Thursday, 10 January 2008

The Best of 2007 (Part 1)

Well, Unbelievably, yet another year has gone by. In these depressing times of real music being nudged out of the CD racks by reality TV show winners (AND losers!), it's heartening to know that good music is still out there… even if you do have to dig a bit deeper and search a bit harder to find it at times. This was going to be my Top 5 CDs of 2007, but I've had to bend the rules slightly, as I just couldn't quite narrow it down to 5! So it's gonna have to be my favourite 6 from last year.

Ash – Twilight of the Innocents (Released July 2007)
Ash are one of those band who, despite owning all of their albums, I always seem to forget how good they are - yet to date I have never been disappointed with any of their output (far from it). Last years release was the first since the departure of guitarist Charlotte Hatherley (after a 9 year stint), and Ash are once again back to the original trio that formed 16 years ago (YES, SIXTEEN!!!). They have an uncanny knack of producing sublime, beautiful and noisy tunes that are instantly memorable. In later years, sparing use of strings have been weaved into their distinctive sound to create their very own brand of anthems. This Cd shows the band are in top form at the moment, and contains some exceptional tunes, in particular Polaris and Twilight of the Innocents. Rave reviews all round, and many have said this is their best album since their debut, 1977. Probably the best thing about this album, was it re-igniting my passion for the band in general, and it instigated a spell of several weeks where I reacquainted myself with their earlier work, and in particular Meltdown, which for me is their finest (and nosiest!) album.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81 (Released April 2007)
When these guys hit the scene back in the late 90's, they completely blew me away. I saw them live quite a bit at the time, and each time was mesmerised by the intensity of their sound. Two fantastic albums were released (B.R.M.C and Take Them On, On Your Own) but then it all went wrong with the 3rd one, Howl - and odd folky\country kinda thing that was truly awful! I've continued to play those 1st 2 albums throughout, but to be honest, did not expect to be adding to them. Alarm bells were ringing the moment I learnt of the release of this album - but I'm delighted to report the boys are back on top, ear-splitting form. Howl was a blip, and the BRMC 'wall of noise' is back with a vengeance. A Strong album throughout, but if you really push me, best tracks might be Weapon of Choice and Not What You Wanted.

The Good, The Bad and The Queen - The Good, The Bad and The Queen (Released January 2007).

Damon Albarn has been treading the fine line between self indulgence and genuine genius for some time now, but I'm a firm believer that he has remained in the latter category throughout. You can't argue that he hasn't been involved in some pretty diverse project in recent years, and this album continued that trend. Billed (not by him) as a supergroup (as well as Albarn, the band includes Paul Simonon - The Clash, Tony Allen - Africa 70/Fela Kuti and Simon Tong - The Verve), expectations were high for this release. After an initial listen I was unconvinced, and started to think maybe he'd finally tipped the scales into self indulgence, but after a few more plays, it was one of the best things I'd heard from Damon in many a year. An eerie atmosphere is present throughout this album, and it does not make for 'easy' listening…. It is however, essential listening (in the Piley household at least!). As his 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' was a statement on Britain in 1993, so The Good, The Bad and The Queen is Damon's lecture about the London of now. It's a sobering album, and needs a little patience to get the best out of it, but it is well worth the time invested in it. Standout tracks? Hmm, again no fillers here, but you've got to go a long way to beat Kingdom of Doom or Herculean.

I'll post the final three in a few days time - in the meantime, let me know your musical highlights of 2007.



Anonymous said...

Interesting, looking forward to seeing the rest, wonder if it will include any of these, my top 5.

LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver. Finally, some dance music not aimed a pilled-up teens.Thought provoking dance music for adults.

Radiohead, In Rainbows. Well worth the wait. Easily the strongest Radiohead album since OK Computer.

Arcade Fire, Neon Bible. Ambitious, big album that completely delivers

Fountains of Wayne, Traffic & Weather. Great melodies, great stories, great album!

The Hours, Narcissus Road. Amazing album that delivers on every level. My album of the year.

Agree with you on the good, bad and queen by the way. Great album.


Mondo said...

My faves new and 'new to me' albums and tracks of 2007 are here if you fancy a peep

Anonymous said...

Can't help feeling my top 5 won't be on your playlist but here goes anyway;

The Wildhearts - 'kin' excellent
Ginger - Yoni, further confirmation of what a great songwriter Ginger is.
Ian Hunter - Shrunken Heads, More great songwriting and storytelling
Rush - Snakes and Arrows, Not to everyones taste but a return to writing songs instead of extended musical showpieces for the boys.
Status Quo - In Search of the Fourth Chord, How could I leave this out. Yes, I know it's not the 70's Quo and they're currently considered to be a laughing stock by many but I would have been happy to have written any of the songs on this album and they're still making a lot of people happy. Coincidentally, if it's 70s Quo you're after someone lent me a couple of cds by a band called Predatur this year, try giving them a listen.

One final mention. Funniest album I've heard all year is;
Howling Willie C*nt - World of Filth, This isn't for the faint hearted so make sure you check it out before playing it to the wife, kids or at the Vicar's tea party

E F RICE said...

BRMC was a relief I must admit Piley ! Weird but I never knew you liked Ash.

Anonymous said...

My musical highlight of 2007 was discovering The Decemberists.

Have a look at this clip, really shows a talented band daring to be a bit different and playing the crowd to perfection - its total performance :)

Just checking out LCD Soundsystem on you tube too - cheers Rob