2007 will go down as the year of rehab. For LiLo, Britney, Amy, and America as a whole. It'll be remembered as the year we hit rock bottom, and the getting up wasn't going to be easy. Here's how it sounded.
By David Downs, VVM Web Music Editor
Queens of the Stone Age
"Turning on the Screw"
Because no one rocks harder while still pulling in the girls. This album has at least five epic, shredder songs that kept me awake during several 2 a.m. burns down the pitch-black California Interstate 5 through the Central Valley. This is extreme, inlander music. Butt rock with a heart.
"House of Cards"
Partly because of the size of their balls, but mostly because the songs are as good as their balls are big. Take the glitchy "15-Step," add the technical "Faust Aurp," throw in the burly "Bodysnatchers mellow it out with "House of Cards," and you have so much good music, the other songs are just the sweet, shiny coating on the Prozac.
He got pooh-poohed for this album, but nothing can satisfy the haters. Timbo lassos Elton John, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, and Justin Timberlake into a fucktastic superparty, and yet the haters sneer. I wasn't a Timbaland fan before this record, but the enemy of my enemy is my new friend. Bounce/like your ass has the hiccups, bitch.
Our Love to Admire
"No I in threesome"
The only thing worse than pretentious art kids from NYU is pretentious art kids from NYU who can back it up. Put this icy disc on "random, repeat all" and bathe in hypnotic guitar riffs, cryptic lyrics, and the atonal nasal wail of Paul Banks reminding you "There's No I In Threesome." And the live show is tighter than an indie boy's denim codpiece.
I fucking hated Elliott Smith before I ever heard a song from him, largely because of his cutter, mopetastic fans. But then I heard Sacramento IDM band Dusty Brown and I became enchanted with anyone who could write such a moving song. Figures; they were covering Smith. About the same time New Moon showed up in the mail, and I got hooked. Now that he's dead and the conspiracy theories over his murder/suicide have settled down — it's apparent Smith lived and breathed music, perfecting his guitar work and pairing it with a god-given talent for lyrics that stab at the heart of things. He may have been a drug-abusing mope in life, but what he left behind rivals any of our past singer-songwriters.
Favourite Worst Nightmare
I really wanted to hate this band because of all the blowjobby press treatment, but their hooks, and the universal sentiment in "Flourescent Adolescent"'s chorus The best you've ever had is just a memory just makes regret sounds so catchy.
The Life of Clutchy Hopkins
Some call him DJ Shadow, others call him Coldcut — hip hop and jazz heads would love to know who exactly Clutchy Hopkins is. Stand-alone complexes aside, this album takes UK trip-hop to the Palm Desert trap kit. It's proudly lo-fi and simplistic, yet occupies a space entirely its own. When you need to chill out, Clutchy is your man.
Back to Black
"Some Unholy War"
So I can't physically listen to "Rehab" since my girlfriend's AA-attending mom played it to death over Thanksgiving. I'm actually sick of Amy Winehouse, entirely. But her drug problems and her Britney-like coverage didn't make "Back in Black" any less startling upon first listen, and it won't make it any less disappointing ten years from now. It was the album of the summer, and the sentiment in "Some Unholy War" speaks to a profound all-or-nothing desire in all girls. "What's the point of loving someone if it's half-assed?" Winehouse seems to ask. "Lay down in the road for them, or don't waste our time."
"Let there be light"
The fact that they got a Grammy nod means two things — we were all wrong, or the Grammy nominating board has gotten a little more hip. This was the most palatable, addictive chunk of profane noise to emerge this year. The Clockwork Orange synth work induces delirium, the digital demolition of beats mid-song brings a tear to this robot. And their live party nearly killed people.
The Good, the Bad and the Queen
The Good, the Bad and the Queen
I think people expected this album to be more bombastic and devastating than it was. Instead, DJ Danger Mouse turned a wayward bunch of Blur meets Fela Kuti B-sides into an understated ode to ye olde England. This album doesn't boil, it simmers, with fantastic odd-measure beats, forlorn lyrics, and vintage basslines from the Clash's Paul Simonon. Whenever the nights get long, cold, and wet, there's going to be The Good, the Bad and the Queen.