Top 5 musical discoveries of the year
Comprising stuff I got into in a big way this year.
Honourable mentions: Soul Coughing, Brand New Sin, Orange Goblin
5. Bob Dylan – Of course I knew about the man before, but in 2007 I picked up Highway 61 Revisited and Bringing It All Back Home and loved both. For no apparent reason, Maggie’s Farm got me through the tedium of CFA study too.
4. Type O Negative – So very amusingly gothic. I must express my sincere thanks to a listening post at HMV Rue St-Catherine (Montreal) for this one. I’ve been rumbling through their back catalogue ever since.
3. El-P – When I first heard Flyentology, it blew my mind. Suddenly I was incredibly excited about the release of an album (I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead) that I knew nothing about by an artist I knew nothing about. And it sure didn’t disappoint either.
2. Megadeth – I picked up Rust in Peace cheap on the Gold Coast at the start of the year. There’s no denying they’ve written they’ve written some fantastic, epic songs – and while I’ve stuck to the path more travelled (greatest hits and the Buenos Aires live album), it’s been thoroughly kickass.
1. Corrosion of Conformity – Although I picked up Deliverance in 06, it wasn’t until this year that I really appreciated the awesomeness of CoC. Driving, groovy hard rock, delivered with plenty of attitude. A lot of fans would probably disagree, but America’s Volume Dealer is increasingly my favourite CoC record (although I love everything post-Blind).
Top 5 gigs of the year
Some tough decisions had to be made here, given the sheer volume of fantastic shows this year. Honourable mentions to The Crystal Method for their excellent BDO set, and Muse for a great show at the Trusts Stadium.
5. Jurassic 5 St James, Auckland, 16/2/07. Great performers going out at the top of their game. An unbelievably tight, feelgood show.
4. Supergroove Kings Arms, Auckland, 27/10/07. The reunion tour… 10 years on these guys had lost none of their funk. Practically blew the roof off the Kings Arms.
3. Roger Waters North Shore Stadium, Auckland, 29/1/07. Dark Side of the Moon remains one of my favourite albums of all time and hearing it in its entirety was simply awesome.
2. Nine Inch Nails Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, 16/9/07. Song after song after song of pounding, aggressive mayhem – one of those gigs where you shout along to almost every word of every track. And they were ALL good.
1. Clutch (and The Bakerton Group) The Metro, Sydney, 15/12/07. Superlatives don’t do it justice. Beyond awesomeness.
Top 10 tracks of the year
These are in no particular order, but there are always a select handful of tracks which manage to defy my short attention span and beg repeat use of the repeat button. These are them.
Freaks Of Nature
The Devil & Me
On March the Saints
Sick, Sick, Sick
Top 10 albums of the year
Finally, I present m0rph3us’ top 10 albums of the year. No indie crap! All killer, no filler. I’ve always been very much an album listener, rather than playlisting or picking tracks, and there were a LOT of good albums this year.
Wu-Tang Clan – 8 Diagrams
Ghostface Killah – The Big Doe Rehab
Symphony X – Paradise Lost
Lefties Soul Connection – Skimming the Skum
Nine Inch Nails – Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D
Type O Negative – Dead Again
The Bakerton Group – The Bakerton Group
10. Sevendust – Alpha
Sevendust were back and they were PISSED OFF. Alpha never lets up on sheer aggression, from start to finish – in fact the opening and closing tracks are amongst the heaviest tracks they’ve ever written. But amongst the sheer power, they kept their soul – Morgan’s vocals brim with energy throughout.
9. Brant Bjork and The Bros – Somera Sol
A much tighter record than its sprawling double predecessors. The songs are punchy, with plenty of BBB’s trademark stoner groove, but still a little experimental with some nice horn flourishes. This album has some of the best production I’ve heard in recent times as well – which only adds to the groove factor.
8. UNKLE – War Stories
Something of a musical chameleon, that James Lavelle. First we had the hip-hop record, then the trance record, now it’s the dance-rock record. But don’t let that genre tag stereotype it… this record moves from insanely propulsive (“Chemistry”), to aggro stomp (“Restless”), to drifting melancholy (“Twilight”). Although it can sound a tad repetitive in places, when this album hits it straps, it’s very infectious and very hypnotic.
7. Down – Down III: Over The Under
Riffs that could cut through a shoe! A tin can! Even a fridge! No really, there are some huge riffs on this record. But what makes the album is the way the band does everything with passion. Phil’s vocals sound great, Pepper’s guitar shreds, and the rhythm section have got more grunt than a tribe of cavemen.
6. Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist is far from the perfect album – there’s definitely some filler (particularly the last two tracks), and god knows how Superchrist missed out on inclusion. But when Zeitgeist hits the mark – most notably on United States, (Come On) Let’s Go, Bring The Light and 7 Shades of Black – it’s a reminder of just how essential the Pumpkins were, and continue to be.
5. Radiohead – In Rainbows
I’m not a Radiohead fanboy and I ignored most of the hype, and so maybe I’m one of the few people on the planet with some semblance of objectivity in relation to this record. In Rainbows is a fine album, which somehow manages to be both highly creative and highly precise at the same time. Not to mention the fact the clever album construction – faint hints of optimism throughout before closing with the bleak ‘Videotape’. While it’s strong throughout, my two favourites are undoubtedly the opening salvo of ’15 Step’ and ‘Bodysnatchers’.
4. Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris
It’s hard not to like the Queens’ approach to recording – let’s make whatever the hell kind of album we want, maybe some people like it, but who really gives a fuck. It’s not user-friendly – there are few obvious hooks on first listen and Homme snarls his way through ‘Battery Acid’ and ‘I’m Designer’ with plenty of venom. But given a few listens, it all starts to sink in.
3. El-P – I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead
The reality is that there’s nothing between my top three. All top albums, which could have been number 1, depending on my mood. “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” is dark, unorthodox, claustrophobic and utterly brilliant. And despite the bleakness, it manages to be subtly endearing in places too, most notably ‘The Overly Dramatic Truth’.
2. Clutch – From Beale Street to Oblivion
Beale Street is very much a progression of the blues themes on Robot Hive/Exodus. While Clutch still have a knack for infectious riffs and wildly creative lyrics, Beale Street is less full-throttle, and more of a groove-fest. Which is not to say you don’t get rocking up-tempo numbers – “Power Player” and “You Can’t Stop the Progress” kill off any such notions – but the real strength of this record is the incredibly tight groove on tracks like “The Devil and Me” and “Mr. Shiny Cadillackness”. The first half of the record is a lot more instant, while the second half took a little longer to grow on me – but damn if it isn’t all more killer material from a band that produce brilliant album after brilliant album.
1. Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero
A soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist. A viral marketing campaign of epic proportions. Nothing was normal about this album. Even the sound itself was a step in a new direction, even for NIN, an amorphous mass of technology and guitars. Finally Reznor broke the cycle of long periods between NIN releases, and long may he continue to do so.