FAVORITE MUSIC OF 2007
An Annual Report By Dave Ratzlow
Even though some of my favorite music artists delivered sub-par efforts this year (Bjork, Prince, Blonde Redhead, Chaka Khan, Blondie, Radiohead), it's still an amazing time to be a music fan. The year was full of so many delightful surprises from newcomers and old-standbys. Here are a few lists of my favorite music released this year:
***TOP TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF THE YEAR***
10. ELECTRELANE – No Shouts No Calls
Lush art-pop music at its best, this band brings to mind late Stereolab but with more bite, more jangle and more strangeness.
09. THE ARCADE FIRE – Neon Bible
Certainly better than most of the albums on this list, but their previous album, Funeral, was so powerful and exhilarating, they lose a few points for merely maintaining the status quo.
08. BAT FOR LASHES – Fur And Gold
The newcomers of the year, these lovely young British women fuse 60s pop with a hipster/hippie sensibility. Check out their music video for "What's A Girl To Do?", one of the year's best.
07. RILO KILEY – Under The Blacklight
They still have their delightful twang, but this time it's in service of the catchiest songs of their career.
06. JAYMAY – Autumn Fallin'
I probably wouldn't have heard this album if the singer wasn't good friends with my Nantucket Film Festival workmate. I feel so lucky to have discovered her music. Keeping the arrangements simple and harmonious, Jamay has expanded on her 2005 E.P. and created a confident major label debut of melancholy love songs. She's the kind of honest and unassuming performer who inspires instant devotion.
05. FEIST – The Reminder
This album might have taken the top spot if it didn't contain so many morose and sluggish songs of lament, and her second album, Let It Die, including one of the best songs of all time, "Mushaboom", was a bit better. But "1234" from this album, even though it has been overplayed by now, is probably one of the most exhilarating songs of this year.
04. CELEBRATION – The Modern Tribe
The rockingest album of the year, Celebration also puts on a powerful and passionate live show. From the first chords of this new album, it's clear that they are growing as a band without abandoning what made them so great the first time around. No other rock band since The Who employs the organ as well as they do.
03. PJ HARVEY – White Chalk
My favorite album of hers since 1995! It's unlike anything she's ever done, but is still totally PJ. More artists should consider making albums this minimalist and naked. Sweet, heartbreaking and expertly crafted, these songs are instant classics.
02. BODIES OF WATER – Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink
One of my favorite accidental Internet discoveries of all time, this independent band from Highland Park, CA produces grand and complex pop music full of thrilling juxtapositions, rousing finales and expert musicianship. Rare for a first album, the band also commands a wide dynamic range, creating an album that pulses with energy and emotion.
01. LAVENDER DIAMOND – Imagine Our Love
The most joyful and sweetest music of the year. In a time of constant war and corporate crime, this music is the perfect antidote. Becky Stark's songs rouse my spirits every time, and convince me that peace on Earth just might be around the corner. "Open your heart, tear it apart," she implores over hand claps, violins, guitars and tambourines. I might have to do just that.
ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI – Places Like This
BEAT THE DEVIL – E.P.
BEIRUT – The Flying Club Cup
ANDREW BIRD – Armchair Apocrypha
THE CAT EMPIRE – Two Shoes
ARETHA FRANKLIN – Rare and Unreleased Recordings…
BETTYE LAVETTE – The Scene of the Crime
ELENI MANDELL – Miracle of Five
NELLIE MCKAY – Obligatory Villagers
M.I.A. – Kala
THE NOISETTES – What's the Time Mr. Wolf?
OF MONTREAL – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
ROBERT PLANT & ALISON KRAUSE – Raising Sand
THE SHINS – Wincing the Night Away
SPOON – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
TEGAN AND SARA – The Con
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – Release the Stars
AMY WINEHOUSE – Back to Black
***HONORABLE MENTIONS FOR SINGLES***
CAT POWER – "Crazy" (Live Gnarls Barkley cover)
ROISIN MURPHY – "Overpowered" & "Dear Miami"
REGINA SPEKTOR – "Real Love" (John Lennon cover)
***FAVORITE CONCERTS OF THE YEAR***
06. A-CAMP @ UNION HALL – August 6th
05. JAYMAY @ MERCURY LOUNGE – December 12th
04. EMILY HAINES @ HIRO BALLROOM – January 9th
03. JOAN AS POLICEWOMAN @ BOWERY BALLROOM – August 7th
Topping my best album and best concert list of last year, singer Joan Wasser still makes me swoon. Now playing in larger venues, thankfully she has maintained the intimacy of her previous performances.
02. LANGHORNE SLIM @ CLUB EUROPA – August 31st
Dylan with pipes, I like to call him. No one else can rock as hard with an acoustic guitar and pork pie hat. He's starting to attract a much younger crowd these days, which I used to find annoying, but here, the youthful enthusiasm verging on violence was completely justified.
01. BAT FOR LASHES @ THE KNITTING FACTORY – July 25th
Natasha Khan and company are just starting out, but they already know the elements of a transcendent live show: passion, talent, freedom, creativity and lots of sex appeal. I left the Knit that night knowing that I was there at the beginning. I can't wait to hear what's next.
***FAVORITE MYSPACE DISCOVERIES***
Thanks for reading. Let me know if there is anything else you really think I should hear.
Happy New Year,