Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Top Albums of 2006

The 2006 Music Report

Am I the only person who finds that I listen to music differently in 2006? With leaks, the internets, terabyte hard drives, torrents, Ipods, blogs and message boards I found that I was inundated with access to new music. My appetite for music has become insatiable. I always want to be the first person to hear the newest release (or I should say soon-to-be released), I want to have the illest playlist. Basically I want my beat to be correct. And it is correct. But I used to have a few discs on repeat and let albums grow on me and fully digest them, now its like: ‘oh the shit leaked? I though that album doesn’t come out until Feb. 2007? Ah well, I have 14 minutes of free time to download the torrent.’
Honestly its not the same as when I was in junior high and waiting impatiently for months for the Tuesday when my album gets released. You would be begging your mom to drive you to the mall so you could go to Sunrise or HMV and buy your CD (or cassette). In some cases when your mom refused to drive you, waiting out in the rain for the #4 bus to take you to the mall so that you could get your tunes. Then riding back on the bus and ripping open the packaging and reading the liner notes. With all this new technology, we’ve gained an immediacy where you snap your fingers and you can have anything you want within a half hour, but I think we kinda devalued the product and more importantly the restless emotions of anticipation that came with buying records.
I’m not decrying the practice of downloading, because I download more than anyone out there. But I also buy records that I feel are worth buying. I just feel a little ambivalence is all. I actually don’t have and Ipod….yet. Not because I am fundamentally opposed to them, but because they are pretty damn expensive, also I get the whole ‘it holds 4.5 million songs’ thing but really you can only listen to one at a time so what’s the rush. That’s why I still fuck with cassettes (I like making mix tapes) and why I indulged my nü-retro tendencies and bought my first vinyl LP this year. My collection is slowly growing, but it will help me balance my impulse to download every new song, when I can just throw on some wax and vibe to that. Anyways, that’s how I feel about the state of music in my life in 2006 and here are my lists.

Best Albums of 2006

#15) MF DOOM-Metal Fingerz Presents: Special Herbs the Box Set vols. 0-9

Terrible Way to start off my list seeing as how this was essentially a compilation album of instrumentals of old material. But I don’t care, this 3 disc box set has 80-plus tracks of DOOM’s genius. I love him as an MC, but this record highlighted, and made me appreciate his production skills much more.

#14) Pearl Jam S/T
They were one of my favourite bands right when I was just getting into music around grade 4. I was one of the fans who didn’t have the attention span or the patience to bear with them in the post Vitalogy era. But this album picks up where Vitalogy left off, and is filled with political vitriol for the current state of the world. Against all odds Pearl Jam managed to become very relevant again.

#13) The Dears-Gang of Losers
I never really got into The Dears until now but this album is great. I don’t think that the Morrissey/Damon Albarn comparisons are necessary. Murray’s song writing and voice are strong enough to stand on their own two.

#12) Billy Talent-II

This was a great album filled with lots of nervous energy and songs about not being comfortable about where you are. I should really give this another listen. It a lot harder and more urgent sounding than the first Billy Talent record.

#11) J-Dilla- Donuts
Have I become one of those muppets, who laud the genius of an artist after they pass away, while basically ignoring their brilliance while they were still here? I guess I am. The truth is that J-Dilla’s production is ubiquitous throughout the catalogue of many of my favourite hip hop records (De La Soul, Tribe, Common, Erykah Badu, Busta, Mos Def, Pharcyde, GURU) but I just didn’t realize it was him until after he died. It’s a shame that many talented artists receive more praise in death than they did in life. Even worse how we try and piggyback on their legacies. With all that aside, this collection of instrumental shards is amazing. And even more amazing that he crafted most of these tracks on a hospital bed. That’s passion. R.I.P. Dilla.

#10) Yeah Yeah Yeahs-Show Your Bones
Not as good as Fever to tell. It kinda feels like YYY-lite. This is still good because Karen O’s voice is equal parts serene and chaotic, but some of the more up-tempo tracks suffered from over-production, that was too slick.

#9) Nas- Hip Hop is Dead
Upon further review, this one could either drop off the list (like Street Disciple did) or go higher. It doesn’t even come out until this Tuesday, but I gave it a few spins and really like the production. ‘Black Republicans’ is a crazy track that officially puts the Jay-Z beef to rest. ‘Who Killed It’ is hit or miss, I think that it is extremely creative. But does have ‘cringe-worthy’ potential. The Dre track is wild but unfortunately he decided to have Gayme on it. My main critique was on the decision to use the same Iron Butterfly sample on the lead-off single as he did on the last album. I like this one, I thought thief’s theme was kinda whack. Either way, solid record.

#8) MSTRKRFT-The Looks
Yeah I was pissed when DFA1979 broke up. But when I heard that JFK and Al-P were releasing an LP for their electro-house outfit, I was interested. This record will destroy your tweeters. Only 8 tracks, but it pumps from start to finish. This album reintroduced me to electro and opened a whole new door of house music to me. I’m serious these tracks will make you wanna dance and they will wreck your speakers.

#7) Ratatat-Classics
My 3rd instrumental album on the list? (4th if you count MSTRKRFT) How pretentious. In all honesty, this record is funkier than the first Ratatat joint but doesn’t flow as well. Nostrand is far and away the best track on there, absolutely perfect for cruising. Again one of the most unique sounds you will ever hear.

#6) Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere
Suicidal ideation, necrophilia, societal alienation, psychopathology and depression. Who would’ve thought that the year’s most accessible album would be one with lyrical content that dealt with such macabre subject matter? I’m not too cool to admit that I liked Crazy (aka: Hey Ya! 2006). Yeah this became the pop record that united indie hipsters and soccer-moms alike. But I’m not too cool to admit that the songs were brilliant, the production was avant guard and Ceelo’s falsetto was dominating. How cool can I be? I’m writing my favourite album list for the 3rd year in a row.

#5) TV on The Radio-Return to Cookie Mountain
Some bands and their sound suffer from more intense, higher quality production (YYYs) and some bands benefit. Guess what side TVOTR fall on. The percussion on this record fleshed out what was missing on the first record. The thing that I like about this band and this record is that they are able to create an atmospheric sound with songs and melodies that draw you into this weird place but lets you explore different layers of the songs. The interplay between the vocals (both lead and background) and the guitars are amazing.

#4) The Roots-Game Theory
?uestlove is one of the best drummers alive. All of these tracks are driven by the percussion and Black Thought’s lyrics weave in and out of the drumbeat. Its too bad that the band is so good, that Black Thought's skill as an MC gets overlooked. A very political record but also a bunch of introspective tracks as well. Released on a monster label, but it stays true to rest of the Roots’ catalogue.

#3) Ghostface Killah-Fishscale
Tony Starks frantic lyrical delivery with DOOM’s production? It’s a wrap. This was by far the best rap record of 2006. And some of the best tracks (Charlie Brown) didn’t even make the final cut. The thing that prevents this from being the best album of the year are the cover (shoulda stayed with the original), the sequencing (I start the album at track 12 and repeat it all the way back to 11) and like most rap records, a few skits too many.

#2) The Strokes-First Impressions of Earth
A lot of people hated on this record. This is ironic, because the critique was that the 2nd Strokes album sounded too much like the first. And the common critique was that this one didn’t sound enough like its predecessors. Which is true, but different is a good thing in the case of the Strokes. The songs are all crafted without regard for the classic ‘verse-chorus-verse’ song structure and free of any cliché. I think it was a triumph. The guitar work was a lot more sophisticated and Jules Casablancas actually sang with some emotion on these tracks. This might (MIGHT) be the best Strokes album to date.

#1) Spank Rock-Yoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyo
I wanna be clear: this record was without question the record of the year. Nobody else was even close. Once I heard it, it was a competition for second. The most exciting thing to happen to music in a long time. The production is wild: funky and grimey yet fluid and fresh. That description made absolutely no sense. But it’s not because my vocabulary is weak, but because Spank Rock is so good that no written description can do it justice. You really have to hear it to understand what it’s all about. But one thing is clear: it is fun, dirty, and phat. I think that their myspace describes their sound like: Fat Girls popping champagne in a Jacuzzi. That is so accurate it’s not even funny. These songs are perfect for every scenario: clubbing, cruising, shagging, head nodding, working out, whatever. Basically perfect for living. Perfect for everything except studying, and that’s only because when you hear it, you wanna shake your shit. Honestly Spank Rock is killin’ it. Yoyoyoyoyo holds the crown because it is completely original, nothing out there sounded like it, and the songs never got old and never failed to put a smile on my face.

Worst Albums of 2006
12 tracks, one listenable one. Did I mention, that I REALLY miss Rage Against the Machine?
Outkast-Idlewild OST
As much as I miss RATM and Face to Face and Death From Above 1979, at least those bands had the courtesy to break up rather than staying together and putting out shitty records. I mean this album has what 20 tracks and only 2 where they rap together (along with Snoop and L’il Weasel to serve as a buffer). Oh yeah and the title is ‘Hollywood Divorce’? Just break up already, fuck.
Angels and Airwaves-We don’t Need To Whisper
Tom promised his new band would have the ‘conceptual depth of Pink Floyd and the anthemic architecture of U2.’ Really? Word? This is coming from the guy who ran all over town naked in his video, titled an album ‘Take of Your Pants and Jacket’ and wrote Ben Wah Balls? I haven’t heard anything more pretentious in my life.
The Streets- The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
This hurts me because the two previous Streets albums are two of my all time favourites. But I just can’t relate to this one. I can relate to being broke, drunk and feckless. I can’t relate to cocaine binges, buying Ferraris or dating models and pop stars…although if you know anyone….
(+44)-When Your Heart Stops Beating
Not as bad as AvA, but not as good as Blink 182 was. Yeah that’s right I liked Blink-182. After all, I was once in high school. There is one good song on this record: ‘Make You Smile’ sounds like a mixture of The Postal Service and Blink which is what I was told this record would sound like. But I guess when Carol Heller left the band, they just got 2 of the most ‘punk looking’ guys that they could find and decided to re-name their band Blink-226.
Clipse-Hell Hath No Fury
This was the most over hyped hip-hop album of all time. It has been shelved for 3 years and all we were told is that it was a classic. It was just so hot they couldn’t release it because of the hotness. After the mixtape, that was a realistic expectation. But it really seems like the Neptunes just kept all of their minimalist beats from the past 3 years and Clipse threw some lazy rhymes about selling dope behind them.
Jay-Z-Kingdom Come
Great production. Lazy rhymes about being the Mike Jordan of Rap and the new darling of the corporate world. Why don’t you stop making records and go back to hanging out with Fall Out Boy, Rhianna and Louis XIV.
Beck-The Information
I almost bought this, just so that I could play with the stickers, but then I listened to it and was so bored that I realized I wouldn’t be able to stay awake long enough to create my own album cover. Boring.
RHCP-Stadium Arcadium
ZZZZ boring. I mean I like Tom Petty too, but a double album of Tom Petty covers? Actually this album was so boring that i couldn't even listen to the whole thing, maybe I just caught the boring songs.
Foo Fighters-Skin and Bones
Obviously Dave Grohl thinks that a live acoustic record means playing the soft songs at a slower tempo. This doesn't work, B its just boring. The only arrangement on this album that I can stand to listen to is 'Next Year'. I am weary of comparing Foo Fighters to Nirvana, but Unplugged Live in New York was good because it gave the songs a new light and showed a haunting, darker side of Nirvana that was burried under layers of distorted guitars. Skin and Bones reveals how boring Foo Fighter songs are when you play them slowly.

Some more Good Records

Alexisonfire- Crisis
I was never big into AOF but I heard the first single thought it was good. And the rest of the album is even better. I like the fact that AOF has 3 different vocalists with three different sounds, its like having 3 diferent bands in one. Something that QOTSA perfected.
Arctic Monkeys-Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I am Not
Seeing as how these blokes are only 19, this album is solid. Call it what you want: post-punk, garage rock-britpop. Just call it good cuz that's what it is.
Sway-This is my Demo
Hillarious, witty British rap with a very smooth flow. Its great to hear a British Rapper without gimmicks (like trying to be über-british or trying to be American). Sway is what he is, a second Generation East Londoner (via Ghana) with a sick flow.
The Coup-Pick a Bigger Weapon
Proof that ultra-political music can be be funky. Boots Riley kills it as a lyricist. And no album cover drama this time. (album art was created in June 2001, months before the September 11th attacks)
Peaches-Impeach My Bush
Best Album Title Ever. This album had some really great cameos (Josh Homme, Joan Jett, Feist), and Peaches minimalist production is creates a very sexy, aggresive sound. Her lyrics are intimidating though. I like her, but I'm pretty sure I'm afraid of her. She really doesn't give a fuck. On this album she really bridges the gap between sexual dissent and political dissent. Her originality and fearlessness is what I like about her.
Eagles of Death Metal- Death by Sexy
'It ain't Bible Study, it's rock 'n roll'-Jesse 'The Devil' Hughes. Truer words haven't been spoken.
The Zutons-Tired of Hanging Around
I like the Zutons. I like this record. I like the fact that they have a saxophonist in their band. And I like the fact that they play psychedelic funk, and mix it with birtpop. Just a good record.
Boot Camp Click-The Last Stand
The best hiphop supergroup of all time. (Sorry Wu-Tang). These songs are raw, gritty, authentic street hiphop. Unrelated but this was also the best rap show I've seen in a long time these songs sound even better live.

Meh...the rest of them

These are OK albums that weren't great, weren't bad. They just didn't inspire me or draw my ire. But I might throw 'em on if there's nothing else to listen to (which never happens)
Lupe Fiasco-Food and Liquor
Should be called Oatmeal and Water cause it is so bland.
Yeah I like to cover Led Zeppelin songs too. But I didn't build my whole public persona around that fact. Oh yeah, and just because you are a white guy with an afro, doesn't mean that your band sounds anything like Mars Volta.
Ludacris-Release Therapy
The cover looks like an R+B record.
Thom Yorke- The Eraser
'Radiohead-lite and electrolycized.' Got that out of your system Thom? Good, now get to work on the new Radiohead album.
The Raconteurs-Broken Boy Soldiers
Oh Jack White's in theis band? And he's got a real drummer? Great, these songs are still kinda boring.
Busta Rhymes-The Big Bang
Touch it, Move it, Play it, Watch it.....for the millionth time.

Stuff I downloaded, but haven't really listened to yet (tell me if its good)

Jr. Boys
Hot Chip
The Black Keys

OK I think that outta cover it. Until next year. (two weeks)

Eagerly Anticipating

Bloc Party (even though I've had it for a month)
QOTSA (is JFK on this or what?)
PJ Harvey
The Good The Bad and The Queen


I must admit I always look forward to the end of the year so I can read your insights on a year's worth of music. Here are my comments...on your comments:

J Dilla. Definitely an amazing producer who is getting more fanfare post-humously than he did while he was alive. Give a listen to 'The Shining', which was released in Aug (or sometime close). It is a little rough around the edges, and you can tell that it was finished off after he died, but it is still worth considering. Pour out a little louie for J dilla.

SPANK ROCK! Yesssssssssssss. Yes, nana, good on you. I love their sound and their beat and their lyrics. Hot damn does it put a smile on my face. Everytime.


yeah, most of the tracks sucked, but the first half of the album was far better than the second. I think the track I liked the best was the interlude when Pampoo and Cross (the little dudes) were rapping. You are right though, album was poo and the movie is prolly even worse.

The Clipse:

okay, so it was overhyped. But can you deny that "Mr. Me Too" has an awesome beat and is hot?? Maybe it is old now, since it was released so far in advance of the rest of the album, but "Hello New World" is not a bad second track. I think you were hard of this album. I have a lot of respect for the Neptunes' beats and The Clipse's flow. S'all there is to it.

To listen in the future:

Hot Chip-most definitely listen to one or all of their albums. Excellent. And also wonderful.

Mogwai-I have to admit that I am kinda over them, but if you haven't gotten on the band wagon, there is no reason to get off it. Try "Mr. Beast". It is a noisier album than the others, but I really liked tracks like Glasgow Mega Snake for a while.

Dunno how you feel about female vocalists, but if you feel like a modern motown sound, try Amy Winehouse. Great voice, great tracks. Take a listen to "Frank" before her other album.

Also, get some DJ Diplo podcasts, and tell me if you like him. I think he is pretty hot right now.

hmmmmm, I am sure I have obsessively listened to other people this year, but can't seem to remember at the moment. Hope you are well and that we can chill a little in 2007.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?