA, merely because I'll be missing it so much when I move to Brooklyn in '08. This song serves as a microcosm of the rest of the eight song EP. Each meticulously crafted guitar line is an advance and by the time singer-guitarist David Dennis croons his distinctive melodies, you've surrendered your will. While everyone and their mother is quick to regard Vampire Weekend as the "Next Big Thing," they often overlook the more deserving talent in their own backyard.Voxhaul Broadcast - "Rotten Apples"

86. Alamo Race Track - Black Cat John Brown

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At the demise of popular Dutch band Redivider came Alamo Race Track. I've been secretly basking in their sophmore album all year long. "The Northern Territory" is an exercise in sing-song, 90s Brit-rock, but it defies the general sappiness of said genre. Front man Ralph Mulder's voice is perfectly accented, just vaguely enough to distinguish. Alamo Race Track plow through the better parts of dEUS and Sparklehorse as though it's second nature.Alamo Race Track - "Northern Territory"

87. Chow Chow - Colours & Lines

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This could be one of the more important albums I stumbled across this year. Chow Chow, one part New Zealand and two parts Canada, formed in London. They're not only eclectic in terms of origin, but music as well. They incorporate synth-racket into a new wave of dance-rock that is pretty indescribable. "Skeleton With Hair" is a sparkling synth-rock anomaly. No other song on this groundbreaking effort makes as much sense. Front man Lain Smith never got to see the release of his brainchild. He died of a suspected heart-attack earlier this year. Colours & Lines forms a part of a metaphorical obelisk, marking the mass grave of so many wondrous musical souls.Chow Chow - "Skeleton With Hair"

88. Thes One - Lifestyle Marketing

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Chris Portugal is a part of the hip-hop duo People Under the Stairs. He's a mastermind when it comes to production and he's never even used a computer in the creation of his beats. Chris came across an old record filled with commercial jingles by Herb Pilhofer. After having decided these jingles would form the premise of Lifestyle Marketing, Chris met up with Pilhofer and acquired the masters of the originals. He proceeded to compose this brilliant instrumental-only album that bounces relentlessly across your mind for 49 minutes. If you ever liked People Under the Stairs, then you'd surely be taken aback by this impressive amalgam of beats. Thes One is surely one of the most underrated producers of his time.Thes One - "Northwestern Bell"

89. Bat For Lashes - Gold And Fur

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Björk who? When I listen to Bat For Lashes I could care less about whatever it was Björk released this year. Gold And Fur induces reverie. I slip in and out of Khan's dreamy world for the first half of the record, but catch myself drifting at "Prescilla," the catchiest, harp-infused clap-along I've heard since Patrick Wolf. Khan is simply mesmerizing.Bat For Lashes - "Prescilla"

90. Eulogies - S/T

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Peter Walker did the right thing when he decided to ditch the solo career for his band Eulogies. For some reason or another, his solo career didn't interest me, but Eulogies' self-titled 2007 release has proven otherwise. The new album is a striking and addictive indie rock endeavor, the antithesis of Walker's previous Wilco-compared work.

via LAist: A Eulogy for Peter WalkerEulogies - "Under The Knife"

91. Sandro Perri - Tiny Mirrors

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Sandro is a musician/producer hailing from Toronto, Canada. He has released quite a few 12" records on his own homegrown label Audi Sensa under the moniker Polmo Polpo. Through this process Perri has honed his clever little quips, utilizing ambient folk as a means to express such subtle intricacies. "Double Suicide" is a strangely addictive blend of Tropicalia and Jens Lekman. Perri carefully croons layer upon layer of subdued vocals. Tiny Mirrors marks his successful transition from producer extraordinaire to singer/songwriter.Sandro Perri - "Double Suicide"

92. Film School - Hideout

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Shoegaze die-hards Film School are back in the game, providing the ideal soundtrack for brooding. I'll be the first to admit that Hideout comes nowhere near surpassing its self-titled precursor. I'm not quite sure anything will. Pitchfork were right in saying that they are suited for an "opening band purgatory". Their live performance captivates you for all but half an hour and then turns your brains into mush. You become deprived of the power of sensation altogether. I've got to hand it to them for pounding out another noise-filled, addictive record.Film School - "Two Kinds"

93. Thee More Shallows - Book of Bad Breaks

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Their sense of songwriting is extremely experimental, to say the least, but this is some of San Francisco's finest! While Book of Bad Breaks is an impressive feat, it's simply not on par with their debut A History of Sport Fishing. I saw them quite a bit this year (at Swerve and FYF), both of which I regard as ear-opening experiences. Front man Dee Kesler pretty much controls the Thee More Shallows world from a small, bright suitcase, propped up on its side and filled with circuitry.Thee More Shallows - "Night at the knight school"

94. Peter and the Wolf - Ivori Palms

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Front man Red Hunter is an inadvertent genius of sorts. Well, he just lets it all hang out and, by default, he is considered such. On "Scarlet and Grey," Red extricates himself from rigidity. He busts out a piano line that sounds exactly like Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me" and I never think to question it. Red lets loose across this incredibly woeful effort.Peter and the Wolf - "Scarlet and Grey"

95. The Forms - S/T

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The Forms exude elements that call to mind the D.C. scene in its heyday. They remind me of the Dismemberment Plan a lot. "Knowledge In Hand" incorporates a calculated and mesmerizing quality that forms the basis for every song on their self-titled album. From shoegaze to drone to math-rock, The Forms seldom stagger to impress.The Forms - "Knowledge In Hand"

96. Annuals - Frelen Mas EP

97.Foals - S/T Live 12"

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Two recordings that simply do not do the artist justice. British dance-rock group the Foals' Live 12" documents the important rudimentary stages of this up-and-coming band, but the recording is simply not testament to the band's potential. I saw them at CMJ a couple of times and I felt as though, "they put Bloc Party to shame". "Hummer" is like your favorite Bloc Party song on amphetamines. Zing!

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The Annuals' Frelen Mas EP is constraining in a completely different manner. If anything, their live show proves to be much more expansive than their studio recordings. With Japanese lyrics, two drum sets, and an orchestral backing of odds and ends, "Nah Keseyi" is just the tip of the iceberg. The Annuals have a tremendous creative grasp that is not easily conveyed in studio. Thus, The Foals could benefit from a studio recording whereas the Annuals could benefit from a live recording. I suggest that they pull a switcheroo.

The Foals - "Hummer"

Annuals - "Nah Keseyi"

98. Lavender Diamond - Imagine Our Love

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In May, Becky Stark hit us with the heavily anticipated follow-up to Cavalry of Light EP, but ultimately packed a feeble punch. Imagine Our Love is a laborious exercise in orchestral, vibrato-soaked folk. If there were more songs of merit, let's say of "Open Your Heart" caliber, then this album might not have seemed as much of a disappointment. Regardless, Imagine Our Love is an astounding debut effort. It's the perfect listen for a Sunday morning. You're still bleary-eyed and you're not even sure who you are or why you are here. You must sit silently and accept the necessary lapse to seep into your existence once more.Lavender Diamond - "Open Your Heart"

99. Grand Ole Party - Humanimals

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I first experienced the glory of GOP at a Sea Wolf show earlier this year. They'd been buzzing in San Diego for some time, but I never expected them to knock me off my feet. As observed earlier, a lot of their guitar parts draw upon the brilliance of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac in the late 60s. Front woman Kristin Gundred commands your attention with her vehement vocal style, which I related to Janis Joplin and Karen O. "Roll On Down" brings to mind Fleetwood Mac's "Before The Beginning," the unforgettable, epic closer on Then Play On.Grand Ole Party - "Roll On Down"

100. The Bird And The Bee - S/T

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Front woman Inara George is hot and so is Greg Kurstin's slick production. This powerful duo unabashedly served me a heaping serving of jazzy indie-pop fusion. While some songs, like "Fucking Boyfriend," appear to be intentionally tongue-in-cheek, others, like "My Fair Lady," prove to be excessively dutiful attempts at pioneering. A lot of females caught my eye this year Inara. What I mean to say is...It's just not working out as well as I thought it would.The Bird And The Bee - "Fucking Girlfriend"