Well, the long wait is nearly over ... no, I’m not talking about Bush’s presidency, I’m talking about the POOP 2007! As usual, I’m still procrastinating, and still trying to squeeze in a few purchases before deadline. There is some better news from this part of the world though. There will be another bairn in the Nerney clan come this summer. My plan for world domination continues! Well, maybe not world domination … and Nat and I will probably lose what little control we have in our own house with another little rugrat running around. Anyway, it’s certain to be a joyous chaos and we couldn’t be happier. Here’s to the next generation!


Tops of the Pops


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1. John Vanderslice ~ Emerald City
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but JV is one of the most interesting songwriters around. For my money, he’s the most perceptive chronicler of the American experience in business. He goes at some serious issues from some very interesting angles, so listen carefully. The only problem with this record is that it ends too soon. Please, Sir, may I have some more?


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2. Field Music ~ Tones of Town
Lots of big ideas packed into sharp, little packages. This is the best pop album I heard this year. Unfortunately, the band called it quits (the so-called “temporary hiatus”) weeks after this album came out.


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3. Dr. Dog ~ We All Belong
Terrible name, agreed. Terribly derivative, agreed. However, these guys sound like they’re having a heck of a good time and I find myself going back to this album often. If you like the Beatles or the Band, you might like this.


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4. Robert Plant and Alison Kraus ~ Raising Sand
I had doubts at first, but actually just one listen hooked me. Great songs. Great musicians. Great voices. Robert Plant sounds better than he ever has, and Alison Kraus (no slouch herself) really does complement him. T-Bone Burnett makes it all sound “real authentic”. Cool.


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5. Alasdair Roberts ~ The Amber Gatherers
This wee Scottish lad just keeps getting better with each album. He’s comparable to Richard Thompson in his ability to write a great contemporary song in the traditional style. Anyone with more than a passing interest in folk music should check this out.


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6. Panda Bear ~ Person Pitch
Definitely one of the more adventurous pop albums to come out this year. Get yourself lost in majestic melodies, strummy acoustic guitars, and dubbed out rhythms. Glorious stuff.


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7. The Shins ~ Wincing the Night Away
It seems like this album has been around for a long, long time. Still sounds like the Shins, though. Good enough.


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8. New Pornographers ~ Challengers
Much mellower this time around and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. For the hopheads there are a few tracks that still kick-start the old engine. Still the perfect vehicle for Neko Case.


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9. Akron/Family ~ Love is Simple
The perfect house band for any quasi-mystical Buddhist cult. A bit less noisy and a bit more classic rock than their last effort (to a generally successful degree). Too bad one of the guys quit the band to actually go and join a real Buddhist temple. Om.


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10. Linda Thompson ~ Versatile Heart
I’m glad that she’s back in the business, and actually outdoing her “old” man. Nothing groundbreaking here, just good, simple songs sung with quiet class. It’s nice to see her continuing her work with Teddy as well.


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11. Iron and Wine ~ The Shepherd’s Dog
An interesting take on the whole Americana scene. I like the kind of grimy southern feel this record has. My first real exposure to Sam Beam, and I’m interested in checking out the back catalog.


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12. Spoon ~ Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Much more like the real Spoon than “Gimme Fiction”. To me, anyway. Kind of like a mini-history of Spoon, as well. “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” is one of my favorite songs of the year. Nice horns.


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13. Feist ~ The Reminder
A few real gems on this album, although it gets bogged down by too many down-tempo numbers. Pick up the pace there girl. To thine own name be true! Actually, a feist is a mongrel cur, if you want to know.


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14. Meg Baird ~ Dear Companion
Another album of simple folk songs, sung by a girl with a pretty voice. Nothing special, but I listen to it all the time.


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15. Radiohead ~ In Rainbows
Actually, the jury is still out on this one. I didn’t listen to this until it came out on CD, as I was wary of the initial over-hype of the mp3 release. I want to like it, but somehow I know that the magic is gone. I think I just have unrealistic expectations for the band at this point. I want something amazing, and this just isn’t it. Still, some good mood pieces, and Thom’s voice is still special. The dream is over.


Other Notable News
Richard Thompson ~ Sweet Warrior: half absolute class, the other half crass
Crowded House ~ Time on Earth: still sounds like Crowded House
Memory Band ~ Apron Strings: a poor man’s Fairport Convention
Dolorean ~ You Can’t Win: for when you’re drunk and depressed
Gravenhurst ~ the Western Lands: split personality (brit-folk/shoegaze)
Band of Bees ~ Octopus: still stuck in the seventies
Twilight Sad ~ Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters: blistering walls of guitar (with accordion)
Radical Face ~ Ghost: haunted by Paul Simon
The Coral ~ Roots & Echoes: more 60’s AM nostalgia
The Broken West ~ I Can’t Go On I’ll Go On: kid brother to New Pornographers
Peter Bjorn & John ~ Writer’s Block: is there some sort of pop implant in Sweden?
Rogue Wave ~ Asleep at Heaven’s Gate: a slight dip in form
Clinic ~ Visitations: a welcome return to early form
Beirut ~ The Flying Club Cup: a density of horns
Elliot Smith ~ New Moon: just another reminder of a wasted life
Grizzly Bear ~ Friends: an intriguing new path
PG Six ~ Slightly Sorry: slightly more ...
Fionn Regan ~ the End of History: Irish folk troubador
Great Lake Swimmers ~ Ongiara: high, lonesome, Canadian
King Wilkie ~ Low Country Suite: newgrassers go country
Levon Helm ~ Dirt Farmer: sounds organic
Mekons ~ Natural: punk folk meander through the apocalypse
The Mabuses ~ Mabused!: quirky Brit pop
Mum ~ Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy: much more upbeat (but still a bit tweaked)
The Good, the Bad & the Queen ~ S/T: dark and dubby
Patrick Wolf ~ the Magic Position: dramatic art-pop
White Flight ~ S/T: reminiscent of weird, early Beck
Angels of Light ~ We Are Him: for when you need to be traumatized
Animal Collective ~ Strawberry Jam: some brilliant moments, but maybe too dense
Ghost ~ In Stormy Night: the unofficial soundtrack to “Conan the Barbarian”?
James Reynard ~ Strange Histories: a true disciple of Martin Carthy
Ted Leo ~ Living with the Living: diminishing returns
Besnard Lakes ~ are the Dark Horse: would have been the perfect soundtrack to the Cold War
The Aliens ~ Astronomy for Dogs: Beta Band mini-reunion that doesn’t quite reach former glory
Richard & Linda Thompson ~ in Concert 1975: simply majestic


As always, I’m looking forward to hearing more music. So, thanks poopsters. Good Listening!