12 December 2007


(albums edition)

[but first, a metacritic update: and their refinement of the decline dropped from #2 to #4 thanks to the addition of this justifiably incredulous but still horribly written 1.5/5 review (presumably underweighted.) i still haven't heard it (though i want to) so not sure why i'm so keen on reporting about it, except that i want to make up for my initial skepticism of tired sounds of. (i have now heard untrue, or at least most of it, and am not entirely convinced.)]

i don't really believe in compiling finalized year-end lists until at least the end of the year. but it is certainly time to start getting my thoughts together, for mix-envisioning purposes (really not sure about that, but i do have an ostensibly working optical drive now), or if nothing else for the twin critics polls, which both have next friday as their deadline (a relief, as i'd thought one was this friday.) don't want to end up with another 2005 on my hands.

still, stuff's tough. years are just too long, for one thing, and this year feels especially poorly defined, both personally and musically. it's hard to even know what counts as '07 sometimes.

technically '06 albums i'll probably count anyway:
sally shapiro, disco romance (released dec '06 in europe; oct '07 in canada - dunno about u.s.)
joan as police woman, real life (released in uk/feted online '06; released us '07)
long blondes, someone to drive you home (similarly)
keith urban, love pain and the whole crazy thing (released november '06, so it's fairly questionable, but i didn't hear it until early '07 and loved it.)

albums that i considered for '06 (and mostly didn't like at the time) and therefore don't seem like they should count (even though i like several of them a lot more now) although they were released here in '07 (in what felt like a total onslaught):

the pipettes, we are the pipettes
peter bjorn and john, writer's block
lily allen, alright, still
amy winehouse, back to black
i'm from barcelona, let me introduce my friends
fujiya and miyagi, transparent things
cornelius, sensuous (the only one i'd consider possibly including, since i may have given it an unfair shake last year.)

some of my favorite albums of the decade (that have never been on my year-end lists) which i could probably fudge as '07 if i wanted to, even though it would be totally unfair:

robyn, robyn (sweden release '05. uk release april '07. uk re-issue august '07. us release december 4th, allegedly???)
rachel stevens, come and get it (uk release '05. american itunes-only release june '07 wtf.)
marit larsen, under the surface (norway release '06. but for some reason i didn't fall head-over-heels for it/her until this year. and it is maybe possibly maybe going to get a u.s. release sometime maybe soonish? probably not in '07 though i guess. maybe '08?)

other '06 albums that i only heard/got in '07 and would otherwise have listed:

aberfeldy, do whatever turns you on (but nobody heard it. amg review forthcoming)
extra golden, ok-oyot soundystem
sid and susie, under the covers, vol. 1
hot chip, the warning (i know, i blew it.)
regina spektor, begin to hope (ditto)
justin timberlake, futuresex/lovesounds (heard '06; loved '07 - by dint of the singles one could theoretically decide to count it, but actually i refuse to even count the '07 singles.)
nôze, how to dance (pretty left-field - but i'm diggin' it.)

additional confusion:
radiohead, in rainbows (okay, it was "released" in '07. and is indisputably an '07 album, perhaps the zeitgeistest of them all. but it's also an '08 album, since the u.s. physical release date is january 1.)

as for albums which i can't actually invent qualms about voting for, well, i can at least wring my hands about comparing apples with oranges whose appeal stems from totally different places. (and don't tell me oranges don't have stems and apples don't have peels.) roughly in order of preference in each category:

indie (rock?) about which i give at least a damn:
low, drums and guns (a strong #1 contender - it's old and lived-in now, but that shouldn't count against it too much.)
okkervil river, the stage names (i tend to give them too short a shrift, but they still haven't managed make anything as immediate and pleasurable as the wonderful don't fall in love with everyone you see again - i get the sense they haven't really been trying.)
the national, boxer
the clientele, god save the clientele
lucky soul, the great unwanted

(indie?) rock, about which likewise:
spoon, ga ga ga ga ga
pop levi, the return to form black magick party
the new pornographers, challengers
maxïmo park, our earthly pleasures
the ark, prayer for the weekend
arctic monkeys, favourite worst album title

some sweet-ass hipster dance albums:
lcd soundsystem, sound of silver
m.i.a., kala
simian mobile disco, attack decay sustain release
a-trak, dirty south dance
bonde do role, with lasers

electronica or something like it (mostly listeny, not dancy)
caribou, andorra
pantha du prince, this bliss
gui boratto, chromophobia
strategy, future rock (just got it, but really liking it so far)
the field, from here we go sublime

rootsy/folky/country/soul/ABM ladysingers:
devon sproule, keep your silver shined
alice smith, for the lovers, dreamers and me
miranda lambert, crazy ex-girlfriend
patty griffin, children running through
feist, the reminder
bettye lavette, scene of the crime
mirah and spectratone international, share this place
sharon jones and the dap-kings, 100 days, 100 nights (eh...to be honest i'm kinda getting over the whole dap-thing. hopefully seeing sharon on friday will re-excite me.)
taylor swift, taylor swift (haven't actually really listened to the album, but i think i know i'll like it)

[why no menfolks? you tell me. mostly my listening prejudice - haven't given much of a fair shake to iron and wine, donnie, nick lowe, or other possible contenders here. though these categories fudge and bleed anyway.]

sentimental favorites from back in the day (an auspicious category):
tracey thorn, out of the woods
the good the bad and the queen, the good the bad and the queen
they might be giants, the else/cast your pod to the wind
the apples in stereo, new magnetic wonder (it feels like a guilty pleasure just when i thought i was immune to them. i think they planned it that way.)
jarvis cocker, jarvis

[elliott smith's new moon probably ought to be on here, but for some reason i didn't listen to it all that much.]

the bad plus, prog (?)
jason moran, artist in residence (?)
floratone? nels cline singers?
(oh, what the hell: )
battles, mirrored
the budos band, ii

hmm. not sure. lethal bizzle (the new sway for '07)? devin the dude? aesop rock/el-p? yeah, ok whatever. should listen to dizzee and weezy and jayzee s'more.

so far that's all well and good, but it really gets confusing when i try to rank those against pop, which is getting to feel like a fundamentally separate interest, with separate tendencies and listening habits from the kind of music that other people who think they like music think they like. hm hm.

pop albums that are better than their singles
aly & aj, insomniatic
the veronicas, hook me up
hilary duff, dignity
will.i.am, songs about girls

pop albums that may well be at least as good as their singles
britney spears, blackout
linda sundblad, oh my god
roisin murphy, overpowered
sophie ellis-bextor, trip the light fantastic
kylie, x

pop albums that aren't as good as their singles, but are still pretty great (and/or the singles are so good it doesn't matter):
r. kelly, double up
rihanna, good girl gone bad
amerie, because i love it
skye sweetnam, sound soldier
amy diamond, music in motion
sugababes, change
avril lavigne, the best damn album title
katharine mcphee, katharine mcphee

fairly disappointing but still somewhat interesting albums that i wish i liked more, and should probably listen to again, just to make sure:
tunng, good arrows [=not as good as their first two albums]
patrick wolf, magic position [=not as good as its singles]
shins, wincing [=really not as good as their first two albums]
of montreal, hissing fauna [eta: actually, this is a lot better than i gave it credit for.]
sondre lerche, phantom punch
colleen, les ondes silencieuses [really wanted to like this but no dice]
bjork, volta [really wanted to like this...it works better when i'm not trying so hard]
jens lekman, night falls on kortedala [omg what was he thinking?]
von südenfeld, tromatic reflexxxions [omg what was i thinking?]
chemical brothers, we are the night [...yawn...]


adam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ben said...

as usual, i like the headings, especially "additional confusion."

microserfing said...

Aiiiieeeee Night Falls Over Kortedala is the best album of 2007!!

Ross said...

okay... why?

i've loved jens since "when i said...", and i still do, but so much of what he does on this one falls flat for me, and even the songs i like ("opposite of hallelujah" and "shirin") lack the artless charm and of his best work. not sure what the problem is - it's like he's not letting the songs speak for themselves anymore. i'll keep listening though. meanwhile, the honeydrips' here comes the future is sounding more and more like the album i wish jens had made in '07. on the otherhand, the honeydrips made it, so he didn't have to.

Luke M said...

I can see your point; whether he has more resources available or is just better at his craft, the songs are waaaay more ornate now. He's clearly labouring over them, and that's kind of what I like about the album. You get piercing moments of beauty like the "I won't tell anyone"s of "Shirin" (my fav part of any song in 2007), and at the same time there's new things popping out of the mix with each listen. I don't really think of his older stuff as artless, I think it's more that now he's a more developed songwriter and more in control in the studio. At the core, for me the songs still speak for themselves. The basic melodies of songs like "The Opposite of Hallelujah" and "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You" are simple, and when I hear these songs in my head they're not a soupy mess, as would be the case with something too cluttered. Basically, I think Jens has become a master of using everything at his disposal to enhance the emotions and stories in his songs, and I love it and it's thrilling.

Oh yeah, Here Comes the Future is absolutely wonderful, too. I'm considering paying a ridiculous price to get my hands on a copy, but haven't bitten that bullet yet. Have you heard Jonas Game? He's also on Sincerely Yours, and I haven't listened much yet but I think he might be pretty groovy, too...

microserfing said...

Oop, microserfing/luke m is the same person, sorry.