Music Blogs - Blogged Blog Directory Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Top 31 of 2007 - #15

Cale's Pick
Okkervil River: The Stage Names
Released: August 7, 2007

For Okkervil River, The Stage Names was nothing special. Coming two years after their brilliant and definitive album, Black Sheep Boy, this one kind of was exactly what you wanted it to be, and everything you expected it to be. The band didn't set out to drastically change their sound or their approach to making music. They just did what they always do: impress. Will Sheff's vocals are drenched with emotion and earnesty. His lyrics are so vivid, so real, that you can close your eyes and get a crystal clear picture of what he's singing about. Then of course the instrumentation is just as impressive as it's always been. Okkervil River is folksy, to be sure, and the album does a great job of balancing out their soft, somber moments with their more rockin' moments. As a result, it feels more cohesive than it probably should. Like I said, it's not that huge of an achievement for Okkervil River. But any other band striving to reach these heights of artistry will have a long, tough battle ahead of them; and few will actually get there. The Stage Names is nothing special for Okkervil River, but Okkervil River, themselves, are extremely special.

For being special in these especially un-special times of unspectacular speciality, Okkervil River winds their way into the #15 spot.

The Top 31 Songs of 2007 - #15
"The Twist" by Metric, from the album, Grow Up and Blow Away.

Jill's Pick
Serj Tankian: Elect the Dead
Released: October 23, 2007

Here's what I know: I'm not the biggest fan of Metal/Hard Rock/whatever we're calling it these days. After a few minutes it all sounds the same to me and it's just whining guitars with a screaming voice thrown over the top of them. If I listen to it for too long, I start to feel edgy and angry because that's the effect Metal/Hard Rock/whatever we're calling it these days has on me, but on occasion you will find me listening to it and even more so, enjoying it. There are a few really great System of a Down songs, ones I keep on my iPod for warm up music or for when I'm feeling particularly angry and want to fuel that anger. (If you didn't know, Serj Tankian is the frontman for SOAD and he's gone solo.)

Here's what else I know: Serj Tankian has the most distinctive and unusual male voice I've ever heard. I don't care what anyone says, the man has an awesome voice that can go from quiet to screaming to bellowing in the span of 3 seconds. In fact, every time I hear him being particularly screechy, I say the same thing: I wish he'd quit that because he's wasting that voice on it. He's also a genius writer and while I prefer not to listen to other people's politics in music (I know, I know, hard to avoid) he's one of the few people where I don't mind hearing it. His world views are insightful and he's somehow managed to capture some kind of voice of his generation.

Doom and gloom is never a bad thing to have on hand. In small doses.

Bonus points for the use of Opera singer Ani Maldjian on his album.

The best track on the album: "Unthinking Majority"

Songs you should give a listen to:
--"Unthinking Majority"
--"Saving Us"
--"Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition"
--"Elect the Dead"

1 comment:

Cale said...

For the record, Serj's voice is awesome, and his range is amazing. But his politics...*sigh*...they ruined System of a Down.

Also, Greg Whatshisface from Dillinger Escape Plan also has does some crazy things with his vocals. He never does the shrilly little girl screams that Serj does (awesomely) but he can go from falsetto, to screaming, to awesome singing in just a few seconds. He's fun to listen to as well.