Now that I've updated my new release posts through the first half of 2007, I can recap my favorite releases of the year.
Tune into Sinking With Sylvia on Little Radio Thursday morning from 11AM - 1PM Pacific Standard Time. I'm too busy with work, but she'll be playing a bunch of my favorite tracks off of these records.
Blonde Redhead: 23 (4AD) – These guys rarely disappoint. My favorite noise pop band for the past 10 years or so. Letter grade A-. They're a great live band too. See them at the Sunset Junction on 8/18.
Wilco: Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch) - When it came out, I gave it a letter grade of A-. If you're a longtime Wilco fan, there's absolutely no reason not to like it. See them at the Greek on 8/29.
Arcade Fire: Neon Bible (Merge) – When it came out I gave it a letter grade of A-. I recommend not reading anything about them. WIn Butler's becoming the Michael Stipe (read: self important and humorless) of the 00s. The album works best when listened to in its entirety. See them at the Bowl on 9/20.
The Shins: Wincing the Night Away (Sub Pop) – A consistently great band. Just because your mom likes them now doesn't mean you have to turn your back on them. Download “Phantom Limb” Letter Grade: A-
Peter Bjorn and John: Writer’s Block (Almost Gold) – Believe it or not, this was released domestically in 2007. A lot of you guys probably had it on your list last year. We're all way burnt out on "Young Folks" but that's not the only great song. I stand by my letter grade of A-. Not a great live band, but still worth seeing at the Fonda on 7/31.
Dr. Dog: We All Belong (Park the Van Records) – I wasn't familiar with these guys when it came out. They're one of those bands that musicians really respect and snobs like PItchfork and Stylus dismiss. Just great Beatles-esque pop. Letter grade: A-. See them at the Echo on 7/12.
A Band of Bees: Octopus (Astralwerks) - I gave this one a letter grade of B+ when it came out. They're so eclectic. If you're into spotting references in music, you can have fun with these guys because they're students of music history.
Richard Swift: Dressed Up for the Letdown (Secretly Canadian) – I didn't rate this one at the time, because I wasn't too familiar with him. He's definitely got an early solo McCartney vibe which I fully appreciate. Letter grade B+. See him opening for Wilco at the Greek on 8/29. Download “Kisses for the Misses”
The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse (Jagjaguwar) – I didn't rate this one when it came out, but I'd give it a B+ today. Kind of like a weird combination of Low and My Morning Jacket. They were great when I saw them at the Echo. Download “And You Lied to Me”
The Earlies: The Enemy Chorus (Secretly Canadian) – It's the political record of the year. Great headphone music too. Download “No Love In Your Heart” Letter Grade: B+. I wish they'd play the States.
The Broken West: I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On (Merge) – One of my favorite local bands and great guys too. If you like power pop at all, pick this one up. Letter Grade: B+. They've toured with the Walkmen, Fountains of Wayne and the National and they're playing the Monollith and Austin City Limits fest in September.
David Vandervelde: The Moonstation House Band (Secretly Canadian) – I heard he was just a Marc Bolan ripoff artist, so I didn't rate it at the time. I'm glad I gave it another shot, because while he does like Bolan, he's really good in his own right. Letter grade B+. See him at Spaceland this Friday 7/13. Download “Jacket”
Menomena: Friend and Foe (Barsuk) – I didn't rate this one at the time either. Really good, and experimental but accesible. They're ambitious and will probably keep popping out better and better records. Letter grade B+. Download “Wet and Rusting”
Voxtrot: Voxtrot (Beggars/PlayLouder) – They're EPs were just so dam good that everybody was disappointed with this one. But I just keep listening to it. Letter Grade: B
Just missed: Dungen: Tio Bitar; The Minor Canon: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished; Low: Drums & Guns; Albert Hammond Jr.: Yours to Keep; The Clientele: God Save the Clientele; El-P: I'll Sleep When You're Dead
Stuff that finally saw daylight that's worth picking up:
Neil Young: Live at Massey Hall (Reprise) – This is a great live show with Neil at his peak period creatively. Letter Grade: A-
Elliott Smith: New Moon (Kill Rock Stars) – It's really hard for me to listen to the guy anymore, but this is some great material from his peak period. Download “High Times” Letter grade: B+