11 indie albums from 2007 that you should revisit right now
In another dose of ‘hey, want to feel old’-ness, the years since the epoch of indie’s golden age begin to blur into double digits. Some of the legacies built in that era may have been overblown, but there are still many musical artefacts worth cherishing. We take a look at 11 indie albums – some very well known, some a touch more obscure – from 2007 that still hold up this very day.
Cherry Ghost- Thirst For Romance
Often dubbed ‘the British Wilco’ (with a band name lifted from Tweedy and co’s ‘Theologians’) Cherry Ghost was the songwriting vehicle for the supremely talented Simon Aldred. Their debut presents a stunningly ambitious, and imagery-rich, collection of songs that ranged from the breathtaking ‘Dead Man’s Suit’, bar-room blast of ‘Alfred The Great’ and sweeping, hopelessly romantic ‘Mathematics’. Aldred went on to release another two albums under the moniker, before turning his hand to writing for others and the fact he’s now best-known for co-writing Sam Smith’s ‘Leave Your Lover’ and Avicii’s ‘Waiting For Love’ (on which he also provided a guest vocal) rather than his own mighty fine work is one of music’s great injustices.
The National – Boxer
If Alligator firmly put The National on everyone’s radar, then it was follow-up Boxer that properly cemented their place in the musical landscape. From those early evocative chimes of album opener ‘Fake Empire’ it was – and still is – clear this was a special album, a point hammered home over its course as Matt Berninger (ably assisted by sibling pairings of the Dessners and Davendorfs) veered from the muscular statements of ‘Mistaken For Strangers’ and ‘Squalor Victoria’ to the haunting beauty of ‘Racing Like A Pro’ and ‘Start A War’ via the hazy contentment of ‘Apartment Story’. If The National’s rich seam of melancholic Americana has attained a certain ubiquity, this is the sound of them making that next step.
Life Without Buildings – Live At The Annandale Hotel
A slight rule-bending here, but a worthwhile one. In 2001, Life Without Buildings performed he ultimate pop-art statement by arriving with a solitary statement – the thrillingly mysterious, defiantly impenetrable and unique Any Other City – before disappearing again. Live At The Annadale Hotel, a recording of a 2002 Sydney show not released until long after the band’s dissolution in 2007, adds another layer of intensity to their intricate and blazing post-punk until it culminates in a rendition of ‘New Town’ that threatens to go stratospheric under the power of its own provincial frustration. A worthwhile reminder of both the band’s underlying brilliance and the draw of a live show.
Electrelane – No Shouts, No Calls
If Sleater-Kinney challenged American perceptions of the female role within the music industry, then so too did Electrelane in Britain, drawing inspiration from the politics of Riot Grrrl even if they were musically different to their Stateside counterparts – theirs was a world of motorik frenzy drawn from likes of Neu! and Stereolab rather than fierce punk minimalism. Their fourth, and to date, final album (despite a brief 2011/2012 reformation that included an Australian tour) added sweeping romaticism in ‘The Greater Times’, the anthemic ‘To The East’ and the beauty of ‘In Berlin’ and ‘Saturday’ into the heady mix alongside their well-honed muscularity to write an accomplished and fitting final chapter to the band’s recorded career.
LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
James Murphy had talked about the concerns of ageing and doubts about his relevance on ‘Losing My Edge’ – often misconceived as witty whimsy, it’s a song he’d describe as ‘serious as a heart attack’ in Shut Up And Play The Hits. On Sound Of Silver he took that central idea and ran a mile with it, tackling loss (‘Someone Great’) as well as our own relationships with place (‘New York I Love You…’) and those around us (‘All My Friends’). A fascinating insight into Murphy’s mindset, it also remains a fiercely urgent and vibrant album rightly viewed as one of the decade’s finest.
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Causing a storm when it was released owing to its revolutionary payment model (and if you want an indictment of how far we’ve come in ten years just consider how run of the mill a pay-what-you-want album seems now), In Rainbows has been in danger of being overshadowed by its own back story. Which is a shame because it’s objectively a mighty fine album, with the opening trio of ’15 Step’, ‘Bodysnatchers’ and ‘Nude’ alone showcasing the album’s ability to expertly meld inventiveness with accessibility. It remains an album that possesses an inherent quality that more than matches the hype around its groundbreaking release.
Darren Hayman And The Secondary Modern – Darren Hayman And The Secondary Modern
As one of the UK’s most prolific songwriters (not to mention one of its most idiosyncratic, with his current project – Thankful Villages – visiting every village in the country to have had every WW1 soldier return alive and compose an accompanying sound piece) Darren Hayman has had a long and varied career. One the first of three albums to bear the Secondary Modern tag – a nod to his brief stint at as a teacher – he expertly showcases his now-customary ability to paint a world framed through the characters and situations of Britain’s provincial towns, in doing so demonstrating why he’s often referred to as the 21st century’s answer to Ray Davies.
Architecture In Helsinki – Places Like This
Having built up an impressive fanbase over their first two albums with their singular, eclectic aesthetic, it would have been easy for Architecture In Helsinki to follow the route of so many bands suddenly faced with an audience to appease, and bottled it. But on Places Like This they instead played on the thing that made them so endearing in the first place – their relentless experimentation. So it is that the infectious funk of ‘Red Turned White’ and ‘Debbie’ sits effortlessly alongside the breezy pop of ‘Like It Or Not’ and ‘Something’s Wrong’. A creative cluster bomb full of ideas, plus AMP and ‘Best Single’ ARIA nominations – as well as the way it continues to stand up today – offer confirmation that success doesn’t have to lead to a dulling of what makes a band special.
The Go! Team – Proof Of Youth
Amid the swathes of guitar music that dominated the mid-00s The Go! Team’s Thunder, Lightning Strike, was a welcome breath of fresh air. A technicolour, kaleidoscopic supernova that was as charming as it was ambitious, it was an album that immediately set them apart from their peers. For the follow-up, evolution rather than evolution was the name of the game, with the winning formula subtly tweaked so as to be that bit sharper, whether on the brassy throwdown of ‘Grip Like A Vice’ or the kids’ TV theme gone feral of ‘Doing It Right’. As if any further proof of their development was needed, their sufficiently high for Chuck D to get involved for a star turn on ‘Flashlight Fight’.
Jamie T – Panic Prevention
Embodying roguish charm from go to whoa, Jamie Treays’ first offering was streetsmart depiction of life that had one foot in the murkier corners of street life and one foot firmly in the carefree hedonism last seen in an episode of Skins. Amid the tales of especially lairy, violence-skirting nights out (‘Pacemaker’) and euphorically-framed wishes of rescuing girls from a loveless relationships (‘If You Got The Money’) also lay an inherent tenderness, such as broken cast of characters in ‘Sheila’. Endearingly scrappy and knockabout on the surface, it still packs a wit and wisdom that belies Treays’ youth at its conception.
Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
With The Avalanches taking the black art of plunderphonics to the masses at the turn of the century, it was inevitable that in due course further sample-heavy albums would follow. Jens Lekman had been using the formula to pepper his romantically idealistic pop songs – a touch of Left Banke here, a spot of Blueboy there – and by his second album proper had nailed the balance between the originality of his own work and the use of samples to enhance it. The results veer from cinematic (‘I Remember Every Kiss’) to wryly amusing (‘A Postcard To Nina’) to gorgeously lovelorn (‘Your Arms Around Me’). Throw in an unlikely duet with a recording of his child self on ‘It Was A Strange Time In My Life’ and you’ve a winner.