2007 in Music – Part 3: quick hits

Ok, so lets finish this thing. One more post on 2007 music after this, but here are some short thoughts on a couple releases (albums and singles):

Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings

With a title like this, I had to give it a shot, right? No, actually, but despite the nerdly appeal of the title, this is an enjoyable album. I know little of Dan Deacon, except for the fact that he looks like the type of guy who would create an album with this title. Spiderman is a low-fi adventure in absurdly affected lyrics and sampling. Only about half of the tracks have lyrics and all and even those that do obscure them behind a wall of fuzzy chords. Most track layers sound like they could be played using a simple electronic keyboard, but the nakedness and unpretentiousness of the melodic hooks work with the song-length tracks to create easy-to-digest poppy songs. The tracks are very listenable separably, but I found that running through the 46+ minutes straight a little tiring towards the end, which I credit to the relatively uniform textures among tracks.

Phil K – Hi Fi

Phil Krokidis’s last major release was with fellow Aussie breaksmaster Luke Chable as Lo-Step. Their Because We Can artist album had some fantastically evil breakbeats on top of some lovely melodies and all-around well-produced music. These type of sounds can be found on Phil K’s previous mix discs such as his Y4K entry. While there are some nice tracks on Hi Fi, thats kind of the problem… too nice. The sounds are more genteel and refined rather than dirtied up like his previous releases. While I’m not a big fan of electro, Phil K made that work with breaks and I’m hoping he gets back to doing that in future mix discs.

The National – “Apartment Story”

I usually don’t explore much “indie” music, but after The National’s Boxer kept popping up at the top of all the critics’ yearly lists, I decided it was worth a listen. Though the entire album is pretty good, I found myself drawn to the single “Apartment Story” far more than any other song by an order of magnitude. The first adjective that came to my mind when I heard this song was “respectable”. I attribute this to the highly subdued, fuzzy guitar coupled with the droning tapping of the snare. Lead singer Matt Berninger’s voice is utterly perfect for this attitude, providing a low energy delivery of dream-like lyrics. The lyrics are mournful, but Berninger sings them without coming off as emo. It really is a simple song and The National brings out its beauty extremely well.

LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

My initial reaction to this track was a little dismissive as I felt that in order to buy the song, you had to buy the keyboard section which persists the entire 7.5 minutes of the song, which I didn’t feel was a viable hook. It sounds similar to a phased percussive string section from a minimalist like Steve Reich. A friend of mine told me that he would prefer the track without this keyboard part at all. “But then what would you have left?” I asked. He replied by stating that he liked the song for its lyrics and vocals. These are not usually my thing and I think that this holds even for this track. I tend to be more interested in song structure, instrumentation, and basically elements I would describe as musical philosophy and how they integrate with modern music. James Murphy creates a fantastically layered and complex sound from a very repetitious base of his disco-y drumming and bouncy bass. He blurs the lines between chorus and verse and toys with emotional peaks and troughs, which works well with the melancholy lyrics.

Arbitrary song of the day: Radiohead – A Punch Up at a Wedding

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