Best of First Quarter 2007, Part. I
During the past couple of months-- which included one of the longest periods of inactivity for this blog-- I contemplated completely abandoning this operation numerous times. Mostly due to a pesky issue I had with the template (not to mention my lackluster html skills), I labored under a serious lack of motivation to post new content. Alas, I fixed the technical issue yesterday and decided to make another run at this thing...
As I have been inactive for the entirety of this young year, I've decided to dedicate this "first post back" to a recap of what I've been enjoying the past few months. This three part series of posts will chronicle the 10 albums that I've listened to the most in 2007 and will be presented according to the date when I first heard them.
With my promo copy of this album arriving in mid-November and landing in heavy rotation throughout the remainder of 2006, this one feels slightly less than fresh at this point. But, the 12 track set is uniformly strong and one of the best albums to be released so far this year. From the spectacular opening three tracks, "Muscle n' Flo" (one of my favorite tracks of year), "The Pelican", & "Wet and Rusting" to other album highlights "Rotten Hell" and "My My", Friend and Foe most definitely deserved the widespread blog attention and "first great indie rock record of the new year" praise it received from Pitchfork back in January.
MP3: Menomena - "Wet and Rusting"
I first heard a taste of these guys' latest effort right at the end (12/27) of 2006 when the venerable Gorilla vs. Bear posted the sensational and sure-fire "end-of-the-year mixtape" contender "Listening Man". On the strength of that cut, I immediately got a copy of the album and I've been listening to it regularly since. Opener "Who Knows What the Question Is?" sounds like a modern reworking of the Ringo-sung "Don't Pass Me By" from The White Album with the fiddle swapped for slide electric guitar and sped up a bit. While similarly aping 60s classic rock and soul throughout the remainder, the songs stand up on their own well and rarely come across as mere pastiche. The album is strong from top to bottom until they run out of steam after track 8 "The Ocularist" and proceed to tack two throwaway tracks onto the end. Many other acts mine this same set of influences, but very few do so with the skill, tact, and genuine love for the source material as the Bees.
You, You're A History in Rust is album five from these Toronto-based instrumental post-rockers and marks my first real exposure to the band. Within my first couple of listens back in the earliest days of this young year I was hooked, and I haven't gone long without returning to it. There are a few standout tracks on this eight song, 48-minute piece, but this is the type of album that demands absorbing as a coherent whole and even the best songs sound that much better within the context of the album. Vocals are only present on one tune "A With Living" and are courtesy of members of Akron/Family and Great Lake Swimmers. Sounding quite a bit like Broken Social Scene at times (minus the vocals, obviously), the feel of this album is more focused and uniform than BSS's often thematically varied soundscapes. Don't be fooled by a few middling reviews in some publications that seem somehow disappointed with the direction the band took on this album; it is an expansive sonic experience that I strongly recommend you devote a bit of time to. If you choose to do so, your efforts will undoubtedly be rewarded nicely.
**Stay tuned for parts II & III to be posted very soon...