Arches in Fall

Tully Rohrer

December 13th, 2007

When I think of Utah, I think of red desert sandstone. But there are a lot of different colors if you stop and look closely, and these fallen leaves in the wash by Sand Dune Arch were full of browns, blues, yellows, and, yes, reds. I took a number of pictures of these leaves and I may post another shot of the same leaf pile on Friday. As always, please feel free to comment below!

Well, we begin the top ten songs and albums of the year today… check back every other day for the continuing countdown!

Top Songs of the Year

20. Handsome Furs - Sing! Captain
19. Beirut - Elephant Gun
18. Spoon - Don’t Make Me a Target
17. Kevin Drew - Lucky Ones
16. Rogue Wave - Lake Michigan
15. Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation
14. Band of Horses - The General Specific
13. St. Vincent - Now. Now.
12. The Shins - Sleeping Lessons
11. Caribou - Eli

10. Andrew Bird - Dark Matter
If you frequent Optic Distraction, you know that I write about Andrew Bird quite often. He is the whole package - incredible musician, amazing songwriter, and truly one of the most interesting lyricists of our generation. “Dark Matter” begins with Bird’s inexplicable whistle (a highlight all on its own) before the song launches into a discourse on health and modern medicine, and eventually, a philosophical question regarding the soul: “Do you wonder where the self resides? Is it in your head or between your sides and who will be the one who will decide its true location?” And if that question is a little too heavy for you, just sit back and sing along. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this song is that it uses Bird’s greatest asset - his amazing violin skills - only a minimal amount. Further proof that his musical ability is unparalleled.

Decide for yourself: Andrew Bird - Dark Matter (From the Armchair Apocrypha LP)

09. Modest Mouse - March Into the Sea
The rollicking opener to We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is a rollercoaster ride of perfect indie rock. An accordion, pounding drums, and dancing bass set the stage for Isaac Brock’s unmistakable vocals. Much like Andrew Bird, the lyrics of Modest Mouse always deserve thorough investigation. In the case of “March Into the Sea”, Isaac Brock wraps a lot of random lyrics around themes of environmental destruction and, most importantly, evolution. “Our tails wagged and then fell off, but we just turned back and marched into the sea.” Many of Brock’s lyrics are inquiries into how exactly our society came to be how it is today, and in this case, there’s quite a bit of cynical humor in them. After setting the stage for how we came about, he finishes: “Well, we all stumbled around tangled up in our cords from our phones, VCRs, and our worldly woes… ha ha! March on!” Left largely to your interpretation, it seems to me to be a darkly humorous look at our daily lives. And, needless to say, catchy and absorbing.

Decide for yourself: Modest Mouse - March Into the Sea (From the We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank LP)

Top Albums of the Year

20. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder
19. Elliott Smith - New Moon
18. Blonde Redhead - 23
17. Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation
16. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
15. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
14. Handsome Furs - Plague Park
13. St. Vincent - Marry Me
12. Feist - The Reminder
11. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

10. Rogue Wave - Asleep at Heaven’s Gate
This is another impressively consistent 2007 release. It contains one of the year’s best songs in “Lake Michigan”, but is filled with other gems as well. “Christians in Black” is as beautiful a song as this band has made (and that’s saying something), while “Lullaby” stands in contrast to its name with moments of chaotic, yet beautiful instrumentation. If you are looking for an album that you will play from start to finish over and over again, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate comes with my highest recommendations.

Decide for yourself: Rogue Wave - Chicago X 12

09. Kevin Drew - Spirit If…
This album is actually titled Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - Spirit If…, and rightfully so, because it’s the best Broken Social Scene album not attributed completely to BSS. Many artists contributed to Kevin Drew’s first solo album, and you can tell from the varied tunes. While it doesn’t strike me as impressive as the last two BSS albums, that fact may be due just to the fact that I miss the inclusion of Leslie Feist and Emily Haines’ voices. Yet every track on Spirit If… is good, and if you like BSS, you can’t pass this one up.

Decide for yourself: Kevin Drew - Safety Bricks

Wow, i thought this was one of Justin’s. Nice colors!

mhg — December 13th, 2007

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