Best of the Year–Almost Here, Dear

Okay, almost done. I think I may finally be done screening all the major, minor or in any way noteworthy films of 2007. It’s a long process but one I’m finding, as usual, completely rewarding. The plan is to publish the “coveted” (according to me) top ten on Monday, with the rest of the list (11 to 20-something) later in the week. Also look for vital individual awards such as “best director,” “best line” and “best boobies in a mainstream film” at that time. So to the Paper Street Army (hahaha!) I call upon thee: please, join in with me by taking stock of what you saw and liked (or hated) last year so you too can post your lists alongside mine.

Edit: Slight delay. I have a film or two left to watch (damn you, “King of Kong”!) and to be honest I can quite crack the order of the list. This is a good sign because it means there were so many good films released last year. In fact, 07 easily tops the decade as the best single year for movies.

2007 Oscar Noms

How I did in predicting: 30 out of 40–which actually isn’t so bad.In red: the nominations I’m thrilled withIn blue: the nominations that suck

  • “Atonement” (Focus Features)
  • “Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
  • “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
  • No Country for Old Men” (Miramax/Paramount Vantage)
  • There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax
Thoughts: Nice group. I’m glad that voters didn’t fall for “Into the Wild” despite all of its guild support. The film has too many flaws. Not that “Juno” doesn’t but, still, this is the first year in memory that I’m down with all the Best Pic nominees. Woot!
Achievement in directing:

  • “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, Julian Schnabel
  • “Juno”, Jason Reitman
  • “Michael Clayton”, Tony Gilroy
  • “No Country for Old Men”, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
  • “There Will Be Blood”, Paul Thomas Anderson
Thoughts: Three out of five are not bad. And while I like “Clayton” and “Juno,” they are not great feats of filmmaking, are they?

Performance by an actor:
  • George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”
  • Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd”
  • Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”
  • Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”
Thoughts: Well done. Even Depp wasn’t horrible in “Sweeny Todd.” But why nominate Jones for a crappy Paul Haggis movie instead of NCFOM? Whatever, Viggo got in so I’m thrilled.
Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
  • Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James”
  • Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War”
  • Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”
  • Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”
Thoughts: How awesome is it that Casey has an acting nom while his toaster head of a brother has to settle for that egregious writing nom? Again, all I can see as being justified nominations. Holbrook is a bit iffy but his section of the film is nice and sweet and, well, he”s Holbrook so I can see where the Academy is coming from. Hoffman is the best thing about “War” and Bardem, well, let’s just say any guess about this category’s outcome is moot.
Performance by an actress in a leading role:

  • Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
  • Julie Christie in “Away from Her”
  • Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”
  • Laura Linney in “The Savages”
  • Ellen Page in “Juno”

Thoughts: Not a fan of “Savages” but Linney was the only good and real thing about this film. And who cares that Blanchette got nominated for a mediocre film? She’s Blanchett!
Performance by an actress in a supporting role:

  • Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There”
  • Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”
  • Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”
  • Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”
  • Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”

Thoughts: OMG, Ronan got a nomination. That made my date. Blanchett will probably win which is great. And I love that Tilda got her first nomination. The only real WTF moment was Ruby Dee being the only major nomination from “American Gangster.”
Adapted screenplay:

  • “Atonement”, Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
  • “Away from Her”, Written by Sarah Polley
  • “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
  • “No Country for Old Men”, Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • “There Will Be Blood”, Written by Paul Thomas Anderson

Thoughts: Big wow on “Away from Her.” So glad for Sarah Polly. And while I loved “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” the writing is the least essential part of it.
Original screenplay:

  • “Juno”, Written by Diablo Cody
  • “Lars and the Real Girl”, Written by Nancy Oliver
  • “Michael Clayton”, Written by Tony Gilroy
  • “Ratatouille”, Screenplay by Brad Bird
  • “The Savages”, Written by Tamara Jenkins

Thoughts: The night’s biggest bull shit category. All the nominees here except for “Collins” and “Ratatouille” are grossly overrated and undeserving. Parts of “Juno” are great but that’s all they are… parts. As for “Lars and the Real Girl,” even being mention as “original” sickens me.

Review: Cloverfield

First… watch Korea’s superb, politically entrenched yet totally funny film, “The Host” (2007). Second… watch it again in case you missed how brilliant it is. Third… check out a late showing of this apolitically entrenched, post 9-11 Youtube junk as a way of appreciating the myriad of subtitles that fall off the monster from “The Host” and a grip of other classic giant movie monsters. While “Cloverfield” may indeed be junk, it isn’t exactly bad junk. The reasoning being that there’s a giant monster running around New York, stupid. Monsters never bore me when they’re the size of a skyscraper. They’re kind of like zombies only, um, bigger (note to self: get rights to giant zombie movie). This mystery creature of unknown origins (prehistoric ocean creature? genetically engendered mistake? biological monster sent from Iran???) tears through America’s (…most overrated…) metropolitan city, destroying everything in its path including, but not limited to, (a) tall buildings that stand in its way, (b) bridges, (c) the Statue of Liberty’s head (at least it has a penchant for dramatic irony), and (d) annoying characters that seem to have sprung from a Light beer commercial and into this monster (date) movie. The last one, by the way, presented a huge problem for me. I don’t think I liked one character in the movie; five minutes in, I whispered to my friend, “when is it going to eat them?” and the best thing I can say about the film is that my wish was granted big time.

Take bits of “City of Men,” chunks of “War of the Worlds,” the vibe of the videogame “Half-Life 2” and a slather of fricken “Gossip Girl,” wrap all that up into one hell of a slam-bang trailer that tells you NOTHING about the movie, and you have 2008’s first can’t miss concept flick. The year’s first “300”! The film, shot entirely handled by a character chronicling a friend’s farewell party, centers on a gaggle of insufferable preppies led by an unbelievably self-centered guy (or god?) named Rob who, at one point, is called a “douche bag” by his douche baggier brother and does his best to live up to that name as the film (and heads) rolls. As the upscale hipster shindig overlooking the city is broken up by an ominous smashing and ear bleeding howls (imagine a missed lunchtime at the Rosie O’Donnell household), Rob and co. spring into action… and instead of running for safety, only think about saving some hot girl from the party so Rob can make goo-goo eyes in the shadow of gor-goo monsters. The smell of death fills the air. The sound of buckling metal and industrial crunching assaults the ears. This is the end. Here is a city that is literally crumbling into a warzone that reduces the Big Apple into cinders and rubble… and all this Rob guy can do is go on and on about this girl. I know she’s a hot bird and all but, come on, bro, come to L.A.: we grow ’em even hotter (and monster free) here. In the name of yuppie heroicism, the loose-tie dumb-dumb goes on to make classic horror movie mistakes like charging head first into fiery dust balls, toppled buildings and tunnels clearly infested with the movie’s second most annoying (and random) character; the monster’s insectilian babies (what the deuce?!). Even more obtuse than “Rob: The Movie,” featuring a walk-on by an actual monster, is the group of characters that seem to worship Rob’s every suggestion; beer commercial lackies include the jokey cameraman, obligatory hottie of ambiguous racial origins, and an “L-Word”-looking automaton. The blind end up following the blinder’s laughable, “lets go down that dark tunnel” advice. Why? Because HE’s ROB! is the best answer I can give you at this point.

This reforging of “Sex and the City” meets “Godzilla” may ooze and slither with prehistoric condescensions but, annoying characters/useless monster critters aside, the concept works in its own way and structurally holds up amazingly well throughout the film’s brisk running time. While any kid with a digital camera or Razer could have directed this film I feel I must credit the brazillent idea men JJ Abrams and Drew Godard (the screenwriter here, who also wrote for “Buffy” and writes for “Lost”) for embracing a limited point of view concept to what would have otherwise been a bloated epic.

… oh, the review’s over by the way. That final bit of praise may be abrupt but, err, it’s all I got at this point. The film annoys as much as it impresses but it does impress, however fleetingly. Plus, I just watched “Dragon Wars,” the film that makes “Cloverfield” look like the masterpiece that is isn’t.

grade: B-

2007 Oscar Perdictions

In order of most sure will be nominated. I’ll post the winners and of course my preferences tomorrow. Chime in anytime cuz I’m sure we’ll disagree!

Best Picture

  1. “No Country for Old Men”
  2. “Into the Wild” (???)
  3. “There Will Be Blood”
  4. “Michael Clayton”
  5. “Atonement” (a stretch but, come on, this is the most Oscar-y looking and feeling film of the year)

No Chance But Please, Please, Please Nominate: The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is good and all but if you’re going to nominate a foreign language film please go with The Host or Syndromes and a Century

Best Director

  1. Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood”
  2. Joel and Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”
  3. Julian Schnabel, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
  4. Sean Penn, “Into the Wild”
  5. Joe Wright, “Atonement” (again, I just don’t see Atonement getting shut out even though conventional wisdom says it will)

No Chance But Please, Please, Please Nominate: David Fincher (long due)

Best Actor

  1. Daniel “that does me good” Day “I drink your milkshak” Lewis, “TWBB”
  2. Emile Hirsch, “Into the Wild”
  3. George Clooney, “Michael Clayton”
  4. Johnny Depp, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
  5. Viggo Mortensen, “Eastern Promises” (woot!)

No Chance But Please, Please, Please Nominate: Kurt Russell in Death Proof!!!

Best Actress

  1. Marion Cotillard, “La Vie en Rose”
  2. Julie Christie, “Away from Her”
  3. Ellen Page, “Juno”
  4. Angelina Jolie, “A Mighty Heart”
  5. Keira Knightly, “Atonement” (going out on a limb that she’ll get the nom over Blanchett)

No Chance But Please, Please, Please Nominate: Kate Dickie, Red Road and just below that, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding

Best Supporting Actor

 

  1. Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”
  2. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, “Charlie Wilson’s War”
  3. Hal Holbrook, “Into the Wild”
  4. Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton”
  5. Casey Affleck, “The Asssassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

No Chance But Please, Please, Please Nominate: Vincent Cassell in Easter Promises or Christian Bale in I’m Not There

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Amy Ryan “Gone Baby Gone”
  2. Cate Blanchett “I’m Not There”
  3. Tilda Swinton “Michael Clayton”
  4. Ruby Dee, “American Gangster”
  5. Catherine Keener “Into the Wild”

No Chance But Please, Please, Please Nominate: Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement” who, I think, actually has a good shot.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. “Michael Clayton” Tony Gilroy
  2. “Juno” Diablo Cody
  3. “Ratatouille” Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava
  4. “Knocked Up” Judd Apatow
  5. “The Savages” Tamara Jenkins

No Chance But Please, Please, Please Nominate: So many. So, so many. How about Hot Fuzz instead of Knocked Up and The Host

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. “No Country for Old Men” Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  2. “There Will Be Blood” Paul Thomas Anderson
  3. “Into the Wild” Sean Penn
  4. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Ronald Harwood
  5. “Zodiac” James Vanderbuilt

No Chance But Please, Please, Please Nominate: “Zodiac” and, yes, I know I put it as a prediction but that’s just wishful thinking. This is real!

There Will Be Blood review

An epic of silent furry that details an American’s Nietzscheian will to power, “There Will Be Blood” tells the story of a creature named Daniel Plainview that slithers into towns and literally sucks it dry by pumping its lifeblood: oil. Loosely adapted from Upton Sinclair’s novel “Oil!,” this radically realized film “adaptation” follows Plainview and his adopted son from acquisition to acquisition as the magnate gobbles up land like a hungry Monopoly player—“why don’t I have this? WHY DON’T I HAVE THIS?! he growls after noticing one of the few properties in town not under his ownership. This is not a plot driven story but, rather, a character driven one. As played by Daniel Day Lewis, the driver in question is one ugly road warrior who collides with everyone from Standard Oil to a small town’s “false profit” preacher played by Paul Dano.

Flame on…

Music 2007: 50 Favorite Tracks of the Year

  1. For Reverend Green–Animal Collective (my year consisted of little more than listening to this song on loop and screaming out the lyric “he’ll only be your friend if he touches your breast” as my Pug bit my slippers)
  2. In This Twilight–Nine Inch Nails
  3. The Party–Justice
  4. Time Wont Let Me Go–The Bravery
  5. SilentlyBlonde Redhead
  6. Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues–Jimmy Eat World
  7. AnesthetizePorcupine Tree
  8. Momma Sed–Puscifer
  9. 15 Step–Radiohead
  10. Four Winds–Bright Eyes
  11. Feathers–Coheed and Cambria
  12. Labrinthian Pomp–Of Montreal
  13. Parachute Shugo Tokumaru
  14. Cycle of Violence–Gruff Rhys
  15. Portal–Still Alive (part of Half-Life box set; best video game song ever!)
  16. D.a.N.C.E.–Justice
  17. Black Mirror–Arcade Fire
  18. Around The World/Harder Better Faster Stronger–Daft Punk
  19. My Little Japanese Cigarette Case–Spoon
  20. Miracle–Tori Amos (b-side track)
  21. Sleep Together–Porcupine Tree
  22. The Ocean–The Bravery
  23. Mistaken for Strangers–The National
  24. Rev 22’20–Puscifer
  25. Miss Broadway–Glass Candy
  26. Myth Takes–!!!
  27. Atlas–Battles
  28. Ghosts–Staraffenland
  29. Wake Up Call–Maroon 5 (okay, whatever, make fun of me)
  30. Me, I’m Not–Nine Inch Nails (I’d love to put just about every song off this album)
  31. Hyperpower!/The Beginning of the End–Nine Inch Nails (see!)
  32. All My Friends–LCD Soundsystem
  33. Doomsday Clock–Smashing Pumpkins (hate the band, love the song)
  34. Dirty Harry Chinese Mix–Gorillaz
  35. Publisher–Blond Redhead
  36. +81–Deerhoof
  37. Trippy’s Demise–Stars of the Lid
  38. High Times–Elliot Smith
  39. One Hell of a Party–Air, feat. Jarvis Cocker
  40. Knock ’em Out–Lily Allen
  41. Heart of Hearts–!!!
  42. Bodysnatchers–Radiohead
  43. Automatic Message–Ian Ball
  44. Stick Me For My Riches–Wu Tang Clan
  45. Sea Lion Woman–Feist
  46. Candylion–Gruff Rhys
  47. Missing You–A Place to Bury Strangers
  48. Asha–Pantha du Prince
  49. Overpowered–Rolsin Murphy
  50. Proven Lands–Johnny Greenwood (off There Will Be Blood soundtrack)

Worst Song: “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse finally checks in, followed by “It’s Not Over” by that bald-F Chris Daughtry

Best Video: TIE “Overpowered” by Rolsin Murphy and “Top Ranking” by Blond Redhead — One, a video from the artist that sang on Herbert last album. Going solo went off without a hitch as this swirlingly splendid anti-glam video follows a starlet from the peek of the party to the mundane depths of the night that juxtaposes media hype with the average human experience. The other, a hypnotizing art instillation that captures the human figure one frame per second set to Blond Redhead’s majestic tunes.

Best Trend: Songs that have the word “sleep” in the title: “Sleep Together” by Porcupine Tree, “Seeds of Sleep” by Pantha du Prince, “Sleep Tight” by Staraffenland, “The Devil Never Sleeps” by Iron and Wine, and “Sleep Warm” by Cornelius. All good songs that…zzz

Music 2007: Worst of the Year

5 Bad Albums

#1 Amy Winehouse–Witchy wino wines without winning
Angles and Airwaves–Assholes ask audience about absolute asinine album and audience applauds apparently (although, ask again and assholes amount)
Robert Wyatt–Winces with wobbly wonder when Wyatt wrenchingly wrestles with words
Britney Spears
—Spears sucks singing solo so she shows snatch
Eagles–Eager Eagles emit egregious emptiness

 

5 Overrated Albums

The Field–fairly foul fakers fool Fork
Of Montreal–Obviously ornery, only omitting organic orchestrals
Frog Eyes—feverish frog freaks fly forever, favoring foolish flourishes for formalism
The Twilight Sad—Stupefying Scottish songs strike sickness.
Animal Collective–actually alright, although acutely annoying

My Favorite Music of 2007

This year I’ve listened to well over a hundred albums. My prolific listening binge resulted in some wonderful new discoveries (a Porcupine Tree here, a Shugo Tokumaru there) and, of course, saw me indulging in my usual vices (Keenan and Coheed to name a two). Overall, this list represents a marriage of my two impulses… with a divorce that’s probably just around the corner.


#1 Blond Redhead’s 23
The year’s best album. The highlight of my year. 23 takes Radiohead’s superlative sound and elegantly marries it with the sensual howl of PJ Harvey. This alchemy creates not only Blond Redhead’s best album to date but an album that stands out amidst a year full of stand-out albums. When a friend of mine said that 23 was good and all but “all songs sound the same,” I said I didn’t see that as a problem see as how every song is perfect.

2. Nine Inch Nails
Year Zer0/Year Zero Remixed

At times a bold return to Trent Reznor’s industrial past (just about every track evolves into a grinding sputtering of splendid sounds), at others a seedy pop gem, and at all times it’s a brazen concept album that works surprisingly well as an interactive gimmick that takes the listener down a gothic rabbit hole and spits us out into a barren parallel universe not unlike our own. Ground zero for Reznor’s dystiopic narrative journeys from our current mess in Iraq, to George W’s puritanical entitlement, to a future where industry and religion suffocate the infrastructure and envelop us in a postapocalyptic world where the sun passes the sky a final time. But the story didn’t end there for Reznor and a slew of collaborators returned once again to deconstruct the mess even further on the impressive Year Zero Remixed. Is there any way Reznor will top this flawless album? I don’t know but I wouldn’t say no to a Year One.

3. Porcupine Tree
Fear of a Blank Planet

From the opening sound of a click-clacking keyboard to the CD cover graphic of a light casting its hypnotic blue glow on a young child’s face to that line about MTV “for the pills in me” (or something like that), this prog metal concept album is bombastic as shit but, in its own way, perfect. I actually never heard of this decades-spanning band until this year and it just took a few seconds into the album’s first song to make me a fan. In fact, I listened to Fear of a Blank Planet (love the play on words) more than any other released this year. In addition, the sprawling sit-com length (but anything but funny) track “Anesthetize” just about saved me in those many freeway commutes into to the dreadful land known as Orange County. Kinda Tool, kinda Floyd and kinda great.

4. The Bravery
Self Titled

The year’s most baffling release. Nobody talked about this follow-up album from The Bravery. Hell, nobody liked it, period. Here’s how bad it got: after downloading the sucker I decided to buy it and the guy at Amoeba actually made fun of me! Poor Bravery, indie music hipsters don’t like them and the mainstream rejected this album for… crappy Killers b-sides. I can’t figure out where the love’s gone because the album is a vast improvement on their dance-y breakout album. On Sun, every track bears meaning, soul and melody. There’s hardly a dull moment in here and, okay, call it derivative but there’s so much passion in here that it’s hard to complain. Yet people did. And I, in turn, complain about the complainers.

5. Justice

The year’s best dance album! Which is saying a lot coming from someone who doesn’t (or can’t?) dance. Justice made techno fun again by leving the monotony to dour acts like The Field. This one moved me… literally. And, side note: crush of the year goes to Uffie, who, on “The Party,” raps her cocky heart out about being hot, saying “no to stilettos because I might get drunk off my ass and I don’t want to fall” and having us fellas digging “all the carrots o-round my neck.” No arguments here.
6. Puscifier
V for Vagina

Am I the only one in the world placing this album on a “best” list? If I’m not I’d like to meet the person who places it higher to ask what’s wrong with them. V for Vagina is, for my money, this year’s most inexcusable indulgence. It’s crass, silly and often stupid (“this lady’s got the thickness, can I get a witness” the single jingles). I know all this to be true yet I couldn’t help falling in love with the Pus. This album grew on me in a huge way. Ho-humming lyrics filled with oedipal shout-outs, mother/Gaia imagery, cool-ass 90s strumming and Maynard’s voice that vacillates between ghoulish growl and falsetto moans. All proved addicting. Oddly enough, the fact that radio stations and iTunes censored every mention, utterance and even spelling of the word “vagina” exposes the media’s patriarchal fear of women. Does this album dispel such phobias? Who knows, all I do know is that I love vagina. And the album’s not that bad either, hehe.

7. Radiohead
In Rainbows

“You are all I need” Radiohead sings on a track of the same title. Many of us would say the same back to the band. A Radiohead album making the list should be no surprise. What can I say: I’m in league with, well, the world in loving this band. Objectively, they’re the best in town (or any town for that matter) and, even more objectively, this album is truly bold for a band with such a moniker. Radiohead made headlines for their commercial venture into liberating choose-your-own-price record company freedom and while that’s great, it should also make headlines for it’s impressive skill because if it wasn’t any good who would care? For one, I found this album quite easy to appreciate after the inconsistent Hail to the Thief. The key to vibing with this Rainbow’s otherworldly sound is understanding Thom Yorke’s admission that the band went for minimalism this time around. In what, upon first glance, may sound like a refashioning of Yorke’s solo album this album is actually a work of restrained genus. Listen, then listen again, then live with, then love.

8. Pantha du Prince
The Bliss

The title says it all. In a year cluttered with overrated techno (The Field? Hot Button??), so-so stuff (Burial) and a small measure of great ones, none were as pitch perfect as The Bliss. With a metallic sound that transcends the very word minimalism, this album took me back to –of all things– 90s PC videogames with their futurist sounds. That may sound shallow but give me a break; I’m no authority on this kind of music. In place of articulation all I can say is that it grabs me, it bothers me, or it finds me indifferent. This one grabbed me so hard it left marks.

9. Shugo Tokumaru
Exit

Blew me away. And I’m not easily blown.

10. Coheed and Cambria
No World For Tomorrow
I said Puscifier was the year’s biggest cheeseball indulgence but I may have spoke too soon. This second concept album from Coheed is… um, you see, the emo, Jimmy Eat World sounding prog band finds a way to… damn, there’s no excuses, I just like it, okay!


Gruff Rhys
Candylion

Allow me to explain. First, Gruff, the lead singer of one of my favorite bands Super Furry Animals, had a benchmark year. Not only did he reach the heights of solo artists with the fun and flighty Candy Lion, but he also quietly released of the year’s best with Hey Venus. Having only listened to the import album Venus once I’m not going to rank it in 2007 but, the greatness of that album aside, that doesn’t mean I’m going to let this sweet, sweet Candy slip by my taste buds.

!!!
Myth Takes

? ? ?

Gruff Rhys
Candylion

Allow me to explain. First, Gruff, the lead singer of one of my favorite bands Super Furry Animals, had a benchmark year. Not only did he reach the heights of solo artists with the fun and flighty Candy Lion, but he also quietly released of the year’s best with Hey Venus. Having only listened to the import album Venus once I’m not going to rank it in 2007 but, the greatness of that album aside, that doesn’t mean I’m going to let this sweet, sweet Candy slip by my taste buds.

PJ Harvey
White Chalk
By loosing the gnarled, horny edge of her last album and embracing her softer, Tori side, Harvey’s splendid new album settles in a comfortable zone that is far from cutting edge yet a minor revelation for any fan of Harvey. The saddest sounds of the year were also the most fulfilling. And, hey, anything sounding this good that isn’t Feist feed down our throats gets a check-plus in my book.

Spoon
Ga ga ga ga ga

…full of goodness. Is it possible for Spoon to release anything less than top shelf material? On the first listen to Ga ga etc. I was underwhelmed and thought so, but by the twelfth I realized how wrong I was. This Spoon album is their most laidback yet also their most memorable. In place of an impossibly catchy single like “Turn My Camera On” or “Way We Get By” is an album full of solid tracks (Japanese Cigarette Case happens to be my favorite) with a sound so straight forward the effect is casual wonder.

Stars of the Lid
8

Imagine if the transcendent last minute of Radiohead’s Kid A album spanned two hours. Soft and serene but never repetitive, this violin heavy spaced-out Jazz album envelopes with atmosphere. The perfect background soundtrack of the year.

The National
Boxer

Another new discovery for me. I remained ignorant of this Ohio indie rock act until this year when my blessed roommate and music guru forced me to hear The National. An album full of drab sounds made almost fun via the contrapuntal lyrics. This is the kind of album to listen to after the bar closes and room clears. And being that I don’t drink that’s saying something.

Daft Punk
Alive 2007

Watch in amazement as these robots rock “Robot Rock” in addition to ass-load of blissful self mash-ups. The synthesis of songs makes for one of the more ambiguous live albums I’ve ever heard. More, so much more than just a live album, this is a reimagining of an entire oeuvre. What’s more, the band’s rendition of “Harder, Faster, Stronger”/”Around the World” puts Kanye to shame.

Shaffenfeld
Private Cinema

A last minute addition that I fell in love with.

Kemialliset Ystävät
Self-titled

Bong-bling-verrrrberrrrr-clang-clang-clang-clang-clang-clang-whoooooooooooshhhhhhhhhhh…….hhhhhhhhh……ptfffff.

Grinderman
Self-titled

Raw, even for Cave. Eschewing the fuzzy gospel transcendence of his last album this new side project returns Cave to his angry, punk roots.

Wu Tang Clan
8 Diagrams

Rap you can’t put a lid on. Any band that can rap about Mark Wahlberg in Shooter, 28 Weeks Later and the Death Star is a band I like. Don’t listen to the other clan members, RZA’s a genus. A mad genus, but a genus. Wu forever!

Liars
Self-titled

This impressive, wobbly-wrock follow-up to “Drum’s Not Dead” proves that album’s title truer than ever. Can’t wait to seem em’ live in 08.

Ian Ball
Who Goes There

In a year without a real Gomez album, this honest if a bit slight effort does me good.