Posts from Top 10 Records 2006

Top 10 Records of 2006 – Number Nine

With_a_gun
Every year I like to include at least one record that nobody has heard of (I don’t really mean nobody, but you know what I mean).

This year’s choice is The Gun Album from Minus Five, featuring one of the top ten songs of the year, With A Gun.

There are a lot more great songs on this record. Aw Shit Man, My Life As A Creep, Cemetery Row (sung by Colin Meloy of Decemberists), and Cigarettes Coffee And Booze are all standouts.

The Minus 5 is the name of the people who play music with Scott
McCaughey of The Young Fresh Fellows.  This time around he’s got Jeff
Tweedy, John Stirratt, and Glenn Kotche from Wilco, Peter Buck from
REM, and Colin Meloy from The Decemberists.

I have kept coming back to this record throughout the year while others go to the back burner. And so that’s why it’s in my top 10.

Top 10 Records of 2006 – Number Ten

All_the_roadrunning
Jay Rand, my lawyer of some fifteen years and one of the best and most experienced VC lawyers in NYC, sent me an email early this year and said, “you gotta get the new Mark Knopfler Emmylou Harris record”. Jay’s a huge Mark Knopfler fan so I wasn’t surprised. I told him I wasn’t sure about Emmylou Harris or Mark Knopfler anymore. Jay said the songs are the best Knopfler has written in a while. That’s all it took. I got the record and it was in heavy rotation for a couple months.

The first four Dire Straits records are fantastic. I love Mark’s guitar playing and his soulful voice and great delivery. I haven’t been much of a fan of the stuff he’s done since, although I loved the work he did on several Dylan records in the 80s.

I think All The Roadrunning is indeed the best thing he’s done in a long time. The songs are great, the pairing with Emmylou Harris worked out wonderfully. And I love listening to this record.

The song that got all the airplay is This Is Us, and it’s a fine tune. But the best songs on the record are I Dug Up A Diamond, Rolling On, and All The Roadrunning. If you are a Mark Knopfler fan and don’t have this record, you are making a mistake. I’ll second Jay’s comment – “you gotta get the Mark Knopfler Emmylou Harris record”.

Top 10 Records of 2006 – Honorable Mention

Seeger
This year saw many of the great artists of the past put out compelling records; Neil Young’s Living With War, Dylan’s Modern Times, Tom Petty’s Highway Companion, Mark Knopfler’s collaboration with Emmylou Harris (which is in my top 10), and Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions.

I love new music and new artists. I don’t subscribe to Jackson’s assertion that “the last great record was made in 1991.” I think anyone who thinks that has just stopped trying to find and listen to new music and they have nobody to blame but themselves for the lack of good new music in their lives.

But the artists of the 60s, 70s, and 80s were a special group. Bob Lefsetz is right that those were the magical years of rock music. And so it’s great to see the legends of that time remain important contributors.

In some ways I am giving honorable mention to all of them and not just the ones I mentioned at the top of this post. But the one record that sums this up for me this year is Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions. His choice to cover great folk songs with a big raucous band is a telling one. Bruce is saying that music is timeless and it lives on forever.

One of my top music moments of the year was at Saratoga Springs in mid June watching Springsteen do his traveling show outside on a beautiful night with my son Josh and our friends. About 2/3 of the way through the set, after a particularly high energy number, Josh looked up at me and said, “Dad this is a great show”. Springsteen made music written many years ago relevant to my ten year old son. And that is a gift, to me, to Josh, and to everyone who has the record and/or saw the tour.

I went through a period where I listened to the record every day. But it didn’t last that long and I am listening to it now for the first time in months. It’s not one of my top ten records this year. But it’s a great record nonetheless and it certainly deserves an honorable mention.

Gotham Gal’s Top 10 Records List

The Gotham Gal has her top 10 records of 2006 up on her blog. I’ve heard these records endlessly this year as she is usually the first one in the kitchen in the morning and thus controls the airplay.

Three or four of her choices will make my top 10 as well. Others like KT Tunstall, Ben Folds, and Lilly Allen, are solid choices, but not my thing.

Although she didn’t order her records, I can tell you The Decemberists Crane Wife has to be her top pick for 2006. I can’t remember the last time that record wasn’t playing in the kitchen!

Top 10 Records of 2006 – Honorable Mention

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There wasn’t a record this year that had five songs better than this one. When I told Jessica that I was considering making it my top pick, she was aghast. She said, "Dad, its an EP, not a real record". So we agreed that it was ok to give it honorable mention. As you can see, I’ve had some help in compiling my top 10 this year. The whole family has weighed in and you’ll get their perspective as well as mine.

Maybe artists should consider making more EPs. A record with five great songs and nothing more is a lot better than a record with five great songs and ten mediocre ones.

There’s a reason why The Arctic Monkeys are at the of my most listened to artists this year, by a long shot. They put out three records this year, one LP and two EPs. And at least two of them are going to make my top 10 list. They are the band of 2006 in my house, not even a question about it.

So what about this record? Well it starts with a song from their LP, A View From The Afternoon. Great song, but sort of makes you wonder why you bought the EP. But not for long. Because along comes Cigarette Smoker Fiona. This is a song that could have been on Exile On Main Street. It’s got that grimy rock sound down. But then the records gets even better. Despair In The Departure Lounge is wonderful in every way. It’s about being tired, lonely, and on the road. Sure, hundreds of rock songs have been written about that. But the guys capture the vibe perfectly. The laid back vibe continues on No Buses, which keeps growing on me. It’s really just Alex and an acoustic guitar and not a lot more.

Then comes the tour de force, my favorite song of the year, the title track, Who The Fuck Are The Arctic Monkeys. This is a song about fame and its fleeting nature. One line from the song sums it all up:

Oh, in five years time, will it be

"Who the fuck’s Arctic Monkeys?"

Not a chance. These guys are the real deal. Unless fame and fortune screw them up. Which, of course, is the whole point of this EP to begin with.

My Top 10 Records of 2006

It’s that time of year again. I am going to give you a record a day for the next couple weeks, twelve in all because I can never keep it to ten.

I’ve been compiling a list of candidates as the year’s gone on and it’s here (also linked from the side of my blog). There’s almost twenty records on that list so I’ll have to whittle it down.

I also checked Amazon’s Top 100 Editor’s Picks and Top 100 Most Popular Records to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Finally, I went to last.fm and looked at what I actually listened to this year.

So now I’ve got the universe of music figured out. I’ll start tomorrow. If anyone wants to throw in suggestions that aren’t already on my list, I am all ears.