On Second Thought …

The year 2007 has been wildly fruitful thus far, with its Carlos Zambrano-suspensions and London Olympic logos, but before we get too caught up in the fervor of 2007, I think it’s important to look back to 2006. We’ve had plenty of time to let the year settle in our minds and now, six months later, I want to talk about it some more.

There are a few albums from the past year that, by me and in general, were overlooked. Every blog and music magazine either lost control of their bodies over TV or on the radio, because bands like The Hold Steady or The Knife (!?), and lots of other great stuff got lost in the shuffle.

First, there’s the Athens gargantuan mess of a band, Dark Meat. Not only are there nearly 4000 members in this outfit (20-30 actually), but they are scheduled to play at Champaign’s own ridiculously awesome music event, Pygmalion Music Festival. Last year Dark Meat released the superb Universal Indians. I picked up the record this past March. It would have instantly been on the top of my year end list if I had it in my hands sooner. The ensemble sounds like Crazy Horse teamed up with a marching band and an added jazz singer constantly doing vocal runs deep in the mix.

Universal Indians starts with a pleasant folk song sung soft and a capella but after that initial two minutes, the rest of the album is sheer madness; screeching guitar, gravelly vocals, the works. This is a must acquire item.

Next, there’s The Thermals’ brilliant The Body, The Blood, The Machine. Not so much overlooked as the obscure Dark Meat, The Thermals received stellar press across the board and even guest spotted on MTV2’s Subterranean. But the buzz for The Thermals never reached higher than a handful of cicadas. Like the universally applauded Boys and Girls in America by the Hold Steady, The Thermals’ album captured our time and our place as Americans without stumbling into the idiotic realm of American Idiot.

Not that they, or the Hold Steady, released necessarily political albums, but the work as a whole created a mirror world to our own; what we take from it is our own interpretation. Simple and powerful, I don’t know how I overlooked it for so long.

Finally, I just picked up 2006’s Destroyer release. Overlooked by me only, Destroyer has always been a lap dog in the music press scene. Strange, abstract, but at the same time coherent, the band is exactly what bloggers and ziners and journalists like to talk about to show their own intelligence.

The hype machine is not nearly as cohesive as it once was; the machine is now made of a million tiny parts and not a couple cohesive publications and media outlets. It’s funny though how buzz and popularity is still sort of a turnoff, even though it’s just other people liking it. Regardless, the Bowie-like stylings of Destroyer’s Rubies is incredible and it deserves the press and the attention.

Speaking of deserving, Nickelback has another new single out … anyway, going back is always a good way to make the most of the present, particularly when you need some tunes to drive to work with.

Brian likes giving recommendations but also receiving them as well and can be reached at brianmcgo@gmail.com

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