My Top 20 Albums of 2007 Visualized

Top 20 Albums of 2007 from Michael Surtees Visualized

The great thing about year end lists in music is that chances are you’ll find something that you missed through out the year. The album that I found (or so I think as I’ve only been able to hear one or two songs from) was Roisin Murphy’s Overpowered that I found via Refinery29. Too bad it’s an import that I haven’t been able to find yet. But I digress, the other thing about music lists is that there’s a lot of them out there. So to make my list more interesting to myself I decided to see what the patterns of my choices would show me. I decided a 2 x 2 grid would give me some options to visualize my listening habits via time and two sources that I used a lot through out the year. This was the year that I started to get tired of KEXP’s playlist and started listening a lot more to a station in Minnesota (of all places). Maybe my tastes are mellowing a bit, but I really like listening to Minnesota Public Radio’s the Current. I also like listening to the NYT Music Popcast, I knew that there was a number of albums that I bought after their reviews. So I was interested in how everything over the year would compare.

1. The National: Boxer
As the saying goes, “those who like it, like it a lot”.

2. M.I.A.: Kala
Posters do work, I had no idea that M.I.A. had a new album out until I saw this poster on a wall. Curious I went to iTunes, listened to some of the tracks – liked what I heard and thought that the visuals corresponded pretty well with the music. When was the last time both music and visuals were on the same path?

3. Panda Bear: Person Pitch
Don’t buy this album from your iPhone – I did and it took three days. I suspect that the file sizes (on average 15 mb) had something to do with it. Tech issues aside this album is different like M.I.A.’s but in an acoustic way.

4A. Cam’ron: Public Enemy # 1 Part 1
4B. Cam’ron: Public Enemy # 1 Part 2
This was the only free as in really free album on the list – download a copy at Yes it’s a hip hop album, but I felt listening to this guy that he had something to say as opposed to bragging about talking. There’s a underlying tension that makes the album sound like he would would rather get something out the door rushed/unpolished as opposed to never getting the album out, and for this double album lends to making it sound authentic.

5. Feist: The Reminder
I truly wished that Feist wasn’t featured on an Apple commercial though ironically as many times as I’ve heard that song on tv I rarely skip over it when I’m listening to it through my headphones. You probably have the album too so you know why it’s on most people’s top music lists.

6. Dinosaur Jr: Beyond
When my friend Chet passed on this album to me I would have been surprised at the time to hear that I would have it on my top music list at the end of the year. The thing is/was, I almost always never skip on song from this album when it comes on. Go figure…

7. The Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
I’m surprised that this album hasn’t been featured on more of people’s lists, though the trend it seems that albums released in the second half of the year have a better chance b/c they’re still on people’s minds. Neon Bible was out in January I think, perfect timing for a tour, just not for a list. But each song is pretty strong – kind of sad I missed them live.

8. Maps: We Can Create
A consistent moody album.

9. Chromeo: Fancy Footwork
Very fancy indeed – a nice album to listen to if you’re feeling bit down b/c I doubt you’ll be in that mood when you’re done hearing it.

10. Sea Wolf: Leaves In the River
I’m still undecided if I’ll like this album a year from now, but for the time being it’s got a good vibe.

11. Alicia Keys: As I Am
This is probably not an album that I would go out of my way to tell people to buy, but it’s very tight as a package. Every element has been considered and considered very well.

12. Pela: Anytown Graffiti
Nice but not great album, maybe trying to hard.

13. Lupe Fiasco: Lupe Fiasco’s the Cool
The biggest difference between this album and Cam’ron’s is that this feels like a hip hop studio album vs a guy that’s pissed off enough that he’s got some stuff to get of his chest. Both are appropriate, but it also looses something when you have too many people telling you what to do which is what this album starts to feel like.

14. Justice: Cross
I don’t think there’s a better album to power walk to with in NYC in small doses. After a while it feels repetitive and predictable.

15. Peter Bjorn And John: Writer’s Block
There’s nothing really bad about this album though it seems like half the album has been featured in tv commercials. The difference between Feist and them, I didn’t want to hear the song after I saw it pushing something.

16. VHS Or BETA: Bring On the Comets
This another album that I’m not sure if I’m going to like a year from now.

17. Project Pat: Walkin’ Bank Roll
This is the only album on iTunes that you can buy through singles only – I hope more artists don’t start doing this cause it gets expensive. I like the rawness of the flow through out.

18. Radiohead: In Rainbows
I seriously hate the hype that Radiohead is getting for their business model so this album almost automatically gets thrown to the bottom of my list. I also noticed that I rarely listened to an entire track.

19. Architecture In Helsinki: Places Like This
I’m not sure why this is so far down on my list.

20. Of Montreal: Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
I don’t listen to this album a lot, though I suspect if I did I would have placed it higher on the list.

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  • debbie millman

    oh michael! if you can, try to ignore the hype for in rainbows–it really is wonderful. if you only want to give one song a good long listening to, try the third track. i promise you won’t be disappointed. after that, try the last track. and then the fourth. and then…and then…

    : )

  • Carles

    Please build an app for every music blogger to make the same Visualization with their ‘best of 2k7’ list.

  • Joe Moran


    Peter Bjorn & John’s “Writer’s Block” was released in 2006.

    Just FYI. NIce list. Thanks!


  • Noah Brier

    Looks awesome Michael.

    Plus I love that Architecture in Helsinki is on there, that may be my very favorite of the year . . .

  • Greg

    Overpowered is really, really good but as I only got it for christmas, and I was a little eager in deciding on my list, it didn’t quite make the cut.

    Try and get hold of the 2nd-CD of In Rainbows that came with the box-set, that’s the only reason it ended up making my top-10.

  • michael

    Greg – it’s funny to me that Overpowered is an import (in the US) that is sold out on amazon. They can’t distribute it digitally – they can only sell it from cd. Something is pretty broken when stuff like that happens.

  • ithinkx

    i like your blog and your music list!

    i can’t believe you let your opinion of an album be influenced by hype their business model gets! your opinion of the album should be based on how good the music is. incidentally, i think their best album. took me a while to get into it though.

  • matthew

    great post…love the chart…but seriously, the chromeo album only has cover art to make you happy – the music is the most banal over-referenced 80s sound crap i’ve ever heard. please replace with “silent shout” by the knife:)
    everything else [minus alicia keys] got heavy rotation in my studio for 2007. so i suggest replacing alicia with rhianna:)

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