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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Top 31 of 2007 - #13

Cale's Pick
ContraNova: Infinity In All Directions
Released: May 2007 (?)

In case you haven't been paying attention these last months, let me give you a quick recap about who ContraNova is, why I love them, and why you should too; because this very well may be the last time I ever write about this great album.

I'm always skeptical when an artist or label sends me an album to review. First off, it doesn't happen too often, as Audio Overflow is still a pretty small blog (though we're growing). Secondly, when I do get promotional copies of CDs, the almost always sound awful. The lone exception to this rule is ContraNova, out of Elgin, TX. Sean Craypo, who is essentially the only permanent member of the group, sent me an email several months back asking me if I could review his album, and I conceded. I received my copy in the mail just a few days later and put it into my stereo to listen. I listened to the first two songs. They weren't so bad. The lyrics were good, I thought, so I pulled out the CD insert to read along. It was then that I realized that Infinity In All Directions is a concept album. The official description reads, "This album tells the story of a man’s quest to build a time machine, his seeming success and the experiences that follow, and his eventual entrapment in the past that leads to an uncertain future." That's about as good as a description as any.

But the beautiful, genius thing about Infinity In All Directions isn't the sci-fi nature of the story, but the personal struggle that the hero must overcome. In traveling to the past without any way of immediately returning to the future, he completely disconnects himself from his true love. The album follows the hero as he tries to repeat his life exactly how he had in the past in order to once again end up with his love, and it chronicles the hardships he endures as a result. The songs on Infinity In All Directions are all introspective and surprisingly personal, considering Craypo writes as a disconnected omnipotent (or does he?), and the insight we gain into the hero's now-troubled existence is priceless.

But perhaps the greatest attribute that ContraNova flaunts is Craypo's flawless lyricism. Every moment of the album is flooded with perfect verses, and a single line will stick with you, haunt you, long after it is spoken. They are humbly written though, nothing as outlandish or whimsical as Ben Gibbard thankfully. A simple line like, "I have been told God hears all my prayers. God must be lonely to listen to me," not only speaks volumes about the hero's own loneliness, but can also be related to anyone listening to the song.

If I sound like I'm babbling, or writing review #2 of Infinity In All Directions, I apologize. Like I said, this is the last time that I intend to write about this great album. I wanted to make sure that it went out with a bang. Hopefully you'll take my advice and pick up a copy. You could go to ContraNova's myspace page and sample a few songs, but this is an album that really needs to be listened to in its entirety to be appreciated. It is one of the best albums of 2007, and you are cheating yourself if you let this one go by unnoticed.

For surprising me over and over again, ContraNova time-travels to the #13 spot on my list.

The Top 31 Songs of 2007 - #13
"Taking Control" by Eisley, from the album, Combinations.

Jill's Pick
Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger
Released: June 26, 2007

It's really hard for me to truly appreciate any new Ryan Adams song for one reason: "Magnolia Mountain." It is one of my favorite songs and I am guilty of hitting repeat once it's over so I can hear it again. It is a song that is always (I mean always) floating around inside my head and that makes it this near impossible standard for Ryan Adams to meet.

I don't think the man will ever create another song as glorious as that one, but he does try. And this time, with Easy Tiger, he tried it the sober way. (You know, for some people, sober just doesn't work.)

It's like a classic Country album. Like I've busted out some old Willie Nelson and fired it up for my listening pleasure. It's a mix of Pop and Bluegrass and Country. It's poetic. It's another one of those short albums. It takes a while to get used to and once I did get into it, I realized it's all of his albums and styles meshed together into one.

Songs about love, pain, self-loathing, fear, onesided relationships, want. "Magnolia Mountain" they aren't, but they aren't that bad.

My favorite track: "These Girls"

Songs you should give a listen to:
--"Oh My God, Whatever, Etc."
--"Off Broadway"
--"Pearls On a String"
--"These Girls"

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