Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shake It... Shake, Shake... Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

'Tis the season for Best of Lists and Phony Awards, so why should we be any different. Today Jeff K and I are giving you our picks for the best music of the year. Jeff's picks are up first and then mine follow...

So, Luke asked me to put together a list of my Top 3 albums and Top 3 songs of 2007. He asked me to do this about 3 weeks ago… and I am finally getting around to it at the last minute. Do you know what I realized in writing this? There has been slim pickings for music this year. It was actually a terrible year in music. I honestly had a real tough time coming up with 3 albums and songs. I am sure part of this is to blame on my laziness this year with music. I have not spent a whole lot of time looking for new music, and there hasn’t been much that has come across my desk. It seemed that every time I thought of a great album, it turned out to be released in 2006 or even 2005. I think another contributing factor to why I can’t find anything would be that I didn’t spend enough time thinking about all the music I listened to this year. So, if you disagree with something below, I don’t blame you. There are probably albums and songs I will think of after the fact. In any case, here is the quick list.

Top 3 Albums

1. Lotus Child – Gossip Diet: That’s right, if you know anything about this album, you will know that I am cheating right out of the gate. This album was released in 2006. I have, however, decided to break the rules (of which there aren’t any) and name this my favorite album of 2007. Why? Because I didn’t come across this album until early this year, and without a doubt, I gave it the most play of any album I own this year. This is an album that I just never got tired of. I am one of those people who is too lazy to change cds in his car, so usually listens to the same album for way too long. However, in this case, it was not a problem. The opening track “Lids” opens with one of the best piano intros ever written, and that pretty much sets the tone for the album. There really isn’t one song on the album I dislike. There is usually one song on every album that I will skip, but not with this album. If you haven’t heard of Lotus Child, check out their Myspace and listen to Archaeologists, Lids, and Kate….and the new track No Talking. So…check it all out.

2. Bloc Party – A Weekend In The City: Well, with my second pick I am now officially in the year 2007. A Weekend In the City is the Bloc Party’s sophomore album… and it is fantastic. Just as with the Lotus Child album, the first minute of the album really sets the tone. The intro to the opening track has the haunting vocals that are a big reason why I love the Bloc Party so much. The opening track is Song for Clay (Disappear Here) and you can check it out on their Myspace. The Bloc Party are definitely one of the top rock acts out there right now. I still like their first album, Silent Alarm, better - but this album is still outstanding… especially among all the weak albums of 2007. A Weekend in the City is a solid album from front to back.

3. Donovan Woods – The Hold Up: I am one of those people that seems to be always saying “listen to this song, this is definitely one of my favorite songs of all time” a little too often. Anytime something new comes along that I really like, I get pretty excited. So this may be why Donovan Woods has made my list. I recently came across this album, and haven’t stopped listening to it. Again, check out Donovan’s Myspace and listen to My Cousin Has A Grey Cup Ring and He Drinks Gas. If you aren’t sold after those two songs, well… you should get your music recommendations somewhere else. This album is outstanding, and the lyrics are phenomenal. I am not usually one to pay that much attention to lyrics, as I am more of a melody man, but I love the lyrics that Donovan lays out. The words combined with the way he delivers them really hits hard. Plus, Donovan Woods’ lyrics are very Canadian. I always appreciate bands like Sam Roberts and the Tragically Hip for writing words that you can relate to as a Canadian. Obviously, My Cousin Has A Grey Cup Ring is one of those songs, along with Car Won’t Start. I love this album, and it could have very easily been #1… but I like to give albums a bit more of a test of time that 1 month.

4. Honorable Mention: Tegan and Sara – The Con: This album didn’t make the list, but it almost did. However, I realized that it would have only made the list on the strength of their previous album So Jealous. That album is so good that I think it carried through to the way I look at The Con. Really, it isn’t nearly as good as So Jealous. Also, my four favorite songs of the album probably total about 6 minutes in playing time. They have too many 1-2 minute songs for my liking. Just when you are getting into the song, it is over. But, Tegan and Sara are the best band out there today, so I should include them in my list.

Top 3 Songs

1. Hey Ya – Obadiah Parker (Mat Weddle): That’s right, cheating again. This song was recorded in 2006… but again, I didn’t hear it until this summer. It turns out that you can listen to one song 10,000 times and not be tired of it. I won’t lie to you, this song did eventually reach a saturation point… but it is possible that I did listen to this song more times in a 6 month period that any song I have ever heard. I may have even listened to it 30 times in a row at one point. Mat Weddle’s vocals are amazing and this is without a doubt the best cover I have ever heard. This song is just down right catchy. Here is the YouTube clip that I stumbled across. Hey… I just listened to it again, and I still love it! “If what they say is nothing is forever, then what makes love the exception?”

2. What Goes Around – Justin Timberlake: I don’t see how I can go without listing a JT song and still be able to sleep at night. There is no point in hiding it. I like JT. He gets it done. Honestly, here is how it all started. Check this clip out of David Choi from YouTube covering What Goes Around. After hearing this I thought… that is pretty damn catchy. I immediately grabbed my acoustic guitar and started playing those 4 chords that make up the entire song and realized… this is solid music. Ever since then, I have been loving his music. Actually, I am still not sure that Love Stoned/I Think She Knows isn’t actually my favorite song. The reason I didn’t choose it is that it is the second half of the song that I really like. Check out this video for this song (which is actually a shortened version). From 3:29 on is amazing. I really dig it, and I think it may be the catchiest melody of 2007. As sad as it is, I may have a man crush on Justin Timberlake.

3. The Special Two – Missy Higgins: I don’t have much to say about this one other than the vocals give me chills. Missy Higgins might have made my top albums list, but I haven’t gotten around to listening to the albums I ripped yet. Here is the video.

And there you have it. I am sure I will change my mind in 15 minutes on every choice I have made.

And now...

Like Jeff said, we decided to put together this little Best Of list about 3 weeks ago – and I’m finishing my list even later than him.

And as much as I hate to agree with him, I’m inclined to agree that 2007 was a pretty sub-par year for music. And it really shouldn’t have been – quite a few of my favorite artists recorded albums… Against Me!, Tegan and Sara, Stars, The Weakerthans, and The White Stripes, among others. I think the problem for me was the almost total lack of solid albums from new artists – or at least artists I’d never heard before. Cold War Kids, The National and Donovan Woods are the only ones that really come to mind. I might be leaving out a couple but the fact that they don’t easily come to mind leads me to believe that I’m not forgetting anything.

But onward and upward – there was some great music released this year and that’s what we’re here to deal with. So here are my Top 3 albums of the year.

Top 3 Albums

1. Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
This one is a gimme for me because Modest Mouse is hands-down my favorite band. While this is not even my favorite album of theirs, it is sufficiently fantastic for it to be my #1 album for the year. There are a lot of Modest Mouse purists out there who hate the last few albums because of the more polished direction the band has taken – but if I wanted to listen to a band who kept making the same record I’d listen to AC/DC. Are they pop-ier than they used to be? Absolutely but the albums are also a lot more consistent all the way through now. My highlights are Spitting Venom (which absolutely blew the roof off Doris Knight Hall last month - and should always be listened to a maximum volume) and Parting of the Sensory. Like Jeff, this album has been in my car for many, many months and I have pushed the limits of my stereo system, as well as my ear drums, with the volume I listen to this disc at.

2. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
If not for the Modest Mouse album this would have easily been my #1. The funny thing is that I’ve only been listening to it for a month or so, that’s how good it is. There is not one bad song front to back. And I would rate nearly every song as “fantastic”. Originality is such a hard thing to come by these days and Band of Horses has it in spades. The fact that I can’t really think of anyone to compare them to is probably a big part of why I like them so much. Honestly, just go buy this album – there is absolutely no way you could be disappointed by it. Songs to hear are The General Specific, Ode to LRC and Marry Song.

3. Bright Eyes – Cassadaga
This is the Bright Eyes album that I’ve been waiting for. His past few albums have had moments of serious transcendence but were always lacking consistency. I’m unbelievably jealous of Bright Eyes (Connor Oberst) as a lyricist – and Cassadaga did nothing to change that. Lyrics like, “I tried to pass for nothing but my dreams gave me away,” and “it’s not that often, but I think of her sometimes – just something quaint, a couple ships in the night” just bring me to my knees. Tops for me are If The Brakeman Turns My Way (and if I hadn’t imposed a rule on myself that my album and song lists couldn’t overlap, this would have been my song of the year) and Classic Cars.

4. Honourable Mentions: Against Me! for New Wave, Rilo Kiley for Silver Lining and Wayne Petti for City Lights Align

Top 3 Songs

Here are my top 3 songs of the year. Like I said I wanted to pick 3 that didn’t appear on any my albums of the year. Another requirement was there be a YouTube clip of the song – which is why some, like “He Drinks Gas” didn’t make the list. Click on the name of the song to listen to it.

1. Fake Empire – The National
If we had been doing the Top 5 albums of the year, The National’s Boxer would have been on it – but since we only did the Top 3 I can include this song here. There is nothing not to like about this song: great piano, deep soothing brooding voice, and a phenomenal drum fill that kicks in about halfway through the song. I defy you to listen to this song and not tap your foot or nod your head.

2. Hey Ya – Obadiah Parker
I tried so hard to pick Obadiah Parker’s cover of Idioteque for this list instead of Hey Ya – just to disagree with Jeff. But I couldn’t do it. Hey Ya is just too good. If I was only able to listen to one song for the rest of my life this song would be on my short list. The song is just so simple and I think that’s part of its appeal. Mat Weddle’s voice is almost as impressive as his beard. The live version on their Myspace site is superior to this solo version though.

3. Virtue the Cat Explains Her Departure – The Weakerthans
Since Jeff already broached the subject of man-crushes, I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a serious man-crush on Weakerthans lead singer John K. Sampson. His lyrics are always phenomenal – not everyone can make a song about an imaginary cat tragic and powerful. This song paints such a vivid picture I feel like I know what it's like to run away - you know, if I were a cat. Virtue… really hits its stride, at least musically, towards the end of the song and it is potentially heartbreaking.

I think I could have about 15,000 Honourable Mentions – so I think I’ll just leave my list as it is.

So that's it for the musical year that was - come January 1st we'll start compiling our list for next year.

“Without music, life would be a mistake…” – Friedrich Nietzsche

1 comment:

Cooper said...

What! No Helix? No Prism? What about Chilliwack? Shameful!