OFF MY ROCKER AT THE ART SCHOOL BOP
TOP MUSIC 2006
Well, I can say that this year my listening habits were dominated by two people: Morrissey and Jenny Lewis. When it came time to pick the top spots for both the album and singles lists, I found it impossible to separate the two of them. If you look at my 25-most-played list on my iPod, they both reign over the competition, taking over half the slots between them. Both triggered an incredible emotional response in me. Each artist has come up with a catchy record that is comfortable being both romantic and cynical. The tunes and the lyrics stayed in my head, fitting my mood whenever needed, and regardless of how many times I listened to them, they never lost their potency. Good on you both! Can a duet be far behind? May I suggest "Baby, It's Cold Outside"?
The Album List
1. Morrissey - Ringleader of the Tormentors
Jenny Lewis w/ the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
2. Cat Power - The Greatest - I'm one of those fans that has seen the many downward spirals of Chan Marshall, and actually avoided her for years after my first encounter with one of her infamous stage freak-outs. On The Greatest, she blossoms into a smooth soul crooner, finding a Dusty Springfield/saloon vibe heretofore absent from her material.
3. Christina Aguilera - Back to Basics - Oh, Christina! You did it, girl. Full graduation into something special and all your own. Your pop/jazz/hiphop mash-up is the recipe for longevity.
4. Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds - And you, sir! Major credit to you for having the guts to let Timbaland run wild with your career and making a progressive dance pop record that, if there is any justice, will be massively influential in the future. Yes, I used the word progressive. The prog was big this year (see Muse, My Chemical Romance, the Decemberists, etc.), but you're the only one who did it in this kind of context, with lengthy songs that morphed into other songs and then swirled back together, all the while remaining slinky, funky, emotional, and brash.
5. Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis - I hate solo albums where the performer sounds like he should have just kept the band name but the former Pulp frontman does it right, taking enough steps away from his past to sound new, but staying close enough not to alienate. The songs are a little more straightforward pop, but the sentiment is all Jarvis. Most of the sex talk is gone, replaced with slyly political lyrics and incisive social commentary, and a few love songs, too.
6. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere - Inventive soul. It's bubblegum as all hell, but with lasting flavor.
7. The Pipettes - We Are the Pipettes - Speaking of bubblegum...I'm sticking to my stand-by description: If Phil Spector was out on bail and producing a Grrl band in Olympia, this is what the result would be. Too, too much fun.
8. Johnny Boy - Johnny Boy - More Phil Spector, but these guys got their Spector education from Martin Scorsese films (and they have the samples to prove it). Maybe a little Huggy Bear in there, too.
9. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Ballad of the Broken Seas - I hated the Screaming Trees, but I actually prefer the first Gentle Waves album to most of the Belle & Sebastian records, so when the singer from the latter two meets the singer of the former, somewhere in the middle we get a smoke-drenched rebirth of Lee and Nancy.
10. Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit - Someone said, "C'mon, get happy," and these Scots listened. Just a perfect pop record with some punk and some Bowie showing through.
11. The Killers - Sam's Town
12. Muse - Black Holes & Revelations
13. My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade
14. The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
15. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones
16. My Latest Novel - Wolves
17. Kelis - Kelis Was Here
18. Mogwai - Mr. Beast
19. Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
20. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
21. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not
22. Lily Allen - Alright Still
23. Luke Haines - Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop
24. Outkast - Idlewild
25. Pet Shop Boys - Fundamental/Fundamentalism
Bottom of the list was reserved for the likes of We Are Scientists, the Dears, and Babyshambles. I am sure there were worse out there, but these were the least impressive of the things I actually elected to listen to.
The best live album of the year was Elvis Costello's My Flame Burns Blue, in which he performed with the Metropole Orkest at the North Sea Jazz Festival 2004. Second was Paul Weller's Catch Flame. The top compilations were the double-disc Massive Attack Collected, Pulp's Complete Peel Sessions, and the Marie Antoinette soundtrack for its mix of orchestral music, vintage new wave hits, and modern avant-garde techno. Anything that adds a symphonic intro to "Hong Kong Garden" is cool by me.
The Singles List
1. Morrissey - "You Have Killed Me"
Jenny Lewis w/ "The Watson Twins"
2. Christina Aguilera - "Ain't No Other Man"
3. Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy"
4. Johnny Boy - "Johnny Boy Theme"
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Gold Lion"
6. Jenny Lewis w/ the Watson Twins - "Rise Up With Fists!!"
7. Girls Aloud - "Whole Lotta History" - A holdover from a 2005 album wins as my favorite weepy ballad of 2006.
8. My Latest Novel - "The Reputation of Ross Francis" - One man's plea for entry into heaven, easily adopted by anyone who wishes to be seen clearly.
9. The Pipettes - "Pull Shapes"
10. Muse - "Supermassive Black Hole" - Funky and sexy, like if Prince could finally learn to rock as hard as he wants to.
11. Justin Timberlake w/ Timbaland - "Sexyback"
12. Belle & Sebastian - "The Blues Are Still Blue"
13. Morrissey - "The Youngest Was the Most Loved"
14. Franz Ferdinand - "L. Wells" - The Beatles come to life on a non-album A-side that shared a platter with "The Fallen."
15. The Raconteurs - "Steady As She Goes" - Kind of like the Yardbirds if they had ever figured out how to have a crossover hit.
16. The Pipettes - "You Kisses Are Wasted On Me"
17. The Killers - "When You Were Young" - On first listen it's not as mega as their earlier hits, but it tends to stick around, working its way into your head until you think it's always been there.
18. Jarvis Cocker - "Running the World"
19. Cat Power - "The Greatest"
20. Camera Obscura - "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" - A breezy summer single about the myopia of the time when puppy love becomes adult disappointment.
21. My Chemical Romance - "Welcome to the Black Parade" - Like a new, superhero Guns 'n' Roses or something. Or Queen, maybe. But with dark, gothic overtones. But it has that kind of bombast of both, and the sense of humor of Mercury & co. that suggests they don't take it as seriously as all that.
22. The Decemberists - "O Valencia" - I think this fell out of Morrissey's You Are the Quarry music folder and Colin Meloy snatched it up. (Compare: "First of the Gang to Die.")
23. Justin Timberlake w/ T.I. - "My Love"
24. Belle & Sebastian - "White Collar Boy"
25. Muse - "Knights of Cydonia"
Kristeen Young was definitely at the bottom of my list for most wretched singles, along with just about anything produced by Will.I.Am, like the Fergie crap. He even made Busta Rhymes reteaming with Kelis sound embarrassing.
Current Soundtrack: my 2006 singles playlist (all the way up to 23 before hitting "publish" - there were 175 on my list)
Current Mood: musical