23 December, 2006

2006: Music much?

I know that not many of you will plough through this update, as it concerns my own musings on music and why I think these particular albums are good and blah blah. At least scroll down and look at the pretty pictures, hmm? I'm not saying these are the best albums of the year, I'm saying they're the best ones I heard. There's a ton of stuff I didn't hear, and a ton of country albums I'm sure I would have loved if I heard the whole thing (Trace Adkins, etc.)

This list is also up or will soon be up on the Citypaper website. I feel bad about having bands like the Flaming Lips on there, as I'm sure theirs was surely not one of the true best albums released this year, but give me a break. This was a low year in terms of musical expansion for me. I went backward and sideways in time, and expanded the scope of knowledge on several artists instead of making an effort to discover new stuff.

Anyhow, here goes.

1. The Slip Eisenhower (Bar/None Records)
Definitely a more refined studio album from a band that stakes their reputation as a live act. Lots of succinct versions of songs they've been playing live for a few years such as Children of December, Airplane, and Paper Birds. They still retain that live feel to the release while making obvious strides in the studio.


2. Tom Waits Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (Anti)
Tom Waits is one of my favorite artists ever, so this is more of a fanboy inclusion. The three-disc set has more Waits than can be handled at once, but the older stuff puts his entire body of work on display. I think he's definitely an artists that has flown about as under the radar as someone with his level of achievement can get.


3. The Tressels Prison Wine (Self-released)
This local band from Drexel Hill, Pa. has a great sound, as if they just got drunk in the basement of some suburban house and wrote the booziest rock they could muster. I think that's actually what went on. I'm sure nobody reading this has heard this album or heard of this band, but if they keep on going down the track they're on, they'll either be dead or famous by the end of '07.

4. One Dead Three Wounded Moving Units (1x1 Music)
Again, another local band tearing shit up, only in a very productive way. This listens like American Nightmare meets Bane; that is to say, it's fucking hard. This was one of the first CD's I reviewed for Wonkavision, and along with the Tressels, is the only CD which I've given a 5/5. It's simply good hardcore, no frills.


5. Converge No Heroes (Epitaph/Ada)
I am not a fan of metal or noise rock, but the way Converge fuses the two really gets me. I loved You Fail Me when it came out two years ago, and No Heroes follows up nicely. They've gotten away from the experimentation with singing and gone back to the vicious thrashing style of old.


6. Badly Drawn Boy Born in the U.K. (Astralwerks/Emd)
It's very slow and meandering, almost soporific, but would you have BDB any other way? The guy consistently does three hour-plus shows, and the album definitely shows it. Damon Gough really doesn't give a shit about anything but his music, including the patience of his listeners, and I appreciate that.


7. Zox The Wait (Side One Dummy)
Think Yellowcard, only with integrity. Oh yeah, and significantly less pomade. Zox sounds like it's about 6 burly dudes, but really all that big noise is coming from the violin of Spencer Swain. He creates all sorts of ridiculous sounds with that thing, all while scowling. This guy has some serious talent, and after hearing these songs live, I'm sold.


8. Norma Jean Redeemer (Tooth & Nail Records)
Again, not a huge fan of metal, but Norma Jean writes these epic songs that really just inspire awe, kind of like Heresi only less Swedish. This album sounds like some sort of horrible apocalyptic end of the world shit coming through the CD player, and I love it. The fact that it's god-fearing music makes it more impressive, because that's yet another genre I don't generally frequent.

9. Muse Black Holes and Revelations (Warner Bros/Wea)
These guys are so up front about their views it's almost impossible to appreciate their honesty, even if you don't agree with everything they have to say. Couple that with the epic arena-style songs and you've got a great band. Their newest album really goes for the throat, both lyrically and in the musicianship. I'd compare Muse with Old U2; not so much in the sound, but in the attitude.

10. The Flaming Lips At War with the Mystics (Warner Bros/Wea)
Kind of a throwaway pick. I like the Flaming Lips, but Mystics doesn't really break any new ground. That said, these guys are still far ahead of the radio rock or indie scene. I equate the experience of The Flaming Lips to eating a tub of cool whip. Sure it's light and fluffy, but damnit it gets heavy and sickening at the end.

So there it is. Like I said, not the best, but the best I've heard (that were released in 2006, discounting bootlegs and live shows.)

Also, I will not be crafting a list of 'Top songs' of '06 because that's a lot more work than generalizing an entire album. For good, NWO approved lists, see here and here.

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