December 21, 2007

The Best Records of 2007

Filed under: music,rock,tacoma — sparkrobot @ 10:56 pm

Take it or leave it, here’s a list of some interesting records, all released this year and in a particular order, followed by short commentary.

Blitzen Trapper – Wild Mountain Nation
Slackers with guitars AND a Pavement reference here. Leaving that aside, there’s a lot of genre blending here just home brewed enough to keep it lively and hooks, hooks, hooks.

Thurston Moore – Trees Outside the Academy
Lauded Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore’s solo effort recorded at the home studio of J. Mascis.

Shellac – Excellent Italian Greyhound
What is there to say? Steve Albini still thinks corporate rock sucks. And he’s right.

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists – Living With the Living
With a more expansive sound on this release than previous efforts, this record has been listened to, and relistened to by myself more than any other this year. iTunes can not tell a lie.

Les Savy Fav – Let’s Stay Friends
It’s worth buying this record for the fuzzy bass sounds alone. Rage in the Plague Age and Scotchguard The Credit Card. It’s like cerebral Polvo, but in 4/4. Won’t you come and meet me in the present tense?

Grand Champeen – Dial “T” For This
Earlier in the year, I saw these guys play an early Sunday show in Tacoma at Hell’s Kitchen. Yeah, me and like 3 other people. This release is more sparse an pop-oriented than their others, and better for it. Solid rock songs and the recording itself sounds great. Also, the record released in 2007 I listened to second most.

The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
I know they’re all like, popular and stuff now, but, like, um, like, they’re like, good n’ stuff.

The Sea And Cake – Transparent
Pure twee pop from Chicago statesmen. Putting the C back in Cake.

Gogol Bordello – Super Taranta!
Carnivalesque Gypsy Punk. This records easily gets the award for worst cover art, but it’s got a fuck all punk rock attitude that’s hard to ignore. I haven’t seen them play live, but I’m certain this is where it’s at when it comes to this band.

Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond
J. Mascis and Lou Barlow back together. It’s neither Bug nor Green Mind, but the next best thing since.

Bill Callahan – Woke On A Whaleheart
By no means the first release from troubadour Bill Callahan, but the first not under the Smog moniker and instead under his given name. Like most of the Smog records that preceded, this is the kind of album good to put on toward the end of the night, when there are a couple of friends around. You usually can’t count to 20 before someone asks “Wait, who is this?”. Try it.

Black Francis – Bluefinger
I’ve got pretty much every record this guy has ever made. Some are better than others. This is better than most and marks a return to The Pixies era Black Francis pseudonym.

Aesop Rock – None Shall Pass
Scholarly, abstract hip hop. Interesting collaborators on this record, for example John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
Nels Cline can beat your ass, just not on this record. But don’t push him. He is however, a welcome addition to the Wilco lineup and adds texture to the seemingly ever evolving Wilco sound. I sorta miss Bennett though. Meh.

I’m Not There – Original Soundtrack
Nels Cline does beat your ass on this one, as part of The Million Dollar Bashers — a supergroup featuring Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, Television guitarist Tom Verlaine, Dylan bassist Tony Garnier, guitarist Smokey Hormel and keyboardist John Medeski. Cline and Verlaine tangle on the opener “All Along The Watchtower” in a fresh and frankly, pretty incredible way. This is the soundtrack to the Todd Haynes film I’m Not There which characterizes Bob Dylan with a different approach and poetic narrative.

“Best of” lists at the year’s end are always subjective. If you’re interested in any of these records and you don’t mind helping me out, I suggest you buy them from

Fuck DRM. There, I’ve said it. If you’ can’t be bothered with packaging, Amazon also offers a ton of DRM-free titles available for download starting at $8.99 in their MP3 store (256 kbps MP3). I’ve used it a couple of times now, and though it’s not as integrated as using the iTunes store, it’s certainly beats having restrictions on what is possible with content you legally obtain. Amazon offers a download manager which pulls down your tracks and automatically adds them to your iTunes library.

December 20, 2007

Fame and the Konica Auto S2

Filed under: Internet, eh?,photography,tacoma — sparkrobot @ 11:10 am

Konica Auto S2A photo I took of my Konica Auto S2 on my dining room table is featured on Now it’s famous. Or something.

Flickr added web statistics to their photo sharing web application starting on December 13. The feature is simple, clean and the presentation is easy to understand. This comes as no surprise to me from the Flickr team. I’m finding this a welcome addition, as I would likely never had any clue my photo of the Konica was being used on Camerapedia.