The Best of 2006

The year that brought us Britney's tuna taco in my face, North Korean Nukes, Mark Foley's stiffy, Cheney blasting away, a Steeler's Super Bowl victory, and for me a kick-ass new computer also brought some amazing music. Without further ado...



My Top 20 Discs of 2006

(Ten wasn't enough)


Cat Power-The Greatest

The Greatest/Living Proof/Lived In Bars/Could We/Empty Shell/Willie/Where Is My Love?/The Moon/Islands/After It All/Hate/Love & Communication

On paper I really shouldn't like this disc. Somber lo-fi folkie chanteuse makes an album with a rhythm and blues band. Yawn. Yeah, anything but. It's very hard to describe how much I love this disc. It flows beautifully and has all kinds of memorable little musical phrases throughout. Seeing her live only cemented the deal.


Neko Case-Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

Margaret Vs. Pauline/Star Witness/Hold On, Hold On/A Widow's Toast/That Teenage Feeling/Fox Confessor Brings The Flood/John Saw That Number/Dirty Knife/Lion's Jaw/Maybe Sparrow/At Last/The Needle Has Landed

A ton has been said about Neko's voice and the maturation of her songwriting on this album. The praise is worthy indeed. By end of the first song when she wails"...Pauliiiiiiiiiiiiine" I was immediately hooked. This is the kind of disc that gets better and better every listen.


Norfolk & Western-A Gilded Age EP

Porch Destruction/A Gilded Age/Watch The Days Slowly Fade/There Are No Places Left For Us/Minor Daughter/Clyde & New Orleans/We Were All Saints/A Voice Through The Wall

What a great release. N&W add a few permanent members and start to rock out? Fucking A! Calling this an EP is stretching it due to the fact that it's only a few minutes shorter than Neko's disc. It also contains the band's first music video. Yea!


Norfolk & Western-The Unsung Colony

The Longest Stare/The Shortest Stare/Barrels On Fire/How To Reel In/The New Rise Of Labor/Rehearsing La Dolce Vita/Arrangements Made/Drifter/Banish All Rock/Atget Waltz/From The Interests Of Few/The Longest Stare (Reprise)

Their full length 'proper' release this year has been described as epic in tone. Whatever that description means, I think it's their best album to date. Some songs from this disc and their EP were on the tour only CD from a few years back and they have been given a rocking edge to them. Some work ('From The Interests Of Few'), some don't ('The Shortest Stare'). I told Adam this before a show and he teasingly promised they were REALLY going to rock them out in the set.


Deadstring Brothers-Starving Winter Report

Sacred Heart/Toe The Line/Lights Go Out/Get Up Jake/Talkin' Born Blues/Blindfolded/Moonlight Only Knows/'Til The Bleeding Stops/All Over Know/Lonely Days

Mix a lot of Rolling Stones with a little Band and you get this album. Great, funky, rock and roll.


The Minders-It's A Bright Guilty World

"There Goes My Formula!"/Don't You Stop/Red Admiral's (Gonna Stop Me)/Accidental Joy/Crest Of The Hill/Same Time, Same Place/Savour All The Days/Jenny/In The Middle Of You Love/Saturday Morning/Remember, Remember/357/Glittering Dream/Guns Of August

The neglected stepchild of the list. A highly underrated release this year. Bright, sunny, fun pop with a tinge of melancholy. The Minders go dark? I really love this band and hope to see them live. This disc has THE most beautiful album art of the year.


Band Of Horses-Everything All The Time

The First Song/Wicked Gil/Our Swords/The Funeral/Part One/The Great Salt Lake/Weed Party/I Go To The Barn Because I Like The/Monsters/St.Augustine

This is the kind of album that gets under your skin in a good way. The combo of lotsa subtle pedal steel as rhythm and the uniqueness of Ben Bridwell's voice form a truly unmistakable sound. I was very surprised to see a huge stack of CD's at Best Buy earlier this year. Underground (at least I thought that) indie darlings go mainstream.


Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins-Rabbit Fur Coat

Run Devil Run/The Big Guns/Rise Up With Fists!/Happy/The Charging Sky/Melt Your Heart/You Are What You Love/Rabbit Fur Coat/Handle With Care/Born Secular/It Wasn't Me/Happy (Reprise)

I grew to love this album. Hearing a bunch of praise doesn't necessarily mean I will like an artist (see Sufjan Stevens). At first I wasn't getting it but upon repeated listens it finally clicked with me.


Calexico-Garden Ruin

Cruel/Yours And Mine/Bisbee Blue/Panic Open String/Letter To Bowie Knife/Roka/Lucky Dime/Smash/Deep Down/ Nom De Plume/All Systems Red

This was my first real exposure to Calexico. I wasn't familiar with their earlier flamenco-influenced work. That's probably why I wasn't disappointed as many of their long-time fans were of this more subdued pop version of the band.


Benjy Ferree-Leaving The Nest

In The Countryside/Dogkillers/A Little At A Time/The Desert/Private Honeymoon/Leaving The Nest (It's A Long Way Down)/Hollywood Sign/They Were Here/Why Bother/In The Woods

What a discovery for me. He was opening for the fantastic Portastatic and after picking up his disc at the show I played the fuck out of it. Really good stuff.


Margot & The Nuclear So And So's-The Dust Of Retreat

A Sea Chanty Of Sorts/On A Freezing Chicago Street/Vampires In Blue Dresses/Quiet As A Mouse/Jen Is Bringin' The Drugs/Barfight Revolution, Power Violence/Dress Me Like A Clown/Skeleton Key/Paper Kitten Nightmare/A Light On A Hill/Talking In Code/Bookworm

I saw the band before they released their debut full length. I was half expecting it to suck but it actually turned out great. I expect a lot from this band in the future.


The Drams-Jubilee Dive

Truth Lies Low/Hummalong/Holy Moses/Unhinged/Fireflies/September's High/You Won't Forget/You & Me, MF/When You're Tired/Shortsighted/Crudely Drawn/Make A Book/Des Moines/Wonderous Life

It took me a loooooong while to get into this disc. Not because I was upset that it strayed from the Slobberbone sound as many die-hard fans were but the latter half of the album couldn't hold a candle to the first half. Still doesn't, but I appreciate the songs more now than I did. Does that make any fucking sense?


The Essex Green-Cannibal Sea

This Isn't Farmlife/Don't Know Why (You Stay)/Penny & Jack/Snakes In The Grass/Rue De Lis/Cardinal Points/Rabbit/Uniform/Sin City/Elsinore/Slope Song

Cheery release from this Elephant 6 associated band. Dude grew up in Pittsburgh. Bonus.


Centro-Matic-Fort Recovery

Covered Up In Mines/Calling Thermatico/Patience For The Ride/I See Through You/In Such Crooked Times/For New Starts/The Fugitives Have Won/Monumental Sails/Triggers And Trash Heaps/Nothin' I Ever Seen/Take The Maps And Run/Take A Rake

I love Centro-Matic.  I am stunned that they don't have a bigger following ten years into their run. This album sounds more to me like a South San Gabriel release but some clunkers make it rank a little lower. The best description I heard was that there are no rhythmical breaks in the songs. They are like one long verse without bridges or choruses. Good point.


The Sadies-In Concert Vol. 1

Disc One: Show Intro/Cheat/Why Be So Curious?/1000Cities Falling Apart (Pt.1)/Rat Creek/Song Of The Chief Musician (Pt.2)/16 Mile Creek/Taller Than The Pines/Lay Down Your Arms/Higher Power/Uncle Larry's Breakdown/Eastern Winds/Stay A Little Longer/Nothumberland West/Lonely Guy/Snow Squad/Leave Me Alone/Ridge Runner Reel/1,000,002 Songs/Dying Is Easy/Tiger Tiger

Disc Two: Back Off/Justine Alright/Talking Down/American Pageant/Strange Birds/Home/Hold On, Hold On/Evangeline/Tailspin/A Good Flying Day/Lucifer Sam/Another Day/All Passed Away/Story's Often Told/You're Everywhere/Within A Stone/Food, Water, Etc./Jason Fleming/Her Love Made Me/Memphis, Egypt

This to me, and many others, is sorta our generation's Last Waltz. What's in the water up there in Canada? Killer release. I love the fact that the track information is thorough as hell.


Oakley Hall-Gypsum Strings

Confidence Man/Having Fun Again/Lazy Susan/Living In Sin In the USA/House Carpenter/Bury Your Burden/If I Was In El Dorado/Nite Lights, Dark Days/Spanish Fandango

This, along  with Second Guessing which was put out this year also, is some really fun music. The band has just signed with Merge Records and my artwork is featured on the site. Boyeeeee!


Gomez-Split The Difference

Notice/See The World/How We Operate/Hamoa Beach/Girlshapedlovedrug/Chasing Ghosts With Alcohol/Tear Your Love Apart/Charley Patton Songs/Woman! Man!/All Too Much/Cry On Demand/Don't Make Me Laugh

I love Gomez. 'Nuff said.


Isobell Campbell & Mark Lanegan-Ballad Of The Broken Seas

Deus Ibi Est/Black Mountain/The False Husband/Ballad Of The Broken Seas/Revolver/Ramblin' Man/(Do You Wanna) Come Walk With Me?/Saturday's Gone/It's Hard To Kill A Bad Thing/Honey Child What Can I Do?/Dusty Wreath/The Circus Is Leaving Town

You would think the combination of Mark Lanegan's cigarette and whiskey abused voice would totally clash with Isobel Campbell's twee European stylings, right? WRONG! This album is something special.


Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminals Starvation League-The Longest Meow

Bionic Beginning/The Heart Bionic/Gun Show/Back To Blue/Sticky Chemical/Uh Wuh Oh/Demon Valley/Mayonaise Brain/Snuggling World Championships/Borrow Your Cape/Where Is My Mind/Stop Crying

I love Bobby Bare Jr. 'Nuff said.


World Party-Dumbing Up

Another Thousand Years/What Does It Mean Now?/Til I Got You/Who Are You?/Here Comes The Future/I Thought You Were A Spy/High Love/Best Place I've Ever Been/Santa Barbara/You're A Hurricane/See The Light/Always On My Mind

I had this disc since 2000. Only problem was I had to order it from England for $30 and change. World Party had a resurgence this year and re-released the entire catalogue, including Dumbing Up, in the U.S. It was priced very low and includes a DVD of all kinds of goodies.


notables: Pink Mountaintops-Axis Of Evol, Grandaddy-Just Like The Fambly Cat, Rhett Miller-The Believer, Golden Smog-Another Fine Day, M. Ward-Post War


Top 10 Live Songs of 2006

(or 12...who's counting)

(Click the song titles to watch)


'Love & Communication'-Cat Power

Sunday July 9

When I got to Hartwood I noticed that there were no barriers blocking the the front of the stage that they installed last year. Little did I know she would jump off the stage for 'Love & Communication' and sing it in the audience. What a great time. Best show of the year. Best disc of the year. Go, Chan!


'The Ballad Of The Little Man'-World Party

Sunday August 27

I waited 20 years to hear this song and damn if it wasn't worth the wait. A truly magical moment for me (as you can hear by my totally inappropriate reaction). Ah, fuck it.


'Seven Languages'-Camper Van Beethoven

Monday January 16

I waited 19 years to hear this song and damn if it wasn't worth the wait. Two days later they debuted 'Surprise Truck' at a show. Motherfucker, and I missed it!


'It's A Long Line (But It Moves Quickly)'-The Mendoza Line

Sunday March 12

Shannon and Timothy seemed to pull this out of the air after a request from the audience. Beautiful.


'Strahan Has Corralled The Freaks'-Centro-Matic

Friday April 7

'Picking Up Too Fast'...'Calling Thermatico'...'Biology Tricks'...hard to pick one song from this set. First time seeing them and damn if they weren't fucking great. Standing next to Micah from Two Cow Garage while he deliriously freaked out during 'Strahan...' was pretty cool.


'My New Friends'-Local Honey

Friday May 26

This was the first song I ever heard from Local Honey. This was my first time seeing Local Honey. 'Nuff said.


'Lady Godiva And Me'-Grant Lee Phillips

Sunday August 6

I waited 12 years to hear this song and damn if it wasn't worth the wait. I was so into it I didn't bother taking video. Here's some 'Fuzzy' from the night.


'The Longest Stare'-Norfolk & Western

Wednesday June 28

Seeing N&W twice this year was a treat. This song was from their opening slot for Devotchka. The song wasn't released yet and sounded reeeeeaaaally good. Rachel is such a killer drummer. 


'Your Adorable Beast'-Bobby Bare Jr.

Wednesday June 14

 He opened his set with a solo '...Beast' that  put me in a very good mood. Holy hell, I was so totally hammered by the end of this show.


'City Of Dreams'-Marah

Sunday February 12

Even though this took place on a Sunday night which is always a drag, there was no opener scheduled and the band (as well as the audience) were in a very, very good mood. For some reason 'City Of Dreams' sounded just exactly perfect that night. Another highlight was the bar brawl midway through their set. Good times.


'Eyes Down'-Eels

Saturday June 10

I had one Eels disc and wasn't at all familiar with the songs played in the set. Regardless, this show was fucking solid. I was turning to people throughout the concert saying how great they sounded and their reaction was, "Meh". Were we listening the same group? They were smoking...and they were the opener! The clip shows E directing Krazy Al towards some rowdy fans. Classic!


'Barfight Revolution, Power Violence'-Margot And The Nuclear So & So's

Monday February 13

There was NOBODY at this show and they still rocked the fuck out. I definitely give them a lot of credit for delivering that night.


'Timebomb'-Rhett Miller & The Believers

Friday April 14

This show was a blast. His tunes were very infectious that night and although the cheese factor was sky high, I, and several other friends, walked out saying how much fun the show was. Rhett solo on 'Timebomb' will always make my top performances of the year.


 

'Empty Basket'-The Deliberate Strangers

Sunday August 13

This was a very cool little set. I remember the day being absolutely stunning, probably the nicest of the year. Low humidity, bright sunshine and ice cold Yuenglings in the early afternoon? They could have read the dictionary from the stage and I would've still had a good time.


notables: 'Mean Joe Green'-Local Honey(11/12), 'Confidence Man'-Oakley Hall(9/6), 'I Am Your Tambourine'-Tift Merritt(8/11), 'Blue Moon Rising'-Gomez(6/25), 'Letter To Bowie Knife'-Calexico(6/24), 'Teasing And Pleasing'-Home(6/10), 'I Can Tell Your Love Is Waning'-The Drams(10/15), 'Zip City'-Drive-By Truckers(10/15), 'Blindfolded'-Deadstring Brothers(11/11), 'In The Countryside'-Benjy Ferree(11/17), 'Sweetness And Light'-Portastatic(11/17), 'Risking Life And Limb For The Coupon'-Bound Stems(4/1), 'No Dance Now'-dios malos(2/15), 'It Is Safe'-matt pond pa(2/15), 'Second Son'-Elliott Brood(3/12), 'Imaginary Bars'-Great Lake Swimmers(3/12),'I Would Have Married You'-Tim Easton(7/13)'Cardinal Points'-The Essex Green(6/24)


Tours I missed this year ('cause Pittsburgh's beat): Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins/Okkervil River/Neko Case/The Sadies/The Minders/Band Of Horses/Glossary/Midlake/The Hold Steady...maybe next year.

March 19


Late to the party

Older music I discovered this year


Local Honey-Local Honey

(2005)

My New Friends/Glore/Old ways/Look At The Flames/Selfish & Weak/Light Of My Life/Pious Kind/Ghost/Mean Joe Green/Honey Don't/Run

This is one of my favorite bands around. They're local, they're good and I can see them anytime. They released their self-titled sophomore effort a few months before 2006 and discovered them in the spring. I hope they stick around for awhile and release some more great music. Ya' hear me Becky?


Neko Case-Blacklisted

(2002)

Things That Scare Me/Deep Red Bells/Outro With Bees/Lady Pilot/Tightly/Look For Me (I'll Be Around)/Stinging Velvet/Pretty Girls/I Missed The Point/Blacklisted/I Wish I Was The Moon/Runnin' Out Of Fools/Ghost Wiring

I snagged Neko's live disc in '94 and it easily made my top ten. That voice! When 'Fox Confessor...' came out this year and again easily made my top ten I had to go and get her entire back catalogue. All of it is great but this release stands out to these ears. I can't wait to see her live someday.


The Brian Jonestown Massacre-Tepid Peppermint Wonderland: A Retrospective

(2004)

Disc One: All Around You (Intro)/Who?/When Jokers Attack/Servo/Open Heart Surgery/If Love Is The Drug/It Girl/Sailor/Straight Up And Down/Anenome/Wisdom/Just For Today/Stars/Vacuum Boots/Prozac Vs. Heroin/She's Gone/

Disc Two: Nailing Honey To The Bee/That Girl Suicide/Nevertheless/Evergreen/Starcleaner/Let Me Stand Next To Your Flower (Live)/Hide And Seek (Live)/In My Life/Mary Please/Talk-Action=Shit/Oh Lord/This Is Why You Love Me/Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth/Swallowtail (Live)/Feel So Good/Fucker/#1 Hit Jam/Ballad Of Jim Jones/Free And Easy Take 2/Stolen/Mansion In The Sky/Sue

I, along with many others, found out about these guys through the crazy movie DIG!. The 'rivalry' with The Dandy Warhols aside, the movie features some real fucked-up moments. What shines through is the BJM tunes which to me were like songs I knew all my life but never heard before. Sounds strange I know but picking up this excellent primer re-enforced the notion that I should have been into these guys in their chaotic heyday. I'm an asshole.


The Minders-Hooray For Tuesday

(1998)

Hooray For Tuesday*/Pauline/Joey's Pez/Comfortably Tucked Up Inside*/Yeah Yeah Yeah/Our Man In Bombay/I've Been Wondering*/More And More/Pass It Around/Red Bus*/Bubble/Frida

*-2004 Re-issue contains demos for these cuts

Throwing out a request for more recommendations from Elephant 6 bands, my man Salmon mentioned this band, and particularly, this disc. An INSTANT classic. Very Beatlesque bubbly pop. It sounds fresh with every spin and never gets old. One of my favorite bands now. Thanks Ben!


Elliot Brood-Tin Type

(2004)

Tin Type/Oh, Alberta/Edge Of Town/Only At Home/Cadillac Rust/Riding In Time

One of my absolute favorite discoveries of the year for me. I never heard of them before they were announced as an opener for The Mendoza Line. I picked up both their releases at the show and man, can this Canadian trio make Americana music. Think a Civil War-era outfit with fuzzed-out electric instruments. Oh, yeah!


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club-Howl

(2005)

Shuffle Your Feet/Howl/Devil's Waitin'/Ain't No Easy Way/Still Suspicion Holds You Tight/Fault Line/Promise/Weight Of the World/Restless Sinner/Gospel Song/Complication Situation/Sympathetic Noose/The Line

I've heard of this band before (I'm a real Brando nut) but never looked into them. They came to town on Valentine's Day (Tuesday) and no shit, that Friday I heard a radio performance and was very impressed. I immediately picked up this disc and I was blown away. I would have EASILY hit that show. Fuck me.


The Replacements-Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?: The Best of the Replacements

(2006)

Takin A Ride/Shiftless When Idle/Kids Don't Follow/Color Me Impressed/Within Your Reach/I Will Dare/Answering Machine/Unsatisfied/Here Comes A Regular/Kiss Me On The Bus/Bastards Of Young/Left Of The Dial/Alex Chilton/Skyway/Can't Hardly Wait/Achin' To Be/I'll Be You/Merry Go Round/Message To The Boys/Pool & Dive

Years ago Rolling Stone ranked the band's Let It Be release in the top 100 of something or other. I picked it up and it's always been a favorite of mine. At the time I grabbed the newly released All Shook Down and it didn't grab me. Sixteen years later I buy this comp and quickly realize I got some catching up to do. You can easily hear why they were one of the most influential bands of the 80's.


Liquor Giants-Every Other Day at a Time

(1998)

It's Raining Butterflies/Beautiful Flo/What's The New Mofo/Dearest Darling/Kentucky Lounge/l Never Mind/Medicine Ball Games/Multicoloured Hipshake/Meaningless/Meaningless/It Only Hurts When I Smile/Riverdale High/Caroline/I Know I'm Wrong/Summer School

My man, Timothy Bracy mentioned The Liquor Giants You're Always Welcome album as one of his favorite underrated releases of all time. I look in vain to find it and...nothing. I stumble upon this disc used for a few bucks and he is definitely on to something. This is really strong alternative pop/rock. Too bad finding out much about them is nearly impossible. Ah, the joy of digging up musical history.


Guided By Voices-The Best of Guided By Voices: Human Amusements At Hourly Rates

(2003)

A Salty Salute/Things I Will Keep/Everywhere With Helicopter/I Am A Tree/My Kind Of Soldier/14 Cheerleader Coldfront/Twilight Campfighter/Echos Myron/Learning To Hunt/Bulldog Skin/Captain's Dead/Tractor Rape Chain/Game Of Pricks/To Remake The Young Flyer/Hit/Glad Girls/Drinker's Peace/Surgical Focus/Cut-Out Witch/The Best Of Jill Hives/Hot Freaks/Shocker In Gloomtown/Chasing Heather Crazy/My Valuable Hunting Knife/The Official Ironmen Rally Song/Non-Absorbing/Motor Away/Teenage FBI/Watch Me Jumpstart/Exit Flagger/Back To The Lake/I Am A Scientist

In 2001 GBV were coming to town with My Morning Jacket and I was planning on going. I really didn't know much about them and was just about to dig in when they cancelled. I lost interest until they announced the group was breaking up so I decided to finally see what the buzz was about. You're reading that right, 32 tracks! They have a couple dozen or so releases and four box sets? Whew! Frontman Robert Pollard continued with his solo career this year and put out three albums (one a double) and word is he is working 9 releases next year! Damn.


Gram Parsons-The Complete Reprise Sessions

(2006)

Disc One (GP): Still Feeling Blue/We'll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning/A Song For You/Streets Of Baltimore/She/That's All It Took/The New Soft Shoe/Kiss The Children/Cry One More Time/How Much I've Lied/Big Mouth Blues/GP Radio Promo*/Gram Parsons Interview: How Did You Meet Emmylou Harris?, What Is The Story Behind "A Song For You?", What Is The Story Behind "The New Soft Shoe?", WBCN Interview With Maxine Sartori*/Sin City*

Disc Two (Grievous Angel): Return Of The Grievous Angel/Hearts On Fire/I Can't Dance/Brass Buttons/$1000 Wedding/Medley Live From Northern Quebec: Cash On The Barrelhead, Hickory Wind/Love Hurts/Ooh Las Vegas/In My Hour Of Darkness/Return Of The Grievous Angel (Instrumental)*/Gram Parsons Interview: Did You Sing "Hickory Wind" At The Grand Ole Opry?, What Differences Do You See Between Pure Country And Country Rock*

Disc Three (Alternate Takes): She/That's All It Took/Still Feeling Blue/Kiss The Children/Streets Of Baltimore/We'll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning/The New Soft Shoe/Return Of The Grievous Angel #1/In My Hour Of Darkness/Ooh Las Vegas/I Can't Dance/Sleepless Nights/ve Hurts/Brass Buttons/Hickory Wind/Sleepless Nights/The Angels Rejoiced Last Night

*-Bonus Tracks

I had a Gram disc but until this beautifully remastered and packaged set arrived I really didn't pay much heed. Now I certainly do.


Some of my favorite random photos of the year.


 

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