Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Music Year: Trapped in 2007

Following in the footsteps of fellow Media Corner Blogger Jason and the AV Club before him, I highlight one of my favorite years in music.

There is a certain type of people who seem trapped in a period of their life—for instance, people who relieve their high school glory days well into adulthood.  Similarly, I think some people have a musical peak; they get fixated on a particular period in music and never quite move on.  Their musical taste slowly atrophies into unhipness.  I had a neighbor in college who seemingly only listened to music which was popular circa 1996.  This would have been less annoying, if say he was really into Weezer’s Pinkerton or Belle and Sebastian’s If Your Feeling Sinister.  Instead, I had to wake up every morning to sounds of the Cranberries’ “Salvation” and Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta” blaring from his dorm room.  The kid must have musically peaked at the age of 12.  How sad, I thought, be in your very early 20s and already nostalgic.

However, when I was attempting to compile my best of the 00's album list (a task I still haven't finished), I realized a disconcerting trend.  Save for Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001) and Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006), all of my favorite albums were from 2007.  I wondered if this was my own musical heyday…soon I’d be the annoying neighbor blaring LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” and saying stuff like, “2007, that was when music was music!  Not like the rubbish kids listen to these days.”

Thankfully, my music geekery is insatiable, so it's hard for me to get stuck in one year for too long.  Even if I’m still really obsessed with Person Pitch and Jens Lekman. 

My Top Five of 2007:

5).  Cryptograms- Deerhunter
Find it in the catalog!
It took me a while to discover this album.  Deerhunter had kind of a notorious reputation at the time, thanks in part to front man Bradford Cox's sometimes erratic behavior and provocative blog posting.  The first time I heard most of the songs off of Cryptograms was when I saw the band live in 2008.  The eerie moodiness of the album, as well as the spare psychedelia make Cryptograms a classic.

Stand-Out Tracks: Spring Hall Convert, Strange Lights, Heatherwood

4).  Night Falls Over Kortedala- Jens Lekman
Find it in the catalog!
Though he had garnered some fame for his singles "You are the Light" and "Maple Leaves," I somehow missed Lekman until 2007. I saw him described on a music blog as being a combination of Jonathan Richman and Frank Sinatra.  As a big Jonathan Richman, I immediately checked out his single "Postcard to Nina" and I was hooked.  Night Falls Over Kortedala is a funny, quirky, but sincere effort.

Stand-Out Tracks: Opposite of Hallelujah, A Postcard to Nina, Into Eternity, Kanske Ar Jag Kar i Dig

3).  Sound of Silver- LCD Soundsystem
Find it in the catalog!
Having spent much of 2006 listening to the Talking Heads, New Order, and Gang of Four (thanks Marie Antoinette), meaning I was in the perfect frame of mind to love this album. While all of James Murphy and Co.'s albums are great, Sound of Silver is probably the most consistently awesome.  Best three song stretch of the Aughts?: "North American Scum," "Someone Great" and "All My Friends."

Stand-Out Tracks: The aforementioned three, "Get Innocuous!"  and "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down." 

2).  Boxer- The National
Find it in the catalog!
Alligator, the 2005 release by the National, had been in heavy rotation in my stereo for about two years when Boxer came out.  It was one of my most hotly anticipated albums of the year and it exceeded my expectations.  Most National albums have to grow on you, but my love for Boxer was immediate.  They just do melancholy so well.  This is an album full of slowly building tension and brooding.  Lyrically, the album focuses on the theme of reluctantly growing up.  Being 23 at the time, I could definitely relate to the early adulthood ambivalence.

Stand-Out Tracks:  Fake Empire, Mistaken for Strangers, Slow Show, Apartment Story, Start a War

1).  Person Pitch- Panda Bear
Find it in the catalog!
If there was one album that was the zeitgeist of 2007, it was probably the solo album of Animal Collective member Noah Lennox aka. Panda Bear.  Person Pitch was named the best album of the year by Tiny Mix Tapes, Gorilla Vs. Bear, and Pitchfork. It has an upbeat sound and is unabashedly Beach Boys-esque. It definitely is a pick-me up record.  When I listen to it, my mood usually improves and I feel more relaxed.  Person Pitch is like a trip to Portugal for your ears!  This album is definitely recommended for fans of the Animal Collective album Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009). 

Stand-Out Tracks: Comfy in Nautica, Bros, Good Girl/ Carrots, Ponytail. 


The Flying Club Cup- Beirut
Find in it in the catalog!
Beirut front man Zach Condon was sort of the indie rock it boy from 2006 to 2007.  He collaborated with Grizzly Bears' Ed Droste, won the heart of La Blogotheque, and released two stellar albums: Gulag Orkestar (2006) and Flying Club Cup.  I fell in love with the band's Eastern European/gypsy influenced sound when I saw them live in support of Gulag Orkestar.  They sort of reminded me of a more accessible version of Neutral Milk Hotel. Flying Club Cup had more of a turn-of-last-century French vibe.  I haven't heard too much from Beirut in recent years, though they released another album in 2009 and are apparently huge in Brazil.  My fingers are crossed for a comeback.  Stand-Out Tracks: A Sunday Smile, Guyamas Sonora, Forks and Knives, Cherbourg.

Armchair Apocrypha- Andrew Bird
Find it in the catalog!
I've kind of fallen out of touch with this album in the following years, but I was obsessed with it in 2007.  It's still probably my favorite Bird work and the only one of his albums to have anything remotely resembling a "head-banging" track ("Dark Matter").  Most of it is delicate, complicated, and hyper-literary, as one would expect from an Andrew Bird album.  Stand-out tracks: Plasticities, Armchairs, Simple X and Cataracts.

Friend or Foe- Menomena
Find it in the catalog!
There's a little bit of novelty in this album as Menomena's tracks are composed with the aid of a computer program called Digital Looping Recorder, or Deeler for short. Still, the record manages to be whimsical, fun, and poignant experimental rock.
Stand-Out Tracks: The Pelican, Wet and Rusting, and Rotten Hell.

Kala- MIA
Find it in the catalog!
Since 2007, my love for MIA has kind of declined, probably due to a mixture of her growing popularity and the diminishing returns of hearing "Paper Planes" in constant rotation.  But I couldn't get enough of this record when it was released.  It's a super danceable combination of world music, feminism, politics and pop culture.  Stand-Out Tracks: Boyz, Bamboo Banga, Jimmy, and "Paper Planes" is a good song, though overexposed.

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer- Of Montreal
Find in the catalog!
Of Montreal was always one of those bands I was aware of, but not really a fan per-se.  I've seen them live a few times and thought they put on a pretty good show (as long as you don't mind waiting an hour for them to set up the stage...not that I'm bitter), but their albums were a little bit too twee for me.  But this Hissing Fauna won two automatic points from me for being dark and a breakup album.  It's a catchy mix of pop, glam rock, and electronica.
Stand-Out Tracks: Hemsidalsgate Like a Promethean Curse, The Past is a Grotesque Animal, and She's a Rejector.

In Rainbows- Radiohead
Find it in the catalog!
This album is primarily revolutionary for the way it was distributed.  Radiohead allowed fans to pay whatever they thought the album was worth and download the album from the band's website.  I kind of lost touch with Radiohead after the phenomenal Kid A (2000), but I enjoyed this album quite a lot.  Stand-Out Tracks: include Nude, All I Need, and Reckoner.

Early warnings:

The singles from Robyn's self-titled album started getting heavily buzzed about by music blogs, though it wouldn't officially be released in the United States until 2008. 

Justin Vernon (aka. Bon Iver) self-released For Emma, Forever Ago, which would see wide release on Jagiaguwar Records in 2008.