Firstly, Short Cuts apologises for the length of time between this and the last entry - a situation which will hopefully be remedied by a New Year's Resolution (!).
As is now customary in the 00s (the decade of lists?), Short Cuts has, at last, decided to reveal its releases of 2007 in descending order. But first, let's discuss the disappointments of the past 12 months. There were two that hung over the year like stale smoke.
After a blistering gig in the Enmore theatre as documented by Short Cuts back in April here, Wilco released the MOR Sky Blue Sky. Moving from alt to schmaltz, the record was lazy and confined. Impossible Germany, the only classic song to be added to the Wilco canon, shone like a beacon. What that record could have been... In addition, Short Cuts noted the enmity between 50 Cent and Kanye West prior to their simultaneous album launches. West's Graduation turned out to be the lesser of his "School Triumverate" - it was bloated, lacking in melody and class.
Now onto the list. Bubbling under were The Shepherd's Dog by Iron and Wine, Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and Radiohead's In Rainbows. As always, Short Cuts welcomes comments, insults and the rest!
10 - Under the Blacklight by Rilo Kiley.
A pure pop confection of the highest quality. As has been noted in the reviews, there is more than a whiff of Fleetwood Mac here but don't let that put you off. The production quality is high, the guitars preen and Jenny Lewis' lovely voice wraps itself deliciously around songs about losing one's virginity (15), sex for cash (Moneymaker) and threesomes (Dejalo). Spot the theme?
9 - Raising Sands by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Plant (whose one night stand with the surviving members of Led Zep was the only serious rival to Radiohead's In Rainbows as Musical Event of the Year) and Krauss cover a collection of folk, country and blues standards under the watchful gaze of T Bone Burnett. The result was, for me, the loveliest record of the year. It just swoons out of the speakers.
8 - Baby 81 by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Every self-respecting Best Of list needs a turned-up-to-11, air guitar fest and Black Rebel provided it in Black Spades this year. From the off (Took Out a Loan), the record is compulsive rock'n'roll. Snarling lyrics and thumping drums ensure that the Jesus and Mary Chain comparisons still hold water. But... when the tunes are this good, who cares?
7 - Overpowered by Roisin Murphy
The title track was the Single of the Year - a brash, confident pop song that Kylie, Madonna, Gwen and others of that ilk would give up some serious botox time for. I've always had a soft spot for this kind of sugar rush electro pop. Until the next Goldfrapp release, Overpowered will be on rotation when I need my music to put a smile on my face. Roisin Murphy remains undervalued. A shame.
6 - Moby Grape by Moby Grape
Blending 5 voices and 2 lead guitars, the rerelease of Moby Grape's eponymous 1967 release introduced me to my new favourite 60s band. Mixing pop, blues, country and whatever the hell else they fancied, Moby Grape is pure West Coast US heaven. There isn't a bad song on here but Omaha and Fall On You are particularly special.
5 - Cruel Guards by The Panics
Undoubtedly the Australian album of the year, Perth's The Panics made a record that referenced the 80s, hip hop and pure old-fashioned songwriting. This young foursome have a knack for writing uplifting tunes that are completely moreish. A useful skill. Check out the video for their excellent single - Don't Fight It - here.
4 - Time Machine (A Best Of) by Shack
What a band! Shack have released 3 classic albums in my lifetime (Waterpistol, HMS Fable and The Corner of Miles and Gil) yet they are virtually unknown to all you music lovers out there. This timely (geddit?) compilation will convince you all how right I am - their brilliance is taking the humdrum (Cup of Tea) and making it magical. As good as the Stone Roses and Oasis, these Scousers make perfect psychedelic pop.
3 - Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem
Are LCD Soundsystem too cool for school? Short Cuts used to think so but this new record proves how utterly wrong that perception is. It is a cool record. But in a good way. Referencing Bowie, disco, Krautrock and dance, James Murphy seems to be able to mesh all this together into something that is addictive, fun yet strangely moving too. North American Scum was a great single too.
2 - 23 by Blonde Redhead
This record came out of left field for me. With a male and female lead vocal mix, lush production and gorgeous haunting tunes, 23 has been the record Short Cuts has played most on his MP3 player this year. Ergo it is the new release of the year. Imagine a less obtuse and wilful My Bloody Valentine and you might get close. Dreamy stuff.
1 - The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark
Now I know that a 28 year old bluegrass rerelease of 2 albums on a single disk (that was not even released in 2007!) may strike you all as an unusual choice for Release of the Year. But but but... it's just bloody fantastic. So warm, mellow, tuneful. Gene Clark, of course, went on to great fame with the Byrds but he never bettered these two records he made with guitarist/banjoist Doug Dillard in the late 60s. The highlight is the first record (what a moniker!). Why Not Your Baby was covered by Velvet Crush on their seminal Teenage Symphonies to God. Mournful and joyous mix on this simply brilliant compilation.More ...