Monday, July 23, 2007

A Down Year for Music?

It's been a year without masterpieces, the critical consensus moans. And the critical consensus is right. The Shins didn't change our lives, and Modest Mouse disappointed. Arcade Fire came through, sort of, and certainly didn't embarrass themselves. But nobody's released a certifiable 5-star album thus far in 2007, at least to my ears.

So has it been a disappointing year in music? Not at all. If no one has released a perfect album, many artists have come close. Here's a list of albums that are in 4- to 4.5 star territory for me, all of them released in the past seven months (or, in a few cases, about to be released). If I wouldn't take them to the mythical desert island, I'm still happy to have them near at hand, close to the CD player in the suburban den.

Panda Bear — Person Pitch
Frog Eyes — Tears of the Valedictorian
Devon Sproule — Keep the Silver Shined
Richard Thompson — Sweet Warrior
Arcade Fire — Neon Bible
Loudon Wainwright III — Strange Weirdos
Future Clouds and Radar — Future Clouds and Radar
Hallulujah the Hills — Collective Psychosis Begone
Antibalas — Security
The Clientele — God Save the Clientele
Graham Parker — Don’t Tell Columbus
The Weakerthans — Reunion Tour
Patty Griffin — Children Running Through
Wilco — Sky Blue Sky
Ryan Adams — Easy Tiger
Dungen — Tio Bitar
The Twilight Sad — Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters
Rickie Lee Jones — Sermon on Exposition Boulevard
Michelle Shocked — ToHeavenURide
Joe Henry — Civilians
Peter Case — Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John
The Mendoza Line — Thirty Year Low
Grinderman — Grinderman
John Reuben — Word of Mouth
Steve Earle — Washington Square Serenade
John Vanderslice — Emerald City
The Safes — Well, Well, Well
Damien Dempsey — To Hell or Barbados
The Broken West — I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On
Linda Thompson — Versatile Heart
The Bad Plus — Prog
The National — Boxer
Metric — Grow Up and Blow Away
Do Make Say Think — You, You’re a History in Rust
Pentangle — Now is the Time
Spencer Moore — Spencer Moore
Miranda Lambert — Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Galactic — From the Corner to the Block
Mavis Staples — We'll Never Turn Back
The Frames — The Cost
John Abercrombie — Third Quartet
The Avett Brothers — Emotionalism

And I'm still holding out hope for the new Radiohead and New Pornographers albums.


mg said...

glad to see The Frames on there.

you should check out the "ONCE" soundtrack. i can burn you a copy if you like.

Joel said...

Have you heard Spoon's new one yet? Not sure if you're a fan, but I'm enjoying it, even if it's not a big leap from Gimme Fiction.

I'm mostly just impressed with how many albums you've filtered into your ears the past seven months. Kudos.

Andy Whitman said...

I haven't heard the new Spoon album yet, Joel, which is why it isn't on the list. But if it's similar to "Gimme Fiction," I'm sure I'll like it very much. The track on the latest Paste sampler sounded great.

Re: the number of albums ... you have no idea. Those are the good ones. I couldn't even begin to list all the bad ones, the ones that have received a cursory five-minute overview, and, God forbid, the ones I've never played at all. There are a lot of them.

I'm not complaining. It's a nice problem to have. Until you start getting the emails and phone calls from the music publicists ...

Anonymous said...

...unfortunately not all of us are privy to advance copies of the new Weakerthans...sigh

jackscrow said...

I can't believe you left Tommy Womack's "There, I Said It" off the list.

Oh well. "Alpha Male and the Canine Mystery Blood" probably offended yer sensibilities.

Come on, "Florescent Light Blues"? It's my life, and probably yours....

Ryan said...

I realize that it isn't exactly the type of music you discuss and seem to enjoy, but have you heard LCD Soundsystem's Sounds of Silver? Yeah, it's easy to write off as some dance-punk 80s-copying, but the album is so much more than a collection of influences regurgitated into a collection of singles. The album coalesces in a way that's truly transcendent (start with "Someone Great" and "All My Friends").

scott said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Bruce and the "Sesions Band" (did Pete Seeger ask to have his name removed?) 2-CD Live in Dublin set.
A rollicking good time!

Unknown said...

Surprised you left off Peter Bjorn & John and especially surprised you're not into the National.