Pittsburgh Union of Record Geeks electronic

Monday, December 03, 2007

Lou's Top 20 of 2007, Part 3

Here's the third 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.

6. Southeast Engine – A Wheel Within A Wheel (Misra)

An incredibly imaginative and varied sophomore set from this Athens, OH band that runs the gamut from country-folk to Beatle-y pop to grunge, sometimes—like on “Psychoanalysis”—all on one song. I guess the closest comparison may be to Ryan Adams’ schizophrenic oeuvre. Great melodies and enthusiastic instrumentation are the common threads throughout.

7. Mark Olson – The Salvation Blues (Hacktone)

Once upon a time—when he was leading the Jayhawks on their initial early ‘90s burst of greatness—Mark Olson was the next Gram Parsons. Then, like Gram, he headed out to Joshua Tree never to be heard from again. OK, really he retreated to the California desert with his wife and fellow singer-songwriter Victoria Williams (“Some people came here to die, we came here to live,” he sings on the virtually perfect “Clifton Bridge”) and made a few pleasant enough albums under the moniker Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers. Unfortunately, it seems like it took their separation to precipitate Olson’s return to greatness here. The intensity and longing that make him one of the best vocalists ever committed to disc are back in force, and this record is chock full of touching, heartrending, and great songs worthy of his early work.

8. P.G. Six – Slightly Sorry (Drag City)

P.G. Six is New Yorker Pat Gubler and cohorts, who make their Drag City debut here. This reminds me a lot of ‘60s/’70s psych-folk genius Tom Rapp of Pearls Before Swine, which is saying a lot. It is beautiful and haunting. That’s really about all I can say.

9. Dave Gleason’s Wasted Days – Just Fall to Pieces (Well Worn)

Who says real country music is dead? These Californians unleash weepers complete with Telecaster-pedal steel tradeoffs and plenty of Gleason’s twang. Sure, “Right Back To Her Heart” owes heavily to Burritos-esque post-rock country with its Sneaky Pete-inspired psych-steel, but it leads right into “Train of Blue,” which could have come out of Sun Studio circa ’55. They go even further back with the country-blues of “Rusty Ol’ Halo” and the pure jukebox gold of “The Good’s Been Gone.” How about Western Swing on “Take Your Memory With You.” The aching ballad title track. And on and on through the annals of Americana in authentic and convincing fashion. There may not be another band like this one in the world today but God knows there should be.

10. The Dreadful Yawns – Rest (Exit Stencil)

Another beautiful, breezy, rootsy pop outing from these great and unheralded Clevelanders, and perhaps their best yet. Fittingly, they throw in a cover of a great and unheralded early Gram Parsons tune, “November Nights,” and it speaks volumes about the group’s own songs to say that it fits right in.


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