Here are the liner notes from this year’s CD (for those who don’t speak German, “Zweitausendsieben” means “Two thousand seven”). If you don’t like a song, skip to the next one- this is my most diverse and eclectic (read: weird) mix yet.
1. Diablo Rojo
Rodrigo y Gabriela, Rodrigo y Gabriela (2006)
Two mexican heavy metal musicians switch to acoustic guitars but continue with the head-banging. That beat that sounds like a drum set? – that’s Gabriela’s guitar. Concert review here.
2. Radio Nowhere
Bruce Springsteen, Magic (2007)
The rest of the new album from Bruce and the E Street band is considerably more subtle, and requires multiple listens to really appreciate. This leading track will grab you from the opening chord. My favorite song of the year.
3. Party Pit
The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America (2006)
The Bruce Springsteen of the new millennium. Great music, and quirky lyrics from the world’s best bar band. Concert review here.
4. Le Disko
Shiny Toy Guns, We Are Pilots (2006)
All Music Guide describes the album as electro-tinged pop. I’m not sure when I started liking music with a great dance beat…
5. Nod Your Head
Paul McCartney, Memory Almost Full (2007)
Forty years after writing the lyric “When I’m sixty-four”, Paul is sixty-four, but definitely not acting his age here.
6. Rag & Bone
The White Stripes, Icky Thump (2007)
In last year’s album notes, I wrote “I was never a fan of The White Stripes”, in reference to the Raconteurs, Jack White’s other band. Then they had to go and release this album, making a liar out of me. Sounding more like Zeppelin than ever before, this narrowly missed being my favorite disc of the year.
7. Early in the Morning
Papa Mali, Do Your Thing (2006)
Papa Mali returns with another disc of dirty funky Louisiana swamp-blues.
8. Little Liza Jane
John England & The Western Swingers, Swinging Broadway
One of the biggest shocks of my trip to Nashville was that I suddenly found myself liking Country music, or at least some of it. As my co-worker from Texas pointed out, though, this particular band is Western music, not Country. I never thought that was a real distinction, but this band has a definitely different jazz swing to it. Unfortunately, this song isn’t available on iTunes. The band has a web site here.
The Guggenheim Grotto, …Waltzing Alone (2006)
A quieter song to let you catch you breath. Every week I visit the iTunes song to check out their three free songs. Most of the time the offerings are garbage, but there enough little gems to make the exercise worthwhile. This song is one of those discoveries.
10. Johnny Just Drop
The Motet, Instrumental Dissent (2006)
Let’s start things up again with this track from a band best described as jazz/rock/dance/latin/funk. Actually, this band from Boulder is best not described, but better listened to, preferably live.
11. Earth Intruders
Björk, Volta (2007)
Most of this track is pretty “straightforward” for Björk, even if that word doesn’t really seem to fit, but the end contains a passage I would describe as “symphony for foghorn.”
12. We Used to Vacation
Cold War Kids, Robbers & Cowards (2006)
Blues-twinged indie rock. This debut album from the Cold War Kids earned the title of “Rich’s Favorite CD of 2007.”
Mute Math, Mute Math (2006)
Alternative rock, vaguely reminiscent of Radiohead. My co-worker Jen introduced me to this album- thanks!
Battles, Mirrored (2007)
And you thought the Björk song was this year’s “weird” track. Not so fast… I read a review of this CD in Rolling Stone magazine. Have you heard of a genre called “Math Rock?” Me neither. All Music describes this particular track as “futuristic dragon music.” Neither label explains anything, but I like the driving guitars and drum beats anyway.
15. It Ain’t Right
John Fogerty, Revival (2007)
John Fogerty finally stops fooling around and makes another Creedence Clearwater Revival album. This track is my favorite from that disc, along with “Creedence Song”, a song filled with musical references to old CCR tunes. “Fortunate Son” for 2007, any references to W in this song are purely coincidental. Or not.
The Allman Brothers Band, Hittin’ the Note (2003)
The Allman Brothers have a fantastic DVD called Live at the Beacon Theater, featuring dueling guitars from Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule) and Derek Trucks (Derek Trucks Band). This track is from their studio album of the same era.
17. Workin’ Them Angels
Rush, Snakes & Arrows (2007)
Yes, they’re still making new music. And good music at that. Rolling Stone gave their latest album 3 stars, with the additional remark: “If you are a Rush fan, add 2 stars. If not, subtract 2 stars.” I’m a fan. Concert review here.
Paul Simon, Surprise (2006)
Another old guy making fresh new music.
19. Extreme Ways
Moby, 18 (2002)
This track played during the credits of The Bourne Ultimatum. It was a great way to end the movie, and it seems like a good way to end the disc as well.
Alas, CDs only hold 80 minutes of music (although I won’t rule out the possibility that some of you may be celebrating at this point). Here are some other songs that I really liked, but that didn’t fit.
Blues Traveler, Bastardos! (2005)
They’re not cranking out the “hits” of the “Four” era, but this band is still alive and well. We saw them in concert in December of this year, and they were absolutely fantastic. Yes, John Popper’s harmonica playing is distinctive and unique, but the guitar-bass combo of Chan and Tad Kinchla might be the most underrated pair in rock.
Machtspiele (Tanz Drauf)
Mia., Hieb und Stichfest (2002)
Not to be confused with the more famous rap-star Mia, this is a German band. It was recommended by the guy sitting next to me on my last flight to Germany.
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
Bruce Springsteen, Hammersmith Odeon London (1975)
This recently released concert from 1975 originally appeared as a DVD with the Born to Run anniversary box set. This concert was from weeks before the release of Born to Run, and showcases Bruce and the band at their absolute best. The only reason this song didn’t make the CD is because of the 10-minute length.
Come On! Feel the Illinoise!
Sufjan Stevens, Come on Feel the Illinoise! (2005)
Individually, each song on this album is brilliant and highly listenable. Combined, the 22 tracks add up to 73 minutes of stifling boredom. I just simply cannot sit through the whole thing. Seriously, put this music on your iPod, and enjoy it when a track appears on shuffle- you’ll have a much better experience.
J.J. Cale, Troubadour (1987)
J.J. Cale is probably most famous for writing the Eric Clapton hits “Cocaine” and “After Midnight.” He also wrote this song, my favorite Widespread Panic cover.
Sally Where’d you Get Your Liquor From
Hot Tuna, The Best of Hot Tuna (1973)
Relaxing acoustic guitar tune.
Losing the Will to Survive
Findlay Brown, Separated By the Sea (2007)
Another free iTunes song. Mellow folk-rock.