Monday, December 11, 2006

It's the most listiest time of the year...

December ain't just about the War on Christmas: it's also a battle of music nerds! So, before my judgment is skewed by the 638 "top 10 of 2006" lists I'll be reading in the next few weeks, here are my own humble submissions, in no particular order:

Cat Power, The Greatest. This edges out You are Free in my mind. Maybe I'm biased because of the inclusion of the Memphis Rhythm Band (Al Green's backing band!). Luckily, right before Chan Marshall went sober, she gave us a picture of her as a really fun (and sexy) drunk.

Six Organs of Admittance, The Sun Awakens. Six Organs is the moniker of Ben Chasny, a truly freaky California guitar player. He also plays with Comets on Fire (see below)! The Sun Awakens is a very slow, droney, dry record--"taking drugs in the desert" music, although of course in my naivete I don't actually know what that means. A lot of people hated the 24-minute final track, "River of Transfiguration," but I think it's one of the most relaxing things I've ever heard. Many fine hours were spent in the Memphis Public Library this summer listening to this album on headphones.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy, The Letting Go. Well, yeah.

Destroyer, Destroyer's Rubies. I think I'm in good company with this one.

Junior Boys, So this is Goodbye. I missed out on the JB's first major stateside release, Last Exit, and this one has apparently suffered in the press for "sophomore slump." However, I think it's wonderful--very minimal but melodic "intelligent dance music," very "3 am in a neon city" (or, you know, "8 pm in the Classics library"). I'm a big dork for wimpy electronic music like New Order, Depeche Mode and Scritti Politti, though.

River City Tanlines, All the 7 inches Plus 2 More. The Tanlines are my obligatory Memphis inclusion. Lead singer Alicja Trout is always up in some fine Memphis rock--Mouserocket, Black Sunday, the Lost Sounds--but I think the Tanlines is her best project. Dirty, shameless, sexed up punk rock, with tendencies towards the Stooges and even Queens of the Stone Age. Plus, there's a Love cover, "Bummer in the Summer." They've got a new album out--can't wait. Check out their Myspace page!

Charalambides, A Vintage Burden. More freaky hippie stuff. Just a guy and girl duo, with lots of overdubbed guitars by freak folk scene king Tom Carter. Hmm, I'm noticing a lot of late night/laid back records on this list...I guess it was that kind of year.

Comets on Fire, Avatar. This is one of my favorite bands currently making music. They are an out of control psychedelic rock group, with super-distorted guitars and vocals, a drummer with at least 6 arms, and an Echoplex machine. Unfortunately, Avatar isn't as good as 2004's Blue Cathedral, not by a long shot. Still, I wore this record out trying to figure out the band's new direction. The sound is a lot cleaner, and the vocals now sound less "pissed off Robert Plant," more "dude from Widespread Panic." Ewww. There's also a few "light" songs that are just a bunch of hippy-dippy Grateful Dead nonsense. No, worse--bad Jefferson Airplane. More amphetamines, less pot next time, please.

David Thomas Broughton, The Complete Guide to Insufficiency. Another solo guitar player, this time on the folk side of things. I think I once pushed Robot in this direction, but I don't know if I was successful. Simply put, this album is sublime. Beautiful, mysterious, and a bit frightening. Broughton doesn't have a great voice, but it's effective, much like Will Oldham or Bill Callahan from Smog. Those are the best points of comparison lyrics-wise, as well. Broughton has a certain timeless quality to him, especially since one song, "Unmarked Grave," is a dead soldier's lament. The weirdest moment is definitely "Execution," the only lyric of which is "I wouldn't take her to an execution, I wouldn't take her to a live sex show / I wouldn't piss or shit on her would I / Because I love her so." Not exactly James Taylor, but maybe Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen.

God, look at that list. I'm such an indie hipster douche...

Ahem, honorable mentions include: Broken Social Scene, Ghostface Killah, TV on the Radio, Yo La Tengo, the Knife, Boris

And, 2005 record I keep coming back to: Maximo Park, A Certain Trigger. I have now discovered the second half of the album. And their b-sides collection, Missing Songs. Still, lots of Britishness plus lyrics about thwarted romantic attempts: coincidence...?

I'd like to hear everyone else's picks, or just what's been in your CD player/iPod rotation lately. Please, don't let the annoying obscurity of my selections inhibit you.


Blogger kushakov said...

scantron and i have already discussed the merits of the boredoms, but for all those uninitiated, lay aside your prejudices against the japanese, glowing orbs, and many, many drums. their new album, "seadrum/house of sun" is very good, but maybe not as good as their earlier solar-themed release, "vision creation newsun," which, when sampled in a public place, will give you the sort of counter-hegemonic buzz that may warrant serious dialectic analysis.

it would embarass me to admit having purshased an album by chris brubeck (son of dave, pops composer, jazz dabbler, and clever man) so i will pretend not to have done so.

if you don't listen to the pentangle, you should; but if you do and haven't yet picked up anything by bert jansch (the pentangle singer without the vagina) then take your ten bucks to amazon and get a cd.

other music that's on my mind:

the united states of america (produced a single, self-titled album in 1968)

pearls before swine, "one nation underground" (an album so good i stole it from my father)

also, i have a cd of big-band era japanese pop songs, and it's fantastic. unfortunately, it reminds me of a party held at the gallery i used to work at, which reminds me that i recently lost my job, and thus of the futility of things.

keep the deal real, huffy people.

1:03 AM  
Blogger Scantron said...

Kushakov! How I've missed you, comrade! Have you indeed heard the new Bert Jansch (Black Swan)? I'm so very interested. As you may know already, I am in possession of the Pearls Before Swine. I don't really get it outside of some of the prettier/political songs, thouhgh ("Another Time," "Uncle John"). I have heard much about the United States of America, but have not yet heard them.

If you like Boredoms, do you know of Ghost? More Japanese goodness. Same with Boris, although they may be too traditionally metal. Another fine artist I got into this year was Glenn Branca. Guitar symphonies, don't you know. "The Ascension" and "Symphony no. 6" in particular. Members of Sonic Youth included! Also, the new Can reissues are choice. Future Days any day of the week. For those n2 the partier aspect of things, check out Girl Talk, mashup DJ extraordinaire. Only place to hear Ludacris synched up with Elastica, Pixies+James Taylor+50 Cent. Outstanding.

4:46 AM  
Blogger Robot said...

Here's eight that come to mind. In my mind, it was an off year for music -- after 2005 kicked some serious ass -- made up by some strong Fall releases. Fortunately, however, unlike previous years perhaps, the list doesn't have to be dominated by dirty Canadians.

Newsom, "Ys": I simply can't remember a more breathtakingly imaginitive album. I become transported to some rural highland society every time I listen to it.

Bonnie Prince Billy, "The Letting Go": Because he can bring any man to tears.

Beirut, "Gulag Orkestar": While some may compare him to Neutral Milk Hotel, I say he's much more Wagner-you think you know what's coming, and then he hits you with some powerful suprises that exceed any expectation.

Destroyer, "Rubies": Yep.

Damien Jurado, "And Now That I'm in Your Shadow": One of those five or so American singer/songwriters who in my book can do no wrong.

Band of Horses, "Everything All of the Time": Hat tip to Scantron. This one really grew on me, albeit on the incredible strength of a few tremendous tracks.

Built to Spill, "You in Reverse": This album sort of dropped out of memory quickly after it was released, and will undoubtedly not make it onto any pretigious end-of-year lists. And that is a shame. It's an awfully well produced record--restrained, tasteful, and yet not afraid to fucking rock.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Robot said...

Can we do movies too!? I LOVE MOVIES!!! HERE'S MY TOP FIVE LIST:

"The Departed": DUH!

"The Wind that Shakes the Barley": Think Braveheart but in early 20th century Ireland, and with heavy Marxist sympathies.

"The Proposition": Stunning acting, and a fantastic script and sountrack by Nick Cave.

"The Children of Men": The future is scary.

"The Descent": Weird creatures living in Appalachian caves are scary!

12:10 PM  
Blogger kushakov said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:55 PM  
Blogger kushakov said...

i second the beirut nomination. they're all the rage this year in NYC, with shows all over the place, including mccareen park pool (sp?) in will'msburg, this summer's indster testing ground.

how i've missed all you huffyites! i've been holed up at my grandma's house working on grad applications all week, so it's nice to participate in some sort of common culture for a change...

peace from the jersey suburbs

1:56 PM  
Blogger Scantron said...

Robot, movies are problematic--there's less of a record by which to remember them...I will say that the Departed and the Proposition were both great. Also, Half Nelson was just awesome. The Queen was good, though perhaps not as great as everyone insisted. I'm really grasping at straws here, but I enjoyed the new Bond a lot...Yeesh. The Oscars will jog my memory.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Scantron said...

Also, best rap singles I heard on my runs in Memphis this summer (thanks to Hot 107-where hip-hop lives):

Rick Ross, "Hustlin": Has anyone else heard this? The hook is HUGE-- "Everyday I'm hustlin, Everyday I'm hustlin," repeat ad nauseam. The rapping really sucks, though, and the follow up single "Push It" was weak.

Birdman and Lil' Wayne, "Stuntin' Like My Daddy": Great horn sample, plus Birdman and Lil' Wayne trade off the chorus in style. I don't really understand why Birdman is supposed to be Lil' Wayne's "daddy," though--kind of weird.

T.I., "Top Back": Another great horn hook, even if it's basically the same as "What You Know."

Nakia Shine, "Stunt Glasses at Night": The REAL stunna shades joint.

Yo Gotti, "That's What Up": Another Memphis boy. I remember him coming into Cat's Records where I worked, and his manager, Pepper, telling us he was going to be the next big thing. Well, he pretty much is.

Project Pat, "Tell Tell Tell": I will always have a soft spot for Pat, who's given us so many gems over the years ("Gorilla Pimp," "Chicken Head," "Make that Ass Clap"). I hear he is now full time in Three Six Mafia; fine work. "Tell Tell Tell" what yet another entry into the "stop snitchin'" meme, but it holds up quite well. "They'll set they own mama up, you ain't nobody!" Indeed.

8:41 PM  

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