Monday, April 07, 2008

BEST MUSIC 2007 - PART THE FIRST

This isn't so much as in order as it is half of what I listened to. Sometime in the future: The Other Half! Sometime after that: Order! Maybe!

Note: I wrote this as an email to a friend. If it seems like I'm getting into weird personal territory, just pretend I'm pretending to know you in a way that you may or may not be!

Now, without adieus, ALBUMS OF 2007 SOME OF WHICH WERE BEST!

Yeasayer — All Hour Cymbals
My kind of new-century world music. I love this more and more every time I listen to it. Top 10? Strong maybe.

Bloc Party — A Weekend in the City
Like their spiritual forebears, Blur, this band baffled me upside my heads because the whole was not what I expected from the parts. But I then they Blurred me. And Blur is never so great that they're super awesome, but I can't ever say no to Blur. You know?

Jesu — Conqueror
Now that you're a stoner, you should listen to more shoegaze. Stoned. Actually, I don't know where you stand on, say, My Bloody Valentine, but shoegaze can be great. But you need to listen to it stoned once before you can appreciate it sober, sometimes. This is very heavy (post-metal), but it mixes super deep bottom with spirit in the clouds/check your irony at the door pretty.

Jesu — Lifeline
Eh. It's uneven.

Liars — Liars
I love the Liars. They went from crap to esoteric to arcane to putting out the best Beck album since Odelay. And a much darker one too. This album was like the end of Black Hole when they come out in a better universe. And I'm like that junky robot with the pop-up head who goes with them as we laugh at the mad scientist on an asteroid.

Modest Mouse — We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

The absolute worst Modest Mouse record (aside from the B-sides and phone recordings filler albums) is still awesome. Johnny Marr! Also, it's so much weirder than it sounds at first. None of this should work so good, but it does. Good on them.

Radiohead — In Rainbows
Well, it's better than Pablo Honey. I KID! Sort of. It IS better than Pablo Honey, but it is also their worst album. There's nothing actually WRONG with it, it just sounds like a mash up between the Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief. They should've called this Abbey Rhode. I'm hard on them mainly because they were THE band for so long. Now they're old. It's a fine album, but it's not shaking my basement.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow — Scribble Mural Comic Journal
You know, for a year supposedly defined by neo-disco and sound collage, there was a lot of hidden spacey, psychedelic shoegaze rock. I'm not sure too much of this sticks (unless it's the only one of it's kind you listen to), but it's really nice and not overly unoriginal either. I would totally lose my virginity to this album and treasure it forever if I could. Maybe...

Panda Bear — Person Pitch
It's like an indie music Christmas album. Excuse me, Winter Solstice album. It's ok, but I can't imagine intentionally listening to it. Unless you're doing something like this.

Dan Deacon — Spiderman of the Rings
This starts out as the most annoying thing ever recorded. Samples upon samples upon samples upon samples of Woody Woodpecker. Fuck off! Then it settles into solid sound collage. Even at Deacon's worst and most indulgent, he still manages to find rhythm — even song — in his mixes. If I gave this album to you as a gift, I'd remove the water boarding first and let you enjoy the best ofs.

Marnie Stern — In Defense of the Broken Arm
Rush meets Sonic Youth! I listen to it, and it's like threesome I always dreamed of. Both exactly what I always wanted and sometimes just what I always feared. I'll still tell you it's awesome, first. It's more complicated than that, and you really ought to pay attention when it's happening. Sometimes it takes more attention than is pleasurable. And it's worth it. Sort of. I don't know how much I'd want to do that combination again, but I'll gladly relive it. Does that make sense?

Alcest — Souvenirs d'un autre monde
Okay. You hate even the IDEA of black metal. Fair enough. I know both why you're wrong and why you're ABSOLUTELY right. How do you feel about shoegaze? What about Smashing Pumpkins? See, this is me trying too hard to say, we all need to come at this from a different direction. Look at it this way, there's little question that Alcest adheres to their black metal roots. Fine. People who love black metal HATE Alcest. Did I finally get you're attention? How about this: They're FRENCH. French black metal. How about this: I'm the most sarcastic person you'll ever meet. And yet, I have room in my heart for unadulterated, irony-free, absolute and total love... at least, that's what I think they're getting at here. It's like a sonic sculpture to beauty. Shut up!

Om — Pilgrimage
In a world where far too many people are doing the drone, Om stands out. If you have any appreciation for the art of listening to feedback slowly modulating over the course of 13 minutes, Om is like the Robert McKee of narrative structure in drone. The Joseph Campbell of heroic myth in drone. If I lost you at drone, then whatever.

Ghostface Killah — The Big Doe Rehab
I think Ghostface is one of the top 5 rappers of all time. This album sucks. Get anything else he's ever done instead (Ironman, Supreme Cientele. Fishscale, even Bulletproof Wallets!).

Wu-Tang Clan — 8 Diagrams
Yes, it's not the worst thing that ever happened to hip hop. No, that's not an endorsement.

Aesop Rock — None Shall Pass
I absolutely adore Aesop, but I expected very little from this. Every album he puts out is compared to his first, Labor Days. And he's never going to put out a Labor Days again. And I'm glad. I love Labor Days, but he went out on a serious (good) crazy on Bazooka Tooth and didn't look back so much as look around after that. He found progressive house and made it hard and awesome again and instilled it with more words and nerd per song than mere mortals doth attempt. Imagine this whole writing, only awesome and danceable and smart. Man, he got my dance on with this!

El-P — I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
I'm shaking my head. This is the guy. This guy right here. He redefined underground hip-hop. And then he does this. It's all kind of there in a way you don't want it to be. It's not even wallpaper, so much as walls. Kind of 'there' walls. And then he does a duet with Trent Reznor. Flyentology. If you can't figure out why it's awful, say it out loud. Flyentology. Fly-entology. Really.

Year of No Light — Nord
I always think Nord is the band. It makes more sense, right? Okay. You have to have already decided that the black metal/post-grind core/shoegaze/post-thrash/sometimes polyp-inducing screaming is something you're going to fully invest in. If you did, you would totally show up when the doors open to see these guys before the headlining band. You might even see them headline if you're in the neighborhood already and you're hanging out with someone who would totally do that. It's really good, and freaking Chariots of Fire on top of Chariots of Fire gorgeous, but there's no way anyone will ever take my word for it.

Bjork — Volta
If she married me, I'd so tell her this was as good as — no, BETTER — than anything she has ever recorded before. She didn't marry me, though, so I can objectively say this broke my heart with crap

Battles — Mirrored
I'm the only guy on earth who knows who Battles is and listens to Yes for pleasure. And vice versa. Battles is Yes with Jon Anderson getting the boot. They're all-Yes. As in, every single incarnation smashed together the way that Union album wasn't. That's right. I name-checked Union in my review of Battles. How do you like all good people turn there heads each day so satisfied apples? I enjoy the hell out of Tales From the Topographic Battles. I'm not kidding. I do. It's all the bad of Yes removed, but somehow lacking any brush with greatness. I'm not sure how often I'd intentionally listen to them, but I'm really glad to have them all up in there (that's what she said).

Pharoahe Monch — Desire
I love Pharoahe. He's awesome. If I only listened to hip-hop, this would be the third best album of the year. As it is, I can just say this is ridiculously solid. You know how it is when there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, but nothing rises so high as to make it indispensable? That's this. I wish it were otherwise. I'll toast when it plays, but I won't seek it out.

Rob Sonic — Sabotage Gigante
First of all, that title is so ridiculously awesome. And If you don't know why, than you know less spanish-language tv than most dried-up Klan grannies. This album is great. Second-best hip-hop album of the year (after None Shall Pass). It's not quite as awesome as Sonic's first album (Telicatessen), in the way that could blow you away with its Pete Rock vs. Rick Rubin vs. nerdz awl groun up first timerz club aesthetic, but it's great in a more-of-the-same way. Which might not sound GREAT, but it was the worst year ever for hip-hop, so "not-disappointing" gets higher marks.

Budriver — RoadKillOvercoat
I wasn't so much as disappointed by this album as I was less than impressed. A little Busdriver goes a long way, and I already had the last album. Again, nothing too awful (at all, seriously), but nothing transcendent. It's more of this kind of hip-hop. In the mainstream, everyone loves Ludacris, but no one should have to listen to a whole album. Busdriver is indy-hip-hop's Luda.

Deerhunter — Fluorescent Grey

This is great pop-shoegazer.

Deerhunter — Cryptograms
These guys should stick to 4-song EPs. This was a whole lot of whatever.

Baroness — Red Album
Remember how hot the Baroness was? Guuuuuuurrrrrrggggllllle. Damn. Who hasn't hit less-than for flashes-of? Am I right? This album is awesome. If there's a place between the southern prog of Mastodon and the rawk of Guns n Roses, than Baroness studied there and made something to piss off fans of either and thrill fans of both. I love this album like I love someone you love and feel protective of.

Between the Buried and Me — Colors
Imagine every form of metal, from Sabbath to Queen to Slayer to Korn to Dillenger Escape Plan to Maiden to Def Leopard to Motorhead to Van Halen to Metallica to whoever... each one has its own radio station. Every incarnation had its own dedicated station. Now, you're in you're car and you've got one hand on your dick and one hand on the dial and you're driving cruise control down an empty highway, steering with your knees and twisting the knob as you're twisting the knob and you're getting close to imagining what it's like to try and listen to this band. I don't even know if it's good, but I know I'd be pissed off to hell if I died before I got to the end.

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