7.09.2007

Music: The Best of 2007, So Far

by Stephen Tringali

I love year-end best-of lists just as much as the next person. Something about them — perhaps how they reveal what one publication values over another — makes them a nearly indispensable supplement to year-end issues.

But there’s one thing about them that I can’t stand: they come around only after the year has seen its conclusion. Why wait until the end of the year before checking out the tunes other people and publications have to suggest?

So, now that half the year is officially behind us, let’s pause briefly to consider some of its best albums. Below, I’ve provided my own top five albums. This is, by no means, a final list for the year — just some of the more interesting releases 2007 has seen so far.

Feel free to post your own list. And now the picks and the rationale:

Steve's Best Half of 2007 Album List

1) Cryptograms by Deerhunter: Deerhunter’s newest album is, as its title suggests, as mysterious as it is compelling. Its amalgam of shoegazer pop, ambient noise experiments, and haunting art rock shouldn’t sound this good. In fact, it shouldn’t sound like much of anything at all.

Tracks like “White Ink” remind me of the sleep therapy tapes one of my friends listens to before passing out each night. And “Octect,” which begins with the sort of nature sounds found on the album’s first track, “Intro,” builds for nearly eight minutes on one bass line, a shimmering guitar lick, and wailing vocals.

Still, there’s something deeply rewarding about this album, something so arresting and entrancing that it can’t be explained or understood properly without a set of headphones and a quiet evening.

2) Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo by The Black Lips: Forget every studio recording The Black Lips ever put out.

Those releases might have staked out the Lips’ claim to an unhinged and entirely unforgettable blend of rockabilly and punk music. But none of them compare to the frantic, freaked-out frenzy that is their very first live album.

Videos on YouTube confirm that the concert, played at a particularly sketchy-looking venue in Tijuana, Mexico, looks just as cracked-out as it sounds.

3) The Reminder by Feist: Leslie Feist, best known for her work in the Canadian indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene, shows off her own songwriting skills once again on this fourth solo LP.

Tracks skip around from one genre to another genre, covering up-beat folk (“Past In Present”), bass-driven dance (“My Moon My Man”), and surrealistic ballad (“Honey Honey”).

4) Icky Thump by The White Stripes: Once Jack White stopped worrying about keeping his strict blues-rock minimalism intact and started rocking out as hard as he did on 2001’s White Blood Cells, he rediscovered The White Stripes’ creative potential.

And thank goodness for that. His band seemed destined for an untimely demise after releasing the tepid Get Behind Me Satan and taking a back seat to Jack’s newest project, The Raconteurs.

No one should be pining after the prospect of that band recording their second album, especially now that The Stripes have added such hard rock gems as “Icky Thump” and “Rag And Bone” to their live arsenal.

5) Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem: James Murphy, the main man behind the dance-punk of LCD Soundsystem, has altered his approach and evolved as a songwriter in all the ways that might attract a larger audience.

This doesn’t mean that he’s sold out to the corporate music machine. It only means that he’s started writing songs for both the dance and rock crowds. By toning down his electronic dance influences and by employing more rock convention, Murphy’s given both camps reason to blast his tracks from their car stereos.

(Promotional photo of Deerhunter from Kranky Records. To see the Deerhunter video "Strange Lights" from Cryptogram, please check below.)



For other posts about these bands, please see:









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1 comments:

Rick Rockwell said...

Alright, I will accept the challenge and put up a short list too. Interesting (but perhaps not unexpected) that only one selection overlaps:

1. The White Stripes Icky Thump
2. Rush Snakes and Arrows
3. Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
4. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists Living with the Living
5. Porcupine Tree Fear of a Blank Planet

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