Mitya's Top Several for 2007

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26. Dez. 2007, 3:58

In the mp3 era, I take a much more empirical view of music than I used to: what I listen to must be good, and what I listen to more, must be better - at least in terms of these kinds of lists. One caveat: although last.fm generates these lists automatically, it's not perfect - if you play the same song five times in a row on your iPod, it only gets counted once - so I've tweaked things a bit. (You also can't filter by release year, if that's important to you - I've starred non-2007 releases). Where possible, I've added tracks to my playlist, for your listening ease.

1. Regina Spektor - Better* - I saw some criticism of this song for it's radio-friendly production, which admittedly strips much away most of Regina Spektor's musical idiosyncracy, but she still shows through in the lyrics. So rag on David Kahne if you want, but the honest truth is that a handful of artists have produced their best work thanks to his knob-twiddling (vis Truth And Soul).

2. Stars - Window Bird
3. Yelle - Tristesse/Joie - I've grouped these tracks because one of the most striking things about both songs is the way they both seem like the artists have had a couple of great ideas that they couldn't quite get a whole song out of, so they've just mashed the two together and the result is just irresistible. "Window Bird" carries you along on a propulsive bass line and then, suddenly, the rug gets pulled out from under you. Evocative lyrics - a really good kiss is one where you forget that everyone is watching you, so I'll say no more. I have no idea what "Tristesse/Joie" is about, but you only need a little bit of French and one listen to the song to hear the "Sadness/Joy" split. I guess the truth is that I'm a sucker for electro pop - the wistful synth line, the squelchy bass line - it's very 1983, I think. And the great thing is that she pulls it off for nearly 6 minutes, thanks to a well-timed break about 3:45 in. Have you ever heard skipping turned into music? Here it is. I defy you to try not to dance. Impossible! (And a tip of the hat to Fluxblog for this one.)

4. Tegan and Sara - The Con - I've probably played So Jealous more than any other album in the last five years, at least, so needless to say I was eagerly anticipating Tegan and Sara's new album. Disappointed? Well, of course, but this song was fantastic - on a par with even the best cuts on So Jealous. All kinds of little melodic hooks glued together with that strange cross between anger and self-pity. And as screechy as their voices sounded at first, now they seem so expressive!

5. Zemfira - Мы разбиваемся - A big ballad, but I don't think you need to know Russian to appreciate it. The honest truth is that I kind of lost interest in Zemfira, well, about three albums ago. She seemed to have lost interest in writing melodies (a fairly typical problem, in my opinion, with a lot of Russian music, which seems to place more importance on lyrics, at least in "artistic" pop). But that doesn't mean I don't at least listen - she's still got tremendous presence as a performer and remains arguably the most Important performer on the pop scene. Listening to this song now, I realize what it reminds me of - Angels. Stately piano and vocals, then swooping strings and multi-tracked vocals, Beatle-esque horn flourishes. Epic. (And although nothing else on the album has jumped out at me like, this, it sounds good - you know that feeling when you feel like you'll find your way into something else later?)

6. Sonicflyer - Sun In My Pocket* - Ack! My buttons are being pushed! Not exactly a myspace hit, but here you have it, the much-hyped "unsigned band with an absolutely fantastic track." I heard it as part of a long-running blind listening experience earlier this year and it absolutely leapt out of my speakers. Echo-drenched Britpop, deceptively simple and immediately memorable. And just to nail the lid on the coffin, it turns out to be a girl from Siberia (who moved to London to rock! or so goes the PR).

7. Margaret Berger - Will You Remember Me Tomorrow?
[video artist=Margaret Berger]Will You Remember Me Tomorrow?[/video]
More poptimism! The truth is that the video is what got me here, although it's hard to imagine that the song alone wouldn't do it. Just wait until the bad appears about two minutes in. Stupid, mindless joy. Joy, I tell you.

8. The Aphrodisiacs - The Hour Is Late But Please Consider* - Okay, this one is really obscure. Another big hit from the League of Pop experience, although it snuck up on me a bit. Primarily indie-boy vocals over a drum machine, but the subtle instrumentation underneath builds momentum and tension, and when the weird, twisted guitar (synth? i can't tell) line breaks in, you're hooked. As usual, a handful of soundbite lyrics that seem pregnant with meaning, like a perfectly prepared piece of food that you'll never be able to eat, so your mouth is forever watering.

9. Girls Aloud - Teenage Dirtbag - I liked the original, I like this one, too. There's something exquisite about hearing these English girls singing "she lives on my block/And drives an IROC" - you realize how absolutely un-universal the American high school experience is.

10. Kylie Minogue - In My Arms - So for a few weeks or months this fall, I was quite convinced I was in love. In fact, I probably *was* in love, to the extent these things are hormonal and not entirely connected to reality. If you listen to the lyrics for more than a few seconds, I'll admit they're bog-standard, but I'm happy to let Kylie sing them to me. I haven't heard anything transcendental on the new album, but I'm enjoying it nonetheless.

11. Alicia Keys - No One - One of the fantastic things about this song, I noticed after about five listens, is that the lyrics could be for a very different song. Viz "In My Arms," at a certain point I started to think, "Hmm, maybe this is not one of those situations where the woman is just making sure I'm purposeful. Maybe I'm being a creepy pest (which is ironic, given that I've spent most of my life trying not to be a creepy pest." Read the lyrics - this could totally be some kind of stalker ballad. That's not why i like it, of course: I like it because Alicia's got a fantastic voice, and the chorusing blows her up to arena size (oh-HO oh-HO oh-HO oh-HO oh). P.S. Yes, she is gorgeous.

12. Beirut - Nantes
[video artist=Beirut]Nantes[/video]
Another one where the video got me. I'm not a big fan of Paris, but the romance in this is just overwhelming, in an every-day ordinary-guy way. Plus somebody's playing one of those stupid horns I played in junior high. (BTW, I liked this so much I bought the album - I tend to think of these things like political contributions nowadays, rather than product purchases.)

13. Charlotte Hatherley - Behave - I'm sure I had things to say about this when it came out, because I played it over and over. (Cool video, too.) Sounds very XTC-ish, I think, with its awkward riff and the lush pre-chorus (or is it actually the chorus?)

14. Bloc Party - Flux (JFK Remix) - A bit like Tegan and Sara, I was eagerly awaiting Bloc Party's follow-up to Silent Alarm. "Two More Years" was perfectly fine pop, but I was hoping for something more substantial from the album. A big disappointment - I don't think I have yet to pay attention to A Weekend in the City all the way through. Flux, on the other hand, is arresting. The JFK remix adds some housey pianos, in case you weren't clear about the track's dance intentions. The first time I heard it, I felt like stars were bleeding out of my ears.

15. Fall Out Boy - "The Take Over, The Breaks Over" - Despite the haircuts. What can I say?

16. Emma Pollock - Adrenaline - I know there are rabid fans of The Delgados out there, but to be honest, I first heard of them earlier this year. Or maybe earlier than that, but the name sounds like a roots rock or cowpunk band (a la The Del Fuegos), so frankly I never paid attention to them. Although I still think "Adrenaline" goes on for about two minutes longer than it should, it grabs hold from the first ELO piano chords and holds on for a good three minutes (despite the sudden tempo change).

17. Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb - Another band I never paid attention to until this year (why did I have them lumped in with the Chicago post-rock scene with Tortoise and The Sea and Cake?) I love the way they summon up Motown with the four-on-the-floor snare, vibraphone, and tambourine.

18. LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends / Someone Great. I was non-plussed by the first single, "North American Scum," until I read somewhere I was supposed to be paying attention to "All My Friends," and then later that even though everyone was raving about "All My Friends," the real gem was "Someone Great." Sometimes the hype is right. Who was it who wrote "You'll believe a hipster can cry?" Very poignant for those us in our thirties.

20. Sugababes- About You Now - With two-thirds of the original 'babes gone, I had resolutely decided to no longer pay attention to the group, especially as nothing on Taller in More Ways had any staying power for me. This track is very straightforward somehow (see "Better") but it's either masterfully crafted or a lucky stumble into the magic formula of pop. Awfully guitar-y for the 'babes, too.

21. Thomas/Mayer - Überwiesen
22. Gui Boratto - Beautiful Life - If I think about the big picture in 2007, the only real trend is that I listened to quite a lot of techno, all that Kompakt stuff, in no small part thanks to last.fm. I won't comment too much, for fear of flames by fans offended by my incorrect use of the proper subgenre, but these were easily two of my favorite tracks of the year - melodic and hypnotic.

23. Timbaland - The Way I Are - A late discovery. To be honest, I don't pay too much attention to Timbaland: I only need a limited about of bump--and-grind bravado music in my life, and I've heard Nelly and I've heard Justin and that's enough to keep me for a while. But this (and to a lesser extent, "Throw It On Me") is really fun - a cool little electro hook and exactly the kind of anti-"No Scrubs" lyrics that I should be repping for.

24. Imperial Teen - Everyone Wants To Know

25. The Early Years - So Far Gone*
[video artist=The Early Years]So Far Gone[/video]
Shoegaze!

Honorable Mentions: Róisín Murphy - Overpowered (good album why hasn't it stuck yet?), Of Montreal - Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse (enormously likeable, just so damn twee), Siobhan Donaghy - 12 Bar Acid Blues (a throwaway track, but interesting production)

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