Top 100 Tunes Of 2007 (80-71)
80. Mavis Staples - Down In Mississippi (Anti-)
The older generations have a way of sounding angry and aggrieved that will take us youngsters plenty time to match. 68 year-old Staples here recasts J.B. Lenoir's classic in her own image. Staples really makes the song her own by virtually taking up residence inside it. It sounds less like an interpretation than a song from her own experience, so entrenched and enriched it is with Staples' weathered, soulful voice and the collective voice of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Prince called her "the epitome of soul" and I, for one, reckon he might be right on that score.
Mavis Staples - Down In Mississippi (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the stirring video for Mavis' version of 'Eyes On The Prize'.
79. Phosphorescent - Cocaine Lights (Dead Oceans)
I'm a new convert to Matthew Houck's charms - hence Pride's absence from my albums list - and I managed to cram this one into the list at the last minute after completely falling in love with it upon seeing Houck perform it live at the weekend (way too many prepositions in that there sentence). There's more than a little of Will Oldham in Houck's diction, vocabulary and vocal manner (in fact, you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for an offcut from I See A Darkness), but the heavy soul injection of gospel-like backing vocals and Houck's glorious turn of phrase ("In the morning, in the kitchen/I can hear my blood clicking") elevates it above tribute act fare. Just beautiful, simple songwriting at its purest.
Phosphorescent - Cocaine Lights (mp3)
Bonus: Phosphorescent covering Nina Nastasia's 'Been So Long' live.
78. Peter Visti - Bad Weather (Eskimo)
Peter Visti's name seemed to be mentioned in hushed, revered tones throughout the year. An elusive producer who sprang up out of nowhere with this 12" in January on Eskimo (although Discogs reckons it was last year, I'm calling bullshit on them) before going on to release another lauded 12 ('Paraglide/Berlin') and a much sought-after selection of edits for Mindless Boogie (amongst their number, a sterling Balearic take on Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'). This one was my favourite of his though as it pulls together some really simple and effective elements (a relentless, sinewy bassline, twinkly synths, rain effects, spanish guitar, handclaps) into a massively satisfying whole, guaranteed to leave you agog for ten-plus minutes.
Peter Visti - Bad Weather (mp3)
Bonus: Download an exclusive Peter Visti mix over at Cosmic Disco.
77. Arto Mwambe - Noh Ngamebo (Brontosaurus)
Just who the hell is Arto Mwambe? His MySpace has him pegged as a house producer straight outta Burkina Faso (Ougadougu, to be precise), but I'm not convinced. I reckon it's a pseudonym. Almost everyone seems to be someone else in dance music these days so maybe the cynic in me isn't allowing me the leap of faith that tech-house this accomplished and slick can come from North Africa (that's not me being horribly judgemental is it?). Bumping, addictive stuff regardless of the identity crisis.
Arto Mwambe - Noh Ngamebo (mp3)
Bonus: Learn all about Burkina Faso on Wikipedia. I know, but you try looking for bonus stuff on this man of mystery!
76. Cave Bear Cult - Catch The Worm (Versatile)
2007 saw the resurgence of the piano as the go-to instrument for electronic producers looking for a great hook, so how do you make your ivory-tinkling stand out from the crowd? Cave Bear Cult's answer was to stick it over the top of a skippy, hip-housey beat, warm synth arpeggios and a seriously funked-up b-line. Layer on the drama and hey presto! You now have a club-ready floorfiller. Seems so easy, yet so difficult to do well. The sheer insistence of the black-and-whites in 'Catch The Worm' is what hammers it home and makes it stay for quite some time.
Cave Bear Cult - Catch The Worm (mp3)
Bonus: Cave Bear Cult - Spaghettidisco (mp3)
75. Al Usher - Here Today (Misericord)
This year saw Al Usher finally step out from the shadow of his production partner, Ewan Pearson with the absolutely massive Gnanfou EP, from which this is the best track. It starts off so innocently with eddying, swelling violins and ping-ponging percussive noises before growing into a monster of epic cosmic proportions. Used to brilliant effect by Lindstrom & Prins Thomas on their Essential Mix (easily the most influential mix of the year, in terms of breaking songs), this became an indispensible tune for DJs the length and breadth of the country. The best part? The sound of a hitherto little-known producer sprouting wings and growing in confidence with each bar.
Al Usher - Here Today (mp3)
Bonus: Al Usher - Gnanfou (mp3)
74. Electrelane - The Greater Times (Too Pure)
Curse this band for buggering off on hiatus just when things were really starting to get interesting. 'The Greater Times' - the opener on No Shouts, No Calls - is the closest the band has ever come to anthemic. It's a call to arms to broken hearts and those who've loved and lost, with keening organs, Verity Susman's fragile, unique voice oozing nostalgia about "How you laughed when you looked at the moon". The loss of Electrelane to the ether is one that pains almost as much as the naked emotion on display here.
Electrelane - The Greater Times (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the video for 'To The East'.
73. Reverso 68 - Especial (Eskimo)
Phil Mison and Pete Herbert can do this kind of blissed-out disco in their sleep now surely. Every track and remix they put out has their hallmarks but each one has an identity of its own. 'Especial' is a touch more upfront than usual and could, in the right light, be mistaken for a 'big room' tune. It's groovy, assertive and just supremely danceable. Business as usual for Reverso 68 then.
Reverso 68 - Especial (mp3)
Bonus: Download their fantastic remix of Badly Drawn Boy's 'Promises'.
72. My Sister Klaus - Kicks Of Sand (Tigersushi)
The French have always been pretty bad at appropriating British and American music styles in the past, until now. Meet Iggy Po- I mean, My Sister Klaus with 'Kicks Of Sand', in which Mr Guillaume Teyssier does a dead-on impersonation of James Osterberg back in the sinuous Stooges days (circa '70). 'Kicks Of Sand' is a snarling, blunt-as-fuck, dumb punk song with art-rock leanings, just like Iggy used to do. Badass.
My Sister Klaus - Kicks Of Sand (mp3)
Bonus: My Sister Klaus performing 'Kicks Of Sand' live.
71. Karizma - Twyst This (R2 Records)
Who'd have thought we'd have needed house music much this year? In the clubs, it was all disco-this and electro-that, but in steps Karizma with 'Twyst This', one of the most memorable and damn body-jerking tunes of this or any other year. As the name suggests, the hook is a twisty one that burrows its way down into your brain and lodges itself there refusing to let go. Maybe we need great house music more than we thought?
Karizma - Twyst This (mp3)
Bonus: Watch videos of Karizma killing it at The Electric Chair back in September. I was there!
I was rushing a bit tonight. Hope it doesn't show.
Labels: top 100 tunes of 2007