When our phone book-sized copy of Artforum’s annual “Best Of” arrived in the mail yesterday, we turned immediately to the “Best Of Music 2007″ section, of course, where we were happily surprised to see a list from Stereofave Marissa Nadler, where she gives props to Jesse Sykes (no. 1), James Blackshaw (no. 2), and Mariee Sioux (no. 5), among others. Ms. Nadler’s unabridged thoughts on a couple other of her picks:
10 Neko Case & Her Boyfriends, Furnace Room Lullaby (Anti-)
One of my favorite records of all time has been reissued this year. Case is one hell of a singer, and she has a powerful stage presence. I’m happy to hear that her earlier albums are being reissued by Anti-, since some of her best work can be found on those recordings…
08 Tegan And Sara, The Con (Sire)
I have a soft spot for girl-led pop-rock outfits, having grown up on bands such as Belly and Mazzy Star. Tegan and Sara are the new Throwing Muses. Their tunes are catchy and fun, but go deeper than the standard pop fare.
07 Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum)
In the song “Imitosis,” Bird sings that everyone is basically alone. I relate to this sentiment, and it’s rare to hear something so disconsolate being expressed in an indie-pop chorus. He’s also a killer violin player — a refreshing alternative to all the troubadouring guitar boys these days.
06 Beirut, The Flying Club Cup (Ba Da Bing)
An eclectic collection of songs from the very young and talented Brooklyn-based octet whose sounds make traveling seem as easy as playing a CD.
Flipping back a couple pages, Kim Gordon posts her list — some great stuff on there like NY noise demons Mouthus (no. 1), longtime psychedelicists Charlambides (no. 2), our beloved MV & EE (no. 3 and no. 4), the great Finnish avant-folkie Islaja (No. 5), and old Michigan hardcore Wolf Eyes heroes Negative Approach (no. 9) (god bless Laughing Hyenas, too), but it was no. 6 that most grabbed our attention:
06 Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards, Las Vegas
Sorry, but I was impressed. In the year’s most psychotic media moment, Britney created something more real than reality TV: entertainment without borders, an unconsciously brilliant deconstruction of American Idolism, a disintegration in slow-mo. You could almost call it art.
We’re still not entirely sure what we could call it. We also really dug the list by David Byrne, which you can read in full after the jump.
10 Young@Heart Chorus
An amazing choir from Northampton, Massachusetts, whose youngest member is seventy-two. I recently brought them to New York for my “How New Yorkers Ride Bikes” event at Town Hall (they sang Queen’s “Bicycle Race,” of course). The next day, at the Paris Bar, they did their own show of songs by the Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, and others — all of which seemed to take on new meanings.
09 The Blow, Paper Television (K. Records)
The Blow, which formerly comprised Khaela Maricich and Jona Bechtolt (both collaborated on Paper Television; Bechtolt has since left), play supercatchy songs that deal bluntly with what life really feels like while avoiding almost all the cliches. Their live performances mix Ellen DeGeneres and Miranda July with some crazy shape-throwing.
08 Vampire Weekend
This band assemble a crazy mash-up of African guitar lines and to-the-point NYC lyrics and melodies. They are working on an album now for XL Recordings, due in January 2008.
07 Jonathan Bepler’s scores
When I recently saw Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation’s video Rape of the Sabine Woman, 2006, and Matthew Barney’s filmic collaboration with Arto Lindsay, De Lama Låmina (From Mud, a Blade), 2004, Bepler’s scores and sound design stole both shows. In each case, Bepler realized the common but challenging ambition of making ordinary sounds, speech, and environmental music into music.
06 Romance & Cigarettes
John Turturro’s uproarious musical movie set in Queens begins where British TV series Pennies From Heaven left off. In Pennies, the characters lip- synched to 1930s songs, making explicit the way that pop tunes are often the sound tracks of our lives. In Turturro’s movie, the actors’ voices can be heard as well, singing along with Tom Jones as the neighbors chime in and garbagemen dance.
05 Flight Of The Conchords (HBO)
Similar in some ways to the British comedy program Mighy Boosh, though not quite as far-out or surreal. This was a musical stand-up act that got expanded for television, so the duo of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie had time to hone and polish their already hilarious songs.
04 Arcade Fire, Neon Bible (Merge)
Holy shit, these guys went from supporting me at the Hollywood Bowl to headlining their own show there in just two years! Well, they are one of the few “rock” acts that seem sincere, ambitious, and happy to be making music. “My Body Is a Cage” is a great song, even if the lyrics are all backward.
03 R. Kelly, Trapped In The Closet (Jive)
Part two (chapters 13-22) came out on DVD recently. This is what should be on Broadway — a slightly silly, but perfectly constructed, daytime drama in song. A kooky bit of dramatized epic poetry that laughs at its own blatant outrageousness — but not too much.
02 Caetano Veloso, Cê (Nonesuch)
Veloso’s divorce album. His previous few records were lush and romantic, but personal events prompted a shift in style. With the help of his son Moreno and friend Pedro Sá, Veloso has found a sparse, postrock beauty in which strange yet simple rock instrumentation is juxtaposed with softly seething vocals.
01 White Hats, Niobe (Tomlab)
This “group” is actually just Yvonne Cornelius, a young woman who lives in Cologne and combines gentle electronic tracks with layered and manipulated vocals.