2007 in review

So I missed you all last week. Sorry. It’s been a rought one. so I know that I am supposed to be reviewing albums and what is to come is gonna frustrate the fuck out of you my new, loyal reader. but that’s just gonna have to stand.

I am watching “Zodiac” at the moment, uploading two new CD’s I just got in the mail and thinking about this year in music. It’s been an interesting year for music (and for me too). There have been a lot of good records, but not many GREAT ones.

But anyway, I’ve been thinking. I am holding two new CD’s here that I was waiting on in the mail. There is something about them. Something about how they feel, sitting here waiting to be listened to. They might be the CD’s I’ve been waiting to blow me out of the water. They just feel that way.

I like it when music surprises me. It’s one of the reason’s why I like music, why I try to appreciate a lot of different types of music. But this year man, I don’t know. Everything that’s on my top 5 this year so far really came out of the wood work. None of them are albums I really expected, or things I listened to before this year.

So anyway – here is my list of everything I have aquired this year – lots of surprised. It is comprehensive of things I bought and things people shared with me or some interesting things I found on the internet for free (Ben Lee, Raidohead). I may purchase the new album by Maritime and pick up the new Statehood, but I may weight for this next year. We shall see. Shit comming up soon with reviews of this stuff and my favorites for the year that will no doubt surprise you.

I’ll Sleep When Your Dead – EL-P
s/t – Lifetime
A Weekend in the City – Bloc Party
Cassdega – Bright Eyes
Four Winds (EP) Bright Eyes
Living with the Living – Ted Leo
Mo’ Living – Ted Leo
Four One Five Two – Sundowner
Human Death Dance – Sage Francis
Phantom Limb – Pig Destroyer
Werewolves and Lollipops – Patton Oswalt
The Best Gun – Pash
The World is Bright and Lonely – New Idea Society
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank – Modest Mouse
My December – Kelly Clarkson
A Year in the Wilderness – John Doe
Champion Sound – Jaylib (Reissue)
Ruff Draft – Jay Dilla (Reissue)
The Good the Bad and the Queen – The Good The Bad and the Queen
Help Wanted: Nights – The Good Life
Places – Georgie James
Infinity on High – Fall Out Boy
Wincing the Night Away – The Shins
New Moon – Elliot Smith
Deliver Us – Darkest Hour
Ben Lee Sings Againt Me!’s New Wave – Ben Lee
New Wave – Against Me
New Maps of Hell – Bad Religion
MMFOOD – MF DOOM (reissue)
Reflector – Antelope
None Shall Pass – Aesop Rock
Neon Bible – Arcade Fire
s/t – Barkitecture
Red Album – Baroness
Trees outside the academy – thurston (moore)
Andrew Jackson Jihad/Ghost Mice – Split
Grand Ledge – Paul Baribeau
The Shephards Dog – Iron and Wine
Made of Bricks – Kate Nash
In Rainbows – Radiohead
Sweep the Leg – Hangar 18
Addicted to Bad Ideas – World/Inferno Friendship Society
The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust – Saul Williams
Bitter River – Pygmy Lush
Lies and Rhetoric – Statehood
We are the Pipettes – The Pipettes
The Bridge – The Chosen Few
Magic – Bruce Springsteen
Year Zero, Remixed – Nine Inch Nails

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Radiohead – In Rainbows

Radiohead
In Rainbows
Self Released

This is the tale of a semi popular indie rock band from England. The indie rock band is called Radiohead who you have most likely heard of. They came to prominence first in the 90’s with the radio hit “Creep” followed by the popular album The Bends and the critically acclaimed OK Computer that helped usher in the information age with it’s technophobic, terrorized lyrics about paranoid androids and suburban bullshit. Soon afterwards Thom Yorke seemed to go insane and released Kid A, a global smash but thoroughly unimpressive compared to it’s predecessor. As if to foreshadow what would come six years later, Radiohead’s fifth album Amnesiac was one of the first albums that “leaked” on the Internet. In the ages before broadband was a household commodity, people waited for ages in computer time to catch a sneak peak at an album from the biggest band in the world at the time. The record met with mixed reviews as Radiohead seemed to abandon song writing altogether in favor of a soft blanket of noise gently laid over the beeps of hospital machinery. Two years later they would return to form with Hail to the Thief which saw the band writing songs again and even rocking out a little bit. This album, their sixth, would fulfill their contract with Capitol Records. The future for Radiohead was wide opened. Speculation was that they might sign with an indie. After all the market for selling Cd’s had changed. What was once a gold mind find was now common place as Cd’s were leaked months in advance of their intended release date. What would Radiohead do next?

As it turns out the band decided to release their newest album as a pay what you want download, offering a deluxe package deal as well. This was an unprecedented move as the band became the first major recording artist to fore go the industry practice of leading up to a big album release. In fact the band announced only one week ahead of time that it would release this album to the public. Many herald this as a great move, but many issues still remain debatable. After all Radiohead is an internationally known band who built themselves first on their radio friendly singles, relentless touring, music videos, tour documentaries, political arguments and odd behaviour. The model works for them, but will it work for every one? After all this band has a built in audience, presumably millions of dollars in revenue from touring, merchandising, publishing and endorsement deals. None of these things are available of course to your average new band trying to break into an increasingly larger pool of artists fighting for an increasingly smaller portion of the expendable income industrialized nations citizens have to spend on music. Certainly the royalty checks from “Creep” paid for their studio, rent, bills, the engineer and Thom Yorke’s no-doz pills as he sat over the mixing board adding weird shit to his songs. How many bands have this option today? Not many and even less that have remained relevant.

Some places (*cough cough pitchfork cough*) would also have you believe that Radiohead are visionaries of the pay what you want scheme, thus revolutionizing the way music is distributed and thus throwing a crushing blow to “the industry” (the same industry that built this band from the ground up that I haven’t really heard too many gripes about from the limey bastards). This however is simply not true. Quote Unquote Records began as a pay what you can, what you want label, utilizing paypal to allow fans to throw dollars at his bands. The flagship act Bomb the Music Industry, who released several “albums” this way and toured their asses of have begun to become moderately successful in the punk rock community, going so far as to get picked up by notable and respectable indie label Asian Man Records. In fact, indie rock and punk bands who have always embraced the DIY concept have begun releasing albums digitally for free, even while small labels put out traditional vinyl and CD’s for them. DC Pop Punx The Max Levine Ensemble offer their entire catalog for free as does Defiance Ohio who not only offer MP3’s but utilize Bit Torrent and Ogg Vorbis in open source, DIY fashion. To insinuate that Radiohead some how revolutionized the distribution of music in the face of the old dinosaur record labels is a little bit misleading at best.

So what does this have to do with the music. Well everything I think. I myself downloaded the album for free today. If given the opportunity to check out a band I kind of like for free, oh I will snap up on the chance. Radiohead has never completely blown me away. I still think The Bends is their best album. After OK Computer I think the band lost their way and only marginally won me back with Hail to the Thief. I think that this band is far too good at song writing to continue fucking everything up with shitty, “weird and crazy” mixing jobs and odd noise escapades all over the place. Also Thom Yorke has too interesting of a voice for the mumble bumble bullshit he utilizes. Frankly it only points out too much how much confidence he lacks in his own voice even after selling millions of records around the globe. I mean if your that self conscious dude, hire someone else to sing the shit. And to me these are the failures of In Rainbows, rather then focus on the core of the song and make something spectacular and catching, touching even, they throw on a lot of layers of shit to distract you away from the core of what makes them good. Yea every so often they rock out and towards the end the songs actually emerge despite their efforts to sabotage something that’s actually working.

So while Radiohead may be the new revolutionaries of the music industry, the fact is that if In Rainbows doesn’t stand the test of time then the whole production of distribution is wasted. To me, if I bought this album, I’d be disappointed. For free, I can’t really complain. There’s enough on there to remind me the band is still out there, but not enough to drag me to the store to pick up a proper CD in January or drop a few coins in the bucket. I might be interested in what they do next, perhaps more rock and less jumbled air and I can see myself coughing up for another download release, but for now I’m waiting for the Defiance Ohio album to pop up on their site so I can get it before they drop the CD, which I will buy next time they tour the east coast.

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The Week in RAWK

So this week there will be no review. Sorry. Been really busy and haven’t really focused on any one album to listen to. But I will give you some musings.

First,Pitchfork becomes more legitimized by the indie rock gods. First Sonic Youth gives them their wet dream and now All Tommorows Parties. Why is it that the single worst music journalists get love from respectable people. I mean Pitchfork gave a Sonic Youth record a zero and single handedly ruined Travis Morrison’s solo career because they are a bunch of fucking babies with bad taste. And yes, I do still read the site. But I fucking hate myself for it.

This shit is old news but hot. Ted Leo is awesome and he pretty much needs to ditch the Pharmacists and just play solo. So much better in my opinion.

Which brings me to this. I am totally into Kelly Clarkson, no joke and this video is awesome. Her song “Sober” is pretty much my most listened to song of the year so far. Why I love pop divas, I can’t tell you, but I do. Still not dropping 50 bucks to see her though.

Other stuff I have been listening to this week includes “Simmer Down” by the Mighty Might Bostones, some Bloc Party who have a new single comming out, the new Good Life album is in the running for one of my top five records spots (I have one left and it’s a tough competition where I had some albums bumped out by four unexpected purchases this year) and I hope to have that shit hooked up. And if yr into harmonies please check out Georgie James, they are some butter on there.

Tonight you need to go to St. Stephens Church in DC to see Defiance:Ohio, The Max Levine Ensemble and The Andulusians featuring Beaty Pill Bass Player Basla Andulsan. Starts at 7pm. 5 Bucks. You can’t miss this shit.

Stuff I am looking forward to
New Hangar 18 album, Paint It Black new CD in the 2008 (being mixed by Octopus from Dalek), a new John Frusciante album.