Sunday, February 17, 2008

music good...poverty bad

Well, I do this every year...mostly for my own amusement. And I'm always late putting this together every year...mostly because I have to play catch-up and buy a bunch of CDs that I didn't get a chance to buy before the end of the calendar year.

However, personal dramas have given way to financial much so that, at least for the near future, "disposable income" will be but a quaint idea (becoming unemployed will do that to you). So all those usual rushed purchases unfortunately just ain't gonna get purchased. I wish I could think of genitalia large enough for this situation to suck. But...whatever.

So here are my favorite records from 2007. 'Twas a damn good year, musically. However, I'm still inviting the past year to suck my ass for personal reasons...

Non-local artists:

1. Biffy Clyro, Puzzle - They're my favorite band on the planet so, unless they just really fuck up royally, they'll always take home top prize.

2. Steve Earle, Washington Square Serenade - Lordy, I have missed the Steve Earle that is capable of writing songs like these. His past couple records have been among my least favorite from him, just because he'd been bending over backward to beat his political agenda into our ears. And while I agree with his politics and revere him like few others because of who he is and what he stands for, I very much prefer when he doesn't try so hard. Because, frankly, he doesn't need to. He's a fucking genius...period. Easily his best record since The Mountain, which was his best record since El Corazon, which was his best record. Wonderful stuff.

3. M.I.A., Kala - I think she's got the coolest taste in sampling since the very early days of the Beastie Boys or De La Soul. And she's got a bigger set of balls than anyone else I can think of in modern music...along with the talent to make them useful.

4. Ha Ha Tonka, Buckle in the Bible Belt - Now this was a surprise. Not so much that it's as good as it is, but that it's a debut record as good as it is. Having seen them open for the Meat Puppets this past summer, I can also testify that they're even better as a live act. And that is scary.

5. Kristin Hersh, Learn to Sing Like a Star - Probably the artist at the top of my musical heroes list...she never fails to inspire and amaze me. The music is top-notch - somewhere between her usually-quiet solo work and her noisier Throwing Muses stuff - and the lyrics, as always, are absolute genius. She thinks and writes in a way I'll never fully grasp. I wish I could borrow her mind for a day.

6. Queens of the Stone Age, Era Vulgaris - The last record was really great, though there was something oddly disappointing in it at the same time. Fortunately, whatever weirdness that was behind that vibe is missing from Era it's just a rockin' piece from start to finish. It amazes me that QOTSA has now exceeded the output and lifespan of Kyuss. Something about that is just wrong on a certain level...but I won't bitch.

7. Meat Puppets, Rise to Your Knees - I think a professional critic somewhere described this record as being more of a "getting back on our feet" affair than what we might otherwise expect from the reunited Kirkwood brothers...and that's pretty accurate. There are undoubtedly some terrific songs on here, but there are also things worth nitpicking the fact that more than a few song tempos are too slow, and the continuing, stupefying tendency that Curt Kirkwood has in choosing the most boring, unimaginative drummers he can possibly find. Derrick Bostrom was never John Bohnam, but Shandon Sahm first and now Ted Marcus sure make him seem that way. But the Meat Puppets have always been Curt's show, anyway, which is as it should be.

8. PJ Harvey, White Chalk - Polly continues her trend of creating music that makes you feel like you’re in a confession booth with her. She's always been one of my favorite guitar players so I'm sure I'll come to think of this as her "piano album." Part of her brilliance, though, is that no matter how she chooses to deliver a song, the end result will be awesome.

9. Low, Drums and Guns - An absolutely hypnotic and fascinating band and this album in particular careens back and forth between sometimes incongruous extremes; at times haunting, amusing, disturbing, creepy and beautiful. Similar to Polly's record in that such amazing atmospherics are created based as much on silence as instrumentation. Or something like that.

10. Saul Williams, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! - Very unfortunately titled, but brilliant in spots. Great sampling along with terrific, surprisingly restrained production from Trent Reznor, and biting lyrics from one of this era's true poets. Shame I'm gonna have to miss his upcoming show in Dallas, though...

11. Bjork, Volta - It's good to see her getting a little bit closer back to what passes for "traditional" Bjork music, although it's still a bit weak. There's some Asian-style instrumentation here and there that doesn't do much for me. And on two songs she's singing with some dude who...I have no idea who he is or where he came from, but he may be the most unappealing vocalist I've ever heard. Try to imagine a prissier-sounding Morrisey channeling Mr. Rogers while giving enunciation's just foul. Make him go away, whoever he is...

12. Johnette Napolitano, Scarred - I still love Johnette, though my love is starting to wane. She's kinda like Iggy Pop in that when she cranks out a good lyric, it can be really good. But when she swings and misses, she really misses. And subtlety has never been her strong suit.

13. Pig Destroyer, Phantom Limb - Now, you'd think with the name Pig Destroyer you can't possibly go wrong, right? Well, you would if you were me, anyway. And you'd be incorrect either way. This band is actually quite revered among thrash-metallurgists, from the press I've seen. But this was honestly too much for me to take. Or too little...I'm not sure. At least with even the thrashiest of thrashers, there's at least something to grab hold of somewhere...a riff or a beat or perhaps the slightest hint of melody. But I'll be damned if I could find anything on here like this. It just sounded like forty minutes of scrambled ideas that might have made decent pieces of songs, but not actual songs themselves. Or maybe I'm just getting old...

And those above, unfortunately, were the only releases from last year I was able to get to before the money up and left. Still more unfortunate is the list of records that I wasn't able to get to...many of whom are among my absolute favorite artists. Just on the off chance that anyone feels like taking pity on me or is a really good shoplifter, here's what I couldn't get my hands on:

From the "fuckity-fuck-fuck!" group...
Café Tacuba, Sino
Public Enemy, How You Sell Soul To A Souless People Who Sold Their Soul
Radiohead, In Rainbows
The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Is Is (EP)
Tomahawk, Anonymous
Son Volt, The Search
Prong, Power Of The Damager
Fishbone, Still Stuck in Your Throat

From the "not quite sure, but most likely fuckity-fuck!" group...
Dalek, Abandoned Language
Black Francis, Bluefinger
Imperial Teen, The Hair The TV The Baby And The Band
High On Fire, Death Is This Communion
Thurston Moore, Trees Outside the Academy
Crowded House, Time On Earth
Gogol Bordello, Super Taranta!
The White Stripes, Icky Thump

And from the "flip a coin 'cause the last record sucked" group...
The Donnas, Bitchin’
Fu Manchu, We Must Obey

And then there's the (probably unnecessary) category of local-ish music. Of the few I was able to get to, here what I thunk...

Non-non-local artists:

1. Doug Burr, On Promenade - He's been far and away my favorite local live act since the first time I saw him...which might seem like a weird declaration. But just listen. And watch, if you can. My jaw drops every time. He's just flat amazing.

2. Red Monroe, ¡Policia! ¡Policia! - Right up there with Pleasant Grove with regard to being my personal, local music heroes. They defy description. (Although, everyone tries to compare them to Radiohead...I swear to god I hear traces of early Talking Heads on this record.)

3. Hogpig, Hold Back the Curse - Even the awesomely kick-ass band name wasn't enough to hold it together. Dammit...we hardly knew ya. Stay hard, Hogpig!

4. Daniel Folmer, Gloria - DdFW's most unheralded talent. In my humble opinion. I defy you to listen to "Serotonin" and ever be able to forget that song. Seriously...ever.

5. Eaton Lake Tonics, Vicodina / Hate When Bad Things Happen to Good Looking People (EP) - Low-fi fabulosity, virtuosity, curiosity and any other "osity" you can think of. Okay, and when I said Red Monroe defy description...this shit really does. It is literally all over the place while somehow keeping one foot on the ground at all times. Domenic is my hero.

6. Kristy Kruger, Songs From a Dead Man’s Couch - Okay, so this actually came out late 2006 and I was just late to the party. Sue me. It deserves additional props. Plus, she's totally dreamy, you know...

7. Lovie, Harshmellow - The more they gig, the more they write, the more they record, the better they get. They will rule the scene sooner rather than later. And can we all please show them some luv for a kick-ass album title...? (PS - They're all dreamy too.)

8. The Allens (self-titled) - This may have come out in '06 also...not sure. And Midland is local-ish, right? Whatever. It's good shit.

9. Jay Gummer, Push (EP) - Cheap Trick meets Weezer meets the Violent Femmes meets a bunch of other good shit I can't put my finger on. And he's got other nifty new stuff on his MySpace page now. So check him out already, bitches...!

10. The Hope Trust, The Incurable Want - Not without its flaws, but darn good. A more proper review will be appearing soon on an Important Local Music Blog That People Actually Read Regularly. Or not. But hopefully. (My review, I mean...not the blogsite.)

11. Fair to Midland, Fables From A Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True - All I can do is refer you to a previous post...if you give a shit. I certainly don't...

And I wasn't able to get to these sumbitches either, dammit...

The Crash That Took Me, Orchestrated Kaleidoscope
100 Damned Guns, Songs of Murder, Pain & Woe

...and probably another dozen or so that I either never heard about or am forgetting.

So there you go. I suck. But it wasn't entirely my fault. I'll try to do better in 2008. However, things aren't off to a particularly smashing start in that department either...


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Blogger bill h said...

Totally agreed about Doug Burr, jaw dropping. Ever since that first Thursday at dada, i was hooked. Great cd. Also agreed about Lovie. Felons get to play with them at city tavern on 3/9. good times.

hope to see you soon. I'll be in Big Bend this w/end though.

3:08 PM  

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