Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Best-of 2007:: Top Ten LPs

Ok. The last installment. It's my favorite records. Read the my part carefully, so if you disagree because I don't like Beirut or Justice, well we have some freshly combed sand to pound. I kid. I kid. But seriously, this list isn't the "best" records, it's the ones that affected me the most.

10.) J Tillman - Cancer & Delirium - review
"Tillman is not afraid to offer himself up on every track. He doesn’t hide his feelings behind solos, bridges, instruments, or even harmonies. He’s able to make you want to listen, but I don’t think he really cares if you do or not. His songs are his own, and that’s why they work. He strikes me as the type of person who would write a song about how a woman has shattered his heart, and sing that song to a room full of people (including the woman) who know the real story. Not to embarrass her, or be vindictive. Simply because those are the feelings he has inside."

Best moment of '07::
Finding a free bike on the side of the road
Worst moment of '07::
Falling off said piece-of-shit bike and busting open chin; having friends inform me said bike was a "girl's bike" while laughing hysterically
Resolution for '08::
To bring seattle's attention to the fact that I make records, tour, am alive, etc.
Favorite record of '07::
I'm just going to tell you that Bill Patton's "gets it on" came out in 2007

MP3:: Under the Sun

9.) Tom Brosseau - Grand Forks - review
"After a few listens, the songs reminded me of Richard Russo’s classic novel, Empire Falls. The events tie together the lives of characters much more interesting than the situation and setting should allow. But instead of seeing the world through the eyes of the pessimistic and scared Miles Roby and the other residents of Empire Falls that have been knocked down by years of disappointment, you see the Grand Forks through a surprisingly optimistic set of eyes."
Note: I haven't heard his second release of 2007 yet - Cavalier - but if the Fante/Bukowski cover tribute (Black Sparrow Press) is any indicator, it's going to be stellar.

MP3:: Fork in the Road

8.) Nathan Lawr & the Minotaurs - A Sea of Tiny Lights - review
"It's easy to go song by song and point out the highlights, of which there are many, but looking at the record on a whole you see the perfection of imperfection, as Lawr shows confidence, insecurity, scorn, love, and jealousy as he looks at the world around him and deep inside himself. Quite simply, and most accurately, the record is real."

Best moment of '07::
My first day of school.
Worst moment of '07::
The death of Daniel Ferguson Heighton.
Resolution (music wise) for '08::
Expand, explore, excursions into unknowns.
Favorite record of '07::
Antibalas' Security

MP3:: The Glass

7.) Dinosaur Jr - Beyond - review
"The most impressive thing about this CD is that never once to you want to pull out Bug and listen to the songs you fell in love with. The band doesn’t try to reproduce what made them great, probably because they still love to write the same type of songs. Instead of mellowing with age, they are unapologetic about the rebellion of youth that made their band what is was. Brash solos and booming sounds: Lyrics that aren’t trying to change the world. I don’t think J, Lou or Murph have any concern about what anyone thinks. Almost nothing has changed."

HH:: Leads to a question unrelated to the current tour. News came out yesterday that the Dinosaur Jr. record is done. How did that whole process of working with J again go? If you don't mind talking about it.
LB:: Good – I mean it started with reunion almost two years ago. it was really easy, surprisingly easy. I was surprised that he wanted to do another record, but as we started working, all of the doubts all kind of fell away. I mean we worked really hard on this record over about seven months, very off and on. We really worked on it a lot for two months, and it was surprising how easy and how much I enjoyed it.

MP3:: Been There All the Time

6.) Weakerthans - Reunion Tour - review
"If Tom Waits has been anointed the king of the vagabond troubadours (which is quite deserving), John K. Samson should be known as the voice of rural, blue collar Canadians. His unique, descriptive portrayals are always spot on and heartfelt."

MP3:: Night Windows (live early version - 2005)

5.) Amos the Transparent - Everything I've Forgotten to Forget - review
"The record, written over the course of a few years by Chandler and Wilson, was recorded in true collective fashion but there is one major difference from the traditional definition. Amos the Transparent is really the vision of two people, and they employ friends to realize that vision. The songs are tight, the arrangements crisp and succinct. In most cases, too many cooks spoil the broth and too many guitars spoil the sounds. Huge crescendos are all well and good, but endless meandering that is all too common in today's indie scene is another thing. AtT never wastes a note."

Best moment of '07::
The best moment for me, musically speaking, of 2007 was probably the release of the record. It seemed to be a long stretch of anticipation and curiosity of how it would be accepted prior to it's release and needless to say, i think we all had a big weight lifted off our shoulders come Sept.
Worst moment of '07::
The worst moment(s) i found to be those when we were shifting members. It wasn't all that easy trying to rearrange the songs for the live setting. However, in the long run I think it turned out for the best.
Resolution for '08::
A resolution for 08....well, I've always been told that I'm impatient. And if there is one thing that I've learned with Amos, it is that patience is somewhat a kin to double-knotting your shoelaces. So, I suppose I would like to practice my patience skills. I've also been told that I'm lazy...but that's a whole other questionable analogy in itself.
Favorite record for '07::
I don't think that asking for one favorite record of the year if fair, I'm the kind of person that would analyze this question for weeks.
1. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
2. Wilco- Sky Blue Sky
3. Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War
4. The Shins- Wincing the Night Away
5. Radiohead - In Rainbows (because if I didn't mention this one people would think I'm ill)

MP3:: Ok,Ok,Fine,Okay

4.) Dolorean - You Can't Win - review
"Dark and clouded: I thought this was a simple representation of where Al is, emotional and musically, but two-minutes in you are hit with a rhythmic piano line that shines through the dark, like a ray of light through a break in the clouds. Al repeats the words “you can’t win” over and over again, gaining strength and power with every repetition and I realized this isn’t his pessimistic vision, but more a defiant response to those who wonder why he does what he does."

MP3:: 33 55 9 North

3.) Miracle Fortress - Five Roses - review
"The band doesn’t allow itself to get stuck in one riff, one sound. Tracks like Poetaster drift effortlessly into the straight ahead pop realm. The gentle traces of steel drum sounds that creep into the channels triggers an old Jane Says flashback (this is said without any sarcasm). I’ve ignored this record way too long, and have a feeling it will be one I play to death and for that reason alone it’s a perfect showcase for the Canadian scene."

MP3:: This Thing About You

2.) Maritime - Heresy and the Hotel Choir - review
"Don’t get me wrong. There are more than enough hooks to keep any fan happy (Pearl is infectious and the punk rock energy of Hours That You Keep is a stellar), but H & HC is the type of record that will expand in front of you with every listen. For every instantaneous guitar riff (Aren't We All Found Out) there's a hidden treasure (the fragility of Davey's vocals when he harmonizes on First Night on Earth, the pseudo ska sounds of Are We Renegade or the fuzzy contrast of Be Unhappy - which for the most part is a summery affair) that might slip by unnoticed on first pass. I hope that the lineup they've settled on sticks around for the long haul, because this might be the last time any critic or fan of Davey's chooses to looks back instead of forward."

Best moment of '07::
Flying home after a tour having my 18 month old daughter run up to me and into my arms at the baggage claim of Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport. It was just like out of a movie. At that moment I was happy to play the part of the war torn hero.
Worst moment of '07::
This must have been a pretty good year because nothing is jumping out at me as being the worst moment. I guess being stuck in San Francisco for a day (there are worst places to be stuck, I know) waiting for the $2000 repair to our van wasn't fun.
Resolution for '08::
Try to do new things and make better musical decisions as we start to work on new songs. I'm looking forward to another round of us hashing it out in our studio. This time, however, I feel we need to do something special by stepping outside of the house we constructed over the last three records and start building a guest house.
Favorite record of '07::
Jose Gonzalez 'In Our Nature'

Odd note since Dan answered our questions. I still have the same wallet from 1999. When Promise Ring played Pittsburgh on the Wood/Water tour, I got Dan to take a pic with me and my roommate in one of those joke photo things you find in crappy arcades and bars. At the time, super cool, but now I'm a full-time worker and you can still see the faded sticker with the leopard trim every time I pull out my wallet. Needless to say, this is like reason 4080 why I'm not really a success.
MP3:: Pearl

1.) The National - Boxer - review
Seriously. I know this is anticlimactic, but I love this record. From the great cover art, to the dramatic shift in instrumentation, to the confidence the band displayed, to the amazing drum work, to the fact people love to hate it. Everything. I said when it came out it would be my favorite all year, and my feelings haven't changed.
"It’s hard to try to dissect the songs individually, because the record works so well as a complete package. The record takes a much darker sound, and it seems the band went for more subtly and experiments with a slower tempo (with more drums), avoiding the melodic hooks that dotted the landscape of Alligator. I also think the slower tracks are the strongest on this record. The methodical pace of Start a War fits perfectly with the draining emotion Matt presents. Holding onto a relationship is exhausting, and you really feel that when you hear Matt claim, “I’ll get money, I’ll get funny again.” If they only stick it out, they can find that happiness they once had.

Green Gloves glides, and you can imagine the band sitting around an apartment working out the arrangement and harmonies on this song and the vibe continues with the shaker/acoustic backbone of Slow Show. The slow build of Ada is breath taking, and the swells of horns sounds great, but the band treats the song like a jockey pacing a horse that wants to run. Instead of breaking into full stride, they control the ebbs and flows nicely. The record ends as strongly as it starts with the orchestral sounds of Gospel. Gentle strums of an acoustic, piano, soft kick drum beat and some nice backing vocals close the album like a great ending in a novel. You simply close the cover and feel a sense of satisfaction as you put it back on your shelf."

MP3:: Fake Empire
MP3:: Ada - White Session

Posted at 11:04 AM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 10:12 PM, Blogger pop-kid did sayeth:

Nice list. Nice blog. You've turned me on to some good new music this year (I'm particularly enjoying the Amos the Transparent album). Thanks.


At 8:59 PM, Blogger Christopher did sayeth:

Nice. Miracle Fortress is also in my "Best of '07" .


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