So! 50% because I'm lazy and 50% because and I have nothing else to write about and 50% because everyone and their ass-faces have released a top of 2006 type thing and 37.3% because I've been away all afternoon and 1% because you actually want to know. If I do my math right I'd say that comes out to about 100% "who gives a shit?"
So! since no one really gives a shit I'm going to write a list for 2006 that is UNPRECEDENTED!!! Mostly because it gives you a glimpse into how poor my music taste is but also because its merely an amalgam of my favorite noises that I've heard this year. That includes new albums, reissues, albums I should have heard but never got around to until recently, gossip, that sound people make when they realize that they're falling on the subway and knocking into you and then of course don't say sorry just kind of saunter off because they know they look like a douche, tea steam, parsnips.
So! without further ado its:
10! = Dreamies
Two 25 minute tracks that directly reference revolution number 9 with mr Bill Holt clipping soundbytes like sunday morning coupons beneath his vocals and what is that, a moog? It falls a bit in line with the early seventies folk but is gloriously weird for that time and definitely falls in line with the work that John Cage was doing around then. Knowing Holt quit his job in 1970 simply based on this idea that he had to continue the story The Beatles were telling with revolution number 9 is fascinating enough to hear this at least once. I mean, I its pretty nice to hear too.
9! = He Poos Clouds
Thought: The Arcade Fire can get in a tour van accident involving two guys precariously carrying chicken coops across a busy intersection and I wouldn't give a care. However! Piqued, my interest was, by this deluge of press that Owen Pallet was getting due to his string arrangements for Funeral. His first album, Has a Good Home, was admirable in its looped violin and pluckedness but it sounded rushed. His vocals and melodies were far too boring to hold my interest over the mediocre song structures.
I initially listened to Final Fantasy because I may or may not be a crazed, bemouthfoamed lunatic when it comes to the video game of the same name. So I stuck with him, even when his next album's name was "He Poos Clouds". Not interested.
but I listened anyway. I was rewarded with intricate indie-baroque, possibly supplied with extra bombast found in dumpsters behind major Broadway playhouses, impeccably placed crescendos and decrescendos, dischordance when appropriate. Its like listening to Bach if Bach wore girls jeans and didn't have that whole "God" thing between himself and being a raging homo. Oh, and also lived in Chicago.
8! = Cylinders
The Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project is the best thing thats happened to recorded music from the pre-disc recordings era. Aside from, you know, being recorded in the first place. UCSB is digitizing as many old cylinders as they can get their stubby little academic fingers on. It's a great resource for anyone remotely interested in pop music of the late nineteenth century and early 20th century. It's also the best thing that has happened to heat my boiling desire to hear minstrelsy music and thus fuel my raging bigotry and racism. Dig deep and you might hear a few pretty little diddies covered with an aesthetically pleasing gravy of static.
7! = Yoyoyoyoyoy
A common argument against Spank Rock's YOYOYOYOyoyoyoyo is... I'm actually not sure what the argument ever was? I mean, I've heard smatterings of an acidic taste from the ... sexism? I just don't hear it, Pitchfork.
Or, rather, I don't understand how one could take Spank Rock to task for sexism when Fishscales and Clipse (though absolutely phenomenal albums) get higher ratings and still have twice as much mysoginy. Is it less okay to speak with sexist language when a hip-hop album is DFA and hipster (re:college educated white Williamsburgite) approved?
All questioning aside, this is a direction that I'd like hip-hop to start moving in, a focus on inovative production is my remedy for the bachwashed Outkast Atlanta sludge that we're listening to these days. At least we still have The Neptunes and Timbaland to spice shit up a bit. Anyway this is the best booty shakin album I heard all year, and that includes this.
6! = Drum's not Dead
The concept for Liars new album, Drum's Not Dead, sounds like something out of a Maruice Sendak book. Drum, representing headstrong braveness, and Mt. Heart Attack, representing mountains and heart attacks and... not-Drum, constantly battle it out on this dangerous album. I say dangerous because holy shit it has so much potential to just be annoying. Anything this drum and beat heavy could get annoying Soooo very fast. Instead its a calvalcade of drums and cymbals and guitar fuzz and chase scenes through the unfocused woods in the middle of the night and resonating piano or bell chimes and room room room room room to walk around and explore. I love the Liars because they manage to make the most fucked up, ugly music sound like its supposed to be somewhere, sound like you're somewhere you're not supposed to be. Don't dive head first into this one.
5! = My Love
The new Justin Timberlake album is a festering pile of hipster bait, piled on a stump with several concentric rings going round round round a la Wile. E Coyote. What does that target signify? Well some would say the word "fag" but obviously those are the Bro's who look up Hoobastank tabulature when they're not working at Sam Goody. Rather, that target is to loop everyone (aside from certain Sam Goody employees) everyone into the hip VH1 celebrity Perez Hilton crowd and most people jump right in. I think, however, that the album stutter steps and trips right there. The Coldplay part at the end of Lovestoned, the crunky Chop Me Up, the "Hi my name is bob and I work at my Job" idiocy of Losing my Way. I was psyched about this album until I realized Timbaland blew his load on the song that I am truly putting at number 5: My Love.
No shit right? I mean, maybe I was lucky in that I naturally stay as far from a ny radios as an ant from a cucumber. My roommate Joanna is not so fortunate and had to hear this song emerge like constant, unending stockticker tape from her radio. I forgive those of you who had to deal with this, I understand. I, on the other hand, could listen to this song on repeat (and have) for hours on end. Timberlake might not choose the brainiest of lyrics, but he sure can fucking make me believe (almost) anything he says. And Tim, well he's Timbaland, pretty much can't go wrong there. The man has the heavyweight belt to prove that he is one of the most creative forces in pop music within the last fifteen years. I can't wait to hear his new album (without Magoo this time!).
4! = Gulag Orkestar
You know, I never really thought about how this album is so very important to 2006 for me until right now. It reminds me of a lot of different occurences about the year. Having heard about it through my friend Sarah I took a gander and gandered some of the best melodies overtop beautiful east-european kind of gyspsy feel. It may be musical colonialism (Zach Condon, Mr. Beirut himself has admitted to not having any ties nor having ever been to eastern Europe) and it makes me shudder a bit to say that I dont give a gall-durn. There is a strong backlash against this album because Condon might not live up to everyones expectations as a performer, but all I'm going off of are his beautiful songs and pretty damn decent lyrics.
3! = Silent Shout / So This Is Goodbye
Kitsch and I may have gotten in a whopping game of "who jerks off to music more" over Silent Shout the other day, but really in all seriousness I love Silent Shout. I prefer other albums a bit more but this one is still pretty fucking fantastic with the modulation of vocals. Nothing is more foreign, disconcerting, beautiful than hearing the soft pearly vocals of Karen Dreijer modulated to a genderless deep bass.
From the opening track to the final seconds of the last track Junior Boys prove that they know what they're doing. Double Shadow jumps out of a dark, bathroom-fucking groove, In the Morning has those quintuplet pinpricks that are thrown off kilter by the beat, So This Is Goodbye drunken bubbling around your head. Everything on this album has one if not two three four five perfectly crafted hooks. It may not have the sonic/dead space exploration of Last Exit, but its still a great album that I put at three along with Silent Shout.
2! = Yellow House
Grizzly Bear took all of my favorite things about music and made them into an album. Seriously, guys, way to go. Folk, gorgeous beach boy harmonies, laptop twists, non-formulaic structures, perfect hooks that they just toss aside (the stomp claps on Little Brother) I can't really write much more about this album than I've already said. It really is just about perfect.
1! = Ys
I mean, seriously? who didnt expect this. I didn't within the first five seconds of Emily. oh also, within the next 55 minutes and thirty one seconds. There is nothing more I can really say about this album than that it is wildly innovative while managing to retain the simple commonplacities of music. The songs structure themselves like poetry, weaving in and out and in and out of each other. Only Skin will drop you in the water with Newsom, then gust you up into the air, remind you that she still has the reigns, and slap you across the face all within several minutes. Each verse is its own tiny composition and each new verse is reminiscent of the last, but is curious enough to poke its nose down holes one never expects.
Her words are perfect. Poetry need not be filled with archaic diction (hell, my favorite poet is Billy Collins) but that she uses it makes her verse all the more fascinating, I find. That she is even able to balance these extraneous words in her lyrics is incredible even for a poet, but that she is able to pad them down neatly into the meter and constant shifts of her music is beyond all comprehension to me. So I sit back, and listen, and find new nooks each time I hear them.
Thats all folks!
Props to: Clipse, Girl Talk, Destroyer, Boy from School by hot chip, Isis, Josef K, Vince Guaraldi, Moondog, Lloyd I'm ready to be Heartbroken by Camera Obscura, Cat Power, Sam Cooke, and whoever the hell else I'm too lazy to think of right now.