By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
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 videogame score; and played on releases by three new, completely separate artists named Kerli, Krista and Karen.
In the meantime, here are his picks for 2007's best.
"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."
Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Radiohead, In Rainbows
"This record feels so much more real and organic than anything they've done before, as well as having very solid songs. In my opinion, they are still the most important band of the last two decades."
Tacks, the Boy Disaster, Oh, Beatrice
Blonde Redhead, 23
"Very different to anything they'd done previously. I know, I know, it's very Radiohead-ish, but they do it well."
Nine Inch Nails, Year Zero
"I really had no intention of liking this record, but...I do."
Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
"I think I like it even more than Funeral. They definitely avoided the sophomore slump."
The Shins, Wincing the Night Away
"I didn't like the rest of the record nearly as much as Oh, Inverted World, and not quite as much as Chutes Too Narrow, but 'Phantom Limb' is stellar." —A.Z.
Margaret Cho's Sensuous Sides
Margaret Cho has had her own TV show, a couple of best-selling books, a Grammy-nominated comedy album and two feature films based on her national tours, but 2007 saw a new conquest for the comic: She became a viral-video queen. The Sensuous Woman, a sexy, traveling circus-like spectacle melding music, comedy and burlesque as performed by Cho and a myriad of her talented pals, was a critical success in LA, New York and Chicago.
But when a clip from Woman showing the comedienne, clad in nothing but pasties and panties and twirling her ta-tas with awe-inspiring speed, was posted on YouTube and subsequently every blog on the Net, Cho became not only a national cyber-sensation but a champion for voluptuous women everywhere.
"I got really good at twirling those tassels. It was very popular online and quite controversial," she says. "Women loved it and felt empowered, but a few straight guys were furious because I challenge the stripper archetype."
Challenging preconceived notions and stereotypes is what Cho does. The Korean-American funny lady has always had a strong political and cultural viewpoint, and her work has explored not only her Asian background and upbringing but also her views on homosexuality (currently married, she claims to be bisexual) and the government (big shocker: She's anti-Bush).
Perhaps inspired by the online hubbub her half-naked gyrations caused—but more likely just another extension of her never-ending quest to challenge the status quo—Cho's next project, Beautiful, will be a stand-up show that ponders the age-old question of what real beauty is. It's her first stand-up show since the 2005 Assassin tour, and her own blog will play a role.
"Right now I am doing a big list of who I think is beautiful," she says. "People can log on to margaretcho.com to see if they made the list. It's famous people to friends to anyone who happens to catch my eye."
Surely, there'll be some musicians on the list. Cho, who just got tattooed like a rock star on TLC's L.A. Ink and made a splash emceeing Cyndi Lauper's True Colors tour this past year, is definitely a music enthusiast with diverse tastes. She appears in Dresden Dolls' "Shores of California" video (a parody of David Lee Roth's "California Girls") and even directed a clip for one of her '07 faves. These are the sounds she wiggled to this year.
Ryan Adams, Easy Tiger
"The best album of this year. I just listened to it over and over and over and over. It makes me feel like I am one of those girls who can wear a very, very short dress with cowboy boots and I don't have to wear tights because my legs are perfect and tan. I also saw him play with his band the Cardinals at the Wilshire Theatre, and I screamed myself sore."
Girl in a Coma