Best of 2007 - DarrenMcLeod's picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2007

DarrenMcLeod's picks (2007)

staff picks

Darren McLeod is a reviewer here at -ed


After being a faithful reader of the Org since my high school days, it has been my pleasure to write reviews for the site -- as infrequent as these reviews occur. Sure, I could try blaming it on a summer of back-breaking manual labour at an aluminum smelter, or perhaps to the hours spent with my head buried in a law books since September, but I think we all know the truth…those extra U's the Canadian government requires me to add to words. In the amount of time it takes me to write one review, Brian has written 10.

And so, without further adieu, my favourite albums of 2007.

Top 20 Albums

20. Attica! Attica! - Dead Skin / Dried Blood
Red Leader
The last time we saw Aaron Scott, he was fronting the now-defunct band Marathon. Now, he's combined his love for a plethora of musical genres into one catchy and extremely clever disc. The highlights of the disc truly are Scott's witty lyrics and huge voice, but the varied instrumentation he ties them to are just as strong.
19. Attack In Black- The Curve Of The Earth
Dine Alone
Though you have to either break out the record player or download some DRM-loaded tracks off iTunes to get this disc, the songs are worth the effort. Twelve stripped-down tracks that show the immense talent possessed by each of the band members, The Curve Of The Earth is a very successful experiment by Attack In Black. Also, here's a spoiler for those who are reading to the end of the list: This isn't the last time you'll see this band on here.
18. Smoke Or Fire - This Sinking Ship
Fat Wreck Chords
Sure, the production might be a little clean for my liking on the disc, but that doesn't stop This Sinking Ship from bringing twelve great tracks of anthemic punk rock that served as one of the highlights for the first quarter of 2007.
Career Suicide
17. Career Suicide - Attempted Suicide
This band is a far cry from what I typically listen to, but when it's done this well I don't care. Attempted Suicide sounds like an `80s hardcore disc that was uncovered in a time capsule and repressed, which is just fine by me.
16. The Copyrights - Make Sound
Red Scare
I have a soft spot for well-done pop punk (see #5), and the Copyrights do it better than most. Fitting perfectly on that Red Scare roster, the Ramones-influenced tunes on Make Sound might not break new musical ground, but it's guaranteed to be stuck into your head for more than a few days.
15. Chuck Ragan - Feast Or Famine
Though some will no doubt prefer the raw live recording of Los Felix, I like the full studio sound that Feast Or Famine presents. Ragan's gruff voice drives these folk melodies, and make thoughts of the Hot Water Music reunion next year that much sweeter.
Look Mexico
14. Look Mexico - This Is Animal Music
Lush instrumentation provides the backbone for This Is Animal Music, a disc that manages to capture music that draws comparisons to the Kinsella brothers without ever getting depressing. I can't wait to see what this band does next.
13. Bishop Allen - The Broken String
Dead Oceans
Indie pop rarely pleases like this. Instantly catchy, and yet deep enough that you aren't sick of it after two or three listens, The Broken String is a nice, light disc for those days when you just want something fun.
12. A Wilhelm Scream - Career Suicide
After a single listen, I was disappointed, thinking that the band had eschewed all melody for the sake of being as fast as possible. After a few more listens, the breakneck pace proved to be a very endearing quality, and the technical prowess displayed on this disc still wows me.
American Steel
11. American Steel - Destroy Their Future
Fat Wreck Chords
Sure, some of the tracks make it evident that these guys spent the last few years as Communique, but for the most part, the band is picking up exactly where they left off.
10. Streetlight Manifesto - Somewhere In The Between
There were a few ska discs that made me get out my skanking shoes this year, but none hit me quite as hard as Somewhere In The Between. A natural progression from Everything Goes Numb, this disc's 10 songs cover a lot of ground and manage to provide some of the best sing-along moments of 2007.
9. Andrew Jackson Jihad- People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World
Asian Man
If you have any sort of a soft spot for the lovable hybrid known as folk-punk, then you owe it to yourself to give this disc a listen. Though often clever and powerful, the album usually relies on its fun factor to truly deliver the hits. When the band breaks into a mock-chorus of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," you know they're delivering.
Iron and Wine
8. Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
Sub Pop
Sam Beam could make an album full of LFO covers sound haunting and beautiful.

Okay, maybe he's not that good, but that doesn't stop this from being a fantastic album.
7. Okkervil River - The Stage Names
If I had one complaint about Okkervil River's last album, it was the abundance of slow songs that made the disc drag. The Stage Names fixes that little flaw, and though I was initially skeptical of an album that brings more pop and less folk, it does so without sacrificing the band's strengths.
6. Crime In Stereo - Is Dead
Bridge 9
I'll be the first to admit that I was initially disappointed with the latest effort from Crime In Stereo. But after repeated listens, I finally understood why our own reviews editor Brian (as well as our friends at Pastepunk) were kneeling at the altar of Is Dead. I still hold that the second half of the album doesn't quite live up to the promise shown by the first half, but it's an exciting new direction from a great band.
The Ergs!
5. The Ergs! - Upstairs/Downstairs
The latest full-length from these pop-punkers was mostly what I expected from them, but that didn't prevent it from exceeding my expectations. More coherent and cohesive than their previous LP, this disc manages to bring all the wit and hooks you could hope for in a pop-punk disc.
4. The National - Boxer
Beggars Banquet
Yes, this is probably the most obvious indie rock pick a guy could place in his top 5. But there's a reason that every hipster this side of a thrift store lost themselves over Boxer -- it's simply a great album. A brooding, menacing disc that grows on you with each listen, Boxer certainly earns its spot in the top 5 of any list.
3. The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
Despite the long wait and hype surrounding this release, these Winnipeg boys still managed to please their critics. John K. Samson remains among the best lyricists in music today, and his wit and charisma have helped make the Weakerthans the only band in the world that could make singing about curling exciting.
2. The Gaslight Anthem - Sink Or Swim
Arguably the most hyped Orgcore release of the year, the Gaslight Anthem instantly became a favourite around these parts with their catchy debut. Taking as much inspiration from the Boss as it does from Jawbreaker, Sink Or Swim has enough charming narratives and big hooks for several albums.
Attack in Black
1. Attack In Black - Marriage
Dine Alone
At the start of the summer, all I knew about Attack In Black was that my sister thought their bassist was "dreamy." But by the end of the year, the band's debut full-length had somehow grown on me to become my favourite disc of the year. Marriage's unique blend of punk, indie rock and folk is an extremely accomplished debut, and makes Attack In Black one of the most exciting young bands in years.

What's to look forward to in 2008? The inevitable return of warm weather, for one. More controversy regarding illegal downloading and bands going digital only because "nobody buys CDs anymore anyways." I suppose it's possible that there will be another glorious Stanley Cup run by the Ottawa Senators that only ends up with me heartbroken. And almost certainly, a year full of great news posts at the Org that discuss the latest delays to the new Dillinger Four album.

I can't wait.