2006 - a personal top 10.


11 déc. 2006, 12h42m

Damn it - a top 10 is so difficult!

In the true spirit of democracy - I LOVE almost everything I've got this year. I don't tend to buy much stuff on a whim (and especially not on media endorsement), there seems to be some sort of intuition involved and I'll get 'that feeling' about a band or an album and almost know they'll fit me perfectly. I'm not saying everything I own is the shit, but its done me well so far.

Which brings me back to the charts - you can really discard the numbering system as its very loose -
there's stuff here that I haven't actually listened to anywhere near as much as others but this is often music dependent on context, and I can still say that I love it despite what my charts say.

10. Alex Smoke - Paradolia
The last year has seen my re-interest in all things electronic really snowball. There is alot of stuff new to me this year but that has been released any time in the last 15 years that I've really been loving that obviously won't be represented in these charts but this album has been one of those thats bridged the gap. To my ears its like a dark pop album, like a mute Junior boys jamming in a piss ridden subway. At many times it reminds me of what I love about 'Dubnobasswithmyheadman' era Underworld - especially 'Never want to see you again' with its disembodied lyrics.

9. Various Artists - A Raga For Peter Walker
A new musical avenue for me has been the whole post-Fahey acoustic guitar school. I can't quite put my finger on why it gets me so much but apart from the amazing technicality of the playing, the hypnotic, deeply repetitive raga style swirls of notes that spiral from this 'genre' do, tacky as it sounds, transport me somewhere. This album is here because of its broader take on the Raga idea - represented at its best by Jack Rose, James Blackshaw, Greg Davis, Steffen Basho-Junghans - even Thurston Moore turns in a distortion enveloped meditation on a single chord, and Peter Walker - a new 'old' name for me in this style of music - includes some amazing tracks.
At this point can I also admit that I still don't own a John Fahey album!

8. Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
Not much to say here I guess - excellent electronic pop with lyrics that own't grow twee (like Postal Service has) and some of my favourite crisp, fat synth bass sounds - Double Shadow, Like a Child and In the Morning my faves.

7. Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
Just had to represent the Youth - but this isn't a sympathy vote - Rather Ripped is their best album in a long time. Last years 'Sonic Nurse' definitely had some good tracks (and some duff) but this one rocks from start to finish. It's surprising to think that for a band that were avant from the start, their sound really hasn't progressed much at all - the main Sonic Youth 'landmarks' are there in every album - they're still essentially noisy rock with the occasional noise freak-out so no points really for evolution .... but they do what they do very well.

6. Belong - October Language
I guess the 'emotional, melodic washes of noise' market is never going to get that crowded. You have to disregard the question of whether one artists sounds too similar to another (they all essentially do) and just consider 'is it good', does it tap into some reservoir of feeling and the first time I heard the title track from this (and then played it about 6 times in a row) - I can safely say it does. Have only just picked up Tim Hecker's Harmony in Ultraviolet (my first of his) and at the moment it looks like that could equally take this spot but its a little early to tell.

5. Islands - Return to the Sea
Straight up fun, summer, diverse interesting quirky indie pop. With this kind of quirky americana everything has to be right for the listeners personally tastes for a particular band to work. Don't quite like the guys accent? A little to nasally and hyper in the voice? - It ain't gonna work for me... Lyrics too self consciously abstract or quirky? - I can see through their game - fakers!... A few too many instruments in the mix trying to sound too 'eclectic collective'? - stop trying so hard, I'm going back to Pavement.
Well for me here, all the ingredients were perfect.

4. Hot Chip - The Warning
Ok - Hate the first track. Just hate the beat and the instrumentation but I can see it could be a great song. But from then on in this album is just fantastic and contains a few of the year's tracks - Over and Over, And I was a boy from school, Colours and the title track are just pop perfection.

3. James Yorkston - Year of the Leopard
A very understated entry at number 3. There is a strong quiet beauty here that makes it, for me, Yorkston's best album yet. The strings (I'm a sucker for a good dark cello line) work so well here (Bonnie Prince Billy take note) - even the 'talky' track - Woozy with Cider' (I normally hate 'talky' tracks) is great with its tired, been there sense of humour.

2. Clark - Body Riddle
Aphex Twin's 'Chosen Lords' album is conspicuous here by its absence. There was never any question of whether I'd buy it but I was really disappointed and it feels like Clark's sound really does represent something new and interesting. The Single 'Throttle Furniture' was one of they very few non eMusic digital purchases I made this year and I think the quality it showed really made the wait for an album a long one - and it didn't disappoint. It is sprawling - trampling on all corners of the electronic world - but with a consistent quality, mood and attention to drama and detail that holds it all together as a really impressive piece of work

1. Tunng - Comments of the inner chorus
I have to admit to only 'quite liking' Tunng when I first heard them. It took me a while to get into their sound on 'This is....' - it was generally a darker less coherent offering. A certain darkness has remained, particularly in tunng's lyrics, but the new album has brought a playfulness to their sound (which itself feels like its been fattened up) that makes this album of the year for me. It took a while to grow - though the brilliance of first single 'Woodcat' got me immediately. Maybe personality plays a big role in feelings for a band - having seen them live twice now, going home and listening to an album is, for me, much more rewarding when it appears to have been made by a thoroughly likeable gang of folk.

*******Breaking News***********
Mistagged mp3 files cause chart top scandal.
I thought the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! self titled first album was 2005 but thanks to critic I've been set straight and the fact that it was released in the UK in 2006 makes it joint number 1 on top of the chart. I've been known to listen to this whole album up to 3 times over in a row throughout this year - every track (bar track 1) is unadulterated indie gold.

And what chart would be complete without a 'bubbling under' section These should all really be included above too but...
Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
Thom Yorke - Eraser
Isolée - Western Store
Espers - Espers II
Juana Molina - Son
Six Organs of Admittance - Sun Awakens
Chihei Hatakeyama - Minima Moralia
Micah P. Hinson - Micah P. Hinson And The Opera Circuit
Squarepusher - Hello Everything
Jolie Holland - Springtime Can Kill You
Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
Joanna Newsom - Ys

And a little disappointments list.
M Ward - Post War
Cat Power - The Greatest
Bonnie Prince Billy - The letting go... though I think I need to persevere with this one.


  • Nialloleary

    I really like this list as I can see it's really honest and you haven't fallen into the trap of just picking out 10 cool releases! (like me:) I'm adding the notes on 9, 6, 5 & 3 to my own new music journal as they aren't on my musical radar. Of the ones I do know the only one I take issue with is Junior Boys has some fantastic tracks but descends into tweeness a little to much for my liking :) Here's some I thought you might have on your list; Nathan Fake--Drowning In A Sea Of Love (beautiful electronica) Burial--Burial (Dubstep album of the year) Grizzly Bear--Yellow House (I know you have this but don't like it too much...why?) Midlake--The Trials of Van Occupanther (for the track Young Bride alone) Yo La Tengo--I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass...another return to form non? TV on the Radio--Return To Cookie Mountain (Ok just because it's cool!)

    11 déc. 2006, 23h31m
  • scarsandglasses

    the bonnie prince billy album was really disappointing I totally agree. For m. ward, post war is better than transistor radio but still far from his firsts albums. here's some names from my top you might like : Kaada - Music for moviebikers Matt Elliott - Failing songs Patrick Watson - Close to Paradise

    12 déc. 2006, 11h59m
  • skerzo

    I should have put Midlake in the bubbling under bit really - I only got it in the last few weeks so its still growing on me but certainly there's a bunch of excellent tunes on there. I've heard alot about nathan fake but not got hold of any yet. As far a burial goes, I must admit to not going a whole bundle on the dubstep stuff - I was never big into drum&bass which might explain my apathy, but will probably check out some of the burial stuff on eMusic out at some point. Grizzly bear - No, I've got the first album which I think is ok - don't know how the latest one compares. Yo La tengo - again, pretty good but their albums are usually 50/50 affairs for me. TV on the radio - no comment - I know nothing! Scarsandglasses - thanks for the tips - have heard of Matt elliot but not the others... yet! Yeah - 'Post War' was pretty safe AOR for me - bar a couple of standout tracks. I still quite like his very 'valvey', vintage analog sound tho...

    12 déc. 2006, 13h25m
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