Before we get into this, please check back within the next couple days/weeks, as I plan on updating this by a) expanding the list (15? 20? 23? It might get cuh-razy!) b) having a thing about my biggest musical disappointments of the year, and possibly c) movies? art? not sure. Regardless, hit it up. Also, big ups to E-harv (the elder guru type linked to the right) who graciously is upping my exposure on his blog.
Top Ten 2007
So, because I’m noncommittal and can’t ever be definitive about “favorite albums” ranked (dear god, you should see me stutter when people ask about songs). Most of these could probably be shuffled around, one might get dropped for another album, and so on, but it’s pretty close, with one exception—my number one is my mother-f-ing number one, for damn sure. Oh, and song of the year? Sean Kingston, “Beautiful Girls.” Did people forget or something?
1. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
1. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
As soon as I decided to move to Philadelphia, the first thing I did was to go online and buy a ticket for the Panda Bear show (1 of 4 in the US). You wouldn’t think that it’d be that great of a concert, given that it’s just a dude and a couple samplers and a mic, but I’m here to tell you how wrong you’d be. Don’t get me wrong—I totally and completely was in love with this album before I went. After seeing it live, though, with the transitions all transitiony, and the bass (dear god, the bass) all the liner notes about dance music began to make so much more sense, and it was like I was listening to entirely different music. If you didn’t see any of the shows, I’m sorry, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
What’s so great is that the album is all about moments—the songs show an almost complete disregard for structures. It’s like he said, man, what this song really needs right now is to be like this other song—and then he just did it! So, it’s like it’s just parts of songs, but only the really good parts, and not the expected, everybody-loves-them good parts that you’d expect, but the parts that you listen to by yourself late at night and think you’re the only one in the world who appreciates it (there are numerous bridges to songs by this little band, Boston, not sure if you’ve heard of them, that can have this effect). So, he takes these moment-structures that you’re pseudo-familiar with, and uses samples (moments) to create new ones, which then create a larger moment of the song, which is really only a part of the even larger moment (meta-moment? Yes, please) of the album.
What it comes down to? I don’t know if I’ve ever not wanted to listen to this album. It makes me happy, not because it tries to but because it is, and, given all the shit going on in the world and my life right now, I’m thankful for some happy things to hold on to. (see above comment about “Beautiful Girls” for further comment).
2. Daft Punk – Alive
I did not shell out the 40 bucks, plus bus fare, plus booze/food money and other incidentals that it would have cost to go see Daft Punk and the Rapture in Brooklyn this summer. If there had been even one person (Tronster) with me in Philadelphia that I could have done a mutual convincing act with, I so would have been there. As it is, there wasn’t, we didn’t, and I didn’t go. Thank fucking God that there’s this, then.
3. Burial – Untrue
Man, I love trip-ho…er, uh, dubstep. OMG, IM TOTALLY KIDDING! No but seriously—I do love trip-hop, and I do love dub-step, and they sound a lot alike, but this doesn’t really sound like either. It does sound awesome, though. For me, it started being a lot more poignant when I thought about the way in which its sort of an inverse of Person Pitch—it’s sampled vocals over original instrumentation, instead of P-Bear’s vice-versa being the obvious formal way, but in general feel, too. You can get it from looking at the album covers as well—the sparse, somber darkness of Burial (and guys? “Burial”) versus a kiddie pool filled with good times (ahem….”Panda Bear”). Yet, they both manage to do this interesting thing of making totally organic and primally hyoo-man music.
4. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
The very first track on Strawberry Jam is sort of like a mission statement for Animal Collective—there’s a goofy sample (what the eff is a boneface?), weird noises that become really rhythmic, gentle singing contrasted with scratchy yelling, strange imagery, etc. In almost any other case I can think of, I would hate if a band did that—it seems like it would take away from their actual songs, if you could just distill it like that. Somehow, though, Peacebone is still a great song, and it’s not even the best song on the album (they’re almost all really incredible, but I think my vote might be for Reverend Green, largely because I still don’t know who that is, but also because of Its fantastic chorus). Next year looks to be a banner year for the guys—new EP, new LP, box set, probably like a billion more leaks and bootlegs, and knowing them, like a giant pudding sculpture. I say bring it.
5. MIA – Kala
Blahblahblahshe’ssorevolutionaryblahblahblahohmygawdneworderandthepixiesINTHESAMESONGblahblahblahitsanewkindofprotestmusicblahblahblah. Throw in some more important words that cultural anthropologists and their critics use, too. I'm not downplaying what people have written about MIA and Kala; in fact, I think that some of it is very cogently written and interesting to boot (big ups, Eric!), and there's probably not much that I have to add. But I think a lot of those conversations stray, to their own detriment, too far away from the fact that it's catchy pop/dance music. Slogans are slogans but they're also hooks--and dammit if these aren't some good ones (er, hooks, not necessarily slogans). Not saying that this supercedes the political implications or possible lack thereof of what she's doing but that it's a really important part to it, because it makes you want to listen to it over and over, and show your friends and put it on mixes and *coughsanxiously* year-end lists.
6. Boys Noize – Oi Oi Oi
I think for me it was inevitable that writing about this album would end up being also about why Justice’s album isn’t in my top ten. I mean, really, they’re pretty similar (clangy drums? Check. Buzzsaw effect? Check. Mostly mid-tempo bangers? Check) and I was way more stoked for the Justice album but I just ended up listening to this way more. In large part, I think its because Justice can’t be separated from their capital-C Coolness—marshall stacks, great T-shirts, gnarly post-post-post-ironic facial hair, etc., and while all that is great, Boys Noize feels more like he’s just in love with the fun of the music. Lot’s of unexpected Afrika Bambaataa influence, too, which is always a winner. And the song “Oh!” just fucking kills.
7. Michael Cashmore (f. Antony) – The Snow Abides
I’m a sucker for strings played really well. I’m also a sucker for Antony. And this is one of those whole-being-greater-than-the-sum type deals. It’s funny, because I always thought before that Antony, as both character and voice, made sense as a cabaret star, but I never thought to make the logical conclusion, as he finally does here, from kitschyish diva to full-on serious diva. Plus, I’m not sure how many people can sing about “ecstatic butterflies” and not make me retch.
8. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights (plus, obviously, “I’m not gonna cry”)
So, apparently this retro-soul thing has been going on for a while; this is Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ third album. My only question: where the FUCK have I and everybody else been?! You know how when you listen to old James Brown and James Carr and Bettye Swann and Smokey records, and you wish that people still made music like this? They do. Start here. And read O-Dub’s soulsides blog, religiously. I don’t do it enough, but should.
9. LCD Soundsystem – Sounds of Silver
Writing about this album would be kind of pointless for me. Go read what somebody/everybody else already did. But before that, listen to it. And listen to it some more. Because only after you’ve listened to it a bunch of times will all the hyperbole being bandied about make sense.
Extra Special Bonus points because I got an e-mail from a friend expatting in Europe right now mentioning the song “North American Scum”’s narcotic drunken-make-out-inducing capabilities that was hi-frigging-larious.
10. Le Loup – The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millenium General Assembly
I think the thing that makes this okay for me is that I really don’t listen to much music like this, or at least not so much anymore, so I don’t really have a frame of reference that might color someone else’s appreciation of it. I think it’s really pretty, and made very lovingly, and I’m a sucker for music that’s made by what sound like really, really awkward people. Remember Black Bear last year? Yeah, me too.