Pittsburgh Union of Record Geeks electronic

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Lou's Top 20 of 2007, Part 1

Here's the first in a four-part series revealing my choices for the Top 20 records of 2007. Feel free to submit your own list to purgegeeks@gmail.com and I'll strongly consider posting it.

16. SodajerkSodajerk 2

This band pulled out of Pittsburgh headed for Atlanta just when they were getting great and have now apparently gone on hiatus on the heels of this, their fifth and best release. The titles of this album and its eponymous predecessor indicate that the band acknowledged it was just hitting its stride, so let’s hope their layoff is indeed temporary. Frontman Bucky Goldstein was once Alex Brenner, a great indie-pop composer in the early 2000’s local band Manifold Splendour who decided to try his hand at country. Today he is without a doubt Bucky, a truly authentic and talented country writer whether on the heartfelt (“Another Town,” “Long Time Coming”) or the bawdy (“Fuck ‘N’ Fight”). George Jones could sing “Paid By the Tear” without anyone having a second thought. Smokin’ sidemen like guitarist Jim Relja, keyboard player Randy Baumann, fiddler Bill Calhoun, and pedal steel player Pete Freeman help bring it all home. This record is loaded with great licks and tunes. It should dispel any notion of Sodajerk as anything less than a real and a great country band. Now we just have to hope they come back.

17. Jesse Malin – Glitter In the Gutter (Adeline)

This record lacks the immediacy of 2004’s incredible The Heat. The production is a little too “radio-friendly,” let’s say, for my taste, and a few of the lyrics are downright bad. So why do I like it so much? ‘Cause it rocks, Jesse writes ‘em hooky as hell, and dude could sing the goddam alphabet and make it sound like the most intense and emotional thing you could imagine. Malin does have a very distinctive—and really, idiosyncratic—vocal style that could be a sticking point for some, but I for one eat it up. One of the best out there even if he didn’t quite hit the bullseye with this one. “NY Nights” would be an AM radio hit if there was still such a thing, though.

18. Salim Nourallah – Snowing In My Heart (Tapete Ger.)

You pretty much know what you are going to get from both of Dallas’s
Nourallah Brothers—Salim and Faris: Beatles, Badfinger, Kinks-inspired pop. The brothers have been traveling parallel roads since splitting up after their 2001 duet release, an indie-pop high water mark, and Salim takes the sibling rivalry’s prize for best solo release with this one, narrowly besting Faris’ 2003 Problematico. His disposition doesn’t exactly seem sunny (maybe cautiously optimistic at best), but that and his songs are both improved from 2005’s bleak Beautiful Noise. A 100% guarantee for pop lovers on this one.

19. Matt Pond PA – Last Light (Altitude)

I’ve always liked Matt Pond PA, but each succeeding sort of same-y charming soft-pop release (this is their seventh full-length) left me wondering more how long I would stick it out with them. But the feedback intro to the album-opening title track signals accurately that this record is a little different. A good deal of the tracks are pretty propulsive without losing their pop chops. Even a couple of the more sensitive tracks break them out of their previous cello-band m.o.: “Wild Girl” brings to mind an acoustic McCartney sketch, and “Sunlight” isn’t exactly a rocker but has an almost Stonesy swagger. Nothing here should be a total shock to long-time fans, but this record is a necessary step in a slightly new direction.

20. Phosphorescent – Pride (Dead Oceans)

This record is atmospheric. The songs seem like almost an afterthought. But there’s a bunch of crap going on and he is singing things and it sounds freakin’ cool. Think a country Galaxie 500 or Danielson on downers.


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