Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Best Albums of 07

As Promised, here is my “best albums” of 2007 list. I know that it’s late but at least it’s the only one out right now besides. I had to make an all day trip to Amoeba Records now that I have some more free time being that it is spring break (yes, I can spend all day there). So here are my favorite albums of 07, again in no particular order.

Rocky Votolato: The Brag and the Cuss. Ok, it’s not nearly as good as Suicide Medicine but almost as good as Makers and that’s saying a lot.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Raising Sand. I know this is on every best of list this year so I’m not telling you anything new but this is a really god album. I think My favorite tracks are Killing the Blues and Gone Gone Gone. I liked the version of Please Read The Letter even more than the original as heard on Walking Into Clarksdale (which by the way is the best post-Zeppelin album the guys ever released). I was also presently surprised by the appearance of Allen Toussaint’s Fortune Teller, though the est version of the song still belongs to The Who on Live At Leeds. Raising Sand has Great sound, great feel, and is an album that I listen to over and over again.

Martin Sexton: Seeds. From the first track on it just feels so good. Stream it at http://www.martinsexton.com/discography/seeds.html

Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist. The triumphant return of one of the great bands of my youth

The Cult: Born Into This. The other triumphant return of one of the great bands of my youth.

Radiohead: In Rainbows. This was a truly brilliant move to put more money in the hands of the band by bypassing the label completely. Heck, even those who don’t pay you anything give you enough info to put them on a mailing list so you can get them to go to future shows, buy merch, the next album etc… But is this going to revolutionize the music industry? No. There are tons of bands giving their music away on Myspace and download.com and before that it was mp3.com. But name one big act that was broken by these mediums. Can’t think of one, can you? The problem is the internet is all noise. There are so many bands out there and some of them are good but it is impossible to filter through them on a large scale. Sure individuals can find stuff they really like and small communities can be built up on the web but for a band to make it commercially (this is the music business after all) they need marketing on a massive scale. And that takes money, money that labels happen to have. Labels have been the traditional filter perhaps that will change but not through set your price distribution. The reason it worked for Radiohead is first, they are Radiohead, already a hugely commercial success that stands out above the noise. And second, they got free advertising on the nightly news because what they were doing was so novel. Do you think the media is going to report on every band that is giving its music away especially when no one has ever even heard of the artist before? So it’s a brilliant idea for Radiohead and maybe for other large acts as well but unfortunately it cannot and will not revolutionize the industry. This is because the heart of the record industry is breaking new acts and set your price is not marketing it is only distribution. True the labels are no longer needed for distribution but if you want to make a living doing nothing but music you need someone to put money behind your act to market you to the consumer. Maybe when the big four labels have finally killed themselves off from stupidity and failure to adapt we will find another way. Best track: Reckoner.

Band of Horses: Cease to Begin. Not as good as the first album but still very good though it’s a little short. Is there a Ghost? is a song I listened to over and over again when they first released it on their Myspace page.

Jimmy Eat World: Chase This light. Not as good as Futures but then again it’s not as depressing as futures either. I loved Futures but man was it sad. I certainly can’t put it up there with Clarity either. But this upbeat album from a band that I had feared was just going to get more and more depressing is a welcome relief.

Foo Fighters: Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace. Perhaps I’m still on a high from how great In Your Honor was but this album is still pretty good. Summer’s End is probably the best track. Once and For All is a close second. I also really like The Pretender, Stranger Things Have Happened, and Long Road to Ruin.

Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero. I can’t call my self a NIN fan, in fact some of Trent Reznor’s work makes me want to puke but this is a great album. Check out In This Twilight. This song is almost inspirational. I know, it’s hard to believe that I’m talking about a Nine Inch Nails song but I am. Plus the album is mostly free of the shock rock, obscenity, and blasphemy that is characteristic of much of Reznor’s other work. Those of you who think that Nine Inch Nails has nothing to offer, I urge you to at least check this one out.

Eddie Vedder: Into The Wild Soundtrack. Didn’t catch the film. I liked the book despite the fact that Krakauer has an annoying tendency to mix fact with fiction in his “histories.” It was cool when Wallace Stegner did it (not to mention the fact that he did it much better, his histories also qualify as literary masterpieces on par with is fiction) but the discipline of history has changed. It has become a much more serious enterprise with a rigorous attention to citations and a new insistence that historians should shun speculation. So I get annoyed when people try to present their works as histories when they don’t live up to the high standards of the profession. Krakauer spends most of the book speculating on McCandless’ motives even ascribing the author’s own motivations to his subject. Those who are not familiar with the tradition of mixing literature with history, as perfected by DeVoto and Stegner, may be confused when they read something that does not live up to the documentation that is expected of historians today and may even simply accept these literary liberties to be fact. But I digress. Hard Sun is a great song.

Ben Kweller: Live & Solo at The Artist’s Den. Typical Ben Kweller performance his shows are always a lot of fun. Ben is also a first rate songwriter. I really like this version of Thirteen.

Norah Jones: Not Too Late. Love Thinking About You, also the music video for Sinking Soon is great. I like Little Room as well.

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