Best Albums 2007 (21-25)

25. Blitzen Trapper — Wild Mountain Nation


Hootin’ and hollerin’ with a fervor as isolated as the internet permits, these Portland hippies are among the decade’s better examples of what’s gained by not moving to Brooklyn. Imagine an alternate universe where Pavement rather than Uncle Tupelo had pioneered alt-country, where Elephant 6 bands were weaned on Moby Grape, where Animal Collective wrote songs. By their follow-up, Furr, BT had learned to color within genre lines, but here Eric Earley just yells go and guitars race off in all directions in search of their roots, only to be distracted by rivulets of melody instead.

 

24. Look Directly Into the Sun: China Pop 2007


What could post-punk possibly mean to a pre-punk culture? Given that my experience of modern China is largely filtered through James Fallows, Jia Zhangke, and TV coverage of the Olympics, I couldn’t begin to guess, let alone vouch for the accuracy of PiL drummer Martin Atkins’s cherry-picking of the Beijing scene. But these bands pound the source material to suit their own hungry, angry, unclear purposes where more accurate Western imitators bog down in affectation. Volumes 2 and 3 went on to betray the scene’s limits, but if any U.S. city coughed up this vibrant a single disc compilation, you’d hear so many cries of Next Big Thing you’d think it was 1994.

 

23. Busdriver — Roadkillovercoat


Regan Farquhar’s title doesn’t pun off P.E. in vain: an abstract black nerd can discomfit trap music pushers as truly as a dwindling white birthrate does your Limbaugh-dittoing uncle. Like lots of underground rap weirdoes, Busdriver can mistake logorrhea for an end in itself, though his preference for jokes over dystopia justifies the means–his convolutions are often enjambed but rarely abstract, his dreaming to walk the bare moon from his air balloon grandiose in the most homely way. And lest you doubt his commitment to obscurity, his big name guests are Abstract Rude and Daedelus.

22. Ponytail — Kamehameha


With noise-rock yet another creative contingent quick to equate artistic merit and testosterone poisoning, the trebly spasms of this bass-less Baltimore art-noise quartet were a welcome exception. Deerhoof comparisons are just lazy: The surfy twin-guitar runs of Ken Seeno and Dustin Wong simulate spontaneity where San Fran’s crit-darlings puzzle over quadratic equations, and where Satomi Matsuzaki merely applies a patina of twee exotica to Deerhoof’s tracks, Molly Sigel’s versatile tantrums are an integral element of the noise, inspired by the first-wave of post-punk women yet no less sui generis than her godmothers.

21. The-Dream — Love/Hate


Likeable and sexy is a hard combo to score in contemporary R&B; tack on funny and you’ve got a nigh-impossible trifecta. So if Terius Nash is jerkier, lumpier, and cornier than ladies deserve in a pop sex ideal, credit the guy for never offering himself as anything more than a suitable Mr. Right-Now. “Umbrella” only hinted at how deep his arsenal of playful nonsense syllables runs, and if his brain doesn’t sell his ass to you, Tricky Stewart’s snare poings and synth stabs, which drag Prince into the 21st century, should seal the deal.

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