Saturday, December 29, 2007

The 2007 Okapi Sampler

While the real world descended even further into social and environmental apocalypse, the music world glimmered with hope in 2007. Radio stations delved deeper than ever into inanity and irrelevence by putting Souljah Boy, Good Charlotte and Beyonce on permanent repeat, but MySpace, Pandora and YouTube allowed a lot of new sounds to escape and germinate. For the first time in many years, I noticed life in the underground again. I think, in a few years, we'll look back on 2007 as a resurrection of forward-thinking and sophisticated, but fun, music.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 tracks of 2007*

10. It's All True - Tracey Thorn - In 2002, after 20 years, Everything But The Girl took a break. Since then, the duo, have worked on solo projects and raising a family. Tracey Thorn, the beautiful voice of EBTG, re-emerged in early 2007 with a new solo album, and this new single. Tracey's crisp, haunting voice soothes and keeps together an almost maddeningly perky dance track. It's nice to have her back.

9. Bonafide Lovin' - Chromeo - Chromeo are a couple of life-long best friends who have described themselves as the only successful Arab/Jewish collaboration in history. Their music is everything pop music should be - and isn't. On Bonafide Lovin', one of the most fun tracks of the year, Chromeo manages to successfully blend early '80s Ray Parker Jr. with up to the minute electro artsiness. Now that's an achievement.

8. Saturn Strobe - Pantha Du Prince - At least once a year, there is a house track that materializes out of the spiritual space where celebration and melancholic longing symbiotically co-exist - a house track that reminds us that everything is connected. This is that track for 2007. Imagine the sun coming up over the desert mountains and breathe it in.

7. Overpowered - Roisin Murphy - Roisin (pronounced row-sheen) spent most of the late '90s and early '00s as the voice of Moloko. Now solo, she's giving us a voice that's both familiar and distant placed delicately over a purely late '80s acid house track. Gorgeous.

6. Marble House - The Knife - The Knife is possibly the most strange and intriguing "band" of the current era. A duo of artists from Sweden, their sound (and look) is hard to define...and that usually means that we're on to something. Maybe they'll provide the soundtrack to a new Mad Max world, or maybe they'll just end up opening for the Blue Man Group. Either way, keep your eye on The Knife.

5. How We Go Out - Leslie Hall - A sight to behold in her gold glitter suit or in any one of her trademark glamour gem sweaters, Leslie Hall of Leslie & The Lys, is bringing it - Midwest style! It's hard to take her seriously when as she raps about life in the streets, basements, parking lots, and big-box stores of Ames, Iowa. But before you write her off as an internet novelty, really listen. It's the sound of electro hip-hop doing what it's supposed to - telling stories about the lives that Hollywood ignores.

4. The Way I Are - Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson - If you can get over the grammatical errors, and rhyming house with house and boat with boat, you'll find a killer sound. This is what pop music should be - fun, young and all dressed up. Timbaland proves, yet again, that you can be a musical genius and still produce songs that will sell - and you don't have to have the cheese or the car keys!

3. Bamboo Banga - M.I.A. - The world doesn't know what to make of Mathangi Arulpragasam - better known as M.I.A. Her music is a barrage of sounds and influences that push you up against a wall and hold you there until she's done with you. The voiceover is jarring, hypnotic, urgent, important and disposable. And, forget about trying to categorize this one in your iTunes.

2. Let Me Think About It - Ida Corr vs. Fedde Le Grand - my friend, Betty, got me hip to this fun little number. It's huge in Europe, and how could it not be? It's disco heyday, James Bond, and right now - all in one. And add some fierce afro-coiffs, and well, what more could a gay man ask for? Just pure fun.

1. Rapture - My Robot Friend - I probably wouldn't have given My Robot Friend a chance until my Stimpy friend sent me a CD. At first listen, I was ready to store it away with all of the pretentious, silly electroclash rubbish of a couple of years ago. But, I was too lazy to change CDs in my car player, and somewhere on the causeway between downtown Miami and South Beach, I got it. This re-interpretation of the Blondie classic is my current fave. It's fucking brilliant - and it doesn't come with an embeddable you'll have to click here!

* This list is completely biased and does not reflect the tastes or opinions of most thinking people.


Joe said...

Oh work is done!! You know, say what you will about MySpace, but I have had so much fun in the 2nd half of 2007 (since using the site) finding new-to-me artists. I start with bands I know and look and see who their friends are and click on random names and listen to their music and see who their friends and click on random...etc. I discovered My Robot Friend that way and Leslie & the Lys that way. I also rediscovered someone from a band I loved in the late 80's (Galaxie 500) who had a band in the 90's that I totally missed (Luna - fucking awesome, too), but now get to have him as part of his duo Dean & Britta. AND TO ALL, PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR ARTISTS BY BUYING THEIR MUSIC. Most of them sell them through their myspace page or at least tell you where to buy.

Oh..can't wait to listen to all of the Okapi top 10! Just listened to M.I.A. for the first time...loved it. And, thanks Betty for Ida Carr...she rocks!

familyman said...

Great list. You're always turning me onto music I'd never find on my own. Thanks.

You're right about YouTube and MySpace. The creativity that is seeing the light of day that never would have been seen by the public before is really exciting.