My favorite albums of the year so far
Here's the part where I admit I'm a little behind on checking out many of this year's heralded (and not-so-heralded) releases. Thanks to a friendly little piggy, that should be resolved shortly. As for the sounds I have heard, the following are 10 albums I've listened to obsessively and pushed on my friends by way of mix CDs and cranking up the car stereo too loud for conversation.
The Clientele - God Save the Clientele (Merge) The Clientele is one of those bands I've always meant to listen to but never got around to until now. My thirst for their back catalog increased tenfold after I heard this collection of wistful pop balladry, fit for soundtracking many a midsummer night's dream. David Holmes, if you haven't listened to this yet, acquire it immediately.
Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity (5RC) Most people seem to have forgotten this record came out way back in January, or they don't think it's that good. Neither position is forgiveable. Deerhoof keeps putting out staggering works of weirdo genius, and this latest offering is no different.
Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond (Fat Possum) Doug Elliott claims J Mascis has never been involved in a bad record, which seems like a somewhat tenuous claim, but which we'll consider here as reason that I shouldn't be shocked this album is so good. Dinosaur somehow coaxed all the power and intensity out of its classics and filtered it into songs that by no means should be this powerful and intense. Somehow, it's as captivating as anything they've ever done. Here's to the start of another brilliant run.
Hugs & Kisses - The Casualties of Happiness (Manup) Every time I start writing about this, I just end up ripping off John Ross, so go ahead and read his take on why this "R-rated children's music for an adult" is so good—or should I say totally awesome?
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (DFA) This is, hands down, my favorite music this year—nine perfect songs that make me want to dance and rock in equal measure but, more than that, strike at my emotional center. I always thought of James Murphy as kind of a novelty act before, someone capable of a few good grooves and a hilarious rant here or there. Sounding defeated and victorious at once, Sound of Silver proves I gravely underestimated him.
Loney, Dear - Loney, Noir (Sub Pop) Here's the slot I feel like I should be using on No Age or some Lil Wayne mixtape or, crap, Miranda Lambert. But that stuff will have to wait, so for now I honor the eternally wussy sounds of Loney, Dear, comfort food I will undoubtedly turn to for years to come. It's by no means a perfect record, but I expect it to have a much longer shelf life for me than Justice or whatever.
Menomena - Friend and Foe (Barsuk) "Wet and Rusting" has become the unofficial DeVille mix CD kickoff track of '07, and it's not even the first song on this album. Along with the two songs that precede it, the track has made Friend and Foe a go-to record for those short car trips when no disc seems quite right. The rest of the record is splendid too, if not as splendorous as those first three songs.
The National - Boxer (Beggars Banquet) I still haven't written about this record like I promised, and I still hope to in due time, even though the concert I was planning to hitch to the album review happened nearly a month ago. But suffice it to say Boxer hasn't left my car CD player for a couple weeks now. Forget Neon Bible and that new Interpol and whatever else you've got your pretty little ears fixated on. This is where it's at.
Times New Viking - Present the Paisley Reich (Siltbreeze) I'm getting a little tired of hearing about how Times New Viking plays pop; this is music that would induce projectile vomiting from Clive Davis. But Paisley Reich does pop in the "snap, crackle and..." sense. And in the "massive detonation" sense. Can't wait to hear what their first Matador release, due later this year, will bring.
The Whiles - Sleeper's Wake (Anyway) Seems like all I've ever written about Sleeper's Wake is that it's the back-to-basics folk rock album Wilco should have made. That works for me, but I will add that it became the ideal soundtrack for windowless car rides on impossibly beautiful spring nights.