Monday, December 31, 2007

My top tens of 2007


1. M.I.A.: Kala (Interscope)
2. Jewface (Reboot Stereophonic)
3. Dixon: RA.048 (Resident Advisor podcast)
4. Authenticite - The Sylliphone Years (Stern's Africa)
5. The Angelic Process: Weighing Souls With Sand (Profound Lore)
6. Jens Lekman: "Night Falls Over Kortedala" (Secretly Canadian)
7. Rufus Wainwright: Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall (Geffen)
8. Rilo Kiley: Under The Blacklight (Warner Bros.)
9. Barr: Summary (5 Rue Christine)
10. Matthew Dear: Asa Breed (Ghostly International)


1. Owusu & Hannibal: "Lonnie's Secret" (Ubiquity)
2. Eve: "Tambourine" (Aftermath/Interscope)
3. Escort: "All Through The Night" (Escort)
4. Britney Spears: "Piece of Me" (Jive)
5. M.I.A.: "Boyz" (Interscope)
6. The Pierces: "Boring" (Lizard King)
7. Dude ‘N Nem: "Watch My Feet" (TVT)
8. Hannah Montana: "Nobody's Perfect" (Walt Disney)
9. Maroon 5: "Makes Me Wonder" (Octone/A&M)
10. UGK ft. OutKast: “Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)” (Jive)

I took out the two reissues for the Idolator poll and put in Burial and Fountains of Wayne.

My fave reissue of the year is both music and film - the 3-DVD Deluxe Edition of The Jazz Singer.

The Jazz Singer
you know (or know of). But the real gems here are the Vitaphone shorts that make up Disc Three. Vitaphone was the sound-on-disc process used by Warner Bros. for sync sound features, e.g. The Jazz Singer. But the studio also produced short musical subjects, most of which remain the only filmic record we have of certain vaudeville artists.

What's so moving about watching these professional entertainers ham it up for the camera (complete with bows, curtains parting, direct address, etc.) is that they're performing for a medium that sped up their decline as a cultural force. And beyond (Baby) Rose Marie and Burns & Allen, very few of these particular performers managed success in film/TV. (You can see Al Jolson shake his tush in the extras on Disc One.) Even the revue format in which most of these shorts are locked fell to the wayside in film musicals by about 1933.

But if you think shtick if not corn is the lifeblood of pop, you'll find counless hours of entertainment here. There's oh so much to mention. Tons of great novelties. Tons of hot jazz. Tons of banjos (an entire girl orchestra of them, in fact). Tons of jokes. Tons of catchiness.

And itchiness. For blackface without the burnt cork, check out the dialects of [Gus] Van and [Joe] Schenck in "The Pennant Winning Battery of Songland" on such hits as "Hard To Get Gertie" and "She Knows Her Onions." Or Blossom Seeley and Bennie Fields, the latter of whom wrote a French coon song called "Marseillaise In The Cold, Cold Ground" (say it a few times out loud). And in case you had to be told, gay people existed back then, if only in caricature with Ethel Sinclair and Marge La Marr in "At The Seashore."

There's Dick Rich, a priss queen Paul Whiteman. There's Green's Twentieth Century Faydetts, another all-girl orchestra with a conductor in pants who dances. There's The Foy Family who tell a gruesome children's story in between violent tap dances. And even if you have low tolerance for shtick, you'll love Shaw & Lee in "The Beau Brummels." Two men in Derbys tell naughty, even nihilistic jokes with deadpan voices and poker faces and sing a jaw-dropping metasong which might be called "This Is Where The Chorus Ends." Very Emo Philips if not Neil Hamburger ("20 people fell from a 10 story window but no one was hurt." "How did that happen?" "They all died").

Disc Two contains a featurette and several shorts on film sound. For more info, check this review out.

DVD of the year.

Best film of the year: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu; Runner Up: Southland Tales
Worst film of the year: Once; Runner Up: No Country For Old Men