The Best Music of 2007, as Chosen by Reasonoids

As promised yesterday, here's a special music thread: Reason editors David Weigel and Radley pick their favorite music of the year (and a couple disappointments). Prove us wrong in the comments!

David Weigel's picks:

I. Best Albums
Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet
Lyrically, it's ridiculous: Steve Wilson burbles and whines about the crush of technology and XBox 360s turning young brains into mush. If your grandma was theming a prog rock album, it'd come out something like this. Musically, though, it's some of the tightest and most evolved music the band has ever composed. They're aided by the guitar work of Robert Fripp, who's in more of a thrashy Thrak mood than a repetitive Lark's Tongues mood. You don't like Fripp? No problem: Alex Lifeson guests on this too. (Watch the video for the title track.)

Sloan – Never Hear the End of It
Released at the end of 2006 in Canada, where it has some commercial success, but dropped in January here, where it met the usual chorus of snores that greet new Sloan albums. (When they hit D.C. they only filled a third of the Black Cat's mainstage.) That's more perplexing than ever. In a year when Fall Out Boy sold out stadiums and Rilo Kiley metamorphized into Fleetwood Mac I'd have thought there'd be room for throwback 70s cock rock with heavenly melodies. And if the band was ever going to break through, it would be with a 30-song LP that has everything from hardcore pastiches ("HRXNSHC") to psychedelica ("Golden Eyes") in between the pop songs. (Watch the band play "I Understand" on the 2007 tour.)

M.I.A. – Kala
Yes, critics occasionally call this stuff right. Two years ago the Pitchforkerati anointed a tough-cute, fashion-conscious Tamil rapper named Maya Arulpragasam for an album, Arular, that sounded awfully gimmicky. If M.I.A. had released another album of warped horn samples and Space Invader bleeps I probably would have written her off as a music video director who'd been a little too clever about her image. Then comes this album and its Bollywood cover ("Jimmy"), its funked-up Clash and New Order samples, and the use of automatic gun fire as pop hooks. And the lyrics, even if they're not straight outta Jaffna, are pretty much what I'd expect terrorists to rap about. In "Bird Flu":

I have my hard down
So I need a man for romance
Streets are making em hard
So they selfish little roamers
Jumpin’ girl to girl
Make us meat like burgers
When I get fat
I’ll pop me out some leaders

(Watch the video for "Paper Planes.")

Rufus Wainwright – Release the Stars
It's striking, how influential Wainwright hasn't been. His first record came out nine years ago and critics swooned over his anachronistic, baroque pop. He had a minor hit ("California") in 2001 and covered Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for Shrek that same year, the first in a string of stirring movie themes. But nobody's tried to copy him. He's gotten more bombastic and operatic as the rest of the singer-songwriter world has gotten more earthy (KT Tunstall) or more cutesy (Regina Spektor). Opinion on his music is completely split: You think he's a genius or you think he's an insufferable whiny rich kid. I'm one of those first people and think this is the best album he's made. (Watch the video for "Rules and Regulations.")

Roisin Murphy – Overpowered
I don't like to bitch about this or that musician not getting the fame they deserve, but I don't understand how Roisin Murphy hasn't broken through stateside. She writes hooky electro-pop at least as catchy as anything by Gwen Stefani or Rihanna or Robyn, but with smart-assed, Stephin Merrit-style lyrics. From this album's title track:

As science struggles on to try to explain
Oxytocin's flowing ever into my brain

So there's that, there's her Alison Moyet-on-a-diet voice, there's her stunning good looks, and her willingess to obscure said looks by dressing like an insect or an opera clown. For this record she put some of her quirks on the shelf and hired pure pop producers who supply shockingly catchy dance track after shockingly catchy dance track, in a plenitude of styles: I didn't know electro-glam existed, but that's what "Movie Star" is. (Watch the video for "Overpowered.")

II. Best Songs
Richard Thompson, “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me”
I'm From Barcelona, "The Painter"
Aesop Rock, “None Shall Pass”
Rihanna, "Umbrella"
KT Tunstall, “If Only”

III. Most Underrated Album
Rilo Kiley, Under the Blacklight. After years and years of inching into the mainstream, they make it all the way there, and the pile-on begins. But I like it better than the rest of their catalogue.

IV. Most Overrated Album
LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver. The three fantastic singles are bordered on either side by a bunch of boring studio wankery. (And "North American Scum" is 9/10 of a ripoff of "Homosapien.")

V. Worst Album by a Good Artist
I almost chose Erasure’s Light at the End of the World, but really, who was expecting greatness from a 2007 Erasure record? My biggest disappointment was the barrage of Robert Pollard releases: Coast to Coast Carpet of Love, Standard Gargoyle Decisions, and the Circus Devils side project Sgt. Disco. His experiment with staying at home, trading the live circuit for studio time, is resulting in dingier songs with duller chord sequences.

VI. Best Concert
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, touring their songs from the movie Once. Almost unbearably sweet, from the Technicolor love between the two musicians to the joy in Hansard’s face when he saw he’d sold out the 9:30 Club. Before Once he was struggling to fill tiny clubs in the Virginia suburbs, and now he was filling D.C. ballrooms with swooning hipsters and oldsters.

VII. Best Movie Soundtrack
Strange Weirdos, Loudon Wainwright III's soundtrack to Knocked Up.

VII. Time Capsule Song
Tay Zonday, "Chocolate Rain." The guy lived a Dickens novel this year. He writes his latest in a series of weird, inscrutable songs, but this one is an epic about racism in post-Katrina America. His intonations and weirdness make this hilarious, and 12 million people check out the video on YouTube. He gets on late night TV. By the end of the year his song has been remixed and he's shot a music video for Doctor Pepper, turning his mournful cry for justice into a soda jingle. When Hit & Run Commenter Jr. asks you what the 2000s were like, you can point him to this.

Radley Balko's Picks

I. Best Albums
Joe Henry - Civilians
The 1900s - 1900s
Mavis Staples - We'll Never Turn Back
Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

Honorable Mentions: John Fogerty, Spoon, Ryan Shaw, The New Pornographers, Joan as Police Woman, The National, Ian Hunter.

II. Best Songs
"You Don't Know What Love Is," by the White Stripes
"Looking for a Love," by Ryan Shaw
"Fans," by Kings of Leon
"Florescent Adolescent," by Arctic Monkeys
"Berlin," by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

III. Most Underrated Album:

Everything Joe Henry has ever done. But this year, Civilians.

IV. Worst Album by a Good Artist

I was pretty disappointed in the new albums by both The Shins and Fountains of Wayne.

V. Best Concert

The Tarbox Ramblers at Iota in Arlington, Virginia.

VI. Best Movie Soundtrack

Loudon Wainwright III's Strange Weirdos from the movie Knocked Up.

VII. Time Capsule Song:

Given the Lohan/Anna-Nicole/Spears/Hilton/Ritchie sagas, I'll go with "Rehab," by Amy Winehouse.

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  • ||

    Dave, I may be mistaken, but didn't they use the John Cale version of Hallelujah in Shrek?

  • Dave Weigel||

    The Cale version appeared in the movie, but the Rufus version (arranged identically) is on most of the soundtracks and was recorded specifically for the film. Cale had covered the song years earlier and I assume there were rights issues.

  • ||

    Bambi's Dilemma by Melt-Banana.

  • ||

    You left off:

    Turbonegro - Retox

    and

    Shellac - Excellent Italian Greyhound

  • vault_dog4||

    If I really want to be a good libertarian, does that mean I have to listen to that crappy unheard of music too?

    I mean, I can make a good argument against seat belt laws and drinking and driving, but I'm not sure I can handle this...

  • ||

    I highly recommend Von Sudenfed, a great collaboration between Mouse on Mars and Mark E. Smith released this year.

  • ||

    Bambi's Dilemma by Melt-Banana.

    Jim Bob knows what's right.

    Also, ahem:

    Clutch.

    That's all.

  • ThoseDamnKids!||

    Does anyone think that "the best music of 2007"
    is any good? Pick any year ending in "7" from the last century for comparison. I'm an out o' touch ol' timer but in trying to stay "hep" I grabbed the "pitchfork top 50 singles of 2007" as a free download. I kinda like the Shellac song--that is about it.

    Fortunately, thanks to the Defense Department and Al Gore, a goodly portion of the entire musical output of the 20th Century is readily available for FREE so it isn't like I can't hear something "new" everyday.

  • Yoshi||

    ehi, what about Battles?

  • Bingo||

    I want to boink MIA so bad.

    Also I ended up liking Teddy Picker a lot more than Fluorescent Adolescent for some reason... either way the Arctic Monkeys manage to vocalize the bittersweet bar/club scene pretty well.

  • SpiderMatt||

    In many ways, I think Wincing the Night Away was some of the best music produced by The Shins. To me, the band keeps getting better and better. I don't know that I would say the album is entirely better than their last, but I think the band is improving their style. Too bad you didn't like it. I had a hard time turning it off at the beginning of the year.

  • ThoseDamnKids!||

    Reading the comments I don't feel so much like Rip van Winkle after all.

    Tuning into the local college radio stations is always fun as they play mostly stuff from before they were born.

  • some music guy||

    Best anarchist music of the year goes to _Against Me!_ and _New Wave_

  • The Total Absence Of Sarcasm||

    Too black. Too strong.

  • Barry||

    " but this one is an epic about racism in post-Katrina America."
    ...lemmie guess; it's all whitey's fault?

  • ||

    Go watch it and find out.

  • ||

    30 years together and 2007 brings another new album of totally original music...a concert tour that grosses Top25 of 2007...next to no radio airplay...and a long history of being associated with libertarian themes and general geekiness...how can RUSH not be on the list?

    ;-)

  • ||

    oh, and a grammy nominated instrumental, Malignant Narcissism...

  • dhex||

    2007 was a good year for music, i think.

    some highlights:

    om - pilgrimage (despite steve albini's fucking quietquietLOUDLOUDLOUDLOUD mix)

    the orb - the dream (only out in japan, it's the orb doing a pop album, and it has grown on me like yeast)

    today is the day - axis of eden (metal that scares metalheads because it's too weird = metal i like)

    venetian snares - my downfall (cellos + breakcore = yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaa)

    not breathing - the black old pueblo

    jesu put out pale sketches and lifeline, a nice look at really early and really late material.

    stars of the lid - and their refinement of the decline (this is them at their best)

    marumari is giving away his new ep on his website; it's remarkably good.

    does the release of the super roots series by boredoms via vice records count? if they'd put out a recording of 77 drums that'd be in there as well to be sure.

  • ||

    Gaijin - Honestly, by year's end I wasn't listening to Snakes and Ladders much, so it would have been unfair to bump it up.

  • dhex||

    how can RUSH not be on the list?

    because rush does more to discredit libertarianism than that colloidal blue dude?

    ZING!

  • ||

    because rush does more to discredit libertarianism than that colloidal blue dude?

    haha! the Papa Smurf guy...he'd make a great Santa Clause for a blue xmas.

  • ||

    I have only heard of about 2 of those bands in those lists.

    Best anarchist music of the year goes to _Against Me!_ and _New Wave_

    That is the only album I bought this year. What is it about anarchist that make such great music?

  • ||

    What, no Ron-Paul-inspired music?

  • ||

    I mean, the only libertarian band is Rush. RUSH!

  • ||

    Does anyone think that "the best music of 2007"
    is any good? Pick any year ending in "7" from the last century for comparison. I'm an out o' touch ol' timer but in trying to stay "hep" I grabbed the "pitchfork top 50 singles of 2007" as a free download. I kinda like the Shellac song--that is about it.


    I don't know about 1967 - but do I need to remind you in 1966, the band that sold the most albums was - not the Beatles, not the Stones but - Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass?

    90% of all pop music has always been shit. You just forget the bad stuff when you get old and nostalgic.

    Pig Mannix - Nostalgic Old Fart

  • ||

    Dave - shame, shame from this Rush fan. First of all, it's "Snakes and Arrows" and secondly for giving up on it.

    Porcupine Tree, however, is an excellent choice. Great band.

  • David (no not that one)||

    I was listening to Fear of a Blank Planet just before I read this post.

    C'mon Dave, the lyrics aren't that bad.

    Random thoughts: Fripp on Thrak, blech. Fripp on Discipline, yum.

    Still haven't heard Lifeson on Porcupine Tree.

    Snakes and Arrows, great album, great concert. The disc is still my current go-to music. The band I'm in is debating adding Far Cry to our set list...

  • ||

    Pretty scary. Something that I actually agree with Weigel about. PT has been one of my guilty pleasures for a couple of years now. Lyrically, they always seem to be dicey. After all, they were the guys that came up with a concept album about a serial killer - very creepy. What's silliest to me is how much he whines about his parents. Most 40 year olds have gotten over that by now.

    But musically it's brilliant. His production is spotless and they have the best damn heavy metal drummer I've heard in years. Ignore the lyrics and crank it up.

    Haven't heard much of of the others, but it may give me a reason to try something out.

    As for years ending in 7 - Sgt. Pepper came out in 67. 77 had the Talking Heads debut, plus a lot of other good punk rock. 87 was the year of the Joshua Tree. Not so bad really.

  • ||

    Neil Young's Live at Massey Hall was my favorite release in 2007, although that might be cheating since it was recorded in 1971.

  • ||

    Here's my list of 2007's best:

    Down -- Over The Under
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAvFTGVJuAo

    Ministry -- The Last Sucker
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvmNeVOygfc
    (Couldn't find a current music video of theirs, but who can argue with a punk chick?)

    Siouxsie Sioux -- Mantaray
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3CC0t66gd4

    Best concert DVD: Heaven & Hell -- Live From Radio City Music Hall
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_pbftZLA_s

    Seems the older I get though, the less good MODERN music I can find. lately, I find myself reaching back to the music I grew up with, such as Black Sabbath, KISS, Bauhaus, Christian Death, Alice Cooper & Mahogany Rush.

  • ||

    I saw Against Me with Mastodon once. Fucking lame, and all their fans were 14-year-old suburban pseudopunks. They all walked out before Mastodon came out and kicked ass. I never wanted to do so much strangling in my life. Kids these days.

    The best albums of 2007, in no particular order:

    Arch Enemy - Rise of the Tyrant
    Turbonegro - Retox
    Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
    Ministry - The Last Sucker
    High on Fire- Death Is This Communion
    Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero
    Municipal Waste - The Art of Partying
    Vintersorg - Solens Rötter

  • ||

    I forgot Down - Over The Under.

    Nice to see someone besides me here has discriminating taste.

  • ||

    (Couldn't find a current music video of theirs, but who can argue with a punk chick?)

    Not really a video, but it's the best song on The Last Sucker. I love the Lizard-Bush.

  • highnumber||

    Glenn Mercer Wheels in Motion

    Weigel, Balko, you two should be ashamed for missing that, not to mention the Hives' Black and White Album.

    Mr Balko, good call on the Mavis record. That's some powerful stuff. Fogerty's and Ian Hunter's records were great, too. Did the Arctic Monkey's new one come out this year? Best sophomore album since The Libertines, maybe better. Maybe.

  • ||

    I nominate the new Anal Cunt album, Defenders of the Hate. Check out this track listing:

    1. "All Our Fans Are Gay" - 1:25
    2. "Limp Bizkit Think They're Black, But They're Just Gay" - 0:45
    3. "You Were Too Ugly to Rape, So I Just Beat the Shit Out of You" - 0:57
    4. "Hebosaurus" - 0:28
    5. "Even Though Your Culture Oppresses Women, You Still Suck, You Fucking Towelhead" - 1:06
    6. "If You Don't Like the Village People, You're Fucking Gay" - 0:32
    7. "Obviously Adopted" - 0:54
    8. "Walker, Texas Corpse" - 1:31
    9. "The Word "Homophobic" Is Gay" - 0:24
    10. "You Converted to Judaism So A Guy Would Touch Your Dick" - 0:28
    11. "Bonus Track #4" (Live) - 0:20
    12. "You Quit Doing Heroin, You Pussy"
    13. "Fred Shitbreath"
    14. "Beating Up Hippies for Their Drugs at a Phish Concert"
    15. "Anyone Who Likes The Dillinger Escape Plan is a Faggot"
    16. "I'm Glad You Got Breast Cancer, Cunt"
    17. "The South Won't Rise Again"
    18. "I'm Glad Jazz Faggots Don't Like Us Anymore"
    19. "Bonus Track #5"
    20. "Ha Ha Holocaust"
    21. "We're Not 'In Da House', You Fucking Wigger"

    Track 5. I got chills. You pussy mother fuckers should get this. It's the real shit.

  • Click \'n\' Learn||

    This song is from last year, and I guess that's the only reason it wasn't included.

    Unfortunately, I'm going to have to reprimand comrades Balko and Weigel for failing to note simple-minded songs that support their shared simple-minded views.

    But, seriously, for the grown-ups, this was released this year.

    There's also a lot of free stuff available here; see also the links page.

  • Stephen The Goldberger||

    "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." - Elvis Costello

    with that said

    1. Modest Mouse - We were dead
    2. Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
    3. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
    4. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
    5. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

    And I'll echo Dave's thoughts on LCD Soundsystem. I just don't get why everyone loves them. Seems like mediocre dance/rock to me.

  • Brandybuck||

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    Can someone please end the awfulness that is KT Tunstall and Amy Winehouse?

  • ||

    Leaving off Snakes and Arrows is a pretty major oversight. Libertarianism aside, it's some great work, and proof that old guys can still put out great music.

  • ||

    Best concert? I think by historical and sheer RAWK standards, hands down it has to be the Led Zeppelin reunion earlier this month!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpB4jsu32Rg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xv-lW7K66M0

  • ||

    Can someone please end the awfulness that is KT Tunstall and Amy Winehouse?

    I think Amy Winehouse is on track to take care of that herself.

  • ||

    Best album

    Year Zero-Nine Inch Nails.

  • ||

    That Sloan album is just painfully dull. I'm a fan of Twice Removed and One Chord To Another, but after trying 3 or 4 times to enjoy this one I deleted everything but "Can't You Figure It Out."

  • Jozef||

    I surely hope I'm not the only one so out of touch that I didn't recognize a single artist, album or song on the list. But then again, I was most happy about a rare recording of Dvorak's Slavonic Dances I got for Christmas.

  • Principal Skinner||

    Why, there are no children here at the four-H club, either! Am I so out of touch...? No, it's the children who are wrong.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Tuning into the local college radio stations is always fun as they play mostly stuff from before they were born

    I was surprised to find out that my 15 year old niece is totally into the Beatles, The Doors, The Stones, and Clapton. Not just passingly interested but passionately interested.

    And, no, there isn't anything wrong with her. She's bright, articulate, gorgeous, popular, and gets 40 text messages per day on average (and she won't check her email).

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I surely hope I'm not the only one so out of touch that I didn't recognize a single artist, album or song on the list

    Well, your one of the few admitting to it. :-)

    I am both more selective and less knowledgeable. I hear stuff I like but have no idea who it is.

    Plus time moves so rapidly...well, for instance, I still think Three Doors Down is a new band. Hell, I still think the Pretenders is a new band.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Amy Winehouse. Wow, finally an artist I've heard of. Mrs TWC likes her stuff and although she seems bent on self destruction, I think she's pretty talented.

    Brandybuck, it is my prediction that within ten years the first 1000 parking spaces in front of every store in America will be Handicapped parking for Boomers. Half will be empty at any given time.

  • ||

    TWC-Your niece isn't unusual. I know a few younger folks that are into 60s/70 stuff. Perhaps that's because today's music sucks.

  • ||

    Indeed Captain Chaos.

    My 16 year old son's taste in rock is decidedly 1970s, with some nods to more recent proggish bands (Spock's Beard, for example). He's also a saxophonist, so it's interspersed with jazz and big band stuff. Mix it up good I say.

    The technology-inspired fragmenting of the music industry is responsible for both so many of us not knowing the music many younger folks listen to AND for some of those young folks going back to our music because it does represent a shared musical culture that is now largely gone.

  • ThoseDamnKids!||

    There were a few "geezer artists" on the Reasonoid list. I saw Ian Hunter in concert when I was in HS. I had no idea he made a record in 2007 (assuming it is the same Ian Hunter).

    The best --new to me--recording I heard/obtained this year was Little Richard's the Complete Specialty Sessions. Recorded well before I was born, I have no idea when it was released as shiny discs--but a nice high bitrate rip of the digital files should be floating around the intartubes somewheres.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Cap'n C, Even though my kids like my music (and their own) it was/is news to me that young people still like the old stuff. That's cool. My folks hated rock and in theory it was banned from our house. Yet, I have distinct memories of my Dad walking around singing Blueberry Hill and Charlie Brown when I was a little kid.

    Steve, I used to play sax. Imagine this: I quit playing at age 20 because I couldn't see a musical future that included saxophones. Doh.

    Got that thing out a few years ago and I couldn't even make it squawk.

  • ||

    Only thing I've heard that was mentioned is Aesop Rock.

  • ||

    What were the best releases that weren't compressed to shit?

    Fav track this year was probably the Carl Craig remix of Like A Child by Junior Boys.

  • ||

    The Chromatics album and singles were all pretty good this year too.

  • ||

    Fake Dondero, that was sum funny ass shit.

  • Grumpy asshole||

    Balko and Weigel,

    Keep pretending that your risible, execrable punditry on music matters one fucking whit. Those of us with half an ear and a brain will give your drivel all the treatment it deserves--a flush down the puppy farm lavatory--and find better use of our precious time and amusement elsewhere.

  • ||

    TWC:

    My son is safe if your future comes about: he's picked up clarinet and oboe just in case, and now he's dabbling on piano.

    My 12 year old daughter plays flute and violin and now is turning to bass. Look out Geddy Lee (or Tina Weymouth I guess).

    I have not a musical performance bone in me but my basement looks like the green room at some weird jazz festival.

  • ThoseDamnKids!||

    Good Steve Albini quote on music from 2007


    in response to this question:

    Pro tools or logic? explain plz.


    I don't use computers to make records. I use tape machines, like nature intended. I use computers for correspondence, arguments, poker and porn.

  • Chris||

    Richard Thompson is the man. Saw him 3 times. Twice in '05, once in '07. Some of the best shows I've ever been to.

  • Dave W.||

    LP of the year: New magnetic Wonder by The Apples In Stereo

    song of the year: "Almost ready" by Dinosaur Jr.

    mia: The Hold Steady

    disappointment of the year: ,i>Era Vulgaris by QOTSA

  • dpotts||

    Absolutely no mention by anyone of Panda Bear's Person Pitch. Shameful. Noah Lennox comes on all Brian Wilson meets Basic Channel in Can's attic and nobody mentions it. Personally, I can't seem to turn that shit loud enough. Also a big fan of that Arcade Fire record and the new Okkervil River. As far as the beats go, Gui Boratto's Beautiful Life, and even though it came out at the end of '06, Silicone Soul's Save Our Souls pretty much hit the spot, too.

  • ||

    I was surprised to find out that my 15 year old niece is totally into the Beatles, The Doors, The Stones, and Clapton. Not just passingly interested but passionately interested.

    I think I hit my lifetime quota on the Beatles about 15 years ago. It's like fingernails on the chalkboard to me now. Can't we all just agree that Paul Mcartney is a 3rd rate song writer and to stop ecouraging him by buying his stuff?

    Now that I'm in my 40's, I'm finding it harder and harder to find new bands that I like. There are a few that I do like, Arctic Monkeys, Silversun Pickups, Interpol, The Morning After, to name a few. I knew very few of the bands listed above. Basically, if it isn't on XM's Ethel, I probably won't hear it.

    And I really do wish I could find more bands that I like, as I'm getting tired of the stuff I already have and listen to. I'm just about this far away from being burnt out on anything from the 70's. It's getting hard to even listen to Costello any more. You can only listen to the same songs so many times in one life. (Drawing an exception to "What's so Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding.")

    Anyone else my age get a chuckle out of seeng young kids jam out to Freebird on Guitar Hero?

  • Greg N.||

    You guys (including commenters) should enter the "Top 07 of '07" competition over at Burke's Landed Gentry. Winner gets a hard drive loaded with nearly 30 gigs of pretty damn good music (and the odds of winning are good; I won last year)

    Link: http://www.burkeslandedgentry.blogspot.com/

    Enjoy!

  • Guy Montag||

    Nothing from Fistfull of Bacon? This is an outrage!

  • ||

    Jozef,

    Nah, I don't have any idea who most of the people on the list are, either.

    I like (at the moment):
    Meshuggah
    Ghost Machine
    Dead Can Dance
    Roseland
    Morbid Angel
    Lisa Gerrard (solo work)
    Motograter
    Bulgarian Women's Choir

    As a trained drummer I guess I tend toward more rhythm-oriented stuff but I enjoy female vocalists as well.

    Also, I suppose I'll never be one of the cool indie kids. When the intellectuals start talking about music I politely excuse myself and go write a song.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Re: Overpowered

    I'm pretty sure that Roisin is singing "oxytoxin," not "oxytocin," allowing for a more interesting interpretation combining poison and pleasure.

  • Brandybuck||

    I have to confess. Although I publicly praise classic prog rock from the 70's, I do find myself gravitating towards house and trance, as they make excellent background music for programming by.

  • ||

    We need a best movie thread as well.

    Snakes on a Plane. Hands down.

  • jpok||

    gaijin,
    I was going to mention Rush's Snake and Arrows as one of this year's best. Glad to see you beat me to it. It's Rush's best in decades too.
    But my favorite from 2007 is Radiohead's 'In Rainbows.' It's very beautiful.

  • ||

    Pick any year ending in "7" from the last century for comparison

    1987 was a dreadful year for music. One of the worst ever as I remember it, even the few albums I did dig that year, like WIre The Ideal Copy were actually released in late 1986.

    1997, on the other hand, was a great year. Way better than this one -Radiohead, Spiritualized, Missy Elliott, Chems and much more.

    Anyhoo, I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one who really got into that MIA disc. Also, the National.

  • ||

    TDK-

    Pick any year ending in "7" from the last century for comparison.

    I was 13 in 1977- One of my favorite songs was this...
    (Gratuitous Boz Scaggs link...)

    But, the very best-est "7th-year" would surely be 1967...

    Consider... The Beatles, Floyd, Hendrix, Stones, Kinks, Love, J-plane, Mayall(w/Clapton), Traffic, Velvet U, Doors, Dylan, Small Faces, Moody Blues, Buffalo Springfield, Cap'n Beefhart, Amboy Dukes(Nugent), and Procol Harum--- all within the top 30 albums!

    (Don't forget... Aretha, Cream, The Who, the Byrds, Yardbirds/Pre-'Zep'...)

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    asdf, we is old. dam, we is old.

  • MCW||

    Just a bunch of Randroid and wingnut music.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Speaking of old.....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMyeS1XRBb4&eurl

    Ginger Baker looks like he just came off a gig for the Corpse Bride and Jack Bruce looks like congestive heart failure waiting to happen but the bass is dancing like the old days and I'm not sure until half way thru the video that it's really Clapton, but then he does the guitar thing and there's no question about it.

  • ||

    'just finished downloading the Anal Cunt CD. Nice vocals. I recommend everyone go out and spend top dollar on the disc, just like I did. thepiratebay.org has this one on sale right now for free ninety five.

    (I actually used to own an Anal Cunt CD - purchased and everything)

  • Guy Montag||

    'Popular' music has been going down hill since the failure to follow up "Rock Candy" by the Frigs. General Motors has done a nice try at reviving them, but it does not seem to be getting any traction.

  • ||

    we is old. dam, we is old.

    No need to remind us, TWC. It's becoming painfully clear as year year rolls by. Just turned 42 last month!

    I distinctly remember the moment I wasn't YOUNG anymore: I was listening to KLOS radio when they announced that they would play Dio's "Last In Line" album in it's entirety on a "classic albums" show. I thought "Christ almighty. Music from my early 20's is now considered classic!"

    Of course, I write this at 3:35 am because the older I get, the more I seem to suffer from insomnia.

  • 20-something Hipster||

    My top 10...

    The National - Boxer
    Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War
    Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond
    Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
    Elliott Smith - New Moon
    Feist - The Reminder
    The Field - From Here We Go Sublime
    Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer
    A Place to Bury Strangers - A Place to Bury Strangers
    Thurston Moore - Trees Outside the Academy

  • 20-something Hipster||

    And I too agree that LCD Soundsystem is pretty overrated. I just haven't been able to get into them, and I like electronica. Similar case with Animal Collective.

  • Guy Montag||

    Is everybody else (including the staff) at Church this morning or something?

  • ed||

    90% of all pop music has always been shit

    That's charitable. I'd say closer to 98%, but the remaining 2% is thousands upon thousands of interesting and sometimes even great songs. The list above reads like a review from another planet to me, but I concur with the dissing of Fountains of Wayne's latest recycling of every hook and trick from their previous efforts. By track 4 you're looking for knitting needles to plunge into your ears.

  • ||

    How about the best music of 2007 that people have heard?

  • Guy Montag||

    Jeff R.,

    That would be so uncool and mainstream.

  • ||

    vault_dog4 | December 29, 2007, 12:43pm | #
    If I really want to be a good libertarian, does that mean I have to listen to that crappy unheard of music too?

    I mean, I can make a good argument against seat belt laws and drinking and driving, but I'm not sure I can handle this...


    AMEN to that. Have any of you people even fricking heard of Johann, Wolfgang, or Ludwig Van?

    Do you think anybody will have heard of any of this in 2057?

  • ||

    Did the comments prove you guys wrong yet? ;)

  • e||

  • ||

    My Best Movies of 2007, in no real order:
    1. Amazing Grace
    2. The Namesake
    3. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
    4. Blades of Glory
    5. Year of the Dog
    6. Away From Her
    7. Paris je t'aime
    8. A Mighty Heart
    9. Rescue Dawn
    10. Moliere
    11. SuperBad
    12. Eastern Promises
    13. Into the Wild
    14. Darjleeing Limited
    15. Michael Clayton
    16. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
    17. No Country for Old Men
    18. Charlie Wilson's War
    19. Black Book
    20. Hot Rod

  • ed||

    Have any of you people even fricking heard of Johann, Wolfgang, or Ludwig Van?

    Sure. I can play entire Beethoven symphonies in my head. But they don't exactly qualify as "pop", do they? Pop by definition appeals to the masses and isn't expected to last more than a year or, these days, a week. Oddly, or perhaps inevitably, the communications revolution has made pop music more disposable than ever. It is now a commodity with the shelf life of a Q-Tip.

  • Guy Montag||

    Warren,

    Have any of you people even fricking heard of Johann, Wolfgang, or Ludwig Van?

    It is almost time for a remake of A Clockwork Orange and LVB's 5th. Perhaps Lennie Kravitz can do "Rollover Beetoven" this time?

  • NicK||

    Quick note on the Porcupine Tree album.

    The lyrics are from a 10 year old kid's point of view. It has nothing to do with Steven Wilson's parents !!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    42! Gene, one thing that marks time for you nicely is watching your kids grow. Your girl has gotta dang near be in college by now. That'll make you feel old.

    I was complaining about feeling old the other day to my dad and he responded by saying you think you feel old? How do you think I feel? I've got a son your age!

  • ||

    TWC....the girl will turn 22 in April, has a full time job doing admin work for a manufacturing company and moved out of home about 8 months ago.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Thunk. That's me, Gene, falling outta my chair and hitting my head on the floor. 22?

  • rho||

    I've never heard of any of these bands either. Of course, nobody will have heard of these bands in a year or so anyway. Modern bands are less cohesive than JPod and Mohommed in a blender (and what a great idea).

    There is a newsletter that goes out to hipsters that keeps them up on the music scene. That's assuming these are not just jokes. Were I a music reviewer I'd be hard pressed to not make shit up.

    "The Gristling Slicepunchers have a new-folk sandpapery sound with subtle dulcet overtones like Liquid-Plumr in a French tickler."

    Music reviewers would rather eat their own cocks than review something that even smells like mainstream.

  • ||

    First, there was the stuff that was far and away better than it ought to have been:

    Lucky Soul - The Great Unwanted
    Various Artists - After Dark (Italians Do It Better)
    Electrelane - No Shouts, No Calls

    Then, there was the stuff that was about as good as expected:

    El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead
    Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
    Battles - Mirrored

    Then, there were the ones that were actually a tiny bit beneath what I'd expected of them:

    Future of the Left - Curses
    Radiohead - In Rainbows
    Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris

    Finally, the stuff where it's impossible to guage how good it was because by the time I heard it, I had already read too much spurious praise. I enjoyed these two in spite of that:

    Justice - +
    Liars - Liars

  • ||

    15. Michael Clayton...
    18. Charlie Wilson's War


    Any movie where either the main protagonist or hero is a lawyer or a politician is automatically excluded from any "best of."

  • ||

    TWC.

    Yes. It seems like yesterday she was just a wee thing and playing with sparklers in your backyard during one of your past July 4th gatherings!

  • dhex||

    Do you think anybody will have heard of any of this in 2057?

    maybe. who knows?

    alls i knows is whats sounds goods. n' stuff.

    Music reviewers would rather eat their own cocks than review something that even smells like mainstream.

    this may be true in some cases.

    alternate explanation: sometimes people like stuff that's not on mtv!

    gasp!

    seriously, how else do you find out about new music?

  • ||

    seriously, how else do you find out about new music?

    More than a few times I bought random CDs in countries other than my country of origin (in person, in a store). I couldn't even read the packaging!

    Nowadays I find a lot of random stuff on the Internet. If I like it I pursue it.

    What I don't do is hang out with my hipster friends and find out what band they like at the moment, because as soon as more than five people know about said band it becomes "mainstream" commercial pap and unfit for gourmet consumption.

    Also, it seems to me that sometimes people are more interested in discussing the ideas put forth by music (assuming there are any) than in appreciating musicianship. In my experience people who intellectualize music (dancing about architecture? More like shitting about architecture) are oblivious to the actual playing of the instruments and how much work and talent it takes to learn how to play a musical instrument well. The way some people discuss music enhances the intellectual aspect of music while gutting its emotional impact.

  • ||


    alternate explanation: sometimes people like stuff that's not on mtv!

    MTV plays music? But frankly, I'm too busy trying to make money than have time for new music. How about your best stock picks of 2007? After all, we're libertarians - we like to make money, right? I'll put Juniper (JNPR) and Activision (ATVI) as two of mine..

  • ||

    not even a mention of Beirut's flying club cup? seriously? you guys make me sick.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq2s0AhdFE4

  • Ken||

    Always amusing to see people take such garbage music so very seriously.

    Why Do So Many Smart People Listen to Such Terrible Music?

  • ||

    how else do you find out about new music?

    Winamp + Shoutcast + "Search". And for listening to new things when I'm away from the computer, Shoutcast + Streamripper.

  • ||

    Ha-ha! I get to be the one to introduce the "R" word here ...
    Best Album of 2007: Radiohead - In Rainbows
    Close as hell, might as well be a tie second...
    Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

  • Guy Montag||

    JW,

    Any movie where either the main protagonist or hero is a lawyer or a politician is automatically excluded from any "best of."

    Am I missing domething here? Rep. Wilson was a House member, but I do not recall him or any of the main charicters having ever been lawyers.

    I could be missing some info, just have not heard it yet.

  • ben||

    Are Libertarians only allowed to listen to crappy rock and pop music?

    What about the most libertarian music of all: hip hop.

  • SIV||

    From Ken's link:



    It's a shame when people reject the best traditions and practices of the world's most talented, artists, in favor of music that is the most amateurish and least sophisticated.


    Mickie Willis

    What a fuckin' tool ! He is a degreed "professional" too . "Public sector" employee , natch.

  • Ken||

    SIV quoted the following from the article "Why Do So Many Smart People Listen to Such Terrible Music?":

    It's a shame when people reject the best traditions and practices of the world's most talented, artists, in favor of music that is the most amateurish and least sophisticated.


    True statement, SIV. What's the problem?

  • ||

    Guy--Michael Clayton. Clooney plays a lawyer.

  • SIV||

    Ken,

    The author is an elitist snob in regard to both people and music.His essay is a condescending whine about how people, who should know better, reject educated professionals such as himself for "primitive" music played by "amateurs".


    Those who can do, those who can't are the Director of Music and Education Programs for the Louisiana Division of the Arts.

    I repeat this guy is a fucking tool.

    We encountered a lot of gritty, funky, down-home, barroom music - Cajun, zyedeco, blues, honky-tonk music of various sorts - day in and day out. We practically couldn't escape it. But it held no glamour or mystique or kitsch appeal. To us, it just seemed to typify what became of musicians who didn't have the talent, initiative, or opportunity to do better. These days, however, with the overwhelming media domination of popular music and culture, these musicians are the successes. Touted by NPR, and fueled by misguided, affluent adults who can do better - in terms of their listening habits - but, because of whatever combination of personal inadequacies, psychological needs, or naive romanticism for what they evidently consider the direct and "honest" expressions of uncultivated traditions, don't, exert their economic influence and contribute to the proliferation of sorry music that fills our world.


    I bet he thinks there are students and teachers at LSU who are far better musicians than Jerry Lee Lewis.

  • ||

    What a fuckin' tool ! He is a degreed "professional" too . "Public sector" employee , natch.

    ZOMG, THERE ARE GUITARS INVOLVED! THAT CAN ONLY MEAN IT'S PABULUM BEING SPOON-FED TO THE LUMPEN PROLETARIAT!

    The author is an elitist snob in regard to both people and music.His essay is a condescending whine about how people, who should know better, reject educated professionals such as himself for "primitive" music played by "amateurs".

    Yep.

  • ||

    Good to see Josh Ritter, M.I.A., and I'm From Barcelona. And the Chocolate Rain mention gave me a good laugh, but in a good way.

    It's silly to say that you want them to write about music you've "heard of". What does that even mean? Billboard charts? A personalized list?

    Here's a good blog to hear more new music: www.iguessimfloating.blogspot.com

  • ||

    I'm going to pretend I never read that Willis essay . . . he makes me utterly sick. He's worse than any hipster I've ever encountered. Ever.

  • NP||

    Warren,

    Have any of you people even fricking heard of Johann, Wolfgang, or Ludwig Van?

    Do you think anybody will have heard of any of this in 2057?


    Good point. My rule of thumb is that I just listen to whatever damn pleases me at the moment, but no one is going to replace the "Big 3."

    Speaking of classical music, check out the fantastic new CD by the French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. Not the biggest voice you'll hear, but the sheer virtuosity is simply mind-boggling. (For even more fireworks check out his earlier CDs, or this video.)

    Finally for world music fans: run to grab Andy Palacio's latest album Wátina. I tell you, I'll be stunned if this doesn't win the Grammy for Best World Music Album come 2008.

  • ||

    The way some people discuss music enhances the intellectual aspect of music while gutting its emotional impact.

    Funny, for me it's often the other way around; it is rarely worth it to me discussing the intellectual aspect of music unless I've already been punched in the gut by its emotional impact. From that point on, I'm usually just trying to articulate what it was that so affected me. The very inadequacy of that pursuit ensures that nothing gets gutted.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Easy to throw rocks at other people's tastes, especially when they listen to disco or hip hop. :-) [turns and barfs]

    Music is like women, some is obviously and universally great. But mostly there is no accounting for taste.

  • SIV||

    My favorite "Oldies radio show" Personality Crisis on WREK just played The Ramones It's Alive which was recorded 30 years ago tomorrow night. I am so old.

  • ||

    I haven't heard of a single one of these bands.

    *sigh*

    Please; continue.

  • ace||

    ditto on the Sloan, Wiegel. Great album.

  • SxCx||

    A pick to divide libertarians: Big Business - Head For The Shallow.

    And Retox is Turbo's best showing since Apocalypse Dudes.

  • SxCx||

    Oh fuck, that was their first record. I've been revisiting it after playing the shit out of their 2007 release, Here Come The Waterworks.

  • SxCx||

    To address the lack of hip hop: anyone heard the new Ghostface Killah? He thought up the album title while lapsing out of sleep.

  • Ken||

    Warren wrote:

    "Have any of you people even fricking heard of Johann, Wolfgang, or Ludwig Van?"

    Granting that this is a thread on pop music, I am with you on this, Warren. Thus my curmudgeonly post from earlier today. And after those three we could also ask about Franz Josef, Richard, Franz, Georg Friderich, Felix and on and on. These fellows along with some others created the greatest music in the history of the planet but they have never and will never appeal to the masses.

    Warren also wrote:

    "Do you think anybody will have heard of any of this in 2057?"

    In 2057, yes...just as there are plenty of people today who listen to the popular music of 1957. Of course most of these folks are in their 50s and 60s, grew up with this music and kept it in their lives thus keeping the music itself alive.

    But in 2107, no...just as no one today is listening to or cares about the pop music of 1907...even if it were readily available, no one would listen to it.

    And so it will be with contemporary pop music...some of it will be around in 50 years because the folks listening to it now will be around. But 50 years later...no dice.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    It seems like yesterday she was just a wee thing and playing with sparklers in your backyard during one of your past July 4th gatherings!


    Ahh, Gene, the now defunct 4th of July Bashes. We did the last one in 2002 or 2003. Pretty sure you came to the last one ever. That was the one where all the girls danced in a circle to the Monkees.

    They were a lot of fun. I think Nick was at the sparkler one, which was when King George the I was prez (was that when we did the North Carolina Chop BBQ?). Hell, it all runs together anymore.

    Keep thinking we'll do one again but maybe time has slipped and moved on.

    Big Sigh

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    And for the record, the very first commercial tune ever was called After the Ball is Over. No recordings, sheet music only.

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  • herodotus||

    "I bet he thinks there are students and teachers at LSU who are far better musicians than Jerry Lee Lewis."

    Well, in the sense that they can play anything that Jerry Lee Lewis could have played, while being able to play things that Jerry Lee Lewis could not have played, they are right.

    But most people don't give a shit about that.

    Most people are populists when it comes to music, whatever their political beliefs.

    But of course that has nothing to do with the fact that these people KNOW ALMOST NOTHING ABOUT MUSIC.

    No, that has NOTHING to do with it.

    But in any case, everyone's dumb ass musical favorites are well protected by rock journalist created cocoons of musical ignorance.

    Worry not, O musical plebeians, you SHALL inherit the earth.

  • Sean Kinsell||

    "I don't like to bitch about this or that musician not getting the fame they deserve, but I don't understand how Roisin Murphy hasn't broken through stateside."

    Well, she doesn't seem to be much into the self-promotion game. (Not that I think that makes her pure and noble--there's nothing wrong with wanting an audience.) Even here in Japan, where it usually seems anyone who can come up with some catchy dance music and high-design videos will be set for life, I know plenty of other gay disco fans who haven't even heard of the new album--even those who remember her from Moloko or Ruby Blue. Maybe she'll do a higher-profile tour once her stage injury heals?

    Anyway, yeah, great album.

  • ||

    What, nobody's heard Levon Helm, Dirt Farmer?

  • ed||

    no one today is listening to or cares about the pop music of 1907

    That would be ragtime, and I both listen to it and play it for pleasure.
    The predecessor to jazz still has its fans.

  • ||

    Reason has degenerated into a dopey, pop-music rag. What next, a bunch of fourteen year old girls as contributing editors for Reason? Geesh!

  • Guy Montag||

    JW,

    Guy--Michael Clayton. Clooney plays a lawyer.

    I was not commenting on that movie, I was commenting on Charlie Wilson's War. BTW, great film.

  • Guy Montag||

    wayne,

    If they did that then they would have to compete directly with TNR, espically now that Franklin Foer has decided to try out the anti-war tack.

    This list has no Mojo Nixon, thus it needs more fixin'. Needs more cowbell too.

  • NP||

    Ken,

    Music, of all genres (well, most), is the single great love of my life, and your screw-that-trash attitude towards pop music is an issue I encounter and think about often, so I thought I'd provide a detailed (and hopefully constructive) critique of your last comment(s). (And Warren, feel free to chime in if you're inclined or interested.)

    First of all, I think you, like most classical buffs, don't understand the virtues (if I can call 'em that) of popular music. You're right that the great dead white males (but, alas, no females thus far--sorry gals) of the past have left us with timeless music that will never appeal to--let alone be understood by--the masses. I think it's safe to say that even if everyone in the world had compulsory musical ed (of the usual kind, not courses in, say, the societal ramifications of trance and hip-hop), only a select few would truly understand and appreciate, to use a few famous examples, Bach's St. Matthew Passion and Chaconne, or Beethoven's late piano sonatas and string quartets. Which is fine, because that's the way it's supposed to be. So far we're in agreement.

    But--and this is an important but--the mistake you and many others make is to judge popular music by the same standards you apply to classical or (to use a term I dislike) "serious" music. Almost all popular (save jazz) musicians have little if any formal musical training, and even those are classically trained often turn to pop, some because they're not among the most gifted who can make it to the top, others because they simply find it more appealing. And they find pop more appealing because it is cruder and less sophisticated than classical music. With Britney Spears or even the Beatles you're not gonna get a whole lot of counterpoint, modes, high Cs or lengthy melismas, and this is a side of popular music that appeals to many listeners.

    That's all good, you say, but there are many classical works that are downright catchy and don't require a nanosecond of musical training to enjoy. Why don't people prefer these works to the current Top 100 jingles? And you know what? They do. I'm willing to bet that, in terms of numbers, Beethoven's Fifth, Mozart's Turkish March (actually it's a rondo, but I digress) or The Nutcracker in fact have a larger audience than all but the biggest chart-toppers right now, and if not now they will eventually, years after the current bunch of hits make room for the next. (BTW, this exposes the claim that classical music is dying as the nonsense it is.) So there must be something besides its simplicity and accessibility that make popular music popular.

    And now we come to the most important point: Pop is not just about music; it's about culture. People don't listen to the Sex Pistols for intellectual rewards or even great tunes, because there isn't any; they listen to the Pistols to feel what it is like to be the most nihilistic, impolite brat in the world without becoming one themselves. Likewise, no (informed) one who listens to Eminem thinks he really means what he says (well, most of it); they listen because they know and appreciate his lyrics will offend the prudes and puritans who will miss their funny yet dark social commentaries. Sure, catchy melodies and beats help, but stripped of its cultural underpinnings pop music would greatly lose its power and value. This is why pop/rock criticism is a lot more fun and interesting to read than mostly boring classical books and reviews, though I admit that I myself read more of the latter than the former. (And it's also why I can't stand Radiohead and their ilk who think their music a lot more than it is, though I have to say RH do serve pretty nicely at cocktail parties.)

    So let me wrap this up. It is, again, simply wrong to apply the same standards to pop that you would to its classical counterpart. People listen to pop because it is democratic, not necessarily because they find it musically superior to the great masterpieces from the past (though some clueless listeners do). And I think this is a state of affair that we libertarians, even classical diehards like you and myself, should celebrate. I hope you agree and, if not, at least give credit where and when it's due.

  • pilight||

    The Fratellis - "Costello Music" That's the record of the year

  • Peter T.||

    I agree that The Fratellis, "Costello Music" was the best album of the year. Their concert DVD was also terrific.

    The best music DVD was by a band that few in the US or Europe have ever heard of: Weddings Parties Anything's "A Long Time Between Drinks". Think The Pogues meet Richard Thompson, in a crowded bar, with everything to prove. You won't be disappointed.

  • Sean||

    Wow, Reason is chock full O' Hipsters, eh?

    No mention of Bad Religion's "New Maps of Hell"... I'm ashamed of you!

  • Guy Montag||

    Was Christina Agulara's remake of Bette Middler's remake of the Andrews Sister's "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" this year or last year?

    I love the video.

  • VM||

    Sean-

    their concert was fantastic, as usual. The Briggs was a great opening act, too.

  • ||

    Balko, already a personal hero of mine, is a Joe Henry fan? Awesome!

    My first-born has been named: Balko de stijl has quite a ring to it.

  • ||

    This is awesome... The next time I go to a show and feel old because I'm surrounded by a bunch of 18-year-olds, I can re-read some of these curmudgeonly comments and feel young again! For crying out loud, people, my 49-year-old mom (who raised me on the likes of Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Robin Trower, etc.) enjoys contemporary bands such as Spoon, the New Pornographers and Wilco and she could care less about seeming hip or cool. If you've really taken the time to listen to a wide variety of today's music and still don't like it, fine. But stop with the "real music ended when I turned thirty" crap. You think your music was really so great? I've got three words for you: Starland Vocal Band.

  • Dan||

    For what it's worth another Best Music list is here.

  • highnumber||

    These comments have settled it. I will stop listening to classical music. It really does turn you into a fuddy-duddy stick-in-the-mud snob.

    At least jazz fans know how to have a good time.

  • Ken||

    Dan wrote:

    At least jazz fans know how to have a good time.

    Yeah, it's all about having a good time, all the time, right?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Best of 2007

    The Heavy
    http://www.myspace.com/theheavy73

  • Music Major||


    Well, in the sense that they can play anything that Jerry Lee Lewis could have played, while being able to play things that Jerry Lee Lewis could not have played, they are right.


    Yeah, every piano major can run through the Jerry Lee repetoire duplicating the style to a "T".
    Most of us learned that country blues, boogie-woogie, whorehouse rock n roll stuff when we were 8 or 9 from that old lady who played at church and taught the neighborhood piano lesons.I hated having to keep practicing playing with my feet.

  • ||

    Best album of the year: The Klaxons...they only have one album and I don't do album names.

    By the way i totally called it that Weigle is a hipster.

  • Ken||

    NP:

    Thank you for your intelligent, knowledgeable and reasonable response.

    This may shock the heck out of you, but I agree with just about everything you wrote.

    First, let me respond specifically to some of your statements:

    First of all, I think you, like most classical buffs, don't understand the virtues (if I can call 'em that) of popular music.

    I grew up with virtually no exposure to classical music, listened exclusively to rock music, got in my first rock band at the age of 15 and played in bands, on and off, for the next 20 years. (For a number of those years I studied music, composition specifically, in college. So I am one of those who came to classical AFTER {and during} my experience with rock music.) My point here is that I "get" rock music.

    But--and this is an important but--the mistake you and many others make is to judge popular music by the same standards you apply to classical or (to use a term I dislike) "serious" music.

    I am glad you brought that up…and I agree with you completely. For one to use the same standards that apply to classical music to judge popular music would be like a gourmet using their standards of fine dining to judge McDonald's. In the same way McDonald's serves a FUNCTION, a function quite different than a 3-star restaurant, so does popular music serve a different function than classical…I recognize that fully. (One problem I have is that most folks don't.) As such, I am not going to criticize any of the bands named on this page for not producing music on the level of Palestrina or Haydn or Stravinsky or Corigliano.

    Sure, catchy melodies and beats help, but stripped of its cultural underpinnings pop music would greatly lose its power and value.

    There was a time when "cultural underpinnings" were mostly irrelevant in regard to the power and value of popular music. Good popular music had some MUSICAL value. In short, popular music started going downhill MUSICALLY when it started taking itself seriously and "making a statement".

    …it's also why I can't stand Radiohead and their ilk who think their music a lot more than it is…

    Amen to that!

    Now let me explain something: my original "beef" here wasn't about popular music per se…it was more along the lines of this post by Wayne:

    Reason has degenerated into a dopey, pop-music rag. What next, a bunch of fourteen year old girls as contributing editors for Reason? Geesh!

    As such I purposely played provocateur and posted:

    Always amusing to see people take such garbage music so very seriously.

    What I should have posted is:

    Popular music is (or can be) fun and enjoyable and all but it really doesn't warrant this type of attention and discussion. It's musical fast food; consume it and enjoy it but see it for what it is. And why is an excellent magazine like this wasting time and space on this subject?

    Thanks again for your post NP.

    Ken

  • Ken||

    Correction RE: my post from December 31, 2007, 12:49pm:

    "Dan" should be "highnumber".

    Sorry about that

  • Platinum Blond||

    Ah, so reason has drunk the M.I.A. Kool Aid as well, eh? I gots news for y'all: She sucks.

  • Pop Fan||

    Classical music was OK back in the day when it was,uh, popular music.Many people today appreciate hearing the "oldies" sometimes. There have been some excellent classical music cover bands--usually using the not-so-original name of whatever city they hail from.

    Today the best part of the music is ritual and reenactment. "Modern" or "Contemporary" composers don't put butts in seats, or move any records.

    Classical and academic music is welfare music. That is why it is usually heard on tax-payer funded public radio stations. Pro sports franchises are envious of the percentage of revenue classical bands and music halls rake in from Fed State and local government compared to their lowly tax funded/subsidized stadiums.

    The arrogance, elitism and snobbery of you welfare sucking, "serious musicians" is comical. Yeah we don't listen to the stuff you wrote for your master's degree because the media tells us that crap music is better and we are too dumb to understand what is truly great.

    May be the reason we don't appreciate your music (outside of cover versions of the "hits") and why it wouldn't exist as anything more than a hobby without Statist Subsidy, is because it really isn't that good at all.

  • highnumber||

    Ken,
    No, not that it's all about having a good time, you fuddy-duddy. It is that jazz fans, at least, have that. You, you stick-in-the-mud, do not even have that. I would pity you if it were in my nature. It is not, so I will simply avoid you.

  • R C Dean||

    I was commenting on Charlie Wilson's War. BTW, great film.

    I thought it was kind of a mess. But I am also in the apparent minority that finds Julia Roberts almost unwatchable in any role.

    De gustibus, etc.

  • ||

    -sigh- Pop Fan, you're making us "popular" music fans look bad. Though you get points for making your rant sound like a Colbert one, hehe.

    I can see where you're coming from though, I think the treatment of "popular" music by some of the commenters is a bit unfair. Rock, pop, and hip-hop can all have value, but value that is different from classical music. It's not always "fast food", though plenty of it is.

    People like to express themselves through sound, and the various genres that are out there are just testimony to the range of human creativity. It similar to saying that Renaissance art is better than dadaism. Who says? Now if you prefer one to the other, that's a personal choice.

  • DJ Voton||

    "The Gristling Slicepunchers have a new-folk sandpapery sound with subtle dulcet overtones like Liquid-Plumr in a French tickler."
    LOL! You just can't parody pop music criticism, can you? No matter how over the top it is, it sounds real.
    Do you think anybody will have heard of any of this in 2057?
    Popular music is more ephemeral than yesterday's newspaper. It's not written for the ages. If it survives for fifty years, it won't be because the composers or performers intended it to.

  • highnumber||

    Any self-important asshole who creates anything with the intention that their work lasts through the ages deserves to be forgotten instantly if they ever do get noticed.

    Of course, if they don't think of their work in that manner, they're worthless too.

    And in either case, the opposite holds true as well.

  • NP||

    highnumber,

    I'll assume that you were just temporarily in a rather sour mood when you posted that last comment, because by your standard any music deserves to be forgotten. Let me ask you one thing, though. You keep bringing up jazz as the model of good but unpretentious musical entertainment. Do you really think Cecil Taylor or late-period Coltrane is as much "fun" as, say, Justin Timberlake? No, of course not. They wanted to create something "higher" (to use a term you'll most likely hate), and I don't think any objective listener will say all their music is self-important drivel. (For the record, I do think Coltrane in his later period went a little too far, but his stuff up till the legendary Village Vanguard sessions is damn good music.)

  • SIV||

    Forget any negative opinions I might have expressed re "serious music" under this or any other names....Renee Fleming is on the TeeVee, if she were a single gal I'd hit that shit until I broke it off.

  • NP||

    Ken,

    I'm glad you liked and took the time to respond to my last post. (BTW, I'll also assume that you had a temporary fit of insanity when you put Corigliano in the same sentence with Palestrina, Haydn and Stravinsky. Well, at least you didn't mention Philip Glass...) Let me add one last comment before the New Year celebration kicks in.

    It's good to see that you do "get" and enjoy pop/rock music, but I gotta say you still give it less credit than it's due. As I said, pop often has more to do with culture or personality than with music per se, and as such it should be taken seriously. I don't think any of the comments here (at least none I've seen so far) have suggested that M.I.A. or Rufus Wainwright offers the same spiritual depth as Mozart's Requiem, or the same level of sophistication as any of his serenades, for that matter. They and other artists/bands, besides providing entertainment, tell the cultural trends of our time, and it would be a great mistake for magazines like Reason not to devote time and space to this subject.

    You also objected that the pop artists, in all their brass and arrogance, often make a "statement." I find that annoying as much as you do, but I don't see how anyone who deals with lyrics can avoid that. Now of course some do wear their self-importance on their sleeve (Radiohead, again), and these clowns deserve all the contempt we throw at their face. But others can make a statement and not come off as grandiloquent half-wits, even when their words and attitude suggest an unmitigated itch for chaos and rebellion. And it is this ability to make a statement but also not take themselves too seriously that informs the best of rock'n'roll (again the Sex Pistols are my favorite example), and for which we listen to and enjoy it.

    One more thing. You said in your earlier post that any of the bands currently in vogue may be listened to 50 years from now by the old generations, but will be forgotten a century later after those generations are gone. I don't think that's quite true. Sure, most will be mere relics of the past, but I think the very best tunes will survive.

    Take the famous old Portuguese theme "La Folia," for example. It's a short, charming tune, but also very simple and, dare I say it, unsophisticated--much like pop music, in fact. But the tune has lived on, as you know, having been used (or should I say recycled?) by all the bigwigs from Ortiz in the 15th century through Corelli and Marais (my favorite) during the Baroque up till today's Vangelis. And we have many other examples of old tunes still with us: the last of the Goldberg Variations (based on German folk songs), the countless arrangements/transcriptions of "Greensleeves," and, last but not least, the good ol' Christmas carols. If these tunes have survived for so long I don't see why today's most popular tunes can't do the same.

    Now you may counter that these tunes are either traditional or folk music, so it's wrong to compare them with today's pop songs. And I say: The great hits of our time, given their popularity with the folks, are folk songs in all but name, and they will be traditional a century or two from now. Try this: Take the most popular musicians of the 20th century--Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Madonna--and compare them with, say, most of the New Wave one-hit wonders from the '80s. Which side comes out ahead? Talk about a rhetorical question. These guys (and gals) didn't get all those ridiculous sales figures for nothing. Great tunes live on regardless of their genre, and I'm willing to bet that their (and others') best songs, if not necessarily in their original form, will still be heard and enjoyed many years from now.

    Hope I've provided some food for thought. Enjoy and Happy New Year.

  • NP||

    SIV,

    As an admirer of Fleming's myself, I must say I find your last comment rather disturbing, to say the least.

  • highnumber||

    Which side comes out ahead?

    Paul Weller wins.

  • ||

    But I am also in the apparent minority that finds Julia Roberts almost unwatchable in any role.

    I'm right there with you RC. Gwyneth Paltrow is another in that vein.

  • SIV||

    NP,

    I was just observing that she is really really hot.

  • SIV||

  • ||

    Classical and academic music is welfare music. That is why it is usually heard on tax-payer funded public radio stations.

    Pssst. Satellite radio has over a half dozen channels devoted to classical and opera.

    Until Bonneville pulled the plug on WGMS here in DC, it was one of the more successful for-profit stations in DC. WETA, at the left of the dial, which was also a classical music station, actually dumped their classical programming because of WGMS. Unfortunately, Bonneville thought that very valuable frequency that WGMS and the 50K watt transmitter it occupied would be more profitable with an all-news format on FM. It moved WGMS to another frequency with a less powerful transmitter. Now, WETA has classical back.

    You can thank the FCC and the National Association of Broadcasters, clinging to their obsolete and discredited scarcity business model, for that formula for "success." Which is why I left FM radio far behind for satellite radio and MP3s. Fuck the NAB and the depression-era horse it rode in on.

  • ||

    Yo SIV--Don't forget Kristin Chenoweth.

    Full disclosure: I work for an opera company (and know very little about opera, nor do I appreciate it all that much. I just don't have the gene for it. Which is too bad, considering I get free tix) and let me tell you, opera has a ton of young, and very hot babes, stunning really, singing these days. I get to see them up close at rehersals and lemmee tell you, there ain't no fat lady singing any more.

  • NP||

    highnumber,

    Heh, if you say so...

    SIV,

    I know. That's what I found disturbing.

  • NP||

    Where do you work, JW? Maybe you can get me free tix?

  • NP||

    SIV and JW,

    Wait a second. Are you guys freakin' blind or something? How can you talk about hot opera babes without mentioning the greatest of 'em all, Anna Netrebko? She's gained some weight recently, but not even a half-awake moron would deny that she's still a babe.

  • SIV||

    NP,

    I was using a crude colloquialism to pay Ms Fleming the highest compliment on her beauty,charm and talent.

    JW,

    Nice

  • NP||

    Oh, c'mon SIV! You're taking my faux seriousness way too seriously. Point (was) taken.

    Anyway Happy New Year, folks.

  • ||

    NP--Yep. That's what I mean by stunning. All the more reason for me to go to rehersals!

    Happy New Year all!

  • dhex||

    To address the lack of hip hop: anyone heard the new Ghostface Killah? He thought up the album title while lapsing out of sleep.

    i thought it was a typo he just decided to run with.


    so why do some people get pissy when someone says "i really liked album xyz this year" and it's something they've not heard of? no one can hear everything - well, john peel tried and we saw how well that worked out!

  • ||

    so why do some people get pissy when someone says "i really liked album xyz this year" and it's something they've not heard of?



    Why do some folks get pissy when someone says "i really liked album xyz this year" and it's something you can actually find in a store? Dunno, people put a lot of ego into that sort of thing.

  • ||

    Here's my top 10
    1. Fog - Ditherer
    2.Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna
    3. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
    4. Architecture in Helsinki - Places Like This
    5.Daft Punk - Alive
    6. New Pornogrphers - Twin Cinema
    7. Dethklok - The Dethalbum
    8. Feist - The Reminder
    9.Voxtrot - Voxtrot
    10. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky


    Fog is really hard to find, but its probably one of the greatest indie albums ever. It really took me a few listens to get it though.

  • Robert||

    I wonder if any of the old farts complaining here that there's no new pop/rock music being made these days have even heard of The National or Andrew Bird, let alone their excellent albums, which came out this year.

    Just because this music is not showing up on the radio or on MTV doesn't mean it ain't being made. Do a little digging folks and don't get lazy in your old age. Or if you ain't willing to dig, quitcha bitchin.

    *Feist was great, too, yeah

  • ARJ||

    Er, note to Mr. Weigel on PT: Robert Fripp doesn't play any of the heavier bits at all on Fear of a Blank Planet. Fripp provides the guitar soundscapes, while Steven Wilson plays those parts.

    Good choice for a number one spot, though. But if you're going to be a music critic, check your facts.

  • ||

    Ok, I'm really late to this thread. Here are some of my favorites of 2007:

    Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
    Caribou - Andorra
    The Coral - Roots and Echoes

  • lunchstealer||

    To outshine Smacky on the late-to-the-thread meme...

    I gotta go with Dave here that Fear of a Blank Planet is just a more interesting album than Snakes and Arrows. He's right about a lot of the lyrics, although there are some bright spots there. I still find myself liking Deadwing more, but this was a great album.

    I think I know where Lifeson's parts are, but I haven't heard anything that I can spot as clearly Frippian.

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