Archive for the 'Year In Review' Category

Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #1

Here we are at the end of our celebration of the best 2007 had to offer in music. Thanks for reading. We’ve come a long way in the 2 months since we started, and have big plans for the coming year. Hopefully you’ll all stay with us in 2008. We’ve got some really awesome things on the way, including the 2008 Mission Creek Music Fest. More details on that are forthcoming. You won’t hear from us again until December 29, so until then, please have a safe and happy holidays. Now, without further ado:

Continue reading ‘Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #1′

Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #2

#2 :: Menomena - Friend and Foe (Barsuk)
When Menomena burst out of Portland and into popular consciousness with 2004’s illuminating I Am the Fun Blame Monster, two things became immediately clear: this band has a great sense of humor (the title is an anagram for “Menomena’s first album”), and this band makes music that doesn’t sound like anything else. What became clear much later was that this band is comprised entirely of nice guys. I had a chance to meet Brent Knopf at SXSW, and Danny Seim seemingly goes out of his way to hook up cokemachineglow, whether it be for interviews or cover songs. When I found out that Friend and Foe was nominated for a Grammy for best packaging you bet I was excited. As the crowds get bigger (I saw them in 2004 with about 20 people in Pittsburgh art gallery and in 2007 at a sold-out showcase in Austin) they seem to stay the same. But the music, that music, it too keeps growing.

What is it about the Menomena sound? It’s the saxophones, or it’s the drums, or it’s the keys, or the sheer impossibility that only three guys are making so much sound. The thing about “the Menomena sound” is that it shifts around on you, dancing like Ali in the ring: a beautiful and violent performance. Take second track, “The Pelican,” which starts with an end-of-the-world piano line and vocals. It’s a deliberately stark arrangement that highlights the menace of the song: “take it from the hook / while it’s still kicking.” Then, at 56 seconds in, all hell breaks loose. A mean, bent guitar note, and furious drumming kick into the next section, but don’t get comfortable. Just a minute later the song strips all the way down to just guitar, a heavenly chorus of sorts kicks in, and the whole mess just repeats itself. This is a three and half minute song.

Like any album that deserves “best of year” accolades, there are no weak tracks here, though some shine brighter than others. “Wet and Rusting” was the single released way back in 2006, and still kicks ass; “Weird” relies on a seriously fuzzed out bass synth line that tenuously holds the album’s first half to it’s equally stellar second. “Rotten Hell” contains the album’s most sublime moment, a vocal breakdown that escalates into an anthem about street fighting and perseverance. Album opener “Muscle ‘N Flo,” addresses some of the band’s newfound fame, and is available for your listening pleasure below. But here is all you need to know: “I’m not young / but I’m not through.” I sure hope not, dudes. (Craig)

Download: Menomena - Muscle ‘n Flo

Buy it here.
Barsuk Records

Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #3

#3 :: David Karsten Daniels - Sharp Teeth (Fat Cat)
Much earlier in 2007, when the fields were fallow and the most bitter cold engulfed the plains, Sharp Teeth unraveled itself as a brief masterwork of human emotion. Not on the first, nor the second listen, but gradually, in the same way that intricate relationships are formed this record took hold of me and has yet to release me from its arresting glow. Combining minimal folk with expansive post-rock stylings, David Karsten Daniels has created a work at times barren and at others bathing in warmth that runs the gamut of human emotion. From the jubilant drone of “The Dream Before the Ring Awoke Me” to the ominous build of “Minnows,” Daniels has made a record as affecting as any I’ve ever heard.

“The Dream…” begins the album with the refrain of “There is a joy that you can’t contain/There is a feeling you just can’t explain,” accompanied by the lush instrumentation provided by his myriad friends that accompanied him in the recording. However, following this opening high point, Daniels takes us through a treatise on the inevitability of human nature. To be concise: they’re going to let you down. On “American Pastime,” there’s a quality oddly reminiscent of Malkmus as he compares his relationship to wartime: an utter lack of honesty and misunderstanding leads to his gruesome and yet seemingly inescapable fate: “In my fear and in my haste/Your willingness I would mistake as you quickly reaching for your knife/Oh I’d pepper bullets across your spine.”

Much of the album contains similarly gory themes of mistrust and betrayal, which represent an uglier side of ourselves than we may always want to admit. But this isn’t Daniels’ effort to get on a soapbox of self-pity. It’s intensely personal but viewed through a prism of wider scope. I had a girlfriend once who couldn’t understand why I was attracted to sad music, but as I’ve aged, I see now that it isn’t the sadness that draws me but rather the presentation. And on Sharp Teeth, I find Daniels’ reflecting on some human condition. As he sings on the standout track “Beast,” “You’re gonna have to look the beast in the face.” (todd)

Download: David Karsten Daniels - Beast
Buy it here
David Karsten Daniels
Fat Cat Records

Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #4

#4 :: The Field
From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt, 2007)

The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime does for minimal (or micro) house what St. Germain’s Tourist (2000) did for jazzy house: it positions itself as an indisputable classic within its genre, appealing to both electronica heads and fringe listeners. Why would you want anything more when the Field’s got everything covered? This record is a celebration of nuance and patience, its tracks unfolding like expanding puzzles. Each successive sample or synth line reveals unforeseen aural depths and tells us just a bit more about the ever-progressive structures of these songs: each piece is a linear journey beginning with restraint and ending with the kitchen sink. At moments the ascent is logical, like the steady build of “Good Things End” and other times it’s fascinating to witness tracks — “Sun & Ice” — quite literally devour themselves. The irony of this record is how it turns the name of its own genre — minimal house — on its head. While casual listens allow you to slip into mellow personal nooks, close attention proves that the Field is anything but minimal; these tracks are loaded with precision, the sonic detail is astonishing. I can already feel this review, in its efforts to do its subject justice, sounding like head-talk or the prose of music critics and academics. Fuck that. At its essence From Here We Go Sublime is subtle and enjoyable house music, less interested in the club-rocking ecstasy peaks of populist brand name DJs than in the magic of personal interaction with sound. This is the retreat from Ibiza or the descent from Fabric. It’s taking the party home to its intimate roots: back to your apartment with your closest friends. (Andre)

Download: The Field - Mobilia

Buy it here.
The Field
Kompakt Records

Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #5

Now that we exhausted ourselves thinking about the blissful nights of music that made Iowa City hot this year, it’s time to take a step back and look at our favorite albums of the year. These are truly the 5 albums that made us continue our faith that there’s no shortage of great music in this world, and probably never will be. Sometimes you just need to know where to look, but sometimes - be it fate or coincidence - that music finds you. Either way, taste can be extremely subjective, but these were the albums that made our year, and we hope to share them with you. We’re kicking off with our fifth favorite album today and will be counting them down, one a day all week to ease you through your finals. Procrastinating? We’ll be here.

Continue reading ‘Looking Back: Our Favorite Albums of 2007 #5′

Looking Back: The Year in Concerts #2-1

This is it - after much deliberating, ruminating, and downright arguing, the honors of being the two best concerts Iowa City offered this year have been laid down. We are very pleased this Sunday afternoon to present:


Continue reading ‘Looking Back: The Year in Concerts #2-1′

Looking Back: The Year in Concerts #6-3

Like opening the smallest presents first, you’ve seen some pretty sweet stuff, but now you’re really looking for the big ones. Fortunately for you, our next four favorite concerts still await you beneath the tree. Missed the first four? Check them out right here. Check back tomorrow for our two favorite concerts of the year, and then we’ll be giving you the rundown on the year’s best albums all this week.

*** Continue reading ‘Looking Back: The Year in Concerts #6-3′

Looking Back: The Year in Concerts #10-7

At Mission Freak, we know that the season of Yule is more about making retrospective lists on blogs than it is about family, giving, or good cheer. But rather than put you through another endless list of our favorite records of the year, we thought we’d kick off our Look Back at 2007 with our 10 favorite concerts in Iowa City of the past year (we’ll get to the records next week, but the list is short). Hopefully this will stoke the coals of memory for some of you, too; we’ve had a lot of fun reminiscing on some of this year’s finest musical moments. We’ll run these down over the next three days and then starting Monday we’ll unveil our favorite records.

Continue reading ‘Looking Back: The Year in Concerts #10-7′