i figured since we were now a month away from 2007, now would be a suitable time to drop my reflections on a year's music on the people.Warning: may contain opinions.
"Anti-bashing" pussies might find it more productive to go somewhere else.Top 10
– I'll Sleep When You're Dead
: The most deliberate, forceful, sincere and fucking heartfelt record of the year, when you listen you begin to understand the five-year gap between this and Fantastic Damage
. Is it better than the latter? It's a moot point. They're both different and both essential. ISWYD is a ferocious unrelenting broadside against "infected money slobbing pesticrats" where every beat's a banger and every emotion is raw enough to wring hot angry tears. From the adrenalising Mars Volta
-starring opener "Tasmanian Pain Coaster
", it doesn't let up. Every Weatherman (bar Breeze Brewin') turns up for a guest shot. By the time El and gorgeous Chan "Cat Power
" Marshall (who incidentally would make a great couple) close it with strung-out duet "poisenville kids no wins
" you pretty much just want to hit play again. Indispensable shit.
• Rufus Wainwright
– Release The Stars
: as another review somewhere else put it, this makes pretty much all other pop music release this year sound rather bloodless. Rufus – or Rufus! as it should be spelt – returns to sprinkle his wonderful melodic gay stardust over everything. Unexpected actress cameos, Phantom of the Opera steals, kitchen-sink+ orchestration and melody after glorious melody. i sort of wish i was gay so i could be this stylish.
• Aesop Rock
– None Shall Pass
: Aes delivers what might be his most straight-ahead, yet still fantastic album yet, cutting through some of the harder-edged or more 'difficult' stuff from his earlier works in favour of the loved-up title track, swaggering "The Harbor Is Yours
" and double-time banger "Coffee
", with The Mountain Goats
' John Darnielle. Blockhead
's beats, making up half the album, are a key part, but Aes' own production is improving all the time, with beats like "39 Thieves
" and "Five Fingers
" among the best of his oeuvre, let alone among stuff he's produced himself.
– Reunion Tour
: One of those albums that a band releases that makes you remember exactly why you love them so much and also wonder why you forgot to keep listening to them. This is very possibly the best Weakerthans album yet - there is at most one skippable track, the lyrics are diversely-concerned (another one sung by Virtute the cat from Reconstruction Site
,curling, medical oddities, a man who saw Bigfoot...), funny and poignant, the tunes are acely memorable, but most of all it all just seems to cohere so well.
: Everybody seemingly shat themselves when this came out that an amazing album with progressive rock overtones had appeared. Ummm... that's not exactly unique, slowpokes. Put down whatever shitty NME-aping indie shitrag is pimping itself around as the New Incredible Tastemaker of the Month, proffering the same 5 identikit shitty garage/punk-funk/British-indie-with-novelty-lyrics bands, and you'll see that innovative, prog-inspired masterpieces come out literally every year. OMG teh Mars Volta?!?!?! anyway, Mirrored
combined prime technicality with sly humour and, most importantly, boss danceable tunes to cement its place in the year's CD players.
• Rob Sonic
– Sabotage Gigante
: Second Sonzarelli album comes ridiculously correct with both beats and rhymes. A lot of heads say it's loads better than Telicatessen
, i liked Telicatessen
too so i dunno about the "loads" part. It's lean as well – about 35 minutes i seem to remember – which is a refreshing change with a lot of hip-hop records. Rob and Aesop Rock seem to be forming a steady collaborative partnership, which can only be good (see also "Bobby from the Bronx"'s hilarious appearances with Aes and Blockhead on that MTV2 "advice column" show they did this summer. And even Busdriver
isn't *that* annoying after a few listens.
• Wu-Tang Clan
– 8 Diagrams
: i couldn't give a shit what the haters have to say about this, frankly it's a New Wu-Tang Clan Album and it is The First New Wu-Tang Clan Album for six long years and therefore naysaying is fucking IRRELEVANT. It may have some problems (too much singing; not enough Ghost, especially noticeable on the ODB
tribute) but RZA
turns in a sterling collection of beats and the Clan sound energized and on-point. The end result is about three skippable tunes on a 16-track album. Who else from the class of '93 is still hitting that rate? And at the end of the day it's a New Wu-Tang Album and you don't get that every year.
• Frank Turner
– Sleep Is For the Week
: Almost forgot this was 2007, but on remembering it had to go in the Top 10. Former Million Dead
frontman Frank has taken to the road in a seemingly interminable tour which must have seen him play every town in the UK at least once, armed with his acoustic guitar and his trusty sense of inquisitive vulnerability. The songs on this range from knowing wit ("The Real Damage
") to searing honesty ("Father's Day
") and there are tunes in spades.
• Buck 65
: Holy shit, this is good. Nearly passed me by as well, as i only really started listening to it while writing this list. After the sideways diversion that was Secret House Against the World
, this record returns to more solidly hip-hop-based ground. The beats are tight as hell, the rhymes are always good and sometimes stupendous (from the awesome kick-off Alan Ginsberg
quote to "Kill kill pussycat, faster and more often / Lay down in your coffin, get harder or soften / Sensation more often, I'm lost in Penn Station / I can resist anything except temptation" from "Cop Shades
", or perhaps "Shutter Buggin'
"'s defiantly self-justifying porn impresario: "Under attack, being tested and investigated. Juvenile delinquency my ass! What is this shit?! Fought by some of the same men that I do business with. They focus on the negative, treating us like common crooks. I’m an artist goddammit! They said the same thing about comic books. Who could have guessed it? Created a mob scene. The demand is undeniable, but they say its obscene. Spread eagle, American beauty: Stranger and splendid. Major offended. Naked as nature intended. Leaves a bad taste in some peoples mouths, maybe bitter. Don’t want your manure, I’m an entrepreneur not a babysitter..." wow.) Weirdest of all, there's apparently some kind of "what hip-hop would be like in 1957" concept that i haven't fully clocked onto yet. More replays for this one.
– Excellent Italian Greyhound
: It's always a privilege to have Messrs. Albini, Weston and Trainer inject some uncooked Dadaist hardcore into your year, and this one was a fine example. Beginning in excellently characteristic style with the long, free-flowing acocalypticomedy of "The End of Radio
", wherein the last DJ in the world realises it's highly likely no-one's listening any more, and ending with the bizarre pop outburst of "Spoke
", it passes on the way through one of their weirdest tracks ever, "Genuine Lulabelle
", whose nine minutes take in sex, greyhounds, ersatz advertising, and cameo vocal tracks from voice-over legends Hal Douglas
and Ken Nordine
. Food for.... thought?Unordered remainder
• Saul Williams
– The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!
: Yeh, it may have been masterminded and produced by Saul's new musical daddy, Trent Reznor
aka Trent "i don't have any snares in my drum library" Reznor, but don't let that put you off. El Williams still comes correct with his melodies, voice and amazing lyrics even if the production at times fails pretty badly. Word of advice to Saul: ditch the goth grandad and hook up with the Def Jux set! You over a full of set of El-P beats would make an awesome album.
• Lily Allen
– Alright, Still
: Because fun is good too.
– The Big Doe Rehab
: Not as good as either Fishscale
, More Fish
or (contrary to received opinion) 8 Diagrams
, this nonetheless had its share of great moments befitting Ghost's talent as an MC and ludicrous flights of imagination. Try lines like "they say my projects should undergo therapy / We never voted, we votin' for Oprah, Obama and Eric B
" or cuts like the ridiculously soulful bonus track "Slow Down
" with Chrisette Michele (q.v.), for instance. Slightly weaker-than-normal Ghost still knocks most other rappers into a cocked hat.
• Sage Francis
– Human The Death Dance
: Even though it wasn't actually *that* good, it had some great moments. "Heard her chemical romance was a medical slow dance, said my advance was sexual, held my genitals with cold hands" indeed.
• Amy Winehouse
– Back to Black
: This was 2007? Hm, it seems earlier. Anyway. Great voice, sexy crack habit. Jazz singers aren't meant to be role models. Otherwise we'd all be listening to suicidally dull Wynton Marsalis
• DJ Shadow
– Bay Area Ep
: i've said it before and i'll say it again, his hyphy material kicks the shit out of his soporific fanboy-pleasing trip-hop retreads, which is why The Outsider
is a much better album than the awesomely tedious Private Press
, for instance. This release is no exception to the rule. Limited to 2000 copies worldwide, it takes three of the Outsider
bangers, remixes another and adds two exclusive tacks.
: Aidan Baker
's incredibly prolific drone/doom-bient outfit re-release a limited CD-R package from a couple of years ago with a couple of added tracks. But! The old ones are re-recorded too. So effectively it's pretty much a new album in the incredibly-slow-fuzzy-melodoom sort of way, and as such comes recommended.
• Nadja – Guilted by the Sun
: This one is divided into four tracks, each bearing the name of one of the words in the album title, and continues to add to the group's compositional envelope, adding among other things drums and an almost death-y fast bit to the dronesome madness.
EP / Joanna Newsom
– Joanna Newsom And The Ys Street Band
/ Jenny Owen Youngs
– The Take Off All Your Clothes EP
: Three stop-gap/curio EP releases here, with covers, mutations and oddities galore. Battles' Tonto+ perhaps understandably takes "Tonto
" from Mirrored
and subjects it to all manner of remix skewings. Best of all is the mix of "Leyendecker
" by dj emz
(whoever that is (?)) and featuring Joell Ortiz
on the vocal. "i smack the king of the jungle in his face, i'm a Lion-decker", as he puts it (WIN!). Joanna's punningly-titled release arranges two Ys songs for a live group including Ryan Francesconi (aka RF, also in the chart with his own record) and adds up-beat new minor-key folk number "Colleen
". Jenny Owen Youngs, meanwhile, maintains her healthy sense of absurdity with a hilarious and oddly sexual cover of "Hot In Herre
" by Nelly
in her agreeable indie/folk style. There are some remixes and alternates too, but the Nelly cover is the one you will put on compilations.
• Blue Scholars
– The Long March
EP: Only discovered this Seattle producer/MC duo this year and they appear to have released a couple, as well as some back catalogue... this EP is the only one i've managed to really listen to but it was a neat surprise. Conscious goodness proving that while the new Rawkus might still be a bunch of devious pirate scumbags they nonetheless still have a great ear for A&R.
• Venetian Snares
– My Downfall
: sequel to 2005's Rossz Csillag..., title apparently not referring to a real soundtrack but "the soundtrack to Aaron Funk's own personal downfall". Cheer up, emo! Anyway, Rossz Csillag is still better, but then again this one has "Integraation
", which could feasibly be retitled "Motherfucking Integraation, Bitches".
• William Basinski
: More of a re-release, really, but it came out on CD for the first time last year so i reckon it deserves a mention. The ideal soundtrack to slowly drifting down a mountainside trapped inside a glacier.
• Christy & Emily
– Gueen's Head
: Self-taught indie-rocker/conservatory-trained classical pianist duo. Pleasant but not overly diverting. Also, why "Gueen"? Weird.
• Desert Island Dicks
– Bring Me the Head of Miles Davis and Other Jazz Luminaries
: "Ironically guidelined free jazz" made by compressing the albums of Miles Davis until each track was only 90 seconds. Equally as listenable and valid as any other jazz? Discuss.
• God's Temple Of Family Deliverance
– God's Temple Of Family Deliverance
: Awesomely promising young Texan stoner/doom heavies seemingly played SXSW 2006, released this early in 2007 and then split up. A waste if you ask me. If only someone had told them, as Meatloaf
reminds us, that "Two out of Three Ain't Bad
EP: Awesome Brazilian piano ambience/noise, as released for free by the generally brilliant Australian-based noise/8-bit/chipcore etc. netlabel Glitch City.
• Degenerate Art Ensemble
– Cuckoo Crow
: Still no real idea who these are, but their latest record sounds like kind of like Charalambides
and Gang Gang Dance
and some psychedelia and also about a hundred others, all at the same time.
– From Beale Street to Oblivion
: i only heard this once, in Jimmy's car, but i am definitely in favour of it. Cheers, Jimmy!
• Dr Syntax
: Brighton's finest drops his debut and it's a beast.
• Nessie & Her Beard
: Weird yet intriguing indie/noise hybrid.
• Dirty Projectors
– Rise Above
: wherein NY weirdo Dave Longstreth attempts to cover the whole of Black Flag
from memory. Strange and beguiling. Probably would've helped if i'd known Damaged
• Cutting Pink With Knives
: London synth-grind three-piece get, if anything, quite slick on their third effort and first for London's Holy Roar
. Tunes remain cracking, mind.
• RF & Lili De La Mora
– Eleven Continents
: Very pleasant and relaxing kind of singer-songwriter stuff, RF plays guitar and some other things, Lili sings breathy Cocteau-y shoegazy sweet nothings. The best bits are when Joanna Newsom turns up to play her harp, but i may only be saying that because i'm shamelessly in love with her.
EP: Free one from Highpoint Lowlife
, this is a triumvirate of lovely drones and works especially well when coupled with the more melodic modern jazz, Bill Wells Trio
– Cunt Punch
EP: Despite the painful name this isn't particularly harsh music at all: more like "ambient plunderphonica", if i may coin a ridiculous phrase.
• Yoko, Oh No!
– Steve Machine
: One half of gay against you
on the solo EP tip. This delivered eight prime chunks of childlike spazz-tronica with optimal melodies and Silverlink
joining Yoko to sing about going for a swim in a castle full of milk. Sounds good, no?
– Sea Of The Dying Dhow
: Mehdi Safa from Mahumodo
expands on his previous band's work with prog-metal LP that succeeds where the likes of Isis
fail in actually remembering to include proper tunes.
– Given to the Rising
: Woh, this is the "back to basics" hardcore Neurosis we've been hearing about, then. To be honest i tend to find whatever they do fascinating anyway. Some of the stuff on this is really, savagely heavy, but then again some is even more spaced-out and discombobulated than before. Instead of being strictly "back to heavy" it's more of a simultaneous branch-out in both directions.
– There's No 666 In Outer Space
: Hella get a full-time full-blown vocalist for the first time, and we spent a car journey discussing whether he sounds most like Axl Rose
, Jim Morrison
or Mike Patton
, or indeed none of these. The band behind has expanded as well, with synths and guitars and basses all over the place. The vocals work a lot better on some of the songs than others but this is a mostly successful experiment. Special marks as always for Zach Hill and his 15 incredible limbs.
• The Fall
– Reformation Post TLC
: A year without Mark E. Smith
is like a year without sunshine.
– "Army / Intuition": OK, a single, but i wouldn't be happy not including LoneLady material in any given yearly chart. More please Julie <3Compilations
• v/a – Definitive Swim
• v/a – Wu-Tang vs. Mr. Oizo
– Shaolin Worms Attack
• v/a – Glitch Village, Vol. 1Oops
Stuff i forgot to listen to...
1. Stuff i didn't know existed till year end.
• Art Brut
– It's a Bit Complicated
: Always a giggle.
: Always a weirdness.
• Animal Collective
– Strawberry Jam
: One of those bands i keep meaning, and mostly failing, to get up-to-speed with.
– In Stormy Nights
: i liked a previous one, i think.
• Manu Chao
– La Radiolina
• Robert Wyatt
: Found this one while checking what albums came out in '07.
• High on Fire
– Death Is This Communion
: Found this one while checking what albums came out in '07.
• Marissa Nadler
– Songs III: Bird On The Water
: Found this one while checking what albums came out in '07.
– The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn
: Another band i keep meaning to get up-to-speed with
– Tennessee 2004
: Found this one while checking what albums came out in '07. Free jazz is ftw
• Behold... the Arctopus
: Only really just discovered the first one quite late in the year, to be honest. Great wanky prog-metal stuff.
• Von Südenfed
– Tromatic Reflexxions
: Whaaat? Mark E Smith did a collaborative LP with Mouse
on Mars and i didn't know? i must be on a pipe. (Also i want to know if their name is a reference to Sudafed)
• Boris With Merzbow
– Rock Dream
: Whaaat? Boris
did a collaborative LP with Merzbow
• Bad Religion
– New Maps of Hell
: i make a rule of keeping up with BR, but evidently not as much as i thought.
• Holy Fuck
– Holy Fuck
/ LP: The 2005 release was pretty odd. Always love the idea of an analogue dance band tho.
– Shadows of the Sun
: Another band i keep meaning to get up-to-speed with.
• Yndi Halda
– Enjoy Eternal Bliss
: Debut release from post-rock combo, i've been wanting to hear that for a while... still missed it tho!
• Black Dice
– Load Blown
: Wondered where this lot were.
/ Sun Down/Sun Rise
/ Pale Sketches
: Woh! Over-abundance of Jesu releases this year. i didn't listen to any of them :-s
: Found this one while checking what albums came out in '07.
• Parts & Labor
: Found out about the band while checking what albums came out in '07.
• Charalambides – Likeness
: Have enjoyed some of their earlier stuff, but to be honest they seem to put so much out it's hard to keep track of anyway.
• Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Orchestra
– Live Vols 1&2
: Japanese jazz = win
• Sir Richard Bishop
– While My Guitar Violently Bleeds
/ Polytheistic Fragments
: The Sun City Girls
' demise and his solo career had thus far escaped me, till i learned he was going to be supporting Earth in Manny in February.
• C-Rayz Walz
& Parallel Thought
– Chorus Rhyme: Walz is always doing LPs without any warning whatsoever.
• Sun Ra
– Disco 3000
: Don't even know what this is, but Sun Ra is a (Sun) God and i found it in another list.
• Gaudi & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
– Dub Qawwali: That title sounds very promising.
: Seemingly an Edinburgh-based hip-hop crew something to do with David Jack
, whose previous works get much love round these parts. Definitely demand further investigation from what little i've heard so far.
2. Stuff i meant to check out but ran out of leisure time, or bumped for stuff i wanted to listen to more.
– Abandoned Language
– Friend Opportunity
• Stars of the Lid
– ...And Their Refinement Of The Decline
• Rufus Wainwright
– Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall
– Afro Samurai OST
• Black Milk
– Popular Demand
• Chrisette Michele
– I am Chrisette Michele
– Danny Is Dead
– Uncle Tony's Coloring Book
• Blue Scholars
• Hangar 18
– Sweep The Leg
• Tori Amos
– American Doll Posse
• The Wildhearts
– The Wildhearts
• Percee P
• Bright Eyes
• Black Moth Super Rainbow
– Dandelion Gum
• Pharoahe Monch
– Wisemen Approaching
• Shape of Broad Minds
– Craft of the Lost Art
– Radiance of Shadows
• The God-Damn Whores
– We Are the Lucky Thirteen
• The Styrenes
– City Of WomenHmmm: records i wanted to like but somehow couldn't
• Laura Veirs
: couldn't really get into this at all.
– Drums and Guns
: oh dear. i love Low, but this is frankly sub-par. maybe it needs more listens to fully sink in or something. i hope so.
• C-Rayz Walz
– Monster Maker
: a bit so-so, really. although C-Rayz singing Eddy Grant
's "Electric Avenue
" has to be heard to be believed, admittedly.
: this promised to be ace, with an old-skool Wu flavour and guest shots from all the surviving Wu Core Eight. it turned out to feature pretty flaccid beats under a combination of conservative Islamic dogma and a completely unironic hagiography to Michael Jackson
– In Rainbows
: Another album heavy on tune-free, miserable schmindie rock and pointless bleepy bits. Most interesting thing about this one: the method by which it was sold. Says it all, really.
• Arcade Fire
– The Neon Bible
: Totally yawnsome.
• Manic Street Preachers
– Send Away the Tigers
: They used to be the best band in the world, now they could easily pass for one of its most mediocre.
• Arctic Monkeys
/Little Man Tate
: Wow, are people still confusing "having a regional accent and including some British cultural references" for incisive or worthwhile lyricism? Back to the dole queue, the lot of you.
• Kate Nash
– Made of Bricks
: If i hear one more bastard compare her to Regina Spektor
, Jenny Lewis
, or even Lily A, i am sure a small part of me will die. In fact, do not compare her to anyone who can write proper lyrics or sing without sounding like a squawking schmindie contrivance as she can do neither. Or, in the immortal words of John Brainlove
, "Kate Gash more like"
• Enter Shikari
– Take To The Skies
: Hey guys, buying a cheap synthesiser doesn't make you the innovative pioneers of "trancecore", it makes you a generic Kerrang! band with a cheap synthesiser.
• Dan Deacon
: This guy actually studied composition at SUNY Purchase under Joel Thome
, a bona fide Grammy-winning composer and conductor who's put on orchestral programmes of Frank Zappa
and Edgard Varèse
music among others. Having seen what use he's put this training to, i can confidently say he should be fully ashamed of himself. Oh, and Deacon, if you don't want to hear people talking during your concert, how about playing on the stage like a normal artist, you pretentious fuck?
• White Stripes
– Icky Thump
: I think you'll find the phrase is "Ecky Thump", actually. Changing a letter makes you seem a bit stupid, not witty/original/whatever. You may have noticed i've not mentioned the actual album itself yet. That's because easily the best 'Stripes release of the year was Meg's sex tape.
• Annie Lennox
– Songs Of Mass Destruction
: Haven't heard it, but worst of the year on title alone.
• Nostalgia 77 Octet
– Weapons of Jazz Destruction
: cf. Lennox.
• Hayseed Dixie
– Weapons Of Grass Destruction
: cf. previous two entries.
• The Tuss
– Is it Aphex Twin
? Isn't it? Fortunately, with exciting questions such as these we didn't have to consider the staleness of the music.
• Newton Faulkner
– HAVE A BATH, you disgusting Swampy-looking man.
• Omar Rodriguez-Lopez & Lydia Lunch
– i haven't heard this collaboration but it sounds like just about the worst thing ever, so i'm sticking it in anyway.
– Myths of the Near Future
: see also Enter Shikari (replace "Kerrang!" with "NME")
• Biffy Clyro
: wow, are these ginger tossers still going?
• The Good, the Bad & the Queen
– The Good, the Bad & the Queen
: having a member of The Clash
on board: hella cool. Having a Fela Kuti
sessioneer: still pretty cool. Having an ex-member of The Verve
: crap. Having Damon Albarn
: you might as well stab yourself.
: Dubstep: grime for white people.
• Joni Mitchell
: Couldn't care less about the music, though i felt the need to diss her for being a money-grubbing ex-hippie capitalist now releasing music through $hitbuck$' own label. Leaves a worse taste in the mouth than the godawful coffee.
• Jamie T
– Panic Prevention
: PLEASE stop trying to rap, you are TERRIBLE.
: Y'know, no-one'd think any less of you if you wrote an actual melody, love. Another hideous cover as well. This time, Björk appears to be dressed as the bastard offspring of a circus clown and one of the Blue Man Group
• Nine Inch Nails
– Year Zero
: party like it's 1994! or ummmmmm don't.Worst band names of the year
• The Berg Sans Nipple
: say that without physically cringing, i challenge you.
• Grizzly Bear
/Minus the Bear
: fuck off with all the generic "bear" names already.Other stuff i spent ages listening to in '07
• Bat for Lashes
– Fur and Gold
: Great album i didn't get onto in '06.
• The Fall
– cuz you have to, really, don't you.
– ]new discovery + incredibly prolific = many listens.
• Other Rufus Wainwright albums
• Martha Wainwright
• Ornette Coleman
: i heard him interviewed on Radio 4 about how he's still touring at 78 or whatever and it made me feel really compelled to listen to all his stuff again (plus Sound Grammar). Especially when the interviewer asked him about the time Miles Davis
said his music was "sick and could only be made by a disturbed man" or whatever it was, and Ornette said something like, "Ah well, some people are just a bit unadventurous, aren't they" or something like that. TAKE THAT, mindless "Miles is teh best!" bandwagon!
• The comforting voice of John Peel
on old Festive Fifty broadcasts
. Their fuck-over by Warp
Records/second album non-release is an outrageous travesty.
/Art Ensemble Of Chicago
/loads more free jazz: fanspazztic.
• Yungun & Mr Thing
: some UK rap.
• Spank Rock
: Only found this this year. Squeaky pervert. Brilliant.
• Ava Leigh
: Don't sleep, she'll warm up your world.
• The collected works of David Pajo
: underrated guitar god.
• The Gits
. Anyone seen the documentary yet?
• Million Dead. Seeing Frank T live --> nostalgia.
and that's it! thanks for reading, if you did.