January 08, 2008

Tuning up

Well, every year I make a list of my favorite CDs; sometimes said list arrives fashionably late. After due deliberation seasoned with a few haphazard instances of saying "Eh, I don't know where to put this one exactly, I guess I'll just stick it in the teens somewhere," here's what I came up with for my top 25 of 2007:

1) Life in a Blender, "The Heart is a Small Balloon"
2) Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, "Raising Sand"
3) Deerhoof, "Friend Opportunity"
4) Andrew Bird, "Armchair Apocrypha"
5) The New Pornographers, "Challengers"
6) Laura Veirs, "Saltbreakers"
7) Georgie James, "Places"
8) The Bees, "Octopus"
9) Dirty Projectors, "Rise Above"
10) LCD Soundsystem, "Sound of Silver"
11) Battles, "Mirrored"
12) Richard Thompson, "Sweet Warrior"
13) The Golden Dogs, "Big Eye Little Eye"
14) Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, "Living With the Living"
15) Ethan Lipton, "Mr. Softy"
16) Radiohead, "In Rainbows"
17) Jens Lekman, "Night Falls Over Kortedala"
18) Travis Morrison, "All Y'All"
19) Paul McCartney, "Memory Almost Full"
20) Iron and Wine, "The Shepherd's Dog"
21) Suzanne Vega, "Beauty and Crime"
22) Philip Glass, "Monsters of Grace"
23) Joni Mitchell, "Shine"
24) Feist, "The Reminder"
25) His Name Is Alive, "Firefly Dragonfly" EP

Normally at this point I'd add short commentaries about the above CDs, but in the interest of getting this posted before the Earth's orbit collapses into the Sun, I decided that what I'd do instead is post about one CD a day (for approximate values of "day") until I get through all 25. So Heaneyland will be turning into an MP3 blog for about a month, which is no more random than any of the other kicks I go on around here, really. (MP3 links will last one week each.)

#1: Life in a Blender, "The Heart Is a Small Balloon".
What better way to boost my indie cred than by picking an album by a local band that most non-New Yorkers have never heard of for my #1 slot? But seriously, this is a great fucking CD. I've loved Life in a Blender from the first time I saw them, way back in the days of "Chicken Dance". Nowadays they're still funny but less overtly jokey, and their song arrangements have only gotten more and more killer over the years. Live is still the best way to get the full Blender experience, but you could do worse than to force yourself to listen to "The Sweet Things" and "Blood Is Worthless". (Click through for download links.) Buy the CD direct from the label here or go see Life in a Blender play in Brooklyn in February and buy a copy at the show.

As for other albums...

Honorable mention, AKA other CDs I liked but which I deemed unworthy for one petty reason or another, in no particular order:
Robert Wyatt, "Comicopera"; Animal Collective, "Strawberry Jam"; Junior Senior, "Hey Hey My My Yo Yo"; The White Stripes, "Icky Thump"; The Go! Team, "Proof of Youth"; Caribou, "Andorra"; David Garland, "Noise in You"; Amiina, "Kurr"; They Might Be Giants, "Cast Your Pod to the Wind" ("The Else" bonus disc); Dungen, "Tio Bitar"; Fountains of Wayne, "Traffic and Weather"; Apples in Stereo, "New Magnetic Wonder"; Rodrigo y Gabriela; Charlotte Gainsbourg, "5:55"; Rush, "Snakes and Arrows" (yes, Rush, shut up); Sophe Lux, "Waking the Mystic"; Marnie Stern, "In Advance of the Broken Arm"; Menomena, "Friend and Foe"; Of Montreal, "Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer".

Album that, if I could take the best songs from it and add them to the best songs from his previous album, we might be looking at top 25 material:
Prince, "Planet Earth"

I recognize that these are both good albums but somehow I'm just never in the mood to listen into them:
Modest Mouse, "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank"
Arcade Fire, "Neon Bible"

Kaiser Chiefs, "Yours Truly Angry Mob"
Bjork, "Volta"

Band I suddenly decided I needed to own a whole crapload of albums by, all because of "Surrender" being included in Guitar Hero II:
Cheap Trick

Oh, these CDs are actually from 2006? Crap:
Mates of State, "Bring It Back"
Imitation Electric Piano, "Blow It Up Burn It Down Kick It 'Til It Bleeds"
Alice Smith, "For Lovers, Dreamers, and Me" (Actually, let me give you another MP3 -- you should hear "Dream" from this album)

Hmm, this album was released in 2007 but it hasn't been released yet in the U.S., and I've only heard it because I downloaded it, but it's really good, and I swear I'll buy it when it comes out...but it better include some B-sides, goddammit:
Lucky Soul, "The Great Unwanted"

Back to 2006 -- how do I feel about last year's list?
Not bad. I think I'd retroactively scooch Belle & Sebastian up to #2 and Regina Spektor up to #4, and lose the Pipettes (I got kind of tired of their album after a while...Alice Smith can have their spot), but other than that, I'm still okay with it.

Pithy wrap-up:
I don't have one. More tomorrow.

Posted by Francis at 11:58 PM

But The Arcade Fire album's so good!

I agree that the Kaiser Chiefs album was disappointing, but about half the songs are still pretty decent. I keep coming back to "Learnt My Lesson Well." "Ruby" is a horrible Guitar Hero song though.

And no Spoon? What kind of hipster are you?

Posted by: The Dan at January 9, 2008 08:34 AM

I like the Arcade Fire album when I'm listening to it, but it slides off my brain, and I never just think, "You know what I want to hear? That Arcade Fire CD." Maybe if I make a point of listening to it more, next year I'll feel dumb for not including it. I like it better than the Modest Mouse album; this year may have been the point where Isaac Brock's voice started getting irritating to me. Musically, the album is great, but his voice gets to me and I end up turning the album off; the only way I get to the last song is if I start in the middle.

I probably should have bought the Spoon album. I did really like what I heard from MP3 blogs, especially "The Ghost of You Lingers", but the other Spoon albums I own haven't really ended up making a big impression on me.

Posted by: Francis at January 9, 2008 09:19 AM

I tried to like the Feist samples I heard on iTunes, but finally just gave up and bought "1, 2, 3, 4." I think she hits that same twee-soprano vibe as Regina Spektor, which drives me nuts. But I'm right there with you on the Richard Thompson and New Pornographers, and I just picked up the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss.

Posted by: Debby at January 9, 2008 08:00 PM

Awesome. Ethan Lipton edged out Radiohead.

Posted by: Tom at January 10, 2008 12:20 AM

Radiohead made the fatal error of not putting you in their video.

Posted by: Francis at January 10, 2008 12:31 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?