Friday, December 21, 2007

Everyone’s a critic, Best music of 2007

I’m still not very hip. Many of the critics' favorites of the year are albums that I can’t get my pop-minded head into yet (I’m thinking of LCD Soundsystem, Of Montreal, Animal Collective, Okkervil River, among others). I’ve tried—maybe I’ll have caught up by next year.

This is the top 5 breakdown of albums that I listened to very frequently over the course of the past year (four bands tie for 5th place, as each had a good solid month, at least, of being the main event):

5. Jose Gonzalez: In Our Nature- This is more of the same from Gonzalez, but I liked the last album Veneer so much that it wasn’t a disappointment to have another album full of short, haunting, nylon-string guitar ballads. This album also scores high on the “your-mom-wouldn’t-object” meter.
Arcade Fire: Neon Bible- I recently watched these guys perform via Austin City Limits. Talk about chaos! Arcade Fire may have gotten too big to have the “indie cred” that they had after their first album, but this record has some really great tunes on it. If your mom likes Bruce Springsteen, she may like this album. (just saw this: cool?)
Feist: the Reminder- Feist had an amazing year. Apparently, getting on an Ipod commercial is about the equivalent of being one of Oprah’s favorite things. Your mom may already own this album.
The Shins: Wincing the Night Away- This was the major album of our California road trip over the summer. The Shins are one of the only bands that Tina really likes on this list, so they got a lot of love on Highway 1. There are a couple of really sweet tunes on this, my favorite of the three Shins albums. There is also a high possibility that your mom may like the Shins.
4. Iron and Wine: The Shepherd’s Dog- this one scores high on the sweet-o-meter but low on the your-mom-o-meter. I can’t think of anything else to say, so why don’t you just see for yourself.
3. Wilco: Sky Blue Sky- If the first half of the year belonged to My Morning Jacket, the second half was all about the Wilco. I have had Wilco on my Ipod for at least a few years, but never really “got” it. Then, while watching their hour-long Austin City Limits show (ACL is my gateway to cool, in case you haven’t noticed) I was BLOWN AWAY by what was happening on stage. It was exactly as I was describing in my post about the Jimmy Eat World show, except the opposite. These guys were creating something intensely personal and incredibly new on stage. The current lead guitarist of Wilco, Nels Cline, is—well—you’ll have to watch him in action to see what I mean. Your mom will not think that Jeff Tweedy is cute unless he is clean shaven (even then it's a stretch).
2. Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrypha- Andrew Bird is my new favorite. I have been raving about him for months on the blog already, so no need to do that anymore. Please, please—if this guy plays your town—go and see him. You will not be disappointed. (it makes me kind of proud that I have been listening to AB via Squirrel Nut Zippers for years—though his solo stuff is so much different—and so much better—than his fiddle work with the SNZ). Your mom will be excited that, at least for somebody’s kid, those violin lessons paid off. There is something else Bird is known for; can you guess it?
1. Radiohead: In Rainbows- see this post for some Radiohead love. I love, love, love this tune and this tune and this tune especially. This gets my vote for second best Radiohead album ever (just beneath Kid A). Too bad for yooz who didn’t get the album free from the bad while you could, you can always buy it on o1.01.08 when it comes out for realsies. Your mom won’t understand when you tell her that Radiohead is our generation’s Beatles—maybe you don’t understand yet either. You will.

Honorable mention goes to these two bands that I am starting to dig, but haven’t spent a lot of time with yet. One may bloom into a longer term relationship, whilst the other is bound to remain a fling.

The National: Boxer
Band of Horses: Cease to Begin (this one is my favorite of the two.)

And albums that just keep hanging on for me from 2006:

  • John Mayer: Continuum- I just love that JM is a blues guitarist disguised as a pop star. His guitar playing and song writing is of the kind that I would imagine myself to inhabit if I were actually a talented guitar player or songwriter. I mention Continuum here because I’m still listening to it and it is still getting better.
  • James Morrison: Undiscovered- this is kind of a cheat because I didn’t get this album till that stop at Amoeba mentioned here, and didn’t technically listen to James Morrison till 2007, but I couldn’t put him on my list above because his album came out last year. I feel a bit funny about this one for some reason, but I don’t know why. Like the other JM, this JM writes a killer song, has a killer voice and I would love to be able to write a ballad as catchy as this song here.
  • My Brightest Diamond: Bring Me the Workhorse: see my love for Shara Warden here and get excited about the next album to be released in 2008 sometime. I love great female vocalists.

Speaking of, here is some great local, female vocaled music worth checking out:
Awake and Alert: Devil In A Lambskin Suit (Mesa, AZ) (if you watch the video on this site, you’ll see yours truly sitting on screen-right during the set-up montage. Watch for my flip-flopped feet.)
Headlights: Kill them with Kindness (Champaign-Urbana, IL)

Also scheduled for 2008, a double Cure album. Here’s to hoping it’s good. And here’s to hoping you have yourself a merry little Christmas and a happy new year.

If you have had a great time surfing my favorite tunes and wish you could have some more, please listen to this great podcast where most of the bands I mentioned also get mentioned, but with some really great commentary and clips.

Feel free to comment with your favorites from last year as well--though they need not be "new in 2007." What are you all listening to? What am I missing out on?

1 comment:

  1. I noticed no one commented....this post is perhaps intimidation at its best. how can we ever match this coolness?

    oh yeah, plus brandon's been listening to a lot of britney spears lately. :) and you know how she's been in and out of the news and all...what a shame.

    bottom line, we will consider this a tutorial for our 2008. peace!

    love m and b (not to be confused with b and m)