By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
Alternadad author Neal Pollack has declared his love for Yo Gabba Gabba! on his blog: "This will be the TV show around which our movement rallies. Not that we have a movement, mind you, but if we did, this would be the TV show around which it...you get the idea."
On top of all this Yo Gabba Gabba! success, the Aquabats! finally secured a production deal for their long-germinating superhero show. Amid increasing time constraints in his life, Jacobs (a father himself) miraculously found a few minutes to share "the songs I listened to the most, over and over this past year."
Jerry Reed, "East Bound and Down": "C'mon! Haven't you ever been under the gun and had to drop the hammer down! I know I was all year. We would play this super-loud in the office when things were getting pretty bleak. And, you know, when Smokey's got his ears on, and he's hot on yer trail, he ain't gonna rest till yer in jail! So, bring it, Jerry, bring it!! I'm not at all a country fan, but this song brings the goods...literally!"
The Killers, "When You Were Young (Jaques Lu Cont's Thin White Duke Radio Edit)": "I thought the album cut was okay, but this remix is way better. It is real good. Say what you want about the Killers, but I think they are real good. And with a little help, they are way better."
M.I.A., "XR2" and "Jimmy": "This whole album [Kala] is crazy, and I love it. Wow! 'Where were you in '92?' This song is such a mind-blower. It is so frantic and slamming, but somehow so super-smooth, like a ninja knife hit at the 1985 Video Game Olympics. The beat is insane. It pumps so many crazy feelings, it goes off like bomb. I guess Maya being no stranger to bombs going off, [she] really has a knack for blowing things apart while still somehow looking fresh in pink Eighties stretch pants. Then, her track 'Jimmy' takes us to a sixth-grade Bollywood disco-party love-song and doesn't disappoint. M.I.A is way more gangsta than anything on MTV. Sorry, all ya Fergie dawgs."
Futureheads, "Worry About It Later": "I know that this came out last summer, but I listened to it so much this year that it may as well have come out this year...again. It's so simple but super-good. It's what I say to my fellow coworkers every day, so why wouldn't it be my favorite song? Catchy and punchy: two great tastes that taste great together."
Arcade Fire, "Antichrist Television Blues": "This song is so gnarly. I can't really explain it, but as lead singer Win [Butler] sings on in the guise of a down-on-his-luck Dad praying for a child so he can raise her up to put on television and sing the gospel, so that he can make money...Well, it's complex, layered with all these weird emotions and so very American that you can't help but get swept away by it. When he sings, "My lips are near / My heart is far away / Now the war is won / How come nothing tastes good?" and then the "angel bird" background singers start to sing, "WAAAA AAOOOO WAAAA AHHAOO!", I get the chills every time. This song is about as anti-American Idol as it gets and it's about time! Brilliant."
Richard Fortus once attended a Replacements/X double bill at legendary St. Louis venue Mississippi Nights; he and Mats bassist Tommy Stinson were the same age. Two decades or so later, the two are bandmates in the current incarnation of Guns N' Roses.
It's a just reward for Fortus, a talented guitarist who first found fame in the '80s with St. Louis darlings the Eyes (later known as Pale Divine during their major-label days) and later in Love Spit Love, the criminally underrated '90s act that also featured Psychedelic Furs figurehead Richard Butler.
Fortus is still an in-demand musician today: In 2007, he played on albums by the Crystal Method, Puddle of Mudd, the Divinyls and Scott McCloud (ex-Girls Against Boys); worked on the Spiderman 3 video-game score; and played on releases by three new, completely separate, artists named Kerli, Krista and Karen.
As for G N' R, Fortus hit Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and Japan with the band this year, and in 2008 he hopes to be touring in support of G N' R's long-awaited album, Chinese Democracy. "No, really."
In the meantime, here are his picks for 2007's best:
M.I.A., Kala: "I can't stop listening to it. Great references [Pixies, Modern Lovers], love the Bollywood elements and the production is very fresh and exciting."
Sea Wolf, Leaves in the River: "Great songs, feels very real to me, not contrived."
Wilco, Sky Blue Sky: "I think this is my favorite Wilco record yet. Nels Cline is the most inspirational guitarist I've heard in a long time. Lyrically, the strongest Wilco record."