NME is sponsoring the first-ever NME Awards USA. I just tried going over to their website to read about the nominees, and when voting ends, but apparently you need to be a registered user to see the information. And that's completely lame. So I won't be voting.
If you don't have the same online editorial hangups as I do and would like to cast your ballot, here are some of the nominees. You can see the full listing over at LimeWire.
Best Band Kings of Leon The Killers My Chemical Romance The White Stripes Foo Fighters
Best International Band Arctic Monkeys Arcade Fire Muse Radiohead Oasis
Best New Band Band of Horses Black Kids MGMT Vampire Weekend Paramore
Best New International Band The Enemy Foals The Wombats The Last Shadow Puppets Klaxons
Best Live Band My Chemical Romance Kings of Leon The Killers Queens of the Stoneage Foo Fighters
Best International Live Act Arctic Monkeys Arcade Fire The Cribs Kaiser Chiefs Muse
What do you think? I like how they only have American bands in the "best" area and categorize everyone else as international, instead of allowing Americans to pick a non-US band as the best. And by "like" I mean, don't like. And… Oasis?? C'mon now people. Try to stay with the current century please.
As one of the commentors on Limewire said, "I think they're doing this to demonstrate that Americans have poor taste."
The awards will be broadcast live on NME's MySpace page on April 23rd.
OK, well, nobody likes to reflect and rank more than I do (I’m a scientist, I love to quantify), so here goes. I’ve got my favorite songs of 2007 – no, not best or most innovative, but rather the songs I liked … lots and lots and lots. There is a little overlap from my forthcoming Best Albums, but also some curveballs. Enjoy!
“Girls and Boys in Love” by the Rumble Strips
“Sons of Cain” by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
“Jack the Ripper” by the Horrors (special note: If the Horrors had a brain and released the original fast demo version of this song on their debut Strange House, it would have been an easy top 10.)
“Ragoo” by Kings of Leon
“Heart It Races” by Architecture in Helsinki
“Geld Essen” by K.I.Z.
#10. “The Prayer” by Bloc Party from Weekend in the City – This song is one of the most interesting songs Bloc Party has recorded. Too bad the rest of the album (short of “Hunting for Witches”) just wasn’t as cool.
#9 “Heinrich Maneuver” by Interpol from Our Love to Admire – OK, well, this is really nothing we haven’t heard before from Interpol, but heck, their skill lies in writing incredibly catchy, dark pop songs. And as much as I tried, I couldn’t stop listening to the song … too bad the whole album didn’t have the same effect on me.
#8 “Stronger” by Kanye West from Graduation – Seems like every time I think “Kanye is just overrated” he goes and records a song like this. OK, sure, he stole … er, em … borrowed a lot of it from Daft Punk, but then he had then in the video, so they’re all good. The man knows who to turn French techno into U.S. hip-hop gold.
#7 “Einfach Sein” by Die Fantastischen Vier from Fornika – The first of the songs that weren’t really ever released in the U.S. Die Fantastischen Vier are Germany’s godfather’s of hip-hop and this song is sort of their “well, we’re middle aged now” song … bitterly ironic and fabulous.
#6 “Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo” by Jens Lekman from Night Falls Over Kortedala – If anything, the new Jens Lekman album just had too many great songs for me to find just one to obsess over, but this one might be my favorite Jens song ever (even if some people I know get driven nuts by the saxophone).
#5 “Pussy’ole (Old Skool” by Dizzee Rascal from Maths & English – Technically, the U.S. “digital-only” release of Maths & English didn’t include this song thanks to sampling issues, but it might be the perfect melding of old school and new school, with Dizzee in his top form.
#4 “Almost Ready” by Dinosaur Jr. from Beyond – Now, if someone told me at the beginning of the year that Dinosaur Jr. would have recorded one of my favorite new songs of 2007, I would have thought you were crazy. Lo and behold, Gandalf, er, J Mascis the Grey put together the most purely enjoyable rock song of the year.
#3 “Foundations” by Kate Nash from Made of Bricks – This song might be the biggest “guilty pleasure” song of the year for me. I really have no right to like the song as much as I do, but I found myself listening to the song over and over and humming it when I was wandering about. If this can’t become a U.S. hit, I’ll be convinced that American music listeners are scared of “British” songs.
#2 “The Magic Position” by Patrick Wolf from The Magic Position – Handclaps, oboes, footstomps, this song was such a remarkable piece of music that you can find something new to hear with every listen. Patrick Wolf really is the pop answer to Conor Oberst, a wunderkin of modern rock, and I can’t wait to hear where else he can take us.
#1 “Someone Great” by LCD Soundsystem from Sound of Silver – I honestly don’t know what I can say about this song. The other day I was driving to SF and this song came up on my iPod. It literally made me tear up. Yes, that is sad in a number of ways, but the fact that James Murphy could record an electronic epic packed with so much feeling is a testament to his genius. Hands down my favorite song of the year. (Note: I wouldn’t normally link to a cheesy fan-made version of the video, but the edited version of the song from the official video is a travesty.)
Stay tuned for my best albums (if you need something to read)…
Ah, it was a nice extra hour this weekend, wasn't it? Now that I've used that hour up, I might as well use my time to relay to you the newest of the NME hits from this week. Well, they're not all new, for example
1. Kings of Leon "Charmer: So, this song has been on the charts for a few weeks. I was going to post the video, but couldn't find the darn thing, instead just getting hits that consisted of people showing still pictures set to the song. Anyway, somehow the Kings of Leon have made it to the top spot, leaving me baffled yet again why the British public loves bands like the Kings or Biffy Clyro so darn much.
5. Hadouken "Leap of Faith" I didn't want to say it, but this sounds just like Linkin Park if it recorded the EMF Unexplained EP.
8. Interpol "No I in Threesome" For being an "artsy" video, it is remarkably boring. Where's the creepy dancing puppet when we need him?
Nathan Followill (drummer of Kings of Leon) proposed to his girlfriend… and his bandmates are not happy. In fact, they're worried about the future of the band. Did I mention that one of the band members is Nathan's brother?
"If he doesn't get a pre-nuptual agreement, he's an idiot," Nathan's brother and frontman Caleb Followill told The Independent.
"Me and him have a lot invested in each other," he continued. "We started this band. We bought land and houses together. We've been best friends since we were little biddy boys. I don't want him to make mistakes. We have friends in bands who are married and their songs start being watered-down because they're all about the same girl."
Nathan countered his brother's comments by saying: "Look at Bono–he's been married his whole career. It's different for me than it is for Caleb, I'm pushing 30. It's always hard when big brother starts devoting time to a girl that would normally be devoted to little brother."
A lot has been said here on Three Imaginary Girls lately about our friends, Kings of Leon. They seem to be a band that causes a lot of mixed emotions and that can all likely be traced to their current adolescent state between a little band only you and your friends like and being a full-on rock band filling arenas. Because of the Times inches the Kings of Leon much closer to the latter, not only with its impressive Top 30 debut on the Billboard album charts (and #1 in the UK), but also with the band’s decided turn towards a more restrained and mainstream rock sound. This turn has unfortunately stripped a lot from the Kings of Leon’s rock sound, leaving them listing a little too much into bland rock than they probably hoped, but there are still points were you can hope that the Followill’s can keep their identity intact.
The Kings of Leon made on odd decision to lead off the album with the seven-plus minute “Knocked Up,” a song that is sort of a modernized, man’s-eye-view of Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach,” but obliviously musically influenced by the Kings of Leon’s place opening for U2. Strip the vocals out, you could almost place the song as an outtake from The Joshua Tree, with the echoing, Edge-like guitar and the low, rumbling drums. And yet, somehow, the song just doesn’t come together; instead it just drifts along for seven minutes without building much musical or lyrical tension – which is what you need when you record a song of such length.
This isn’t the only odd musical departure for the band. On “Charmer” you have to wonder if someone got a little too much into their old Pixies albums for their own good. “On Call” is just straight up Third Eye Blind mainstream alternative rock and wow, you worry how easily the band converted into VH1 fare. Then they just say, “Hey, let’s be Bloc Party” and record “McFearless” – I’ll let you imagine how that turns out. “Black Thumbnail” is a little more like what you would expect from the band, a real all-out rock song, but it lacks a real hook like previous Kings songs like “Red Morning Light” or “The Bucket.”
A surprising number of songs on Because of the Times are just not memorable and that might be the biggest failing point of the album. Alright, at this point, you’re probably wondering if this album has any redeeming moments and I admit, I haven’t really painted the most flattering picture. The problem is that the Kings of Leon did manage to sneak a gem of a song onto the album, albeit with the worst title they could muster. “Ragoo” (ah yes, let’s have some pasta, y’all) is remarkably infectious and using all the strengths of the Kings of Leon: dueling guitar, Caleb’s howled vocals, and classic rock and roll hooks. The song jumps back and forth from an upbeat, chiming verse to the more aggressive, growling chorus seamlessly and somehow arrives at a middle ground that makes the song a potential sleeper hit if it could ever make it to the airwaves. Whether or not it benefits from its place after “Ragoo,” “Fans” is also a little stronger of a song for the Kings, keeping more of their sound around while merging into the mainstream. “Trunk” is a slow song that almost has a Doors-like vibe to it (well, even with the low bassline).
Maybe the problem here is that the Kings of Leon have been hanging out with too many tried-and-true rockers, like U2, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan and the like. It has seeped its way into their sound both in good and bad ways (mostly bad): sure, the songs are catchy and melodic, but they lack that fiery soul that the band had on Youth and Young Manhood. Maybe we should forgive them for grabbing for that brass ring, but Because of the Times really lacks a lot of substance that is replaced by a lot of gloss.
Imaginary readers know the prevailing imaginary opinion of this record, especially imaginary Dana’s distaste for the album and “Knocked Up” in particular, but love or hate Because of the Times, Kings of Leon's recent Seattle tour stop secured a rock n roll spot in the audience's heart.
Kings of Leon opened with “Black Thumbnail” and by the time lead singer Caleb Followill got to the inaudible chorus “Don’t leave no smell on me,” it was solidified that KOL are a rock band through and through–everything about rock music is exemplified in them. Throughout the set, Caleb showed off his Mick Jagger-esque strut about the stage. The tight pants, the boots, and the straight ahead guitars cut through the theatre and split our ears.
“Black Thumbnail” gave way to “Taper Jean Girl” (the aaaahhhh-haaa shaaaakke song) and the crowd roared with appreciation. They tore through the first five songs in twenty minutes, stopping only to introduce themselves after “Fans” with a simple “We’re Kings of Leon.” They showed their softer side as the opening chords for “Arizona” soon turned into the power ballad hooks that are the songs hallmark. After each song, or each pause, or whenever he felt like it, Caleb would toss guitar picks into the crowd, free souvenirs for all.
The show went on as the band mixed up the set list evenly amongst their three full length albums, seven from Because of the Times, six from Aha Shake Your Heartbreak, and four from Youth and Young Manhood. The YYM tracks were great, obviously polished after being played so many times over their career; "Trani" especially shown brightly, as the songs bluesy emotional feel was exemplified as Caleb wailed “like a train on ten” voice cracking with emotion.
They ended the evening with “Charmer” and I have to admit, it was pretty good live. The screaming seemed to fit in a live context, lots of energy, it was a good show closer and a solid ending to a great show.
Setlist Black Thumbnail Taper Jean Girl King of the Rodeo My Party Soft Fans Arizona Molly Chambers Bucket Milk Four Kicks On Call California Waiting Spiral Staircase Trani McFearless Charmer
Just got this on MySpace. SSPU = WOO! Some of the other bands (esp. Cinematics) = MOO.
But still the closest thing we've got here in Boston to a major-name festival, although as I recall this event is a coinciding series of shows, so like you really can only catch two or three bands cause they're all playing at the same time at different venues. I'll try to get there and report back, nonetheless.
Silversun Pickups will join:
Kings of Leon Bloc Party The Bravery Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Say Anything Shiny Toy Guns Snowden The Cinematics
@ WFNX's Best Music Poll 2007 Lansdowne Street 36 Lansdowne Street Boston, MA 02215
21+ over Wednesday, June 6th @ 6pm
Pre-sale begins today @ 10am EST & ends tomorrow/Friday @ 12pm EST. General tickets go on sale is Friday at 12pm EST.
Wasn't Luke Wilson funny last week on Conan last Monday? Especially the part about how he hangs out in Owen's house when Owen is out of town? Good stuff. I missed Morrissey on Friday night when we was on Kimmel. Did anyone see that?
Here's a rundown of this week's cool Late Night TV guests. Set thy VCRs!
***Wednesday, April 25*** The Fratellis on LETTERMAN
***Thursday, April 26*** Arctic Monkeys on JIMMY KIMMEL
***Friday, April 27*** Jarvis Cocker on LETTERMAN (This is going to be BRILLIANT!) Kings of Leon on LENO (Right, we've already talked about how their new album isn't all that… but perhaps seeing them live will help their fans see what they were going for? I'm betting it will all be lost on me… but that's another story.)
***Saturday, April 28, 2007*** The Raconteurs and Cat Power on AUSTIN CITY LIMITS (If you can't wait… here's a couple teaser videos)
And big things to check back in for next week? Looks like your Modest Mouse, Kaiser Chiefs and BRMC folk will be donning cake make-up for the tv cameras.
As we all wait to see where Conor ends up on the charts next week, Billboard reports that the Kings of Leon debuted at #25 on the Top 200 albums this week. That's a bit of a surprise to me, I guess the Kings have more fans out there than I thought, but kudos to them. There were a lot of familiar names (tee hee) debuting in the Top 10 this week including Hillary Duff!, Martina McBride, Timbaland! and Allison Krauss.
And to show you what a megahit like "Stacy's Mom" buys you, Fountains of Wayne's new album debuted at … #97. Ouch. Such short memories we Americans can have for bubblegum pop-rock.