Best local albums of 2007
Matthew Lurie, Music writer
1.Who Cares How Long You Sink?
Folk Forms Evaporate Big Sky (Sundmagi)
Mercurial bassist Jason Ajemian has been known to turn in odd, idiosyncratic live performances—in fact, that’s arguably his calling card. So this ambitious masterwork was a surprise, a dreamy mélange of all the minimalist folk, jazz and creative music Ajemian plays in other settings. Recorded in a South Side church, this album feels unaccountably majestic.
Devastator (Lovely Rebel)
Beneath the mountains of fuzz guitar and restless lo-fi drum machines lies one thing no band can cover up: great pop songwriting. Led by the cold coo of vocalist Shannon Roberts, this Wicker Park trio put together some of the most heartsick three-minute Brill Building jams all year.
3. The Zincs
Black Pompadour (Thrill Jockey)
The third album from this local quartet was the first one to feature the band’s steady lineup, and it shows. Expat Brit Jim Elkington never had a problem with deft turns of phrases, or with mature, dazzling guitar-pop arrangements, but his beautiful baritone—finally uninhibited and free-flowing—is what makes the understated Zincs so damn sexy.
Frequency (Thrill Jockey)
Like the new-look Boston Celtics, each member of Frequency has already had his or her time to shine individually. And so, despite the loaded résumés of each of these AACM veterans, there is no leader in the band’s name, nor on this record. Instead, the quartet trades reeds and percussions back and forth, creating a sweet whirl of gentle ambience.
5. The Engines
The Engines (Okka Disk)
The free-jazz all-stars in this quartet play out plenty and often with each other, but rarely have they swung this hard. Trombonist Jeb Bishop and saxophonist Dave Rempis, in particular, aim for a fascinating and uneasy sort of swing, the kind that constantly walks the line between finger-snapping and violently falling apart.
James Porter, Music writer
You’re Gonna Need it (Vinahyde)
This power trio makes the cut for Shelly Kurzynski Villaseñor’s guitar work and the contrapuntal conversations between her and bassist Amy Malick. The album title is quite fitting.
2. Geraldine and Donald Gay
Soulful Sounds (The Sirens)
This is classic gospel, with Donald Gay on mike and pianist Geraldine’s singing off of it. Even though Geraldine wasn’t the planned vocalist, things were going so well that she started spontaneously singing along with her brother, and the rolling tape picked it up. Needless to say, both Donald and Geraldine are sounding fine.
3. The Dollar Store
Money Music (Bloodshot)
Just when we were starting to get tired of the glut of country-rock bands, the Dollar Store stormed in and turned that right around. The players take the best parts of the Bottle Rockets and ’80s cowpunk band Jason and the Scorchers and make it their own.
4. Dark Fog
The Ultimate Cult of Psychedelic Psychosis (Original Sound)
This is nasty local psychedelia that flies through space, Hawkwind-style. The band claims punk numbers among its 1,001 influences, every one of which you can hear on “Out of My Mind.”
5. Lurrie Bell
Let’s Talk About Love (Aria BG)
Rather than have Bell record the same generic shuffle blues with different lyrics, producer Matthew Skoller had him record some actual songs. And Bell’s singing and guitar picking are exclusively heart and soul.
Antonia Simigis, Music editor
1. The Eternals
Heavy International (Aesthetics)
It’s no wonder the Eternals have fans in Japan, Europe and South America: Their melting-pot sound knows no borders. Global rhythms mingle with dub-infused funk as vocalist Damon Locks fires up his space-age podium on the group’s most cosmopolitan effort yet.
2. Chris Connelly
The Episodes (Durtro/Jnana)
With each solo album Connelly further distances himself from his Ministry/Revolting Cocks industrial roots, and this is his best. Recorded mostly outdoors with a loose ensemble of local co-conspirators, it’s a free-form acoustic meditation that evolves into a haze of jazz–inflected psychedelia.
Excellent Italian Greyhound (Touch and Go)
Steve Albini and company took their sweet time releasing their fourth album—seven years, to be exact—and sound as curmudgeonly and anticommercial as ever. In other words, it’s classic Shellac, all razor wit, serrated riffs and whatever convulsive–time-signature drummer Todd Trainer feels like playing that minute.
4. The 1900s
Cold & Kind (Parasol)
Even after a year of mounting buzz, the 1900s didn’t disappoint on their first full-length. Coed vocals delicately play off each other in this charming retro pop suite, full of sumptuous arrangements and just a hint of cynicism to keep things grounded.
5. Ezra Furman and the Harpoons
Banging Down the Doors (Minty Fresh)
This North Shore wunderkind plays jumpy folk-rock reminiscent of the Violent Femmes. But it’s his extraordinary lyrics—surreal vignettes full of wit and passion—that stay with you.