Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In-Essentialism

The Next 12, better than the last, not as good as those to come.

#36
The Reminder – Feist
Who knew bad dances moves and a catchy hook could bring such success? Oh, right, everyone in the music industry. The cute at first, obnoxious by the end success of the 1234 iPod video brought massive attention to Feist in 2007. As with most heavily pushed singles however, the song serves as a poor indicator to what the rest of the album has to offer. More stripped down, and friendlier to acoustics, the remainder of the reminder is arguably more of a success than its single. Also, Luke and Jejune earned the right to have this make the list.

#35
Fameseeker and the Mono – Arizona
The first of the LTME reviewed cuts to make the list, actually an EP, but still nudging its way into the Essential. Full of strings and arrangements that flirt with rock and classical, Arizona appeals to the Sufjan fan, just without making you feel like a wuss for listening to it. Making it sound easy, that’s how Arizona does complex pop. Fameseeker is rare in that it’s a full, well delivered EP, not just a single and some filler like most.

#34
† - Justice
Dance, Dance, D.A.N.C.E. !!! Not much of a dance music fan myself, but I couldn’t resist the single and the video wowed me, so I took the plunge. This album is for the cool kids, who know how to kick it through the night and into the day, playing through until the real party begins…the next night. Most dance albums flow together in such a way that it is difficult to discern when one track fades and another cranks up, not the case with Justice, who lay it down with complete track after well composed track. S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

#33
La La Land – Wax Fang
You say you rock with reverb and grandiose landscapes of sound? You just weird enough to stay intriguing but not cliché? You pay homage to your influences, but never reveal how it is they get into your music? You must be Wax Fang. And this? Well, this must be your breakthrough. Heavy on the operatic feel of late Floyd or Queen, Wax Fang are making music unlike anyone else. The Doctor Will See You Now is one of the more rollicking songs of the year. I’ve streamed a few tracks from this collection since I saw these guys open for MMJ and although the album just dropped and it hasn’t had much official review time, it’s exactly what I thought it would be, and that earns the nod.

#32
Vietnam – Vietnam
So what’s the most rollicking song of the year? (That’s what you asked yourself moments ago) The answer: Priest, Poet and the Pig. It’s a dirty and sloppy style of rock, but’s a crucial sound that is missing from the landscape these days, so it’s presence is received with open arms and open booze. Snarly vocals and restlessly relentless guitar churn and churn, but what sets Vietnam apart are the wry lyrics. It’s slack and unwashed at times, but that’s what gives it it’s biker babe charm. Just listening to this album makes me want to buy a leather jacket…or at least act tough, because if I wore leather, I’d probably just look gay.


#31
Yours to Keep – Albert Hammond Jr.
Yeah, it’s no Strokes album, but it’s still pretty kickass. ‘Ol Al may have left the band mates behind on this one, but he did remember to pack their signature fearless rock sound…he just turned it down some. Although not a giant stretch in terms of redefining a sound, Everyone Gets a Star for the effort. It’s easy listenin’, just cruisin’ music for folks who heart aggressive rock (I am trying as hard as I can to avoid the ‘garage rock’ moniker too often slapped on this stuff) and although this album was very much under the radar this year, it got plenty of airtime in my car.

#30
Run From Safety – Octoberman
What started as a good find for me on what was a good album has grown into a grand album of discovery. Run drips a powerful paint on the canvass, displaying what you already know but have never seen quite like this. To say that the lyrics have meaning would be like saying Run From Safety contains the word ‘Safety.’ Octoberman have ‘a style of their own’ painted all over them. It’s a gritty, more indie rock feel to Josh Ritter and it sounds anything but safe. Keep running boys, you’re headed in the right direction.

#29
Beyond Dinosaur Jr.
This album did slide some in the rankings, but mostly because it’s peers grew on me more and the recommendations from others led to more and more albums to squeeze in ahead of it. That being said I still think this is a phenomenal album. A friend told me it sounded too much like the stuff that was big in the early 90’s, to that I replied, that’s exactly what draws me in. I am a huge sucker for grunge rock, and Dino’s been playing that perfect role of grunge/alt/indie rockers, before anyone even knew what was going on with the scene (well maybe Built to Spill knew). I’ll say it again, I love the guitar work on this album, despite the poor live reviews that have been relayed to me, I’d still love to see these fellas.

#28
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank Modest Mouse
I’m an Indian giver. This album has slid since the midpoint of the year. It was the benefactor of little else being released and some catchy hooks and some clever ideas. The longer I listened the less it sounded sincere…almost like Modest Mouse covering Modest Mouse. Still some great songs on here, but much of it simply does not have any lasting power. It’s hard to be blunt on a favorite band (Wilco) but sometimes it’s the ones you love the most that you hurt.

#27
Random Spirit LoverSunset Rubdown
It may be overwhelming to perform a six degrees of separation of indie rock with Spencer Krug, the guy is all over my map. After being stunned by the first official Sunset release and then growing a bit confused by some of the follow up projects, I am relieved to hear Spencer back in his full element. I feel like I just reviewed this album, so I will let it’s high ranking speak the rest.

#26
Turn the Lights Out – The Ponys
Quality punk music is back, but it doesn’t sound like it used to. In the 90’s and much of the ‘00’s, punk has had an identity crisis. In a lot of ways it has been more experimental in production (which really isn’t punk at all) and at the same time punk has gone mainstream (which will never be punk). The Ponys reside in the healthy realm of, well just being modern day punks. When I say this is a punk album, I don’t mean it’s 2min songs, yelling and poor musical quality; what I mean is that it is fast, often heavy and it does exactly what it wants and isn’t concerned what you think (now that’s punk). Heard ‘em before the Spoon show, now I am hooked.

#25
The Good, The Bad and The Queen – The Good, The Bad and The Queen
Breaking the halfway mark of the Essential 50, this album was once on heavy rotation but faded some as the year moved on. I dug the sound at first, but it’s a short album and it blends and now seems a bit forgettable at times. The songs that do still stick out, History Song, Herculean, and The Bunting Song, still come across loud and clear, serving as reminder of what got me into this album to begin…the brit pop meets world music sound done so well.

We’re closing in gang, stick around to see who makes it to the upper cut and who finds it’s spot in the 12 Essential Songs of 2007


#24 - #13 will be here before you know it.

5 comments:

Jay said...

"La La Land" is definitely on my list as well. I can't believe I forgot it. I've been listening to it like crazy after Parker gave it to me and told me it would, "rock my d**k off." It certainly has.

p.s. the Pony's disc is "Turn the Lights Out."

bcp said...

Jay-
Thanks for the note on the Pony's title, I'm prone to have a lot of unchecked gramatical errors, just usually not that blatant...I think I was combining a few names there.

I figured you forgot La La, you actually were the one to raise it back to my attention a few weeks back and I got the album on Sunday and been listening heavily since.

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