platters (2007-52)

It Was a Very Good Year

MP staffers round up their favorite CDs of 2007

Boris with Michio Kurihara Rainbow (Drag City) The Japanese trio Boris, teamed here with the guitarist for spaced-out countrymen Ghost, retreat from the epic slabs of feedback-soaked art-metal that have made up most of the bandâ’s previous work into something quieter, more melodic, and nakedly intimate. Kurihara and Boris guitarist Wata provide plenty of fireworksâ"the solo on the title track will peel wallpaperâ"but theyâ’re of an altogether more ethereal form than the rock-solid power-chord mass of 2005â’s Pink. ( Matthew Everett )

Nick Lowe At My Age (Yep Rock) Itâ’s been a long time coming, but Englishman Nick Lowe has finally mellowed, turning his introspective lyrics and his last vestiges of anger into downtrodden country ballads. Gone are the nods to classic American rockabilly and Carl Perkins that got peopleâ’s attention in the â‘70s. The songs on At My Age are suited for the Grand Ole Opryâ"not a bad place for a seasoned pop icon in the twilight of his career. Loweâ’s voice is only slightly grizzled, a little heavy with age, but his songwriting is still sly and ironic. Where other musicians might sing about treacly love, Lowe opts for self-deprecation. At his age, heâ’s still flinching from the lighter shades of romance. ( Kevin Crowe )

Down Down III: Over the Under (Down) Heavy metal simply doesnâ’t get any better than Down, the putative side project of former Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo and present and former members of C.O.C., Crowbar, and Eyehategod. On their third release, the band once again take the best of Sabbath-style riffage and fuse it with a swampy Southern sensibility and a taste for epic classic rock. Been done before? Sure. Just not nearly so well. ( Mike Gibson )

M.I.A. Kala (XL) M.I.A. is a catholic scavenger, finding influence in hip hop, Brazilian funk, grime, and punk, but sheâ’s more than just a poacher. She stitches electronic beats, familiar and far-flung samples, shout-along club choruses, and a vaguely defined third-world exoticism into something entirely her own. The songs on Kala range from the frantically catchy â“Bird Fluâ” to the measured, heartfelt â“Paper Planesâ” and more than fulfill the expectations raised by her 2005 debut, Arular. (M.E.)

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Raising Sand (Rounder) The yearâ’s most unlikely collaboration is also its best, as Plant and Krauss team up on an album that weaves rockabilly, bluegrass, folk, and classic rock into one beautiful, seamless tapestry. Kudos to producer T-Bone Burnett for his appropriately eclectic song selection, and for assembling an equally eclectic team of backing musicians. Album highlight: the duoâ’s good-rockinâ’ take on an Everly Brothers nugget, â“Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On).â” ( M.G. )

Rich Boy Rich Boy (Zone 4/Interscope) Each song on Rich Boyâ’s self-titled debut is an out-of-control kowtow to hedonism, a puerile fume on the importance of money. Heâ’s so decked out in diamonds and gold and Cadillacs that thereâ’s hardly any space left on the CD for good, old-fashioned womanizing. Every lyric is self-indulgent; his emotions are over the top. Itâ’s a ridiculous and, at times, trite collection of bad-boy boasts and unadulterated puffery. Itâ’s all about Rich Boy (née Maurece Richards). And thatâ’s exactly why it works. Rich Boy never intended to write poetry. ( K.C. )

Shake It Like a Caveman Or Will It Take Everything (Silvermine Studios) â“Get in the kitchen and make me some dinner,â” Ashevilleâ’s Blake Burris sings with a sneer, daring his listeners to take his machismo seriously. He sports a hairdo straight out of the Cro-Magnon man exhibit at the Smithsonian, and he cranks out swamp-blues licks while pounding away at a kick drum and high-hat. Itâ’s a one-man stomp-fÃte, complete with boisterous field hollers. â“Latex and hot sex and midnight telephone calls,â” he sings on â“Love in the Workplace,â” a song thatâ’s able to stay tongue-in-cheek without sacrificing the gritty guitar work that youâ’d expect from a Southern-fried bluesman whose brains are blitzed by white lightning. â“I canâ’t feel your love on my fingertip.â” Never a dull moment. ( K.C. )

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