Observant’s Favorite Things – 2007

As promised, Observant will now list her Best of 2007 CD (I just know you’ve all been holding your breath, waiting for this!)  There were so many wonderful new CD’s released in 2007 (contrary to what some of the other so-called experts have said about the preceding year’s music selection).  I found a lot to like, and my wallet can attest mightily to that fact.

10.  Guggenheim Grotto: Waltzing Alone –  This 3-member folk/pop band from Dublin sounds like CSN at times.  Great harmonies all around; check out Philosophia and Vertigo.

9.  KT Tunstall: Drastic Fantastic – Album cover aside (one of the worst I’ve seen), this is a nice, solid followup to Eye to the Telescope.  Little Favours got 4 stars from me. 

8.  Rilo Kiley: Under the Blacklight – Jenny Lewis’ band is back with a new release, after taking a break to record with Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.  Favorite track is Close Call.

7.  Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrphya – I feel all floaty and melancholy when I listen to Andrew Bird (his voice sometimes reminds me of Rufus Wainwright’s), and this new album doesn’t disappoint the emo in me.  Very good for those gloomy Mondays when all you want to do is pull the covers over your head and suck on a bottle of Wild Turkey.

6.  The Decemberists:  The Crane Wife  – I know, I know. This album is supposed to represent The Decemberist’s selling out to a more corporate sound, but I don’t buy that.  Accessible? Yes, but also very smart and dark enough for my tastes.  Take Shankill Butchers, for instance:

The Shankill butchers ride tonight
You better shut your windows tight
They’re sharpening their cleavers and their knives
And taking all their whisky by the pint

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about; all killing and maiming and shit.

5.  Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare – Very nice sophomore album by this band from Sheffield, England.  Lots of great tracks on this one (Fluorescent Adolescent, Teddy Picker, 505, Old Yellow Bricks, etc).  Love, love, love Alex Turner’s Yorkshire accent.

4.  Silversun Pickups: Carnavas – OK, it’s officially a 2006 release, but this just hit my radar screen last summer.  Absolutely cannot get enough of Lazy Eye or Rusted Wheel, but the voice….the voice will freak you out once you realize it’s a man’s voice. 

3.  Yeasayer:  All Hour Cymbals – OK, I just discovered this band the other day but I was an instant convert after hearing Sunrise, the first track on the album.  This is a post-modern-middle-eastern-meets-dreampop-meets-electronica mashup that appeals to the old hippie chick in me.  Also check out 2080.  The album kind of drags about midway, but a few more listens will probably cure that.

2.  The Kooks: Inside In/Inside Out – OK, officially another late-2006 release, but again, it just hit my radar.  Like Silversun’s Lazy Eye, the Kook’s song OohLa cannot be played too much on Observant’s IPod.   Great, upbeat pop hook that will make you wish you were 20 and single again (oh to have that kind of energy!).

1.  The Shins: Wincing the Night Away – This was Observant’s most highly anticipated album of the year, and it did not disappoint.  Phantom Limb is superb.  Oh, and Australia.  And Sleeping Lessons.  And Split Needles, and Red Rabbits…  Oh fuck, just buy the album.

Disappointments:  Two of my very favorite artists released albums this year that were just sub-par, in my opinion.  Definitely not up to the caliber I’m used to from them…

Lucinda Williams: West– Girlfriend’s lyrics are just downright bad and the music is monotonous and uninspiring.    The first song, Are You Alright? would be a prime example of the kind of dreck found on the rest of this awful mess:

Are you all right?
All of a sudden you went away
Are you all right?
I hope you come back around someday.
Are you all right?
I haven’t seen you in a real long time
Are you all right?
Could you give me some kind of sign?
Are you all right?
I looked around me and you were gone.
Are you all right?
I feel like there must be something wrong
Are you all right?
Cause it seems like you disappeared
Are you all right?
Cause I’ve been feeling a little scared
Are you all right?

No Lucinda,  I am not alright.  I am fucking bored.

Mark Knopfler: Kill to Get Crimson – Same complaint – bad lyrics coupled with boring, monotonous melodies.  The first track, True Love Will Never Fade starts with Knopfler singing those five words over and over and over about a bazillion times.  He then ends the song singing those 5 words over and over and over a bazillion more times.    I admit I have not listened to the entire album, but I just can’t stay awake past the first 3 songs.    For a man who’s written and recorded masterpieces like Sailing to Philadelphia and Shangri-La, as well as led Dire Straits through a very successful career, this release is doubly disappointing.  Check out One Take Radio Sessions for a better example of his fine guitar work and songwriting.

Whew!  I considered giving you a list of my favorite books, but honestly I like writing about the music I’ve enjoyed this year so much more.    OK, a short list then:

The Terror by Dan Simmons:  Lots of pages, a monster in the Arctic and a shipwreck.

World Without End by Ken Follett:  Sequel to Pillars of the Earth.  Just as good and just as long (1000 pages).

The Post Birthday World by Lionel Schriver:  I wrote about this one earlier in the year.  Superb writing and a great story.

I read a lot of books this year, but those are my top three. 

OK, so there you have it.  Go ahead, take some cheap shots at my lists if you have a mind to.  I can take it.  What were some of your favorites from 2007?


8 Responses to “Observant’s Favorite Things – 2007”

  1. 1 poseidonsmuse January 1, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Wow! I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad that you are back! I was anticipating this list too, by the way, and you did not disappoint! So, I would have to say that your list sounds about as eclectic as mine would. I need to look into KT’s new one (I have her “Eye on the Telescope” cd and I love it). Arctic Monkeys rock. Adored Carnavas (your faves are mine). Hmmm…. Gabriel and Dresden would have to be on my list…as would Sing Sing’s last one (Sing Sing and I?).

    As far as books go, I need to read Ken Follet’s new one…I haven’t really had much time to read lately because I am in the middle of another painting frenzy. When I have had time to pick through a few juicy tidbits, I have read from “How to Write a Blockbuster” by Corner and Weatherly — I shit you not…and “Edgar Cayce on the Revelation” by Van Auken — ooooooh…the three horsemen and other such apocalyptic mumbo jumbo…).

    By the way…I’ve left a little gift for you over at my site. Drop by and pick it up if you wish.

    Love ya…xoxo

    Nice list!

    I totally forgot about Gabriel & Dresden (which I never would have known about if not for you!). My brother turned me on me to Edgar Cayce several years ago – fascinating man. I need to read that book. In the meantime, I’ve reserved There Is A River at the library, which is a biography of Cayce. The Follett book is yummy – middle-age superstition/public flayings/monastary homosexuality/raping & pillaging. It doesn’t get much better than that! On my way to pick up my gift!

  2. 2 poseidonsmuse January 1, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    ps. Love the new photo and tagline too…and you’re right…Lucinda Williams should shut her cake-hole. lol! xoxo

    What the hell happened to her? My favorite album by her is still her first – Happy Woman Blues. Have it on vinyl and CD. That’s the Lucinda I know & love.

  3. 3 poseidonsmuse January 1, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    pps. Me again. I’ve no way of getting hold of Venus right now…so I’ll pimp your site for some pixels OB (I know you don’t mind). Anyway…Venus, if you are reading…I’ve left something for you at my site too…I’m still having issues with the Live Journal thing! Cheers girlie!

  4. 4 Sorrow January 1, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    I bought that Arctic Monkeys Cd and I like it too, but then I am a huge Elvis Costello fan, and they just have that similar sound.
    Great List, now I am gonna have to check out those book jackets and see if I am up for those!

    Ooooh Elvis Costello! Me likey very much. Have the first 5 albums on vinyl and played the heck out of them way back when. There is absolutely a certain similarity with AM, which I hadn’t really picked up on until you mentioned it. I have to tell you, I’ve recommeneded The Terror to many people, but no one I know has liked it as much as me, or finished it. It’s one of those books that has a certain niche I guess. Anyway, let me know if you try it and what you think.

  5. 5 venus00 January 2, 2008 at 10:31 am

    We went to see Lucinda in concert this year. She did some of her newer stuff and we were not impressed. She had her music and lyrics on a stand in front of her and actually had a guy come out to turn the pages in between songs. She couldn’t even turn her own page?? So much for roots music, she’s gone Nashville. 😦

    She didn’t turn her own pages and she didn’t know her own lyrics??? Ouch.

  6. 6 poseidonsmuse January 2, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    “middle-age superstition/public flayings/monastary homosexuality/raping & pillaging. It doesn’t get much better than that!”

    Bah! LOL!!!!!!!!!! 😉

  7. 7 romi41 January 3, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    The Shins and the Decemberists are great picks, and there are also some new ones there for me to look into 😉

    I think you’ll likey…

  1. 1 Observant’s Favorite Things - 2007 Trackback on January 2, 2008 at 2:05 am

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