Archive for the ‘2007 in review’ Category


2007 in review: The National

January 19, 2008

The National – how I love thee. Their album Alligator, released at the end of 2005, may be the first CD that I’ve destroyed through overplaying (it hasn’t left my car for two years, and is now skipping uncontrollably), and they almost single-handedly elicited a trip to Chicago, where they played the 2006 Pitchfork Music Festival. Their 2007 followup, Boxer, with its gorgeously moody B&W photograph on the cover, matching the gorgeously moody music within, turned out to be worthy indeed, also going into permanent rotation and landing on a many a bestof2007 list. But where The National really shone were in their live shows, which somehow manage to be compelling without being theatrical. I also love the way that the magnetic lead singer, Matt Berninger, can gracefully stand aside to let the musicians have the spotlight. I ended up seeing them four times, in three cities (and two countries!) in 2007, including two nights in a row at the Middle East, Cambridge, and they just keep getting better.

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MP3: The National – Fake Empire


2007 in review: The Weakerthans

January 19, 2008

Weakerthans jacket

One of my most-anticipated albums of 2007 was Reunion Tour, from Winnipeg-based The Weakerthans, and it turned out to be worth the wait. Each song is a beautifully-crafted short story, marrying narrative, emotion, and music into a memorable package. The tales range from the fall of a high-flying executive, to the heartrending continuing saga of Virtute the cat, who has now left her owner and is struggling to survive a ‘Peg winter, to the best use of curling as a metaphor for relationships that you’ve ever heard (okay, possibly the only use of curling as a metaphor that you’ve ever heard). Small wonder they are starting to earn the sobriquet of ‘Canada’s band.’

Image: Weakerthans track jacket. Photo by Flickr user the queen of subtle, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.

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MP3: The Weakerthans – Tournament of Hearts


2007 in review: Dan Deacon

December 21, 2007

The best concert I went to in 2007 was twenty minutes long.

I had gone to see Dan Deacon at Avalon, where he started off a concert with Simian Mobile Disco and Girl Talk. As usual, I misjudged exactly how stupidly early Avalon starts its concerts, and I managed to miss him entirely. But a friend of mine texted me to say that Deacon was doing a show at the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain, and so I went home, got my car, and drove out to catch his show. It started at 12:40 pm and ended, thanks to Boston’s draconian licensing laws, at exactly 1 am.

The military spends a lot of energy trying to create sonic weapons that make you want to throw up, run away, or otherwise feel terrible. But no one is systematically trying to find sounds that make you feel really, really amazing. Fortunately, we do have accidental empiricists like Dan Deacon. Something about his music just goes straight to your pleasure centres, makes you happy, and makes you want to dance. It was remarkable – within a few seconds of his starting to play, we were all happily bouncing along. Whatever acoustic anti-weapon he’s discovered, however, doesn’t really seem to be captured in his recorded music. If he plays near you, go see him live, even if you don’t think you like electronic music.

MP3: Dan Deacon – The Crystal Cat

Geek out: An interactive guide to Dan Deacon’s gear.


2007 in review: LCD Soundsystem

November 22, 2007

It’s Thanksgiving in the US, which means I can start thinking about the year 2007 in music. Without question, “All My Friends,” by LCD Soundsystem (off the brilliant album, Sound of Silver) was my defining song for this year. Using an evening out as a framing device, James Murphy incisively considers growing older while finding (and losing) one’s place in the world. You might have to be old enough that you can relate to self-descriptions of ‘with a face like a dad’ and to thoughts like, ‘when you’re drunk and the kids look impossibly tan,’ but I find this song and video deeply poignant. Lest that sounds boring, I should point out that the melancholy lyrics and dry delivery are backed with driving, anthemic musical lines.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his lyrics in this song and in songs like “North American Scum” and “Losing My Edge,” James Murphy is engaging and funny; the Guardian Unlimited music podcast posted a Music Extra interview (MP3s at bottom of page) with him that gives some backstory.

MP3: LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends