ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
As the year comes to a close, music critics are rifling through piles of CDs to compile their best of 2007 list. And the same is true for NPR listeners. They've been voting at the NPR music Web site for their favorite albums that were released this year.
Bob Boilen is the host of ALL SONGS CONSIDERED. He scans some of the early results from that voting. And he has noted some specific patterns.
BOB BOILEN: One of the funny trends that I see, a lot of Canadian bands like the Arcade Fire doing really well. Feist is doing really well, Leslie Feist. Do you know, do you know her stuff? You probably heard…
NORRIS: I'm not familiar with her stuff.
BOILEN: She did a song that was famous on an iTunes commercial, one, two, three, four…
NORRIS: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
BOILEN: So that did really well. And she did - you ought to hear this, because it's a Nina Simone cut she does on her new record. And it's a turn for Feist. It's a really interesting record. So why don't we listen to it…
NORRIS: How could I say no to that?
BOILEN: "Sea Lion Woman" is the name of the tune.
(Soundbite of song "Sea Lion Woman")
Ms. LESLIE FEIST (Singer): (Singing) Sea lion woman. She drink coffee. Sea lion woman. She drink tea. And a rooster crows. Sea lion woman. She drink coffee. Sea lion woman. She drink tea. And a rooster crows. Sea lion woman…
BOILEN: She's got such a great spiel. And the whole record is - it just has a marvelous feel to it. There's something about that one would have thought a three-minute pop song would, sort of, be dead. But it's live and well, especially independent rap music, which is an, in terms of ALL SONGS CONSIDERED and the music we cover, it's what our audiences seem to love in the last few years more than anything. That's just been a wealth of really good music, and a lot of it is formed around, you know, the verse-chorus-verse-chorus. You'd think it'd be played out, but it's not. Listen to someone like The New Pornographers, another band from Canada. And, just fantastic.
NORRIS: The New Pornographers. Tell us what cut we're going to be listening to.
BOILEN: Oh, we're going to listen to a song, it's called "Myriad Harbour." It's a song about the band coming to New York, and how each of the personalities react to coming to New York City.
NORRIS: Bright lights, big city.
(Soundbite of song "Myriad Harbour")
Ms. NEKO CASE (Vocalist, The New Pornographers): (Singing) I took a plane, I took a train. Who cares? You always end up in the city. I said to Carl, look up for once and see just how the sun sets in the sky. I said to John, do you think the girls here ever wonder how they got so pretty? Well, I do. Look up upon the Myriad Harbour.
NORRIS: And when they look out over that harbour, it seems like they're - the future's very bright. A lot of this music is so optimistic in its feel. Right now, and that's a good thing.
BOILEN: I think so too.
NORRIS: I kind of need that right now.
BOILEN: In fact, there's a guy - he's Swedish, which is another odd trend that you see. A lot of great pop music coming out of Sweden. And there's a fellow, his name is Loney, L-O-N-E-Y, Dear, D-E-A-R. I don't know if he misspelled it or it meant to say lonely, but Loney, Dear. So he did the songs called "Sinister in a State of Hope." I think it might be my favorite song this year. At least it's the one that when I'm alone and a song comes into my head, it's the one that I sing. And it's a song all about hope and beauty. And I just can't get enough of this one.
NORRIS: All right. We'll listen to - you described it. I want to listen to the song.
(Soundbite of song "Sinister/State of Hope")
LONEY, DEAR (Singer): (Singing) Summer night, and I did not hope for something I couldn't have. You turn me down, let it happen with your hands, with your hands. Someway I let it happen in a flash, in a flash.
NORRIS: Bob, as we listen, some might be confused. Loney, Dear is actually a man, a fellow.
BOILEN: Yes. It's one person.
NORRIS: We wouldn't necessarily know that.
BOILEN: You wouldn't know that. And there's a whole another trend of people taking on monikers, single artists taking on monikers. And often, they're animal monikers. But we'll get to that in a minute.
(Soundbite of song "Sinister/State of Hope")
LONEY, DEAR: (Singing) When all I want, all I want is a state of hope.
BOILEN: I think it's fair to say it's easier to hear, you know, the Beach Boys in this music. There's a fascination, heaven knows why, for the Swedes and California music. And they have a love for American pop music in general. And you hear the '60s and the '50s in their music.
NORRIS: Hmm. Now, you've mentioned that there are these animal themes in several of these monikers. Tell me about that. I just want to get back to that.
BOILEN: This is very strange. I made a list before I came here…
BOILEN: …because it, it was just, it was all too much for me. There's Dear Hunter, there's Deer Huff, there's Deer Tick. There's, there's a whole bear thing going on. There's Giant Bear, Grizzly Bear, Lucinda Black Bear, Minus the Bear, Bear versus Shark, Panda Bear. And then there's a group called The Burden of a Bee and there's Cat Power and Frog Eyes and Band of Horses and The Pony's and The Caribou and, I mean, this just goes on and on and on. I was even thinking what…
NORRIS: What is this about?
BOILEN: I don't know what it's about. I just love it, though.
BOILEN: It goes on and on and on. So there's a fellow, his name is Panda Bear, right? He's in a group called The Animal Collective. And I want to play some of that. Because it's sort of continues on this theme of sort of - there's something about this '50s and '60s music that is just being completely reinterpreted and reworked.
NORRIS: I just want to clarify this. Panda Bear plays with Animal Collective. But this is a solo project.
BOILEN: Yeah. And it's just a gorgeous record. And what is so different about the Canadian stuff I talked about, what's different about the Swedish stuff, is that this isn't pop music, this is experimenting, successfully experimenting with music that is much more organic. I think of it as organic electronic music, in a way. You don't know where it's going to go. It's as if the - if a hippie movement in the late '60s would have made electronic music, it might sound like this.
(Soundbite of song "Bros")
PANDA BEAR (Singer): (Singing) Hey man what's your problem? Don't you know that I don't belong to you. It's hard and hard enough to keep it up when everything is so new. I'm not trying to forget you…
NORRIS: Well, since we've talked about all of these wonderful animal monikers, do you think it would be fitting that we go out in The Animal Collective?
BOILEN: They did a song called "Peace Bone" that I liked a lot. It's, this is hard music to get. I - of all the stuff we're playing, the Panda Bear, Animal Collective stuff, there's not an overt craft going on here. There's not brilliant singing, yeah. They're not great musicians. But they have a spirit that I love. And so if you can just let yourself calm in and not say, oh, these guys don't sing so well, or what's - they don't have a guitar playing that I love so well. If you let go of that - and you have to do that for this kind of music - you may fall in love with it.
(Soundbite of song "Peace Bone")
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE (Band): (Singing) My Peace Bone got found in a dinosaur wing. Well, I've been jumping in all over the mules and slowly shrinking. It was a jugular vein in a juggler's gown…
NORRIS: Thanks, Bob. Come back and talk to us soon.
BOILEN: It was great. Thank you.
NORRIS: Bob Boilen is the host of NPR's ALL SONGS CONSIDERED. And you can vote for your favorite album of 2007 at npr.org/music. And don't wait too long. The polls close on Monday night.
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