THE 5 BEST COVERS, REMIXES, AND RESISSUES OF ’07 . . . SO FAR
1. You Know That Iâ€™m No Good-Arctic Monkeys. If they were gonna do Amy Winehouse, I think they should have covered, â€œRehab.â€ But whatever. This is hot. A rare cover that is as good and vibrant and original as the original. The last time I felt this strong about a cover released at the same time as a current hit was when I heard Rilo Kileyâ€™s cover of â€œSuch Great Heights.â€
Plus: The Arctic Monkeys are making a play for best coverband, giving us an awesome version of The Strokes’ “Take It Or Leave It” as well…What’ll they do next?
2. My Humps-Alanis Morisette. Okay, I just wrote that itâ€™s rare to find a cover that is as good and vibrant and original as the original. Hereâ€™s one thatâ€™s better. Will.I.Am, what hast happened to thee, since the advent of lame Fergie? (Note: As far as I know, this single has not been officially released, thus making it independent even if the artist is on a label. Nevertheless, I’m sure someday it’ll be an official release. It’s too good to sit on mixtapes and bootlegs.)
3. DJ MUGGS VS. GZA-Grandmasters Remix Album.
I expect that most of who you heard of 2004â€™s Grandmasters Album, credited as being done by â€œDJ Muggs vs. GZA.â€ The album was largely slept on by all but the truest Hip Hop Headz, and thatâ€™s sad, really, because itâ€™s so different from everything else being produce nowadays: No chipmunk soul, no blends, no guest spots thrown hastily in to market a new product. It was true hip hop: The DJ and the rapper clearly working out a concept and driving it home on each track. (The conceit is that street life is a chess game, and the tales are told through that analogy.) The remix album is equally powerful: It updates the â€™04 originals, adding some of the more modern elements without sacrificing the honesty and truth of the original. The original album is one of those that changes for me each time I hear it, and this remix promises to do the same.
4. FINEST WORKSONGS: ATHENS BANDS PLAY THE MUSIC OF R.E.M.
Wanna hear what it would sound like if Patterson Hood, the muscle and main engine of the fabulous Drive-By Truckers, replaced Michael Stipe? Well, this is as close as youâ€™re gonna get. With contributions from x, y, z, and covers of great songs like Pilgrimage, Circle, and Donâ€™t Go Back To Rockville, this â€œtributeâ€ album is really a live concert showing how great the old, I.R.S. R.E.M. songs have withstood the test of time. Now all we need is nice indie celebration of the songs of Leo Sayers. (Long Tall Glasses by Jack White, anyone?)
5. PETER BJORN AND JOHN-“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”
At first blush, it sounds not-all-that-different from the original. Same pace, same beat. But the lower octave and the upright bass give this song a folkier–and darker–feel. I had no idea what this song was about when Paul Simon sang it, but it made me feel hopeful. This version seems cynical. Love the whistle-break, too.
5 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2007 (SO FAR)
1. MARK RONSONâ€™S â€œVersionâ€ and VARIOUS-â€œBridging the Distance.â€
To quote a wise old lady, â€œWhere the beef?â€ Sure, Lily Allen doing The Kaiser Chief is great, and I think updating Pat Benetarâ€™s â€œInvincibleâ€ is a great idea, too (I have all Patâ€™s albumsâ€”my first rock-gal crush). But soooooo much filler. On the â€œDistanceâ€ collection, thereâ€™s simply no excuse to make this a double-album. Thereâ€™s enough material for one solid disc here, though, which is more than I can say for â€œVersion.â€ When â€œVersionâ€ is good, itâ€™s a lot of fun (and it is worth buying for the times that it does succeed, by the way). But when itâ€™s lame, itâ€™s Kasabian doing a horn-infused remix of â€œL.S.F.â€ How many versions of that song can K release before they officially turn themselves into one-hit wonders?
2. KAISER CHIEFS-Yours Truly, Angry Mob
â€œRuby,â€ the first single, was promising: A chanting, fist-pumping chorus and a postpunk hook a la Franz Ferdinand, even it was almost identical to that Na Na Na Na one they did last time around. But the rest of the album brought absolutely nothing to the table. â€œI Predict a Riotâ€ was one of the greatest singles of its year, on an overall solid debut. This must be the sophomore slump.
To quote The Clipse: Eghk. Not one great song on the album, and most of it is derivative and unlistenable. And I’m a huge fan of the first five Missy E albums–even â€œSo . . . Addictive”–so you can’t accuse me of just hatin’ for no reason. I admit that I seem to be the only person in the world who didnâ€™t find Sexyback catchy. I mean, Justin has a great voiceâ€”so whose genius idea was it to have him sing with distortion, burying his ability in a mix of fuzz??? Oh, wait, it was Timbalandâ€™s idea. Also, I canâ€™t stand that Nelly Furtado single. I think the mighty have fallen.
POTUSâ€™ ratings are lower than whale poopâ€”the lowest in recent history. Real people, more and more of them, are getting hit by the AMT, and thereâ€™s no respite in sight. In order to pay for his tax cuts, key Administration officials intentionally misstated their budgetary requirements, some in the neighborhood of a billion dollars, which leads to begging, bowing and scraping before Congress. Career Federal Employeesâ€™ morale couldnâ€™t be worse, with politicals forcing agencies to change their fundamental agendae to suit temporary right-wing goals. And all the Republicans throw up is a guy whose opinion flip flops more than Kerry (McCain was against the war before he was for the war before he would have managed the war differently) and a man with mob ties (Guilliani’s solution to what ails the middle class is to repeal an estate tax that affects less than 2% of the country). The next generation is obese and is looking at a world where America is hated, thereâ€™s no health care, and thereâ€™s no social security. So what great plan do the Dems come up with?
5. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE QUEEN
With a pedigree including Verve, The Clash, Fela Kuti, Blur, and the Gorillaz, not to mention production by Dangermouse, I never expected something boring. R.I.P. Gorillaz. Youâ€™re sorely missed.