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2007: the year in musics (part 3 of 4)

back again! Sorry about the delay, work is ridiculous. I’m writing this on my lunch hour, so sorry if it sucks.


blonde redhead

10. Blonde Redhead – 23

I had heard of Blonde Redhead, and I may have heard a song or two of theirs before, but 23 is the first full Blonde Redhead album that I have ever heard. It definitely won’t be the last (according to wikipedia, they have 7 albums, and have been around since 1993). Weird album art aside, this is a really great album. Frontwoman Kazu Makino’s voice is awesome and very distinctive. She sounds a bit like Bjork I guess, if Bjork was Japanese and fronted an indie-rock band from New York… and if Bjork was less crazy. Using an interesting array of drum beats and swirling guitars, they sound a bit like My Bloody Valentine, but poppier. The whole album is pretty upbeat, and rarely fails to put me in a good mood. I’d comment on the lyrics, but I can’t understand most of them, as they might not even be in English. One of the two dudes in the band sings on 3 of the album’s 10 songs, and while they’re good, they’re a bit bland compared to the other 7 tracks. Overall though, this is a really great, instantly-likeable album.
Favourite track: “23”

dmst9. Do Make Say Think – You, You’re a History in Rust

Aaah, the Do Makes, my favourite of all of the Broken Social Scene offshoots. I was initially a bit worried about this album, as it has the un-enviable job of trying to follow-up 2003’s near-perfect Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn. My worry intensified when I heard that at least one of the songs would include *gasp* singing. Thankfully, the Do Makes stick pretty close to their nomal M.O. – 8 minute songs that start with a catchy little guitar or violin riff that slowly builds up to this huge wall of sound with amazing drumming. That’s what they do, and they do it really, really well. “A With Living”, the aformentioned song with singing, even sticks fairly closely to their usual formula. It’s probably one of my least favourite songs of theirs, and I hope it’s not a sign of things to come, but it’s still better than 99% of songs in existance, so it isn’t really anything to complain about. Vocals are used again on album-closer “In Mind”, but they’re not central to the song – they’re used to add an additional layer on to the end of the song, on top of the strings, horns, and percussion, which seems like a more natural use of vocals for a band like this. Anyway, this is another strong album by one of the best bands in Canada. Also, this album gets bonus marks for having a song titled “You, You’re Awesome”.
Favourite track: “Executioner’s Blues”

burial8. Burial – Untrue

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this is the best album of the year made by an anonymous British dubstep DJ. I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about dubstep, and if online review sites like Pitchfork hadn’t championed this album as one of the year’s best, I probably would never have heard it. If I had to describe the sound to someone, I’d say it sounds like the soundtrack to a British movie about characters who are really into a specific music scene, like 24 Hour Party People or Human Traffic, but set in the future and all the characters are ghosts… something along those lines, anyway. Burial uses a lot of heavily-filtered vocal samples of unknown origin that sound totally foreign but strangely familiar at the same time. It’s a really interesting sound that initially seemed sort of annoying, but has really grown on me over time. I think I like this so much because it sounds so unlike a singer/guitar/bass/drums band, which is my normal comfort zone. Plus, the cover-art is badass, and I’m not going to pretend like that doesn’t matter.
Favourite track: “Archangel”

spoon7. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Point: Spoon have released another excellent collection of short catchy rock songs. It’s almost like this isn’t even hard for them anymore.
Counter-point: This album sounds exactly like Gimme Fiction, their last album. Where’s the musical progress?
Point: This is their 6th album! They don’t need to “find their sound” anymore, just refine it a bit. Why change when you’re already great, other than just for the sake of change? Anyway, “The Ghost of you Lingers” sounds unlike anything on Gimme Fiction.
Counter-point: That’s the worst song on the album. Also, the album title is the worst album title ever. Seriously, it’s embarassing to type it, let alone say it out loud.
Point: Who cares about the album title? Besides, Spoon included a free bonus cd of demos, just like they did when they released Gimme Fiction. That’s pretty cool.
Counter-point: The bonus disc is sort of terrible.
Those are all the ones I can think of. Anyway, Spoon have made another great album that sounds exactly like their last one, but I’m fine with that.
Favourite track: “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”

editors6. Editors – An End Has A Start

If Gary were ever to give me the Editors first album like he keeps saying he will, I could do a nice job of analyzing how they’ve grown since their last album, whether they’ve suffered from big expectations and released something not-nearly-as-good as they’re capable of, or give them kudos for managing to avoid the sophomore-slump that tends to plague so many good young rock bands (*cough* Bloc Party). He hasn’t though, so I’ve still never heard their debut. Maybe it’s better than this, and An End Has a Start is a colossal letdown. If that is the case, their debut must be pretty amazing, because An End Has a Start is really outstanding. All 10 songs are instantly-likeable, and I find it impossible to listen to any of them without playing the air drums with my feet (which probably isn’t very cool, but my feet are under my desk, so I’m the only one who knows). I guess the singer sounds something like Paul Banks from Interpol since both singers have the same fairly distinctive, “we really really liked Joy Division when we were teenagers” style of singing, but I sort of hate that comparison because every lazy music reviewer makes it, and other than the vocal-stylings, the two bands don’t really sound all that alike. I don’t really know what else to say about it, except that this is a really good album that you may or may not like if you’re a fan of Interpol.
Favourite track: “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors”

Back soon with the thrilling conclusion!

January 18, 2008 - 8:09 am

Gary - I have actually ripped The Back Room (with special secret bonus track) for you and it’s sitting on my desk. It will be in your hands this weekend.

If you want my opinion, and obviously everybody is clamouring for it since I never hear the end of my non-book review, The Back Room is better than Every End has a Start. There are a couple songs that make you go ‘meh’, but the highs are higher.

January 18, 2008 - 9:01 am

Dan - Your description of Burial is intriguing. I covet it.

January 18, 2008 - 3:53 pm

jason - gary forgetting things?!?!?! how is this possible?

January 21, 2008 - 4:34 pm

jason - On a related topic, Paul shirley posted his top ten albums of 2007 on

January 22, 2008 - 11:04 am

contributor mark - that’s a great list, but that Modest Mouse album blows.

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