Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Some good tunes of 2006

Everybody’s got a list. And so do I.

These are some of the better albums that came out in the past year. These are in no particular order because, like all of you, I love them all.

Liars – Drum’s Not Dead


Crazy and creepy. Don’t know if it’s so much a concept album as it is just a stone cold freak out. Deep and disturbing and a pretty far departure from their earlier stuff.

Band of Horses – Everything All The Time


Mellow and beautiful. Fans of Sunny Day Real Estate will dig this. There are moments on this record that these guys hit that will knock your socks off.

Belle And Sebastian – The Life Pursuit

Funky and groovy. Who knew B + S could lay down such jams? There are some outright ass shakers on here (which is kind of strange for this band) and some of the usual nice ballads they are known for. The liner notes featuring the hot Scottish girls is worth it alone.

Sunset Rubdown – Shut Up I Am Dreaming


Should I keep going with two word descriptions? Probably and not. The bulk of this is pretty good, but the song “Stadiums and Shrines II” is one of the best songs released this past year.

Decemberists – The Crane Wife

I haven’t even heard this yet because the assholes who are in front of me on the library waiting list won’t hurry up and return it. I’m sure it’s good because their last one was great.

Cat Power – The Greatest

Not her “greatest” but it was still a good record. Some nice Memphis horns give her sound a little less serious vibe. But I guess I like the dour stuff, so maybe that’s why this didn’t blow my ass out. She’s still got my vote though.

Mastodon – Blood Mountain

Again, not as good as their last record, but some pretty sweet metal nonetheless. With all these indie rock wankers ‘returning to cookie mountain,’ I think I’d like to return to ‘Blood Mountain’ and battle the Cysquatch or whatever the hell it is.

Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of This Country


One more time: not as good as their last record, but I am sucker for soft voiced Scottish girls singing about their problems. And any band that tells Lloyd Cole that they’re ready to be heartbroken will have my ear any day.

The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls In America


Where the Killers completely failed in channeling their inner Bruce Springsteen, The Hold Steady captured Bruce in a bottle without even trying. This album is all about Kerouac, getting high and chicks. I can’t think of any better way to spend a Thursday night. Goddamn do the Killers fucking suck!

Wolf Mother – Wolf Mother


I just about wore this album out. Sleazy rock and roll with a hint of 70’s metal and absolutely no hint of irony. These guys are the real deal and when they sing about the “white unicorn” they are dead fucking serious. Put on “the Joker and the Thief” and try and tell me it wouldn’t rock Lincoln’s face off Mount Rushmore.

Slayer – Christ Illusion

Reviewing Slayer is like reviewing the Grand Canyon. You know it rules, so why bother trying to tell anyone? But if I was forced to say something, I’d tell you that Slayer’s original drummer is back on this and he’s phenomenal. I’d also tell you that these guys just keep kicking more and more ass.

The Streets – The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living

A theme: Not as good as his last album, but it’s got some good stuff on it. Skinner might need to get away from the narrative album next time. He’s too good to force the issue in keeping the story going. But what the fuck do I know? I know his last album was nearly a masterpiece.

Beck – The Information


Did Guero come out this past year too? Because if it did, Beck would have two great albums out in one year’s time. The Information is solid throughout and makes me think that Beck is some kind of a genius. Think of all those other acts that got huge during the thrilling alternative rock sweepstakes being held by major labels in the early/mid 90’s…can you name one that has been as prolific and consistently good as Beck? To the person who just had Liz Phair pop into their head: I will slap you.

Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

This took awhile to grow on me. The music that is, not their name. Their band name is one of the worst in music history. Right up there with Carrissa’s Weird (now the aforementioned Band of Horses) and Bare Naked Ladies (now dead I hope). But take the bad name away and all the hype they received and you’ve got a pretty wicked, supercharged power pop record. Give it a spin and let it grow on you like it did for me. The album, not the crappy name…did I explain that right?

Hatebreed – Supremacy


As I am a sucker for Scottish girls, I’m also a sucker for ass kicking metal/hardcore with an underlying positive message hiding under layers of aggressive doomsday crunch. This band sounds like they could have been a straight edge group at one point, but sold their souls for rock and roll while still telling the kids to never give up.

Neil Young – Living With War

Despite this record’s obvious anti-Bush message, it’s still one of the better Neil Young records to come out in awhile. Try not to sing along to “Let’s Impeach the President” and try not to smear feces on the door handle of the next SUV you see with a Bush bumper sticker. Yes, that was me.

Primal Scream – Riot City Blues

I didn’t expect anything from this. I got it from the library and wasn’t even going to load it on my ipod, but I played it in the car and was pleasantly surprised. This is a return to the bluesy, Stonesy groove the Scream seemed to abandon for their techno funk/punk of the last couple albums. Don’t get me wrong, I love Xtrmntr…or Violator or whatever it was called (“Kill All Hippies” is a classic from that record), but this made me think these guys haven’t actually died from drug overdoses like they should have.

Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics

Not as good as their last record? Yeah, why not. One more time.

JR

4 comments:

Booger said...

Haven't heard every album on this list, but out of the ones I have, Wolfmother, and Beck certainly are standouts.

As for Neal Young, just another washup trying to make a political stand based on his celebrity. I don't like it when Tom Cruise does it, I don't think Neal Young gets a free pass (although to cut him a little slack, rock stars have always been a little political).

After seeing the Lips completely fall flat on their asses a few years at Red Rocks (their drum machine wouldn't work, so they couldn't play, and left the stage after 10 minutes - and a lot of spilt stage blood). I have zero respect for them. If you can't play music without a computer, you shouldn't be there at all.

Otherwise, good list. I look forward to exploring some of the albums on the list I haven't listened to yet.

J Reidy said...

i have to disagree with you on Neil Young. he's not washed up. if anything he's still making good music and making important statements with that music. if you look back on his career, he's always taken a fairly bold stand...whether it be the kent state killings or the south's racist past/present, his current anti-Bush/anti-war record or even his Greendale album which was an anti-media, wal mart-ization of America type statement.

so if you agree with him or not, he's at least saying something. he's taking a stand where other musicians aren't...i guess that pre-supposes that you think musicians should take stands but when it seems that no one will stand up and say anything that might jeopardize their career, Neil Young quit giving a shit a long time ago and that's why i like him...the album is seriously good too.

musicians are showcasing their feelings, emotions and beliefs through their music. tom cruise is a robot repeating lines written for him. so when he starts talking, nobody cares and he comes off as arrogant. we expect a little arrogance from our musicians.

i've seen the flaming lips twice and they were great, but i agree: if you can't get it together once your drum machine poops out, you're pretty much ashlee simpson.

JR

Anonymous said...

HaHa - nice crack at Liz Phair! I used to love her! There is a funny little game called "All's Phair in War and War" on a fun little site just made for a few minutes of distraction each day called youdontknowjack.com.

J Reidy said...

oh so it was you that was thinking Liz Phair...

seriously, Liz Phair is the single most overrated musician in the history of music. she fucking sucks.

a few years back i went and listened to 'exile from guyville' and i couldn't believe how bad it was. i can remember people going nuts over that record and for the life of me, i can't figure out why.

i think she sang about giving blow jobs and it 1)made chicks feel empowered (???) and 2)gave guys boners. but it still doesn't make up for the sad, shitty music she made.

beck's early stuff still stands up. can't say the same for ms. Phair.

JR