Monday, December 17, 2007

Dave's Top Ten for 2007

Wow! 2007 – What a great year for music! Paring down this year’s releases to ten titles was indeed a chore. After much deliberation, I used the “heavy rotation” method, which simply means I chose the albums that spent the most time in my CD player and on my iPod. The ten that made it to the top are listed below. A few of the releases that almost made the grade follow.
Here goes:

But wait, not so fast. First, an oversight from 2006 that deserves mention.
Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminals Starvation League -
The Longest Meow
The son of a country legend, Bobby Bare Jr. has a long and uneven catalogue, but with The Longest Meow, he has produced an offbeat, country tinged, heartfelt masterpiece. (OK, not quite a masterpiece, but it deserves a listen!)

Now, on with the main event!
The 2007 Top Ten (in no particular order…)

Blanche - Little Amber Bottles

The ultimate “evil twang” album. Film noir meets alt-country in a most tasty way.

Shearwater – Palo Santo
Rerecorded, repackaged and re-released for 2007, this sadly overlooked release from last year sounds even better now. Soaring tortured vocals, art house instrumentation – certainly not background music.

The White Stripes – Icky Thump
Clapton is God? Sorry Eric. Jack White IS God.

PJ Harvey – White Chalk
PJ strips it down to produce a haunting, keyboard dominated release. Best listened to well after dark by candlelight.

The National – Boxer
PASTE magazine’s top album of the year could very well be mine, too.

LCD Soundsystem -
Sound of Silver
Hey North American Scum! James Murphy’s beats will have you dancing long into the night.

Great Lake Swimmers -
I never thought anyone could “out folk” Iron and Wine, but Tony Dekker et al have done just that. In a word – gorgeous.

Eddie Vedder – Into The Wild
It appears Eddie has grow’d up, and we all benefit. A smart, mature effort highlighted by an incredibly addictive cover of Indio’s “Hard Sun”.

Oakley Hall – I’ll Follow You
NY’s Oakley Hall (Papa Crazee from Oneida) have released their finest country-rock-hoedown to date.

Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
The most accessible album yet from Austin’s indie darlings. They have all it takes to break into the mainstream, from tight edgy grooves to an extremely charismatic front man (Britt Daniel), but do they really want to?

Honorable Mentions:
Grinderman (Nick Cave)
Caribou – Andorra
Lee Hazlewood – Cake or Death (album title of the year)
Low – Drums and Guns
Queens of the Stoneage – Era Vulgaris
The Purrs – The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together
Heavy Trash – Going Way Out With Heavy Trash
Soundtrack – I’m Not There (Dylan Covers)

The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Airbound Again: Random Musings from Columbus

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a metal detector. It therefore detects METAL. If you are wearing, carrying or otherwise have anything on your person that IS metal, it will detect it."
Yes, certainly patronizing, but then again, surprisingly effective!

You know you're flying a low cost airline when their slogan is "Hungry? Thirsty? Bring cash."

When was the last time the national security level, as designated by the Office of Homeland Security, set to something other than "orange"? I fly a lot, and I don't recall if there even are any other colors. As we are constantly reminded by annoying loudspeaker broadcasts, the orange designation indicates a "heightened" level of security due to an increased "threat". However, they neglect to elaborate on the exact nature of this threat, choosing instead to implore us to report any "suspicious activities" to airport personnel. Are we destined to remain in this state of orange for ever? I pine for the good old "mauve" days...

You know you're flying a low cost airline when they wait until your scheduled departure time has passed before informing you that your plane will be delayed by at least an hour.

I like Christmas carols.
This may come as a bit of a shock to you, given my track record of general disdain towards many of society's norms and traditions. But don't worry, it came as quite a shock to me, too. Let me explain.
As I sit in this airport waiting for a delayed departure, my fellow passengers and I are being inundated with Christmas music. Now, my first reaction to this invasion of my privacy was in keeping with my usual conditioned response to all things pertaining to Christmas, or as I prefer to call it, the greatest display of rampant unbridled consumerism known to mankind. This would explain the sneer on my face as carolers sang of mistletoe.
However, moments later as my thoughts wandered elsewhere, I was surprised to notice that a smile had appeared on my face. Upon further investigation I realized that the smile had nothing to do with something humorous, or was the result of some cute girl smiling at me (remember, I'm in an airport in Columbus, Ohio and school is out - any cute girls have left the state). No, the smile was the result of the Christmas Carols and there was nothing I could do about it.
"But why the smile?" I asked myself. "I hate Christmas Carols!"
Or do I? It's true, I really dislike Country stars crooning away about Bethlehem, and could certainly live without another Norman Rockwell styled muzak interpretation of a holiday standard.
But, the truth of the matter is that Christmas Carols make me think about my mother, and she LOVED Christmas, carols included. My mother was a woman who started planning for Christmas in February, and was buying little thoughtful gifts for people each year before spring had even sprung! And Mom loved to hum and sing along when Christmas carols started playing on radios and in malls (and probably in airports, too). They made her happy, and brought back memories of her family.
So, for this moment, I'm happy, too. And it's because of the memory of my mother, and yes, because of Christmas Carols.