Local Mixtape, 2007
I'll skip the long-winded introduction. Below are 20 songs by local artists that did the good thing for me in 2007. As I always say, I hesitate to call this a "best of" list and prefer to call it a "favorites" list. These are simply the songs that I enjoyed the most. Disagree? Feel free to call out any omissions in the comments section.
Antelope - "Mirroring"
This song is a perfect example of how to build tension without relying on the simple payoff of a dissonant blast of noise. As always, the band keeps you on your toes.
Child Ballads - "Cheekbone Hollows"
It took nearly a decade for former Jonathan Fire*Eater frontman Stewart Lupton to resurface on record, but the wait was worth it. On Child Ballads' debut EP (which will finally get a domestic release in April) Lupton serves up torn and frayed indie-folk with the same colorful lyrics that made him a rising star a decade ago. ("I bought a white chocolate tea in the park on my lunchbreak / I bought a painting off the street of a haunted lake / And I tried hard to make the world an exciting place.")
Donny Hue and the Colors - "Real Long Time"
A bouncy, jaunty, psych-pop number that simply couldn't be any better. The piano, which holds the whole thing together, brings an almost ragtime vibe to the song and the shout-along chorus is the cherry on top.
Food for Animals - "Swampy (Summerjam)"
Local hip-hop deconstructionalists drop harsh beats and heady rhymes (referencing late outsider musician Arthur Russell, really?). It might not fly in clubs like Love or Five, but it's certainly more substantial than most of that kind of fare.
Garland of Hours - "Dear Henry"
Local cellist du jour Amy Domingues shows she has serious songwriting and vocal chops on this sinewy, spooky murder ballad.
Georgie James - "More Lights"
Duo John Davis and Laura Burhenn packed their debut, "Places," with tasty indie-pop morsels but none of them are as sweet as this one. The duo trades off vocal duties on the verses and comes together in beautiful harmony for the choruses.
John Bustine - "This Guitar Says I'm Drunk"
Forlorn folk from this singer-songwriter on Gypsy Eyes. But instead of simply sounding weary he also sounds a bit angry, giving his songs a welcome edge.
Junior League- "Chess Records"
A little bit country and a little bit rock-and-roll. There's also a generous helping of bluegrass and folk, too, on this delightfully breezy ode to classic soul label.
Le Loup- "We Are Gods! We Are Wolves!"
This year's breakout indie band achieves an understated weirdness on this song that features floaty voices, well-placed beeps and handclaps and lyrics that make just enough sense so that you don't feel too silly singing along.
Mambo Sauce - "Welcome to D.C."
The breakout go-go band of the year shouts out Chuck Brown and does the Godfather proud with its 21st-century take on D.C.'s classic sound, infusing Scott Storch-esque synths and some heavy guitar to go along with the usual syncopated rhythms.
Mary Timony Band - "Sharpshooter"
When has Mary Timony ever made a bad album? (Answer: 2002, "The Golden Dove.") But other than that she's well into her second decade of consistently engaging, slightly off-center indie rock. 2005's "Ex Hex" and this year's "The Shapes We Make" remind us that her angelic voice sounds especially great when matched with sharp guitars and propulsive drums.
Meredith Bragg - "My Absent Will"
The first notes will immediately make you think of Elliott Smith's "Either/Or," which is a good thing. Bragg's gentle voice and strumming are the only elements needed in this beautiful lament.
Panacea - "Pops Said"
Raw Poetic and K Murdock of RPM chill things out on this side project of progressive hip-hop that helped revive Rawkus Records. This track is representative of the album with its easy groove and positive, but not preachy, vocals.
Revival - "Fog Rolling In"
This dynamic folk-rock offering with huge psychedelic flourishes is a highlight from the band's album, "Horses of War."
S.T.O.R.M. Reggae Band - "Gimme Di Treez"
The area's most promising reggae band delivers a track that would make Afroman and Cypress Hill proud. Even if you're not down with message, there's plenty to like with the crucial groove and lyrical flow present throughout the band's album, "Eye of the Storm."
Thao Nguyen - "Beat (Health, Life and Fire)"
This one's cheating a bit since the album won't be released until January, but this song has been making the rounds on the Internet for a few months and is simply too good to pass up. the main strengths of this catchy little march are simple, echo-y guitar lines and Nguyen's mesmerizing wail.
The Antiques - "Don't Stand In My Room"
A thick organ sound and dramatic vocals highlight this track that should appeal to fans of forgotten '80s U.K. acts like Felt and Comsat Angels.
The Beanstalk Library - "Fake It"
Power pop for fans of Big Star and Teenage Fanclub, but with a little twang and some Beulah-worthy horns thrown in for good measure. Extremely tuneful and immaculately produced.
The Points - "Rock n Roll No Rules"
No recording will ever fully capture the mayhem of the band's live show, but this fuzzed-out garage/punk stomper comes close enough.
Travis Morrison - "As We Proceed"
Don't call it a comeback -- Morrison never really went away, but for those who thought he lost his knack for penning twisty, spazzy, catchy songs, this is a reminder that he didn't.
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