Okay here it is the grand finale, my top ten of the year. The albums I listened to and enjoyed most this year. There was so much great music this year that a short list of twenty five doesn’t nearly it do it all justice. There’s obviously way more omitted than included.
And, as I promised I have giveaways. A copy of The Swimmers – Fighting Trees that most of you will need to wait until it’s March release to get your hands on, but I have it for you now, and a copy of The Broken West‘s I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On autographed by the whole band(Thanks Ross!)
Once again I’ll make it easy to win just leave a comment or send me an email to
email@example.com with “Top 25 Contest” in the subject line.
You don’t have to, but feel free to get creative in the comments – your top albums, what I missed, etc. If you leave a comment make sure you leave an email or some way to get in touch if you win. I’ll pick 2 winners at random on New Year’s Day from all the entries. Good Luck !
1:The Swimmers – Fighting Trees
Back in January of this year when I received a rather unassuming email from Steve Yutzy-Burkey, not so unlike a lot of other emails I receive everyday from bands, letting me know they had shows upcoming and that their new album Fighting Trees was
streaming from their website if I wanted to give it a listen. What I found at the end of the link was a record I would unabashedly call one of the first truly important releases of 2007. Now nearly a year later, I’ve seen the band live more than a dozen times and there is no single album I listened to or enjoyed more this year. It’s the perfect balance of catchy hooks,vocal harmonies and intelligent lyrics that I just can’t seem to get enough of. The record saw a limited Philadelphia area CD release this fall on Mad Dragon Records, who signed the band and will officially release their record to the rest of the world in March 2008. Watch out for it.
2:The Broken West – I Can’t Go On I’ll Go On
Guitar driven, smart, power pop. Reference points of Big Star,The Beatles,Cheap Trick and more come to mind but the sound ends up undeniably all The Broken West. A dozen songs here and each one could be a single in it’s own right, no filler here just great music.
3:Julie Doiron – Woke Myself Up
The best overlooked album of the year. Emotional, ragged and real with a sound that falls somewhere between fellow Canadians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Forget Feist you need this.
4:The Clientele – God Save The Clientele
Alasdair Maclean describes the band’s sound on this record: “The band are setting free their inner Monkees; a lovely blend of Big Star twisted power-pop and country achin’, with flashes of the Beatles at their most joyful and upbeat.” He’s dead on, it’s a perfect Sunday morning record, filled with smooth sixties overtones but never sounding retro or dated.
5:Blitzen Trapper – Wild Mountain Nation
What Wilco could sound like if they didn’t sand all the edges off. The perfect mix of alt country and indie rock, they delivered one of the best live shows I saw all year.
6:Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter
One of the best new songwriters of a generation, Josh amped it up a bit more than his earlier records for this one and created a new classic. And as good as this is, I somehow feel it’s still only hinting at the future greatness Josh has in him.
7:Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
I’ll commit blogger heresy here and say other than a song or two,their debut Funeral did nothing for me. But with only one real clunker(Black Wave),this one is just shy of perfect. Anthmemic and engaging it grabs you right from the first listen. Openly embracing their Springsteen influences in their sound this time around didn’t hurt at all either.
8:LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
James Murphy obviously honed his ear for what works during his time as a bouncer at Trenton’s alternative rock club City Gardens all through the mid to late eighties and delivered an album that put all that knowledge together for something relevant right now. Their live show is phenomenal, hearing All My Friends live was one of most transcendent concert moments I’ve ever experienced.
9:Creeping Weeds – We Are All Part Of A Dream You’re Having
One of Philadelphia’s most original sounding bands this manages to run the gamut from desolate spacey piano, to jagged edgy guitar rockers and all points in between, and it all works. And having seen them live like 8 or 9 times this past year I can tell you they’re an awesome live band as well.
10:Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Twelve solid midtempo pop songs filled with hooks,violin, whistling and more, from th eopening notes of Fiery Crash it creates an alternate world and holds you there right through to the final notes of Yawny at the Apocalypse. One of the best sequenced albums of the year, each song perfectly setting up the next, just like a great mix tape.
Musically speaking, soundtracks tend to be a hit or miss affair, Songs From The Bigtop defies the odds and stands up as great soundtrack or even just as a great collection of songs on it’s own. The Bigtop is an indepedent film by Devon Reed and centers on the life of Vincent O’Malley, a young man who runs away with the circus, only to become consumed by his desire for power and the love of a woman. The soundtrack album reflects the arc of the film, which transitions from Vincent’s youthful days on the prairie to the obsessive mania of his later years.
Devon Reed wrote all of the songs for the movie and then handpicked the amazing collection of artists that appear here to perform them. I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical about it myself, but it’s damn good. The whole set flows well as a collection, while each artist convincingly imparts their own style into Devon’s songs. If the movie is half as good as the soundtrack when it arrives early in 2008 it should be pretty successful.
Here’s the track listing :
Magic (Lisa Germano)
Your Song (The Clientele)
I Only Want the Sky (Michael Leviton)
Ashes (Damien Jurado)
Wild (Matthew Sweet)
The Girl Who’s Above Us (Tullycraft)
Falling In Love (Howe Gelb)
I Just Can’t Keep Up With This Pace (The Owls)
Way to Walk (Communique)
Something Nothing Everything (Marbles)
Planning My Escape (Eleventh Dream Day)
Cracked and Crazed (Doug Martsch)
Patience (The Sprites)
Buy Songs From The Bigtop
For those of you observing Daylight Savings Time today, a couple songs to listen to while you set the clocks back an hour and change the batteries in those smoke detectors.
Hey it’s summer time, the weather’s nice, if you can’t make it to the XPoNential Music Fest In Philly you might as well pack up the kids, the dog, some snacks and suntan lotion, Grandma, and whatever else you can fit in the family truckster and head on down to the beach for a day of fun in the sand, surf, and sun.
1: The Ramones – Rockaway Beach
Buy Rocket To Russia (hell, buy them all)
2: Patti Smith – Redondo Beach
3: Martha And The Muffins – Echo Beach
Buy Metro Music
4: The Clientele – Brighton Beach To Santa Monica
Buy God Save The Clientele
5: New Order – The Beach
Buy Power, Corruption and Lies
ZIP: Bag All 5
Some odds and ends from around the blogosphere.
Heather at I Am Fuel,You Are Friends has a heartfelt and insightful post on the tenth anniversary of Jeff Buckley’s death.
Stereogum tips us off to the trailer from the new Ian Curtis/Joy Division biopic.
What Became Of The Likely Broads has the setlist of the first full show of the Police Reunion tour from Vancouver.
A Deeper Shade Of Soul has a newly unearthed copy of a Springsteen concert from 12/31/75 at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia. (Part 1, Part 2)Originally mixed from multi track master tapes intended for a live album that never saw the light of day until now.
Around 9:15 or so Philadelphia’s Public Record hit the stage to kick off the Monday evening festivities @ Johnny Brenda’s last night. I had never seen them before but their blend of instrumental-ska-jazz-dance music really rocked the house. I could easily picture this band opening for someone like !!! or LCD Soundsystem and packing the dance floor with gyrating bodies. With a two drummers,two guitars, a bass and a saxophone in the lineup, they know how to cook up a good groove. Someone I will definitely see again.
Ladybug Transistor was up next with a smooth pop set that seemed influenced equally by the late 60s early 70′s west coast pop sound as it did from 80′s new wave folk sound of bands like the Go Betweens.
The Clientele finished out the night with a set that drew heavily from their brilliant new disc God Save The Clientele. Live, their Beatle tinged pop songs definitely took on an added dimension that made them sound even better. An excellent show by a band that is most likely going to pick up a lot of new fans soon.
Upcoming Clientele Tour Dates :
May 8 2007 8:00P Black Cat Washington DC, Washington DC
May 9 2007 8:00P Satellite Ballroom Charlottesville, Virginia
May 10 2007 8:00P Cat’s Cradle Carrboro, North Carolina
May 11 2007 8:00P Map Room Charleston, South Carolina
May 12 2007 8:00P The Earl Atlanta, Georgia
May 13 2007 8:00P The Basement Nashville, Tennessee
May 14 2007 8:00P Hi-Tone Memphis, Tennessee
May 16 2007 8:00P Spanish Moon Baton Rouge, Louisiana
May 17 2007 8:00P Walter’s On Washington Houston, Texas
May 18 2007 8:00P Hailey’s Denton, Texas
May 19 2007 8:00A Emo’s Lounge Austin
May 21 2007 8:00P Modified Tempe, Arizona
May 22 2007 8:00P Casbah San Diego, California
May 24 2007 8:00P Knitting Factory Los Angeles, California
May 25 2007 8:00P Howie and Sons Pizza and Beer parlour Visalia, California
May 26 2007 8:00P Great American Music Hall San Francisco, California
May 27 2007 8:00P Doug Fir Lounge Portland, Oregon
May 28 2007 8:00P Crocodile Cafe Seattle, Washington
May 31 2007 8:00P 400 Bar Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jun 1 2007 8:00P High Noon Madison, Wisconsin
Jun 2 2007 8:00P Subterranean Chicago, Illinois
Jun 3 2007 8:00P Magic Stick Detroit, Michigan
Jun 4 2007 8:00P El Mocambo Toronto, Ontario
Jun 6 2007 8:00P QUE Club Lambi Montreal, Quebec
Jun 8 2007 8:00P Bowery Ballroom New York City, New York
Jun 9 2007 8:00P Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts
Jun 20 2007 8:00P The Legion London and South East
Jul 22 2007 8:00P Benecassim Festival Valencia, Valencia
I’ve found more often than not a band’s own perception of what they sound like is more rooted in what they “want” to sound like as opposed to what they really sound like. There’s the exception to every rule and I think Alasdair Maclean of the Clientele pretty much nails it when he sums up his band’s new record thusly :
“The band are setting free their inner Monkees; a lovely blend of Big Star
twisted power-pop and country achin’, with flashes of the Beatles at their most
joyful and upbeat. The ghosts, half-light and uncertainties remain, but I sense
a new found optimism in the music.”
I’ll admit to never having even heard of The Clientele before this ,their third record, but that blurb picqued my interest. God Save The Clientele is a breezy joyful pop record that is the perfect accompaniment to spring days full of sunshine. Gently picked and softly strummed acoustic guitars mix with piano, violin,pedal steel and slide guitar to create spacious almost orchestral sounding arrangements. Fans of bands like the Pernice Brothers or Midlake will thoroughly enjoy this record. It’s steeped deep in influence while forging it’s own sound and they’re not afraid to wear it on their sleeve either, Isn’t Life Strange seems to pay homage to the Moody Blues song of the same name while Bookshop Casanova reworks lyric snippets from the Beatles B-Side You Know My Name (Look up the Number) into a completly new song.
The album was Recorded in Nashville with producer Mark Nevers (Lambchop, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Calexico, Silver Jews) and has a US release date of May 8th on Merge records.
The band is currently in the midst of a US / Canadian tour, be sure to catch them when they come through your town.
The Clientele is :
[myspace] [website] [blog] [BUY IT from merge] [hear more Clientele music]
Upcoming The Clientele Tour Dates
05.06.2007 Hoboken NJ Maxwell’s
05.07.2007 Philadelphia PA Johnny Brenda’s
05.08.2007 Washington Black Cat
05.09.2007 Charlottesville VA Satellite Ballroom
05.10.2007 Carrboro NC Cat’s Cradle
05.11.2007 Charleston SC Map Room
05.12.2007 Atlanta GA The Earl w/ Beach House
05.13.2007 Nashville TN The Basement w/ Beach House
05.14.2007 Memphis TN Hi Tone w/ Beach House
05.16.2007 Baton Rouge LA Spanish Moon w/ Beach House
05.17.2007 Houston TX Walter’s on Washington w/ Beach House
05.18.2007 Denton TX Hailey’s w/ Beach House
05.19.2007 Austin TX Emo’s Lounge w/ Beach House
05.21.2007 Tempe AZ Modified w/ Beach House
05.22.2007 San Diego CA Casbah w/ Beach House
05.24.2007 Los Angeles CA Knitting Factory w/ Beach House
05.25.2007 Visalia CA Howie & Son’s Pizza & Beer Parlor w/ Beach House
05.26.2007 San Francisco CA Great American Music Hall w/ Beach House
05.27.2007 Portland OR Doug Fir w/ Beach House
05.28.2007 Seattle WA Crocodile Cafe w/ Beach House
05.31.2007 Minneapolis MN 400 Bar w/ Beach House
06.01.2007 Madison WI High Noon w/ Beach House
06.02.2007 Chicago IL Subterranean w/ Beach House
06.03.2007 Detroit MI Magic Stick w/ Beach House
06.04.2007 Toronto ON El Mocambo
06.06.2007 Montreal QC Club Lambi w/ Beach House
06.08.2007 New York NY Bowery Ballroom w/ Beach House
06.09.2007 Boston MA Museum of Fine Arts w/ Beach House