Thursday, December 21, 2006
all or nothing



From Blown Speakers' End of Year Listfest, Vol. 2: LPs, EPs, and Re-Issues

It's funny that in a year when I wrote more about music (here and elsewhere) than ever before, I probably read less about music than anytime since I made the jump from leafing through print mags exclusively. Actually, I read a lot, but I didn't read a lot of things very closely. I browsed extensively, which perhaps speaks to the sheer volume of voices talking about the same sorts of things on the internet. Maybe that lack of attentiveness paid off a bit though, as there are at least a handful of records below that weren't instantaneously canonized by the blogosphere. That's not to say they're better, or even that you'll enjoy them, but at least it's something different, no?

As an aside, I'll note that the only music blogs that I read fairly in-depth every time they update are Frank's, Aaron's, and Carl's. If you're short on time, I suggest you do the same. That's no offense to anyone else, but if you didn't have time to read the CBC, Globe and Mail, and the Guardian, you'd at least make sure that you read the BBC. You know what I mean?

What follows are my twenty favourite long-players of 2006 (and then some). They're ranked in groups of five (and then alphabetical within in each group), because I honestly couldn't rank all the way from 1-20.

Casey Dienel - Wind-Up Canary
The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
Ladyhawk - Ladyhawk
The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
Joanna Newsom - Ys
I wrote about four of these in the year end roundup for Off-Centre, so if you'd like something a little longer, you can check it out online come January. The Hold Steady and Ys are pretty obvious choices, and Ladyhawk is an obvious one if you know my tastes at all. The consensus on the Fiery Furnaces record seems to be that it's mediocre for them, but other than the "EP," I think it's their most consistent work to date. On the other hand, maybe it's similar to following NYC Ghosts and Flowers with Murray Street. The latter was a good Sonic Youth record, but compared to its predecessor, it was a mind blowing return to form (yes, I hated Rehearsing My Choir that much). And then there's Casey Dienel. It's hard to say what's so refreshing about another female singer-songwriter with a piano, because there's nothing refreshing about that scenario at all. But Wind-Up Canary probably received more spins than any other record I owned this year. I'm sure someone's very aptly described her charm, but I certainly can't. Sometimes the best things are the ones you can't really put your finger on anyhow.

Be Your Own Pet - Be Your Own Pet
Cat Power - the Greatest
Destroyer - Rubies
Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up, I'm Dreaming...
The Greatest might be my least favourite of the Cat Power records from Moon Pix on. Something about how slick it sounds just isn't right. On the other hand, that same smoothness is what makes it so great too. Chan finally found a band that could craft arrangements as soulful as her voice. I'm not in the camp that thinks Rubies is Dan's best (not even close), but any Destroyer record is better than almost anyone's best effort. What can you say about Sunset Rubdown or Ghostface at this point? Probably not anything worthwhile that hasn't been said already. As for Be Your Own Pet it's actually not the record I wanted the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to put out. But in and of itself, their self-titled debut is the sound of everything that's great about youth, unleashed in all its glory.

The Blow - Paper Television
Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton - Knives Don't Have Your Back
Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That
Does loving the Blow and hating the Postal Service make me a hypocrite? I'm sure someone will say that, but Khaela Maricich's words, while still sweet and sugary, seem to carry a ton more weight than anything that's every escaped from between Ben Gibbard's lips. On that note, is loving Rabbit Fur Coat but loathing Rilo Kiley a bit strange too? Camera Obscura and Phoenix remain soundtracks of the summer, and will remind me of riding my bike in the evening until next June rolls around (yes, I'm aware that riding a bike with an iPod is dangerous and that I shouldn't do it). On the opposite side of the seasonal spectrum, the criticism that Knives Don't Have Your Back drags is absolutely true, but its slow plod is wonderfully fitting. Plus, while Emily's lyrics are usually buried under the discotheque shimmer of her Metric bandmates, the Skeleton are soft enough to let the rather wonderful words sink their way into your head.

The Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Jay Reatard - Blood Visions
Spank Rock - YoYoYoYoYo
TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
Final Fantasy and TVoTR squeak in there, with the former's latest not having near the staying power for me as Has a Good Home still does. My friend Kara gets massive props for sending me the one record on this entire list that hardly anyone else has said a peep about. I'm still so caught up in the sonics of the thing, that I'm sort of half afraid that the lyrics will be shockingly offensive once I pay attention to them. Speaking of, why is the tolerance for musicians saying things about - say - women that should normally incite outrage, so much higher than the level of tolerance you hold for - say - your uncle or neighbour saying the same thing? Is it because it's so stupid it comes full circle back to hilarious? Especially when it's backed by XXXChange's beats? For the record, rapping about selling coke doesn't really bother me at all.

Worth a mention: Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped, Hermane Dune - Giant, Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis, Women and Children - Paralyzed Dance Tonight, Jolie Holland - Springtime Can Kill You, Wolf Eyes - Human Animal, Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones, Hylozoists - La Fin du Monde, Man Man - Six Demon Bag, Parts & Labor - Stay Afraid, Pride Tiger - Wood Dahk Froese Payette, Ghostface Killah - More Fish

5 Bands, 7 EPs: anything that Voxtrot put out, Land of Talk - Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, Blue Grey Dots - s/t, the Paper Cranes - s/t, Catfish Haven - Please Come Back

Reissues: Pavement - Wowee Zowee, Saturday Looks Good to Me - Sound on Sound, the Exploding Hearts - Shattered

now playing: Casey Dienel - Cut Your Hair (Pavement Cover from the Daytrotter Session)

6 Comments:

what! casey dienel covering pavement... i need!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:53 PM  

The Knife?

By Anonymous sean orr, at 11:36 PM  

I think the Casey Dienel cover should still be on Daytrotter.com.

The Knife record was really good, but I just didn't find myself listening to it all that much. I also thought Deep Cuts was better, though I'm sure that puts me in the minority.

By Blogger Quinn, at 2:10 AM  

This is the first list I've seen that mentions More Fish in addition to Fishscale, good show. I'd also add Amy Winehouse's album Back To Black, the one Ghostface got You Know I'm No Good from, that girl's voice is astounding.

By Anonymous Matt, at 2:22 AM  

I think the knife record is very ordinary. I agree Rubies isn't Destroyer's best, This Night is still my fav, but yeah any destroyer is still great. Also like you mentioned Catfish Haven, really enjoyed your picks.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:08 PM  

Yeah I feel the same way about the Knife's latest, although I think it's far from 'ordinary', as Wayne put it. I like Silent Shout in the same way that I like Chris Cunningham videos, but there's only so many times that I'll watch Windowlicker or Rubber Johnny. The cinematics on Silent Shout are great but replayability is why I like Deep Cuts better (plus Heartbeats was my favorite track of last year).

By Anonymous Peter, at 12:51 PM  

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3/6 Slow Club w/Signals @ the Media Club
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3/18 Magnetic Fields @ the Vogue (AA)
3/21 Plants & Animals>/b> @ the Rickshaw
3/22 Drive-by Truckers @ the Commodore
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3/24 Sharon Van Etten and the War on Drugs @ the Biltmore (early)
3/25 Nada Surf and An Horse @ the Rickshaw
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4/5 House de Racket @ the Electric Owl
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4/7 Heartless Bastards @ the Media Club
4/8 Metronomy @ Venue
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