Oh, hey – welcome back friends. Hope you enjoyed our “more modern” ranks over the past month or so. As a group, we decided to take a break from the whole reminiscing thing – but do not fret, because yet another edition of MEB Ranks is among us. The year: 2007. The place: Your computer screen, I’d assume – although, we do have those cool phones that show internet stuff – either way. Let us know what you think – what we got right/what we got wrong. Read now.
Jarrod Church’s #1 Album – For Those Who Have Heart by A Day To Remember
This year was extremely tough for me to choose just one. The one interesting thing about 2007 is that nothing has really changed since then – in regard to my musical tastes. Looking back at how I ranked that year, my top ten is still (for the most part) my top ten. The dilemma that has presented itself involves three bands that have all planted themselves deep underneath my musical tree (so to speak). A Day To Remember, The Devil Wears Prada and of course, Paramore. When facing the challenge of choosing only one – having a solid foundation for analyzing that final choice is of utmost importance. So, here it is then – Plagues, while an outstanding album and has since become even more important to me than that first year it showed itself to me, is not TDWP’s best – not even their second best, in all honesty. Riot! in all its glory and success is similar to Plagues in that it brought much deserved recognition to the band. Its similarity stretches even further, in that they are each of the bands’ third most impressive records – and for that reason primarily, For Those Who Have Heart will forever be my top album choice for 2007. Personally, it was a record that just sort of fell in my lap and never decided to get up. It reached out and grabbed a hold of me and while ADTR remained solid from then till present day – they never came close to touching FTWHH in my opinion.
Jacob Testa’s #1 Album – Cities by Anberlin
I bought this album without having heard anything from the band previously, simply because they were touring with Bayside and I wanted to get to know some of their music before the show. This is the best (nearly) blind purchase I’ve ever made. From the very first few moments, “(Début)” sets up an atmosphere and aesthetic that carries through the rest of the record. Finding balance between louder and more upbeat tracks like “Godspeed” and more intimate, acoustic-based songs like “Inevitable,” Cities is a dynamic, masterful work of art. The powerful one-two punch of “Dismantle. Repair” and “(*Fin)” closes the record flawlessly, with the deliberate nature of the former giving way to the more organic feel of the latter, emotion bleeding throughout both. This is one of the very few albums that is a perfect 10/10 for me, maybe in part because of how incredibly the songs translated live that first time I saw them. “(*Fin)” as an encore cemented that show as my favorite I’ve ever been to, and each of the hundred or so listens I’ve given Cities since that show solidifies this as one of the best records I’ve ever heard even more.
Jason Gardner’s #1 Album – Career Suicide by A Wilhelm Scream
Much to the hope of fans and critics alike, A Wilhelm Scream’s shred-fest Career Suicide met the lofty bar they had set on previous records Mute Print and Ruiner. Pissed off and with a new (read: sick nasty) bassist, this is the record that got me into these guys and a number of other bands that won’t sacrifice musicality in the wake of pure speed. Whether you want to call this skate punk, technical punk or something else, the stupidly catchy hooks, on-point songwriting and ridiculous riffs on Career Suicide were anything but such a notion – cementing an already well-established name into the minds of both punks and guitar enthusiasts alike.
Landon Defever’s #1 Album – Infinity On High by Fall Out Boy
Infinity On High is not your average pop-punk record…not by a long shot. Two years after delivering their sophomore record From Under the Cork Tree, Chicago, IL’s own Fall Out Boy totally blew the roof off with Infinity, taking a heavily dramatized take on the brand of emo-punk that they’d only just begun to develop. “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar, We’re Going Down” had catapulted the band into flirtations with the mainstream music scene, but singles “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs” sealed their radio-friendly status entirely. However, it’s the deep cuts from Infinity that really make the band shine. “Golden,” for example, is a completely stripped down piece of brilliance from the band, showcasing some of vocalist Patrick Stump, as well as lyricist Pete Wentz’s best work to date. Rumors have recently been spreading like wildfire over the internet about Fall Out Boy’s appearance at Skate & Surf, as well as their status as a band. No matter what happens, however, fans will still be able to hold on to Infinity on High, one of the best albums in its genre, as well as the best record of 2007.
Nick Niedzielski’s #1 Album – Graduation by Kanye West
Yo, I’mma let you finish, but Kanye West had one of the best albums of 2007. With Graduation, West created an anthemic, glowing sound that ushered in an entire new era of rap. Layers of warm synths fill the album, with West’s top notch lyricism painting a landscape of his own introspective thoughts. He displays his wide range of sound on Graduation, from booming, stadium anthem tracks like “Homecoming” and “Good Morning” to more experimental tracks like the stuttering, stop-and-go “I Wonder” and the swirling, melodic “Drunk and Hot Girls”. We also get the brash, boastful Kanye we all know and love in “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Barry Bonds.” Regardless of how you feel about his outspoken lifestyle, West showed that his creativity is unmatched, and Graduation transformed the entire rap game.
Megan Ammer’s #1 Album – Santi by The Academy Is…
2007 led to fantastic advancement in the music industry for the later part of its decade. It seemed as if monumental albums were constantly being produced and legacies created. Looking back, however, my admiration is focused on one particular album: The Academy Is’ Santi.
My faith in this album comes from its defiant differences. Its darker ambiance and angrier tone make way for a more ambitious side of The Academy Is. Santi dealt primarily with songs that had a rougher edge and focused on heavy instrumentals. The general sound of this album is bold because of their experiments with those instruments. They played around with arrangements and set-ups, which adds to the power this album has. Even the subject matters it talks about are way out of the usual league for this band. Their personal maturity and real world experiences led to an album full of unexplored issues.
TAI created something to assess and cope with real-time problems. Each song is an individual guideline to dealing with sadness, deceit, and self-doubt. Their intentions pushed them to the forefront of 2007, regardless of how different Santi was. This album is a fantastic accomplishment.
Johnny Frazier’s #1 Album – In Rainbows by Radiohead
To me, 2007 was one of my favorite years for music purely because it saw the release of one of my favorite albums of all time: In Rainbows. I’d been so into works of theirs like OK Computer and Kid A, this album was long anticipated for me. I had no idea what to expect as the sound of this band changes, yet remains unmistakable with each recording. Low and behold, the dirty drums of “15 Steps” kicked in and I instantly fell in love. This album is all over the place in the best way possible; whether it be the organized chaos of “Bodysnatchers,” the haunting sounds of “Nude,” the beauty of “House of Cards,” or the best B-side ever – “Bangers + Mash” – this album has it all and seeing it live is an even bigger treat. In Rainbows impresses in so many ways, whether it be the new world each track takes you to or how it lines up with OK Computer (look it up). While I was a huge fan before, this album made Radiohead my favorite band for life.
Eric Schulz’s #1 Album – Seven Segment Decoder by Armchairpolitician
Armchairpolitician was a short-lived four-piece from Nuremberg, Germany, whose second release Seven Segment Decoder is not just their first and only full length, but also one of my favorite post-hardcore records of all time. Think of a duet of Refused and Frodus mixed with some At the Drive-In in the heavy department intermitted by beautifully arranged post-rock motifs and jazzy interludes, and you will maybe get a rough idea what‘s going on in this 80 minutes of pure progressive hardcore greatness. With epic guitar swirls in even more epic song structures (“Holy Digital Empires”), furious, distortion spilling noise attacks (“Stuck in Decades“) and instrumental earworms that are as intricate and thriving as they are exciting and moody (“Dancing the Midnight Death”), Seven Segment Decoder is one mammoth of an album that never comes across as cluttered and motley due to proficient songwriting and technical prowess. Furthermore, it‘s the most obscure album on this feature, so check it out and tell your friends how elite you are.
Tim Dodderidge’s #1 Album – Cities by Anberlin
Little did I know that Anberlin’s Cities would change my life from the second I began listening to it. Cities is not only the darkest album of Anberlin’s entire discography, but it’s also a genre-defining listen from start to finish. “Godspeed” rumbles along hastily thanks to its intricate guitar melodies, and the instrumentation is perfectly matched by Stephen Christian’s froggy vocals. While “Godspeed” can be a crystal ball for predicting the rest of the album, Cities pulls all the strings on this release with bits of variety around every corner. “A Whisper & A Clamor” is profusely memorable, coated in synths and dominated by its catchy chorus. The acoustic “The Unwinding Cable Car” is a medley of rich, illustrious lyricism and haunting melodies. But while it’s possibly the album’s deepest cut (and Anberlin’s deepest cut to date), the record doesn’t lose steam from there, only continuing to drown itself in emotions with moody ballads such as “Inevitable” and “Dismantle. Repair.” There isn’t a weak track to be found on Cities, one of my favorite albums of all-time, and an album that bolstered my taste in music from day one.
Zac Lomas’ #1 Album – Somewhere in the Between by Streetlight Manifesto
As Streetlight Manifesto fans eagerly await the much sought-after album The Hands That Thieve, it only seems to look back on its predecessor 2007’s Somewhere in the Between. As many ska-punk fans know, Streetlight frontman Tomas Kalnoky is a notorious perfectionist and Somewhere in the Between is a perfect showcase of his outstanding songwriting capability. Kalnoky melds the eastern European gypsy folk music of his Czechoslovakian heritage with the aggressive and catchy horn parts that characterize the unique brand of ska-punk only Streetlight can produce. On top of the fantastic horn-infused punk, Kalnoky also shines in his lyrics, which vehemently attack organized religion in a manner that is at once simple on the surface, but deeply complex upon further examination – adding to the myriad layers that make Somewhere in the Between a modern classic.
Steve Alcala’s #1 Album – On Letting Go by Circa Survive
Remember LimeWire? Kazaa? Frostwire? I’m not going to lie, 12-year-old me exhausted those resources. For what? Attempts at retrieving each song of 2007’s On Letting Go, my introduction into Circa Survive, which would go on to to affect my tastes in music from then on. It set a standard for my pubescent ears, and in many ways still does. For starters, the album exudes a hypnotic, mystical magnetism. Maybe it lies somewhere in all the siren-like harmonic guitars, the beating of pristine drums that evoke divine rhythms, or the outstandingly passionate and majestic vocals. It’s music that’s highly interpretive yet astoundingly personal, shifting from lyrical content that’s sung as ‘cry for help’ chants, or at times, calls for self-improvement and everything in between. Musically, the verses have an extraordinary method of being spacious and dynamic, lonely even (which again, engenders an emotional connection), culminating to gigantic choruses that have undeniable hooks, while remaining endearing and powerful. Every listen provides a revelation of a new layer, a new element gone undetected that contributes to the overall emotional impact. Truly, this is a masterpiece that personally served as a gateway and doorstep into one of the greatest musical acts that I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. On Letting Go is my favorite album of 2007.