Friday, December 28, 2007

Best of 2007: Music

Because this is what we do at the end of the year...

To be accurate, this should be titled 'Favorites of 2007: Music' because I am hardly an authority on the amazing amount of music available. However both my bank account and local library attest to the fact that I try my best. Here are my favorites of 2007, in alphabetical order:

  • All Hour Cymbals (Yeasayer) As cheeky as the title and the name may be, the music is a different story. Yeasayer music is eclectic without being schizophrenic, and sophisticated without being convoluted. The only criticism that I could possibly come up with is how conventional some of the songs sound through totally unconventional means, and that is a feat within itself.
  • Andorra (Caribou) Andorra is a total throw back to wall-of-sound psychedelic pop of the 60s that is catchy, melodious and beautiful. Dan Snaith's previous projects, as Caribou and Manitoba, have not come close to the brilliance achieved here. Listening to this CD makes me want to dance around barefoot with flowers in my hair.
  • Bambi’s Dilemma (Melt Banana) Melt Banana has turned a corner on Bambi's Dilemma transforming their sonic mazes that spiral around and make your head spin into delicate head throbbing punk perfection. Just when they seem on the verge of slipping into an actual pop-like melody, they hit you with some mad frenetic madness. Sound like an oxymoron? Just download "Cracked Plaster Cast" and the 44 second "Lock the Head" and you will see just what I'm talking about.
  • Friend Opportunity (Deerhoof) More than any other CD in this list, I could pop in Friend Opportunity at anytime and be satisfied. The first track, "The Perfect Me," is a kinetic barn burner that is enough to get anyone moving right out of the gate. Friend Opportunity is punk pop at its best. The biggest disappointment was that Deerhoof, who will often make two passes to the Twin Cities in a tour, only chose to play a show at the stuffy McGuire Theater at the Walker.
  • In Advance of the Broken Arm (Marnie Stern) The title says it all: screw it! let's go! With her fretboard tapping and 80s metal guitar sound, Marnie Stern is definitely throwing caution to the wind. This is some very unassuming rock and roll that doesn't even have marketing in mind. The album is quirky, to say the least, and if it wasn't for her amazing guitar playing, I wonder how this music would come off. Without a doubt this is one of the most unique albums of the year, and I love it.
  • LP (Holy Fuck) LP has the unfair advantage that I only recently bought it and I am hopelessly addicted to it. It is such a great combination of electronic and no nonsense rocking out. I'm dying for these guys to come to town. Let's hope they open for Super Furry Animals in February at First Ave. Check out some of the videos on their MySpace page. From the dreamy "Milkshake" and "Lovely Allen" to the pulsing "Super Inuit" and "Safari," I love this album from start to finish.
  • Mirrored (Battles) Mirrored is hard to peg down as far as a genre. Sure it's 'math rock' and if I weren't so stoopid, there are probably some pretty amazing things happening rhythmically. With ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier and three other guys who play anything else that plugs in, this guys mash it up pretty good. It's multi-layered, it's experimental, it's electronic, and it's rock, all in a very well crafted package.
  • Natural (Mekons) God love the Mekons and every facet of their shape-shifting musical genres. In many ways, this might be the Mekons' most mainstream album yet. There is something bright and shiny about this dark themed album. Natural reminds me of the best of The Handsome Family...except better because it's the Mekons.
  • Rainbow (Boris & Michio Kurihara) Michio Kurihara does something to slow Boris down a little bit. Not that Boris was fast without him, but there is something a little more reflective about Rainbow. For those who are getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about this combo, the quartet had no trouble nearly blowing my eardrums out at the Triple Rock this fall. That being said, this album is full of nuance and variation.
  • Strawberry Jam (Animal Collective) This was a difficult one because I really got burnt out on Strawberry Jam, which I blame on myself and Radio K, who obviously adored "Peacebone" as much as I did. There is a mania here that this album conveys. Who knew that music so peculiar could be so engaging. Although some won't agree, Strawberry Jam upstages Panda Bear's Person Pitch.
  • The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams (Me’shell Ndegeocello) Me'shell's last few releases have left me cold, but I was blown away by this album. The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams combines the best of what Me'shell is known for: her jazz and funk and hypnotic spoken word. Definitely one of the most overlooked albums of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Dark Star (White Magic), Kala (M.I.A.), Person Pitch (Panda Bear), Proof of Youth (The Go Team), Teardrop Sweetheart (Misha), The Third Hand (RJD2), Triple Rock (Dosh), Widow City (Fiery Furnaces), With Lasers (Bonde de Role), Yesterday's Universe (Yesterday's New Quintet).

Shows - My favorite shows obviously coordinate with some of my favorite albums.I'd be remiss not to mention Radiohead's serious smackdown to the music industry. I bought In Rainbows for 5 quid when it was first made available, and although it is not one of my faves, I was more than glad to put up money for their effort. Granted, Radiohead could probably do anything they want and be successful, but this has to be a huge wake up call to the suits. The more the industry pisses and moans about illegal downloads or copyright infringement, the more artists and fans are going to take control.

Although I thought the City Pages Year in Music issue was lame with a capital L, I loved the Twin Cities Rock Atlas. Check it out.


gosport 4 your opuntia said...

i feel like i've been living in a soundproof bubble because i haven't heard of one (yes, not one) of the albums/bands you mention here.

...which, i feel, qualifies me to critique your list and ask: where's the love for mastodon?

Kathie Smith said...

Gosport. Dude. Mastodon was sooooo last year.

gosport 4 your opuntia said...

my bad. things travel very slowly when you're dealing with a gosport

Kathie Smith said...

Imagine how I must feel on this opuntia! Perhaps I can loan you some CDs down that gosport of yours....