Favorite Mashups of 2007

#15) DJ Nicky T “Woohaa” [MP3]
(AC/DC vs Busta Rhymes)

#14) DJ Maxentropy “Glamorous Ex Gf” [MP3]
(Fergie vs. Matt Willis)

#13) Pheugoo “I Was Signed for Loving You” [MP3]
(Snoop Dogg feat. C. Wilson & Justin Timberlake vs. Kiss)

#12) DJ MDSB “All My Friends” [MP3]
(LCD Soundsystem vs. John Cale vs. Franz Ferdinand)

#11) DJ Lobsterdust “Baby Arrow” [MP3]
(Marvin Gaye vs. Mary Wells vs. The Carpenters vs. The Album Leaf)

#10) ABX “Wouldn’t Grip Far” [MP3]
(The Go! Team vs. The Game)

#9) DJ Erb “Ecstacy of Gold” [MP3]
(Ennio Morricone vs. Nas)

#8) Dunproofin’ “Fiddy Fiddy Fiddy Fiddy” [MP3]
(Kaiser Chiefs vs. 50 Cent)

#7) ABX “Tambourine Reckoning” [MP3]
(Radiohead vs. Eve)

#6) Lenlow “Bjorn Slippy” [MP3]
(Underworld vs. Peter Bjorn & John)

#5) DJ STV SLV “Lose My Waters of Naza(b)reath” [MP3]
(Justice vs. Destiny’s Child)

#4) DJ Morgoth “Starz on the Boogie” [MP3]
(Just Jack vs. Jay-Kid)

#3) Arty Fufkin “Liar in a Brianstorm” [MP3]
(Beyonce feat. Shakira vs. Arctic Monkeys)

#2) A plus D “Close to Konichiwa Bitches” [MP3]
(Robyn vs. The Cure)

#1) Copycat “Knowing the Rhythm is Right” [MP3]
(Nelly Furtado feat. Timbaland vs. Abba vs. Sagi Rei)

Culture Bully & DJ MDSB Present: The Best of 2007

#1) LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver

It’s not that Sound of Silver is the best album of the year musically speaking, but lyrically it’s what touched me most in 2007. Don’t get me wrong, the churning, building piano on “All My Friends” and the progressive girth of “Get Innocuous” are just two examples of James Murphy’s brilliance, but I look at the lyrics on the album as his true triumph. My initial attraction came from that of “All My Friends,” a song that shouldn’t necessarily speak to me given my age, but does nonetheless. Earlier this year it was the line, “You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan, and the next five years trying to be with your friends again” that really hit home for me when first listening to Sound of Silver. In an instant Murphy summed up my year, defining the struggle between living a passionate life with those you love while at the same time attempting to grow up and find complacency. But as the album continued to open itself up to me various other lines became important and stood out, including what is essentially the entire song for the album’s title track, “Sound of silver talk to me makes you want to feel like a teenager until you remember the feelings of a real life emotion of teenager, then you think again.” Through Murphy’s conscious decision to develop Sound of Silver as an album that spoke in autobiographical terms he proved that he is evolving as both a musician and a human, and therein lies its beauty.

DJ MDSB “All My Friends” (mp3)
(LCD Soundsystem vs. John Cale vs. Franz Ferdinand)

#2) The White Stripes Icky Thump

If The White Stripes were my family, at this point in time I’d be cursed as a nepotistic fool. If The White Stripes were a country, some would probably curse me blindly nationalistic. The past two years I have loved The Raconteurs self titled release and The Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan above all others, and this year (with one exception) I’ve gone and done it again. Icky Thump is probably a far finer album that those previously mentioned here, it waves through effects, instruments and themes that were all somewhat foreign to the band previous to this recording, and in the process the album showcases itself as another classic rock album in an ever-wavering genre.

DJ MDSB “I’m Slowly Gettin to Poppin” (mp3)
(The White Stripes vs. Rich Boy)

#3) M.I.A. Kala

Earlier this year, after listening to Oliver Wang’s review of Kala for NPR, I wrote “Kala is a direct result of globalization, a direct result of mainstream pop, rap and rock, and without those influences it would have never been made; a scary thought indeed – that there might be an up-side to the down-sides of globalization.” Therein lies the amazement of the album, it is a summation of countless influences, influences gazed at lovingly from an outsider’s view. Kala is what music will probably lean towards in the coming years as the distances that once forced separation now begin to force languages, people and ideas together; Kala is as much the future as it is the past

DJ MDSB “Paper Lip Gloss” (mp3)
(M.I.A. vs. Lil’ Mama)

#4) Justice Cross

Easily the most anticipated electronic album of the year, Cross delivered a unique stretch of tracks that blended technique and innovation, ultimately serving as a collection suitable for any dance floor.

DJ MDSB “Phantom Party and Bullshit” (mp3)
(Justice vs. Notorious B.I.G.)

#5) Lil Wayne Da Drought 3

Contending whether or not Lil Wayne is the best rapper alive really doesn’t matter, Weezy will tell you how it is no matter what you think; what does matter however is his consistency and prolificity this past year. Vibe said of the man earlier a while back, “This year Wayne has hit his stride, releasing an almost unfathomable amount of music. It seems that every morning a new mixtape, freestyle, or feature has popped onto the Web, turning the mediocre meanderings of any number of artists into must-listens,” before releasing a list of The 77 Best Lil’ Wayne Songs of 2007. What is certain about Da Drought 3 is that it’s sharp tongued, tightly knit, honestly funny and about the best thing to come out of hip hop in 2007.

DJ MDSB “Do The Upgrade” (mp3)
(Lil Wayne vs. Architecture in Helsinki)

#6) Turbo Fruits Turbo Fruits

Truly throwing this list into a mess is that of Turbo Fruits’ self titled debut, released through Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! label. Two thirds of the band also holding role in Be Your Own PET, Turbo Fruits was as much a tribute to Mudhoney-leaning grunge as Be Your Own PET was to Bad Brains’ reckless energy. Is it a better recording than In Rainbows, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead or even Graduation? Probably not; but it is a fun, exciting, rejuvenating breath of fresh air in terms of the year’s standard, ambiguously commercial releases? That, it most definitely is.

#7) Radiohead In Rainbows

The shame of In Rainbows is that the method in which it was released initially overshadowed much of what the release was about, that being that there is indeed new Radiohead material being released. Historically, I haven’t always been an honest fan of the group; like most I thoroughly consider OK Computer the peak of the group’s career, but feel that they lost me with Hail To The Chief Thief and even Amnesiac to some degree. Returning a decade after their triumph and delivering such a brilliant (rock) album is something that I don’t think anyone anticipated heading into 2007; In Rainbows entirely re-solidified the band as one of the best on earth (again).

DJ MDSB “Krispy Step” (mp3)
(Radiohead vs. Kinfolk Kia Shine)

#8) Klaxons Myths of the Near Future

It’s been a phenomenal year for the Klaxons, Myths of the Near Future being released internationally and the band subsequently keeping up a crazy touring schedule to help support their efforts. Aside from all that however is the music, which takes The Rapture’s dance-punk fringe and presents it as something fiercely volatile yet vulnerable at the same time. The brashness of tracks such as “Four Horsemen of 2012″ are balanced entirely by the beautiful simplicity of “Golden Skans.” All in all, not bad for a few young lads from England.

DJ MDSB “Can I Work It Like That” (mp3)
(Klaxons vs. Gwen Stefani & Pharrell)

#9) Kanye West Graduation

The problem with hating on Kanye West is that, for the most part, he backs up his words with some serious game. The publicity stunt that was his albums sales race against 50 Cent resulted in his favor and by the way he spoke of it at the time there was no reason why it wouldn’t have gone down that way (and in spite of all the 50 fans, he was right). Kanye had two brilliant singles and music videos out before Graduation had even leaked on the internets and as such the album settled as a bit unfulfilling after the first few listens. As time went on however it quickly aged into one of the best releases of the year and one that will likely be looked back as one of the best of this decade. Again, just like Kanye said it would.

DJ MDSB “Doe Boy Life” (mp3)
(Kanye West vs. Three 6 Mafia)

#10) El-P I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead

I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead is possibly the most underrated and overrated album on this list. Underrated in that it could easily be the best album of the year, overrated in the sense that just as easily as it could be genius it could too be just a simple bump in the road of hip hop’s history. That being said, it’s my belief that listeners will likely look back on this album as a not simply a strong piece of music but as an album that influenced the way in which artists began perceiving their poetic craft differently and altering it as such. El-P’s anything but a fresh face in the scene, but I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead serves as a single swipe that made Dr. Dre, Timbaland and Missy obsolete as producers and should forever question list makers as to his standing as one of the best MCs of the decade.

DJ MDSB “Flyentologist History Month” (mp3)
(El-P vs. Death From Above 1979)

#11) Yeah Yeah Yeahs Is Is EP

No matter how strong a fan of the band I am I can’t help but feel that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are better in moderation. 2006’s Show Your Bones glimmered at times but proved to be too much to take as an entire album. While not as sonically sharp the group’s Is Is EP took the band back to the basic idea behind its amazing debut EP and proved that the band isn’t simply better when approaching music in terms quality over quantity, but they’re one of the best of the generation.

DJ MDSB “Tambourine Down” (mp3)
(Yeah Yeah Yeahs vs. Eve & Swizz Beatz)

#12) Aesop Rock None Shall Pass

Earlier this year a local review criticized this release, claiming “None Shall Pass has been done before by Aesop. The album shows he isn’t looking to push onto new artistic ground or recreate his image.” For a year that proved insane lyricists vastly important I can’t help but reflect on this sort of review without smiling and just shaking my head. Aesop was just one of many Def Jux artists this year who helped remind everyone of why hip hop is an art and not a corporate commodity. What was important in 2007 was the idea of like minded artists putting effort into making sure that they didn’t simply repackage old material but that they made sure that they pushed their own musical boundaries; case in point: None Shall Pass.

#13) Menomena Friend and Foe

Without following detail too closely Friend and Foe could be compared roughly to Battles’ latest masterpiece Mirrored. Well…the albums aren’t anything alike, but they’ve clearly been lumped together in that category the kids are calling “indie,” so in that sense I’ll contrast the two. While Atlas was fantastic, it lacked something that I felt Friend and Foe had, (sorry, this is a made up word) upfrontidness. Mirrored experiments with a balance between being passive and hostile, all the while however it fails to entirely grasp the listener. Not to the same extent as something such as Stars of the Lid, but Mirrored flirts with becoming a mere collection of sounds that can slip easily from the mind’s focus…plain and simple, I don’t think the same can be said of Friend and Foe.

DJ MDSB “Friend & Fergie” (mp3)
(Menomena vs. Fergie & Ludacris)

#14) Deerhoof Friend Opportunity

As unsurprising a thought as it might be – Deerhoof’s latest, and most easily accessible album, may very well be the band’s most complete. The band’s numerous previous efforts have been aggressive in nurturing passionate and creative music, but eventually neglected the listener in its search for substance. Those same sentiments cannot be said of Friend Opportunity however. The album conclusively sounds as something that was recorded with the listener in mind; an intent, it appears, that Deerhoof may have been better off for if only it had made the same attempt ages ago.

DJ MDSB “Believe Over Here” (mp3)
(Deerhoof vs. Young Jeezy & Bun B)

#15) Brother Ali The Undisputed Truth

The same man that would later play to his home town as the opening act for iconic MCs Ghostface Killah and Rakim fell prey to the media’s eye earlier this year for reasons that possibly had little to do with the words and music on his latest album The Undisputed Truth. While it was great that widespread outlets took interest to the Minneapolis MC it seemed that such interest was a bit slanted, Esquire even hyping Ali as “the world’s best albino Muslim rapper.” While not a single-heavy album, The Undisputed Truth spoke of Ali’s journey, his struggles and his triumphs – often citing his relationships as guiding lights the record proved that Minneapolis hip hop is more than just Atmosphere and that Ali is more than just a sideshow attraction.

Favorite Music Videos of 2007

10. Liars “Plaster Casts of Everything”

Recasting scenes reminiscent to that of David Lynch’s mind-boggling Lost Highway might seem something horribly inappropriate given the context of the standard music video. Given also that it crosses disturbing light projection with brutally honest images of the human body, the video sound more and more like something inconducive to the format of short form film…or so one might think. Liars take that disbelief and turn it on its head, in the process creating one of the most visually surprising pieces of short form film the year may have seen.

9. Jarvis Cocker “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time”

However strong the desire was to post the visually minimal video for Jarvis Cocker’s “Running The World” it doesn’t hold a candle to that of “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time.” Beginning as something farcical and turning into something absolutely absurd…well, I suppose that’s Jarvis Cocker in a nutshell.

8. Air “Mer du Japon”

The video for Air’s “Mer du Japon” is visually stunning as it interwinds beautiful graphics with that of its equally beautiful dancers. Every inch of it is tastefully crafted, all fully wreaking of a French mystique: synth over bubbles, holographic marine life, interpretive ballet and…chicks making out. Have I mentioned how much I love the French?

7. RJD2 “Work It Out”

“Work It Out” helps redefine the modern dance video with help from contemporary artist Bill Shannon and his ability to interact with various accessories throughout the video’s three and a half minutes. Shannon’s unusual technique with his crutches came about not by choice, but by necessity as he was born with a degenerative hip condition - having since warped the ability into a wonderfully creative output. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade, huh?

6. José González “Killing For Love”

Both this and the video for González’s “Down The Line” find themselves based on Jim Woodring’s 1994 story Manhog Beyond The Face. Directed by the pair of Andreas Nilsson (The Knife’s “Silent Shout” video) and Mikel Cee Karlsson “Killing For Love” takes the unusual storyline and illustrates it as doubtlessly English as can be (ie: there’s lots of weird nudity).

5. Justice “D.A.N.C.E.”

Illustrating the video with an immensely vibrant use of color and contrast “D.A.N.C.E.” creates a fantastic setting by developing a broken cartoonish karaoke. The video perfectly creates a visual accompaniment that is just as exciting and fresh as the track itself.

4. Sia “Breath Me”

“Breathe Me” was Co-Directed by Sia (Furler) and Daniel Askill earlier this year, the video itself utilizing stop-motion in addition to some 2500 Polaroid photos. “Breath Me” is brilliantly constructed and executed in a stunning manner that draws the viewer in without using any overwhelming visual theatrics. While Kanye may have spent a million on his videos, Sia (even at fair market value for those 2500 Polaroids) spent far less and the resulting shots are equal if not better.

3. Aesop Rock “None Shall Pass”

Creating a fantastic visual depiction of a free flowing metropolis, San Francisco-based artist Jeremy Fish worked along with design team Ordinary Kids on this, the video for the first single from the album of the same title, “None Shall Pass.” Each character’s costume was to depict an individual’s personality and ultimately assist in defining who they are when time came for their judgment. Or at least that’s what Aesop thinks.

2. Grizzly Bear “Knife”

Opening to a scene that equally depicts Land of the Lost and a digitalized adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animations, “Knife” quickly strays from using standard cinematic practices such as building and maintaining a sensible “plot,” or “character development” or just generally “making sense.” Within seconds of the opening shot the story line crumbles into a series of odd scenes invoking a stone-person, holistic medicine and a bubbling sub-surface skin infection. While the creativity and execution are brilliant, I must admit that if it makes sense to you, you are a wiser person than I.

1. Kanye West feat. Zach Galifianakis & Will Oldham “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”

Prior to a Band of Horses show in New York this past July Zach Galifianakis debuted his video interpretation of Kanye West’s “Cant Tell Me Nothing.” The video, which lit up internet switchboards mere moments after its unveiling, depicts Galifianakis on his North Carolina farm with Bonnie “Prince” Billy singer Will Oldham simply living the good life. Opening with a grimacing shot of Galifiankis wielding a chainsaw the video continues its off-the-beaten-path feel with the duo positioning themselves (with lips packed full of chew) amongst tractors, straw bails, livestock and a dancing troupe of girls. Surprisingly though, no sign of Kanye West…which might be why it’s the best video of the year.

The Top 5 Albums That Should Have Been Really Good, But Weren’t: 2007

5. The Chemical Brothers We Are The Night

Long since past is the time when The Chemical Brothers delivered their “Block Rockin’ Beats” but 2007 developed as a year in which electronic artists were given their window of opportunity back into mainstream pop music. Veteran acts such as Cassius released new material to critical praise, Justice and Simian Mobile Disco gained strong international success and Daft Punk (simply from the surrounding praise from a few select live shows) was one of the most popular acts of the year. And even with all of the opportunity to succeed, The Chemical Brothers put out an album that was, at best, mediocre. A discussion with a friend during the summer lead us to conclude that the duo was content with their career, and was simply putting music out to have a little bit of fun. But even with that, I don’t see the sense in resting an album’s success on the shoulders of a single that attempts to utilize Fat Lip. That doesn’t seem like fun for anybody.

Peak Billboard Chart Position: #65

4. Arctic Monkeys Favourite Worst Nightmare

Though the group’s first album was released in America with scattered results it was widely believed that the band’s second effort would utilize the still-fresh hype the band had, catapulting the Monkeys into the spotlight. And while the band played sold out shows in 1000+ capacity venues, the album never fully caught on, again, like it did in the UK. The furious “Brainstorm” made a brief impact in terms of US radio play while the album’s other singles “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “Teddy Picker” received hardly any recognition at all. Compared to the band’s status in the UK, their release it the US was a flop.

Peak Billboard Chart Position: #7

3. The Beastie Boys The Mix Up

The Beastie Boys can typically do no wrong when it comes to going out on a limb with their career. The group has gone from Bowery punk sensationalists to drunken party rappers to a forward thinking hip hop troupe to Tibetan-monk loving introspectionists…and their fans haven’t lost touch. With that, releasing an album showcasing the Boys as an instrumental band, an aspect of the group that has popped up in various albums throughout the past two decades, seemed likely to succeed…as on the whole, their instrumental tracks have all historically been gazed upon lovingly.

“The Rat Cage” and “Off The Grid” were both released via video form on the band’s blog, both songs sounding fantastic and both videos showcasing the same sense of vintage snarkiness that made “Sabotage” famous. Unfortunately the rest of the album was entirely bi-polar, each track seemingly drawing from different genres and influences - stripping the entire album of any solid flow. The Mix Up doesn’t sound like a bad idea on the surface, but uncharacteristically, the effort just doesn’t seem there; the proof is in the album’s ten mediocre tracks that failed to come close to the first two teasers.

Peak Billboard Position: #15

2. Smashing Pumpkins Zeitgeist

Given the overwhelming pre-release build up that the “reunited” Smashing Pumpkins had going for them Billy Corgan and crew could have put out a ho-hum album and received nothing but praise, or so one might have thought. “Tarantula” flooded airwaves prior to the album’s release and Zeitgeist (even if every track were to be on pace with the single) appeared on the surface as something that would appeal to those who had brushed Corgan off as a relic from the ’90s. As it turned out Zeitgeist was in fact, as a hole, mediocre and it really didn’t garner the praise it seemed destined for.

Reprise Records then made agreements with iTunes, Best Buy and Target among others so that each retailer would give an exclusive track, album cover or track listing with their release, infuriating fans and causing many to give up hope on the band before the album even hit shelves. All that and one of the album’s best tracks, “Gossamer,” failed to appear on any of the albums…from any retailer…at all.

Peak Billboard Chart Position: #2

1. 50 Cent Curtis

The verbal battle between 50 Cent and Kanye West leading up to the week of their respective albums’ releases was fantastic in terms of media exposure, both sides touting that they would sell the most records in the debut week, both sides guaranteeing the victory. Never before has a publicity stunt been pulled like this, especially so considering that 50 Cent went on record, speaking of himself in the third person saying, “If Kanye West sells more records than 50 Cent on September 11, I’ll no longer write music. I’ll write music and work with my other artists, but I won’t put out anymore solo albums.” But after Kanye dominated 50 in album sales Curtis took his remarks back - noting that it is “impossible” for rappers to quit rapping. Proof, however, that there indeed comes a time when rappers should quit rapping: Curtis.

Peak Billboard Chart Position: #2

Atmosphere “The Rooster”

In 2001 when Atmosphere was introduced to my loosely knit group of friends, Lucy Ford appeared as apart of a sect of hip hop that we hadn’t heard yet. Lyrically the music appeared urban as it tossed around words about the nature of streets life and the surrounding environment; but the album (cassette tape at the time, actually) didn’t use gang violence as a theme or an excuse for which the storyteller lived his life (something unheard of in a time when No Limit Records reigned supreme).

“Nothing But Sunshine,” which has since developed into somewhat of a standard in my own personal collection, unraveled began with a stab at the generation’s turn towards acts like Korn as a majority of the country’s youth began describing themselves as the minority: they were the lost children, the left behind, the abused, etc. But their dramatics were just that, and Slug called it as he saw it in the track’s introduction, “What was my childhood like? What difference does that make, my childhood was messed up…find me one person that had it right, what does that got to do with me rhyming?” Ironic then, that he became somewhat of a demigod in a shortly heralded movement deemed emo-rap, an offspring from the horribly depressing, casually nihilistic movement that could (or can, rather…does emo still exist?) best be represented by bad haircuts and outgoing depression. But in spite of that, the group trudged ahead and recently released the next in line of their ongoing Sad Clown EP series (the Winter edition: Vol. 9, and the Fall, 10), and will follow that up with volume 11, Sad Clown Bad Winter later this month.

The three EPs stand as, essentially, bonus material for the duo’s forthcoming album When Life Gives You Lemons… Given the solid nature of each, on Sad Clown Bad Fall in particular, it can only be assumed that the album is going to stand as one of the best of the year. As an example, this track, “The Rooster,” not only resurrects Slugs focus as that of an observer of his surroundings, but his ability to tell an honest story with a message. The message is simple, but it reminds me of when a friend of a friend offered me up a tape years back and I heard some stories that still stick with me to this day: alcohol, it tends to cause some problems…not necessarily earth shattering in its revelation, but then again…it’s something that I need to be reminded of every now and then.

Dave Hill’s Best of 2007 & Seasonal Employment

Even to me it seems like I’ve been posting way too much Dave Hill content as of late, but in all fairness he’s bringing more pain than a hundred girls and a hundred cups…or something to that extent, I still haven’t watched the video so I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Anyways, Dave recently jotted together some thoughts about his favorite albums of the year for Brooklyn Vegan, and as expected the results are like the editorial equivalent to watching Lindsay Lohan spiral further and further away from her glory years (you knew it was going to be marvelous, but had no idea it would be this good!). Care for a sample or two?

“GRINDERMAN, Grinderman - This band has everything- cool songs, great facial hair, and an electric bouzouki player. Plus, they have a song called “No Pussy Blues,” which is really good even though I totally can’t relate to it, you know, um, because I am constantly knee-deep in vaginas.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT, Rufus Does Judy Live At Carnegie Hall - This record won’t make you gay. But it won’t not make you gay. The important thing though is that it’s seriously good. Guys should probably finger some girl while listening to this though just to be safe.” Read the rest of the article at Brooklyn Vegan.

Furthermore, Super Deluxe has released a new video starring Dave and Alex “Little Michael Jackson” Sotomayor as they walk the streets pretty much fulfilling their typical roles as all around ball-kickers, only this time as Santa and an elf.