Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The List 2007, Part 2: Special Albums and Singles/EPs

Special Albums (Live, Compilations, Splits, CD-Rs, MP3, etc.)

1. Original Soundtrack, “Once” – Those smart enough to pick up The Swell Season album last year would say that this is just a re-run, but those of us who have just discovered Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova would thank the movie for bringing attention to something so beautiful.

2. Sigur Ros, “Hvarf/Heim” – Not exactly a rerun, not exactly new, but a combo of new material and reworked numbers from the “Von” period, lovely as always.

3. Black Dice, “Load Blown” – They call this their dance singles compilation. I guess. These guys are nuts, but there are always nuts who could dance to a dangerous dose of Black Dice.

4. Susan Cowsill Band, “Live at Carrollton Station, Covered in Vinyl Vol. 1” – Anyone who heard the “Songs of the Century” tribute knows that Susan Cowsill can interpret a range of oldies like nobody’s business. This is proof.

5. Okkervil River, “Golden Opportunities Mix Tape” – A Christmas present, constituting free downloads of live covers the band performed on their 2007 tour, covering everyone from John Cale and Randy Newman to Serge Gainsbourg and Joni Mitchell.

6. Gang Gang Dance, “Retina Riddim” – Not as tight and compelling as their EP “Rawwar,” this has a DVD and a long single audio track to give a good overview on the weird mania that is Gang Gang Dance today.

7. Jackie-O Motherfucker, “Freaker Pipe” – An outstanding live set of performances, beautifully packaged in special card stock.

8. Charalambides, “Electricity Ghost” – Some scary session outtakes from a couple years ago.

9. Christina Carter and Pocahaunted, “Three Souls” split LP – Not sure why I rated this higher than her special solo piece below, maybe because the link with Pocahaunted was interesting.

10. Taurpis Tula, “Endless Alphabet of Light” – And while we’re on former members of Charalambides, how about calling out Heather Leigh Murray for the best art-object of the year.

11. Yellow Swans, “Deterioration Yellow Swans”

12. Yellow Swans and Burning Star Core, s/t

13. Yellow Swans, “Drowner Yellow Swans” – Filling out an amazing year for Gabe and Pete.

14. Patti Smith, “Twelve” – Sure, some of her covers of favorite 60s and 70s tunes don’t give us much over the originals, but this is a lot better than some critics claimed.

15. Heather Leigh Murray, “There’s A Brunette up in Tulsa That Cries for Me” – Maybe the most primitive and wild (and live) of her many releases this year.

16. Heather Leigh Murray, “Jailhouse Rock” – What with all her other Murray and Taurpis Tula releases, you wouldn’t want to miss this little freakout!

17. Various Artists, “I’m Not There” (Bob Dylan original soundtrack) – With two long discs of excellent interpretations of Dylan songs, there’s not much reason to complain, except that the vast expanse of indy-rocker artists is almost predictable in its breadth.

18. Sunburned Hand of the Man, “A Taste of Never”

19. Sunburned Hand of the Man, “Locked and Loaded”

20. Sunburned Hand of the Man, “Earth Do Eagles Do” – Check out my comments for their studio releases. Do the members of this band ever sleep?

21. Hototogisu, “Spooked Summer” – All live, all hushed and pretty and spooked.

22. Zaimph, “Emblem” – Marcia Bassett’s private release of the year.

23. Tom Carter, “Whispers Toward Infinity”

24. Tom Carter and Shawn McMillen, “Legless Mother and Spotted Lamb”

25. Christina Carter, “The Light Out” – The final three segments of the Charalambides enterprise, as usual expanding its experimental franchise another few million light years.

26. Starving Weirdos, “Sudden Fear” – Hard to classify this one, it’s a DVD of a Hitchcock movie, but with audio overdubbed with a Starving Weirdos concert. Unique, to say the least.

27. Leslie Keffer, s/t – The big news this year was Leslie’s “mainstream” LP release, but this strange little CDR from a live show spotlights her at her scariest.

28. Various Artists, “Control” original soundtrack – Just when you think you couldn’t deal with any more Joy Division rehashes, along comes a decent movie and covers of JD from the likes of The Killers. Cool.

29. Robert Pollard, “Crickets” (a Fading Captain collection) – True Guided by Voices fans have most of the songs on this two-disc collection already, but the sequencing is neat.

30. Ashtray Navigations, “Caeduceus and Black Sal”

31. Ashtray Navigations, “Throw Up in the Sky with Fine Clinking Magnets”

32. Ashtray Navigations, “Dirt Mummies”

33. Ashtray Navigations, “Running on Autokinetic” – The Phil Todd machine just never stops humming, but somehow no two Ashtray releases ever sound alike. Amazing.

34. Elliott Smith, “New Moon” – Everyone went gaga for a posthumous ES collection of B-sides, but somehow, most of this stuff seemed non-essential to me. Still, his memory is larger than life.

35. No-Neck Blues Band, “Roodemas”

36. No-Neck Blues Band, “Meets the Clear People with Mystery Gypped Live at Ken’s Electric Lake” – In an otherwise quiet year for NNCK, it’s nice to get both a strange religious ceremony CD of sorts, and a CD re-release of the “Ken’s Electric Lake” jam session.

37. GHQ, “Pale Summer” – A companion of sorts to Hototogisu’s “Spooked Summer,” featuring essentially the same people.

38. Michelle Shocked, “ToHeavenURide” -- Why is it so cool to forget about Michelle Shocked these days? This live set from 2003 Telluride is really very nice.

39. Arab Strap, “Ten Years of Tears” – This band is capable of so many great things, I was disappointed in this decade retrospective. A lot of it fell flat.

40. Sun City Girls, “Piasa, Devourer of Men”

41. Sun City Girls, “Juggernaut”

42. Sun City Girls, “Jack’s Creek”

43. Sun City Girls, “Dulce” – Now that the Girls are no more, let’s rejoice that the rare stuff is being re-released on CD for posterity.

44. Nellie McKay, “NPR Live”

45. New Pornographers, “NPR Live” – National Public Radio is preserving so many stunning live concerts on its web site, I can’t really mention them all, but these two were among 2007’s best. Thanks NPR, for the great resource!

46. Joy Division, “Unknown Pleasures (extended)”

47. Joy Division, “Closer (extended)”

48. Joy Division, “Still (extended)” – Because of the release of the movie “Control,” Factory Records did yet another remastering and re-release of the Big Three, including one live disc with each album. Good stuff, but let’s call a halt to more Joy Division reissues before we all drown.

Singles and EPs

1. Paul Baribeau, “Grand Ledge” – This doesn’t rank first place because it’s named for my hometown, but because I just discovered Paul Baribeau, and his songwriting is amazing.

2. Hot IQs, “Dangling Modifier” – Denver’s tight and perfect Hot IQs are back, hotter and smarter than ever, with an EP that grabs you and won’t let go.

3. Robert Pollard, “Silverfish Trivia” – As if his albums weren’t enough, this little EP was so unconventional with so many good things, I’d be remiss not to give it a thumbs up.

4. Interpol “Live” – A short taste of songs from the “Our Love” era, showing the band’s greater emotional range.

5. Gang Gang Dance, “Rawwar” – If you don’t understand what the GGD excitement is about, here’s the perfect place to find out.

6. Terra Naomi, “Say It’s Possible” – YouTube’s Cinderella had her moment in midsummer, playing this song in front of thousands at Wembley. But Island Records has elected to make a full-band version the primary single. Forget Side A, put on Side B and realize what a great lyricist and musician Terra Naomi is when the producers leave here alone.

7. Axolotl/Inca Ore split – Two of the biggest weirdos in the music biz do one 45-rpm record together. Touching and essential.

8. Yellow Swans/Devillock split

9. Yellow Swans/Robedoor split – Yes, any documentation of Yellow Swans is a necessary in your music collection.

10. Decemberists, “The Perfect Crime, Part 2” – Might be a dry spot of Colin Melloy and friends, so we’ll take this single as a stand-in for later.

11. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Is Is” – An EP written before the last album, with a short combination of songs proving that Karen O is not just a dumb flash in the pan.

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