Sunday, January 27, 2008

Best albums of 2007 (by request)

A quick summary of top 10 albums of 2007. I'll start with actual CDs I purchased...

Feist - The Reminder
. She's been on lots of best ofs and deservedly so. A few too many quiet numbers, but lovely variety and catchy tracks. Selected tracks: I'm sorry; I feel it all; My moon my man; Sea Lion woman; 1 2 3 4.

Justin Nozuka - Holly
. Local Toronto Kid with lots of maturity in his singer songwriter lyrics. Great live show at the Mod Club. Selected tracks: Down in a cold dirty well; Golden train; Be back soon; After tonight.

Champion - Chill 'em all
. This album dates back quit a while but I bought it in 2007 and everything else of his since them, including latest DVD. Show of the year for me at Lee's. Selected tracks: No heaven; Tavern; Tawoumga; Keep on; The plow.

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare
. Not as good as the opener, but still lots of good stuff and fab live. Selected tracks: 505; Old yellow bricks; Do me a favour; Fluorescent adolescent; Teddy picker.

Now on to standout albums from which I downloaded multiple tracks:

Manic Street Preachers - Send away the tigers
. Fantastic tracks, warm, emotional sing-alongs. Selected tracks: Autumnsong; Indian summer; Your love alone is not enough.

Hard-Fi - One upon a time in the west
. Sophomore album, more polish, still great heart and energy. Selected tracks: Little angel; We need love; I can't get along; Tonight; Suburban knight; Watch me fall apart.

Reverend and the Makers - The state of things
. Lots of dancin' cheeky fun. Selected tracks: Open your window; He said he loved me; Bandits; heavyweight Champion of the world.

Kaiser Chiefs - Your truly, angry mob
. Second album from Brit hit makers. Lots of great tracks, fun live show at Koolhaus and fantastic video for Ruby. Selected tracks: Love's not a competition (but I'm winning); Heat dies down; The angry mob; Ruby.

And finally album of the year:

The Enemy - We'll live and die in these towns
. Coventry (my home town) youngsters with a lot to say (well). Selected tracks: This song; You're not alone; Dancin' all night; Had enough; Fear killed he youth of our nation; Away from here.

Footnote - and a few that didn't quite make the top 10 but worth noting: Timbaland - Shock value; Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (cuz it was from 2006, but got tons of playtime in 2007); Mark Ronson - Version; Tiesto - In search of Sunrise (vol. 6). And a few more that were late finds: Band of Horses - Cease to begin; Robert Plant and Allison Krauss - Raising Sand; Seal - System.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2007 Best of

Tis the season to try and pick my favourite music for the year. And I've managed to squeeze in some of other best of comments below as well.

I'll actually start with an old tune. This one I remember from the late seventies when I was a teenager just before coming to Canada. It was re-introduced on the soundtrack to Hot Fuzz (which you can include on the best movies of the year list) and includes some classic lines from the movie ("why are you dressed like a police officer ?...because I am one"). Track #1 Sweet - Blockbuster.

The next one is an easier going track from one of the most successful British bands in the last 3 years, taken from the second album that like the first, grows on me more every time I listen to it. We were lucky enough to see them here in concert this summer - tight and energized set and one of our favourite concerts of the year. Track #2 Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent.

A was happy to see a bunch of young lads from my home town of Coventry hit big time this year with some great singles and a well put together debut album. Track#3 The Enemy - You're Not Alone is a great example of their gritty boyish anthems.

There were just so many great Brit bands and albums this year. Track #4 The Twang - Ice Cream Sundae is one of the many catchy tracks on their fine 2007 album.

Moving onto the dance floor for the next track. This got regular rotation play on Brit Radio and got some good dance remix attention too. Keep those feet tapping and heads bobbin' to Track #5 Reverend and The Makers - Heavyweight Champion of the World. Lots of fun sprinkled all over the album too.

You may want to sensor the next one for the kids if they can decipher the slurred lyrics. Track #6 from cheeky monkey Jamie T - Calm Down Dearest. Good video too for Sheila with Bob Hoskins lip-synching.

A quirky sing-a-long with near-to-home lyrics like "What Tune is this, but I like it...if you ask the DJ, on Monday I'll buy it" is #7 - Mr Hudson & The Library - Ask the DJ.

# 8 is my favourite track from the latest Kaiser Chiefs record. We saw them live this year and definitely rank high in the book of high energy live acts. Love's Not a Competition (But I'm Winning) is a gentler track and the only one I can think of that includes altruistic as a lyric. Q just included it in their essential downloads with the comment - artful use of parentheses. Along with this cool video (alternate feed from You Tube, which also reminds me of the great long tracking shot in Atonement), from the Chiefs, is Ruby - my favourite video of the year.

Another ballad makes #9 with Tonight by Hard-Fi. A great example of young Brits showing their more tender side. Nice live video version I just found too ! These lads are my must see for 2008 - they were a concert highlight last time around - let me know if you want me to send you a reminder when the concert is announced.

#10 is perhaps my favourite track of the year - The Manic Street Preachers - Your Love Alone is Not Enough. The song features Nina Persson from The Cardigans on guest vocals. Lots of great tracks from this year's quality album too.

There were a lot of singer songwriting ladies in rotation this year. Keren Ann - Lay Your Head Down (second choice in her MySpace playlist) is #11 with her beautiful voice overlay to this rich production number. She is playing the Mod Club in Toronto in February.

#12 follows the same sub-genre with Amy MacDonald - L.A. An unusual voice that took a while to warm up to, but now always welcome on the home playlists.

I'm are getting a lot of music from some great TV shows these days, including House and Entourage (favourite TV show of the year). I heard #13, Chicane - Autumn Tactics on one of these shows, but I can't find for the life of me remember or find out which one - sorry, system failure ! A great example of the electronic groove beats that are a PJMixer staple. A new find in 2007, but alas a track from 2000. As with a few other tracks on this list, as I'm finding the links, I'm finding a few other gems a long the way, I'll be spending some time on Chicane in 2008.

The second repeat artist from 2006 and the first Canadian contributor for this year makes #14, Feist - My Moon My Man. A very wide tempo mix on her latest album, but full of quality moments.

Number two Canadian act and #15 on this year's best of is Champion - The Plow (actually a 2006 album). This track is a little overshadowed by the massive No Heaven hit, but like #13, hits square bulls eye for sensual female vocal with electro beats, bigger in this case. Champion approaches his art by blending blues guitar and vocals with computer / synth generated beats. Fantastic stuff and their show in Toronto late summer was my concert highlight of the year. The link is their home page, scroll down to the Chill 'Em All album and you can sample some of the tracks, incl. The Plow. Other links are their MySpace page and the promo for their latest live DVD (which was one of my Christmas gifts). But the best link to share is the Ubisoft promo they did using the Jam Sessions Nintendo DS software. The live shots are from the intro of the show I've been trying to explain to a few people - I love these guys, can you tell !

Probably the most obscure track on this year's best of is Track #16, Fujiya & Miyagi - Collarbone, which I actually found on the Groove Armada Lovebox Weekender compilation. Wacky lyric to infectious tribal rhythms, probably found in the wee hours with a beverage in hand and an in-time wobbly head.

Timbaland came on the radar mid 2007 being associated with producing hits with some of the biggest pop acts of the day, however it took me a little longer to really rummage through the numbers and find some really catchy hip hop and approachable tracks. Track #17's title unfortunately butchers proper grammar like, but Timbaland - The Way I Are is great stuff.

You won't believe where I found this next one. A Michael Caine electronica compilation ! Yes, that Michael Caine. Apparently his passion for the disco is still alive and well, and from the likes of this track, he's got some pretty good taste for electronica with classic samples, in this case Nina Simone. #18 is Felix Da Housecat - Sinnerman (feat. Nina Simone).

And lastly, #19 - Devendra Banhart - Sea Horse. Definitely the most unusual name for a band and the music is very different to anything else on this playlist, and to almost everything I was listening to in 2007. A romp through the fields with flowers in ya hair, settling into some Doors-like darker moments, spinning some kaleidoscopic musical vistas and ending with a vintage Woodstock-like anthem. Quite the epic track to end on and like some very recent downloads, perhaps setting a bit of a sideline trend for what's to come in 2008.