In February of 2019, your pals at UDS came together to pick some albums from the year 2004 that we thought you should all go and give another listen to (You can read that list here). We had fun doing it, and throughout the year planned to do it again. Here we are in the last week of January 2020, and we’re finally getting around to it, but this time we’re looking at albums from 2007! As before, each of us picked albums from the year that we thought are perhaps a little overlooked in the grand scheme of things some 12-13 years later. Without further ado, here are 7 albums from 2007 that you should listen to again!
Year Zero – Nine Inch Nails (Dobbie)
Nine Inch Nails are one of my favourite bands, and with albums like The Downward Spiral and With Teeth, they firmly cemented themselves, at least in my opinion, as one of the best music acts that has ever graced this planet. And whilst I think each of their albums will hold claim to being a good number of people’s favourite, I will always shout loud that I want more and more people to listen to Year Zero.
Whilst it isn’t quite as big a stylistic change from its predecessor, With Teeth, as that was from The Fragile, its sound is perhaps not the best representative of all that Nine Inch Nails, or more specifically Trent Reznor, are capable. What it does do, however, is take the more electronic aspects of the band’s sound and put them at the forefront. The album also saw Reznor skew away from his more typical introspective lyrical style, and instead focus on a concept drawing inspiration from his then concern at the state his country was currently in. Sadly, the dystopian future imagined in the lyrics seems all the more real nowadays, but in a way that simply makes the album all the more vital today. Choice cuts for me include the tracks The Beginning of the End, Capital G and In This Twilight.
Graduation – Kanye West (Craig)
Kanye West is a multi talented figure in modern music, and 2007 was a much simpler time before he proclaimed himself a “God”. Before the likes of the autotuned 808s & Heartbreak and even My Beautiful Twisted Fantasy, Graduation shows Mr. West starting to experiment with synthesizers and electronics whilst still being classified as rap music.
Graduation is the last chapter in a trilogy of albums that also included the albums The College Dropout and Late Registration. Here we see him continuing his rap journey to a successful end but can see where the influences for his later albums came from. Songs like “Stronger”, “Good Life” & “Homecoming” were something completely different when compared to 50 Cent’s album at the time. This helped pave the way for rappers who did not want to conform to the stereotypical gangsta rap and wanted to rap about, well, whatever came to their minds. This could be the most important rap album of 2007 and deserves to be looked back on with fondness.
In Nothing We Trust – Reuben (Tom)
My favourite album by my favourite band, my reverence for Reuben’s In Nothing We Trust has matured with my music taste.
In terms of pure songwriting, it’s unparalleled, utilising complex structures, unusual time signatures and an assortment of influences to make one of the most fascinating bodies of work ever committed to CD. From the opening track ‘Cities On Fire’ to the catchiness of ‘Deadly Lethal Ninja Assassin’ to the emotion of ‘Good Luck’, it’s a journey that ideally should be enjoyed in one sitting.
It’s raw by design, and the aforementioned complexities can create a barrier to entry to the untrained ear, so if you’re coming into Reuben blind, perhaps start with the earlier albums. But give it the time it deserves and you’ll have an album that is satisfying, genuine and thought-provoking all in equal measure.
Get Warmer – Bomb the Music Industry! (Neale)
It wasn’t until Bomb the Music Industry! had dissolved that I’d even been made aware of their existence – their DIY attitude to shows and recording spanned a whole decade, and even if you’ve never heard a song by them, you’ve probably felt the collaborative influence they produced and maintained, even after calling it quits in 2014.
Get Warmer was the bands 4th full length album, and the first album to feature a live band spanning over 20 different musicians – no mean feat for a virtually self-produced record!
The album is brimming with ska-punk energy, storming through at a breakneck pace that comes in at just under 40 minutes, but managing to feel like it barely lasted 20. Leaning more towards punk than most third-wave ska outfits do, the lyrical content on Get Warmer ranges anywhere from wanting to go outside and ride bikes, to realising that you could probably achieve more if you didn’t have such an attachment to booze.
Jeff Rosenstock is the clear, defining force behind the album, and Bomb the Music Industry! in general, but the absolute mass of talent shared by everyone who worked toward the record can’t be discounted either. This is my favourite album by the collective, and if you’re interested in music made by people in their bedrooms, loaded with spirit, then you’re going to have a fantastic time with this.
Era Vulgaris – Queens Of The Stone Age (Dobbie)
Queens Of The Stone Age are another of my favourite bands, and whilst their size has definitely grown in recent years, it’s probably fair to say more casual listeners are likely only familiar with 2002’s Songs For The Deaf, which is nothing short of brilliant to be fair. Make no mistake, whilst QOTSA always undeniably sound like QOTSA, each of their albums has had a different flavouring to really distinguish the different eras of their sound (pun only partly intended).
Era Vulgaris, in a similar way to NIN’s Year Zero allows itself to experiment with electronics, although far less obviously. Instead, the electronics on display here are far more Synth- and Key-based, and are frequently much more subtle. The best way I can describe the music on Era Vulgaris is to imagine yourself alone in a hut out in the desert, and the drug you’re on is the TV static. And yet, in other ways the instruments can make it feel like you’re in amongst the hustle and bustle, on some tracks the guitars even remind me a little of a power drill! Perhaps a better analogy is to imagine a construction site next door to the desert hut, and you’re listening to the tools make their music in your desert haze. My personal highlights are the tracks Turnin’ On The Screw, Make It Wit Chu and I’m Designer.
Alive 2007 – Daft Punk (Craig)
Daft Punk are the best electronic act in the world. Their album, Alive 2007, is the album you should go to if you want a crash course on why they are so great. This live album is so good it won the Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album!
The previous album, Human After All, received mixed reviews as people felt that it was a departure from their classic style. Alive 2007 made people reconsider how they felt about that album. How many albums do you know that have the power to do that!?
The album features a greatest hits set that was performed and recorded live at the Bercy arena in June, 2007. Using the custom made Daft Punk supercomputers they were manipulating and reworking the songs. This in turn created mashups and in a few instances even created new songs.
Not afraid to mix it up even further they featured samples from other artists. Busta Rhymes’ Touch It, the original version of Technologic and Gabrielle’s Forget About The World, which Daft Punk had remixed for her single release. They finish the album mixing Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With You which is probably one of the best dance songs ever to be created in France, if not the world.
Ire Works – The Dillinger Escape Plan (Tom)
Much missed since their break up, The Dillinger Escape Plan reached their zenith with their 2007 opus Ire Works. It expands on the more melodic elements of 2004’s Miss Machine, creating the perfect equilibrium between the spastic energy and catchy hooks. That isn’t to say this is TDEP selling out, far from it. Tracks like Fix Your Face exemplify the band’s commitment to pushing the boundary of metal, with challenging time signature changes and abrasive vocals delivered with surgical precision.
Yet my ear is drawn more to these more melodic moments. Milk Lizard and Black Bubblegum highlight Greg Puciato’s talented vocal range; at times he could quite easily be mistaken for Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, albeit much more hench. In these more measured, sinister moments it’s fascinating to hear a band push out of their comfort zone, elevating them from cult heroes to genuine world beaters.
Method in the madness incarnate.