Thursday, June 28, 2007

LTME Semi - Annual Album Review '07...holla!

I learned a few things while composing this list. First, I am glad to see my active readership has ballooned to 3, that's good news for the folks in the ad department. Second, Mordecai listens to far too much Dance-Pop music. Lastly, this year is off to one heck of a start and we haven't had one album from a former Idol!

Without further adieu;

T ~ #12 Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? - Of Montreal
This probably would not have made my list normally, but I gave it some thought after the rec and although it's a little too, well 'gay,' the album is amazingly constructed and contains the group's best effort to date. Possibly the most upbeat album I've heard in a while.

T ~ #12 Beyond - Dinosaur Jr.
The two to three guitar solos contained in some of these songs is enough to appease any fan of the instrument, and the throwback sounds of grunge makes this my favorite post grunge-grunge album to date. It's amazing how tight and successful the sound is on this album given the extended hiatus the band was on prior to recording. A triumph for a classic band.

#11 ~ The Good, the Bad and the Queen - The Good, the Bad and the Queen
Super groups often fall well short of aspirations, but that is once again not the case for Damon Albarn. This low-key, constantly melodious and smokey album flows extremely well and although I could have used more percussion at times, it delivers when it needs to. There are already rumors of a Blur reunion, but here's to hoping it doesn't come before a second effort with TGTBandTQ.

#10 ~ Ash Wednesday - Elvis Perkins
Simply the most beautiful songs of the year. The gut wrenching lyrics and honest voice carry the listener along an intent and at times treacherous path. Elvis has a craft with words, and his imagery supersedes the songs themselves at times, which are brilliantly composed over simplistic yet engaging instrumentation. The adjoining EP together delivers some of the years finest.

#9 ~ Icky Thump - The White Stripes
They're back, and this time they brought the noise! I was among the few that enjoyed the musical reaching and perhaps shortcomings of GBMS, but I am thrilled to hear the heat of the duo aflame again. Still exploring new realms with trumpets, bagpipes and a narrative story, this album is not simply a remake of a previous effort, it shows real growth as well and in the same a comfort with their sounds of old. The Stripe's rank among my all time favorite's and this album is testament to their stellar portfolio.

#8 ~ Emotionalism - The Avett Brothers
I might have jumped the gun calling Elvis's album the 'most beautiful' of the year, for it might be tied with this miraculous composition from one time hillbilly bluegrass boys turned masters of the trade. The introduction of new instruments, arrangements and all together focus proved a fruitful venture for the brothers. Although far diversified from their previous sound, the Bros. have not forsaken their fans, rather given them more reason to praise one of the best kept secrets in music.

#7 ~ We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank - Modest Mouse
I admit, I am biased on this one, but I can't help it I love this band. This album had all the markings of the beginning of the end after the success of Good News as well as the addition of Mr. Marr, but instead of finding a more middle of the road, radio friendly sound, Brock and Co. dug deep and created their hardest album yet. The bizarre, the complex and the relentlessly foot tapping are all there and although bigger, bolder and more produced than any album to date, it still is a welcome addition to the catalog.

#6 ~ Wild Mountain Nation - Blitzen Trapper
I really do not understand how these Portland fellas can throw their hat into so many genre's and still create such a cohesive and amazing album. It may not click the first listen or two, but when it does, watch out, because you're hooked. I am a true sucker for the sounds of alt-country mixed with the stylings of punk and I may well have found a safe place in this album. It's just Wild!

#5 ~ Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
With the weight of the world on their shoulders the muse for the Indie world took the pressure in stride and shocked us all with a dark, moody but ultimately wonderful sophomore effort. Dabbling in the same religious, lover soul searching lyrical treatment of Funeral, the Fire venture away from the uplifting sounds and bring the gloom and the earnestness of folk music. Perhaps the best guerrilla marketing for an album in years as well as one of the more exciting live shows around, this band is making all the right moves.

#4 ~ Armchair Apocypha - Andrew Bird
Bird and Dosh join forces once again and in so doing laid down track after track of the most rewarding material Bird has ever performed. Always heavy on the metaphors the lyrics set the mood for this 'thinking man's' album as the violin, whistling and tinkering of Dosh bring everything full circle. I had very high hopes for this album and boy did it deliver. Phenomenal.

#3 ~ Mirrored - Battles
I imagine some of you (any of the 3) are growing tired of my rantings about Battles, but after listening to this album once again yesterday, I feel I am just in my ways. This album took me so off guard the first time I played it that I thought it could never live up to the thrill of the first listen. Countless listens later and post live performance I am finding more and more reasons why this is one of the most exciting sounds to break out of the norm in years. Challenging in so many ways, but rewarding in so many more.

#2 ~ Friend and Foe - Menomena
No question about it, my most listened to album of the year, nothing even comes close. Subtle, bold, coated, revealing, aggressive, submissive, amazing. Critics were quick to tag this effort as 'faux mature sound for a former dance-pop group.' I take it for what it is, freakin' awesome. Oft times the more bizarre a band's sound is the more inclined I am to explore and more often than not I am overwhelmed with delight when I 'get their sound.' This album has many strengths, but in a lot of ways its the weaknesses that that reveal it's true character. Congrats gang!

#1 ~ Boxer - The National
I think I made my thoughts on this album pretty obvious earlier in the year, but this is my forum and while I am still working the mic at the podium, here we go again. Maybe its just the production treatment on the vocals, but I feel like this album is swallowing me whole with every listen. Like thick molasses, the songs ooze, drip and smoother making everything it touches delicious. There is not a weak track on the entirety of the work, just some of the tastiest treats this Nation has to offer. If you haven't listened to this album yet, do yourself the favor.

-Hope this list lends itself as a source to discover some new bands and thanks to Mordecai, Pickle and Luke for helping out. On that note, I have not listened to Apples in Stereo and I think Animal Collective is better than Panda Bear, hence the omission.
Looking forward to some more stellar releases in '07 with Spoon, Interpol, Kanye, Josh Ritter, Band of Horses, Tapes N' Tapes, Radiohead etc. still to come.


Luke said...

Mordecai JeJune = K. Barnes fishnets (jaybird!)

The list suits and proves I have yet more bands to discover. Many, many fine works thus far. Things are looking up in '07.

Praise be to the green hornet.


Matthew Pickle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Pickle said...

Nice list. I've been ignoring the new Modest Mouse release, but you've convinced me otherwise.

Keep it up.

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