Thursday, December 20, 2007

The End of Year List

So I have been somewhat reluctant to post my end of year list (partly because these types of lists are somewhat cliche, but mostly its simple procrastination). But here is my top 7 (a very zenlike number) of 2007:

1) The National -- Boxer
I fell in love with "Fake Empire" and then slowly grew to the rest of the album. Like nothing else that was produced this year, The National take their own unique sound and deepen the textures on this record. Probably the only album this year that was solid throughout, this is definately a band that will make seriously powerful music for a long time.

2) The Editors -- An End Has A Start
I posted on the great Editors/Interpol debate when these records came out, and my prediction held true. While the Interpol record faded away quickly, this album just kept hanging around. By the fourth listen the Joy Division comparisons faded and all that was left was epic Brit rock.

(mp3) Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors (bonus: This was #34 on Contrast Podcast's end of the year top 50 and you can catch my intro of the song here)

3) Band of Horses -- Cease To Begin
The first three tracks on this record are better than any other album opening group (with the exception of The National). I admit that I dismissed these guys the first time around, but I rarely make the same mistake twice. While the back half of the record drags a bit, there is no denying that "Is There A Ghost" and "No One's Gonna Love You" are tremendous songs full of passion and emotion.

4) Rogue Wave -- Asleep At Heaven's Gate
With a greater depth to the music than previous efforts and an even greater Beatles influence, Rogue Wave brought forth a record of mature songwriting that I really warmed to after awile. "Like I Needed" and "Chicago x12" are slices of pop heaven.

5) Radiohead -- In Rainbows
I wanted to like this record more than I do. Sure Radiohead is still one of the premier rock bands around. Yes it's a solid record, but frankly I expect more from them. Are they being punished for past glories? Probably. But I hope that they still have a great record in them, because I think this one was just really good.

6) The Shins -- Wincing The Night Away
Originally, this was headed for the disappointment file because I was left a little underwhelmend. Then a few weeks ago I went back to it and re-discovered what I first suspected. This is a pretty darn fine album. In clearly an instance where hype almost killed a good band, The Shins made a wonderful mash up of Smiths, Beatles and California pop for a record that is both very British and very American in sound.

(mp3) Split Needles (do yourself a favor and track down the alternate version of this one!!)

7) Shout Out Louds -- Our Ill Wills
This is mostly on the strength on the single "Tonight I Have To Leave It", which is the clear frontrunner for single of the year (Hanging with The National's "Fake Empire" and Votxtrot's "Introduction"). Taking from The Cure and other 80's pop bands to update a great sound is always a good way to get in my graces.

1) Bloc Party -- Weekend In The City
I wore it out for two weeks and haven't been back since. I think they will still be great and it is possible that in 10 years we all look back on this record and re-evaluate it (much like u2's October) but right now I say it was my biggest let down of the year.

2) Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
I love Ryan Adams and yet he constantly frustrates me. He could be this generations Dylan, but he just doesn't seem to be able to get out of his own way. Not polished enough for commercial success, too polished for indie god status. He just floats and throws out material that has so much potential and yet fall short. I also am disappointed that he stooped to a duet with Sheryl Crow...I know he can do better.

3) Interpol - Our Love To Admire
I am just about done with these guys. After all the talk about the new sound, all I heard was the same thing. Outside of "Pace is the Trick" the record is lifeless and repetative. If the next record sounds like the last two, they may not recover.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why We Blog...

My wife has started her very own blog (you can visit by clicking here). This got me thinking about the whole blogging phenomenon itself. Why exactly do we blog? What is the purpose of putting our thoughts out there for just anyone to read? My wife's take is that it's sort of an inner monologue that we share with others. I would agree except I think of it as nore an inner argument with our own subconcious. I mean, after all, aren't we just putting a carefully crafted piece of ourselves out for display. It's not like most of us who blog with any regularity really give any in depth insight into our lives and our way of looking at the world. Most of us use it as a vessel to spring forth opinions on which band we think is shit or who is the hottest Spice Girl (count one vote for Gerri over here by the way!)
This is not meant to be critical but merely a short rant about just how seriously we should take this whole blogging universe. I mean, come on, just because I read Perez Hilton doesn't mean I believe everything he writes. And just because someone doesn't care for the head coach of the UCLA football team doesn't mean that blogger should be quoted in the LA Times as a source on anything to do with the coach's job. People are taking these blogs way to seriously. It's meant to be fun and meant to entertain others. So I will continue to write about music and TV because it's pithy and has little effect on the world. Hopefully, you will continue to read and keep writing your own pithy blogs so that we have something to enjoy!! But that's just my opinion.
I think this opening line sums up my feelings about my blog pretty well...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Dark Night and The Perfect Song

So I was out late tonight on a food run. The streets were dark and I was clad in my usual winter attire (Jeans, T-Shirt, Red 2005 Pasdena High School Sweatshirt that rarely gets washed so it feels great). This is one of those moments when you're driving and just need something to sing along to. There are plenty of ways to attack this situation. Do you go for something poppy and catchy to pass the time? Something aggressive to keep you awake? Actually, I settled on Ryan Adams' cover of the Oasis song "Wonderwall". Why? Because it's quiet, sad and arresting all at the same time. Adams takes what was already a beautiful song and transforms it into a song full of longing and melancholy. It just seemed to fit my mood and the situation. Which got me thinking about the nature of music as the external soundtrack to our day to day lives. We all have music that we work out to or work by. We have music that signifies great moments in our life. But it's the songs that we play when we are traveling through the more mundane parts of our day that really shapes our life. Sometimes the perfect song can make those moments seem a little more bearable...

Ryan Adams -- Wonderwall (From Love is Hell)