Winter was an extremely strong season, with some of the biggest indie bands releasing new albums. As I said yesterday, some of these picks will seem passé to frequent blog readers and uber-indie fans. Some of the albums have been floating around for download way back into 2006. But there are so many people who still haven't heard them, people who are looking for music beyond what's on the radio or the upper echelon of indie like the Shins and Death Cab. I made this blog to be a place for them.
I'll list my picks, with links to some past posts, followed by the playlist of my Top 10 Plays of the Winter 2007 Season.
Most Improved Player: Of Montreal
On "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer," Of Montreal put together all the best pieces from their past albums to create a record that's equal parts poppy and creepy. They push their melodies into the experimental but never cross into the inaccessible. The lyrics compliment perfectly. This is an album that rewards multiple listens.
Past Baby Heisman post on Of Montreal
Best Foreign Player: Peter, Bjorn & John For indie fans, Peter Bjorn & John are old news, but their album "Writer's Block" didn't see U.S. release until this year. The tight, bass-driven songs show that the album's title is either false or a thing of the past. It would be a shame if people only hear of this band's growing indie backlash and not give the album itself a try.
Past Baby Heisman post on Peter, Bjorn & John
Best Veteran Player: Modest Mouse I did a mini-review of "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" when it leaked earlier this year, one of the few immediate reviews you'll see on the blog. I still feel the same as I did then. With the crossover success of their last record after so many years together and adding a rock icon in ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, the band released an album that fits perfectly in their catalog. It doesn't feel forced or fake. It's not a huge departure but still sounds fresh.
Past Baby Heisman post on Modest Mouse
Draft Bust: Bloc Party I give Bloc Party credit for trying something new on their sophomore album, "A Weekend in the City." It's softer and more nuanced than the crashing sounds of their star-making debut, "Silent Alarm." But after about half the album, I found it to be a bit of a bore. However, Bloc Party is too talented and too serious about what they do to give up on them over this dud, and I'm hoping to catch them live to get a better sense of what they saw in these songs.
Sleeper Player: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah I wrote a lengthy post previously about the absolute silence that followed the release of Clap Your Hands' second album, "Some Loud Thunder." I don't want to repeat myself, but I'm still not sure what everyone was expecting. I wasn't gaa-gaa (that probably isn't in the music journalist's thesaurus) over their debut like many people were, and I think the new album was a solid improvement.
Past Baby Heisman post on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Most Valuable Player: Arcade Fire Despite all that I talked about them, despite my countdown to it's release, this pick was not a gimmie. On "Neon Bible," Arcade Fire lived up to all (reasonable) expectations by turning their roller coaster upside down. Unlike the songs on "Funeral," which build to bigger and bigger crescendos, the "Neon Bible" tracks plummet just when you think they're about to soar.
I took in this album slowly — I still am, actually — only putting it on when I have time to listen from start to finish, and it's been a thrill. Early on, Arcade Fire got a lot of Talking Heads comparisons (so many indie bands do). I think it's most fitting in the sense that this is a driven, talented band with a vision that will always keep things interesting if you come along for the ride.
Think about what it will be like when they release their "Remain in Light."
The Top 10 Plays of the Winter 2007 Season
In no particular order:
So what did I miss? What music that came out this season in the U.S. have you been playing the most? Leave a comment and voice your opinion, too.