Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sonic Parthenon's The Year In Music 2007: Part 4

The National
  • Live Show
  • Record: Boxer
  • Songs: “Mistaken For Strangers”; “Apartment Story”.
Along with Camera Obscura and the Hold Steady, the National dominated 2007.

This triumvirate of bands took up, arguably, the most blog time, the most listens, and the most energy. In the case of the National, it was the most blissfully dark. The band’s penchant for salty and raw but nevertheless dramatic lyrics coated in a garden of lush sounds – spanning a line from Joy Division to Bruce Springsteen – makes them a true standout. The boys are a thinking band, a thoughtful band, a deliberative band but also a no frills, unfiltered, savage excursion into base feelings about the bleak state of the world, the urges of human behavior, and maybe even the melancholia of the good things in life. In addition to having one of the records of the year and two of the best singles of the year (“Apartment Story” should find itself in the Top 10 singles of the decade in a few years) the Brooklyn-by-Cinci boys put on a heck of a show and they even made Terminal 5 sound good on its opening night.
"Apartment Story":

Mistaken For Strangers
Fake Empire (on Letterman)
SPTV: "Mr. November" at Terminal 5

“Need Your Needs” by Georgie James
Very late in the year, this sugary, peppy, dance-rock single made a big impact on the SP earbuds. Stay tuned for more of it in 2008.

Norah Jones
  • Record: Not Too Late
  • Song: “Thinking About You”
Norah’s been long forgotten by the Indie crowd (if she was ever really accepted) but that didn’t stop her from putting out a decent LP that has a lovely title track and a single – “Thinking About You” - that would probably win the old fashioned Best Single by a Female Vocalist award. And that would have been her fourth win in six years.

“North American Scum” by LCD Soundsystem
This one is finding it’s way on a lot of year-end best-of lists and for good reason, James Murphy’s production project doubles as a good rock n’ roll band. And best of all: Murphy sounds like he’s singing with a cold.

Okkervil River
  • Live Show
  • Record: The Stage Names
  • Song: “Our Life Is Not Like A Movie But Maybe”
In a great year for band singles, Okkervil’s “Our Life…” rivals the National’s “Apartment Story” for single of the year and also has a best-of-the-decade slot in its future. It is one of the greatest post-break-up analysis songs ever written and Will Sheff sings it with an unmatched passion. The live scene delivers on all the goods – it is truly knee shaking. And oh yeah, The Stage Names is one of the best albums of the year.

A hell of a year for the Lower East Side venue: The Hard Lessons, the Love Me Nots, and Looker put on excellent shows. And they have a nice, accommodating person working the live space door.

“Postcard to Nina” by Jens Lekman
A very sweet, very introverted bit of romantic comedy by Indie darling Lekman. His affable attempt to masquerade as his lesbian friend’s boyfriend in front of her old fashioned family makes for a fun 4 minute romp, aided and abetted by a heavy dose of blue eyed soul in the background. It was quite the year for soul music as led by the ladies mentioned elsewhere and producers like Mark Ronson. But this Swedish single may have trumped them all.

“Radio Nowhere” by Bruce Springsteen
Magic was a turkey, sorry. The opening salvo though was the Boss’ best single in 25 years, which made the ensuing LP all the more disappointing when it turned out to be so bad. But it’s always better to have Bruce around than not. He’s Bruce. And you’re not.

Jay Reatard
  • Live Show
  • Record: Blood Visions
  • Song: “Blood Visions”
You may notice no account of the Black Lips in this year-end review. Well that’s because everyone else has them covered (and boy have they been put into overkill. Remember when they played every couple months to no one? That was a long time ago). Next up in the garage punk-turned-hipster-cavalcade is Jay Reatard, though unlike the Black Lips, it remains to be seen if he will embrace the hipsters back. Jay is a tough, tough dude. But despite the uninviting atmosphere, he puts on a hell of a show in support of a more than decent punk record. He also sports some damn fine vocals.

“Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
Blah blah blah blah, it’s all about Mark Ronson OK? And the Dap Kings. That’s it. Other than that, she should win an award for Best-Description-Of-My-Pathetic-Life-Turned-Smash-Hit-Single. Whatever.

Josh Ritter
  • Live Show
The Historical Conquests may not have been the totally perfect follow up to Animal Years (Pre-Camera Obscura and Hold Steady, the best album of last year), but Josh can do it live.
SPTV Insta-Clip

“Rock N Roll Backlash” by the Woggles
The last of the pocket of Little Steven pushed singles, the razzle dazzle nitty gritty Woggles did what they do best: make fun songs. Still best to see them live though.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela by Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Another 2006 release but that didn’t stop the duo from packing headlining Roseland at CMJ. Perfect, consistent guitar. Bravo.
"Tamacun" live

Carina Round
  • Live Show
  • Record: Slow Motion Addict
  • Songs: “Come To You”, “Stolen Car”
It was a smashing year for British siren Carina Round as she toured in support of her superior follow-up record. “Come To You” and “Stolen Car” are two of the best songs heard this year. And she’s a darling live singer.

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