Friday, June 15, 2007

The Best of far

With the half-way point of 2007 quickly approaching, I felt it necessary to declare the year's far. Now I've done this already but will begin this post by rehashing and possibly revising some of my original thoughts.

The Shins' Wincing the Night Away is still easily in the year's top ten
despite it not being in the same league as their two previous releases. It's a little on the boring, we're trying too hard end. However, it will take some really good albums to knock it off my list.

One tends to be way more critical of one's favorite bands with every release. I call this the Pavement Factor™. Pavement's earliest recordings were considered seminal works that eventually propelled indie rock to its current status. However, with each release, critics and fans (especially) would hate it and would unfavorably compare to their previous efforts - all classics. The funny thing is that all their long-players went through this process. Slanted and Enchanted was an obvious attempt to sell out after several low-fi gems released on 7" and tape in the late 80's/early 90's...That is until Crooked Rain Crooked Rain was released. That album sucked! Or at least through 1995 when Pavement came out with Wowee Zowee...You get the picture. Each album sucks until it is deemed "classic" mostly because the next album either stinks or is an effort to sell out. Pointless, really.

Some Loud Thunder by Clap your Hands Say Yeah is easily my favorite of 2007, well, until something better comes along. The overblown bass on the first track is annoying, and it did ruin a perfectly good song. However, the track does set a tone for the rest of the record's sound. The songs are nearly perfect in that Pavement sort of way of being perfectly imperfect. Since this album's release, I have barely spent any time listening to their self-titled debut, which I absolutely love. I can't wait until this band reschedules their COMO date (an issue that I will deal with later in this post).

Releases by Bright Eyes and Modest Mouse are as solid as any in their respective catalogs. Both of these albums did not disappoint. I fully expect to include both
bands on my end-of-year list.

Many feel that the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible was a letdown. I disagree. Sure, it doesn't contain the same urgency or dramatics of the first album, but it is easily better than 99.9% of this year's releases. NB is dominated by an earnestness that made Funeral such a hit. The songs are in heavy rotation on my iTunes and CD player, because the songwriting and execution are so far beyond the majority of pop music. Again, here's another case of a great band suffering some bad reviews primarily due to solid early work.

I listen to Beirut's EP all the time, and I can't wait until they release their next long-player. My only hope is that they don't go the way of (French popsters) Air with crappy Euro-pop. (Although, I did like the Virgin Suicides soundtrack.) I'm expecting big things from Beirut based on Lon Gisland.

Feist has put out what may turn out to be everyone's album of the year with The Reminder. These songs have way more soul and depth than her previous releases. In addition, there's this dance-ability I didn't really catch in the last proper album. Highlights have included her first two singles (and videos), "My Moon My Man" and "1 2 3 4".

Kill Rock Stars released a collection of rare Elliott Smith tracks on New Moon. Sometimes these collections are all filler, but this double-disc release is worth the extra cash. The album is a testament to Smith's genius. It's too bad that he had to die so brutally and too soon.

The online media onslaught put on by Duluth, Minnesota's own Low convinced me to buy their latest, Drums and Guns. It seemed like Pitchfork was posting a new Low video every other day. Plus, front man Alan Sparhawk's Take Away Show was so honest - Midwestern honest in fact. I'm always slow to buying music by the originators of the so-called slow-core movement. Their collection of Christmas songs was what originally got me hooked on their sound. This new album does not disappoint with it's use of hand-claps and organ drones throughout.

I did pick up the White Stripes' Icky Thump (almost typed Icky Mettle there) and have only listened once through. It's okay. The record does seem to return to their original sound, but it lacks some of the great singles their albums have been known for. The jury's still out on this one. I'll wait to declare this verdict.

Other half-year mentions...

  • Feist's video for "1 2 3 4" is absolutely my favorite video in a long, long time. It effortlessly combines the cheekiness of those dancing Gap ads with the uncomfortable, hipster eroticism of American Apparel ads. That and it's fun.
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah provided me with the biggest disappointment of the far. They canceled their jaunt through Misery...maybe they've been reading my blog. (A close second in this category was Wilco's lame-ass party album, but I saw this coming. Just go to a Wilco show...damn Phish fans with nothing better to do than to follow alt-country's best answer to Sonic Youth around until they turn into the new Dead.)
  • Still looking forward to some possible releases from Stephen Malkmus, Times New Viking (on Matador!), Tokyo Police Club (on Saddle Creek!), and Iron & Wine.
  • I've recently seen two great rockumentaries, Danielson: A Family Movie or Make a Joyful Noise Here and LoudQUIETLOUD: A Film About the Pixies. Danielson documents the off-beat rise to "fame" of indie Christian troubadour, Danielson and his many friends and family (including Sufjan Stevens). The Pixies flick follows the band during their (first) reunion tour while briefly telling each band member's story since the death of the Pixies. You'll wonder, "Man, are they fat and bald or what!"
  • Matador still has not announced the ultimate reunion tour...Pavement and Guided By Voices will put on a show you won't want to miss! Until then, I look for Matador to re-issue Brighten the Corners and to stick another GBV record on their bargain list.
  • Camera Obscura surprised me this past winter with the best show I've seen in '07.
That's all I've got for now.


ATR said...

Hey! By my count, you've gone three days longer than I had before posting! What's your excuse? Got a new job or something? Stop working and post, yourself! It's only fair.

comoprozac said...

Bought a house too!

ATR said...

Yeah. Heard about the house. Congrats!

iLLiaC said...

...and your thoughts on the gossip's latest album?

comoprozac said...


iLLiaC said...

why are you so mean?