Friday, 4 January 2008

Music of 2007


So the promised post about music. I should say first of all that I don't really listen to new music. Nowadays I absolutely understand where my dad is coming from when he says, "It all sounds the same," or "I've heard it all before." I used to hate it when he said that. Now I know exactly what he means. There are some bands around who I like. The rest of it is swill.

By coincidence, though, I was watching a 'Best 100 Tracks of 2007' show on TMF this morning, so I now consider myself down with what the kids are into these days. The answer: nothing much to write home about, although I do kinda like this bloke called Mika even if I think he'd annoy the hell out of me if I ever met him. I sometimes worry about these pop music videos though; another part of my life where I'm starting to resemble my father. I'm talking here about the 'sexy' videos made by singers like Beyonce, Shakira, Pussycat Dolls, Christina Aguilera (sp?); the gyrate-your-hips-and-dance-like-a-stripper school of music, in other words. Some people worry that it all has a negative influence in introducing kids to overtly sexual imagery at too young and easily influenced an age. I actually worry the opposite; all that gazing with smouldering eyes, crawling around on all fours like a cat, sticking out your arse and jiggling it around that these women do is just about the most mechanical, banal and unerotic thing that they could do, and it worries me that adolescent boys and girls will watch that and think it's what sex is all about.

It's the lack of humour that gets me. It's all so serious, so full of attitude, when what these people are doing is fundamentally so silly. A bit of self-deprecation would make the whole thing much sexier, in my opinion. And less androgyny too; I like my women to be real women, not the sleek and slightly muscular amazons of MTV r'n'b staple - their equipment might be female, but their biceps and pectorals and calf muscles aren't, and that just doesn't do it for me, I'm afraid. (That goes for women like Angelina Jolie too, by the way. Give me Natalie Portman or Anna Paquin any day of the week, but keep me away from the big-lipped weirdo valkyrie woman.)

Anyway, I digress. Top 5 Albums I've been listening to this year:

1. Hard Candy by Counting Crows. When I was about 18 I loved Counting Crows, but kind of stopped listening to them when I grew out of being emo. Then by pure accident I ran across this, and it's a beauty. Adam Duritz's voice has mellowed and ripened with age, his lyrics are better than ever and the music is at once more and less produced than on the last record, so that it sounds polished but also live, like the band are in the room with you. And each track works; there isn't a single dud or anything remotely like it. The highlight is undoubtedly Goodnight LA: Duritz has that kind of voice where he can sing lyrics like what brings me down now...is love...because I can never get enough and you really think you know what he means, even though you really don't - his voice is just so expressive.

2. Enjoy Every Sandwich by Various Artists. A tribute to Warren Zevon, made up of some of his best tracks sung by various of his friends. Don Henley, Bruce Springsteen and Pete Yorn do the best, but his son Jordan Zevon is also surprisingly good.

3. The Very Best of Sly and the Family Stone. It pains me to include a best-of album in the list, but hey, I've listened to it a lot this year. I've always been meaning to get into this group, but somehow never did. Now I know what I was missing all those years.

4. The Drift by Scott Walker. Just about the scariest and most nightmarish music that I think has ever been committed to tape; really has to be heard to be believed. Lyrics about subjects like the torture and death of Mussolini, Elvis' stillborn twin, and the life of Josef Stalin, interspersed with snippets of braying donkeys, pieces of meat being hit with baseball bats, you name it...with a full orchestra eerily playing in the background behind Scott Walker's frail and haunting baritone. Not for the faint-hearted - more like a vision of a man's private insanity than actual music, but somehow it works, sort of as the audio equivalent of a horror film.

5. High by The Blue Nile. Morose, but in a good way, like all their records. Just put this on at night and look out over the city and relax. It's worth taking an evening to do that sometimes.

None of those records were made this year, but they're what have 'got me'. Mostly while I was writing my thesis, sitting at my kitchen table and trying to finagle my eight-year-old laptop into letting me actually do some work, those albums were what I was listening to.

6 comments:

mattiecore said...

Well, on one hand, I agree with your first paragraph, and on the other, I don't. I think that if you're watching MTV or listening to Billboard Top 40, or something, then most of it will be drivel. But there are plenty of bands and artists making very good music that doesn't "sound the same;" you just have to look around a little harder to find it.

Beyond this short list you've compiled here, I don't know anything about your taste in music, but I definitely think there's plenty of new music you could get into.

CresceNet said...
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barb michelen said...
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Bilbo said...

My tastes in music vary widely, and people who look through the library on my iPod would be hard-pressed to figure out what it is I really like. I have to admit that the only thing I recognized on your list was Sly and the Family Stone, and I never cared much for them. This past year I bought a lot of music, but seldom as whole albums, usually as individual songs from iTunes...the only albums I bought were "The Calling" by Mary Chapin Carpenter (which was absolutely awesome) and "Not too Late" by Norah Jones (equally great). We'll see where my tastes go in 2008.

zero_zero_one said...

Haven't heard any of those CDs.

Quite agree with you on music videos.

zero_zero_one said...

PS - two lots of spam? Wow.