Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Unblinking Ear's 2007 in review

Or 2007: The year indie rock officially became the music of choice for 21 year old girls who use the flowers tattooed on their hip or lower back as the default photo on their myspace profile.

(Picture taken from the comments section of Band of Horses' myspace page)

The 2007 playlist
Tvyek "Air Conditioner"
Love of Diagrams "Pace or the Patience"
The Laureates "Witching Boots"
Spoon "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb"
Bottomless Pit "Dead Man's Blues"
New Pornographers "Myriad Harbor"
The Ponys "1209 Seminary"
Mannequin Men "Pigpen"
Black Lips "O Katrina"
The Intelligence "The Outer Echelon"
Times New Viking "Devo and Wine"
Residual Echoes "Fresh Eyes"
Shellac "Be Prepared"
Blonde Redhead "Spring and By Summer Fall"
LCD Soundsystem "Someone Great"
M.I.A. "Paper Planes"
Wooden Shjips "We Ask You to Ride"
White Hills "Spirit of Exile"
The Magik Markers "Taste"
Lamps "Now that I'm Dead"
Jay Reatard "I Know a Place"
Pissed Jeans "I Still Got You (Ice Cream)"
Dinosaur Jr "Back to Your Heart"
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists "C.I.A."
The Marked Men "It's Not a Crime"

Play or Download The Unblinking Ear's Best of 2007 Playlist

Piece of vinyl that floored me the most this year upon needle hitting the wax: Tyvek Summer Burns EP

Album I listened to more than any other this year:
Love of Diagrams Mosaic. An excellent record that I'm also going to give the "Most lazy and misguided references to Gang of Four in its reviews by oblivious 'rock' 'critics'" award. Seriously guys, have you never heard another band with jagged guitar on top and a tight and heavy rhythm section? You're writing about music for a living and your palette is that limited?

Album I thought was just OK at first but a month later I couldn't stop listening to it: Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. I actually do the same thing for every Spoon album. You'd think I'd learn by now.

Album I'm going to strongly recommend even though none of you are going to listen to me: Bottomless Pit Hammer of the Gods. I've been plugging Silkworm for a decade and none of you have cared. Why would you start now?

Song I heard on Evan "Funk" Davies show on WFMU and immediately thought "I must have this": The Laureates "Witching Boots." MP3s of all the songs from the Laureates' 4 song 7" EP are available for free on their website but I was so floored by this track I needed it in a hard format as well. Anytime I've played it for anyone since they've immediately perked up with "Who is this?" Yes, it's that good. Go show them some love.

Song a friend told me about while standing in line for the Simpsons Movie which I had never heard at that point and teased her that I didn't believe it actually existed and thus culture forcefully proved me wrong over the next few months:
Rhianna "Umbrella" Ella, ella

Reunion album that I (and probably everyone else) was surprised was as good as it was: Dinosaur Jr Beyond

Only active punk rocker who could make me spend $9 on his mail order only 4 song 12 inch: Jay Reatard

I just don't get it at all award: Band of Horses. Was there some kind of clamoring for an emoesque retread of C-list 90s alt-rock? Could the Eels not be persuaded to reunite?

I get it but I just don't care at all award: Feist and Arcade Fire (tie)

Already exhausted topic most likely to be discussed and dissected ad infinitum in this year's Pazz and Jop poll: Radiohead's In Rainbows only available as "pay what you want" digital download. Runner up: The nationality, ethnicity and gender of M.I.A.

Record I liked just fine but made me wish the other guy was still in the band: The Ponys Turn the Lights Out

Band I really wanted to like but couldn't make it work: Prinzhorn Dance School, you're a swell gal and I'm sure you'll find the right guy for you. Runner Up: Panda Bear

Song I really liked from an album which otherwise did little for me award: The National "Mistaken for Strangers" from Boxer. Maybe because it's the only song on the record with a backbeat

The marginally talented masquerading as the marginally interesting in order to be beloved by the marginally intelligent award: Dan Deacon

The "maybe my math is wrong but wouldn't these fit on one CD?" award: Robert Pollard's Coast to Coast Carpet of Love and Standard Gargoyle Decisions. Even if they couldn't, maybe Bob could actually edit out a song or two for once in his career to make them fit?

The "I like your old records and I'm glad you're still making music. I just have no desire to listen to your new album. It's not you. It's me" award: The White Stripes. Runner-up: Interpol

The most undeserved backlash award:
The Shins. People should really be focusing that negative energy on Zach Braff instead.

Disappointing reissue of the year: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (40th Anniversary 3-CD Deluxe Edition). Thanks for the mono version. That is very swell of you. And joining those early singles to the album (finally) was a great idea. But come on guys, no "Vegetable Man" and "Scream Thy Last Scream?" How about throwing "Jugband Blues" on there for good measure? None of those oft bootlegged early demos? For a $40 list price and plenty of leftover room on the 3 CDs (by my math, something like 118 minutes!), is it too much to ask for one stop shopping for all Barrett-era Floyd? If you're not going to clean out the vaults now, then when?

Best 18 minute plus song of the year: Fucked Up "Year of the Pig." Not to sound too hyperbolic but it could it be the best 18 minute plus rock song of all time? Seriously, name one that's better. And please don't say "Echoes."

Video of the year: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists "Coleen"

Comedy album of the year: Paul F. Tompkins Impersonal Runners Up: Patton Oswalt Werewolves and Lollipops, Scharpling and Wurster The Art of the Slap, Michael Ian Black I am a Wonderful Man

Best record made by a band with the initials MM: Marked Men Fix My Brain. Comes so close to the kind of cloying pop punk I usually detest but these guys manage to hit the mark perfectly. If I was 16 years old they would probably be my favorite band in the world. (Okay, I'd probably still like Jay Reatard more.) Runners Up: Magik Markers Boss, Mannequin Men Fresh Rot

Record that makes Times New Viking sound like Journey: Der TPK Harmful Emotions

Band I was actually disappointed was comprised of very attractive women:
The Long Blondes. I adored their early singles and thought last year's debut full length (released in the US this year) was quite good. With their lovelorn and seemingly gender conscious lyrics I pictured them as being slightly homely English women like, oh I don't know, the Raincoats. However, it seems as though all the woman in the band are quite high on the doability scale. Just take a look at singer Kate Jackson and bassist Reenie Hollis:

Not only that but it turns out the dude guitarist is responsible for most of the lyrics. Somehow I feel gypped.

Record that give me an overwhelming urge to stare at a lava lamp even while stone cold sober: Wooden Shjips s/t Runner up: White Hills Glitter Glamour Atrocity

Good band whose fairly terrible name made me hold off on listening to them for too long: The Intelligence

Band most likely to own an original pressing of the Huns' "Busy Kids" single: The Lamps. Runners Up: Pissed Jeans

Most Dependable Label Award: In the Red. There was a time when I only thought of these guys as the folks who put out the Jon Spencer jukebox singles (collected this year on Jukebox Explosion). Now they are they are pretty much synonymous with quality, no-bullshit rock n roll. The label not only released the aforementioned records from Jay Reatard, the Lamps and the Intelligence but also fine efforts from Miss Alex White and her Orchestra, Mark Sultan and others. Plus, when they screwed up my mail order they not only sent me the correct record with an apology and no hassle but told me to keep the record they accidentally sent me as well. What a bunch of swell guys!! Runners Up: S-S, What's Your Rupture?, Dusty Medical

Best record to hold you over until the Reigning Sound make a new album: Goodnight Loving Crooked Lake (though in all honesty last year's Greg Cartwright-produced Cemetery Trails was even better)

Record I'm looking forward to most in 2008:
Apparently the Oxford Collapse are working on some kind of 30 song double album. Hopefully available in time for the Big Dipper reunion. Runners Up: New efforts from Times New Viking and Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves.

Record or band mentioned above about which I reserve the right to change my mind: All of them


Ben said...

"Year of the Pig" is yes, perhaps the best 18 minute plus song of 2007. Sure. But the best 18+ minute song ever? Comon PB, you can do better than that. I can tell you right now that NOFX's "The Decline" easily kicks that song's ass into the fucking dark ages, and I don't even really listen to NOFX. Sure, "The Decline" may be slicker and well produced, it may be written by punk "posers," but it still beats "Year of the Pig" in terms of epic-ness, interesting transitions, lyrical fist-pumping, etc. I had to check on The Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray," and I guess you're safe on that (it's only 17:27), but without spending my work day at Allmusic and google, I have to make the argument that your instinct was right: naming Fucked Up's opus the best ever over 18 was hyperbolic.

PB said...

Ben, I've never heard the NOFX song. I wasn't even aware there was a NOFX song that run over 18 minutes. Frankly, that sounds excruciating. Yes "Sister Ray" falls a bit short of 18 minutes but I think there are some Can songs that run at least 20 minutes. "You Doo Right" and "Halleluhwah?" I guess those are better than the Fucked Up song.

Anonymous said...

it's so nice to find someone who wasn't as infatuated with "Boxer." I'll concede to the greatness of "Mistaken for Strangers" but it's so frustrating to hear people use phrases like "restrained" to justify the boringness of that album. Also, you're right on re: Dan Deacon.What a jo
My only beef, if you can call it that, is your erroneous belief that "fix my brain" came out in 2007. I love that band/album, I simply cannot get enough but I'm pretty sure(and allmusic agrees) that it was released in 06. I just read that they are playing in philly the first weekend of January...I might just have to make the trek. I missed them play with Pissed Jeans at Southpaw last summer and have been kicking myself ever since.
Be good,
-matt siblo

PB said...

Matt, I'm going to blame this one on the Unblinking Ear's fact checking department. Somebody's going to get a good talking to over this one.