Harris's 2007 Year End Music Review
Best Albums of 2007
1. Paul McCartney: Memory Almost Full
Familiarity supposedly breeds contempt, but with Paul McCartney’s latest album, it’s only served to inspire further spins. Well, except for those last two songs. (Even after six months of listening, I’d still just as soon turn the record off after “House of Wax.”) But prior to that, the greatness of “Dance Tonight,” “Ever Present Past,” “Only Mama Knows,” and “Mr. Bellamy” easily warrants a #1 position from this longtime Macca supporter.
2. Fountains of Wayne: Traffic and Weather
No, it didn’t contain another “Stacey’s Mom,” but everyone figured that had just been a fluke hit anyway, so it was easy to set aside commercial expectations and just enjoy the pop songs.
3. Lily Allen: Alright, Still
Equal parts Nellie McKay, Madness and Robbie Williams, there’s way more bouncy pop fun to be had here than in a half-dozen Amy Winehouse records.
4. Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare
No sophomore slump here, friends. The second time around brings just as much enthusiasm and, thankfully, it’s accompanied by plenty of great music as well.
5. Silver Sun: Dad’s Weird Dream
One of the best, if most unheralded, power pop bands in Britain. Frontman James Broad writes ‘em short, sweet and catchy as hell.
6. Kalli: While the City Sleeps
Once of the Icelandic band Without Gravity, Kalli has moved on to greener pastures and gone the solo route, and his debut sounds like it was recorded by a-ha between 1990’s East of the Sun, West of the Moon and 1993’s Memorial Beach. That’s a good thing. Honest.
7. Colin Hay: Are You Lookin’ At Me?
He’ll probably never shift the same kind of units in his solo career as he did with Men at Work’s Business as Usual, but with these 12 songs, he proves he’s still one of the best songwriters in the biz.
8. Nick Lowe: At My Age
The Jesus of Cool emerges from another multi-year hiatus, singing as smooth as ever and providing another blend of originals and perfectly-chosen covers -- but I’m still grumpy that he wouldn’t give us an interview. I mean, seriously, what’s that about?
9. Brett Anderson: Brett Anderson
After re-teaming with his former bandmate, Bernard Butler, for their project as the Tears, onetime Suede frontman Brett Anderson finally goes it solo. It was worth the wait, but would you expect any less from a guy with a voice that smooth?
10. Cobra Starship: Viva la Cobra!
Blame my wife for this one. I like these guys, but she freaking loves them, which means that I’ve heard their new record more than I might have otherwise. The end result is the realization that, despite people’s lazy decision to write them off as “those ‘Snakes on a Plane’ guys,” they just want to have a good time, and their sophomore effort serves as the perfect soundtrack for others to do the same.
10 Great Songs from 2007 that don’t appear on any of the Top 10 Albums of 2007:
1. “Jenny,” The Click Five (Modern Minds and Pastimes)
It’s still a major, major disappointment that these guys parted ways with their original lead singer, but new guy or not, I lost track of how many spins this song got over the course of the year.
2. “Work to Do,” America (Here and Now)
The album was pretty good, but when producer Adam Schlesinger donated a song to the cause, it was verging on perfection.
3. “Friendly Fire,” Dash Rip Rock (Hee Haw Hell)
The album by these Southern-fried superstars suffered from too many between-song shenanigans, but there were still plenty of highlights to be found, including this one.
4. “I Still Remember,” Bloc Party (A Weekend in the City)
Neither a sophomore slump nor a full-fledged triumph, at least Bloc Party had enough moments on their second album – like, say, this track – to ensure that I’d be there next time around as well.
5. “Golden Heart,” Erasure (Light at the End of the World)
I’m still bummed that Clarke and Bell didn’t bring anything to this record from their Nashville experiences, but short of the Pet Shop Boys, there aren’t many other duos who do synth-pop this well.
6. “Same Blood,” The Academy Is… (Santi)
Apparently, the little girlies like the way the skinny lead singer shakes his skinny ass, but, personally, I’m in it for soaring choruses like this one.
7. “Cold World,” The Electric Soft Parade (No Need to be Downhearted)
Even if I wasn’t already a big fan of these guys, I’m such a sucker for piano pop that I’d have loved this song, anyway.
8. “Secret,” The Pierces (Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge)
Only sisters as hot as these two could get away with singing such a chilling line as, “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.”
9. “No Emotion,” Idlewild (Make Another World)
These guys have had some ups and downs, but this song has me pretty well convinced that they’re in the midst of the former at present.
10. “Tall Tales Taste Like Sour Grapes,” Fair to Midland (Fables from a Mayfly:
What I Tell You Three Times Is True)
There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of overblown pretentiousness, as long as it rocks, too.
Reissues of the Year:
1. Prefab Sprout: Steve McQueen: Deluxe Edition
Paddy MacAloon’s masterpiece – well, one of them, anyway – gets added (but not padded) with newly recorded acoustic versions of several tracks that only serve to show that brilliant music is truly timeless.
2. Anjani: Blue Alert
It’s barely a reissue, since it actually only came out in 2006, but since (A) I didn’t hear it then, and (B) I was totally blown away by it when I heard it this year, it had to make my list.
3. Electrafixion: Burned
There aren’t a lot of people who champion this as a highlight of the Ian McCulloch/Will Sergeant partnership, but to my ears, it’s the sound of two old friends reuniting and kicking musical ass with some seriously bad-ass guitar rock, which means that this reissue, featuring an entire second disc of bonus material, is sheer bliss.
4. The Wild Swans: Magnitude: The Sire Years
Yet another reason to love the folks who run Rhino Records over in the U.K. Paul Simpson and company provided two fantastic albums during their run on Sire Records, and now you can own both of them on this one wonderful set, which thoughtfully tacks on the B-sides from the era as well.
5. The Alan Parsons Project: Eye in the Sky
It’s more than just the title cut, I’ll have you know. It’s actually a pop-rock masterpiece of the early ‘80s, and this reissue adds bonus tracks, revealing how Parsons and company brought the whole thing together.
6. Dolly Parton: Jolene
Of the reissues by Miss Dolly that have emerged over the course of 2007, this one’s the one that’s the absolute must-own -- and not just because of the title track, although that’d certainly be quite enough to necessitate its inclusion in your country music collection.
7. Tiny Tim: Chameleon
Japanese label Zero Communications rescues a trio of the later works of Tiny Tim from obscurity, and this is the highlight of the bunch, featuring covers of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” “The Mickey Mouse Club March” and “Stayin’ Alive.”
8. Traveling Wilburys: The Traveling Wilburys Collection
Volume 1 is always going to be considered a stronger album than Volume 3, but being able to listen to them back to back within this collection shows that the supergroup’s sophomore effort wasn’t nearly as much of a slump as was perceived at the time.
9. Blondie: Eat to the Beat
Hard to believe I’d never heard this album until the emergence of this reissue, but since it comes with a bonus DVD of videos for every track, maybe it’s good that I stayed ignorant ‘til now.
10. George Jones: The Grand Tour
One of “No Show” Jones’s greatest albums finally shows up on shelves again, thanks to the little reissue label that could.
Best Reissue Label of 2007:
American Beat Records.
Given the current climate within the music industry, several folks here at Bullz-Eye are less than confident that American Beat will be here for the long haul, but it’s not because we are anything less than ecstatic with the various albums they’ve been putting back into print. But then, any music geek worth their salt can’t help but applaud a label willing to re-release records from John Anderson to Zebra, including material from David Johansen, Joe Ely, Joe Jackson, Chuck Berry and Graham Parker. God bless ‘em, that’s what I say.
Comedy Album of the Year:
Christopher Titus, The 5th Annual End of the World Tour
Whether his ABC series, “Big Shots,” ends up sticking around for the long haul or not, his musings on life, love, children and death (not necessarily in that order, you understand) are what he’ll be remembered for. Putting out a two-disc set might seem a trifle overblown on the surface, but the number of laughs will leave you disappointed that there’s no Disc Three.
Live Album of the Year:
The Raspberries, Live on Sunset Strip
Given how long it took for this reunion concert by the band to emerge (it was recorded a few years ago), there was reason to fear that it might be less than enthralling. Not so. They rocked in the ‘70s, and they’re still rockin’ in the new millennium. Guess this explains why they’re one of the most respected power pop bands of all time, huh?
Best 2006 Album I Didn’t Discover ‘Til 2007:
Lee Hazlewood, Cake or Death
It’s a crying shame that I didn’t investigate the work of the late Lee Hazlewood until after he’d already received a terminal cancer diagnosis. The resemblance to Warren Zevon’s The Wind was noted by many, and reasonably so, but Hazlewood’s last musical testament is just as worthy of critical acclaim.
2007 Album Which Probably Would’ve Made My Top 10 If I’d Had It Longer:
Cy Curnin, The Returning Sun
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the lead singer of the Fixx, and, yes, that’s present tense. (In fact, the band’s in the midst of preparing for a new album.) Once in a while, Curnin feels more comfortable releasing things under his own name. The music doesn’t sound dramatically different – Fixx guitarist Jamie West-Oram is in tow throughout most of the proceedings – but the lyrics are a little more personal. If you ever loved his band, though, the odds are that you’ll love Curnin’s latest solo work, too.