↓ Download all ten songs Just like last year, though admittedly much less ambitious, I want to mark the passing of another year of with my thoughts on the most distinguished artists and albums of 2007 (according to me), and give you a song from each one to take with you.
If there’s one common theme in this disparate mix, it’s a delicate balance between such lush and abundant instrumentation and a sparse and minimal sound. As I’m fond of saying, it’s the space in between that’s most interesting, and that’s clearly the case in these ten songs, listed below in alphabetical order. Enjoy!
Animal Collective · Strawberry Jam · Unsolved Mysteries
I would have never known about AC if not for my brother Kevin — he was the first to suggest Sung Tongs and Feels and even sent me some pre-release mp3s from Strawberry Jam. While I liked songs from the first two, SJ was so dense (and unbelievably tense) that I found it difficult to listen to in the very beginning. But again, on his recommendation, I bought tickets to see them live and then also began to listen to SJ more intently, often for days on end, as the show approached. It’s safe to say I was absolutely blown away by their show (see my pictures and my videos from it) and now I’m completely hooked on the album in its entirety. Definitely at the top of my list for 2007.
Battles · Mirrored · Tonto
Warp heavily promoted the new BTTLS album for a number of months, but it never really caught me the way it seemed to hook everyone else. My good friend Andrew ‘Japandy’ Tweed insisted I take a second look, and I did to my great delight. I wrote about both of their incredible videos, and was lucky enough to see them live not so long ago in San Francisco (need to upload that video to YouTube, it’s amazing). I have yet to see anyone or anything play with such pace, precision, and passion; the only way I can describe it is to say that I can’t listen to their incredible album anymore: it’s too slow, too lifeless (that’s a preposterous thing to say, btw). I was exhausted at the end of their show and (still) incredibly inspired by the whole thing.
Beans · Thorns · We Rock
I came to follow Beans when Warp signed Anti-Pop Consortium (apparently soon to be reunited, thankfully). Most hip-hop bores me — even though I would listen to nothing but hip-hop if there were more artists like Beans — instead I often find nothing but unimaginative rhythms and even more mindless lyrics. I loved many songs on Tomorrow Right Now and even more on Shock City Maverick, so I eagerly awaited Thorns. After hearing Thundermouth for the first time, I thought it would be near impossible to top that track, but he did it with We Rock. Show me someone, anyone, who rocks it harder than Beans — it can’t be done.
Björk · Volta · I See Who You Are
Abby absolutely loves Björk, and while I do too, it’s not with the same intensity. I was definitely excited to see her show this summer, but after having seen her on the Vespertine tour before, I wasn’t expecting such an intense and high energy show. This song is equally intense, even though it’s much more sedate. I love the delicate instrumentation on this track and her beautiful lyrics, it’s yet another exquisite collaboration with Mark Bell (LFO). Tops.
Burial · Untrue · Archangel
The reviews on Warpmart practically begged me to buy it, but the lo-fi samples on bleep sounded flat and uninspired. I debated it for several weeks, but finally gave in and bought the album just to hear it for myself. I was immediately taken by it, no doubt egged on by my then new Shure SE530 headphones (such a guilty pleasure, but damn worth it — find ‘em new on eBay, they’re way cheaper there). This album is incredible, infinitely complex and yet just right there where it should be. I find new twists and turns every time I play it. If you haven’t heard it, you owe it to yourself to get it. btw, Abby’s first impression: “It sounds like Jamie Lidell meets Boyz II Men meets Autechre”. Yep, classic.
Flying Lotus · Reset EP · Dance Floor Stalker
When the news of his signing to Warp hit, I immediately went searching for his prior release 1983 on Plug Research. It’s an epic instrumental effort, notable for its brief but incredibly thick and dense tracks. I was immediately hooked and kept it in heavy rotation on my peaPod this past summer. Luckily, the Reset EP is all of that and a whole lot more. I played this six-track EP over and over without ever tiring of it. The bass is monstrous, the beats are genius, and the flow is absolutely out of this world. FlyLo deserves his place on Warp’s legendary roster, I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
Matthew Dear · Asa Breed · Don and Sherri
I almost left this one off, as much as I love this album and listened to it non-stop for a month straight. I saw his show in San Francisco this fall, and well, to put it kindly… It sucked. Ass. The crowd was sparse, poor promotion perhaps, but he failed to connect with it, preferring instead to plod along with his pre-canned rockstar shtick. The highlight of the show was the next to last song, the epic Don and Sherri, also known as that sick track on the Hummer commercial. Even with the goofy lyrics, this track makes me want to shake my booty. I still love the album, in spite of the awful show. I do believe he will learn so much from this tour, and I expect to see a better show next time. I still believe!
Radiohead · In Rainbows · Bodysnatchers
Yes, I whined about the 160kbps thing, impugned their motives, and generally disparaged In Rainbows in the very beginning. But the more I listened to it, the more I came to see that the music on this album is as revolutionary as all that surrounds its internet-only release. No one makes music like Radiohead, and Bodysnatchers in particular has my head bouncing from side to side the moment it comes on. But nothing, nothing tops the breakdown shortly after the two minute mark, and the way it builds back into the first part of the song just makes me want to play it all over again. And again. And again. I absolutely love this track.
Sky Observer · Sky Observer’s Guide 070707 · Skyway Drive
“Space, space, space.” It’s true, Stewart Brown and I go way, way back, and I played a small part in getting this release out to the world, but that has so little to do with how strongly I feel about it. At once timeless and yet clearly of this very moment, Brown succeeded in capturing the dichotomy of his youthful, irreverent energy and his measured, masterful touch. With no hesitation whatsoever, I predict that years from now people will love this effort the way they love Boards of Canada’s In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country, as an old friend indeed. Listen to the other four songs for free at FORKLIFT ENTERTAINMENT.
The Tuss · Rushup Edge · Synthacon 9
C’mon, we all know it’s Aphex Twin. And it’s without a doubt the most magnificent track ever created.
Late update: Here’s a pic of Sawyer helping me write this post: