Sunday, December 30, 2007

More Top Ten Music

9. Neon Fire by Arcade Fire

The follow up to 2004's Funeral is not a disappointment in any way. The Montreal band reverts to more balladry and it make take a few listens to really appreciate it. Even so, the band melds hope and angst, laid-back tunes and anthemic bombast for another good album.

10. The Reminder by Feist

I'm a bit confused about what I think about this album because while it is quite good, I know that she could do better. The Reminder, stylistically, pretty much follows Let it Die, though it is even more jazzy. Lyrically, it is not as potent as Let it Die and that is my main concern. However, The Reminder is a great, quirky collection and proof that she will keep making timeless pop.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best Music of 2007 -- The Best that didn't Make the Final Ten

End of the year Best of lists are the funnest things ever, so I can't resist doing my own again. I will post my Top 10 later, but here is my Not Quite the Top 10 but Pretty Good in 2007 list.

Wincing the Night Away by The Shins

They had a lot of pressure put on them to come up with a brilliant album, so I'm impressed that they even released a decent album. The Shins did make a poppier album this go around, which at first seems a bit calculated and maybe it is. However, there are still the cool little moments and experiments that make this a Shins album and a darn good one.

Armchair Apocrypha by Andrew Bird

Singer-songwriter Andrew Bird presents more of his weirdly Gothic and sometimes humorous lyrics. The buzzy guitars, heavy keyboards and steady rhythms nicely complement Bird's crooning voice. Bird has been around for a while, but this well-produced disc seems to be giving him some deserved notoriety.

Boxer by The National

There is not a lot of difference between Boxer and many of its predecessors. The band just keeps doing what it does best which is a lightly adorned blues-rock accompaniment to Matt Berninger's vocals and the band's literary lyrics. This is a very good disc, which some are calling the album of the year.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Flight Vol. 4

Type: Short Story Collection
Published: Villard, 2007

These are absolutely brilliant. This is the fourth volume which includes a couple of great Graphic Novelists. A ton of writers and artists with styles from all over the map contribute to these collections. Yeah, some are weird, a couple are boring, but some of the best are genius, so I recommend all four of these titles.

Good as Lily by Derek Kirk Kim

Type: Contemporary Fiction
Published: Minx, 2007

I am mostly reviewing this to note that the titles from Minx (a DC imprint) seem to be getting worse with each release. The Plain Janes was really good and Re-gifters was solid, but Confessions of a Blabbermouth and Good as Lily are just run-of-the-mill contemporary GNs.

This is not to say, however, that Good as Lily is terrible. It takes an interesting premise in 18-year old Grace, who meets and has to deal with three versions of herself at different ages. The intriguing plot does not lead to a real deep story and this is its undoing. Readers of the previous Minx titles will probably enjoy this (and Confessions of a Blabbermouth), but that is the end of its appeal.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Notes for a War Story by Gipi

Type: Contemporary Fiction
Published: 2007, First Second

Gipi is the author of the wonderful GN, Garage Band, which I just loved. This is good as well, though much more serious than Garage Band. The Italian author follows three youngsters trying to make their way in an unnamed war=torn country. Watching them get sucked into life with some hard=core criminals is heartbreaking. The art is quite similar to Garage Band and probably matches the tone better for this GN. The viewpoint the reader is given from Gipi seem a bit standoffish considering the subject matter, but this is a very good GN.