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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Musical favorites of 2007

Once again this year, my list of musical favorites is not solely restricted to material released in this year. That said, I listened to a lot of stuff released this year. So, let's get right to it and then talk about non-2007 releases.

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Albums that feature some killer songs, but I just didn't find the whole albums to be killer

Fountains of Wayne - Traffic and Weather
Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City
Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Modest Mouse's Good News for People Who Love Bad News and Bloc Party's Silent Alarm were my utmost favorite releases of 2004 and 2005, respectively. I wasn't expecting their follow-ups to really blow me away and well, they didn't. However, I'm glad I have songs like "Florida," "Dashboard," "I Still Remember," "Waiting for the 7.18" and "Sunday" in my iTunes.

In regards to Fountains of Wayne's fourth proper album, the band sticks to the formula from their previous album, Welcome Interstate Managers, and I can't say it's to their detriment or advantage. That said, I found myself listening to "Strapped for Cash" and "Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim" quite a bit this year.

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Though I usually like to talk solely about my favorite songs/albums from the year, I can't go any further without addressing the following . . .

Album that kind of proves my theory about fooling hipsters and jaded music fans, but later realized it isn't that overrated

The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

After numerous attempts to get into this highly-lauded follow-up to a stellar debut, I was about to devote some space expressing my theory about how it's an amazing achievement to fool people who nitpick Wilco but over-praise mind-numbing club bangers. However, recently listening to various tracks from this album prevents me from doing such.

That said, I still wonder: how in the world did Neon Bible not receive a tar-and-feathering while so many other follow-ups-to-breakthrough-albums usually do? Was it the pipe organ? Was it the topics of religion, war and apocalypse in the lyrics?

Beyond all of this, my main complaint about Neon Bible is how it's way more build-up than release. Meaning, songs build and build, but rarely lead to a satisfying climax. Funeral grabs me right away and doesn't disappoint. I wasn't trying to compare it to Funeral when I listened to Neon Bible for the first few times, but that's what still comes to mind.

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And now back to our regularly scheduled list . . .

Great songs on a great album, but maybe a few songs should have appeared as b-sides

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Living With the Living

Ted Leo and company put out another fantastic set of songs here. Fourteen proper tracks (and one intro track) rock and roar, but couple that with the free EP with four more proper songs, I had a little too much of a good thing.

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Albums that I liked, but just never got around to frequently listen to from top to bottom

The New Pornographers - Challengers
Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High
Maritime - Heresy and the Hotel Choir
Against Me! - New Wave
Parts and Labor - Mapmaker
Weakerthans - Reunion Tour

Sometimes my desire to hear new records from start to finish gets set aside so I can listen to Scott Walker again and again. These are some examples. And as much as I have strongly disliked what all has come with Fall Out Boy's popularity in the last few years, I found Infinity On High to be surprisingly tuneful and enjoyable.

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Dallas-based band who put out a fantastic record, but if I were to play it for people outside of the city, they would probably pass it off as "meh"

The Crash That Took Me - Orchestrated Kaleidoscopes

Consisting of members of [DARYL] and Black Tie Dynasty, there's a strong influence from My Bloody Valentine here. Thankfully it's not a retread or an attempt to recreate Loveless. A really nice progression from [DARYL]'s sound.

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The four albums released this year that I liked above all the other aforementioned albums

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works
Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

Sky Blue Sky is probably at the top of this small list for a number of reasons. To put it simply, this is a moody record that I don't have to be in a certain mood to listen to. Another great Wilco album in my book.

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the album that helped me understand Spoon's unique blend of low-key, but memorable songs. Now I have five other Spoon albums to digest.

All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone is the best sounding Explosions record to date, with songs that effectively progress from their previous albums and Rescue EP.

Ire Works was touted to be the best Dillinger record to date by a certain band member. I can safely say he was right.

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Reissued in 2007, much to my delight

The Pipettes - We Are the Pipettes
Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation

We Are the Pipettes reminds me of when pop music was filled with memorable hooks instead of vanilla blandness or moronic blow-out-your-speakers beats. The stateside release adds two extra tracks and sports an entirely remixed sound. Though I'm not so sure that was for the best other than marketing, having songs like "Pull Shapes" and "ABC" out stateside is a good thing.

I might be committing heresy in saying that I haven't fully sunk my teeth into Daydream Nation, but well, I haven't fully sunk my teeth into it. As a matter of fact, other than the Goo reissue, my other Sonic Youth CDs just sit there waiting to be really dug into. Maybe that's something I should work on in 2008.

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Bands/albums I finally "got" in 2007

Zao
Botch - We Are the Romans
At the Gates - Slaughter of the Soul
Death Cab for Cutie - The Photo Album

With repeat viewings of the Lesser Lights of Heaven documentary, I can safely say I'm now a fan of Zao's brutal metalcore. It's only taken me ten years to get into Dan Weyandt's demonic, scream-bloody-murder voice, but I love it (and the band's sound) on Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest, Liberate Te Ex Inferis and The Fear is What Keeps Us Here.

Botch's name has frequently come up in the last few years. Be it a hardcore show at Rubber Gloves or a number of AP issues, I finally took a listen to their renowned second album. I dig. The same can be said with At the Gates.

Death Cab's third proper album skips over the stuff that holds back We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes and just cooks. Amazing what happens when I listen to a band's last two records and then check out their earlier stuff.

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There you have it. To 2008 and beyond!

4 comments:

Chris said...

No mention of:
Radiohead? - I realize its only been out for like a month, but still...
The National - ????
The Polyphonic Spree - maybe not your brand of whiskey I don't know
Band of Horses - ??
Kings of Leon - ??

I am disappointed

Eric Grubbs said...

Radiohead - have yet to hear it the whole way through. The whole 160kbps kinda scared me off.

The National - dug a few songs, but just couldn't really get into the whole album.

The Polyphonic Spree - not really my cup of tea.

Band of Horses - I love "Is There A Ghost," but I heard it for the first time yesterday.

Kings of Leon - "Knocked Up" is a great song, but I've never really liked these guys.

Py Korry said...

Spoon surprised me as well. On a whim I bought it off eMusic -- mostly because I liked the title. But it surprised me by how good it is.

jeremyveggie said...

What about Minus the Bear's Planet of Ice? Excellent in my opinion. I also really enjoyed:
Circa Survive's "On Letting Go"
Thrice's "Alchemy Index"
Aloha's "Light Works" ep