It happens. Things fall through the cracks. Promo CDs pile up on your desk, unopened, or cracked only once and then forgotten. Critically buzzed about records pass by while you're busy listening to an old favorite. You can't listen to everything. There's only so much room in the paper each week. Whatever—I'm a bad, lazy music critic. And I'm hungover.

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But, with the year's end approaching, it's worth revisiting some overlooked items of 2007 and give them their due. This is by no means a comprehensive list (inevitably, something is being overlooked for the overlooked list), but here are, in no particular order, some things I regret not paying more attention to in the past year:

Burial — Untrue

More accurately, what I didn't pay enough attention to was Burial's eponymous debut album, released last year. I didn't get the hype (sorry, Charles); I couldn't get into Burial's hollowed-out soundscapes. But Untrue has rapidly and unexpectedly become one of my favorites of 2007. Its manipulated vocals, at once soulful and ghostly; its collision of sounds and styles so specific to urban London; and its deep melancholy are really like nothing else released this year.

Grizzly Bear — Friend

As with Burial, I showed up a little late to the Grizzly Bear party, and maybe for similar reasons—Grizzly Bear have a similar sense of remove, with layers of distance in their songs that can make them initially unapproachable. For Grizzly Bear, it took seeing the band live at Sasquatch! to realize what I'd been missing. Not all bands take to the outdoors, but Grizzly Bear's alternately sparse and reverb-dense songs didn't dissipate in the open air, they filled it. Friend is an EP of alternate recordings of old songs, an unreleased track, and covers contributed by CSS, Band of Horses, and Atlas Sound. It's not a bad backward introduction to the band.

Deerhunter — Cryptograms

A theme is starting to emerge here. Cryptograms is another murky, difficult record—but after seeing the band live, it becomes apparent that not only is the shoegazy murk pretty captivating, but it holds hidden pop hooks worthy of Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine.

Jens Lekman — Night Falls over Kortedala

While busy celebrating locals Throw Me the Statue's signing to Secretly Canadian, I somehow entirely missed this record by their new tour- and labelmate Jens Lekman. Lekman's rich voice and showy, nostalgic arrangements immediately bring to mind Stephin Merritt. If anything, Lekman's songs dive headlong into the realm of kitsch even more than Merritt's, but they're still more pleasant than silly.

Adrian Orange & Her Band

Adrian Orange (better known as Thanksgiving) has assembled a sprawling ensemble of musicians—including Phil Elverum, Calvin Johnson, members of the Mona Reels, and others—to realize his latest batch of songs. He trades the lo-fi hush of Thanksgiving for arrangements influenced by reggae and Balkan brass, like some soggy, Northwest Beirut. Just as Orange's songwriting and voice are strong enough to shine through lo-fi recordings, so too are they strong enough to stand up to these more ornate treatments.

Clipd Beaks — Hoarse Lords

A pretty fair representation of the controlled chaos that is their live show, Hoarse Lords is a swamp of drones, percussive jams, fuzzed-out rants, gurgling bass, and gaseous psychedelia. Clipd Beaks have something of Deerhunter's lysergic gloom and Animal Collective's put-on primitivism, but they're noisier and less poppy than either of those groups. This is a fine album, but they're better enjoyed live.

The Crocodile Cafe

I didn't exactly overlook this place this year, but I wish I'd gone to more shows there recently (in the past year, Matthew Dear, Celebration, and Battles were all outstanding nights at the Croc). The sound was always good, the staff was always friendly, and it was a great place to see shows.

It's hard not to get depressed about things in Seattle right now. It's getting more expensive to live in the city, while some of the culture that makes it worth living in is getting squeezed out. Pine Street's bars are turning into condos or apartments; venues are consolidating locally and/or getting bought out by giant, out-of-state corporations; and now the Crocodile is closed. There are other venues in town to support, of course (and in fact the abundance of other venues may be part of why the Croc has become less vital of late), but the Croc was one of the good ones. recommended

Support The Stranger

Next week, part 2: Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche's Ultimate Reality, Viva Voce, Crunk Hits Vol. 4, and my home record player.

egrandy@thestranger.com

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