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.
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.
“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!
“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.
“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?
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.
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.)
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.