Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Music '06

This was originally supposed to be a sports AND music blog. Well, for better or worse (mostly better I say) it's evolved into a sports blog with music and political droplets of goodness thrown in. Because I can, I've decided to throw up a 'best of 2006' music post. Enjoy.

At first glance, 2006 didn't have the epic albums of previous years. 2006 wasn't a year for garage band revivals or The Next Big Thing; it was a mix and match of good, decent, fun albums (as well as some albums I was really looking forward to that disappointed).

You'll probably think I've missed a ton of good albums here; not Red Hot Chili Peppers? No TV on the Radio? Pearl Jam? Tool? My Chemical Romance? You're right. I'll miss some. Why? Frankly, for whatever reason, I didn't listen to the album. Stadium Arcadium may be the best album of 2006, but I can't honestly tell you that- I didn't listen to it (or didn't give it as much attention as others). This is my list.

Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo to Anywhere

This was probably the album I listened to the most this past year. Carl Barat, the lead singer of DPT, was one of leaders of the Libertines (along with Pete Doherty, who went on to do Babyshambles and Kate Moss). Waterloo to Anywhere uses a simple formula: loud, fast and catchy. Part Brit-pop, part punk and part straight up rock, I honestly can't recommend this album enough. "Bang Bang You're Dead" is one of, if not the, best songs of the year and has quickly moved into my All Time Top 10.
Standout tracks: Bang Bang You're Dead, The Gentry Cove, You Fucking Love It, Gin & Milk

Earlier in the year, it seemed the Arctic Monkeys were everywhere. They were hugely hyped coming about of Britain and, for the most part, I felt they delivered. Is the album influential and groundbreaking? No. Did they do something new? No. Again, it's catchy guitar-based rock. Simple and effective. Gets me every time. Depressing note: these kids were 19 when they made this album. 19. At 19 I was drinking and smoking too much in an Ohio State dorm. Bastards.
Standout tracks: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, Still Take You Home, A Certain Romance

The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soliders

I love the White Stripes, so when I heard that Jack White was making an indie-rock super group of course I was on board. And while it's only 10 tracks and 34 minutes long, it is packed with goodness. Their first single, "Steady as She Goes" is sweet and the rest of the album is just as good, if different. There isn't really a style to the Raconteurs music; it's diverse and timeless, yet distinctly modern. I hope this isn't just a one time thing, I want more albums.
Standout tracks: Steady as She Goes, Yellow Sun, Call it a Day

The Beatles - Love

This is the soundtrack for the Cirque du Soleil Beatles themed show and it is filled with Beatle goodness. This isn't the same old tracks in a new order (*cough* 1), it's a mash-up of Beatles classics and non-classics. It's a musical I Spy- "Oh, that's the trumpet from 'Penny Lane' and the harpsichord from 'In My Life'. Personally, the highlight is the version of 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'; this was on the only track that involved newly recorded music. Famed Beatles producer George Martin wrote a new string backing for Harrison's acoustic version of his Beatle classic. It is haunting.
Standout tracks: Strawberry Fields Forever, I am the Walrus, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America

This is the first Hold Steady album I've listened to and I must say, I've enjoyed the experience. They sound like a great bar band; guitar, bass, piano and drums. Again, nothing ground breaking, but fantastic nonetheless. As much as I enjoyed the music, the lyrics may have struck me the most; they're almost Springsteen-ian. They are at once depressing and beautiful.
Standout tracks: Stuck Between Stations, Party Pit, First Night

The Decemberists - Crane Wife

Baroque-pop! Song Cycles! Japanese folk stories! The kids will love it! The Decemberists aren't exactly the most radio friendly band out there, but I like 'em. Ultra literate, the Decemberists jump from acoustic folk to prog rock to, well, something different and new. They may not be for everyone; it could be too much art-rock for some, but they're catchy and accessible enough for me.
Standout tracks: Crane Wife 3, Summer Song, Crane Wife 1 & 2, Yankee Bayonet

Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah

I wasn't much of a fan of the Scissor Sisters self-titled debut album; don't get me wrong, I liked 'Take Your Mama' (now that's a catchy pop tune) but the rest of the album didn't really do much for me. I'm not sure if anything on Tah-Dah stacks up to 'Take Your Mama', but I like the album as a whole much better. It's part dance, part 70s Elton John- in fact, John co-wrote the first single 'I Don't Feel Like Dancin' '. Can it be too over-produced? Yes. Can it take some getting use to? Yes. But underneath the overdubs and dance beats there are some catchy tunes to be had.
Standout tracks: I Don't Feel Like Dancin', I can't Decide, Intermission

Ray LaMontagne - Till the Sun Turns Black

A singer songwriter with a dark, haunting voice, LaMontagne is very Nick Drake like. However, Till the Sun Turns Black is much more R&B influenced than more of Drake's music. LaMontagne's breathy vocals and sparse arrangements over acoustic guitars completment each other quite well. I especially enjoy the horns and strings (sorry, any rock song that uses a trombone, like 'Gone Away From Me', I'm gonna enjoy).

Standout tracks: Gone Away From Me, You Can Bring Me Flowers, Can I Stay

Jet - Shine On

When I first heard of Jet, they pissed me off. That first single, 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl', was everywhere. Plus, no one seemed to mention how it totally ripped off Iggy Pop's 'Lust for Life'. They angered me. I liked their other single 'Look What You've Done'; it was kind of an Oasis/McCartney rip off, but I was okay with it. That's what Jet does, they're influenced by classic rock. I've grown to accept this. Anyways, I've enjoyed their new album very much and there's a couple stripped down Beatles-esque pop tunes tucked away in there that I've taken a liking to ('Shine On' and 'Kings Horses').
Standout Tracks: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Kings Horses

Reel Big Fish - Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album

I love Reel Big Fish and even though they are past their commercial prime (as in, no videos on MTV), they've found their niche and kept making good music. Their live shows are amazing as this CD can attest. The songs are top notch (about everything you could ask for), they throw in some covers ("a ska band doing an 80s song? No way!") and they're hilarious. If you ever why people like me still go see these guys, this double live disc explains it well.
Standout tracks: S.R., The 90s-She Has a Girlfriend Now, Beer

Other stuff I enjoyed:

Old White Guys With Guitars:
Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions - have I linked to this yet?
Paul Simon - Surprise - Brian Eno produced, it's a bit spacey and electronic sounding, but it is good. He played 'How Can You Live in the North-East on SNL and I was a fan.
Tom Petty - Highway Companion - the album itself is okay, but the single 'Saving Grace' is vintage Petty. Fantastic.
Bob Dylan - Modern Times - Who doesn't love Dylan? He name drops Alicia Keys on the opener 'Thunder on the Mountain'

Newer stuff:
The Killers - Sams Town - 'When You Were Young' is fantastic(if only the rest of the album was this good)
Outkast - Idlewild - What mix of sounds and styles ('Morris Brown' may be the catchiest thing I've heard all year)
Alexi Murdoch - Time Without Consequence - Another singer songwriter Nick Drake type, 'Breathe' is a bit repetitive, but beautiful. I believe 'Orange Sky' made an O.C. appearance.

Comedy CDs:
Mike Birbiglia - Two Drink Mike - He's got a shy, goofy delivery which he's honed perfectly. Not overly political or vulgar, but still hilarious
Daniel Tosh - True Stories I Made Up - This came out in late '05 but I don't care. The album is filled with these "holy shit, did he just say that" moments. His sports riff is awesome (on steroids: "I want my athletes like my videos games" "What do you care, you hate life after sports anyways, I'm doing you a favor"). Fantastic.
Biggest Disappointments:
Los Lonely Boys - Sacred - meh
Robert Randolph and the Family Band - Colorblind - boring, too overproduced
Babyshambles - Down in Albion - I'm pretty sure Doherty was drunk this entire time

I'm not sure what happened here. I was really looking forward to Pete Doherty's post-Libertine debut and the sophomore efforts from Los Lonely Boys and Robert Randolph. I was left wanting by all of these albums. Maybe I've become too enamored with their previous work to really give these an honest look; I dunno.


Bad Becks said...

I agree with you as far as The Raconteurs go. "Intimate Sceretary", "Broken Boy Soldiers", and "Level" are all solid tracks.

Anonymous said...