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SOUNDSCAPES staff BEST OF 2007

 

These are the 25 fave new releases and reissues of 2007 as chosen by the staff of Soundscapes. All 14 members of staff chose their own 15 most loved albums in each category. Each album was then weighted by points (i.e. 15 points for a #1 pick, 14 for #2, and so on) and the totals were added for this list.

 

Top 25 New Releases of 2007

perris.-tinymirrors.jpg1. SANDRO PERRI - Tiny Mirrors
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. We could get caught up in a bunch of metaphors to describe this album, but sometimes it just makes sense to call a spade a spade. Whether it's Perri's singing, the band's playing, or the well-honed songwriting, everything about Tiny Mirrors truly is beautiful. - John


 

andre%20ethier%20-%20blue%20fog.jpg2. ANDRE ETHIER - On Blue Fog
When folk musicians in the '60s tried to make a "rock" record, it would come out disjointed and awesome. This record is in that tradition. It just goes to show that good songs, no matter how built up or stripped down, are good songs. - Jay


 

panda%20bear-person%20pitch.jpg3. PANDA BEAR - Person Pitch
Mixing things can be tricky. If you mixed peaches and cheese as an ice cream, you would probably ralph something fierce. But, if you took catchy Buddy Holly-esque vocal lines backed by dreamy loops, you would have this tasty musical sundae. If you're lactose intolerant, then skip my witty euphemisms and just enjoy this record. - Jay


wyattr.-comicopera.jpg4. ROBERT WYATT - Comicopera
Although sporadic in output, Robert Wyatt records never fail to produce some sterling, inspiring moments. More indebted to classical composition than some of his past releases, the album runs the gamut from spoken word pieces to deeply affecting ballads to tunes that can only really be called "a Robert Wyatt song". Unlike anyone else. - John
 

high%20llamas-can%20cladders.jpg5. HIGH LLAMAS - Can Cladders
I basically had forgotten how much I loved this band. Sure, they put out records every couple of years, but they never reached the highs I set for them with their masterpiece, Hawaii. When I first heard this record, i quickly wrote it off as another likeable effort by main songwriter Sean O'Hagan, but repeated listens have led me to believe that this record is in fact their true masterwork. - Dan
 

musk%20ox-fever%20dream.jpg6. MUSKOX - Fever Dream
The second 3" EP by this highly original local group--the perfect length for their epic suites of jazzy minimalism. - Craig

 


 

black%20dice-load%20blown.jpg7. BLACK DICE - Load Blown
Heavy weird beats. Who knew noise could get so danceable? Listen to it loud. - Iris

 


 

silt-cats%20peak.jpg8. THE SILT - Cat's Peak
Three guys who know a thing or two about collaboration. As a part of Toronto’s Rat Drifting collective, each shares their talents in a myriad of configurations as members of The Reveries, Double Suicide, and Drumheller. Situated somewhere between improv, folk, Renaissance, and soul music, Cat’s Peak is the type of tender, understated album that happens when three friends make music with equal measures of comfort and curiosity. - John

 

timber%20timbre-medicinals.jpg9. TIMBER TIMBRE - Medicinals
I have been whistling the opening melody ever since I first listened to it. This CD has invaded my stereo and my brain. I can't get enough! - Jon

 


 

sadies-new%20seasons.jpg10. THE SADIES - New Seasons
Wow. The Sadies have done it again. How they manage to make album after album full of lyrical and instrumental ingenuity is beyond me. Perhaps while the rest of us were eating Shreddies growing up, the Good Brothers were eating Banjo-O's full of twang, and drinking some sort of musical tonic. - Julie 


 

nifty-sparrow.jpg11. NIFTY - A Sparrow! A Sparrow!
He's a soul man. There are a plethora of sounds to explore on this album--a refreshing and diverse listen that doesn't repeat itself. Reich-ian low end theories traveling circles in a raspberry beret. And the man can sing. True fusion music. - Isla


 

old%20soul-gold.jpg12. THE OLD SOUL - Gold
Mad scientist comes down with rare island fever strain pop-hookosis; quarantines himself from society and passes recovery time by self-teaching alchemy and metallurgy; never fully heals, prone to expelling random melodies that are highly contagious. - John


 

wooden%20shjips-st.jpg13. WOODEN SHJIPS - Wooden Shjips
That bass... I could marry that bass. Psyched-out trance vibes. Vocals rendered in the style of Suicide/Silver Apples. Post apocalyptic psych, sucking from the mammary glands of a cosmic unicorn... the last standing cosmic unicorn! You see, the last of their race was exterminated in the great battle of 2356 for ownership of the world's last tab of acid. - Julie

 

getatchewex-moa%20anbessa.jpg14. GETATCHEW MEKURIA & THE EX - Moa Anbess
So last year everyone got turned onto Ethiopian music. Well, The Ex (avant-punk group from the Netherlands) knew about it all along and decided to make an album with the King of Ethiopian saxophone, Mr. Mekuria. Get ready for something ethno-fierce.
- Julie

 

dirty%20projectors-rise.jpg15. THE DIRTY PROJECTORS - Rise Above
Dave Longstreth makes really good music. His albums are as enjoyable as they are interesting. For Rise Above, he took the Paul Menard approach to writing and "composed" Black Flag's Damaged. The DP version has some beautiful harmonies, a little more Mariah, a little more Prince, and some complicated guitar licks. - Iris

 

bees-octopus.jpg16. THE BEES - Octopus
Getting a new record to sound like the Nuggets box set is a true feat. It's like they said, "Hey Jay, we formed for your enjoyment."
And I'd be like, "Yo, that rules!"
And they'd be like "We're going to make you a new record once every two years."
And I'd be like, "You're my best friend." - Jay

drewkevin-spirit.jpg17. BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE presents KEVIN DREW - Spirit If...
I’m always hesitant when a member of one of my favourite bands decides to release a solo record, however in the case of Broken Social Scene it almost seems mandatory. That being said I was a bit shocked when the “solo” record has as much punch and energy as any BSS release, perhaps even more. Where I was expecting a more quiet, intimate record instead it’s a straight-on rock record full of anthems. A very pleasant surprise! - Jason

deerhoof-friend.jpg18. DEERHOOF - Friend Opportunity
If a whole rack of Japanese candy formed a band that was fronted by a koi fish and a lucky dragon it still wouldn't be one-tenth as bizarre, fun, trippy, or cool as this. "Choo choo choo choo/ beep beep" = the best chorus of 2007! - John


 

hawleyr.-lady's%20bridge.jpg19. RICHARD HAWLEY - Lady's Bridge
Another romantic masterpiece by Sheffield, England's favorite son. Hawley's fifth album offers up more of his beautifully melancholic orchestral pop with some rockabilly twang thrown in for good measure. The ghosts of crooners like Roy Orbison and Lee Hazlewood show up in Hawley's smoky vocals and the orchestration hints at Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. But make no mistake, Hawley uses his influences to create his own distinctive sea of heartbreak. Music tailor-made for late sleepless nights... - Phil

black%20milk-popular.jpg20. BLACK MILK - Popular Demand
I don't know how it slipped under the radar of most of the rap world, but this self-produced record is by far the most interesting thing to come out of hip hop this year. Not only can this kid rap, but he is making some of the best sounding beats out there. A great record for restoring the faith of longtime rap listeners--hopefully, this fills a void left in the Detroit scene since Jay Dee's passing last year. - Dan

lekmanj.-night%20falls.jpg21. JENS LEKMAN - When Night Falls Over Kortedela
The album that almost wasn't, but I'm glad it was. Jens returns with sad
songs you can dance to. This ain't twee, this is pop perfection. - Joe

 


 

six%20organs-shelter.jpg22. SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE - Shelter From The Ash
Both new and old fans of Six Organs will be pleased with this one. It's fuzzed-out psych folk full of dark groove and wall of sound guitar riffs. - Jon

 


 

noneckbluesband-ninevictor.jpg23. NO NECK BLUES BAND - Nine For Victor
NNCK pull a Teo Macero with this live Victoriaville set, splicing together one of their most concise and cohesive albums in the process. - Craig



 

dungen-tio%20bitar.jpg

24. DUNGEN - Tio Bitar
Listening to psych in different languages is great. You never get distracted by the hilarious lyrical content. I think this dude is singing about the mystic unicorn being sad at the lotus for stealing his smile, condensing it into a potion that will save the entire race of elves. Just give me rock. - Jay

 

reveries-bologna.jpg25. THE REVERIES - Live In Bologna
Even without the slobber-strewn and cross-wired visuals to go on, these mushmouthed standards paint quite the picture, albeit one that's a little fogged-up and smeared from irreverent mishandling. - Craig

 

 

 

 

Top 25 Reissues of 2007

benjorge-forca%20bruta.jpg1. JORGE BEN - Força Bruta
Força Bruta became required listening to get me kick-started for Saturday nights this past year. There's a simplicity and infectiousness to Jorge Ben's music that makes this one of his first truly great albums. Now if someone could finally reissue his self-titled 1969 classic… - Ernest

 

thisheat-deceit.jpg2. THIS HEAT - Deceit
Thank you again, This Heat, for being so distinct and compelling. Deceit, the group's second and last album, has as much experimentation as the first, but more of a focus on songs and structure. The searing drive of their compositions is aided by punctuating vocal lines and interesting percussion borrowed from world rhythms. This album is quite angular, and perhaps the closest things you can classify it as are experimental punk or confrontational prog. - Iris

blue%20gene%20tyranny-blue.jpg3. "BLUE" GENE TYRANNY - Out Of The Blue
Track 1: Stroll with me through some friendly inspiration/a sexy-saxophone medley bonanza.
Track 2: Cosmic-shock funk-jam.
Track 3: "My thoughts in space" with mellow opera.
Track 4: Riding a train + half-hour stream of consciousness.
Which avant-garde composer of the '80s had the most fun? You better believe this album is miraculously cohesive. - Iris

pekos%20yoro%20diallo-st.jpg4. PEKOS & YORO DIALLO - S/T
The first and finest release from grey-market archivist label Yaala Yaala, with gruff, raw vocals and spike lute so commanding, it had our ears wanting to hear the rest of the label's Malian finds. - Craig

 

 

va-bearded%20ladies.jpg5. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Bearded Ladies
Thank Devendra Banhart and his gang of ragtag bohemians for the 'freak folk'  label that has been given to a lot of new psych-folk. Thank Finders Keepers for rolling with that theme and coming up with this wistful, psychedelic comp that highlights femme folk artists from the past thirty years. Check it out. - Julie

 

moseslee.jpg6. LEE MOSES - Time & Place
Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a stunning reissue comes along and reassures you that music truly is a bottomless well of treasures to be discovered. You’ve never heard anyone sing with as much heartbreaking intensity as this. Mr. Moses is no one-trick pony either: he can play a damn funky guitar! - Greg

 

stones.-collection.jpg7. SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE - Reissues
When I first picked up the original CD issue of There’s A Riot Goin’ On, I vowed to never buy another Sly Stone disc until they were properly remastered. It was worth the wait. Seven records of some of the greatest funk songs ever written with virtually no filler. Months later, I’m still digesting it. - Ernest

 

va-rebel%20music2.jpg8. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Rebel Music, Vol.2
It's been almost 30 years since Rebel Music Vol.1, so I was understandably confused as to why Trojan would wait until now to finally release the follow-up. It seems they were waiting until adequate material had surfaced in order to merit continuing the series. Although there are a few tracks that were familiar to me, the majority of this compilation is packed with previously unreleased tracks, proving that despite the never-ending stream of reggae reissues, there are still some serious treasures lurking in the Trojan vaults. - Dan

youngn.-massey%20hall.jpg9. NEIL YOUNG - Live At Massey Hall
"Hi, my name is Neil Young. I'm just going to play some songs for you guys tonight, I guess. By the way, I have some new songs, umm, you haven't heard 'em yet, so I might play them, might not... Oh, and did I forget to mention that they're, uh, SOME OF THE GREATEST SONGS OF ALL TIME? Where are my manners..." - John

 

relatively%20clean%20rivers-st.jpg10. RELATIVELY CLEAN RIVERS - Relatively Clean Rivers
BBQ, horseshoes, cans of beer, and a lake. Now all we need is some music. Hmmm, let's see... The Band, CCR, Led Zeppelin... WAIT, what's this?! YEAH! Lazy country funk. I got my feel good hit of the summer. CANNONBALL!!! - Jay

 

 

sun%20ra-night%20of%20purple.jpg11. SUN RA - Night Of The Purple Moon
When Sun Ra breaks out the Roksichord, you know you're in for a good time--the Arkestra's own rollicking barrelhouse parallel to Miles' Jack Johnson sessions. - Craig



 
va-b%20music.jpg12. VARIOUS ARTISTS - B-Music
Road trips are fun. One time my friends and I tried to rhyme everything with "I-like-a-the-boys". It went on for so long that my brain turned off and I soiled myself. This is why mixtapes (or compilation CDs as they call them nowadays) are handy. - Jay


 

chubby%20checker-71.jpg13. CHUBBY CHECKER - Chubby Checker '71
When I write my worldwide hit dance number, I'm going to take my massive royalty cheque and debunk to Amsterdam. There, I'm going to ingest God knows what, and cut a psych-soul masterpiece with Curtis Knight of Jimi Hendrix fame. Damn! Beaten to the punch! Oh well, at least with this album I can forgive those "McTwist" commercials... - Jay

 

watsonj.-untouchable.jpg14. JOHNNY "GUITAR" WATSON - Untouchable
If good 'n' greasy gutbucket r'n'b is the bag you're in, then you can't go wrong with this kick-butt collection of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's late '50s - mid '60s recordings. Powered by his biting blues guitar licks along with some occasional orchestration, the 27 songs on this CD are soulful gems. Get a load of Watson's powerful vocals on tunes like "Sweet Lovin' Mama," while on "Gangster of Love," he proves himself to be quite the dapper rapper a good fifteen years before the emergence of hip hop. - Phil

banksfamily.jpg15. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Larry Banks' Soul Family Album
This sublime compilation could just as well have been titled after one of the songs included on it: “Living in The Land of Heartache”. Every song is about a matter of the heart, the richest source of musical inspiration there is; most are about the tough times--cheating, jealousy, and heartbreak--but amazingly, listening to all this suffering is a joyful experience. - Greg


velosoc.-little%20more%20blue.jpg16. CAETANO VELOSO - A Little More Blue
On exile from his native Brazil, Veloso embraced London's language and its charms to create his first English album. Mellow & ballady, this takes his real-life isolation and turns it into a seductive hidden gem of an album. - Dan

 

 

byrned.-knee%20plays.jpg17. DAVID BYRNE - The Knee Plays
I've always loved David Byrne's soundtrack for the play The Catherine Wheel, but then its place in my heart got totally usurped by this gem. The Knee Plays is half mellow instrumental tracks and half repetitive marching-band ditties. With almost entirely brass instrumentation and percussion, one track features Byrne singspeaking a humorously self-contradictory stream of conciousness about the future. This is infectious. - Iris

hawkins.d%20-%20lamemphis.jpg18. DALE HAWKINS - L.A., Memphis and Tyler, Texas
I consistently fall short in trying to describe this record. Inevitably, I will cop out and compare it to the excellent swamp-rock records that Link Wray made in the early 70s or Jim Ford' s also-amazing merging of country-rock with gospel and soul reissued this year. But both of these comparisons do not fully describe this album. It feels like Hawkins had a ball making this record which is full of loose and funky country-tinged jams. This reissue arrived to much acclaim and I feel that its "lost classic" status is truly merited. - Dan

sillj.-live%20london.jpg19. JUDEE SILL - Live In London
Though all of the introductions may be a bit meandering for some folks, the crazy life energy of this lady is off the charts. It's like she can't get it out fast enough. I can't enunciate when I sing along to her songs. She was on another tip, like Jekyll and Hyde in one album. You get 'em both here. - Isla

 

 

va-ethiopiques.jpg20. VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Very Best of Ethiopiques
Like stumbling upon a yardsale with every imaginable didn't-know-I-needed-it trinket, this double disc bonanza is the ultimate way to satiate your as-yet-unidentified craving for all styles of music that is Ethiopian. As an aside, if you've never tried Ethiopian food before, do yourself a favour and try that too. - John

 

fordj.-sounds.jpg21. JIM FORD - Sounds Of Our Time
R.I.P. I'm glad this hard character got somewhat of a hero's send-off before he passed. This album needs to be heard. - Jay

 


 

stillss.-just%20roll%20tape.jpg22. STEPHEN STILLS - Just Roll Tape
Who knew that before the alcohol guzzling, poor wardrobe choices, and general lack of self respect, there existed a songwriter of such intimacy. Melody flows as easily as the flurry of cocaine that he inhaled like so many young groupies at a Led Zeppelin after-show party. But seriously, this is good. - Isla


 

nathamuni%20brothers-madras1974.jpg23. NATHAMUNI BROTHERS - Madras 1974
Carnatic clarinets and brass influenced by British military bands, all backed by relentless tabla work, makes for one intense and entrancing listen. - Craig

 

 

czukayh.-movies.jpg24. HOLGER CZUKAY - Movies
Who wouldn't want to get "Cool in the Pool" with the bassist from CAN? I can't get enough of that blissed-out disco-prog opening track about swimming. The rest of the album pleases similarly. - Julie

 

 

rayb.-walatta.jpg25. BRENDA RAY - Walatta
Although EM impressed us earlier in the year with its fine crop of surf soundtracks, it was this set of truly timeless lover's dub--with rhythms recorded in the 70s and overdubs done in the last ten years--that most dazzled. - Craig