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2007 Year End Best Of

 
 
Minion Name:
  PostLibyan  
         
     

2007 was a Year of Big Change for PostLibyan. I won't bore you with the personal details, let's just say that, theoretically, i should have more time to work on reviews for this site in 2008. (Brendan's Note: Woo-Hoo!) In looking back at the year, it seems as if i can divide the year up by what i was listening to most at that particular time. So, i give you, My List of 2007 Records of the Month.

 
         
 
January:
  Infinite Delay by Graboids.
In the South, January is cold and dark. Well, i guess it is more "cool, damp, and dark". I hate Daylight Savings Time with a passion -- getting up when it is still dark, then driving to work as the sun rises, working indoors in a windowsless room, then driving home as the sun sets -- it just gets depressing. Fortunately during January, i had the heavy metal meets post-rock sounds of Graboids to steer me through the darkness. This is a complex record that bears repeated listens. Plus, when they get going, they really rock! You can bang your head to this record, as you drive down the I-75 corridor in the dark. Heck yeah!
 
 
     
 
February:
  Raising Your Voice ... Trying to Stop an Echo by Hammock
February is also cool, damp, and dark, but mercifully it is short, unlike this third excursion from Tennessean post-rockers Hammock. Long a personal favorite act, this record really catches their sound in a way that is both epic and beautiful: a more introspective album for a short, depressing, and reflective month.
 
         
 
March:
  Gravity Has Expired by Ova Looven and
Impeccable Blahs by Say Hi to Your Mom
The month of March in dominated by South by SouthWest, which for all intents and purposes is the annual Hajj for serious indie rockers. The festival even divides the month into two convenient halves. March started out with Ova Looven, who do old-fashioned new wave with a modern electronica twist. This is a lovely EP, and i want to thank the band for sending me a promo. Very much appreciated, guys. You should check this out for some catchy tunes to remind you of the misspent 80s. And then, just after SXSW, i saw one of the Greatest Bands Ever: Say Hi to Your Mom. Tracers and i had laughed at the name when we saw it in the SXSW roster of performers, but it took returning home and witnessing them in the friendly comfort of The EARL for me to grasp them. Yes, i got this album towards the end of the month, but since then i have listened to it so many times that i know every song by heart, from the catchy pop of Blah Blah Blah, through the almost biographical Prefers Unhappy Endings, to the driving rocker The Angels and the Darlas. This is a great record through and through.
 
     

 

 
 
April:
  We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse
Johnny Marr and Isaac Brock create a team that cannot be beaten. This is as perfect of a pop record as i have heard in years.
 
     

 

 
 
May:
  Cryptograms and the Fluorescent Grey EP (on double vinyl) by Deerhunter
At the end of April Deerhunter played Lenny's, and i picked up this 2 record set from the thin Asian kid in the band, who thanked me for EvilSponge's long-term support of his band. I like Deerhunter because they do weird stuff. I remember taking a friend to see them at the old Lenny's location, and Bradford Cox spent the show crawling on the gross floor of the doublewide and screaming into a mic, while the thin Asian kid and one other guy sat on the floor of the stage twiddling lots of electronics. Aggressively weird, but still enjoyable. And who knew that these kids had a great record buried within them? Well, they did, and this is definitely worth a listen. I honestly wonder what Deerhunter will do next, and the fact that they keep me guessing is a good thing.
 
         
 
June:
  Dream On by Celestial
When i think of Scandinavia, i think of dark snowscapes and unbearable cold. Why is it, then, that Swedish artists record some of the most sunshiny pop music around? Is it because of the months of near constant dark where they yearn for the sun? Is there something inherently upbeat and positive about the Scandinavian temperament? Who knows, but this record with its blend of heavy distortion and catchy, toe-tapping melodies was the perfect accompaniment to the long, bright sunny days of June in Atlanta.
 
         
 
July:
  Answer Me by Parade and
Inventions for the New Season by Maserati
Parade are a young local band with a lot of promise. This EP features 5 beautiful songs. I continue to look forward to what Parade are going to do next. Non-Atlantans should keep their eyes on this band -- they will do good things, i predict. Maserati, on the other hand, have been slogging it out in the post-rock trenches for years. I have always found their music, and their rare live shows, to be worthwhile, but nothing prepared me for the majesty that is Inventions for the New Season. Maserati have progressed miles above their peers in the rhythm dominated post-rock scene, and this record continues to impress.
 
         
 
August:
  Beat the Devil by Beat the Devil and
The Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails
I picked up the Beat the Devil EP on the strength of a performance opening for The Rosebuds, and grew to love it. It is not a perfect EP; the recording really could have been better, but there is a passionate charm to their playing that is undeniable. Another band to watch out for in 2008. On the other hand, as an ethnic Cleve, i have long appreciated the work of my countryman Trent Reznor. This was a slow burner of a record, but there are some really brilliant things here. I like the way that Reznor builds up epic pop tunes that disintegrate into beat-driven industrial noise. Listen to The Great Destroyer loud on your stereo, and feel the depressed anger. Another fine outing.
 
         
 
September:
  Quicksand Memory by Ulrich Schnauss
Ulrich Schnauss is the future of dreampop. Robin Guthrie is the genre's Grandfather, its old master, and one of my personal heroes. Put the two together and you get a wonderful EP. This is a must-have for shoegazers.
 
         
 
October:
  You, You're a History in the Rust by Do Make Say Think and
Tanks and Recognizers by Lights Out Asia
October, when the evenings get cool and the days start to shorten, always seems to be a calm month to me, so my listening was dominated by two lovely post-rock records. Do Make Say Think, long-term personal faves, have returned with their best record in years. This is a fine outing, full of long post-rock jams and somewhat shorter exuberant indie rock tunes. It took me a while to get into this, but during October, this record just fit my mood and life perfectly. On the other hand we have Lights Out Asia, a band i had never heard off before. This record grabbed from the first listen. However, Brett Spaceman, having had the luxury of experiencing their first album, criticized the band for not growing. Well, this was my introduction, and i loved it. Perhaps in time this type of thing will grow stale, but so far it seems fresh and exciting to me. The best post-rock record of 2007, hands down, and there was a lot of competition for that title this year.
 
         
 
November:
  Read and Burn 03 by Wire and
Hideout by Film School
What can i say -- i love Wire. This year they gave me 4 new songs for my birthday. Thanks guys, it was one of the best presents i ever received. Couple this with a record that i picked this up on vacation in New York. I grew to really love Hideout. Film School are doing some of very interesting things, and they make a catchy record that fits right into the current post-punk revival.
 
         
 
December:
  Untrue by Burial and
An End Has a Start
by Editors
I picked up both of these records relatively recently, and both have really grabbed my attention. Burial has been getting tons of publicity, and even Malimus recommended this record to me. It has been a long time since an electronic record grabbed me like this. Really -- this is a fascinating haze of an album, blending trip-hop, dub, and IDM in new and interesting ways. Well worth checking out. Editors, on the other hand, are not doing anything new per se, but they do what they do exceedingly well. In fact, i would go so far as to say that at the moment, Editors are the flag-bearers for the revival that Interpol kick-started. Finally, we have a follow up worthy of Turn on the Bright Lights.
 
         
             Great Performances of 2007  
     

I live for those moments when some band, hammering away on stage, makes the rest of the universe seem irrelevant, as if what they are doing up there and the sounds they are making validates the rest of this sorry planet. Here are some examples from 2007, listed in chronological order, which appears to be my theme this year.

13 January: Mission of Burma at The EARL
Wondering when they will change their name to "Mission of Myanmar", these guys still can rock your socks off. If you have the chance to see them, do.

16 February: An Epic at Best at The Drunken Unicorn
An Epic at Best are a currently-on-hiatus, piano-driven, post-rock act from Athens. Watching them hammer out Carolina, a song of soaring beauty, is something to see.

10 March: Stinking Lizaveta at Lenny's
I had not really heard of this instrumental three-piece, but they came on stage at Lenny's with crazy hair and rocked the heck out of the club. They are a phenomenal live act.

15 March: The Horrors at SXSW
For a completely random act that Tracers chose just based on their name, The Horrors were rollicking good fun. I bet these guys would go over very well at Lenny's!

17 March: My Latest Novel at SXSW
One of my favorite new bands for 2006, i was very grateful for the chance to see them. And they delivered, in spades. This was a set of amazing beauty, but i have to say that seeing them perform Sister Sneaker, Sister Soul was so lovely it sent chills up my spine, as Tracers would say. I wish they could make the trek from Scotland more often...

24 March: Say Hi to Your Mom at The EARL
Bands with names that seem like in-jokes don't often work so well. (Gringo Starr, anyone?) However, this band makes silly, catchy songs that you just can't help but dance to. I fell in love with the band when they played She Just Happens to Date the Prince of Darkness, and will now recommend them to everyone i know.

12 April: Parts and Labor at The EARL
After catching a few songs at SXSW in 2005, i have long sought to see a full set by this act. I finally caught them, and they are doing some interesting things. A lot of their music is noisy, but there is a certain catchiness to them that is engaging.

14 June: Maserati at The EARL
I had not heard their epic new album by this point, but Maserati walked on stage, painfully late on a work night, as they always do, and filled The EARL with waves of rhythm. Their new drummer is amazing to watch.

23 June: Beat the Devil and The Rosebuds
Beat the Devil were a welcome surprise, a strange band with a tiny Indian woman working a harmonium and belting out music almost like a soul singer. The Rosebuds, now grown to a full band and not a duo, really impressed as well. The disco of their latest record came across wonderfully on stage. This was a night of silly dancing, and was much welcomed.

21 June: Jupiter Watts at A Capella Books
I was intrigued when Jupiter Watts told me that they were going to put on "an ambient show" in the middle of the afternoon at a book store in Little Five Points. Well, they managed to pull this off wonderfully. Their normally catchy, mid-tempoed indie pop tunes were slowed down, and the store echoed with reverberations of guitar, keys, and voice. I wish they would record their songs this way. I would love to listen to this stuff over and over again.

13 July: Canada during Corndogorama at Lenny's
An unknown two-cello band played a set of post-rock that incorporated the playfulness of Tilly and the Wall. Brilliant!

14 July: Winter Sounds during Corndogorama at Lenny's
A local act that i wasn't too familiar with, Winter Sounds rocked the middle of the day crowd at Corndogorama. This set was truly intense.

3 August: Parade, The Yum Yum Tree, and Club Awesome at Lenny's
Three local acts put on wonderful sets. Shows like this are why i and stand in dark, smoky clubs watching locals pound away at their guitars. Every once in a while, everything clicks. Tonight, all three bands were on, and it was a fun night.

7 September: Lay Down Mains and All Night Drug Prowling Wolves during The Other Sound Festival at The EARL
Just to keep your sanity, occasionally you need to see a punk band and just bounce up and down (pogo in your head, everyone!) like a fool. Lay Down Mains brought mid-80s hardcore, while All Night Drug Prowling Wolves played a more-melodic, Social D version of punk. Great stuff.

8 September: Novelift during The Other Sound Festival at Lenny's
At first i was intrigued by this Nashvillain band's odd gear, but it was the aching beauty of their songs that grabbed me. I remember standing there, entranced, as they played. A wonderful band that needs to come back on tour, soon and often.

9 September: Tenth to the Moon during The Other Sound Festival at The 11:11 Teahouse
This wasn't the best concert-going night ever, but Tenth to the Moon brought the noise. They tore into a tight set of crazy, deeply-rhythmic, no wave, and terrified the crowd by running around covered in paint. It was mayhem, but it was enjoyable mayhem.

21 September: Mahogany at The Bowery Ballroom
I was in New York on vacation, and went to see a show with a bunch of friends. All four bands put on enjoyable sets (the others being Soundpool, Elika, and Ulrich Schnauss), but Mahogany stole the show. I have been a fan for years, but they are not a productive band, nor do they tour. Traveling to see them was really the only way i could catch them in concert. And they delivered, playing music off of their latest record with passion and precision.

11 October: The Octopus Project at The Drunken Unicorn
For a crazy electroclash band that features, on many songs, lead Theremin, The Octopus Project do a remarkable job. Another band that i will see every time i have the chance. They never disappoint.

19 October: Film School at The EARL
I loved Hideout, and was really glad to see that they pulled it off live remarkably well. The band seemed to be having a lot of fun too, which really made this show stand out.

26 October: Great Northern at The EARL
I reviewed this show and their record, but i cannot state enough how lovely they were in concert. I will jump at any chance to see this band perform again.

9 November: The Pipettes at Vinyl
I love old girl-band pop, and Tracers took me to this show for my birthday. We saw The Pipettes at SXSW as well, but seeing them at Vinyl was really special. This music is simply fun, and well done at that.

7 December: Charles Walker and the Dynamites at The EARL
Local concert promoter Alex Weiss has been encouraging me to see Mr. Walker for a few years now, and i finally did catch a show. If you like that old rhythm and blues, this is a must see. Mr. Walker is a wonderful, dynamic performer, and his band does that old type of music remarkably well. I look forward to the next time he comes around on tour.

15 December: The Happenstance at The EARL
This is a local tradition -- Atlanta-area musicians team up to form random, temporary bands, and work all day to put together a set of songs. Some of them are great, and some of them are okay. This year's Happenstance was worth it just to see the otherwise serious and somber Michael Bradley cover Stayin' Alive.

 
         
     

Well, there you have it: 2007 told in chronological order from a musical perspective. Overall i say that this was a great year to be a music fan. Let's hope 2008 is as enjoyable.

 
         
 
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