Music: Best of the First Half

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.

Back to BlackAmy 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.

Neon BibleArcade 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.

We Were Dead…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.

Kent’s Picks


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.

Honorable Mentions
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.

Brent’s Picks


Elliott Smith – New Moon – It seems wrong that Elliott Smith would have all this unreleased material that is so good. Of all the dead people out there – and there are a lot of them – he’s the one that I really wish wasn’t dead. The rest I’m really happy about. Also, I fee like a jerk for listening to his music so late in the game. It’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.

Honorable Mentions
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.

  1. Intervention – Arcade Fire
  2. Half Right – Elliott Smith
  3. Me and Mr. Jones – Amy Winehouse
  4. Bros – Panda Bear
  5. The Past is a Grotesque Animal – Of Montreal
  6. Parting of the Sensory – Modest Mouse
  7. Rotten Hell – Menomena
  8. Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night – The Fratellis
  9. Cold Days from the Birdhouse – The Twilight Sad
  10. Whatever (Folk Song in C) – Elliott Smith
  11. Living Breathing Demons – Coyote Bones
  12. Yankee Go Home – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  13. Hands Up Baby – Camera Obscura
  14. Tourist Trap – Bright Eyes
  15. (Antichrist Television Blues) – Arcade Fire
  16. Heretics – Andrew Bird
  17. Steven – Voxtrot
  18. Back to Black – Amy Winehouse
  19. Myth Takes (Acouth Take) – !!!
  20. Rehab – Amy Winehouse
  21. Imitosis – Andrew Bird
  22. Haul Away – Apostle of Hustle
  23. Ocean of Noise – Arcade Fire
  24. Uniform – Bloc Party
  25. Satan Said Dance – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  26. All The Night Without Love – Elvis Perkins
  27. Bushels – Frog Eyes
  28. New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down – LCD Soundsystem
  29. Muscl’n Flo – Menomena
  30. Boyscout’n – Menomena
  31. The Pelican – Menomena
  32. Fake Empire – The National
  33. Brainy – The National
  34. A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger – Of Montreal
  35. Start A War – The National
  36. The Zoo – R.Kelly
  37. Take Pills – Panda Bear
  38. Phantom Limb – The Shins
  39. 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.

25 thoughts on “Music: Best of the First Half”

  1. It’s just a product of the commitment to quality that you’ve come to expect from el buzzard enterprises.

  2. Never heard of 99% of those. I’m not even sure I’ve bought an album this year that was released this year. Maybe Inhuman Rampage by DragonForce, I think that was this year. Recommended if you’re into shredding.

  3. Please sign me up for a cd. I think I’m in need of new music since today I was singing, ” I don’t know much” by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.

  4. Yikes, speaking of music, did you know Chocolate City is a Parliment song? I didn’t. He says Chocolate cities and vanilla suburbs! Ha!

  5. Hey, Ambutt, Chocolate City is also a nick name for Washington D.C. That’s part of what was so laughable when Ol’ Naggin decide to to steal it, and apply it to New Orleans.

    This post is too long. I’ll try to read it later.

    I imagine noone went to see Bullets And Octane in Atlanta on Friday or else they would be on your list — Actually, since I haven’t read the list yet, what would I know? I’m sure they’re there, and I’m sure I just made a “ass” of “u” and “me”. Well, really just me, in typical O’ J. fashion.

    If ya’ll really want to have a laugh at my expense follow this link to see what happened when I posted my whiney weekly newsletter on thewebcomiclist . I got my ass handed to me by three pages worth of internet geeks, but I sure got a lot of hits on my website for the following two days. Any tips for a newbie, Kent?

  6. I want to encourage everyone to check this out. It’s good to see how the geek/nerd contingency lives, and the strange rules they live by on their little dorky websites. I assume Kent already knows all about this stuff, but for the rest of us it’s a real opportunity to see into the life of comic book guy from the simpsons.

  7. The internet is a strange, strange place.

    JV, your best bet is to contact the Bopper and tell him you need a little help from Sharra or Pico.

  8. And get a lightsaber. Or maybe some of those cards that are like pokemon that nerds use to play games. And possibly a long black leather trenchcoat so you can look like any of the awesome characters from the matrix.

  9. Okay, enough about me, I’ll get back to the actual subject for once. I read your post now. Let’s just say, everyone is certainly embarrassed for you. Your poor taste in music is most evident in the fact that there was no mention of Da Fukkin’ Pervertz – Hoselhoff’s Rap (Holly Rock).

    But seriously folks. It’s good to see you are staying on top of todays youth culture by avidly reading Spin magazine. My girlfriend has had a few issues lying around in the bathroom, and your list is pretty identical to their readers poll.

    I was going to criticize you for not having any rap music listed. Then I thought about it and couldn’t think of any great rap albums that came out in like 3 years. The Leak Bros. 2004 Water World was a great gimmick album, dedicated to abusing angel dust and PCP, though I’ll pretty much listen to anything with Cage Kennylz on it, and I don’t think many people feel the same way.

    Actually Ghostface’s Fish Scale album was a great release last year, and I hear More Fish is also good, but I have’t heard it. And Nas’ lastest, Hip-Hop Is Dead, released late last year, has some great songs, but is a bit over produced, a la Jigga Man. Still, these are hardly up and coming young artists. In rap years, these guys are like Methuzela.

    The young headz these days prefer their rapper to be a little shittier than in the past. They like the kind of MCs who can spend a whole song explaining “why they’re hot” and still fail to articulate the point. Or the kind that thought their lunch order sounded like a great hook: Waiter, i’ll have the chicken noodle soup with a soda on the side. Oh snap! I’d better write that down. Fuck it! Waiter, gimme the carbon copy of your tablet!

    I just realized how far off the subject, and unathoritative this is. And I think I even wrote the same shit in that other post that got erased. So I’ll shut up now, and try to learn something new before the next bisexual — I mean, bianual music review comes up. But I guess I can say, in parting, that Amy Winehouse really is one funky honky, eh? I’m sure we can all agree on that.

  10. Damn. Now I feel like Dave.

    I really liked Justin Timberlake’s album last year. That’s hip-hop, right? Before that, I really liked Kanye West’s Late Registration.

  11. No Wilco? I was a little uncertain at first, but Sky Blue Sky has grown on me. What was it — Tweedy’s return to his roots, or is it that with their VW ads they are just too mainstream for you now?

  12. I wish I had put Wilco up there, I just forgot about them.

    As for Spin magazine, I completely forgot about it. I didn’t know they still printed Spin. I used to read Spin and Details all the time. Is Details still around? I picked up a Rolling Stone the other day, and had about the same experience when comparing my taste with theirs. We had all the same bands. Aparently I am lame.

    My redemption comes from the fact that I do not write scathing political stories that no one ever reads. I also am not sponsered by Sketchers.

  13. Speaking of music, if you had the chance to see the Beastie Boys in the largest non-functioning swimming pool in the US in the middle of hip Williamsburg with a bunch of ironic hipsters, would you pay the $50 sticker price?

  14. I know I’m hanging onto the last shreds of my youth but I’ve never seen them before. I didn’t even get into them until I saw BK walking around the dorms in his b/w addidis so-called ‘spittin’ their lyrics with colleen, I think. If that doesn’t make you think their cool, I don’t know what will.

  15. It had the best 3D packaging of that year, too. That stuff messed with your mind. Just like their music.

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