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« New year, new strategies, new leaders | Main | This Week In Tyranny »

Best Music of the Year

Introduction

If you dig these songs please consider buying them. Most can be had for less than a buck.

All these were downloaded freely and legally this year so I’m posting them in good faith. Links will be live for a week. If you hold the copyright on one and would like it removed, please let me know and I’ll comply. You heartless, small-minded, ungenerous b******.

This is a CD’s worth of the best new music I heard this year. God bless the Internet - I doubt I’d have heard any of them without it. I deliberately forced myself to stay under 80 minutes so they all could fit on a single CD. In a way it’s an arbitrary limit but if you’re going to share a “best of” list you shouldn’t overwhelm your listeners. I know from experience that restraint in these matters is greatly appreciated. There are some songs I loved that didn’t make it as a result; I’ve listed some of them in the comments. If you like my picks I recommend tracking them down as well.

Stragglers

I heard these for the first time this year but they were released earlier. I’d have probably made room for each if they’d have qualified.

Uh Huh” - Method Man (Buy). Method Man has forgotten more about good beats than I will ever know.

The Ride” - Joan As Police Woman (Buy). A beautiful song beautifully performed. You can keep your divas, chanteuses and drama queens. I’ll take Joan As Police Woman.

Drama” - H.I.T. (No artist info). This song has a gigantic, colossal Godzilla of a beat, stomping through your city and knocking over buildings. Run for your lives!

Through The Backyards” - Au Revoir Simone (Buy). Mesmerizing.

Hardcore Days And Softcore Nights” - Aqueduct (Buy album). I don’t write this lightly: A worthy successor “Louie, Louie”. Like the prototypical garage rock anthem, this one has a happy little keyboard riff dancing on top of a drum kit getting worked over like a loanshark deadbeat. Retroactively awarded 2005 Best Xylophone.

Honorable Mention

White Like Heaven” - Gowns (Label’s homepage). Shows what’s possible when a talented and ambitious group creates something cool and then just opens it up and lets it breathe for a while. It definitely isn’t for everyone though. As much as I like it I have mixed feelings about it because I’m pretty sure it will end up inspiring a landfill’s worth of pretentious tripe. My advice: Get into it now before the imitators ruin it.

Late breaking news: I just started listening to “Shame” by Shannon Hurley in the last week and I suspect I just found my first Straggler for 2008.

Best music of 2007

And yes as proof of concept I burned them on to a CD using Winamp.

22. “See And Be Scene” - The Hard Lessons (Band info). Synthesizers can sound great when featured in a song.. You can hear them in dance, electronica and hip hop but in the pop/rock world it’s as though the first Cars album never happened. Here’s hoping The Hard Lessons start a reversal of that trend.

21. “Swallowed A Pill” - Salt And Samovar (Band info). This one builds and builds and just when it seems ready to take off into an extended Who-like whirlwind…it ends. Happily the abruptness doesn’t come across as contrived like it did for another cultural event this year that I will only elliptically refer to and certainly won’t hyperlink to because I’ve already heard more about it than I need to for three lifetimes and if you don’t know what I’m talking about please forget you even read this sentence. Here it just sounds like that’s where they wanted it to end. Fair enough.

20. “There’s A Reason” - AA Bondy (Buy). This was actually released November 30th 2006 but I allowed a grace period; the songs I find don’t exactly come storming out of the gate in a blaze of publicity. Sometimes it takes a while to come across them. Anyway, some slow songs are compelling and some are catatonic. I don’t know what causes them to be one or the other but this one just forced me to tune in.

19. “Paper Planes” - M.I.A. (Buy). This one cleaned up at the awards show: Best Mess With The Audience’s Head, Most Contemporary, Best Living Up To The Hype and Best Shotgun. Don’t strain your back hauling all that hardware home!

18. (2007 Best Gibberish) “320” - Project Jenny, Project Jan (Buy). “320” really crept up on me. The first few times I thought it was OK, then suddenly it clicked and I was bouncing all over the car. You weren’t using that mailbox were you?

17. “Enabler” - Japancakes (Buy). Simply gorgeous. They fade it out too early though. I’ll be first in line when they release the twenty minute EP version.

16.(2007 Best Hand Claps) “B.O.O.T.A.Y” - Bangers And Cash (Buy (Clean version (though really why bother?))). A less refined Sir Mix-A-Lot.

15. “Shake Ya Boogie” - Mocean Worker (Buy album). I know cowbell has become all ironic and meta but when it’s done well it still sounds just fine to me. This is Exhibit A from 2007.

14. (2007 Runner Up - Best Hand Claps) “Solta O Frango” - Bonde Do Role (Buy). This is a loopy song, but the good kind not the bad kind. It isn’t “I’m so embarassed this guy is my President I could just die” loopy but “a bunch of wacky kids got together, grabbed an instrument and discovered they could play them” loopy. We’ve been gorged on the former and are starved for the latter. Help make up the deficit, won’t you? Check out this song.

13. “Sunset” - Benji Cossa (Buy album). This song produced the following image for me: Tiny Tim on the early 70’s Carson show with a Hawaiian set and a couple of hula dancers behind him. Whatever that does for you, give it a listen. It was my unofficial “driving home from work on a nice summer Friday afternoon” song. Now that winter has arrived I can listen and still catch some residual warmth.

12. “Wonderlust King” - Gogol Bordello (Buy). Frankie Yankovic meets Sid Vicious meets a gypsy caravan. I understand why they aren’t more popular but I still wish they were.

11. “Lil’King Kong” - Simple Kid (Buy). Banjo on top of a hip hop beat? (Cue clichéd cop buddy movie vibe:) “YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” Oh yes he can. Straight into my heart and onto the list.

10. “The Opposite Of Hallelujah” - Jens Lekman (Buy). If melodies were animals this song’s would be a basket full of puppies. It’s hard to overstate how insanely catchy this song is.

9. “Die Die Die” - The Avett Brothers (Buy). If loving harmonies is a crime then lock me up and throw away the key!

8. (2007 Vocal of the Year) “Small Town Crew” - The Brunettes (Buy). I believe I’d enjoy listening to this girl sing the phone book.

7. “Rud Fins” - Robert Pollard (Buy). In just over two minutes this song provides a full week’s supply of the FDA’s recommended allowance of rock and roll goodness.

6. “Adrenaline” - Emma Pollock (Buy). Immature artists imitate, mature artists steal. Emma shows her maturity by stealing the piano from “Clocks” and dropping it into her own wonderfully crafted pop song. Well played, Lady Pollock! (Cue country club applause.)

5. “It Just Takes One” - The Hudsons (Buy (registration required)). Simple, clean, lovely.

4. “What You Need” - Galactic (Buy). Oh my dear sweet Jesus does this song rock.

3. “Bone” - Map Of Africa (Band info). If this song doesn’t go to your nether regions from the very beginning please see your doctor immediately.

2. “Bushels” - Frog Eyes (Buy). Usually when artists take a big chance it’s a train wreck. Here is a teriffic exception. Frog Eyes goes way out on a limb and to my ears succeeds wildly. If you just hear a train wreck fair enough.

1. (2007 Song of the Year) “New Shoes” - Blitzen Trapper (Buy). A smile set to music.

References (2)

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Reader Comments (8)

I could have filled up at least another CD's worth of great new music from this year:
"Sea Horse" - Devendra Banhart (the hipsters hated Zeppelin at first, too)
"Comfy In Nautica" - Panda Bear (2007 Peter Gabriel Award for glorious quirkiness)
"Remission" - Ryan Ferguson
"December Will Be Magic Again" - Wojtek Godzisz (2007 Freddy Mercury Award for outstanding theatrics in a rock song)
"Art Isn't Real" - Deer Tick
"First Fantasy" - Citay
"City of Immigrants" - Steve Earle (2007 David Cassidy/Woody Guthrie Award for unintentional topicality in a pop song)
"The Underdog" - Spoon
"Pretty Voice" - Cloud Cult
"The Golden State" - John Doe & Kathleen Edwards
"Trouble" - Over The Rhine (2007 Barry White Award for sexiest song)
"Hey There Little Love" - Licorice Roots (2007 Primus Award for best acquired taste)
"C Visar Vägen" - Dungen
"Burn" - Sean Jackson
"To Fix The Gash In Your Head" - A Place To Bury Strangers
"Beat of the Double" - Apes (2007 Robert Plant Award for best wailing)
"Music Kills Me" - Rinôçérôse (Proof that electronic music doesn't have to be monotonous. It's not just for the dance floor any more!)
"The Sweat Descends" - Les Savy Fav
"Rigor Mortis" - Wussy (2007 Lou Reed Award for best feedback)
"Boldest Of Colours" - Tournaments
"When I Get Old" - Pet Politics (2007 Jimmy Buffet Award for best dissolution)
"Shake it to the Ground" - Blaqstarr + Rye Rye
"Summer Sunn" - Service Group (the bass lick right before the drums kick in is life-affirming)
"Business Time" - Flight of the Conchords (2007 Flight of the Conchords Award for funniest song)
"Single Days" - Pale Young Gentlemen
"What Needs Must Be" - Dead Meadow (2007 David Gilmour Award for best guitar solo)

December 27, 2007 | Registered CommenterDan

Dan, wow, I was just talking to some friends last night about the pop-cultural dead zone that is my mind. I haven't heard a single one of those songs. Guess I've got some work to do.

m

December 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Witemyre

That is some of the best music I've heard in years! You've got some ear Dan!! : )

December 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBCF

Thanks hon ;)

December 31, 2007 | Registered CommenterDan

I'm so glad to see Gogol Bordello here! Super Taranta is a great album.

December 31, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteralejandra

Good to see PJPJ and Simple Kid on there. Good looking out

January 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDylan

And this is why I read www.pruningshears.us. Killer posts.

March 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Thanks Adam!

March 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterDan

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