Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007's Best Of Year List

Well traditionally we revel in a little debauchery and make some New Years resolutions we don't keep. I've compiled a short list of some resolutions we can actually keep this year. Let's proceed.

This year, resolve to...

- Gain weight. At least 10 pounds.

- Exercise Less.

- Waste more time.

- Read Duly Consider more, especially Considerable Sounds. (Ok it's shameless self promotion)

- Watch more TV. You've been missing some good highly stimulating news and entertainment.

- Procrastinate more. Starting tomorrow.

- Spend more time at work.

- Buy (or download) the Mighty Parrot Band Cd. (Yeah it's more shameless self promotion)

- Take a vacation to someplace important: like, to see the largest ball of twine.

- Not jump off a cliff just because everyone else did.

- Eat out more.

- Not have eight children at once.

- Find a whole NEW rut to be in!

- Start being superstitious.

- Continue throwing objects at Bush and Cheney when they appear on television.

- Not bet against the Patriots.

- Speak in a monotone voice and use more monosyllabic words .

- Spend summer vacation in Cyberspace.

- Not eat cloned meat.

- Create loose ends.

- Get more toys.

- Get further in debt.

- Not believe politicians.

- Not drive a motorized vehicle across thin ice.

- Avoid airplanes that spontaneously drop from the sky.

- Stay off the International Space Station.

- Not swim with piranhas or sharks.

- Associate with even worse business clients.

- Spread out priorities beyond my ability to keep track of them.

- Wait around for opportunity to knock.

- Focus on the faults of others.

- Stop bothering about any of my own faults or shortcomings.

- Never bother making New Year's resolutions again.

You can assume any of Artists we have discussed here belong on the "Best Of" list.
But here are my choices for the "must have" releases for 2007- certainly there are many omissions but if I picked 10 favorites at this moment they would be...

1. Porcupine Tree- Fear Of A Blank Planet
This album functions as one continuous 50-minute cycle of music, and that the lyrics deal with fears that the younger generation is risking descent into intellectual torpor owing to their addiction to a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs, MTV, internet addiction and a banal culture of necessary instant gratification. Sonically, the six pieces are distinct and don't flow together the way Light of Day, Day of Darkness does. Catchy, melodic, dense, layered and painstakingly executed production, carefully constructed bass-lines and lush, intricate harmonies make this one of my favorite releases this year. Guest spots by Robert Fripp and Alex Liefson don't hurt either. Album of the year. Click the photo to see the video.




2. The Mars Volta- Amputechture

Surrounded as they are, in the modern music scene by a sea of watered-down corporate tripe, The Mars Volta have stood out since their formation for their artistic ambition, and their latest album, Amputechture, is no exception. All the prominent features of the previous CDs, De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute-the snaky guitar lines of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez; the frenetic, jazzy drumming of Jon Theodore; the instantly recognizable, ear-splitting wail of Cedric Bixler-Zavala; the fusion of styles and frequent inclusion of unusual instrumentation-are all very much in evidence. This is a must have CD!





3. Brad Paisley - 5th Gear
I know what your saying but before I get booed and hissed let me say that Brad is a virtuoso guitarist, an expert tone smith in all things plankey and spankey (that's telecaster speak), and a man who knows guitar gear as well as anyone on the planet. No I'm not a country music fan but let's not assume because a guy puts a cowboy hat on and sells a few CDs that he is not an excellent musician. Brad stands out in field populated by bad American Idol clones as an authentic traditionalist willing to create fresh new music rooted deeply in a time honored form. Anyone who appreciates masterful guitar playing will drop their jaw while enjoying this CD. One of the best this year. Enjoy the video for the song On Line.







4. Youssou N'Dour -Rokku Mi Rokka

Africa's most well known singer, a perennial favorite in my CD player trades in his usual percussive drive for a folksy intimacy as he explores the sounds of Senegal's desert north. N'Dour explores rootsy deep homeland blues, soul, hip-hop and traditional African styles. As always, killer pop hooks are delivered by one of the most inspiring and vital voices in pop music anywhere on the planet today.






5. Okkervil River -The Stage Names


Austin indie-rock trailblazers Okkervil River return with a literate accessible style of pop music. The Stage Names is chock full of dark humor with constant allusions to pop-music history. Melancholy, fragile, yet somehow also powerful singing by Will Sheff. Well recorded and arranged. A must have.





6. Osvaldo Golijov -
Oceana

One of the classical world's most important composers today presents a major work inspired by the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Yoruba mythology and world music. With engaging works for string quartet and string ensemble that borrow from Eastern European gypsy music, rock and other hard to pin down styles. The pieces are intimate and majestic simultaneously. The Kronos Quartet and Atlanta Symphony are in fine form as well. Gotta have it.




7. Robert Wyatt - Comicopera
Robert Wyatt is a rare breed, eloquent, voluble, mischievous and sincere. His music reflects this. A British national treasure, the 62 year old paraplegic drummer and singer has provided us with a veritable cornucopia of great music. Reconvening his own big band-- featuring friends Brian Eno, Paul Weller, and Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera-- for his first album in four years, Comicopera, is a slyly ambitious, dolefully funny three-sided concept suite, taking in alcoholism and aging, the continuing fiasco in the Middle East, the horror of world politics, and the consolations of the imagination. Best of all, though, is what we least expect from the longtime cult hero: "Just As You Are", a bittersweet duet, co-written with his wife, Alfie, and sublimely sung by Wyatt and Brazilian bossa nova queen Monica Vasconcelos. Must have!




8. James Blackshaw - The Cloud of Unknowing


The title is borrowed from a 14th century mystical Christian text primarily concerned with contemplative prayer. It's a name that suits fingerpicking guitar virtuoso James Blackshaw well, since it's not difficult to picture his work as a intuitive quest for the infinite. Using only his 12-string guitar and an occasional violin or glockenspiel, Blackshaw effortlessly reconciles various elements of Renaissance string music, UK folk, and 20th century composition. The album achieves a certain instinctive symmetry, as Blackshaw allows each of his numerous interlaced melodies to build with an exceptional patience. And though traces of dissonance lap at the edges, what's striking here is the profound elegance of the music's architecture. Blackshaw possesses stunning technical prowess and a resolute confidence in his contemplative vision.
John Fahey meets Steve Reich?






9. Annie Lennox - Songs of Mass Destruction



I have loved this woman's voice since the first time I heard it, and this is worth the 4 year wait.
Annie's songwriting improves with every outing as well. A must have CD.
The song "Sing" features the special guest vocal talents of CĂ©line Dion, Melissa Etheridge, Fergie, Beth Gibbons, Faith Hill, Angelique Kidjo, Beverley Knight, Gladys Knight, K.D. lang, Madonna, Sarah McLachlan, Beth Orton, Pink, Bonnie Raitt, Shakira, Shingai Shoniwa, Joss Stone, Sugababes, KT Tunstall & Martha Wainwright.
The album is also available as a 2 disc limited edition containing artist commentary, Dark Road video and more. Ecstasy on a disc.





10. Jacky Terrasson - Mirror

From the ethereal dissonance of the opening of Duke Ellington's Caravan I was hooked. Solo jazz piano is risky business. There is nothing to hide behind, the pianist is completely naked and each note is a fragile pillow cloud easily dissipated in a stray breeze. As we mourn the loss of one of the finest jazz pianists ever to grace the earth, (Oscar Peterson) perhaps we can take some solace in the formidable talents of the next generation of the genre. This offering has the percussive joy of McCoy Tyner and the elegant finesse of Dave Brubeck or Michael Camilo.
Among the standouts is Jacky's deconstruction of America The Beautiful and the technical tour de force with bebop right-hand lines over a powerful left-hand ostinato in the title tune. This is an uncompromising set with no effort to appease commercialism. Consider adding this to your list of favorites for this year.


HONORABLE MENTION

Randy Newman's Song Book- (solo piano versions of his songs reveal a remarkable talent!)
The intimate stark presentation of these wonderful songs is a must have.

Whut 4 - (Their filthy redo of "Sugar Sugar" alone is worth the admission price. It is a wonderful corruption of the sacharine toothache original. Whut4 is an alternative hard pop band from southern California. if you enjoy the music of Garbage, No Doubt, the YeahYeahYeahs, Evanescense, or Auf der Maur- you likely will also enjoy What 4. There are bits of metal, pop, techno, classical, folk, even some avant garde jazz on this disc.)


One of the best live shows of the year has added dates (click here to read my original article about them, ) if you haven't seen Keller Williams with the WMDs here is the new tour schedule:

01/16

EYECLOPS
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Fredericksburg, VA

Keller will open the doors to the public while the WMD'S warm up for their upcoming winter tour. They will rehearse their chops live on stage at Eyeclops in Keller's hometown of Fredericksburg. Tickets are available via Baseline Ticketing (please note there is a 2 ticket limit) and at Apple Music in Fredericksburg. Tickets will go fast so buy your tickets now for this special event!
PRICE: $25
TIMES:
doors 8:00pm / show 9:00pm
AGES: all ages


01/17

ORANGE PEEL
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Asheville, NC

PRICE: $21 / $23
TIMES:
doors 8:00pm / show 9:00pm
AGES: 18+


01/18

CITY HALL
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Nashville, TN

PRICE: $20 / $25
TIMES:
doors 8:00pm / show 9:00pm
AGES: 18+


01/19

THE PAGEANT
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

St Louis, MO

PRICE: $22.50
TIMES:
doors 7:00pm / show 8:00pm
AGES: all ages


01/20

THE BLUE NOTE
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Columbia, MO

PRICE: $20
TIMES:
doors 7:00pm / show 8:00pm
AGES: all ages


01/22

LIBERTY HALL
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Lawrence, KS

PRICE: $21
TIMES:
doors 7:00pm / show 8:00pm
AGES: all ages


01/23

GEORGE'S MAJESTIC
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Fayetteville, AR

PRICE: $23
TIMES:
doors 7:00pm / show 8:00pm
AGES: 18+


01/24

CAIN'S BALLROOM
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Tulsa, OK

PRICE: $19/$21
TIMES:
doors 8:00pm / show 9:00pm
AGES: all ages


01/25

HOUSE OF BLUES
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Dallas, TX

PRICE: $25
TIMES:
doors 7:00pm / show 8:00pm
AGES: all ages


01/26

LA ZONA ROSA
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Austin, TX

PRICE: $25
TIMES:
doors 7:00pm / show 8:00pm
AGES: all ages


01/29

EL REY THEATRE
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Albuquerque, NM

PRICE: $20 students / $22adv / $25dos
TIMES:
doors 7:00pm / show 8:00pm
AGES: all ages


01/30

SOLAR ROOM
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Taos, NM

PRICE: $20
TIMES:
doors 7:00pm / show 8:00pm
AGES: TBA


01/31

BELLY UP
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Aspen, CO

PRICE: $35/$38
TIMES:
doors 8:00pm / show 10:00pm
AGES: all ages


FEBRUARY 2008

02/01

BELLY UP
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Aspen, CO

PRICE: $35/$38
TIMES:
doors 8:00pm / show 10:00pm
AGES: all ages


02/02

FILLMORE AUDITORIUM
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe
with The Emmitt Nershi Band

Denver, CO

PRICE: $27.50/$30
TIMES:
doors 6:30pm / show 7:30pm
AGES: 16+


02/23

SUGARLOAF SKI RESORT
WMD'S - Williams, Moseley, Droll, Sipe

Carrabassett Valley, ME

PRICE: $22
TIMES:
doors 8:00pm / show 10:00pm
AGES: 21+


MARCH 2008

03/09

LANGERADO MUSIC FESTIVAL

Big Cypress, FL
On Sale 11/16
Langerado.com


PRICE: TBA
TIMES:
4:15pm
AGES: all ages




MAY 2008

05/23

DELFEST
Keller & The Keels

Cumberland, MD

Del McCoury Band, Vince Gill, Dierks Bentley, Keller Williams and The Keels, David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet feat. Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Punch Brothers feat. Chris Thile, Railroad Earth plus many more to be announced!
PRICE: TBA
TIMES:
TBA
AGES: all ages





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