The Turner Music Prize 2007, vol. 4

OK, let's stop messing about with this 2007 business and get this blog started right. I've saved some of the best for last:

TURNER MUSIC PRIZE 2007, Vol. 4 [.zip file]
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1. Mark Lanegan: «Man in the Long Black Coat»
There are no mistakes in life, some people say
It is true, sometimes you can see it that way
But people don’t live or die, people just float
She went with the man in the long, black coat
Mark Lanegan’s vocals could lend authority to just about any subject, so lived does his voice sound. Add to that the words of Bob Dylan, and you can’t possibly go wrong: «Feel the pulse and vibration and the rumbling force / Somebody is out there, beating on a dead horse.»
From I'm Not There

2. The Angels Of Light: «Sometimes I Dream I'm Hurting You»
A quick glance at the title and you know what you’re in for. Nothing half-arsed with Michael Gira. This song showcases both why he soars miles above practically all other artists toying with words and music, and why he will never break through commercially. His unique perspective takes you from the gently picked melody to the desperate prayer for deliverance that propels both song and listener until it explodes in trance-like abandonment to music and self-obliteration: «COMEANDTAKEMECOMEANDTAKEMECOMEANDTAKEMECOME
From We Are Him

3. Radiohead: «Weird Fishes/Arpeggi»
Not to denigrate their more experimental stuff, but with this song Radiohead finally seem to manage a balance between beauty and originality, their individuality something that just manifests itself now (rather than being forced) in a perfect slice of pop rock. «Hit the bottom and escape»…
From In Rainbows

4. Einstürzende Neubauten: «Die Wellen»
What should I do with you, waves, you who can never decide
whether you’re the first or the last?
You think you can define the coast with your constant wish-wash,
grind it down with your coming and going.
And yet no one knows how long the coastline really is,
where land stops, where land begins, and you’re forever changing
the line, length, lay, with the moon and unpredictable.

Consistent alone is your inconsistency.

Ultimately victorious since, as so often evoked, this wears away
the stones, grinds the sand down as fine as needed for
hourglasses and egg-timers, as required for calibrating time,
for telling the difference between hard and soft.

Victorious also because, never tiring, you win the contest who of us
will be the first to fall asleep, or you, being the ocean still,
because you never sleep.

Although colourless yourself, you seem blue
when the sky is gently mirrored on your surface, the ideal course
for being strolled upon by the carpenter’s son, the most changeable element.

And inversely, when you are wild and loud and your breakers thunder,
I listen between the peaks of your rollers, and from the highest waves,
from breaking spume, a thousand voices break away, mine,
yesterday’s ones that I didn’t know, that otherwise just whisper,
and all the others too, and in their midst the Nazarene.
Over and over again those stupendous five final words:
Why have you left me?

I hold my own, shout at each single wave:
Are you staying?
Are you staying?
Are you staying, or what?
From Alles Wieder Offen

5. Spoon: «The Ghost of You Lingers»
To call this a «song» is stretching it a bit, but that’s no reason to dismiss it as just a piece of indulgent studio experimentation. Sometimes a combination of lyrics and sounds come along at en eerily apt time to, well, haunt you. This may not be a song, but it's the inside of an idea, a sentiment, a hope.
From Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

6. LCD Soundsystem: «All My Friends»
In passing from youth into adulthood, whether you're cultivating hope for the future or indulging in a nostalgia for the past, in LCD
Soundsystem's «All My Friends» at least you've put resentment behind you. Encouraged by nostalgia to love them and permitted by hope to let go of them, the bitterness towards some of the people you used to know is replaced by a warmth towards all the people you now feel blessed and lucky to once have known, regardless of what subsequently transpired. When James Murphy repeats his mantra «Where are your friends tonight?», it’s a question out of curiosity and gratitude, not an accusation arising from disappointment and bitterness. But then, in seven-and-a-half minutes it's over…
From Sound of Silver

7. Animal Collective: «Safer»
A showcase for Avey Tare’s sense of urgency and flight of fantasy, dig the way this piece morphs from fear into love, like a story going from
the empty present back into a golden past…
From «Peacebone» single

8. The Soulsavers: «Kingdoms of Rain»
OK, so it may sound like some American motivational speaker’s mantra, but the title of the album this song’s culled from says everything: it's not how far you fall, it's the way you land. The voice that makes your knees go wobbly and your eardrums quiver with masochistic enjoyment here is that of Mark Lanegan, who the Soulsavers happen to be covering on this very same track, adding soft textures and careful details to the sparse original arrangement (the key point beginning at the 2:14 mark).
From It's Not How Far You Fall, It's the Way You Land

9. PJ Harvey: «Grow Grow Grow»
Arguably PJ Harvey’s most accomplished (or at least original) album, I could never listen to White Chalk. Not because it isn’t good, but because it’s too good. Unbearably, almost impossibly bleak, Harvey would’ve had to stare into some serious abyss making this one. But like Mark in «Peep Show» says, «I'm looking into the abyss… I don't like the look of the abyss!»
From White Chalk

10. Devendra Banhart: «I Remember»
I think the most beautiful things happen to be ugly things; most people find beauty in the mediocre. But then Devendra Banhart comes along and proves to us all that beauty is simply the beautiful. Trust Banhart to craft a melody to perfectly convey a tristesse that doesn’t wallow. This song’s atmosphere is a lesson; there is such a thing as blues without self-pity! A pure sadness, within which the sweetness that sprouted into bitterness remains intact. You realise that loss is never total, which works against the bitterness…
From Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

11. Flight Of The Conchords: «I'm Not Crying»
«I’m Not Crying» is exactly what you need when you are, in fact, crying. Only, of course you’re not.
From «The Distant Future» EP

12. Marissa Nadler: «Bird on Your Grave»
Nadler may come across a little precious, but she doesn’t pussyfoot around. Unlike most contemporary folk females, she eschews faux-childlike naïvety; and unlike so many young performers, she actually manages to convincingly convey the sorrow contained within her songs. (As opposed to composing songs that pretend to be world-weary and -wise—like a Bob Dylan composing «Blowin' in the Wind» and «The Times They Are a-Changin'» at 22-23, straining to make his voice sound like that of a hardened 60 year-old labourer, making up politically correct words that sound good but which are only based on ideas lifted out of a couple of books.) Greg Weeks’ disharmonic guitar keeps Nadler’s perfect singing from infecting the song with too much prettiness. With lyrics such as these, the music can't be too agreeable.
From Songs III: Bird on the Water

13. Elvis Perkins: «While You Were Sleeping»
Lullaby or funeral march? The Dylan-derivative lyrics are overly poetic and, it seems to me, either meaningless or dense beyond interpretation. Yet obscured beneath the kind of lofty imagery that Leonard Cohen was the last writer in the history of literature to get away with, you'll find some tender essence well worth indulging in. Besides, who can resist the Tex-Mex charms? «Uh-oh…»
From Ash Wednesday

14. Fire On Fire: «Hangman»
«You got to have a friend!» Ain't that the truth… And some days, this
song is it.
From «Fire on Fire» EP

15. José González: «Down the Line»
Quite literally nothing wrong with this track. González comes in and says what it is he wants to say, then quits—all with beautiful melody, infectious rhythm and a coda like a lifebuoy.
From In Our Nature

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