Tuesday, December 04, 2007

2007 Year End Survey | Brent Hallenbeck

The paper with the largest circulation in Vermont is the Burlington Free Press (48,042 daily and 56,295 Sundays) and the guy who's been writing about the music scene for the Free Press for the last three years is Brent Hallenbeck. I've taken umbrage with the excessive enthusiasm some other Free Press reviewers have used this year but Hallenbeck always seems to be accurate and well-measured in his reviews. Plus, he's an Editors fan.

Hallenbeck also maintains a blog about music and entertainment called Brent's Notebook.

1) What was your favorite song of 2007?

Well, I consider myself more an album guy and a concert guy, one who likes the totality of the package rather than just the sample. Which is my lame way of saying I'm too weak to pick just one favorite song. So here's three: "An End Has a Start" from the album of the same name by Editors, a pulsing post-post-punk tune that leaves me wondering why these guys aren't bigger than they are; "Weapon of Choice" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (same description applies); and "The Angry Mob" by Kaiser Chiefs, which I think appeals to me in particular as a journalist for its chanted chorus "We are the angry mob/We read the papers every day/We like who we like, we hate who we hate/But we're also easily swayed."

2) What was your favorite album of 2007?

I was a little better at narrowing this list down. It's a two-way tie for first: "Total Magique" by We Are Wolves (electronic dance mayhem from Montreal) and "One More Won't Kill Us" by The Hedrons (four Scottish lasses with immense pop hooks and punk energy - what's not to like?).

3) What was your favorite concert of 2007?

Singer-songwriter shows can be a little ho-hum, but not when the singer-songwriter is Brandi Carlile. Her concert in May at Higher Ground was awe-inspiring, from her gutsy opening cover of Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changing" through her gorgeous closing rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and including her own impressive material in between. I returned to see her at Higher Ground on my wife's birthday in October, and I left with just as much awe at Brandi's power and my wife left with a great birthday present - a new favorite singer.

4) What was your favorite thing about 2007?

From a musical perspective, my favorite thing this year was seeing Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, a band I first saw in 2004 when they were a quiet threesome playing at Halvorson's, finally make its long-hoped-for move to a bigger stage, with its first major-label release (the fine "This Is Somewhere" on Hollywood Records) and various national television appearances. The no-longer-quiet rockin' foursome didn't exactly set the charts on fire, but this is a band that just might see its success arrive on the flames of a slow and sustained burn.

5) What are your best wishes for 2008?

World peace and harmony, of course. Still holding out hope on that one. My next best wishes are to see the local club scene continue to thrive in the coming year. Venues such as The Monkey House, Parima and Red Square made great strides this year in offering more gig options for local bands, so here's hoping that they keep growing and other venues pop up to help the local scene thrive even more.

Editors | An End Has a Start | Buy

Kaiser Chiefs | The Angry Mob | Buy

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