Year-End Self-Loathing

What the hell happened this year?

In terms of music, 2007 was kind of like bowling with a child. It kept throwing gutter balls, and sometimes those balls even leapt into the next lane with a dull thud. But every once in a while the ball miraculously veered right or left and knocked down some pins, and it felt like maybe this year wouldn’t be eclipsed by the skin-numbing feel-goodness of that fucking Feist song.

Of course there were gender-specific exceptions. Nick Cave returned with a new (sort of) band, Grinderman, and album of the same name, a sucker punch of lusty, feral noise and tales of blue-balled middle-aged angst. Philly's Pissed Jeans hurled a debut, Hope for Men, onto our shoes, screaming about pizza, ice cream, Ford Explorers, and musing on what it is to be an adult male. Battles emerged a well-oiled machine and gave adult males between the ages of 25-35 a collective gearhead boner with Mirrored.

Alternately, Nick Cave's old flame PJ Harvey released her best album in years, White Chalk, by taking up with the piano, haunting her own skin, and creeping us all out with her ethered tales of loneliness and longing, often not for good things. Dallas songstress St. Vincent's debut, Marry Me, was a beautifully crafted Dear John letter that simply disappeared at the end of its 11 pop-noir songs, and M.I.A. managed to grind boys, guns, and bird flu into one of the year's most transcendent albums, Kala.

More great albums from 2007 that don’t involve a member of Broken Social Scene:
Akron/Family, Love Is Simple (Young God)
Lamps (In the Red)
Intelligence, Deuteronomy (In the Red)
Cass McCombs, Dropping the Writ (Domino)
Mika Miko, 666 EP (Post Present Medium)
R. Kelly, Double Up (Jive)
Project Pat, Walkin’ Bank Roll (Koch/Hypnotize Minds)
Jesu, Conqueror (Hydrahead)
Psychedelic Horseshit, Magic Flowers Droned (Siltbreeze)
Robert Wyatt, Comicopera (Domino)
Mark Sultan, Sultanic Verses (In the Red)
Silver Daggers, New High & Ord (Load)
Film School, Hideout (Beggars Banquet)

Best discovery of 2007 (that actually came out in 2006): Lizzy Mercier Descloux reissues
“Mutant disco” label Ze Records colorfully reissued a select few from the innovative Parisian singer and former rock journalist who died in 2004: the career-spanning Best Off, 1979’s angular art school gem Press Color, 1981’s Mambo Nassau, and 1983’s Zulu Rock. From the cover of Best Off – Descloux topless by the pool, dressed in a child’s feather headdress, smoking a roach – it’s indicative of the genre-skipping weirdness of her music. She spanned dance (pre-Madonna), reggae and dub, disco, funk, and French pop.

Her ear went South for her best album, Mambo Nassau. Recording in the Bahamas oiled and tanned the massive bassline funk of “Payola” - which features Descloux hiccuping, “It’s right here, right here! Pick it up!” - smoothed the funky “Slipped Disc” and softened the sublime French pop of “It’s You Sort Of.” Her career in the Eighties found her recording in South Africa, and finally settling back in France, but her early albums were something primal, sexual, and whimsical, the perfect place between underground and outer space.

WTF? of 2007: R. Kelly, Blue October

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More Year in Music
Extended Play '07
Extended Play '07
Off the Record scratches the surface

Austin Powell, Dec. 28, 2007

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Year in Music, Grinderman, PJ Harvey, St. Vincent, M.I.A., Pissed Jeans

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