Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Best of the only albums I bought this year

I'm in the midst of working on compiling a list for dane101 of my "top 5 Madison-related events of 2007" - and frankly, it's kicking my ass, so I've decided to pop out a much easier list while I otherwise let my brain decompress for a moment.

I've been bad about seeking out new music this year, so the following list is pretty much just the only albums I actually bought this year. All of them are great, though, so that helps. You can skip this list for my Winter Solstice celebration suggestion, if you're so inclined.

Emily's Albums of 2007 (in no particular order):

1. Tegan and Sara, "The Con"
A group that has shown consistent improvement and a willingness to try new things with each album, Tegan and Sara are also just plain fun (and adorable, what can I say). "The Con" manages to be both an indie pop, foot-tapping good time and a rhythmically unique, experimental opus. The title track is definitely the stand-out number, with an infectiously catchy melody, a smokin' hot bass line and soaring vocals. But the whole thing is definitely worth a listen. In fact, this is one of those records that you should play all the way through a few times before you're likely to really appreciate just how good it is.

2. Jesca Hoop, "Kismet"
I was first introduced to Jesca Hoop when she opened for the Ditty Bops. It was just her, a guitar and her incredibly unique vocal style. I once read a review from the New York Times that described her well: "Hoop is a striking, dark haired songwriter from Northern California who writes and sings twisty, sprawling, lyrically abstract songs featuring strange sonorities and offbeat rhythms. Her music sounds as is it comes from an imaginary country, and she sings in the accented English of someone from that country." I was smitten with her music from the first, and when she finally released her debut, fell-length album, "Kismet," I was extremely pleased to find that she'd maintained her quirky style even in a studio environment.

3. Chromeo, "Fancy Footwork"
Just plain fun. Harking back to the hey-day of synth-pop, with songs about winning over ladies and cutting a mean rug, this is simply music to get funky by. The title track is far and away the best one on the album, and there are a few misses, but mostly the record is a super-fun, only slightly tongue-in-cheek good time.

4. Tori Amos, "American Doll Posse"
Being that I've been listening to her music for years, I was tasked with writing a review of this album for dane101 back in May. Honestly, I was a little apprehensive--I'd been feeling like she'd lost some of her edge in the last few albums she put out, like she was coasting a bit. So it was with great appreciation and some relief that I first listened to and absolutely loved this album. You can read all about what I thought here.

5. The Ditty Bops, "Pack Rat" (EP)
I love this band. Their style of ragtime/vaudeville/swing/pop is incredibly catchy, fun and interesting, as are their always theatrical stage shows. For their summer 2006 tour, they rode their bicycles from one coast to the other, playing shows in between. For their tour this year, they raised awareness about sustainable and locally grown food and reducing our plastic usage, and they did this all without coming off as overly preachy. To support this most recent tour (and I love this because it's the opposite of what most bands do), they released this five song EP, printed it and made it available only at their live shows.

So that's it; I'm pretty sure those are the only new albums I bought this year. All of the recent best-of lists that have been cropping up have certainly reminded me how much of a slacker I've been, though, and I'm keen to get out and find some of this much-touted music for myself now. And to be a better audiophile in the coming year.

Winter Solstice Stuff!

I passed a sign along the road on my way to work this morning that announced a "Winter Solstice Bonfire" to be held this Friday evening at sunset in Olbrich Park. I think I'm definitely going to have to stop by and check this out. I loves me a good fire! Plus I've always enjoyed celebrating the solstice--and not even in a particularly wanna-be Wiccan sort of way. I just like the idea of marking the passage of the year, and of finding ways to bring light and fun to the middle of our often gloomy winters. Plus that whole dancing naked and sacrificing goats things is pretty appealing, too....


The CDP. said...

'Bona Fide Lovin' = Rad.

Emily said...

Heartily agreed. It's the "oh oh oh-oh's" that do it for me.

-Deb- said...

The bonfire is an annual event, and now in my second winter in Madison I've missed it both times. This year, I was at the Cafe Carpe to see Madison's Josh Harty and the Milwaukee-based musician Hayward Williams. (If you haven't heard Williams, and you like bluesy-folk, check him out, he's scary-good.) His "Another Sailor's Dream" is among my favorite 2007 releases.

My favorite CD of the year, by far, is the soundtrack to "Once." I heard Glen Hansard on NPR several months before the movie release, and when I started hearing it again with the early buzz for the movie, I really took to it. Still have a hard time wrestling it out of the CD player to make room for other stuff!

This year's releases from Over the Rhine, Patty Griffin, Kristin Hersh, Ryan Adams, and Steve Earle were also outstanding.


The Lost Albatross