Sunday, July 01, 2007

2007.5 - The Half Year in Music

If there's one thing I've learned in almost three years of running it's that running after a night of drinking will always make for a terrible running experience. I was tired, dehydrated, achy and felt just crappy while running. Fortunately I only ran six miles. It also did not help that I was running with two fast women.

The 4th of July is a prime day for 5K/10K races. I'm not going to run in any of them, though. For one thing I need to start watching my spending, and for another, I don't want to give up my day of sleeping in. I have work all the other days of the week, so I'm not about to wake up at 5AM on my one day off.

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It's July 1. We're halfway through the year, so as can be expected it's time to take a look back at the semi-year that was in the world of music. The following is my list of favorite albums from the first half of 2007. I didn't put much thought into this list, and I'm sure the placement of the albums relative to each other will shift at the end of the year.

01 Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I've said enough about how much I love this album. It's a deeply affecting album that can be playful at times and heartbreaking at other points.

02 LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

For an album I admire so much, I'm surprised I haven't listened to it a lot. Perhaps it's because "All My Friends" took my ears hostage for several weeks. The rest of the songs here, though, are also terrific. It almost made me get up and dance.

03 The Shins - Wincing the Night Away Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The first half of this album is just about perfect. It suffers at the end with a couple of lesser songs, but the first two songs alone--"Sleeping Lessons" and "Australia"--make the album a worthy purchase. Throw in one of the Shins' best songs yet in "Turn On Me," with its opening that recalls "Then He Kissed Me", and you have one of the best albums of the year.

04 Feist - The Reminder Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Lovely and amazing.

05 Elvis Perkins - Ash Wednesday Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Much like Sound of Silver, a couple of brilliant songs on Perkins's debut have taken up most of my attention, but oh, what songs! "While You Were Sleeping," a song I've already chosen as a Song of the Week, and the title track pierce the heart with their indelible expressions of courage in the face of grief. A professor of mine once told our class that there are no such things as depressing books. The only depressing books are bad ones. Ash Wednesday is far from depressing. It's pure catharsis.

06 Arcade Fire - Neon Bible Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Its spell has worn off a little, but Arcade Fire's follow-up to Funeral is still a powerful work. It may move back up my list if I take some time away from it and listen to it later, though.

07 I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's an album I turn to when I need something giddy and sweet. It's like the happiness of children distilled and packaged for hipster consumption.

08 Bright Eyes - Cassadaga Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Connor Oberst is more mature and a more sophisticated songwriter in this one. He is also still as preachy as ever, which is a problem only when he resorts to clunky lyrics. "If the Brakeman Turns My Way" has a chorus to die for, but it's also tethered to some weak verses. Enough with the Babylon references.

09 The National - Boxer Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's not as pleasing as Alligator and too moody for my palate, but the National are certainly here to stay. I'm loving several of the songs, but all together it's a bit monotonous. "Apartment Story," "Start a War" and "Fake Empire" are must-hears.

10 Lavender Diamond - Imagine Our Love Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I still can't pinpoint why I adore Lavender Diamond so much. I've only listened to Imagine Our Love a few times, but I already know my affection for it will grow and grow. I still see why some would see gimmickry in Becky Sharpe's ethereal vocals, but to me it feels like a warm blanket around my heart.

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