I said I’d bend the rules a bit, but here’s the ten best albums I heard this year, in alphabetical order:
- The Aliens â€” Astronomy For Dogs: add a Lone Pigeon to a few remaining Betas, and the result is funkiness. This album has more earworms than is safe. They are even better live.
- Animal Collective â€” Strawberry Jam: I pretty much have to be alone and sitting down to listen to this. For Reverend Green especially; it’s all involuntary limb movements, sinuses exploding with joy (this probably doesn’t happen to you, I hope), and ullulating Oo oo weeuh yeh … ee yeh yeh etc for me. Other Animals didn’t do so badly either this year: Panda Bear’s Person Pitch was joyful, and even the bafflingly backwards Pullhair Rubeye from Avey and KrÃa had something.
- Colleen â€” The Golden Morning Breaks (2005): very sparse but beautiful notes. I’ll Read You a Story is the sound that angels make.
- A Hawk And A Hacksaw And The Hun HangÃ¡r Ensemble: featuring magyar madness, crafty cimbalom, and the only piece of bagpipe music that won’t make you want to hack your ears off with a meat cleaver. It’s doubly nice that it features Zach Condon actually playing with his heroes, rather than just trying to sound like them.
- Ideal Free Distribution: lush 60s rhythm and harmonies, with a ton of mellotron laid on top. Poppy enough that no-one I’ve played it to doesn’t like it.
- Dan Jones and The Squids â€” Totally Human: Dan has clearly listened to a lot of both Robyn Hitchcock and The Minutemen, and has come up with a noisy but thoughtful album, which we play all the time.
- Old Man Luedecke â€” Hinterland (2006): merge sly alt.country lyrics with pretty clawhammer banjo, and you’ve got the Old Man. Bonus points for coupling the words “oracular bent” in a song, and getting away with it, too.
- Ken Reaume â€” Four Horses: Ken quite modestly compares himself to Elliott Smith and Nick Drake. He’s easily the equal of both. Beautiful fingerpicking and whispered confessional lyrics.
- Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter â€” Like, Love, Lust, & The Open Halls of the Soul: you’ll fall for Jesse’s world-weary lisp and the drawling psych guitar. I did (and unfortunately discovered her other two albums, Reckless Burning and Oh My Girl, are almost identical. Oh well; very good, but very samey).
- Porter Wagoner â€” Wagonmaster: if you’re gonna go, go out on a high note. That’s exactly what The Thin Man From West Plains did. It’s very straight country, but the decades of experience polish it brighter than rhinestones.
I’m going to play the blogger’s best of the year game differently this year, but I need to keep the rules roughly the same so that I am (for once) on the same planet. I’m going to choose ten best albums, but they’re what I discovered in 2007, not just those released in 2007.
So these are my contenders:
- A Hawk And A Hacksaw And The Hun HangÃ¡r Ensemble â€” A Hawk And A Hacksaw And The Hun HangÃ¡r Ensemble
- Air â€” Pocket Symphony
- Akron/Family â€” Love Is Simple
- Akron/Family â€” Meek Warrior (2006)
- Animal Collective â€” Strawberry Jam
- Architecture In Helsinki â€” Places Like This
- Avey Tare & KrÃa Brekkan â€” Pullhair Rubeye
- Bees â€” Octopus
- Beirut â€” The Flying Club Cup
- Black Lips â€” Good Bad Not Evil
- Bonnie Russell and the Russell Family â€” Mountain Dulcimer Galax Style (1995)
- Bright Eyes â€” Cassadaga
- Caribou â€” Andorra
- Cathy Fink â€” Banjo Talkin’
- Colleen â€” The Golden Morning Breaks (2005)
- Dan Jones and The Squids â€” Totally Human
- Devendra Banhart â€” Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
- Dock Boggs â€” His Folkways Years (1963-1968) (1998)
- Donovan â€” Barabajagal (1969)
- Donovan â€” Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968)
- Donovan â€” Mellow Yellow (1967)
- Donovan â€” Sunshine Superman (1966)
- Enoch Kent â€” I’m a Rover (2006)
- Erynn Marshall & Chris Coole â€” Meet Me In The Music
- Feist â€” The Reminder
- Fountains of Wayne â€” Traffic and Weather
- Fred Spek’s Camp Combo â€” Rock Paper Scissors (2006)
- Grinderman â€” Grinderman
- Hamish Imlach â€” Cod Liver Oil & Orange Juice (2006)
- Howe Gelb â€” ‘Sno Angel Like You (2006)
- Ideal Free Distribution â€” Ideal Free Distribution
- Jeffrey Frederick & the Clamtones â€” The Resurrection of Spiders in the Moonlight
- Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter â€” Like Love, Lust, & The Open Halls of the Soul
- Joanna Newsom â€” Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band EP
- John Fahey â€” The Best Of John Fahey Vol. 2 1964-1983 (2004)
- Johnny Cash â€” American I & II
- Judee Sill â€” Judee Sill (2006)
- Ken Reaume â€” Four Horses
- Kevin Drew â€” Spirit If…
- Kilby Snow â€” Kilby Snow: Country Songs and Tunes with Autoharp
- Kimberley Rew â€” Ridgeway (2006)
- Marissa Nadler â€” Songs III: Bird On The Water
- Michael Hurley â€” First Songs (1964)
- Mimi & Richard FariÃ±a â€” Vanguard Visionaries – Mimi & Richard FariÃ±a
- Monica Grabin â€” Continental Village
- Neil Young â€” Harvest (1972)
- Of Montreal â€” Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
- Okkervil River â€” The Stage Names
- Old Man Luedecke â€” Hinterland (2006)
- Otha Turner â€” Everybody Hollerin’ Goat (1998)
- Panda Bear â€” Person Pitch
- Po’ Girl â€” Home to You
- Porter Wagoner â€” Wagonmaster
- Radiohead â€” In Rainbows
- Ragged But Right â€” Down Harmony Road
- Robert Force & Albert d’OsschÃ© â€” Tiger Dreams
- Sons of the Never Wrong â€” Nuthatch Suite (2005)
- Stew â€” Guest Host (2000)
- The Aliens â€” Astronomy For Dogs
- The Apples in Stereo â€” New Magnetic Wonder
- The Arcade Fire â€” Neon Bible
- The Besnard Lakes â€” The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
- The Carter Family â€” The Carter Family 1927-1934 (2001)
- The Foggy Hogtown Boys â€” Pigtown Fling
- The Harvey Girls â€” The Wild Farewell (2005)
- The High Water Marks â€” Polar
- The Houseplants â€” Livingroom
- The Hylozoists â€” La Fin du Monde (2006)
- The Icicles â€” Arrivals & Departures
- The Ladybug Transistor â€” Can’t Wait Another Day
- The Negro Problem â€” Post Minstrel Syndrome (2002)
- The Polyphonic Spree â€” The Fragile Army
- The Soft Machine â€” The Soft Machine (1968)
- The Unicorns â€” Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? (2003)
- They Might Be Giants â€” The Else
- Tiger Lillies (with Kronos Quartet) â€” The Gorey End (2003)
- Uncle Dave Macon â€” Classic Sides
- Various Artists â€” Skiffle – The Best Of (2006)
- Various Artists â€” The Old Time Banjo Festival
- Vashti Bunyan â€” Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind
- Wendy Arrowsmith â€” Now Then…?
- Wilco â€” Sky Blue Sky
- Willie Nelson â€” Red Headed Stranger (1975)
(Before you freak out at the number of CDs I bought, I do subscribe to emusic, so a bunch of these were MP3 only.)
A Scooma folding bike seen on the Danforth.
I’m still midway through splitting tracks, but I thought you might like to hear:
The Apples in Stereo – Please (live in Toronto, 20 February 2007)
Complete show to follow. I’m not really in a place that I could torrent this from, alas.
I was at Nicholas Stern‘s presentation to the Economic Club of Toronto today (as was Bob, David, Deb, Glenn, Paul, and about 490 others). He was very low-key; not sure if his dry sense of humour got the response he expected. The CBC covered it.
O Canada – as performed by sampled wailing babies.
The PhotoSmart has an ability to print various ruled paper forms: lined, todo lists, and graph paper. But what they print for graph paper is merely squared paper:
Graph paper’s the stuff with 1mm squares. Personally, I was disappointed that it wouldn’t print log ruled and Smith charts, but that’s just me …
(found while clearing up old files.)
I really like HAL Burgers (244 Adelaide). Good burgers, clever decor and decent beer. Not the cheapest burger I’ve ever had, but one of the better ones.
Update, August 2007: oh no, it’s closed! Notice of Distress on doorway dating back to July, so again I’m the last to know.
Portpatrick, taken with a Fujifilm MX-1200 pretending to be a lomo
For probably no better reason beyond babbittry, I’ve always half-wanted a lomo. Half-wanted, that is, because of my previous experience with “Russian” photo gear (I’ve had a Lomo TLR, a Fed rangefinder, and a Pentacon six) and its legendary quality control. I’m also so done with film.
A while back, Donncha wrote about aÂ GIMP Lomo Plugin. While it looked handy, the link to the code is now dead. You can find what I think is the same one here: http://flelay.free.fr/pool/lomo2.scm (or a local copy here if that link dies: lomo2.scm). Just pop it in your .gimp-2.2/scripts/ directory, and it’ll appear as a filter. The original author‘s comment on Donncha’s blog contains good settings: Vignetting softness=1, Contrast=30, Saturation=30, Double Vignetting=TRUE.
I knew there was a reason I retrieved my old 1.3 megapixel Fujifilm MX-1200 from my parents’ house. And that reason is fauxlomo!
I know I shouldn’t, but every time I see the name of Fijian military coup leader Frank Bainimarama, the songs of this eighties girl group come to mind.
The 365 Days ProjectÂ â€” the year-long net music weirdness that made 2003 bearableÂ â€” is back!
w00t! New edition of Uncle, by J.P. Martin to be published June 2007!
(Thanks to Mike for bringing this to liontower.)