Top 20 Albums of 2007

It takes me awhile to catch up with a year's output of movies, and I'll never be able to grasp a year's worth of books. Music is really the only art form that I can make sense of by the end of the year; that's why I'm posting my top 20 albums of the year, and no other lists.

Flea mocked my posting this list by calling it self-aggrandizing -- perhaps it is, but then so is maintaining a public blog. Compiling my top albums each year is a way for me to get a sense of how my musical taste changes with time, and of how the splintering music world is evolving. And maybe I'll encourage one of you to listen to something they wouldn't have otherwise, and vice versa. My list in 2005 led me to listen to albums recommended in the comments section that I wouldn't have found otherwise.

One more thing: I didn't post a list in 2006 because I was woefully behind in music discovery due to my employment at Nevada's Question 7 campaign. If you're curious, my top 5 from 2006 is here. Now, onto 2007:

The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
20. The Arcade Fire -- Neon Bible

The disappointment of the year (next to maybe the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah followup), yet it still barely qualifies for my top 20 by virtue of several killer tracks. There's no room for me in this Bruce Springsteen revival, but excise the Boss and you have a pretty good album.

Favorite tracks: The Well and the Lighthouse, No Cars Go

Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
19. Iron & Wine -- The Shepherd's Dog

It was initially offputting for me to hear Sam Beam add tropical and African rhythms to his compositions while maintaining his soft and measured vocals, but I eventually came around. Perhaps it was the realization that this album resembles 1980's Paul Simon only superficially.

Favorite tracks: House by the Sea, Resurrection Fern

The Field - From Here We Go Sublime
18. The Field -- From Here We Go Sublime

Another grower. I don't usually give uhn-tse-uhn-tse electronic albums repeat listens, but the glitchy repetition and floating vocals kept me interested. It's Fennesz with a backbeat.

Favorite tracks: The Little Heart Beats So Fast, Silent

Caribou - Andorra
17. Caribou -- Andorra

How does one assign Caribou to a genre? He started off with jazzy electronica, moved to shoegaze and psychedelia, and played around with motorik. uses the term "Dream Pop" -- sure. I'll just say that it's melodic, percussive, and infectious. And "Irene" is one of two songs from 2007 that make me feel drunk just listening to it.

Favorite tracks: After Hours, Irene

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
16. Spoon -- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Even Stranger than Fiction -- the mediocre Will Farrell film -- couldn't ruin Spoon. They can still make an album where every single darn song is catchy.

Favorite tracks: Rhthm & Soul, The Underdog

Eluvium - Copia
15. Eluvium -- Copia

Nearly every track on this ambient & piano album sounds like the score behind the cathartic final scene of an emotionally wrenching movie. I guess that's why the Brian Eno comparisons keep on flying around.

Favorite tracks: Indoor Swimming At The Space Station, Prelude For Time Feelers

Beirut - Flying Cup Club
14. Beirut -- Flying Cup Club

Forget Eastern Europe, Beirut's Zach Condon makes French music now. Maybe he'll be working Bavarian Folk next -- I don't really care. Just give me more of that trumpet love.

Favorite tracks: Guyamas Sonora, In The Mausoleum

Okkervil River - The Stage Names
13. Okkervil River -- The Stage Names

I kept on playing this album in the background, thinking, "Hey, that's pretty good," and then forgetting about it. Finally, my mind was able to meld the phrase "Okkervil River" with the music and I realized, "Hey, that's really good." I still don't know what their earlier work sounds like, even though I've heard it played by friends -- my brain has always had a hard time with straightforward indie rock.

Favorite tracks: Unless It's Kicks, Title Track

The New Pornographers - Challengers
12. The New Pornographers -- Challengers

After 2005's Twin Cinema was phoned in, I had nearly given up on The New Pornographers. But Challengers brings back everything I learned to love from this pseudo-supergroup. Man, do I love that Neko Case/A.C. Newman vocal teamwork -- and the Dan Bejar tracks are good again, too.

Favorite tracks: Challengers, All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth

Radiohead - In Rainbows
11. Radiohead -- In Rainbows

This is the album that everyone was expecting from Radiohead after they released OK Computer -- thankfully, they veered into Kid A territory instead. But even if they had come up with In Rainbows back then, Radiohead would be considered today only slightly less great. Which is to say this is a good album, even if it doesn't show much growth. Still, it's new Radiohead, and as the kids say in that "15 Step" sample: "Yay!"

Favorite tracks: Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Saul Williams - The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust!
10. Saul Williams -- The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust!

When I heard NIN's Year Zero earlier this year, I thought it was a good listen but felt that Reznor's instrumentation and drum programming didn't vary enough throughout the longish album. But take that same production and add Saul Williams's voice and contributions, and you get the much better Niggy Tardust, which just barely makes my top ten. I love it for its raw, creative energy.

Favorite tracks: Tr(n)igger, No One Ever Does

Justice - †
9. Justice --

Who cares if Justice is two guys from France who make music that sounds exactly like Daft Punk at their prime but aren't Daft Punk? Michel Gondry should make a music video for one of their songs and make us all more confused.

Favorite tracks: Let There Be Light, Phantom Pt. 2

Elliott Smith - New Moon
8. Elliott Smith -- New Moon

A posthumous double album is the sort of thing where I would expect to find one or two good tracks and a bunch of filler. (cf. Jeff Buckley's Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk.) But these tracks, recorded during Smith's fertile mid-90's period, could have been released as an album between Either/Or and XO and it would've been regarded as a classic. These are outtakes and extras? Damn, that man could write songs.

Favorite tracks: Angel in the Snow, Looking Over My Shoulder, Riot Coming, Big Decision

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
7. Animal Collective -- Strawberry Jam

Part of the love/hate element of Animal Collective has always been their banshee-like vocals, but until Strawberry Jam, they've usually been in the middle in the mix. Now that the vocals are consistently featured, I can say that there's no hate: I love it when they scream at me. Noisy, clashing, and tribal as usual, but Strawberry Jam is the first Animal Collective album where I've been able to locate the emotional core.

Favorite tracks: For Reverend Green, Fireworks, Winter Wonder Land

Amon Tobin - Foley Room
6. Amon Tobin -- Foley Room

The title references the place where movie sound effects are made, a nod to the field recording samples that make up much of this album. But it's a testament to the skill of Tobin that I don't think of those samples when listening to Foley Room -- instead, I feel like I'm in a haunted carnival run by Tim Burton and Chris Cunningham. "Ever Falling" is the other song from 2007 that makes me feel drunk just listening to it.

Favorite tracks: Keep Your Distance, Ever Falling

Battles - Mirrored
5. Battles -- Mirrored

This album sounds like a marching band of prog-loving robots is coming to blow up a bridge over the Khwae Yai River. I thrive on loud, repetitive, mechanical music when I'm programming -- this is that part of my brain's #2 album.

Favorite tracks: Race: In, Atlas, TIJ

M.I.A. - Kala
4. M.I.A. -- Kala

The party album of the year. I'm a sucker for Bhangra-influenced music, but that's only where M.I.A. begins. Then she layers gunshots, sirens, her dynamic voice, and whatever else she has lying around -- but there's always an infectious underlying hook. Her "Haaaa" in "$20" is like crack.

Favorite tracks: Bamboo Banger, Jimmy, $20

Kanye West - Graduation
3. Kanye West -- Graduation

Find one good sample and stick with it. That's the philosophy behind nearly every track on Graduation, and it works beyond all expectations. I was fearful that Kanye would take an Eminem/Encore turn with his third album, but he went in the other direction, stripping out the weak tracks, the interlude filler, and going straight for the jugular. He even managed to use Chris Martin in one of my favorite tracks of the year.

Favorite tracks: Can't Tell Me Nothing, Flashing Lights, Homecoming

Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings
2. Dan Deacon -- Spiderman of the Rings

Remember that repetitive, mechanical part of my brain that Mirrored appealed to? This is its number #1 album. Spiderman of the Rings gives me false memories of listening to it in friends' basements in 5th grade. Sure, Dan Deacon wasn't my childhood friend, but I can pretend that he was.

Favorite tracks: Wooody Wooodpecker, Trippy Green Skull, Pink Batman

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
1. Andrew Bird -- Armchair Apocrypha

I have no idea who Andrew Bird is, except that he plays the violin and the guitar. I don't remember why I originally downloaded this album, or what I thought when I first listened to it. What I do know is that throughout 2007, I kept playing it over and over again, eventually obsessing over every musical detail: the whistling, the violin plucks, the glockenspiel, the hand claps, etc. There's nothing fancy here, nothing revolutionary, which is maybe why I never bothered to find out much more about Bird. (I finally listened to Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs only recently.) It's not the sort of album I expected to be my favorite of any year, yet here it is. Listen to the first 30 seconds of "Plasticities" -- it has it all.

Favorite tracks: Fiery Crash, Dark Matter, Plasticities, Scythian Empire

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Flea, he's right, making content for the blog is no worse than having the blog in the first place.

RumorsDaily | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 6:28am

Spiderman of the Rings is a good album title!

RumorsDaily | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 6:29am

marco carbone: tastemaker.

good list, dude. i've got to check some of these out!

liam | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 8:32am

this list is bullshit!

where's springsteen? where's ween? WHERE'S THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS!!??

you have suck in taste of things and more.

jbg. | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 9:55am

The new Animal Collective is sorta the end of my love affair with them, I'm afraid. The farther up front they've brought the vocals, the more I have to hear the lyrics. The more I have to hear the lyrics, the less I can get into the music. It's unfortunate. I think we've talked about this before maybe- if there are lyrics, I am a lyrics guy. But it's not just that I can hear the lyrics so I don't like them- I think with the last two albums the lyrics have gotten more and more literal, maybe... I don't know, something puts me off. It's not, however, the screaming- that's always completely appealed to me. Actually, it's interesting to me that the AC album made your list but the Panda Bear album didn't. For some reason that album I can totally get into, unlike the AC album.

Battles was definitely one of the best shows I saw this year, though I still haven't heard the full-length. I haven't thought of Amon Tobin in a long time- thanks for reminding me, I've got to check that out.

Jesse | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 10:04am

jbg's comments when he's drunk are indistinguishable from his comments when he's not drunk.

RumorsDaily | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 10:27am

I heard Andrew Bird open for the Decemberists last summer and wanted that album right away. It has not disappointed, although I've been having a hard time setting aside enough time to give any new music the attention it deserves. I'm also an Okkervil River fan, although I thought I was the only person I know willing to admit it.

Lorelei | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 10:44am

Jesse: I couldn't name one three-word phrase from an Animal Collective song if you asked me. I.e., I don't really listen to lyrics. Perhaps that's my saving grace here. As for Panda Bear, yes, it's been getting a lot more attention this year, and I do like it. But it's an abstract album -- I'll probably need to listen to it at least 10 more times to get inside of it.

crazymonk | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 10:56am

i also enjoyed the list, in spite of comments included above for which i gave no permission and waived no privacy right of my own non-blogging self who i believe is entitled to make private snarky comments to her boyfriend in the kitchen WHEN SHE'D RATHER BE PLAYING MARIO GALAXY BUT IS DENIED BECAUSE HER BOYFRIEND IS MAKING SOME STUPID LIST INSTEAD, and it's a very nice list i enjoyed reading thank you.

flea | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 11:57am

Too bad I'll be making my top 1 video game list tonight.

crazymonk | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 12:01pm

Yay, Andrew Bird!

Sio | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 12:29pm

i want to see RD's top 20 albums of 2007.

RD, did you even BUY 20 albums in 2007?

jbg. | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 2:15pm

Flea, why does CM making a music list preclude you from playing super mario galaxy? Is there something about this game I should know that makes it tough to play while music is on, or being contemplated?

Also, should I buy it? Is it really worthwhile to own for $50?

Jon May | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 2:52pm

Christ, Jon, are you kidding? Who asks, "Should I buy Mario Galaxy?" It's pretty much the best game on the system, and I'm not the only one who thinks that:

Re: why flea couldn't play -- we've been playing it together, taking turns and such. But she was being dramatic, she was having just as much fun replaying Super Mario 3 on the Virtual Console.

crazymonk | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 3:02pm

I probably haven't bought 20 albums in all years combined since 1998.

RumorsDaily | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 3:08pm

I also had as much fun playing virtual console Mario games as I do with Mario Galaxy. It's fun, but I'm actually having a little bit of a hard time doing fine tuned controls on the spherical 3d surfaces. Getting into pipes sometimes takes a few attempts.

RumorsDaily | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 3:09pm

I was hoping for something a little more thorough -- I'm not much of a gamer on the whole, and worry that what conventional wisdom says is good will not be fun for me, especially if it's too hard (apparently I can blame my poor eye-hand coordination on cats, now!). You may remember how I didn't get that into super mario 64 cause the 3d world gave me headaches and I wasn't any good with the camera. I liked zelda: wind waker a whole lot, and apparently a lot of people didn't like that very much at all. I'm currently playing original zelda on the virtual console (I've never played it before), and while it's enjoyable, I find killing enemies difficult, which I think is supposed to make people laugh. Most FPS make me barf. I've only just been able to finish some GH songs on hard.

In short, I'm a real Lamer when it comes to video games, at least compared to you all. So I need to be careful buying games -- I'll be really annoyed if I shell out $50 on a game that isn't fun because I'm not cool enough, hands-wise, to compete. So what's so great about it for you? This will help me figure out if I should buy it.

Jon May | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 4:12pm

My one complaint about Mario Galaxy is that it's a little easy. However, that complaint probably doesn't apply when trying to complete the game by getting all 120 stars. (I think you only need 60 to finish the game.) Miyamoto is very good at letting players regulate their desired difficulty level, by burying multiple levels of difficulty in the game. But we're talking about a Mario game here -- it won't be too hard for you.

As for the camera system, one of the main reasons for the spherical world universe in Mario Galaxy is that it obviates the need for complex camera control. Think about it: if you keep running around a sphere, the camera never has to adjust. The user can still shift around the camera if necessary, but I have found myself rarely using that feature.

From what you've been saying, it sounds like you haven't read a thorough review of the game yet. Go to or and do so.

crazymonk | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 4:20pm

Also, you have no choice in the matter. You *must* buy it, or be ashamed for owning a Wii. *Must.* Like fascist-style *must*.

crazymonk | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 4:20pm

i was totally with you re: M64 camerawork. I got used to it eventually, but it was a dealbreaker at the time. the Galaxy camerawork is much more fluid, and because it's usually in the air above you while you're on a planet, it seems more stable and less headache-inducing. it's also a great game design, the little planets are very appealing graphically and unit-of-gameplay-wise. indeed, i'd say it's closer to the zelda camerawork than the M64. i think you'd find it worth the $50, and i think it's head and shoulders better than M64.

flea | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 4:22pm

I actually had read some reviews before now, but from your link found the gamepro video review, and that was pretty swell. I'll probably buy it, I guess, though the initial investment into the wii leaves me a little drained right now, plus I'm bummed at not having a second nunchuk and looking at that as the next acquisition (damn you, Play!).

I must take issue with this:

"But we're talking about a Mario game here -- it won't be too hard for you."

LL and I frustratingly couldn't get past level 1-6 of SMB3 the other day -- if anything I've gotten worse over the years.

Jon May | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 4:27pm

SM3 is actually known as one of the harder Mario games, but yeah, that's pretty sad.

I would say that Mario Galaxy is probably easier than SM3, at least in the beginning. It starts off with very easy levels, and is incredibly fun anyway.

crazymonk | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 4:31pm

I can't get past the first level because *I* suck, not because SMB3 sucks. Can we get back to music so I can feel less lame?

Lorelei | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 4:34pm

on a non-gamer note,

i would put Talib Kweli's Ear Drum in the top 20 before i would K West's Graduation.

liam | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 5:51pm

Jon, I have it at where I am staying. You can come by and try it one day, if you'd like. I love it, though it is a bit easy. There are few camera issues and it is fairly easy. If you are stuck on a board you can skip it for the time being. I am now trying to get all 120 (actually 121) stars, and some of the tasks seem a little annoying (i.e. collecting 100 purple coins for a star is taxing). CM, have you finished Metroid? Can I steal your copy when you come home for Christmas?

Los Angeles Anthony | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 5:52pm

"i would put Talib Kweli's Ear Drum in the top 20 before i would K West's Graduation."

That's what I'm talking about. Tell me what I missed, people! (But please, no Bruce Springsteen.)

LAA: Metroid is done. I will bring it home. A good game, much harder than Mario.

crazymonk | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 5:53pm

The new Burial disc, Untrue, is definitely really good- it might be as good as the first one, if you heard that, but it doesn't have the surprise value of the first one. If you haven't heard either of 'em, you should definitely give it a listen. Also Burning Star Core- Operator Dead, Post Abandoned. Noisy and droney and really excellent (if you're feeling noisy/droney). I keep thinking things from last year were from this year and then realizing they weren't. I think I've been living in a hole. I'm almost certain that I set a personal record for least awareness of new music. I've definitely listened to a lot of things that are new to me, but they're all old to the world.

Jesse | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 6:16pm

Untrue almost made my list -- I had 6 albums for the 16-20 slots, and that was one of them. I think it was maybe the similarity to the first Burial album that led me to leave it off.

I haven't heard Burning Star Core -- putting it on the list.

crazymonk | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 6:25pm

I'm not going to guarantee that BSC will be your thing, but definitely check it out. And it is indeed true that Untrue is basically just a continuation of the first album, but it's such a good sound.

Jesse | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 6:44pm

i am pretty sure that the person that says "but please, no Bruce Springsteen" is the dumbest fucking person on the planet.

jbg. | Mon, 12/10/2007 - 7:01pm

I might agree with jbg if I weren't implicitly endorsing They Might Be Giants by doing so.

Lorelei | Tue, 12/11/2007 - 12:30am

Bruce Springsteen as a figure is pretty interesting. As a songwriter and maker of records he's been extremely uneven. At his finest he's definitely the populist pop hero he's made out to be (which does not, by the way, make him a musical genius, it makes him an interesting cultural figure and a really good songwriter and stylist). At his worst he belongs on AC or nauseatingly repetitive classic rock stations, which is exactly where you'll find him most of the time. I think it'd be pretty cool to see him live, if I didn't have to pay more than, say, $15.

"i am pretty sure that the person that says "but please, no Bruce Springsteen" is the dumbest fucking person on the planet."
is patently untrue.

Jesse | Tue, 12/11/2007 - 8:17am

you're absolutely correct. that statement is false.

i am pretty sure that the person that says "Bruce Springsteen as a figure is pretty interesting. As a songwriter and maker of records he's been extremely uneven. At his finest he's definitely the populist pop hero he's made out to be (which does not, by the way, make him a musical genius, it makes him an interesting cultural figure and a really good songwriter and stylist)" is the dumbest fucking person on the planet.

jbg. | Tue, 12/11/2007 - 9:00am

No room for compromise on jbg's planet.

crazymonk | Tue, 12/11/2007 - 10:22am

damn! the boss can sure stir up some controversy....

i liked his latest, "Magic." sure every song was an anthem, full of the prerequisite glockenspiel-doubling-the-piano, but still an incredibly strong effort by a master. i feel like with any musical figure, you either buy into their sound/persona/whatever or you don't, and i personally buy bruce's.

and by that i mean i illegally downloaded it.

liam | Tue, 12/11/2007 - 10:34am

Not to be a spoiler, but I'm the exception in this case, in that I've come around to like a lot about the boss, even though I'll just never be totally feeling it. I agree that he's a master of something, though.

I'm glad I don't live on jbg's planet.

Jesse | Tue, 12/11/2007 - 11:10am

there's no room for compromise on planet rock.

either you rock.

or you do not.

jbg. | Tue, 12/11/2007 - 1:28pm

Hey CrazyMonk,

After slogging through this mopey, down-tempo, Pitchfork-y, hipster list, you know what I'm going to say, don't ya?

Of Montreal-Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?(full length) + Icons Abstract Thee (EP).

Combined, these might just make up my favorite album of all time. And yes, I know the knocks against Of Montreal. I can't listen to their earlier twee nonsense either. This is an entirely different band, and it is fantastic.

Do yourself a favor man. Give 'em a chance.

Matt Witemyre | Tue, 12/11/2007 - 7:19pm


crazymonk | Tue, 12/11/2007 - 8:23pm

OK, so CYHSY's latest was a disappointment for sure, but Neon Bible was solid. I'd give it a 15. Frankly, I wasn't that wild about Niggy and found that far more of a disappointment, but maybe I was expecting more from Saul Williams than from Arcade Fire. Also, Reckoner is the best track by far from In Rainbows, though 15 Steps is pretty rockin' too.

So, there that is.

Josh Eveleth | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 9:04am

where's the polyphonic spree?! where's fountains of wayne?!! WHERE'S JUNIOR SENIOR?!

see, cm, you haveta understand. bloggers are the end-all-be-all of musical tastes! the last word! if we can't trust pretentious hipsters to tell us what to like, then who can we trust?

you seem to have focused this list only on your genre preference, which as far as i can tell can best be described as "pussy music."

jbg. | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 11:15am

Polyphonic Spree would've made my Top 40. Haven't heard Junior Senior.

"you seem to have focused this list only on your genre preference"

Well, yes, this is my top 20, not an attempt to find the 20 albums that the most people liked.

crazymonk | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 11:23am

I believe the attempt to find the albums that the most people liked is known alternatively as "The Grammy Awards" and "Clear Channel radio programming". And we all know how that comes out.

Or, alternatively, one could be scientific about it.

Jon May | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 12:42pm

CM is a hipster? I guess he does wear those skinny jeans all the time.

Los Angeles Anthony | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 12:44pm

the list is hipster, not necessarily the man.

Jon May | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 2:13pm

If "hipster" means "represents a large chunk of the independent music scene," then I guess it's a hipster list. If you saw my top 20 list from 1968, you'd probably want to call me a hippy as well.

crazymonk | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 4:39pm

marco no like being called hipster. he he he he.

flea | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 4:53pm

Dude, I thought that was you buried underneath the pile of PBR 24 ozers at Mission Bar last Friday.

Josh Eveleth | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 4:57pm

You made a top 20 albums list in 1968!

RumorsDaily | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 5:06pm

"...represents a large chunk of the independent music scene..."

I think you're a little more restricted than that. Where's your independent metal? Or polka? Or salsa? Or reggaeton? Or classical? And would you care to wager odds on what percentage of your top 20 overlap with pitchfork's top 20?

Jon May | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 5:13pm

Battles is sort of metal. But, yeah, I'm not much into metal (or drone metal, which is more "in"). Although System of a Down was in my 2005 list. I don't have any classical on my list, but modern classical music hasn't excited me much when I've listened to it. However, eluvium does overlap with the classical genre in some respects. I haven't heard any exciting salsa or reggaeton recently, although there are likely some quality musical movements that don't bubble up through my normal information resources. So yeah, my list depends on other filters, but whose doesn't?

If I had to guess my pitchfork Top 20 overlap rate, it'd be about 60-70%, which is what it's been around in years past. But I don't see that as a negative thing, plus there'll be some major Condorcet pair differences.

crazymonk | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 6:37pm

Also, Matt, listened to Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? today, and I think it's pretty good. Need to listen to it a few more times.

crazymonk | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 6:38pm

I didn't say any of this was a bad thing, and I didn't mean to imply it. All I'm trying to do is support Matt's description of your list as a "hipster list" inasmuch as the term "hipster" connotes a focus on a particular subset of musical genres. Your list overlaps heavily, if not exclusively, with that subset, thus it is a hipster list. I don't think "independence" of a label or group has anything to do with it; after all, you included Kanye, who's on a Universal-owned label and gets regular mainstream airplay.

Jon May | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 7:00pm

If CM included something Reggaeton in this list, that would be decidedly more hipster. System of a Down, on the other hand, is very clearly not hipster.

Jesse | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 7:24pm

Yeeeeah, I guess so. Maybe I just think that using "hipster" to connote a particular subset of musical genres is outmoded by several years. Is Panic! at the Disco hipster? The White Stripes? Spoon? These bands all have had mass appeal.

Does hipster mean: If you went to a concert of that band, everyone there would be within a certain age and wear certain clothing? Is it just the clothing and haircuts? Does Banana Republic now cater exclusively to hipsters?

I think what a hipster was 6-8 years ago has turned into: young person who doesn't wear khakis. Or maybe: young person who goes to non-stadium concerts -- does that seem to sum up your definition? I understood its use a few years back when it described a small subset of urban young people, but the superficial elements of "hipsterism" became widespread 3 years ago -- have you turned on MTV?

So, if by a "hipster list" you mean: a list generated by a 20-something who has listened to more than 80 2007 albums (which I have), then I'll agree.

crazymonk | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 7:37pm

I suggest that hipsters can be defined as people who keep up with new music well enough to post a well-informed top-10 list at the end of the year in the first place.

Lorelei | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 7:56pm

your god wiki sez:

Nearly half a century later the term became a blanket description for the homogeneous trend in the "alternative", "anti-fashion" fashion of middle class and upper class urban, young people moving into "regentrified" or soon to be "regentrified" neighborhoods in city centers and displacing the former occupants of those neighborhoods unable to pay as much rent as this often wealthy and highly privileged section of society. Often hipsters came to these poorer neighborhoods from more comfortable, wealthy ones including the suburbs of major cities where many hipsters grew up. The word hipster was the sole subject of the book The Hipster Handbook by Robert Lanham published in 2003.

Today, especially in youth culture, the term hipster usually refers to young people who may have an appreciation for independent rock, a campy or ironic fashion sense, or an otherwise "bohemian" style.

Monk, are you more defensive at the idea of being the former (ie, gentrifier), or are you just very proud of your nonironic fashion sense?

flea | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 7:58pm

sry, forgot to quoteformat

flea | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 7:59pm

But isn't that sad, Lorelei? Hipster means "culturally well-informed?"

Is Maxim a hipster magazine now?

And I guess Time magazine is for a bunch of hipsters too? LCD Soundsystem? I mean, c'mon:,30583,1686204_168...

Here's a top 7 list that I doubt any of you would consider hipster-y, but then again, it does have Wilco:

So my list intersects somewhat with those put out by Time and Maxim magazines. I wonder if AARP magazine has a top 10.

crazymonk | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 8:04pm

flea: No, I know I was once a gentrifier, sort of. Cambridge is a bit of an outlier, because it's always been populated with grad-student intellectuals, unlike Park Slope or Silver Lake. Still, gentrification was a-happening there at the time.

My fashion sense is more often than not un-campy and un-ironic, and rarely bohemian. I do, however, have an appreciation for some "independent rock", but then so does Charlie Rose.

crazymonk | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 8:09pm

Magazines about pop culture have people on staff who are PAID to stay informed about pop culture. My comment applies to people who do it for love (or attention).

If not wearing khakis is enough to make you hip, I weep for the future.

"Youth culture." Geez.

Lorelei | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 8:13pm

the flip, I think, of CM's example, is what if you had a non-white, working class urban high school student who otherwise fit the bill of being culturally informed, listening to a lot of different music that tests easy notions of the way people self-identify thru taste, dressing in an ironic or unconventional or 'typical-of-an-art-school-student' way, etc.? I promise you this person exists.

There's this:
which I'm neither endorsing nor refuting, as one among I'm sure a ton of similar internet discussions with a ton of different people chiming in on the meaning of the word... I'm with CM on the outmoding of the concept 'hipster.'

Jesse | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 8:33pm

I don't know what a hipster is, but I know I don't like them. At all. I think I dislike hipsters more than racist people and the Bush administration. And I wouldn't call Park Slope or SIlver Lake a place for hipsters anymore. You mean Echo Park and Williamsburg (or really Bushwick).

Los Angeles Anthony | Wed, 12/12/2007 - 9:20pm

LAA: what's worse, SF hippies or NYC hipsters?

flea | Thu, 12/13/2007 - 12:23am

NYC hipsters by FAR. Williamsburg is like the ground zero of hipsters. And east coast hipsters take themselves at lot more seriously. They think they are special because they live near poor people in new york.

Los Angeles Anthony | Thu, 12/13/2007 - 12:49am

I live near poor people in Washington, DC and I don't think it makes me special.

Ingen Angiven | Thu, 12/13/2007 - 5:56am

Dirty Projectors' album Rise Above is definitely one of the best things I've heard this year, and maybe beyond.

Jesse | Sun, 12/16/2007 - 9:15pm

LAA: SF hippies are worse. They think they're special for riding the coattails of a movement that died more than 30 years ago. Also, the public defecation is pretty nasty.

Josh Eveleth | Mon, 12/17/2007 - 4:41pm

I think you are talking about homeless people. Though I guess it is hard to tell them and hippies apart.

Los Angeles Anthony | Mon, 12/17/2007 - 8:28pm

Zing. Wanna know what's worse than SF hippies and NY hipsters put together? Scottsdale Arizona douchebags.


Matt Witemyre | Mon, 12/17/2007 - 11:57pm
crazymonk | Tue, 12/18/2007 - 10:02am

And pretty low with the Onion's too. I stand corrected, sir. Your musical tastes can not be labeled.

Jon May | Tue, 12/18/2007 - 11:36am

It doesn't help that I left out LCD Soundsystem. While I think that "Someone Great" is one of the best tracks of the year (, and I recognize the appeal of "All My Friends," the album as a whole didn't do much for me.

crazymonk | Tue, 12/18/2007 - 11:49am


Andrew Macdonald | Wed, 11/12/2008 - 9:14pm