Top 10 Albums of 2006 January 22, 2007Posted by reidmix in Album Reviews, Asthmatic Kitty, Best of 2006, Free MP3, Labels, Lists, Marriage Records, Matador Records, Music, Reviews, Silver Mountain, States Rights, Tomlab, Warp.
Tags: 2006, amazon, best of, electronica, emusic, glockenspiel, Grönland, jazz, lyrics, pitchfork, pop, quote, tower, twee
Enough with the lead in posts, January is coming to a close and I need to commit to my top 10, already! 🙂
This task is always difficult, to quantitize and qualify all those albums that were released over the prior year. And you know you missed some good ones (Annuals!), cuz no matter how much you listen to new releases, you can’t listen to ’em all and you’re always playing catch up.
The great thing about personalized lists is that they suit the individual — they aren’t based on statistics (Amazon we love you) or music snobs (Pitchfork we love you too!) — but are as acute and offbeat as the listener is adventurous to try new sounds and play them over and over and over.
These 10 albums gave me great joy throughout the year, and anytime during they year they could have been rearranged in any order. But alas, I’ve decided on a final order, and here they are:
10. Safe As Houses by Parenthetical Girls
I had trouble placing this 10th place position and even though I discovered Parenthetical Girl’s panic-pop in the last week of the year, I love both this album and their first (((GRRRLS))). The standout songs on this album are the angry I Was the Dancer and The Weight She Fell Under. I love Zac Pennington’s (vocal) androgyny, the damaged women who are the subject of the songs, the glockenspiel, and clearly the funniest Pitchfork review I’ve ever read. Pennington’s own label, Slender Means Society, offers us these gems:
- Love Connection, pt. II from Safe As Houses,
- Here’s To Forgetting and
- C-86 Is Killing My Life [Xiu Xiu Mix] from (((GRRRLS))) and
- Last Christmas (the best Wham! cover ever) on Christmas with the Swastika Girls
09. The Bells of 1 2 by Sol Seppy
Sparklehorse collaborator Sophie Michalitsianos as Sol Seppy offers us this dark and sincere The Bells of 1 2. The album came to me through eMusic’s Obscure Gems, a list I’m still mining. Human‘s “I am Human and I come from love” lyric has an honesty about it but Move is my favorite with its haunting notes rising from the depths before going into jangly guitar before going back down into the dark again. Every song is a jewel with electric beats, indie guitars, and roots that may have come from Mazzy Star — but don’t be fooled — Sol Seppy has certainly grown into something much more. Grönland doesn’t offer much outside of videos:
08. Detrola by His Name Is Alive
HNIA holds a special place in my heart and with mastermind, Warren Defever’s, first release on his own label Silver Mountain Media, Detrola finds its way right along other amazing albums like Ft. Lake and Livonia. This album was actually released in several series which included the Raindrops Rainbow and Summer Bird EPs both which we got the first look of my favorite song off the album Here Forever Always. The song revives the amazing electronic manipulation of guitars and voices (both?) to create a remarkable pop song. Among other releases, the UFO Catcher LP offered us a more academic view into the construction of the songs off the album with their jazzy roots and muted beats.
07. The Avalanche by Sufjan Stevens
I don’t care that these are outtakes and off-casts from its mother album Illinois. The secondary nature of these songs still do not belittle the fact that they are still more consistent and polished than most Top 40 albums. Three versions of Chicago? I like the Multiple Personality Disorder version. I named my Abyssinian kitty after Adlai Stevenson — the song not the person. And you know which song I listened to most. The complexity of this album does not reveal itself until several listens, the instrumentals are essentials and each song a story within a story which only enhance the prior release. Although none of these songs from Sufjan’s own Asthmatic Kitty are on the album they are still such a joy. C’mon, drink the kool-aid:
- That Was the Worst Christmas Ever and
- Sister Winter from Songs for Christmas,
- Jason from A Sun Came,
- Niagara Falls (unreleased).
06. The Life Pursuit by Belle & Sebastian
The best thing to come along since their debut Tigermilk and follow up If You’re Feeling Sinister. Those other albums were just growing pains, really. This album was such a joy to listen to with the pop stylings of We are the Sleepyheads, the sweet synths on and Sukie in the Graveyard, and the happy funk of Song for Sunshine — all the songs are good. Sure, it may not have the pathos found on their first album but it gives enough twee for us fanboys to go on until their next album. Matador doesn’t like the deeplink (clever engineers!), but you can get the first song off the band’s page.
The final 5 bands were all new to me as of 2006, there was so much good music I’m glad I could add new favorites to my old stalwarts!05.Widows by Lucky Dragons
Buy this album! I’m currently obsessed with it. It’s another December discovery and I can’t put it down. Its like heroine to me. Each song have a personality living within them. My favorites include the epic The Sound of Waves and anthemic tones of Snowing Circle (also, a possible joke on the name of his compilation album A Sewing Circle). And it’s just that kind of humor that these beautiful “sound poems” don’t take themselves too seriously. Sheep and Sneezes is just that. V Pattern honks the familiar geese pattern onto your imagination. Parenthetical Girl Zac Pennington said it best on his links page:
Luke [Fischbeck] makes music that sounds like computers have feelings.
04. Yellow House by Grizzly Bear
I love this album, my introduction to the Grizzly Bear boys. Amazing in concert, the Beach Boys induced Easier still gives me chills. These songs are epic and size and say so much with so few words, such as Colorado, where the title of the song is repeated over the course of the full tune. The album feels both fresh and moody and begs for greater things to come. Okay, my dirty little secret, I adore the remix album of their debut, Horns of Plenty, more than this album. Simon Bookish, Dntel, Phiiliip and Final Fantasy rock my dub-world. Whichever album you buy, you cannot go wrong.
03. At War with The Mystics by The Flaming Lips
I think this album really resonated with me this year. You know the first song, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song played with every Little Miss Sunshine preview — it’s a tongue in cheek ditty about limits of (political) power and the lack of altruism. Another of my favorites, Vein of Stars, proposes “Maybe there ain’t no heaven / There’s just you and me” and “If there ain’t no heaven / Maybe there ain’t no hell.” And you can really get going with the groove of Haven’t Got a Clue which goes something like: “And every time you state your case / The more I want to punch your face.” Yeah, I voted.
02. The Notes and the Like by Ms. John Soda
I la-la-love Ms. John Soda. I love this album (I mean, if you can get past the first song, A Nod on Hold, which I couldn’t for like 3 weeks, it’s that good). I’m sure I was searching for something Lali Puna when somehow, unimaginably I came across this album at Tower Records near the release date.
The next song is great too and the next one, Scan the Ways, is the ultimate in German avant-garde lyrics. And this is before you even get to the indie-rockin’ No. One; knob-twiddler, puh-lease! I played this album the whole summer even when my mom came to visit and when I saw her this Christmas, she specifically asked me if I brought this album. Mother approved! Listen to tunes off their website, Morr is stingy with MP3s.
01. Etiquette by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
This album is one of those perfect, raw albums. I may be alone in this (heh), but each song on this album reflects the 7th track, Scattered Pearls: each song a jewel, lost, rolling about on a dance floor, and sad because of their loss and sentimental value. Every song is a story, every story is a character analysis. Even the album cover is fascinating.
New Years Kiss follows the Jan 1 journey to recover what happened the night before and ends in pancake mix. Young Sheilds reminds us of those penniless and shallow college days. Nashville Parthenon is looking to recapture love that has moved on and out of Tennessee. And Love Connection ends us where we started: with a cover of the Parenthetical Girls and lyrics “find me quoting Pennington.” MP3 reposted, enjoy!
Preorder Neon Bible from Merge! January 21, 2007Posted by reidmix in Labels, Merge Records, Music, Upcoming Releases.
I enjoy buying directly from the record label and even though you can buy these at the equivalent prices from Amazon ($10, $17, and $15), Merge throws in a few bonus items:
All preorders will receive free with purchase a Neon Bible poster and other assorted goodies! More on this as it comes in…
The last time I bought directly from Merge, they wrote me a personalized note, gave me posters and stickers, and all their love.
Top 10 Tracks from 2006 Releases (According to iTunes) January 8, 2007Posted by reidmix in Asthmatic Kitty, Best of 2006, Kanine, Labels, Lists, Memphis Industries, Music, Reviews, Silver Mountain, Song Reviews.
Tags: allmusic, amazon, ameoba, boomkat, emusic, Grönland, iTunes, manifest, plug, tower
Other interesting things my iTunes told me are the top tracks from 2006 releases. Normally, my music purchases are relatively limited but the 200+ CDs I bought from Ameoba, Manifest, Tower and off of online services like eMusic, Amazon, and Boomkat, I’ve become much more aware of releases throughout the year.
In fact, on Tuesdays, I’ve gotten into the habit of perusing through the release list on AllMusic. This was the first year that I not only recognized, but knew most of the bands nominated for Plug‘s Independent Music Awards! Usually, I voted for the band I knew, if there was a band I knew for the category.
Here are the top tracks I listened to of all the releases in 2006. This is different from the prior list, those tracks were from releases in any year.
01. The Sailor by Terrestrial Tones from Dead Drunk
#7 on overall list, this track is the clear standout on the album, wish the other songs were as well.
02. Easier by Grizzly Bear from Yellow House
Beach Boys goodness in an indie package, these guys were phenomenal in concert too.
03. Here Forever Always by His Name Is Alive from Detrola
So glad to see HNIA go back to their roots and draw from what made them so special.
04. Your the Kind of Girl by Mixel Pixel from Music for Plants
This song is so much fun! I also enjoyed the Momus cover of “What are you wearing” on the single.
05. Tell Me Keep Me by Field Music from S/T
Memphis Industries brought us “The Go Team” and “The Pipettes” but nothing as infectious as this song.
06. We are the Sleepyheads by Belle & Sebastian from The Life Pursuit
So glad B&S pulled themselves out of the disaster which is their last album — somebody had to say it…
07. Scattered Pearls by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone from Etiquette
This song is both so sad and so dance-able. CFTPA would have ruled my lists if I discovered them earlier in the year.
08. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song by The Flaming Lips from At War with the Mystics
This song defines the political outrage on the rest of the album — now what if Mr. Bush actually listened to this album?
09. Dear Mr. Supercomputer by Sufjan Stevens from The Avalanche
Not bad for scraps from the prior album — hello! amazing! — this is the first song that got my attention.
Top 10 Tracks I listened to in 2006 (According to iTunes) January 8, 2007Posted by reidmix in Best of 2006, FatCat, Ghostly International, K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Labels, Lists, Music, PawTracks, Song Reviews, SubPop, Tomlab.
Tags: iTunes, kitties, last.fm, Spectral Sound, statistics, tower, wikipedia
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In anticipation of writing up my best albums of 2006, I thought I would publish some statistics found in my iTunes and on Last.fm. I’ll begin with iTunes:
I bought and listened to:
Winter: 34 LPs 11 EPs 0 Compilations
Spring: 33 LPs 10 EPs 2 Compilations
Summer: 40 LPs 18 EPs 4 Compilations
Autumn: 88 LPs 38 EPs 3 Compilations
Total: 196 LPs 77 EPs 9 Compilations
My autumn purchases spiked because of Tower going out of business (Boo!) Of these purchases, the top 10 tracks I listened to are as follows:
01. Kicking the Heart Out by Rogue Wave
I’m honestly surprised about this track, it was on such a weak album.
02. Venice by The Books
This tiny little track cracks me up everytime I listen to it.
03. Prospect Hummer by Animal Collective
Gorgeous track about kitties featuring Vashti Bunyan.
05. Of Pressure by Mirah
Like Mirah and Ginger’s “Oh September” but for 2006 – the words are genius.
07. The Sailor by Terrestrial Tones
Animal Collective / Black Dice collaboration produced this gem.
08. I Want Wind to Blow by The Microphones
The power in this song knocks me over.
09. Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Arcade Fire’s cover of this song led me to this band
10. Sealed with a Kiss by Deerhoof
You can find an edgy version of this song on the new 81+ EP