Best Recordings of 2007: Rock/Pop/Soul/etc.

dap_kingsAs the pop music mainstream becomes ever more corporate, lowest common denominator music aimed at mall-culture teens dominates. Outside the mainstream, though, diversity reigns and anything can happen. The most interesting part of this phenomenon is that it’s mostly happening on small labels. When you don’t have to sell a minimum of 500,000 (or whatever) copies of an album to hit your corporate goals – when 50,000 is considered a runaway success – a lot more interesting things can happen, or are allowed to happen. So there’s no need to lament the decline of your favorite genre, be it pop, rock, soul, because if you look beyond the flashy flavor of the month, there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone) Freshly minted soul like the good old days. Check out “100 Days, 100 Nights”: Dengue Fever: Escape from Dragon House (M80) Cambodian garage psych from Los Angeles, with a real Cambodian pop star on vocals and an Ethiopian vibe added to the mix. Okay, it really came out two years ago, but it wasn’t until 2007 that it got wide distribution. And they kick ass live, don’t miss them. “Sni Bong”: Björk: Volta (Atlantic) Iceland’s finest and weirdest got some of her beats from Timbaland, which a lot of people do nowadays. What she did with them, nobody else does. It’s hard to believe a major label issues stuff this far out. Read all about it here. “Earth Intruders”: Old Time Relijun: Catharsis in Crisis (k) The press release for this album said that the post-punk, No Wave, and Captain Beefheart comparisons are overdone. It’s true that leader Arrington de Dionyso’s musical vision is highly original, and the suggested Yes Wave tag is clever, but it’s also true that fans of those three aforementioned reference points are prime candidates to dig this. “Tigers in the Temple”: Love of Diagrams: Mosaic (Matador) Speaking of post-punk…. But unlike a lot of recent-vintage post-punk, this Aussie trio doesn’t secretly want to be disco. “No Way Out”: Arcade Fire: Neon Bible (Merge) A now sound with unironic classic-rock grandeur. No sophomore slump here. “No Cars Go”: CocoRosie: The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (Touch and Go) Not freak folk anymore. Freak-hopera, maybe. Arch and twee and, to some ears, insufferable, I’m sure, but if you’re in the mood, magical and transformative. “Rainbowarriors”: Sally Shapiro: Disco Romance (Paper Bag) Old school Italo-electro-disco from Sweden that’s cute and charming and catchy as hell. "Hold Me So Tight": The Shins: Wincing the Night Away (Sub Pop) Indie-rock icons mature and acquire a real recording budget, as discussed here. “Phantom Limb”: Tinariwen: Aman Iman: Water Is Life (World Village) Desert nomad soul blues grooves. “Cler Achel” : Hope you enjoyed these videos. Let us know what other songs you were grooving on in 2007. - Steve Holtje sholtje.jpgMr. Holtje is a Brooklyn-based poet and composer who has twice as many CDs in his apartment as are in Sound Fix, the Williamsburg record store he works at. He has been informed by his wife that endless shelves displaying CD spines don't qualify as esthetically pleasing home decoration; thus, one of his New Year's resolutions involves removing all CD shelves from the bedroom.