Januar 30th, 2008 by admin
I didn’t really do the whole Best Albums thing last year because, to be honest, there wasn’t that much I got excited about in the LP format outside of that brilliant Guillemots debut and those TV On The Radio and Union of Knives records and besides, it’s been well-documented in these pages that singles are more my speed anyways. That said, 2007 was a better outing for the long-player, with a good lot of phenomenal records coming out, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a few of them the recognition they deserve. With that out of the way, here are my top five records of 2007, though I don’t really think I need to waste too much breath on them considering you’ve been listening to and reading about these records all year long.
1. Les Savy Fav, Let’s Stay Friends
2. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
3. M.I.A., Kala
4. Kate Nash, Made of Bricks
5. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Falling just short of this list was Bloc Party’s Weekend In The City and that phenomenal Okkervil River record, and we should make a point not to forget The Early Learnings of Eugene McGuinnes any time soon as well.
BEST ALBUM OF 2008(?)
The past two years saw incredible debut albums taking the top spot as my favorite albums of their respective year, with Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm blowing everyone away in 2005 and Guillemots’ Through The Windowpane taking the top honors last year, and 2007 would have been no different had XL gotten their shit together and managed to release Vampire Weekend’s monumental debut LP a month earlier in 2007, rather than waiting until the end of this month to drop the music listening world’s collective jaw. However, the band’s now-infamous Blue CD-R never did see a proper release in ‘07, and thus all eyes (read: mine) are on their upcoming eponymous debut to grab top billing in ‘08.
The Blue CD-R was pretty unfuckwithable in its own right, but their debut LP proper is all kinds of amazing, with two excellent new tracks (including “M79″, possibly their finest work to date) and an actual decent mix of “Walcott”, which easily would have been the best track on their demo had it been given the mix it deserved. All the tracks have been reproduced and properly mixed this time around as well, and though the differences are subtle, they really bring the songs to life and give them the full-bodied sound they deserve. “Campus” and “Walcott” benefit the most from their reincarnation on the album, but the whole thing is pretty remarkable from start to finish. The album was released on Monday, so at long last I can finally share the new recordings. Here’s “M79″ and “Campus”, two tracks that would easily stand out as singles in almost any other band’s repertoire, but will likely go without the spotlight thanks to the incredible standard of quality that’s maintained throughout the album. Oh and when I was listening to “M79″ with Zack over break I promised him I’d go all Pitchfork and be a douche and describe it as “afro-classical”, but I mean, it is. There, I said it.
“M79″ – Vampire Weekend
“Campus” – Vampire Weekend
Obviously, you can’t declare the album of the year when it’s not even February yet, especially since 2008 is already shaping up to be another excellent year for music. Between Vampire Weekend and the Dodos’ Visiter, we’ve already got two albums on par with (if not better than) nearly all of the records in my top five for 2007. And yes, the Dodos album really is that good. Furthermore, there are plenty more releases due out in the first half of 2008 alone that have me seriously, seriously excited. Here are four releases I’m anticipating more than anything else. They are:
21, Mystery Jets
There’s been much talk about this album already as a result of the hype generated by the tracks released by the band since Making Dens dropped in 2006, and while that album was truly a brilliant record in its own right, 21 is shaping up to be a potential instant classic. “Umbrellahead”, the only new track included on Zootime, the band’s US debut early last year, was an extremely promising step in the right direction, but shit started to get really real when the Jets released “Flakes” last December as a free download. Their self-proclaimed “sketchy attempt at Christmas number one”, “Flakes” demonstrated that the band reallly do have the potential to release a world-conquering Christmas number one and was arguably their best track yet. Thus, I was already beginning to froth at the mouth with excitement for their upcoming sophomore record proper (Zootime doesn’t really count, folks), 21, and that was before I got to listen to a few pre-mastered tracks in a brief listening session at an undisclosed location.
And ho-ly shit. Of the three tracks I heard, among which were lead single “Young Love” (due out around March I believe) and the incredible “Two Doors Down” (the likely second single), it was immediately apparent why 21 is already a legitimate contender for album of the year honors in 2008. “Young Love”, a duet with the always lovely Laura Marling, is nothing short of amazing, riding an opening bass riff that sounds downright Motown at times and like nothing else I’ve heard done in Britpop since Guillemots burst onto the scene with Through The Windowpane in 2006, while the unrestrained percussion of “Two Doors Down” (in which our protagonist falls in love with a girl banging away at her drum kit two doors down from him) brilliantly reflects the song’s storyline while at the same time providing the foundation around which Mystery Jets build one of their finest narrative masterpieces yet. Oh and let’s not forget that Captain Erol Fucking Alkan is manning the boards on this one, his first time producing a band for a full record, and from the sound of it it’s shaping up to be some of his best production work yet. Mark my words, this record is going to be amazing.
“Flakes” – Mystery Jets
“Umbrellahead” – Mystery Jets
Speaking of Guillemots, the masterminds behind my favorite record of 2006 (and one of my favorite debuts ever) are back at it and will be releasing their hotly anticipated sophomore album late this March, preceded by lead single “Get Over It” on March 17th. Sadly I haven’t gotten to sit in on any super fly V.I.P. listening sessions for this one, but I was in attendance at Koko last June when the band reduced me to a blithering idiot with the brilliance of “Standing On The Last Star”, one of the new songs slated for inclusion on Red. You can find some extremely shitty footage on YouTube, but don’t even bother – nothing can do this track justice short of seeing it live or, hopefully, hearing it on record. We’re talking some next level, Britpop-goes-disco shit people. I can’t. Fucking. Wait.
Sadly I’ve got nothing to share from the upcoming record, so here’s a modern classic off their last one. Surely you’ve all heard it by now, but more and more I’m begginning to realize that “Trains To Brazil” is my favorite song of all time, so if even just one of you has yet to be touched by its graces then I’ve done my job. And when I say “favorite song of all time”, I don’t mean it’s up there near the top or it’s one of my favorites, but rather I believe it’s truly my single favorite song of the last 2,000 years. It has a lot to do with the memories it’s linked to – walking around UVA (and then Notting Hill a year later) in springtime listening to it, drunkenly yelling out the lyrics with my friends at parties in the summer, dancing in a sparse crowd of barely 40 people at the band’s Koko gig last June – but it’s the song’s unimpeachable message that makes it so enduring: whatever’s got you down, get over it because life is fucking beautiful. So yes, please do enjoy that below if it’s somehow evaded you to this point, along with the band’s crazy-awesome cover of the Streets’ “Never Went To Church” from a little while back.
UPDATE: A one-minute preview of “Get Over It” is now streaming from the Guillemots’ MySpace page and SWEET JESUS… I’m pretty sure this is what it sounds like when an angel gets its wings.
“Trains To Brazil” – Guillemots
“Never Went To Church” – Guillemots
Couples, The Long Blondes
So Someone To Drive You Home was an awesome record and all, but I definitely cried myself to sleep a few nights back in early 2006 when it was announced that Erol Alkan would not, in fact, be producing the record despite his awe-inspiring production work on the band’s B-sides. But things have a way of working themselves out it seems, and the Blondes seem to have gotten it right the second time around, even if it seemed like the only logical thing to do considering two of the Alkan-produced B-sides (that’s “Five Ways To End It” and the amazing “Fulwood Babylon”, for those of you who aren’t up on your Long Blondes’ B-side pedigree knowledge) rivaled damn near everything on their actual record. And again, I’ve got nothing to share from the LP at this point, but Couples lead single “Guilt” drops March 24th and the record follows on its heels shortly thereafter. Suffice it to say, March is shaping up to be the greatest month in history.
“Fulwood Babylon” (Erol Alkan’s 12″ Edit) – The Long Blondes
“Five Ways To End It” (Erol Alkan’s 12″ Edit) – The Long Blondes
In other news, WHY THE FUCK DO GUILLEMOTS AND THE LONG BLONDES HAVE TO BE PLAYING AT THE SAME TIME AT DIFFERENT VENUES ON THE OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE CITY ON THE SAME FUCKING NIGHT. March 11th confronts me with what could possibly be the most possible decision of my adult life.
Little Death, Pete & The Pirates
Okay, so this probably won’t be in the running for album of the year come December, but fuck if I’m not still counting down the days (nay, the hours) until it’s release February 11th. I mean, have you heard the singles off this record. “Come On Feet” had me pretty excited when Mssr. Pea-ness beat everyone to the punch and dropped it last summer, but then “Knots” came along in October and still hasn’t fallen out of heavy rotation on my iPod. I mean, I reviewed it as an 8 out of 10 in early October before realizing I was only listening to the fucking demo. Then I finally got my shit together and tracked down the finished version, and it was like I’d been wasting my time with Kirsten Dunst when I really could have been getting with Natalie Portman all along. Both are great, y’know, but everything about the single version is just a little bit better in every regard. Now, two weeks prior to the album’s release, new single “Mr. Understanding” is streaming on the band’s MySpace and is freshly available for download from both the US and UK iTunes stores and yeah, it totally rules as well. Factor in “Bright Lights” (also streaming on the Pirates’ MySpace) and “She Doesn’t Belong” (available as an exclusive download from Shattered Satellite), and this is shaping up to be one of the finest British guitar-rock debuts in a longgg minute.
Furthermore, I had the pleasure of seeing them last night at the Borderline with my ladyfriend Kelly and they put on easily the best and most fun show I’ve seen since I got here (and please keep in mind I saw Vampire Weekend twice two weeks ago). They opened with “Knots” and closed with now-classic debut single “Come On Feet”, both of which slayed in a live setting, but it was the two new songs from their MySpace, new single “Mr. Understanding” and album-closer “Bright Lights” that were the true highlights of the evening. They rounded out their setlist with a few of the new album tracks as well, and if they’re able to capture the live energy of the tracks on the record, then we’re in for a fucking treat when Little Death drops in a few weeks’ time.
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