2008, right around the corner. Every year I put together a list of my favorites from the year and some thoughts. Here it is for 2007. All in all I do not think this was a good year for music, especially on the business side. Love to all.
1 Grinderman – Grinderman
When making this list I didn’t expect this, but it’s true. I listened to this album the most in 2007 and I loved it. Albums that came out in 2007 had a lot of frills and bells and whistles it seems. With an industry failing a lot of eyes are on artists creative outputs and there is tons of scrutiny and some hesitation from the creator. In true greatness, this album just kills! The production by Nick Launay is flawless and Nick Cave made an album that is simple, direct, and timeless. This album makes your head bob, your teeth clench, and plants your feet. I reviewed it for defunct Little Radio here, please do read up: http://littleradio.com/feeds/reviews/view/707
2 Pantha Du Prince – This Bliss
Minimal Techno sounds aggravating, but it’s not. Despite the horrible name of the artist, this album is a great electronic release that is really easy to listen to. It came out of left field for me (Germany), I read a few great reviews, picked up the album and was simply amazed. An album for all occasions with great use of strings and never too abrasive. Trust me, I’m not just embracing it because it is obscure.
3 The Field – From Here We Go Sublime
Same thing goes for the Field as #2, yet The Field received a barrage of amazing press from the get go (most likely due to it’s release on Kompakt). It’s a great minimal album. Stayed in my car’s single-disc CD player for a few months without any complaints as the album flows into itself quite nicely (Note: My Commute Is 5 minutes to work).
4 I’m Not There (Soundtrack)
I love Bob Dylan, nothing beats Bob Dylan for me. So I was hesitant when I got this record because its covers of an artist that is perfect as is. The result, a really great double album. Calexico who I really enjoy are heavily involved in this album as a backing band and the result is wonderful. What I also liked is that most of the songs are lesser known and from a period in which Bob was not too critically acclaimed, yet they are great songs. The standouts are “Dark Eyes” (Iron & Wine/Calexico), “Senor” (Willie Nelson/Calexico), “The Man In The Long Black Coat” (Mark Lanegan), and “Ballad Of A Thin Man” (Stephen Malkmus).
5 El-P – I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Wow, I never expected I would dig this. El-P went balls out on this record and enlisted some heavy hitters (Trent Reznor, Mars Volta, Cat Power) to deliver a cornucopia of brutal hits. The album came out right at the beginning of 2007 but held strong all the way. I have the pleasure of working with El-P which you would think would cloud my judgement but the truth is the only stuff of his I really enjoyed before this was his instrumental album. There are some amazing tunes on this album and it deserves praise.
6 Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
Last year, as many others, I fell in love with the sounds of Beirut. The Balkan themed tunes are great and whenever I am flying I decide to put on “Gulag Orkestar.” This album came out on the first day of 2 that I saw them play in Los Angeles and it is good. Not as good as the debut but still strong and luckily still similar. I hope Beirut put out one album a year, that would be nice.
7 Underworld – Oblivion With Bells
When I first heard “Crocodile” (the first single) I loved it but didn’t think the album as whole would hold up. I was wrong, Underworld delivered, this album is a lot of fun and has some great Eno-esque soundscapes placed in there which I love. Yet it still has the driving Underworld signature bump.
8 Justice - Cross
The long awaited debut lived up the MP3’s I downloaded one by one that made up the debut album…wait a minute. I can’t believe this turned into a “thing” I just like that its heavy on the bass and makes you dance. I bought the album the day it came out at Starbucks, that basically sums it up.
9 Dizzee Rascal – Maths & English
I’m not a big hip-hop dude but this album is pretty fierce. I have always liked Dizzee Rascal and this album was solely an import which is just a shame. The album has a great tempo to it and lyrically it’s a step from his past works. Defintely a banger!
10 Bang Gang – Something Wrong
Technically this album was out in 2003, but unveiled in America/UK in 2007. It’s from Iceland and features guest vocalists galore that make up a really great atmospheric mellow pop record. I really liked it and the songs stay with you.
11 The Thrills - Teenager
I took a chance on this album and was pleasantly surprised to the point that I went back and re-bought their previous 2 records (which I had sold)! It’s an honest record which complements a band that has built a nice repertoire of feel good mellow rock albums. A bonus was seeing them at Club NME/Spaceland with good friends and Boddington’s flowing.
12 Jaymay – Autumn Fallin’
Love Jaymay. I have the pleasure of working with her and since she moved to London and signed to Heavenly I didn’t see her much. I was quite happy to get her record in the mail and it was exactly what everybody was hoping for. Dylan-esque songwriting that is honest and brutal. A huge star for the future and just amazing album, the UK is already praising it.
13 Bjork – Volta
On a scale of Bjork fans, I’m far from those fanatic (I know at least 3), but I celebrate the catalog and enjoy her artistry. I like this album a lot, probably because I was lucky enough to score tickets to see her at the Apollo in Harlem (smaller than your local movie theatre) before Coachella and got an advance prior. Live she was great, I really was transfixed on the use of the Lemur mixer and had a great time.
14 Marcus Intalex – FabricLive 35
I’m really glad I am a member of the Fabric First Club, even though I live far from London and have only been to the club once. Reason being is I get Cd’s in the mail monthly from people I have usually never heard of and 1 out of every 5 is great. Marcus Intalex put out an minimal drum ‘n’ bass record, the only drum ‘n’ bass record I have ever liked, and many of my friends who I played the CD for agreed. I was very happy to see that on a recent visit to the Urbis museum in Manchester, UK there was a small installation on Drum ‘N’ Bass and Jungle and it featured a video segment highlighting this FabricLive album and its importance to the genre.
15 Spank Rock – FabricLive 33
To add to my Fabric First input in selection #14, an artist like Spank Rock is a reason I get FabricLive/Fabric CD’s monthly. Although not a huge fan of the group, I know their caliber and this album perfectly comprises some great dance tunes of the year. With cuts from Zongamin, Simian Mobile Disco (Tangerine Dream “Risky Business” Re-Edit), and Uffie among others it was a great party mix.
16 Mark Ronson - Version
I have followed Ronson for a while and really liked the tunes I was hearing off this album as they slowly leaked. It’s a good, fun album, and the LA show was great because of all the nice guest appearances. This year I also experienced Ronson’s club, YoYo in NY and London, met his crew, and had a blast.
17 Peter, Bjorn, And John – Writer’s Block
I downloaded this album on iTunes when it came out in Sweden and really dug it. Then “Young Folks” took off and that was all she wrote. I recently revisited this album and its quite good, so it makes my list. On the live end though they are boring sadly.
18 Eagles – Long Road Out Of Eden
Ok, here it is. I’m an Eagles fan, fuck you. I’m pissed they made me go to Wal-Mart though, but it’s cool, I burned this record for all my friends.
19 Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
I got this album on a whim after hearing rumblings of its greatness and its quite nice. I’m usually not into solo artist dudes, and that should say something about this album. An interesting work and the first I have heard from Mr. Bird.
20 BARR - Summary
By far the weirdest album I heard all year, and probably ever. Almost painful spoken word, but really off the wall. “The Song Is The Single” is a great song, and just really satirically hilarious. I enjoyed playing this album for Carlos and blowing his mind that someone would do this. It’s laughable.
Honorable Mentions sorta:
No Age – Weirdo Rippers Everybody was ALL about this, but the album itself is not that good amazing song-wise….c’mon be honest. What I do give them is that they are the fore-fathers of an LA scene that is finally amongst us. Bands like Abe Vigoda and HEALTH exist now and it’s nice to have creativity close to home.
Alaska In Winter – Dance Party In The Balkans Easily one of the best live shows I saw all year in which Brandon (the only member of the band) filmed himself playing all the parts and added some comic relief as well. Very Beirut (they are buddies) and an album that is finally getting some of the credit it deserves.
Burial – “Archangel” from Untrue Hell of a tune, that is all. The album doesn’t come close to how good this song is.
The Prayers – God Save The Prayers EP Some obvious bias as I work very closely with these guys but I really see them as amazingly talented and had some wonderful times with them this year. Meeting Mark E Smith with them, going to a Man City game, and really enjoying ourselves, can’t beat that.
So like every year I go to many live shows. Most blend into the mid-range level and rarely am I blown away because I see so many bands. I do find it quite important to note when I am blown away though, and that happened a few times this year. Most recently, Jen and I flew to London for vacation and were ecstatic to learn that The Verve was going to be playing the day we landed on their reunion mini-tour. We got tickets in the pre-sale and were stoked. I have to admit though, although I have all 3 Verve albums, I never found myself listening to them that often and couldn’t remember the songs (even though I liked them when I listened to them). Add the fact that we basically landed after an 11 hour flight and went to the O2 Arena, I was pretty woozy. But, when the Verve took the stage and started playing I was blown away. Any jet-lag or travel fatigue was gone and they were amazing. Since then (Dec 13th) I cannot get their great songs out of my head and now know them! I’m looking forward to seeing them at Coachella ’08 (fingers crossed).
A show that took me by surprise was Morrissey at the Hollywood Bowl on June 8th. I have seen Morrissey plenty of times over the last few years and only got tickets for this because Jen wanted to go and it was around our birthdays. I wasn’t really excited or anything when we went, I was expecting to hear some songs I liked and that be that. I was wrong, the feeling at the Bowl was electric. The songs he played were amazing and the sound was impeccable. Loud, pitch perfect, and truly amazing. I was intrigued from the first song to the last and that shows me it’s an amazing show.
Lastly, I want to comment on a show I saw by chance at SXSW that took the cake. SXSW ’07 was grueling for me, and quite uneventful by the time it was over. During my running around, I had to go check on the SPIN party at Stubb’s one of the days to make sure my companies banner and swag was out and visible, etc. I walked in to a humming, powerful driving set by the band MEW. From that moment on, I was hooked. I stopped and watched as much of the set as I could and the sound was perfect. I never cared much for the band, I had heard a few tunes and wasn’t into it, but after seeing them live I realized I was missing out. Shortly after SXSW I picked up their record and fell in love all over again. Easily the best sounding live act I saw in ’07 and it was all by chance.
She Wants Revenge Sophmore Slump? I worked on the first record and spent many a time with Justin Warfield and basically kept my opinion of him to myself, well it’s been long enough. The guy is a sham, a fake, a poser, an ass, and way too cocky. I feel bad for Adam 12, he is nice. Their second album sucks and their careers are most likely over, again.
UNKLE I have always been a huge U.N.K.L.E. supporter, and sadly I was really not into their latest album. I was a fan of “Never, Never Land” which most people wrote off as mediocre as it was missing DJ Shadow. This album, is just shit, plain and simple. All the songs are middle of the road and dismal at that. Too bad too, I really wanted to like it.
The Stooges – The Weirdness Love the Stooges but this record sucks.
Managers I work in the music industry and the worst thing this year were all the shitty managers who don’t know a damn thing and have ego’s bigger than anybody. People who just don’t think at all and fuck up so much. Total bummer, hopefully in ’08 all these folks get fired once their respective artists realized how bad they are. Note, if you are a manager and you are reading this well then you are a friend of mine and a GOOD manager.
Geffen Records Wow, what a bummer, in early December Interscope/Universal finally pulled the trigger and laid off what must be 80% of the company. A company I used to work at. The only good thing about it was that most of the “cool” people knew it was coming and are moving on to better things, and the majority of the asshole’s (Ron’s Kids) got let go as well screaming and crying. Talk about ruining a company Mr. Fair, the Klaxons and watered down pop that the kids won’t even swallow, what a bummer. I would say stick to producing but that “touch” seems to have departed as well. Some people belong in studios, others have the charisma, intelligence, and ability to grow a company…obviously, you are lacking some needed qualities.