Monday, December 31, 2007

(Another) Best Of 2007 List

Happy New Year to you all. For Christmas my lady came through big time with the new 80GB iPod, so for the past week I have been downloading all my cd’s to my laptop. Doing so allowed me think about some of the great music that came out this year. Below is a short list of the seven albums (and a couple live shows) that rarely left my stereo, and will probably get high rotation on my iPod for a long time to come.

Photo of The National by Sonya Kolowrat
The National- “Boxer”
While not as rocking as 2005’s “Alligator”, this album does show the darker side of The National. Best listened to after midnight, and even better if listened to after midnight and behind the wheel of a car on a deserted highway.

Wilco- “Sky Blue Sky”
What can I say about Wilco’s most recent that hasn’t been said already? Some describe this album as one that grows on you, but I was hooked the first time I heard it. ‘Impossible Germany’ is easily one of the best songs of the year. Nels Cline’s guitar adds the missing layer, and Jeff Tweedy, clean and sober, is at the top of his game right now, surrounding himself with some of the best musicians in the industry. Next to “Being There” and “YHF”, this is my favorite Wilco album. And yes, I bought it at Starbuck’s.

Dinosaur Jr.- “Beyond”
Is it 1989 again? Original trio reunites for one of this year’s most fuzzed out, rocking albums.

Spoon- “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”
‘Underdog’ is arguably my favorite tune of the year. This is one of Spoon's best (though it’s tough to beat “Gimme Fiction”), complete with trumpets and offbeat hand claps. Britt's vocals are unbelievably effective, simple and direct song writing.

Arcade Fire- “Neon Bible”
This album made the #1 spot in many people’s end of year lists, and for good reason. “Neon Bible” is a sonic piece of music that sounds absolutely massive. 80’s synth pop, church organs, string arrangements, and some of the best lyrics of the year.

Various Artists- “Jonny Greenwood Is The Controller”
Jonny Greenwood (guitarist of Radiohead) put together this outstanding compilation of old school reggae tracks straight from the Trojan records vaults. I have always considered myself a fan of reggae and dub, but this is the album that made me a believer. After I received this last summer, I went on a binge of nothing but dub for about six weeks. Highlights include classic tracks from Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Delroy Wilson, Gregory Issacs, The Heptones, Desmond Dekker, Junior Byles, Johnny Clarke, Jahlights. Scientist & Jammy & and the Roots Radics. Hell, it’s all good, especially if you are a fan of classic dub. And you know you are.

Thurston Moore- “Trees Outside the Academy”
Someone described this as Thurston’s “Nebraska”, so I was expecting something a little more acoustic and less produced, but it is still some good catchy rock with nice use of strings thrown in.

Austin City Limits Music Festival- September
Three days of music, sweat, bikes, Tex-Mex, and Jack Daniels, with the best group of people you could imagine. Highlights included seeing Yo La Tengo, Blonde Redhead, Wilco, Steve Earle and Spoon.

TV On The Radio @ Avalon, Boston- March
Next to all the music at ACL, this was one of the best live shows of the year for me. For this show TVOTR were in full-on rage mode, with doses of punk, funk, jazz, soul, and world music thrown in. None of the power of the music was lost, if anything it was more organic and massive. It amazed me how they were able to create the same vibe live as on their albums, without all the samples and loops. Mind blowing.

Monday, December 17, 2007

That's The Way, Patriot!

Man. Power.

I know it's just a beer ad, but I love the message. No lycra clad racer riding a $3000 ti bike, just some guy who looks like your next door neighbor, flannel shirt and an old single speed. Just wish it was for a better beer. If more people left the car at home for errands that were less than two miles, it would do wonders. Plus, who doesn't love riding a bike in the snow?

"That's the way, patriot. Let the OPECs keep their gasoline. We'll just tap into a far more efficient energy source."

Listening to: Lucero- Tennesee

Friday, December 07, 2007

Craig Finn @ Boston College

Craig Finn (BC class of '93) of The Hold Steady, came back to Boston College in September to talk about Minneapolis's early music scene, rock shows in Boston, germs, writing, redemption, and generally the life of being a touring musician.

Listen to the interview here.

The Heat Is On: Speedys #44 Hot Sauce

Flavor. A few weeks back I ordered a couple of bottles of 2drunk2shift's homemade habanero hot sauce, and let me tell you, this stuff delivers. Tonight I tried it on some mini beef tacos I made for dinner, and the combination of carrots, habaneros, red peppers, and peaches (!) made for some swell eats (and it made the Harpoon Dark Ale go down even easier). Like a little Friday night party in my mouth. If you are lucky, you might find some of this hotness in your stocking.

Get yours by emailing Jimmy @

Listening to: Elton John- Madman Across The Water

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lou Reed's Tales of New York

Photo: Reuters

"Does anyone really need a billion dollar rocket
does anyone need a $60,000 car
Does anyone need another President
or the sins of Swaggart parts 6, 7, 8, and 9, ah
Does anyone need another politician
caught with his pants down money sticking in his hole
Does anyone need another racist preacher
spittin' in the wind can only do you harm, wow"
-- Lou Reed, “Strawman”

I’ve been a big fan of the Velvet Underground since college, but it has only been the past few years that I’ve really got into Lou Reed’s solo stuff, seems I can’t get enough of it lately. Tonight I was listening to his 1989 album, “New York”, which is a collection of stories from Reed’s beloved city before Rudy G. cleaned it up. It paints a picture of what New York was like in the ‘80’s; gritty tales of sex, drugs, crime, AIDS, death, racism, romance, and poverty wrapped up in some of the best rock of it’s time. This album, though lyrically a bit dated today, still holds it’s own.