Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Raising Sand - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

       The pairing of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant immediately seemed like a cool idea to me. Throw producer T-Bone Burnett into the mix, and you've got a must-have album. I originally picked this up for my wife, Jill, who's a big Alison Krauss fan, but later commandeered it for my own evil review purposes.  
Krauss and Plant make a convincing duet couple, whether the music is ethereal or a bouncing honky-tonk.  Their harmonizing on "Killing the Blues" is the closest I've come to a religious musical experience in awhile.  This is solid ground for Krauss, with some of the music echoing her work with Burnett on the 'Cold Mountain' soundtrack.  Plant is the one off the reservation, but sounds right at home in this world that has a roots country flavor.  Of course, he proved himself an adaptable singer long ago.  Krauss is not without surprises herself, channeling Dolly Parton on "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson" and playing the male role on that song as well as "Through the Morning".
T-Bone Burnett can do no wrong.  High off a decade of successes like 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?', 'Cold Mountain', and 'Walk the Line', he evokes memories of those earlier projects through his production and inventive instrumentation.  But it's Krauss and Plant who are center stage here, carrying the listener with them on their vocal journey.

Memory Almost Full - Paul McCartney

To make this list I just looked at the new stuff I bought in 2007 and thought, "What 5 do I want to hear?" 'Memory Almost Full' falls short of 2005's 'Chaos & Creation', but it's still a well-crafted album with plenty to enjoy. Few do symphonic-tinged pop like Macca, and "Feet in the Clouds" is the highlight of the set. Other choice nuggets are the powerful thrum of "House of Wax" and the story of the determinedly suicidal "Mr. Bellamy". The rest is a solid listen, except for the indulgent screecher, "Nod Your Head", that closes the album.

Not many of us get to write our own epitaph, but McCartney does in "The End Of The End". It's his message to those who'll mourn him after he's gone - don't be sad when I die because this life was great. It's no career coda, though, as it's clear that this music legend, even at 65, has more music coming our way.

The Distant Future EP - Flight of the Conchords

The best show on TV in 2007 is one of the best albums of 2007, well, ok, it's a 5-song EP. But, you can download plenty of Flight of the Conchords other stuff off of the web and make your own albums. "Business Time" stars a clueless boyfriend in a groove reminiscent of Beck circa 'Midnite Vultures'. "What Your Into" is another boyfriend, this time a guy who rides the dichotomy of being sexually tentative and overly forward. "I'm Not Crying" is a parody of an overwrought '70s ballad, with choice lines like "How come we've reached this fork in the road yet it cuts like a knife." Then we meet "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room", who's so hot she "could be a part-time model". "Robots" is their tour-de-force, an epic tale told from the point of view of the robots in the distant future after they've killed all of the humans - "We used poisonous gases and we poisoned their asses." I have seen the future of novelty music, and it's name is Flight of the Conchords...if the robots don't kill us all.

Bruce Springsteen - Magic

I wrote a review that I was somewhat proud of for this disc, but my computer ate it somehow.  I was pretty depressed about losing it, actually. So, here's a link to the Rolling Stone review. The reviewer said some of what I wanted to get across, but I had less sermonizing. It's tough to be a Republican and like Bruce Springsteen. Rolling Stone doesn't have to worry about that.

Strange Weirdos: songs from and inspired by the film 'Knocked Up' - Loudon Wainwright III

I lost this one, too. Here's a review from the BBC. This reviewer had a different take on the album because he hasn't seen the movie. I think if you juxtapose it with the movie, you have a better understanding of it thematically. We both agree it's another great collection from this aged but unbowed singer-songwriter.

Hey! Matt wants to know your Top 5. Leave a comment below!


Anonymous said...

Here's my hastily-assembled "Top 5 Albums of 2007" list:

5) Kings of Leon - Because of the Times

4) Oakley Hall - I'll Follow You

3) Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

2) Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand

1) Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

AScaleCanadian said...



lawroark said...

My list here:


T-Dub said...

Revisiting this 10 years later. How did Dr Dog's "We All Belong" not make my Top 5? It's now my favorite album of 2007.