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Having once been a relatively enthusiastic proponent of the end-of-year ‘best of’ list, a few years ago I stopped putting these together in favour of just creating an aural review of releases I particularly liked in the form of a CD compilation. I suppose I rejected the idea of trying to rank the year’s releases, to come up with the ‘best album’ of that particular year, as this was forcing me to evaluate the music on a critical/intellectual level that doesn’t work for me – for me music is about feeling; from wanting to bang my head or creep myself out, from getting goosebumps of euphoria to twinges of melancholy… But I suppose it is sacrilege for a music-related blog to come to the end of a year and not attempt some sort of round-up, so rather than create a ranked list justified by socio-political contexts or clever meta-musical references, these are the records (in no particular order) and live performances that have rocked / droned / folked up / brokebeat / hiphopped my world in 2007, that have made me feel



Top 25 Albums of 2007


NarcoAgent Top 25 Albums of 2007

from top, l-r:

Magnolia Electric Co : “Sojourner” boxset (Secretly Canadian)

PJ Harvey : “White Chalk” (Island)

Angels Of Light : “We Are Him” (Young God)

Low : “Drums And Guns” (Sub Pop)

Liars : “Liars” (Mute)

Mammal : “Lonesome Drifter” (Animal Disguise)

Grinderman : “Grinderman” (Mute)

Boris with Michio Kurihara : “Rainbow” (Pedal/Drag City)

El-P : “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” (Definitive Jux)

Vic Chesnutt : “North Star Deserter” (Constellation)

Nina Nastasia & Jim White : “You Follow Me” (Fat Cat)

Om : “Pilgrimage” (Southern Lord)

Scout Niblett : “This Fool Can Die Now” (Too Pure)

Shellac : “Excellent Italian Greyhound” (Touch & Go)

Epic45 : “May Your Heart Be The Map” (Make Mine Music)

Magik Markers : “Boss” (Ecstatic Peace!)

MIA : “Kala” (XL)

Sigur Rós : “Hvarf-Heim” (EMI)

Stars Of The Lid : “And The Refinement Of Their Decline” (Kranky)

Jesu : “Conqueror” (HydraHead/Daymare)

Alela Diane : “The Pirate’s Gospel” (Holocene/Names/Fargo)

Six Organs Of Admittance : “Shelter From The Ash” (Drag City)

Bracken : “We Know About The Need” (Anticon)

Future Of The Left : “Curses” (Too Pure)

Earth : “Hibernaculum” (Southern Lord)




Top 5 EPs/Singles of 2007


NarcoAgent Top 5 EPs of 2007

l-r:

Efterklang : “Under Giant Trees” (Leaf)

Zonderhoof : “Zonderhoof” EP (Sound Devastation)

Joanna Newsom : “Joanna Newsom & The Ys Street Band” EP (Drag City)

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy : “Ask Forgiveness” EP (Drag City/Domino)

Jesu : “Sundown / Sunrise” EP (Aurora Borealis/Daymare)

 



Top 10 Gigs of 2007


NarcoAgent Top 10 Gigs of 2007

Future Of The Left + Infants @ The Luminaire, London (10 March 2007)

Josh T Pearson @ ATP festival, Minehead (27 April 2007)

Nick Cave / Grinderman @ ATP festival, Minehead (28 April 2007)

Dirty Three @ ATP festival, Minehead (29 April 2007)

Scout Niblett @ Bush Hall, London (21 May 2007)

Isis + Boris @ Koko, London (02 July 2007)

Liars @ Madame Jo Jo’s, London (03 July 2007)

Six Organs Of Admittance @ Paradiso (bovenzaal), Amsterdam (12 August 2007)

Sonic Youth do “Daydream Nation” @ The Roundhouse, London (30 August 2007)

Jesu @ Paradiso (bovenzaal), Amsterdam (05 December 2007)


Correctly guess which picture was taken at which gig and I will send you a copy of my “Best of 2007” 2CD compilation (once I’ve pulled my finger out of my ass and actually made the thing). Use the contact form on the Disclaimer page to submit your ‘entry’.



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I’ve written previously how Mogwai served up my last live experience as a Londoner, yet I was but a month-old Amsterdammer before I found myself back in Blighty’s capital at one of it’s most venerable live music institutions – the Roundhouse, home to (apparently) classic gigs by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Doors (their only UK show), Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie (and where My Bloody Valentine will be making their live comeback) – for Sonic Youth‘s run-through of their 1988 album “Daydream Nation“.
Daydream Nation” is considered by many to be Sonic Youth’s finest – personally, that honour goes to the previous year’s “Sister“, but “Daydream Nation” is undoubtedly a landmark work, a greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts collection of alternatively-tuned anthemic rock songs, housed in an iconic sleeve courtesy of the candles of Gerhard Richter

My one previous live Sonic Youth experience was extremely disappointing – a set of pretentious art-wankery & extreme self-indulgence at the Mogwai-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2000, that most likely had the entire audience ticking it off as ‘worst gig of the year’. So I’m really hoping I don’t get burned again, but figure that this Don’t Look Back song-for-song recreation is a safe bet – after all, I know exactly what is going to be played! (not that the Don’t Look Back concept takes the fun out of gig-going – sure you know what is going to be played & in what sequence, but it is the observation of the music in a live context that truly brings it alive, and allows one to marvel at the insight into the how of its creation).

From the opening jangle of “Teen Age Riot” I know I’m in for a treat, and by that song’s end – which has Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo clashing their guitars like lightsabres while the feedback squalls around them – the goosebumps are in full force.

Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation @ the Roundhouse, London (30-08-2007)

The songs really rock, with seemingly more energy than the recorded versions – which makes sense as the band (all so comfortable with their instruments, effortlessly throwing out scorching riffs and striking rock-god poses without even trying) are feeding off the energy of the appreciative audience. When they launch into “‘Cross The Breeze” most of the crowd seem to jump for joy as one, all privately singing along with Kim Gordon: “Let’s go walking on the water / Now you think I’m Satan’s daughter…”

Fifth song in and I’m hit by the revelation that it’s Ranaldo’s vocal (and lyrics) on “Eric’s Trip” – something I’d never before thought about, always just assuming it was Thurston, the same going for “Hey Joni” and “Rain King” – but these are clearly Ranaldo’s songs, fleshed out with the precision pound of Steve Shelley and rapidfire riffs of Kim & Thurston. The band even recreate the musique concrete of “Providence”, Thurston manipulating a recording through a small guitar amp.

Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation @ the Roundhouse, London (30-08-2007)

Then the guitar-string-squeal opening of “The Wonder” leads us into the closing Trilogy of songs, “Hyperstation” being the evening’s slower-burning highlight and “Eliminator Jr.” (probably the ‘people’s favourite’ on the album) getting the crowd into one last headbanging frenzy.

The band do return for an encore of more recent songs closed off with a strangely out-of-tune “Schizophrenia” (my favourite SY song sadly not done justice this night), but this doesn’t add to the experience – the blissed out hour-and-a-quarter of “Daydream Nation” itself was all we needed to be sent out euphoric into the night.



Here is “‘Cross The Breeze“, recorded live at the Noise Now Festival in Düsseldorf, Germany on 27 March 1989 (and released on the Deluxe Edition re-issue of “Daydream Nation”):


Sonic Youth – ‘Cross The Breeze (live in Düsseldorf)



with thanks to amnoti for his writeup



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