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I Coulda Been a Contender 2007 June 11, 2008

Posted by reidmix in Album Reviews, Arts & Crafts, Best of 2007, Carpark, Domino, Free MP3, I Coulda Been a Contender, Indie, Labels, Lists, Merge Records, Music, PawTracks, Reviews, Series, SubPop, Tomlab.
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My final 2007 wrap-up in June, oh my! One of my most visited blog entries was my prior I Coulda Been a Contender 2006 which listed great, wonderful albums that for one reason or another did not make my Top 10. Alas, why should these albums be put out to pasture just because there were 10 other albums ahead in line?

I think another thing that makes this post so joyful is its sheer eclecticism — the strange sitting alongside with the obvious, the rare with the (indie) popular. The major condition to be on this list is that I listened to these albums. Alot. Or, I enjoyed them. Alot. These are ordered (sorta) alphabetically and that’s it! I hope that you find something new, too.

QTomlab Alphabet Series: Q by Alig Fodder
Tomlab has this wonderful series of 7″ records that has been coming out over the past several years, each one for each letter. Alig Fodder from Family Fodder fame shows up on letter ‘Q’ and later as an Idol Fodder EP. Addictive elements both aboriginal and electronic, and looping laughs.

Strawberry JamStrawberry Jam by Animal Collective
First album released on Domino, hailed as their most pop-oriented yet. For me, this album was eclipsed by drummer, Panda Bear’s, solo album, and Sung Tongs and Feels are still landmark albums in my mind. Nonetheless, Fireworks (and the live blending with Essplode) and For Reverend Green do stand out as the best Animal Collective songs ever made.

Neon Bible by Arcade Fire
The slow leak that was their sophomoric album on Merge could not contain the raw excitement over their debut, Funeral. Any band that starts with a landmark album automatically sets themselves up for failure, no matter how good the follow-up. I’m happy that they received KROQ love, but their listeners only knew Intervention at the amazing Greek performance. Take another listen to the following layered, dark gems and lookup my favorite, (Antichrist Television Blues).

In Camera by Arthur & Yu
I became so captivated by the first Hardly Art (a SubPop sublabel) release that I have the promo disc as well! The finest folk this side of the Mississippi, as many readers know I discovered them on the 5th track of Dntel’s Dumb Luck. They remind me of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, like OP8 featuring Lisa Germano, and everything good about Peter, Paul and Mary.

Load Blown by Black Dice
I’ve known about Eric Copeland by proxy on other Paw Tracks releases, most notably from The Sailor by Terrestrial Tones, although I didn’t start listening to Black Dice until Mr. Copeland opened for the Animal Collective show at the Henry Fonda. It was very LOUD but it perked my interest enough to buy their latest album, full of quirks, beats, and other transporting soundscapes.

Spiderman of the Rings by Dan Deacon
Another great artist on Carpark, and his video is the cheesiest. I saw Dan Deacon at Coachella this year and I have to say it was the best show at the festival, the best show I’ve ever gone to and I need to posted pics and movies later. Dan Deacon is interactive, he’s a fun sing-along, with electronic cannons made with casiotone sugar. Also get all of Dan Deacon’s old MP3s

The Enemy Chorus by The Earlies
I think I love this Secretly Canadian release if only for the song When the Wind Blows. This Austin based band plays it with syncopated electronic beats, power chords on what sounds like a baby grand, and softened with melodic strings. Yet when I hear this bluesy proggy, and ambitious album, there is so much that is good with it, it simply takes its time to sneak-up and arrest you.

We Don’t Just Disappear by Future Conditional
I read a pan of this album somewhere and I conject you are not ready for Piano Magic‘s side project or the 80s electropop seems to slippery to grasp. Both of these of which I fell victim. Still, for the sheer hotness of The Switchboard Girl should give you enough pause before moving on. Below the surface of this album are 80s drum machine references to New Order (Substance Fear) and other musical nods I’ve yet to place (Typos).

Panic Prevention by Jamie T
My only major label (Virgin), I love these hyper-masculine, boyish rhymes, (rap, um, not so much) from Jamie Treays debut. I listened to these tracks intensely for about a month and even won a Flavorpill trivia contest to see him at the Troubadour but alas I had (writing) class. Still, almost a year later songs like Calm Down Dearest and So Lonely Was the Ballad are emotional charged and poignant. I hope for good things to come.

Broken Social Scene Presents: Spirit If… by Kevin Drew
Arts & Crafts is certainly becoming one of my favorite labels, steered in part by Broken Social Scene founder, Kevin Drew. His first solo album in what will be a Broken Social Scene Presents series featuring each member, it is both a departure from the mega-group’s broad arrangements, and also an amplification of the intimate chamber pop that makes it so good. My only regret is how little I’ve listened to this album.

Loney, Noir by Loney, Dear
SubPop has been pushing all their releases into my life this past year, and this swede is no exception. With almost english titles, I previously proclaimed that I bought the title track, I Am John, within 30 seconds of hearing it. Along with the cutest video, and a 7″, his prior releases (anything before Sologne) are difficult to find. Have a listen to this multilayered, pop-stylist. It’s addictive and sweet as Swedish Fish:

Sticking Fingers into Sockets by Los Campesinos!
I had the pleasure of seeing this this Wales band from Arts & Crafts at the Troubadour last Saturday with the Parenthetical Girls and they are Twee as Fuck. They have a firm understanding of the C-86 bands: not to say they’re only as sweet as Sarah Records, they firmly put their own little punk spin on their collection of songs. Plus, I think they’re a little fey — makes me go all smiley inside.

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? by Of Montreal
Their latest release on Polyvinyl is both the band’s darkest and best release to date. I find it rare that a band gets better with each release, but when that happens, it’s a joy to hear how the album becomes more refined while pushing its own limits. Hateful dance hippy intellectual glamrock. It’s ABBA’s evil twin, but better. How can you go wrong?

Book of Bad Breaks by Thee More Shallows
Here is a case where anticipating a bands latest release, their first on Anticon, I fall in love with their prior albums. And that’s what happened, I listened to More Deep Cuts to a dirty grave (ironically, Ave Grave being my favorite song on the album) and then Monkey vs. Shark. I still intend to wrap my head around the Book of Bad Breaks, but I still am charmed by earlier moody releases. Alas!

Our Ill Wills by Shout Out Louds
I’m not sure I did the right thing by not having their first Merge album in my top 10. Another case where I happened upon their first album Howl Howl Gaff Gaff first which stuck to me like Swedish Superglue (Re: Loney, Dear). It took a little while to warm up to Our Ill Wills, the maritime flagship of a follow-up album. “Yeah, but they sound like The Cure!” Um, hush now and and have a good listen.

Tromatic Reflexxions by Von Südenfed
Two parts Krautrock inspired Mouse on Mars and one part Mark E. Smith, the punk pioneer and The Fall‘s repetitious frontman, their Domino debut proves (against all odds) to be amazingly harmonious, integrated, and awesome. The deep beats of the DJs fully support the rhyming rhythms that play within that structure to make for some unique and playful songs that together raises the stakes on the sum of its parts.