Best CDs of 2007: The Ones That Got Away
Our Best CDs of 2007 list will appear soonly in the Feb/March '08 issue (you may even find it posted on the site before that if you dig around some), but I wanted to take a moment and bulletpoint a ten-spot of discs I enjoyed in '07 that 1) didn't get on my personal Top 10 list (also posted) and 2) didn't get a full review either in the mag or on the site. All 10 of these entries are worthy of your time, your ears, and your dollars. (Yes, I said dollars. No stealing now, ya hear?)
1) The Ike Reilly Assassination: We Belong to the Staggering Evening (Rock Ridge Music). I LOVE Ike. Gritty songwriter. Sweaty performer. Knows how to build/bulldoze a groove and stay in it. You may have even heard a song from this album on Dirty Sexy Money recently ("You're So Plain") without realizing it. More good 'n' grimy tunes are coming in the new year, and I'm eager to receive, baby.
2) Shaw-Blades: Influence (VH1 Classic Records). Styx's Tommy Shaw and Night Ranger's Jack Blades teamed up for a highly entertaining, melodic homage to songs that they grew up on, including "Summer Breeze," "California Dreamin'," "Your Move," and "On a Carousel." A great reminder that two guys, acoustic guitars, and an impeccable sense of melody make for beautiful music. A wonderful show to see live, given even greater exposure thanks to a few appearances on The Howard Stern Show. Full disclosure: True, I helped get the Stern ball rolling, but Tommy and Jack did all the real work. (Bonus: Seek out the import version to get a sweet take on Badfinger's "No Matter What.")
3) Night Ranger: Hole in the Sun (Frontiers). Meanwhile, Jack Blades's "day job," Night Ranger, released a pretty damn fine album, albeit only available via import at this time. A fine mixture of power rock ("Tell Your Vision," "Rockstar") and patented power-balladry ("There Is Life," "Fool in Me"). Don't consign them to the pure nostalgia bin just yet.
4) Flight of the Conchords: The Distant Future (Sub Pop). A snarky New Zealand folk duo made into stateside cult stars thanks to their wonderfully witty HBO series, now on DVD. (Favorite character: their hapless manager, Murray.) If the sexy-smiley "Business Time" doesn't hook you, nothing will. The only shame is that there's only six songs here. (Still waiting for the promised full-lengther, mates.)
5) Super 400: 3 And the Beast (Electric Mombie Music). The pride of Troy, New York are my favorite power trio this side of Cream. You want raw energy, great tunes, and killer guitar jams, look no further.
6) Ian Hunter: Shrunken Heads (Yep Roc). The gravelly voice of Mott the Hoople soldiers ever onward, looking back on a full life ("I Am What I Hated When I Was Young") and finding heart where there could've been nothing but an empty husk ("Soul of America").
7) The Woggles: Rock and Roll Backlash (Wicked Cool). The very definition of modern-day Underground Garage, perfectly realized with the gut-punching "It's Not About What I Want (It's What You Got)."
8) Mountain: Masters of War (Big Rack). Leslie West, Corky Laing, and crew do a number on Dylan, 12 tracks deep. These deep cutters swing from electrified scorching to acoustic poignancy -- summed up to a T (or should that be a D?) on the "heavy" and "acoustic" versions of "Blowin' in the Wind," respectively.
9) Storm Large: Ladylike Side One (Big Daddy Large). The brashest, brassiest, sexiest female voice that rocked the ill-fated Rock Star: Supernova goes balls-out on this freight train of an EP. The original song she wrote for/on the show, "Ladylike," shoulda been a mega-hit. "What the what," indeed.
10) Danny & Dusty: Cast Iron Soul (Blue Rose). AKA Dan Stuart (Green on Red) and Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate), who reconnoiter 20 years after their infamous Lost Weekend collab to mix up a fine concoction of rock, country, and dark impulses. Import only at this point, but worth tracking down.
...and that's it! Here's to discovering even more great music in '08! My ears are perpetually hungry, ya know... --Mike Mettler