As 2007 winds down, here is a glance in the rear-view mirror back at the year in music that has crossed my path. Live events took place in the state of California unless otherwise stated. The winners are:
Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party – “Wish Upon A Dog Star”
The music for this tune is infectious, especially the bass line which will “get your groove on.” No other song caused me to consistently hit “repeat” multiple times before I was through with it. Give it a listen, but give yourself room to dance.
Review of Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party – Ultra Payloaded
Umphrey McGee – “Wizard Burial Ground”
Not available on an album, but has made its way into their recent set lists. I got to hear it first at Vegoose and was in awe. An outstanding piece that brings to mind Metallica and ELP at different points.
While this video isn’t the best version of the song, the band gets extra points for rocking the hell out of the Food & Cooking Section at the Ann Arbor, Michigan Borders.
Most Over-hyped Song:
Bruce Springsteen – “Radio Nowhere”
I heard a lot of talk about Bruce not rocking like this in ages, but when I first heard it, I was pretty underwhelmed. Sure, it rocks next to other songs on the Adult Contemporary station, but it sounds middle of the road and the lyrics are forgettable. Maybe if I was old and had lost some mobility, it would appear to be rocking.
Uncle Earl – Waterloo, Tennessee
I was introduced to these ladies this year and their old time music captivated me with a very fresh sound. A close second was Cowboy Junkies At the End of Paths Taken, but the mature ideas make it a tough album to take. To be fair, with a little more time spent listening to it, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand could very well be the winner of this category the next time someone asks. With each listen, I become more impressed with it.
Review of Waterloo, Tennessee
Review of At the End of Paths Taken
Album Most Likely to Put a Smile on Your Face:
Tony Trischka – Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular
It’s almost impossible to be in a bad mood when listening to a banjo and this album delivers two talented players on each track. This album edged out the funny lyrics (“If you live in Japan, you’re Japanese/If you live in Canada, you’re gonna freeze”)/dance music of Electric Six’s latest release, which does win Best Album Title for I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master.
Review of Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular
Best Compilation of One Artist:
Stevie Ray Vaughn – Solos, Sessions & Encores
Not the usual posthumous odds and sods, but a very good collection of tracks, half of them previously unreleased, with Stevie playing with and supporting the likes of B.B. King, David Bowie, Jeff Beck, Dick Dale, and his brother Jimmy on Saturday Night Live.
Review of Solos, Sessions & Encores
Best Compilation of Various Artists:
Ricky Jay Plays Poker
Almost went with the obvious Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration, which is packed with many classics, but the Poker set has such a great variety of genres around a theme, and Lorne Greene’s “Five Card Stud” is such a gem of hilarity. I can’t believe I never heard Dr. Demento play it.
Best Box Set:
Miles Davis – The Complete On The Corner Sessions.
I had not heard any of this material until fellow Blogcritic Pico was kind enough to pass it my way. If you need the funk, got to have the funk, Miles and his gang deliver. I was hooked for the first track ended.
Best Concert (one band):
Dr. Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mountain Boys, El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, 2/19
The most impressive night was not the big talked-about reunions or that an upcoming indie darling, but the 80-year-old bluegrass legend. It felt like a window looking back into another time and place as the sounds of the Appalachian Mountains rang out from the stage. More a traveling salesman than an ego-bloated celebrity, Stanley pitched his wares from the stage and worked the concession stand. I felt honored to be in his presence and consider myself fortunate that I got to shake his hand and thank him for the evening of music on my way out the door.
Best Concert (festival):
Vegoose, Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 26 & 27
The jam band festival went eclectic this year adding a reunited Rage Against the Machine and Daft Punk, but this won solely on the brilliant performance and raw power of The Stooges.
Review of Vegoose Day One
Best Party in the Parking Lot:
Widespread Panic, Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, 6/30
Among the urban jungle, it was hard to tell the homeless from some of the fans who traveled with the Georgia band on this summer tour. Although the empty balloons formerly filled with nitrous oxide was a clue to the attentive eye. If you were looking for it, it would find you if you stood still long enough in that concrete Wonderland. The band also puts on a good show if you make it inside.
Strangest Mix of Audience Members:
Willie Nelson, Orange County Fair, 7/13
Willie Nelson and his family band played before a mix of Inland Empire cowboys and Orange County stoners. When the wind would blow and that certain smell would waft by, you could pick out where people were from by either the knowing smile or angry scowl that formed on their face. What I found odd was that the country fans almost acted like they were surprised that Willie would draw stoners. Hell, the smell might very well have been coming from Willie’s bus.
Concert That Created The Most Air Musicians in the Crowd:
Rush, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine, July 25
If it had just been guitar, Eddie Van Halen playing again with Diamond Dave would well have taken the prize, but not only were Rush fans playing air guitar, but air bass, and of course, air drums.
Lamest Concert Audience:
The attendees of The Police at the Honda Center, Anaheim, 6/21
How can you be a fan of the band and pay those prices, which earned the band Worst Gouging of the Public, yet be content with the radio hits? Everyone was up dancing to songs like “Roxanne” and “Message in a Bottle,” but the bathroom song is “Invisible Sun”?! Are you f-ing kidding me?! I was the only guy left standing in my section when they played it. If I wanted to hear “Every Breath You Take” again, I would go to a wedding of a couple who doesn’t pay attention to song lyrics.
Female Artist I Would Like to Break Up With To Hear The Album She Would Create In The Aftermath:
Taking over from last year’s winner Madeleine Peyroux, Osborne’s Breakfast in Bed contains songs about the struggles of making a relationship work, and of the yearning and heartbreak involved when it doesn’t. You can hear the pain of experience in her voice. Osborne also wins Best Cover of the Year with her rendition of Bill Withers “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
Review of Breakfast in Bed
Meg White Haters
With the release of The White Stripes Icky Thump this summer, the cry of “Meg is a shitty drummer” filled the air once again to counter a point no one made. Either under the delusion that White was asked to sit in on the Led Zeppelin reunion gig or annoyed that they were heard back in 2002 when White Blood Cells broke through and yet no one cared, the group soldiers on, pointlessly making their point whenever and wherever they can.
Guaranteed Hit Single of the Future:
A live performance of Ron Paul and Jaime Spears as they duet on a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” at a 9/11 Truth rally.
The Chuck Norris Award (Presented to an artist that shouldn’t be messed with):
While the winners all deserve congratulations, their acceptance of the awards should be taken with a dose of humility as I can change my mind on a whim and will do so in the comment section when needed. More categories may be added arbitrarily.