Friday, December 14, 2007

Music of the year

Well, this is going to be a short list. I almost never listen to Top 40 stuff, preferring to pursue whatever I'm interested in. I've never, not even once! listened to Lily Allen's Smile, which was the smash hit of last summer. To prove I'm not completely hopeless though, I have actually heard Amy Winehouse's Rehab, Plain White Ts Hey There Delilah and Leona Lewis' Bleeding Love. My tastes tend to be fairly eclectic. I like rock, especially the indie variety, folksy-rootsy-singer-songwriterish stuff, and emo, but I'm not averse to pop, jazz (although I'm not intelligent enough to talk about "improvisation" and what-not) et al. Heavy metal is probably the only genre I just don't get. I also grew up listening to "Christian" or CCM music, and while I obviously no longer buy into the sacred/secular divide, I still do listen to bands which are marketed to the Christian segment. Here are some songs and albums that I've come across this year.

Jars of Clay are too good to remain pigeonholed as such, and I really enjoyed their newest album, Good Monsters, a birthday gift. Oh My God is a candidate for song of the year. downhere have long been an underrated Christian band. Where else are you going to find lyrics such as "You wouldn't walk out on this tragedy / Never give up on your Iliad / You suffered for the victory / 'Cause it's always been your labor of love?" (Iliad)? Their newest album wide-eyed and mystified is their best and most accessible yet. They aren't quite as wordy as on No Place for Substitutes but they haven't dumbed down either.

Both Arcade Fire's Neon Bible and The National's Boxer have appeared on many top 10 lists and I am the proud owner of both of them. Obviously appeals to my elitist side! I remember the first time I listened to Arcade Fire's first album, Funeral. I thought, "What in the world have I bought?" On my second listen, I was going: "They're very interesting at the very least..." By my fourth listen I had fallen in love with them. Neon Bible is just as amazing and definitely more accessible. The National's last album, Alligator, got them plenty of attention and their follow-up is very good too. I thought the final third of the album sagged a little but until that point, it's utterly compelling. Fake Empire is another potential song of the year for me. Phil Campbell's Joy is good singer-songwriterish stuff, although not outstanding enough to make it a must-buy. I've never really listened much to Radiohead, but did not resist getting their latest In Rainbows. Again, they take some getting used to. The first half of the album sounds decidedly more experimental while the second half tend to be more about the melodies. Over the Rhine's Trumpet Child has a lovely big band/jazz vibe to it. And the best album of 2007 no one's heard about? Jeremy Casella and RCVRY. Christianity Today Music deservedly gave it 5 stars. It would not look out of place in any mainstream critic's Top 50. His music is suprisingly hard to describe, but I suppose orchestral pop with a hint of electronica comes closest.

I should talk about some of the more interesting songs I've sung in church this year. One that really stayed with me, although I've only ever sung it twice, is Two Sins Have We Committed. It's a song of lament and confession that is suitable for congregational use. When the chorus of a song goes: "What fools we are! How blind we are!", it catches your attention. The two sins alluded to in the title is really one, when we turn away from God and make something else an idol. It's a good song of response to sing especially after a hard-hitting sermon. (In case you're worried, the chorus ends with "Change our hearts that we might live /For you O Lord always"). I also hope in time that two new songs, written by Simon Pedley and based on Isaiah, will be widely known. They're Servant of God Most High and The Day is Soon. Philip Percival's Never Alone is already catching on, deservedly so. It'd be great too if many songs from Sovereign Grace's Songs for the Cross-Centered Life and Valley of Vision get sung in churches all over the globe. They're strong albums both lyrically and musically. Sovereign Grace's earlier albums did suffer from a rather dated sound but that's certainly not the case here. Would you believe me if I told you that one of the albums I enjoyed the most was a children's album? It's really hard to get that balance between music that's enjoyable for kids and adults alike, and to write good lyrics that are simple enough for children, but EMU Music's Get Ready! does just that. Hey, I even think Forever and a Day is one of the best songs I've heard all year. My nieces and nephews are going to enjoy it. I also got a chance to listen to Hillsong's Saviour King and contrary to some reviews, I thought it was quite a strong effort. Lyrically, as always with Hillsong, some of their songs leave me ambivalent, but on the whole, I liked it.

This year does seem like quite a good year for music. Other well-reviewed efforts that I've not had a chance to listen to, or at most just a little, include Patty Griffin's Children Running Through, The Shins Wincing the Night Away, Modest Mouse's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, Band of Horses Cease to Begin, The White Stripes Icky Thump, Iron & Wine's Shepherd Dog and Caedmon Call's Overdressed.

Now, YouTube galore!

Arcade Fire's No Cars Go

The Frames' Falling Slowly, featured in the film Once

Oh To see the Dawn (The Power of the Cross) by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty

And for a Malaysian flavour, Evenstarr's Masih (and also a chance for me to casually mention that I know the lead singer!)

Master List of online "Best of 2007" music
Relevant Mag's list

Songs/albums of the year for you?

† Expand post

Labels: ,

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very random- I found this blog when I was googling the lyrics to that Sixpence None the Richer song and have enjoyed reading it ever since. You should checkout Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God He wrote it because He wanted to make a Christmas album but felt that we are numb to amazing Christmas songs--so He wrote this as a musical- a story to be told in 12 songs played straight from the OT prophets to the birth of Christ. I cant say enough about it.

5:33 am  
Blogger BK said...

yes, i've heard of Peterson's album, and hope to get it at some point! Thanks for the tip.

6:55 pm  
Anonymous shad said...

Hey, I came upon this post as well while googling for "Two Sins". Do you happen to have the mp3 or a score for that? The lyrics are great but have no idea how it sounds. Wrote to Sam Chaplin at his various email addresses but no reply.

Andrew Peterson's album's great. We had a lot of fun with the "Begats".

9:22 am  
Blogger BK said...

Sorry shad, I'm afraid I don't. Maybe ask the bluefish or Mark Heath? It does have a good tune!

10:06 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Links to this post:

Create a Link