Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Sounds I Heard in 2007

Happy New Year all.

I love music and getting new recommendations (and hope this post generates some). So I thought I’d do a cliché blog thing and use a post to give out the Utah Cog Award for Excellence in Making Noise awards for 2007:

1. Neon Bible by Arcade Fire – This album hasn’t been far from my ears since it’s been out. I was admittedly prepared to love Neon Bible before I heard note one for my appreciation of Funeral, their first album. In the end I don’t think my bias was needed. Give a listen to Building Downtown, or The Well and the Lighthouse, or, though it’s not on this album, one of my favorite songs of theirs, Une Annee Sans Lumieere (pay no attention to the music videos on youtube :-); they detract).

2. In Rainbows by Radiohead – Though Rob thinks Thom York sounds like Family Guy's Old Man Herbert, I’m a sucker for Radiohead. OK Computer felt like an epiphany those many years ago, and Kid A was equally surprising. I’d put In Rainbows near both. Though I wasn’t as much in the mood this year for the sort of lyrics Thom writes, and maybe that’s why my favorite band takes second place, but their work is always beautiful. I’d particularly recommend Nude, Weird Fishes, and All I Need.

3. Boxer by The National Here's a sample of the album. I’d never heard The National until this year when I accidently came across Fake Empire online (listen to the full song). I was drawn in by the mixed timing and lyrics. I decided to buy it once I read Sufjan Stevens was a contributor. After a couple listens it’s become one of my favorites of 2007; I’d say Green Gloves is one of the best songs of the year. Add to that the joy of discovering their other releases and I’m pretty happy with The National. Plus, Matt Berninger’s voice is low enough that I can sing to it in the car near the correct key :-).

4. Hvarf/Heim by Sigur Ros– Pretentious sissy Icelandic art rock? A little too grandiose in places? Maybe… sometimes… Still, it’s great music, uplifting and poignant in ways I’ve never heard from other bands. I very much enjoyed last year’s Takk and was disappointed to hear this CD would be a rework of old songs. I was wrong to be concerned, though, and find the new versions to even improve upon what I liked about the tracks in the first place, such as Hljomalind and Vaka.

Honorable Mentions:
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse – Maybe I’m just glad to hear Jonny Mar’s guitar again, but I’ve enjoyed this one quite a bit too. Give Little Motel a listen, or Dashboard, or Fire It Up.

Armchair Apocripha by Andrew Bird – Love his violin and whistl’n, and the lyrics are always interesting. Listen to Imitosis, for example.

Sound of Silver by LCD Sound System – I have to put this up because it’s what Alan got me for Christmas. While I’m not a fan of every track, I do like North American Scum and Someone Great, and would recommend the album.

Other than that, and while they didn’t make an album this year worthy of a UCAEMN award, I’d recommend a couple other bands:

Beck – Of course. Despite my confusion about the Scientology, I’ll buy anything he makes. This year, it was only a single, time bomb, but good nonetheless. I’d recommend: Missing, New Round, or Sunday Sun, or really anything.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Often very strong on Christian imagery and is one of the rare guys who can write a love song that'll move me, one that's not too pop sappy, but he can be brutal in his imagery. As a start I’d recommend: Breathless (almost a hymn), Bless His Ever Loving Heart (not almost), Darker With the Day (one of my favorite songs in all--it's a great love song and hit's all those christiany buttons in me), Henry Lee, Supernatural, Idiot's Prayer, or many more.

Decemberists – Great story telling in song. O Valencia, or Here I Drempt I was an Architect.
Boards of Canada – They’re hard to explain. Try out roygbiv, or Dayvan Cowboy.
Frank Black and (though not anymore) the Catholics -- This ex-front man for the Pixies, a great band, has been prolific after dropping off most folk's radar and much of it is quite good. This years release was okay, a kind of return to his old style, and most fans may not agree but I really like more his folksy country streak in the older albums. Check out Manitoba, 21 Reasons, or a bunch of other I can't find on youtube.
Christopher O’Riley – As a fan of radiohead and having been raised on classical, I love his piano interpretations of some of my favorite songs. Let Down, or True Love Waits.
Sufjan Stevens – Some pretty good christiany music for a christiany agnostic. Casmir Pulaski Day, To Be Alone With You.

Finally, bands that no longer exist but young'ns should give a chance.
Cocteau Twins – For their uniqueness, I think they have to be one of the most underappreciated bands. Try: Pandora, Heaven or Las Vegas, Caroline's Fingers. They're not the best but it's what I could find.
Billy Holliday – I’m resistant to the gay allure of Madonna and Cher… but there’s just something about Billy. Summertime, Strange Fruit, and so on and on.

Morphine – It’s unfortunate this band’s life was cut short. Most songs are base, sax, and drums, but I love the mood they deliver. Try The Night, Early to Bed, Yes.

Leonard Cohen – Though he hasn’t done much for my tastes lately, I love his early songs and he is a great influence on today’s music. Hallelujah, Suzanne, or too many to mention.

Talking Heads -- An influence on bands like Arcade Fire and quite creative in their day. Naive Melody is one of my favorite songs. Try Heaven, Once in a Lifetime, or Take Me to the River.

Well, I'm not done listing my favored music but spent :-). I hope some are turned on to new music and I hope, if you've any suggestions, you'll share.


[əɪ̯ wʌndɹ̟] said...

I must admit to be ignorant of most of the music you mentioned.

However, I do love Billie Holiday - I am similarly immune to Cher, but I must admit, I do also love Madonna. I think her more recent stuff is much better, especially the last two albums - much deeper and more political than the earlier ones.

Scot said...

"I am similarly immune to Cher, but I must admit, I do also love Madonna. "

So does Rob. But he's also into Cher... and Janet Jackson. Of the artists I like, the only ones on his ipod are those he says remind him of me. For such, I never fight over the radio on long trips. :-)

Of his favorites though, we do agree most on Madonna; she's used some good producers.