Sunday, 24 February 2008

because it is nearing the end of february

That means that if I post my "favorite records of 2007" list, I'll still be ahead of schedule for my stated "you can't really know until June" stance. But the list of '07 releases I want to check out keeps expanding in bands, genres and albums, so it's not going to get any easier. Some of this is a result of de-kneejerking reactions to critically acclaimed bits, some of it's the result of randomly hearing things I haven't had the time to check out yet and some of it has to do with the fact that a lot of albums I would be putting on my list are hard to come by over here and I don't have the quid to do so anyways. Come by them, that is. Yeah. It's been a couple years since I actually wrote a list like this, but it's really fun to do, and especially if you haven't in a while. I'd do one for movies, but I seriously didn't see enough movies to say what was good and what wasn't.

In rough, but by no means any sort of exact order, 2007.

Albums I Overplayed Because it is my Sincere Belief that they are Awesome

Liars-- Liars This is a group I've always enjoyed, but this is the first record I went out and bought, partly because I wanted something to take to Wales that wouldn't remind me of the last six months in Bellingham. It doesn't. The great thing about it isn't the fact that they combine droney drumloop-and-noise numbers with junk-funk, jerky dance rock and even some vaguely elephant-6 sounding pop, it's that they do it in a way that makes sense sonically for one to follow the other.

Future of the Left-- Curses Of course the new record from Andy Falkous (McLusky) is going to be somewhere on this list, but even I couldn't have guessed it'd be so high up. FOTL is less noisy and they bring in some damaged keyboards to replace guitars a few times, but it all works. Falco is still as twisted and brilliant a lyricist as he's ever been and his melodic pallette has expanded as well.

Spoon-- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Of the Big Indie Rock Albums of '07, this is the only one I can sit through the entirety of without rolling my eyes even once, let alone think every track is killer. Not as flashily catchy or dancy as their last one, but I think it holds up better on repeated listens.

Super Furry Animals-- Hey Venus! Their current respectable U.S. following notwithstanding, I'm convinced that if SFA had Englishy accents that people were used to consuming instead of their very-Welsh lilts, they'd be much bigger. But the Welshness, honestly is part of it in the same way that Blur was so very English. And this record is full of great shimmery pop with humor and heart.

Clockcleaner-- Babylon Rules After writing a sentence like "great shimmery pop with humor and heart" I have to recommend this album, which runs like a smarter version of early Butthole Surfers and perhaps slightly more melodic Scratch Acid and contains lyrics like "when my ship comes in/will you still let me fill you with children?"

Aesop Rock-- None Shall Pass Aesop Rock seems intent on getting more and less accessible at once. Here though, he shifts away from some of the battle-rap affectations of his last record and tells stories, funny, sad and largely surreal narratives; it's only appropriate that John Darnielle (mountain goats) guests on the last track.

Shellac-- An Excellent Italian Greyhound Shellac are one of those bands that people (including myself) tend to pay lip service too more than listen. This album I've listened to a lot, however; maybe I get Albini's humor better now, or maybe the slightly almost pretty bits prove the "spoonful of sugar" theory. Either way, I actually think this record is better than most on my list before it, but in the interest of listening-disclosure I won't pretend I haven't jammed out to FOTL or Liars more.

Black Kids-- Wizard of Ahhhs EP I'm already preparing my backlash rant for when these precocious youngster's Cure-plays-the-oldies schtick can't carry a full album any more than "No Cars Go" could sustain the rest of Neon Bible. But for now, damn.

The White Stripes-- Icky Thump I probably wouldn't have guessed that The White Stripes and Queens of the Stone Age would release albums in the same year and that the Stripes' album would be heavier and trippier.

The National-- Boxer I resisted this record for a long time but discovered it late in the year when it rained for about two months straight and suddenly the acoustic-electric thing wasn't so annoying and hey-- these songs are pretty melodic and hey-- this guy can write lyrics. Really, really understated-but-still devastating lyrics.

Big Business-- Here Come the Waterworks These guys joined the Melvins, and the Melvins made their best album in about fifteen years. Kicker is, Big Business' album is even better. Heavy-approaching-metal, minimalist but melodic, and Phil Ek's production just brings out all the band's strengths. Their first release that equals the sonic gut-punch of their live shows.

Radiohead-- In Rainbows This is at the bottom not because it's not my favorite, but because it almost came out in 2008, really. Either way, I've been listening to this band long enough that they wouldn't have to be at top form for me to enjoy it (as Hail to the Thief proved) but I'd say that right here they're at top form. They're comfortable tweaking their sound instead of re-inventing it, and it's probably the highest concentration of memorable Radiohead songs since OK Computer.

that's the list I allow myself. There were other albums I meant to hear more fully-- Wu Tang, Lupe Fiasco, Cave Singers, AA Bondy, Feist, A Place to Bury Strangers, Andrew Bird, High on Fire, Feral Children, etc-- and so on. I think with moving out of Bellingham* and no longer feeling the compulsion to document or immerse myself in regional sounds it's like my music-radar is beeping full blast again, ironically while I've less means of procuring it.
*The fact that no Bellingham/Seattle bands are included on my list isn't because there was no music from there I listened to, but at some point when your friends make a killer record it's hard to tell if it's rad because it's rad, or because it's your friends. At least for me. Some folks differentiate a lot better. Suffice to say, I did have Police Teeth, Patience Please, The Russians and Cicadas on the long version.
I was gonna do more lists about other things (albums that bummed me out-- two gallants, arcade fire or albums that bummed other people out but I thought were fine-- new pornographers, modest mouse) but I need to go back to writing my short story, which is about a man who decides to live in a tree while continuing to work at an office downtown. There are lots of thoughts that swirl around late at night when I'm blogging and many things I could talk about, but I chose to write about music instead.

story of my life, I guess.

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