Saturday, December 15, 2007

2007 Round-Up (Part 1)

I want to start out by saying that I really liked music in 2007. So many trends are coming back to things that I have always liked and expanding upon them. Daft Punk is cool again, and French house is on top. Justice is on American television. Supermayer and Boys Noize gave the German music scene a swift kick in the pants. A real "new rave" is emerging. Dubstep took over the British mainstream, providing an alternative to the standard club fare. Rock turned to electronic sensibilities to create some truly stunning new albums. Over half of the stuff I really enjoyed this year was created by artists I had not previously heard of. It's all very uplifting and makes the task of looking back and consolidating 2007 and a "year in music" all the more daunting. I'll try anyway though.

Let's get through the negative and the bizarro first so we can move on to more important matters.

That's It?
2007 saw the release of new material from big beat titans The Chemical Brothers and Underworld, along with my favorite drum n bass producer Photek, and none of them lived up to my expectations. None of them were complete failures, but they all fell short in areas that seem easily reworkable. The Chem Bros. We Are The Night simply did not push things far enough. Everything they needed is already in the record, except for the truly stunning moments that make their best songs so good. The title track has some amazing stuff going for it, but it leads nowhere. The chorus dryly repeats itself at what should be the climax of the track. Underworld's new LP faces similar shortcomings, offering a few choice standouts, but also some of the worst songs they've ever made. The there's Form And Function 2 from Photek which shows Rupert Parkes abandoning the sound that he was known for and producing "hardcore" dnb that comes off sounding like any other dnb producer ever. The songs aren't bad, but they're certainly not as entralling as I was hoping for.

'Tronica Oldies
In a strange happening, both Hybrid and The Crystal Method released remix albums of their older material. This isn't bad news but it just seems so obscure. The Hybrid album has some really cool mixes from the likes of Deadmau5 and Boy 8-Bit, but there seems to be a disconnect between the original tracks and the songs these remixers usually work with. Is Hybrid really that cool anymore? TCM chose their remix album to concentrate only on their debut LP, Vegas. While some mixes are better than others, they did manage to wrangle in a mix from MSTRKRFT so good on them. I don't know what else to say other than it's Vegas remixed and it's a little bizarro.

A No-Show
I thought we were getting a Mini-LP from Kavinsky this summer. Then it was "coming soon." Then it was gone and never mentioned again. Same for the "Deadcruiser" video. I know the guy was on tour with Daft Punk and all, but let's make a New Year's resolution to follow through on things, mmkay?

V Live
I want a new Vitalic album. A live Vitalic album does not count.

No Mo Slo Mo
There's a viable excuse for low budget-looking music videos: lack of money. But why are there so many something-happening-in-slow-motion music videos? Even though Vitalic didn't release a new album this year, we all remember his video for "Poney Pt.1" with the dogs and lasers. That was as good as it gets for slow motion music videos. The concept is dead for another couple years. It's time to try something else.

Tepid Sequels
A few returning favorites released albums this year that simply failed to excite like their previous efforts had. Each may be for its own reasons, but all share the same fate: I barely listened to them. The culprits: Arcade Fire, Go! Team, New Pornos, Fiery Furnaces, White Stripes, VHS or Beta, RJD2, Air, Bloc Party, Bjork, Arctic Monkeys, Architecture In Helsinki, Photek, and Underworld. Better luck next time, I guess.

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