Medsker's 2007 Year End Music Review
This was a strange year for music. Either that, or it was just a strange year for me. The year saw releases from some of my all-time favorite bands…and nearly every one of them let me down. This is not to say the albums they made were bad; most were average to good (with the exception of one “Barbarella-named band, whom we’ll discuss later). The problem was they just weren’t good enough. This happens all the time, of course, and there are usually a ton of bands waiting in the wings to win my undying love. This year, however, there just weren’t that many albums that blew me away. Is music changing, or am I? A little of both, I suppose. I suppose this is what Grandpa Simpson meant when he used to be “with it,” but then they changed what “it” was. Now what his “with” isn’t “it,” and what’s “it” seems weird and scary to him. Then he points a bony finger at Homer and says, “It’ll happen to you.” Damn, don’t you hate it when old people are right like that?
Top albums of 2007
1. Lily Allen: Alright, Still
Nothing came remotely close to challenging this for my top spot. Smart, sassy and loaded with hooks, Alright, Still is the naughty older sister of Kylie Minogue’s recent output. “Alfie” is as bouncy as any song released this year, but look closer: it’s about her stoner brother who does nothing but play video games. Pimps and crack whores populate “LDN,” and skeezers of both sexes are the stars of “Knock ‘em Out.” This is one for the ages.
2. Mark Ronson: Version
Ronson, coincidentally enough, produced Lily Allen’s album. For his own effort, though, he mined white-boy British pop and gave it soul. Give him a Coldplay song, he’ll strip the vocals and give it horns. Sweet.
3. Derek Webb: The Ringing Bell
If the sparkling pop tunes on this record weren’t enough, Derek Webb is permanently in my cool book for putting the following in his liner notes: “I wholly support and encourage the free distribution and consumption of music. Please share this record.” At last, an artist who gets it.
4. Kaiser Chiefs: Yours Truly, Angry Mob
If you played “The Angry Mob” for an angry mob under the right circumstances, they would burn a city to the ground.
5. Motion Picture Soundtrack: Once
See the movie, then see if you’re not going straight to iTunes to download this the second the credits start rolling.
6. Silverchair: Young Modern
Mighty fine comeback for a band fronted by a guy who once dreamed he vomited dolphins.
7. Suzanne Vega: Beauty and Crime
There are some artists that I would love to see disappear for six years at a time. Vega should be forbidden by law from ever doing such a thing again.
8. Richard Hawley: Lady’s Bridge
Arctic Monkeys may have won the Mercury Prize battle, but Hawley wins the awesomeness war.
9. Silver Seas: High Society
Picture Jackson Browne covering “Jackie Wilson Said.” Pretty cool, huh? That’s just the first song on the album. Wait until they start riffing on the Beach Boys.
10. Junior Senior: Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
My favorite R&B album this year came from Danish white boys. Go figure.
Paul McCartney: Memory Almost Full
The Good, the Bad & the Queen: The Good, the Bad & the Queen
Chemical Brothers: We Are the Night
Amy Winehouse: Back to Black
Locksley: Don’t Make Me Wait
The Lodger: Grown-Ups
The Red Button: She’s About to Cross My Mind
My #2 album from 2006, finally released Stateside in 2007
The Feeling: Twelve Stops and Home
Not everyone mining ‘70s gold is stealing Zeppelin. Supertramp and 10cc, holla!
Most likely recorded her last album: Britney Spears or Amy Winehouse?
Album of the Year, Spoken Word Category
Patton Oswalt: Werewolves and Lollipops
The spirit of Bill Hicks is shining brightly down on Oswalt and his profane rants about sex, Republicans and the ridiculous concept of a 63-year-old woman giving birth.
Great songs from albums of, well, debatable merit
“Icky Thump,” White Stripes
This had Song of the Year written all over it before it crossed the 20-second mark. You just know Robert Plant hears this and mutters “fuck” to himself for a day and a half.
“Suburban Knights,” Hard-Fi
Heeeeeeey, whooooooooa, ahhhhhhhhh, indeed.
“Chelsea Dagger,” The Fratellis
Neck and neck with “Suburban Knights” for Stadium Chorus of the Year.
“Generator,” The Holloways
If only because the video was a friendly reminder that not all clowns are evil.
“Mic Tester,” Northern State
“So you got a sweat suit and you’re dripping in diamonds / Tell me, are you a rapper or a mom from Long Island?” Ahhhhhh hahahahahahahahahahaha! You tell ‘em, Hesta Prynn.
“Really That Bad,” Pipettes
Ironically, this didn’t even make the album. It’s from an EP released earlier this year, and it’s one of their best songs.
I once used the word insidious to describe the Holloways, but this song is even more insidiously catchy than anything on the Holloways’ album. For you parents looking for a way to wean your kids off the Wiggles and their ilk, try this, at your own risk.
“Walked Her Way Down,” Crowded House
In our 26-year relationship, this is the first time that Neil Finn made an album that made me think about breaking up with him. Thankfully, a few songs from the band’s reunion album won me back, and this is easily my favorite of the bunch.
“City Lights,” The View
Insanely hyped, then mysteriously buried. The record deserved something in between, but this song should be in any Anglophile’s iPod.
“Far Cry,” Rush
I took more grief for my review of this album (two e-mails, where usually I get none) than anything I’ve written since I ripped Elliott Smith for singing “Nothing’s gonna drag me down to a death that’s not worth cheating” and then killing himself a few years later. I stand by my opinion on both that and this.
“Flourescent Adolescent,” Arctic Monkeys
It’s tempting to smack ‘em in the gob when they get all cute and clever like that, but then you remember that there isn’t a band on the planet remotely like them. Bastards.
“Box Full o’ Honey,” Duran Duran
This song and maybe one other aside, Red Carpet Massacre was a tragic step backward from their previous album. Give up the Top 40 dream and start acting your age, gentlemen. Modern rock radio would take you back in a heartbeat. Just give them the chance.