Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

List Me Up

One of the super-funnest things about being a paid music writer was being asked to compile End of Year/Best Of lists. If serious music fandom is like being a sports junkie, then this is as close as we get to compiling stats.

I went a number of post-pro years just compiling said lists in my head. Then last year, the Gawker people opened up a new poll through their Idolator site, and bloggers were welcome. Hooray!

Just because someone who isn't me might possibly care (and because lists are fun!), below is the list I compiled for the 2007 Idolator poll (here is last year's), along with the comments I submitted:

Favorite Albums of 2007:
1. The National, Boxer
2. New Pornographers, Challengers
3. El-P, I'll Sleep When You're Dead
4. Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake, From the River to the Ocean
5. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
6. Erik Friedlander, Block Ice and Propane
7. Glenn Mercer, Wheels in Motion
8. Bottomless Pit, Hammer of the Gods
9. Okkervil River, The Stage Names
10. Chris Potter, Follow The Red Line - Live At The Village Vanguard

(The poll only allowed for 10 entries, but I also really really totally enjoyed Aesop Rock, None Shall Pass; Battles, s/t; Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha; Caribou, Andorra; Ron Carter, For Miles; Dalek, Abandoned Language; Tinariwen, Aman Iman)

Reissues:
1. Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth
2. Sebadoh, III
3. Miles Davis, The Complete On the Corner Sessions
4. Bongos, Drums Along the Hudson
5. Wedding Present, Complete Peel Sessions 1986-2004

Artists of the Year:
1. Bruce Springsteen
2. The National
3. Arcade Fire
4. New Pornographers
5. Chris Potter

It's hard to tell if it was the music or just me, but 2007 was a year for a deeper personal connection to new music than I've had in awhile. Especially with the Arcade Fire and The National records, there seemed to be something almost embarrassingly emotional in the air. It was hard, with many of these records, not to have that teenage feeling that these artists knew something important about me and were singing right into my ear.

Admittedly, a lot of it is just me: the missus and me moved to our Adult House, and a New Pornographers album about grown-up love, doubts and transitions hit me where I (now) live. Glenn Mercer and Bottomless Pit brought key sounds from my Prime Rocking Years back, older and wiser and a little sadder; Fred Anderson/Hamid Drake and Erik Friedlander mined very personal experiences for instrumental music of the highest emotional order. Similarly, El-P's I'll Sleep When You're Dead is, I think, a top-flight album, but I also acknowledge that it might simply be that it sounds and feels more like the pre-G Funk hip-hop that I thought had gone forever and left me behind.

While I still think The National are the story of the year band-wise, The Boss was undoubtedly back in the corner office in 2007. I found Magic to be a good (not great) record, but just like Dylan last year, Bruce was very much present, accessible and bringing it to the people. He got out in front of personal and political messages which had a weight of authority that a band like, say, Wilco can't begin to approximate. That he's also managed to become the latest Acceptable Indie Touchstone (in the style of Brian Wilson, Lou Reed, Neil Young, etc.) at around the same time makes Mr. New Jersey a solid contender for Mr. 2007.


Non-Poll Postscript - I am more than a little blown away to see how many things on this list I do not own as physical media. The truckloads of articles and blog posts about the dying/evolving record industry struck me as a bit of overkill, but the fact that I went the new/non-traditional route on so many of these (including my #1 fave album of the year) sings pretty loudly.

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