A recurring feature on elbuzzard that no one appreciates are Brent and Kent’s biannual music reviews. It’s time for the best of the first half of 2007! This year, we made a concerted effort in the month of June to listen to every album that we had released this year. There was a lot of crap. Tons, in fact. We suffered through it, all for you.
Stuff we agree on.
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Kent: It was hard for me to decide which album between Amy Winehouse and Menomena as my favorite so far of 2007. I listened to Menomena so much more, but Winehouse is way more accessible, and fits into more situations. The production values on this record are what makes it so worthwhile, it’s beautifully recorded for a modern pop R&B album. Winehouse can really belt it out, too, and isn’t exactly what you would call shy with her lyrics either.
Brent: I have my darling wife to thank for getting this CD. I would encourage anyone I know to buy it. I would not encourage everyone to get the Menomena CD.
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Brent: Arcade Fire is great. I think bombastic is their strength. They seem to feel they have to balance it out with slower stuff. I do not agree.
Kent: I wasn’t blown away at first by this one, it seemed somehow less than Funeral. Eventually, I came to terms that they weren’t going to do the “Big Finish” thing that I loved on their first album and started to enjoy it more. Plus, they put on one of the best live shows I’ve seen.
Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Brent: 2007 has been a sorry year for music so far. Lots of CD’s that have like 6 good songs, and nothing that is quality through and through. That said, this one, Arcade Fire, and Amy Winehouse come pretty darn close. Here’s my issue with James Mercer being on the album: It’s not bad…but I’d much rather have Isaac Brock singing those lines. If I were him, I wouldn’t let anyone sing with me except maybe Joanna Newsome or Tom Waits. So you cut out the songs that the Shins guy ruins, and you have a very solid album.
Kent: BK likes this album up until the guy from the Shins makes an appearance. I think the album is ok until the guy from the Shins makes an appearance and then it gets really good.
Stuff that proves to the other that the other’s taste is worthless.
Menomena – Friend and Foe – I am the only person who likes this album. I think Leslie likes one song off it. I love the entire thing. If there is one way to hook me on an album, its to add layer upon layer upon layer of odd instruments and instrumentations. Give me something to listen to with headphones on in the dark. Every time I listen to this album I pick out something new. Unfortunately for Menomena, this didn’t translate into the best of live shows, as Dave will tell you. I don’t think he will ever go see a show of another band not on the radio with me again.
The Shins – Wincing the Night Away – I came late to The Shins’ popularity party. I just saw Garden State six months ago, so this was my first “new” album from The Shins. What a nice sound they have. It’s so soothing. Until you realize that they are singing about a dog getting run over by a train.
The National – Boxer – Much like the Arcade Fire, I loved the National’s last album Alligator so much that at first I was let down by the new one. It took a couple of listens to stop comparing it to the previous one. This one is more subdued, with less straight up rockers like Mr. November, but they still pack a lot into the new quieter songs.
!!! – Myth Takes – It’s is so embarrassing to include this album. It’s corny corny raver music. The band doesn’t even have a real name. I picture them as an opener for the Red Hot Chili Peppers or 311. I shudder just thinking about their slightly punkish stoner jam band outdoor festival also starring Prodigy and a Fishbone reunion fanbase. It’s a really fun album though, despite the genre.
Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha – Why did he put down the violin and focus on the guitar? It’s still good, but not what I want out of Mr. Bird.
Apostle of Hustle – National Anthem of Nowhere – I don’t like Broken Social Scene, but this album is good.
In addition, I would state for the record that I am a dolt for not including The Blow’s Paper Television on my best of 2006 list. I dismissed the album as techno-crap until I finally listened to the last song this year, and fell in love with it. Appreciating that one song changed my impressions of the entire album for me.
Elliott Smith â€“ New Moon â€“ It seems wrong that Elliott Smith would have all this unreleased material that is so good. Of all the dead people out there â€“ and there are a lot of them â€“ heâ€™s the one that I really wish wasnâ€™t dead. The rest Iâ€™m really happy about. Also, I fee like a jerk for listening to his music so late in the game. Itâ€™s almost as if he died once I started liking him. If this is the case, I would like to warn the following people not to make me like you: Devandra Banhart, Animal Collective, Ryan Adams, Deerhunter, The Clientele, Deerhoof, Built to Spill, and Bob Dylan.
Panda Bear – Person Pitch – If you like the Beach Boys, you will really like this. If you don’t. . .well, at least it’s short. I happen to like the Beach Boys, so I really like this.
Coyote Bones – Gentleman on the Rocks- I like to represent the home town when I do these, and lord knows Bright Eyes did not make that very easy this year. This band saved the day at the last minute. I got it a few weeks back, and have listened to it over and over again. It doesn’t exactly break new ground, but again, it’s not Cassadega.
Voxtrot – Voxtrot – I always thought that if I was in a band, they would sound like the Silver Jews. Obviously that is wrong. Sadly, I am no Dave Berman. I have since changed my expectations. Now I think maybe I would sound like these guys, who play fits of triumphant music, mixed in with ho-hum moments of whatever. They should really stick with their plan of releasing EP’s. It suits them better.
Shins – Wincing the Night Away – Growing on me. Sounded overproduced at first. Liked it better when I relistened this month.
Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna… – This is a big step for me, and I will never be an Of Montreal fan, but some of this CD was okay.
Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha – I never understood why everyone loved Sufjan Stevens so much. I like AB much better.
The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns… – Thick Scottish accents, when can we be married?
Brent and Kent’s Favorite Tracks, not in any particular order, especially towards the end because Kent just started putting them in alphabetical order.
- Intervention – Arcade Fire
- Half Right – Elliott Smith
- Me and Mr. Jones – Amy Winehouse
- Bros – Panda Bear
- The Past is a Grotesque Animal – Of Montreal
- Parting of the Sensory – Modest Mouse
- Rotten Hell – Menomena
- Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night – The Fratellis
- Cold Days from the Birdhouse – The Twilight Sad
- Whatever (Folk Song in C) – Elliott Smith
- Living Breathing Demons – Coyote Bones
- Yankee Go Home – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
- Hands Up Baby – Camera Obscura
- Tourist Trap – Bright Eyes
- (Antichrist Television Blues) – Arcade Fire
- Heretics – Andrew Bird
- Steven – Voxtrot
- Back to Black – Amy Winehouse
- Myth Takes (Acouth Take) – !!!
- Rehab – Amy Winehouse
- Imitosis – Andrew Bird
- Haul Away – Apostle of Hustle
- Ocean of Noise – Arcade Fire
- Uniform – Bloc Party
- Satan Said Dance – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
- All The Night Without Love – Elvis Perkins
- Bushels – Frog Eyes
- New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down – LCD Soundsystem
- Muscl’n Flo – Menomena
- Boyscout’n – Menomena
- The Pelican – Menomena
- Fake Empire – The National
- Brainy – The National
- A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger – Of Montreal
- Start A War – The National
- The Zoo – R.Kelly
- Take Pills – Panda Bear
- Phantom Limb – The Shins
- Sea Legs – The Shins
Please let us know if you would like a copy of Brent’s or Kent’s Best Bets 6/07 on CD or audio cassette.
Also note that the following albums that may or may not be pretty good didn’t get released in time for us to review: White Stripes, Handsome Furs, Get Him Eat Him, Blitzen Trapper, Hallelujah the Hills, Art Brut, Shapes and Sizes.