Flucke's 2007 Year End Music Review
My top 10's a top 12, because soundtracks and live albums are illegal, according to "the rules." So I sneaked them in by greasing the skids with some bonus picks.
Best Albums of 2007
1. Gore Gore Girls: Get the Gore
This snarly girl group from Detroit has nothing to do with horror movies or the former veep from Tennessee. Sorta cousins to the White Stripes, these gals won't take no crap from you, and they also care nothing that their music sounds like a circa-1964 biker-flick soundtrack with Riot Grrrrl lyrics. Just enough attitude and vintage fuzz to sound like perfection.
2. White Stripes: Icky Thump
Jack White can do no wrong. Okay, he can do a lot wrong. He can beat the Von Bondies half to death. He can pull a fast one with the "Meg's my sister" act, in an age when frauds are pilloried from "Oprah" all the way to the political stump. But he's one heck of a musician, composer and force on the current musical landscape that relies far too often on a cardboard cutout of a half-baked boy toy fronting a lip-synched stew of electronic sound. Jack and Meg's retro-Zep country blues put Detroit back on the map a decade ago, following the tracks of Iggy and the Stooges, and 2007 finds them strong as ever. The title cut is perhaps the duo's crowning sonic achievement to date.
3. Wilco: Sky Blue Sky
Jeff Tweedy & Co. should be appreciated like a fine vintage port: sipped quietly at the end of the day. Refined and smooth, contemplative and ethereal, the latest record from the ultimate under-the-radar band (at least in terms of the Billboard charts) is more of the same high-quality tuneage that longtime fans have come to adore. Don't like it as much as the last few Wilco releases? Give it time, and more listens, and it will grow on you.
4. Neil Young: Live At Massey Hall 1971 and Live at the Fillmore East
Long-awaited issues of seminal live performances when Young was at his absolute peak are so worth the wait. Massey finds Neil solo on guitar and piano; Fillmore is with Crazy Horse. The sound is far better than it has any right to be, considering they're crusty old live tapes. The performances represent some of the most inspired evenings in rock history. Enough said.
5. Various Artists: Superbad Soundtrack
Lyle Workman created a ton of beautiful 1970s-style original funk the right way: By getting original funk players like Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell in the studio and jamming out with them. Yeah, my Bullz-Eye editors tell me this record's technically illegal in the “Best Of” list because it's got a few old funk songs sandwiched in between the great new tunes. But they don't hand out no doctorates in curmudgeonly music crit by conforming to editors' steenkin' rules, grammar or otherwise!
6. Dumpstaphunk: Listen Hear
The debut EP from Ivan Neville's Crescent City metallic hard-funk is raw yet circumspect. The New Orleans music scene will never be the same after Katrina, and this group's outlook represents the city's edgy restlessness as well as its resolve to keep on keepin' on despite getting the shaft from Washington.
7. Queers: Munki Brain
New Hampshire's finest indie punk band keeps on keepin' on, this time unabashedly singing a tribute to their muse (surprise!) Brian Wilson. They're older, a bit more contemplative, but make no mistake, they're still punks at heart, shown most notably with the anti-Bush rant "Monkey in a Suit."
8. Pretty Things: Balboa Island
Back in the day – the early 1960s – these dudes were known as being badder than the Stones. In fact, members of the Pretty Things played with Mick and Keith in the pre-Stones Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, and while some people would have us believe that Mick and Keith were destined for bigger things, conspiracy theorists might offer an alternative story: They were too wimpy to run with the Pretty Things. At any rate, these original British blues bad boys are still pumping out their rawwwk, and it's raw as ever.
9. Lee Rocker: Black Cat Bone
This record isn't just solid 1950s-style rockabilly blues like we'd expect from a Stray Cat, but it's also a testament to the philosophy of Alligator Records' founder Bruce Iglauer. Sure, he rescued a lot of great Chicago bluesmen from the trash heap in the 1970s when Americans just didn't care, giving them a home and inspiring them to create great electric blues. Then he gave a home to worthy new artists like L'il Ed & The Blues Imperials and lately, Shemekia Copeland. But he also takes chances once in a while on something a little different: this record not only sounds great but also probably opens up Rocker's work to a whole new audience that wouldn't have had a chance to enjoy it. Great stuff.
10. Junior Senior: Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
There's no-no-no conceivable reason why this rec-rec-record belongs in anyone's Top 10. Except that once it's played, the music of this cheesy-fake juvenile Euro-hip-hop group worms its way under your cuticles. And. Won't. Go. Away. Even if you get the prescription antifungals and follow the directions on the package faithfully for the three-week cycle. Investigate at your own peril!
11. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: 100 Days and 100 Nights
Oooh, my soul. Memphis style music that could have been woven by Booker T at the Temple of Stax. If it hadn't been so recently brought to my attention, it might have hit the top three on this list. As it stands, this record is the white-hottest play on iTunes at Chateau de la Flucke.
12. Robert Plant and Allison Krauss: Raising Sand
Take two great vocalists, give them tunes and production in the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack mode, and it makes a great, primitive record for grownups. If you're looking for "Communication Breakdown," stay away from this. If you like Krauss or Mighty Rearranger, this record will hit the spot.