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Monday, December 31, 2007

The Top 31 of 2007 - #1

Cale's Pick
Field Music: Tones of Town
Released: February 20, 2007

I mean, honestly, who didn't expect me to pick Of Montreal for my album of the year right? I had spent more than a year raving about it being the best Of Montreal album ever, and I've gone on the record several times stating that Of Montreal is my favorite band. To have them at #2, well that must have thrown all of you off!

But at the end of the day (or year, I suppose) there was only one album this year that I would consider completely perfect, one that I wouldn't change a single thing on if I were given the opportunity. That album is Tones of Town by Field Music. (Who? Shame on you!) I was instantly captivated when I first discovered this album while taking a 45 minute drive alone on a dark night back in January. Every song from, "A House is Not a Home" to "Working to Work" is a wonderful example of not only how music should sound, but how it should be made, how it should feel, and how it should affect you. The level of musicianship on Tones of Town is absolutely phenomenal. It's pop music, with violins and cellos, pianos, guitars, pristine vocals, and hints of Queen-esque intrumental flourishes. It is smart, coy, clever, and innocent; sometimes all in the same line. Gentle harmonies of genuine lyrics sweep delicately over meticulously constructed instrumentation with little to no effort at all. It is, again, a truly perfect album. So perfect that even on my worst days I cannot bring myself to skip over a single track. So perfect that when it finally ends, it's a struggle for me to not let it begin playing all over again and again and again.

The appeal of Tones of Town is only heightened by the notion that it may be the last album that Field Music ever makes. The members of the band put the project on haitus for an indefinite amount of time, which is to say they've probably called it quits. But as it stands, they will forever be remembered, by me at least, for this tremendous achievement. Tones of Town is a must-hear, a must-own, and anyone who disagrees should kindly disappear from the face of planet earth.

It is perfect, and therefore it is the only reasonable choice for my #1 album of 2007!

The Top 31 Songs of 2007 - #1
"Challengers" by The New Pornographers, from the album, Challengers.

Jill's Pick
Rufus Wainwright: Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall
Released: December 4, 2007

Actually, I think the title of this album has a lot of exclamation points in it. Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy! I'm the kind of girl that likes exclamation points, but for the sake of my sanity, I'm going with the title I've given it.

I am not a Rufus Wainwright fan. I never have been. There's just been nothing impressive about him to me until recently when he decided to pay tribute to Judy Garland by recreating her famous (infamous?) Carnegie Hall concert from 1961. And really, who doesn't like Judy Garland? That concert was epic because she wasn't 100% on her game, she seemed drunk or high or both the entire time, and while some of those songs really suffered from her being off-key, she really put her heart into it. It is, without a doubt, the best Judy Garland show ever. This concert was epic because Rufus Wainwright really paid tribute to his hero: from the title, to the posters, to the way the stage was set up, to the 36 piece orchestra, to following the exact same set-list as the original concert. He even went as far as inserting his own anecdotes in the same places Judy inserted hers.

Judy wasn't 100% in 1961 and Rufus wasn't 100% in 2006, but you can tell he adores her just by the way this tribute concert sounds. I have a soft spot in my heart for old standards, so this is fantastic for me; I'm constantly passing off mixes with standards on them trying to expose people to that kind of music. Rufus Wainwright has a huge fan base and by going this direction, he's brought them back for an audience that maybe hasn't heard them yet. (Or has and never paid attention to them because of what they are.)

Even though this album only just came out, I've listened to it about 50 times. It's a nice album to bake to. (Holiday cookies anyone?) And yes, you will find me singing along.

Oh. Skip "The Man That Got Away". She couldn't do the whole long holding note thing and neither could he.

My most favorite track on the whole thing: "Who Cares? (So Long As You Care For Me)"

Songs you really, really, really should hear (really):
--"Almost Like Being In Love/This Can't Be Love"
--"Just You, Just Me"
--"Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart"
--"Swanee "
--"Who Cares? (So Long As You Care For Me) "
--"Do It Again"
--"You Go To My Head"
--"If Love Were All"

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