2007 for me thus far

Posted on September 29th, 2007 by Scraps.
Categories: Albums, Music.

I am, as I have mentioned*, much less assiduous about keeping up with current music than I was a few years ago. Not out of a lack of inclination*, but a lack of time, and an increased focus on exploring music of the past.

Right now my favorite album of the year is Pinback's Autumn of the Seraphs. I have a weakness for intricately patterned songs that could be described as infectious grooves in formal straitjackets, and if you make a consistently good album full of them (Pell Mell's Interstate, Spoon's Girls Can Tell, Komeda's What Makes It Go), I'm likely to get obsessive about it. Rob Crow has been a riff factory since his earliest days with Heavy Vegetable; Pinback have a burnished, smooth surface, powered with seemingly effortless invention. Autumn of the Seraphs is hypnotically catchy from start to finish, and is the album I think I'm most likely to come back to with undiminished pleasure for years.

If it weren't for Autumn of the Seraphs, either Of Montreal's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? or Modest Mouse's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank would be unimpeachable albums of the year. The Of Montreal album explores new emotional and musical palettes for Kevin Barnes, who is musically my favorite pop songwriter of his time, and it's his best batch of songs since The Gay Parade. Modest Mouse have leapt so high with their most recent two albums that I realized I may have to consider them my favorite rock band (in the wake of the breakup of Sleater-Kinney); last year I would've said Spoon, but the most recent two Spoon albums feel like the band is running in place while Modest Mouse have exploded forward.

Edited* to add: How could I have forgotten to mention Gogol Bordello's Super Taranta!, which belongs with the two above. Bitingly funny songs, awesomely energetic folk-punk attack, and a vocalist who sounds like Rowlf the Dog with a Russian accent. I wish I'd taken a hyperfan friend's recommendation and seen them live several years ago, because the hype is growing fast this year. Super Taranta! isn't as consistent as the albums above, but its peaks are breathtaking.

Hovering right behind are Dizzee Rascal's Maths and English (musically amazing, but the subject matter -- being a star, how to be a star, those other phoneys, etc -- is uninspiring), and Arctic Monkeys' Favourite Worst Nightmare (mainstreamed postpunk, witty, improvement on solid debut). I'm still getting my head around the new Animal Collective and Fiery Furnaces albums, but they sound like they're going to be well up the list once I've absorbed them. The new Wilco, Spoon, Art Brut, and Ted Leo are solid, enjoyable albums, not great but good. The Spoon and the Ted Leo haven't added any favorite songs (yet) for me to their extensive legacies, which is somewhat disappointing. The Wilco album has got some of their best stuff, but I'm not as big a fan of their best stuff as I am of Leo and Spoon. I probably haven't given the Art Brut as much attention yet as I should.

What else should I make a point of hearing this year?

16 comments.

ethan

Comment on September 29th, 2007.

My album of the year so far is either Night Canopy's Of Honey and Country or, seriously, Chumbawamba's A Singsong and a Scrap. I don't know how much you like folky folk, which both of the albums are, but they're great. The latest Apples in Stereo album is pretty awesome, too, and you didn't mention Amy Winehouse, though she might go without saying.

I just got the new Imperial Teen album, and it's a lot of fun, but so far is a bit disappointing from them. I need to give it more time, but I think it'll probably end up being their weakest.

Scraps

Comment on September 29th, 2007.

Thanks! I like folky folk quite a bit. I have heard Winehouse only in bars -- far from ideal. I'd kind of given up on Apples in Stereo; I'll look for that.

I just realized a major omission from my list. Must edit!

Marilee J. Layman

Comment on September 29th, 2007.

My favorite album for the year is, um, from last year. Roseanne Cash's Black Cadillac. It's about her dad, but the music is really tight.

(Currently listening to Eva Cassidy's Live at Blues Alley.)

Scraps

Comment on September 29th, 2007.

Thanks for the recommendation!

Richard

Comment on September 29th, 2007.

I haven't been buying much new music either lately (from this year or the past), but I do have a couple.

Have you heard Panda Bear's Person Pitch? Great, great album, and since you've been digging Animal Collective, probably something you should hear.

LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver is pretty good, if spotty, with a couple excellent tracks, but in particular I would draw your attention to "All My Friends"--probably my song of the year.

I'm intrigued that you think so highly of the new Modest Mouse. I haven't been able to get into it at all, and, as much as I did like their last album, I still don't think anything they've done compares to Lonesome Crowded West, or possibly the Building Nothing Out of Something comp. I love the wide open spaces I hear in the songs on those albums, if that makes any sense.

From last year, have you heard Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood? I got it recently and instantly fell in love with it. Very good record.

And speaking of Ted Leo, I recently got my first album of his, Hearts of Oak, and have been enjoying it too.

scott pgwp

Comment on September 30th, 2007.

My album of the year by a longshot (so far) is Andrew Bird's "Armchair Apocrypha." It didn't bowl me over on first listen but it quickly grew and grew and grew. One of those albums where sooner or later you realize you've called every single song your favorite song.

Scraps

Comment on September 30th, 2007.

Thanks! I've still not heard any Andrew Bird. I was curious before, and I'm more curious now.

Richard, I have not heard the Panda Bear album; it's on the want list.

I love Fox Confessor Brings the Flood; it's very near the top of my 2006 list.

I've always liked Modest Mouse, and I thought The Lonesome Crowded West was an excellent culmination of what I thought of as their sound, before they exploded it and sharpened the fragments with Good News for People Who Love Bad News.

Bill Humphries

Comment on September 30th, 2007.

After listening to "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" multiple times a couple of months ago (it helped get me through a project at work.) I'm still taken with "The Underdog" and "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb." from the album.

I just got Beruit's "The Flying Club Cup" and about to give it a listen.

Thanks for the Pinback recommendation. It's on Amazon's new MP3 service.

scott pgwp

Comment on September 30th, 2007.

I'd never heard Bird before either but now I'm planning to start digging into this back catalog.

Christian

Comment on October 1st, 2007.

In addition to a bunch of the albums you mentioned (Modest Mouse, Spoon, Arctic Monkeys), I'll put the New Pornographers and White Stripes albums at pr near the top of my '07 list.

Also, from the Old Farts category, Nick Lowe's new album ('At My Age') is excellent. And the new Bruce Springsteen record is pretty great, too.

Scraps

Comment on October 1st, 2007.

Yeah, it's kind of silly that I haven't picked up the New Pornographers album by now. I have liked them without being blown away by them, but wouldn't be surprised of one of their albums blows me away sometime.

I am curious about the Lowe, and very curious about the Springsteen, especially since "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses" has been compared more than once to Magnetic Fields.

Scott Underwood

Comment on October 2nd, 2007.

I'm enjoying the new Okkervil River, and I can't rememeber if you like the Decemberists "Crane Wife" or not. Some songs remind me of '70s prog-pop like Kansas, Yes, and even Genesis, but for some reason it hasn't stopped me from listening to it.

ethan

Comment on October 2nd, 2007.

I haven't heard any of the new New Pornographers, either, which is silly. Scraps, did you hear Twin Cinema? That was the one that pushed me over the threshold of being blown away. Hell, just the song titles alone on that album blew me away. Particularly "Sing Me Spanish Techno" and "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras."

Christian

Comment on October 2nd, 2007.

I also just gave a first listen to the new Rilo Kiley album and it will probably find its way onto my best-of-07 list...

Scraps

Comment on October 2nd, 2007.

Scott, thanks for the Okkervil River recommendation -- I'd not heard of them -- and I've not yet got round to the Decemberists, though of course they're on the check-out list. I don't mind the modern prog thing at all, so that doesn't frighten me.

Ethan, I have Twin Cinema but I suspect it slipped through the cracks and I didn't give it concentrated attention. At any rate, it's been away for awhile and I don't remember it. I'll dig it out. (I've always liked their song titles; hell, I liked Zumpano's song titles.)

Christian, I haven't heard Rilo Kiley, either. I should do these posts more often.

And there's a new Joe Henry album I haven't heard; his last one was only my favorite pop album of the year.

Scraps

Comment on October 8th, 2007.

Bill, I just found your comment in the spamcatcher. I've whitelisted your address and posted the comment here. Sorry about that.

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