posted on November 14, 2007 04:53
Firstly, the albums in question were all listened to on surf trips around the Irish coast this year and were drawn from a shortlist of albums with a copyright of either 2006 or 2007, as albums recorded in 2006 may have, on occasions, only been released in 2007.
Secondly, consideration was duly given to how ‘new’, as in original, sounding the music was.
Thirdly, consideration was also duly given to how much of the album could be listened to without the desire to skip tracks. As a general rule of thumb, if the album contained less than three tracks that Sound Waves wanted to listen to repeatedly and then transfer to the official Sound Waves ‘albums of the year’ test site for further consideration, or as I like to call it, the MP3 player I got free when I ordered some printer cartridges, then it didn’t make the cut.
Fourthly, the albums are arranged in order of preference from one to seven:
- Modest Mouse 'We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank'
- Regina Spektor 'Begin to Hope'
- Laura Viers 'Saltbreakers'
- Maximo Park 'Our Earthly Pleasures'
- Newtown Faulkner 'Hand Built by Robots'
- Xavier Rudd 'Food in the Belly'
- Prince 'Planet Earth'
There are two notable exceptions to this list which I would like to comment on. Firstly, there is no ‘Neon Bible – Arcade Fire’. This is because I am increasingly coming to belief that they are to the Irish music fans of today what Chris Rea and David Gray were to Irish music fans of previous decades. The band smacks to me of having a charisma deficit and have tried to counteract this by turning into a kind of secular, revivalist prayer group. I obviously haven’t seen the light it appears.
Secondly, there is no ‘Magic – Bruce Springsteen’. Partly this is because I have only got the album in the last week and it is probably too soon to judge its merits. However I do find that the sheer “Hey guys, I just plugged my Fender into a bolt of lightening’ rock ‘n’ roll power of ‘Radio Nowhere’ is unmatched anywhere else on the album. As a fan of live Bruce favourites such as ’Ramrod’ and ‘Light of Day’, to which ‘Radio Nowhere’ is a noble successor, I would have hoped that ‘Magic’ as whole would be a bit more up tempo. Although, as I say, its probably too soon to judge.
One final thought on a different subject. 2007 will also be remembered by me as the year that music journalism finally stopped being about music and became focused on technology, law and finance instead.
Three stories defined this trend:
- The rise of the 360 contract
- The download issues surrounding ‘in rainbows’ by Radiohead
- The fiasco that was the Barbara Streisand concert in Castletown
I think it is a dispiriting and negative trend that cheapens the art and practice of music thus suggesting that music, by itself, is not that important to begin with and so is not worthy of serious discussion. It didn’t help that a substantial amount of the coverage given over to the above stories was written by people who were not themselves expert in the areas of finance, technology or law. A particular case in point was the many articles devoted to Prince’s decision to release ‘Planet Earth’ free with The Daily Mail, the coverage of which dwarfed that which was given over to the discussion of the music contained within that same album. And with postings on DRM, Starbucks and short term record contracts, Sound Waves was not immune to this sad trend either, going so far as to state that, "As far as I am concerned, the single most important thing that happened this year in music was MCD being taken to task by the National Consumer Agency over the farce that was the Barbara Streisand Concert" although my underlying reasoning was that if the music business started to focus on customer satisfaction we might see a greater focus put back on signing and releasing new acts.
What can I say, I am to blame as much as anyone although a substantial amount of this blog in 2007 was devoted to music, surfing and, eh, George W Bush's love of mountain biking.
My response was to buy the reissue of Barney Hoskyns’ “Say it One Time For The Broken-hearted; Country Soul in the American South”, a truly beautiful and learned book about music whose heartfelt goal was, “to bring some of those records into your world”. I doubt that the same could be said of much else I read this year in the music press.More ...