Stuff of the Year Stuff


15 jan. 2008, 20h12m

OK just call me Jenny Come Lately, but I have a bad enough memory as it is and leaving 2007 to the dogs for the sake of promptness seems a little harsh. This was a year I fell down completely in my record buying duties, fell in love with a few more songs, and saw a little less live music than I would have liked. Given all this, I’m not going to do a simple Album or Gig of the Year list but instead an unrepeatable, inadvisable, thrown-together list of various things that have troubled the musical part of my brain in 2007.
Verily, Stuff of the Year!

A Few Albums of the Year

Cutting Pink With KnivesPopuluxxe
Probably one of the most compact albums of the year, with sixteen tracks packed into 24 minutes, Populuxxe is a bit of a thrill ride through genres I know nothing about, but the pop of its title packs a sucker punch to elitism. The songs clatter headlong into one another with all the impact of the injury but none of the resulting ache, indestructible in their format of megatempo Bontempi and a hyperactive orchestra of guitars, samples and spat vocals. CPWK are no strangers to a tune: there’s preprogrammed melodics and crystal clear pop structures, all the better for shattering with sparking fits of unapologetic noise. It’s best in songs like Laser Hannon and You're Late, the sweetness meeting the slap in the face (I feel at this point somewhat like an advert for pre-mixed gin and tonic – the least I can say is that this album is more value for money). Critics could point out that in 26 minutes there’s not much scope to go wrong, but brevity takes bravery and it could all too easily have gone in one ear and out the other.

Simian Mobile DiscoAttack Decay Sustain Release
A pretty exemplary case of Doing a Soulwax in effect, Simian Mobile Disco emerged from their proficient but largely unremarkable tenure as Simian into a world of dancing shoes, disco balls and labels selling body parts for their remixes. They also achieved something rather remarkable for 2007, which was making an entire album that was actually enjoyable to listen to. Where Digitalism, Justice et al failed, ADSR (OK, that’s a bit unlovely) made a summer of rain seem a bit more bright and shiny. Somewhat refreshingly, they decided to leave most of the guitars behind (I heard you sold them to buy turntables, etc.) and concentrated on making a techno pop opus. Wooden effervesces with a sound reminiscent of 808 State, whilst Love is the glory days of Clor come back with an even brighter vision of what pop music should be. All of which isn’t to say that ADSR hasn’t got its own sound, just that it’s not hitched to a hit formula – which is just as well, since twelve Hustlers do not a good album make. This could have been a side thought for an act who make their mark with remixes, but it turned out a genuinely exciting prospect for dance music that might actually give a shit.

The Blood BrothersYoung Machetes
Bring on the h8, but let us speak well of the deceased. This didn’t sound like a swan song to me (apart from, um, Giant Swan) but instead a continuation of what’s always made the Blood Brothers great: attacks on the dancefloor and the world at large, lyrics about the crushing awfulness of modern life coupled with enough energy to say screw it all and shake the mundanity off. Laser Life is equivalent to setting my feet on fire, whilst We Ride Skeletal Lightning is a personal highlight, jagged and squalling like its meteorological namesake leaving a pileup of stricken amplifiers. Frankly, this album is better than my extended metaphors and THAT’S SAYING SOMETHING.

Shocking PinksShocking Pinks
This was the first album I played on moving into my flat this summer in an empty white room, and it still sounds like something new: despite plundering from shoegaze and being an album compiled from two previous efforts, there are still enough quietly beautiful moments to make it stand out. This Aching Deal exemplifies the best moments, filled with that kind of heart-bursting happy/sad thing that Broken Social Scene do so well. Despite the whole inflected coolness from DFA, Shocking Pinks still have the immaturity of real emotion evident in their lyrics, and the air of stumbling upon greatness when it all comes together. Sweet and awkward in its cut and paste way.

Most Well-Remixed Band of the Year
Whilst A Weekend In the City was a largely prosaic affair or at least lacking in the anger that made Silent Alarm so appealing, Bloc Party have remained at the top of my charts this year solely due to the efforts of a few good remixers (and OK, a few plays of that Flux rip with Zane Lowe’s dulcet tones at the end). Tracks gone over by Sebastian (I Still Remember), Crystal Castles (Hunting for Witches) and RAC (Hunting for Witches again and Song for Clay) showed more ingenuity than in their original guises, a trend following on from MSTRKRFT’s rework of the underwhelming Two More Years back in ’05. So far however the Flux remixes haven’t measured up to the original, which I can only take as a good sign for a band who spent a year propped up by others.

Remixers of the Year
Tough one, what with a Hype Machine toolbar search and exposure to all manner of reimaginings, but I’ll share this prize out between two winners. The aforementioned Crystal Castles haven’t put a foot wrong with work on Liars, Health, GoodBooks and The Little Ones amongst others: it’s not just 8bit or electroclash or whatever, but what the best remixes seem to be able to do in finding the emotional heart of a song, twisting it through a sonic mangle, then sprinkling the result with bleepy magic. Sharing the prize are CFCF mostly on the merit of their mixes of Apache Beat and Health (yes, again). It’s all kinda 80s and Ocean Drive but heck it works, from Justice to Health to Cassie and unlike CC they seem to give the same attention to their original work.

7” of the Year That Was Also a Palindrome
Of course this one was tightly run but Mirror Rim by Effi Briest just about took this accolade. Weird swirling /Slits influences with vocals in turn petulant and mesmerising, certainly worth two and a half of my English pounds.

Venue of the Year

After long years in London lamenting the loss of The Garage (dark, sweaty, and intimate) I found my new favourite place in the form of Bardens Boudoir. Particularly a 2007 venue ‘cause I saw the year in by falling onto Max Tundra’s stage, and saw a great deal of fine shows there (largely sterling efforts by Club Motherfucker and Upset the Rhythm). There’s something about not being able to see further than your nose, and performing electrickery in the ladies to get the hand dryer on, that charms me no end. Plus, you get served by these guys!

(stolen from Amelia's Flickr, Barman #2 incidentally wearing T-shirt of the Year: the no-it’s-not-rave one from No Age.)

And so I conclude. All aboard the good ship 2008!


  • bboysgirl

    I just started listening to Shocking Pinks. I like how they do not follow a formula. A lot of bands thesedays sound the same because they're all doing the same thing musically.

    17 jan. 2008, 15h21m
  • psychic_hearts

    i love the shocking pinks!! best of the year for sure. could i maybe recommend some bands to you seeing as you like them and are going to see japanther (also AWESOME). you might like le sport (formerly known as eurosport) and girlsareshort (one of the guys in MSTRKRFT's old band). black kids are an awesome band. i will take your recommendation of cutting pink with knives and see where it takes me.

    6 fév. 2008, 20h08m
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