Posts from Top 10 Records 2006

Now That's A Top Ten List The Way It Should Be

If you are a Rhapsody subscriber and want to sample my top ten records of 2006, go to this playlist on Yottamusic. You’ll need to sign in with your Rhapsody account to listen.

Luke Matkins put it together and I’ve finally gotten around to blogging it.

Thanks Luke. I am particularly fond of loading up those 11 records and then playing them on shuffle. A great way to play back my soundtrack to 2006!

Note – The one record you won’t find is Stadium Arcadium. The Red Hot Chili Peppers aren’t on Rhapsody unfortunately.

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Top 10 Records of 2006 Wrap Up

So it’s Christmas Eve, the time for last minute holiday shopping if you are the procrastinating kind like me.

This isn’t going to be of help to you procrastinators but John Battelle asked me to put the entire Top 10 list into a single linkroll so he could easily purchase what he liked from the list.

I’ve done that and taken it one step further. I’ve published the entire Top 10 series as an Amazon list so you can buy ala carte or if you so desire, you can purchase all twelve records with the push of one button. That would make one hell of a holiday gift. Trust me on that one.

But 2006 is almost over. It’s time to look forward to 2007. And I am already aware of three tremendous records that are coming out in early 2007 that will almost surely be on my top 10 list next year. Because I like to look forward so much more than looking back, I’ll end this series of posts with links to three killer records to pre-order for 2007.

The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer
Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank (not yet up on Amazon)


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Top 10 Records of 2006 - Number One

All you need to do is look at my listens over the past year to know what my top record of the year is. The Arctic Monkeys took me by storm in late 2005, when I found them on the Internet. I couldn’t wait for their debut record, bought the UK version when it came out, and have been hooked on them since. I put their EP, Who The F**k Are The Arctic Monkeys, on this list as well and in some ways I prefer that record, but its only an EP, and this record, Whatever People Say I Am, is such a tour d’ force, that it deserves to be number one anyway.

A lot of people here in the US don’t get the Arctic Monkeys. I get comments on this blog that my picks are generally solid, but “why the obsession with the Arctic Monkeys?”

The Arctic Monkeys bring everything a great rock band needs to have; a pounding drum and bass beat, twin guitars which produce riff after riff after riff, and a great front man, Alex Turner, who can really sing and write great songs. There are Arctic Monkeys songs where you get three or four killer riffs in the first 30 seconds. I love that.

But if I had to pick just one thing about the Arctic Monkeys, it would be the lyrics. Alex Turner is what you’d get if you mixed Bob Dylan and Mike Skinner. He’s a poet with a street sensibility. His songs are about real things that happen to him and his friends, but the way he tells the story, the way he delivers the line, it’s just so good.

Everyone’s heard the single You Must Look Good On The Dancefloor. It’s a great song for sure. But there are so many better songs on this record, When The Sun Goes Down (Scummy Man), Mardy Bum, A Certain Romance, Fake Tales Of San Francisco, From The Ritz To The Rubble, Riot Van, Still Take You Home, Vampires, Red Light. I basically listed the whole record. It’s killer. It’s the best thing that came out this year and I love it.

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Top 10 Records of 2006 - Number Two

Josh and I are hanging out in the cafe next to the Prada outlet outside of Florence. He’s got the new improved Denver Nuggets on his PSP and I’ve got my blackberry and typepad mobile. Life is good.

And its the perfect time to talk about Stadium Arcadium. Josh’s favorite record of the year by his favorite band of the moment, The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Stadium Arcadium would be number one for sure had it been twelve or fourteen songs.

I listened to the entire two disc set about three times. Then I made an iTunes playlist of the top tracks and played that the rest of the year.

Stadium Arcadium has some amazing songs on it; 21st Century, Dani California (killed by radio overplay), Charlie, Snow/Hey Oh, Tell Me Baby, Hump De Bump, Torture Me, Strip My Mind and a bunch more. I am doing this from memory and don’t have my iPod.

But the hands down best song on the record and the song that should have ended the record is Turn It Again. That solo by John Frusciante is the best guitar solo on a studio record I’ve heard in a long long time. They should have ended the record with the heat from that solo still smoking in your ears.

I can’t help think woulda/coulda/shoulda with Stadium Arcadium and that’s why its number two, not number one.

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Top 10 Records of 2006 - Number Three

I mentioned at the start of this series that my whole family got involved in my top ten picks this year. I gave them my list and they ranked all the choices. The final three records are all unanimous choices in my family. We may not agree about my entire top ten, but the final three were at the top of everyone’s list.

Ben Kweller provided many great moments this year for us. Whether it was his blood stained show at Austin City Limits, meeting him afterward, going to his Webster show with Jessica and her music teacher, meeting Ben again after that show, or the fact that his new record was played basically every day in our home during the second half of 2007, this was a Ben Kweller year in our family.

This is the best record Ben has made so far. He’s so talented that I am sure he’ll produce even better work in the future. But this one is so good. I have no idea why it is only #1,935 in Amazon’s current ranking. This should easily be one of the top 100 records right now. It’s that good. Every song on the record is great and you can’t help but sing along with it. It’s everything a rock and roll record should be.

Do me a favor and buy this record and move Ben up a notch or two. You won’t regret it.

Buy Ben Kweller at eMusic

I Gotta Move – Ben Kweller

I Don’t Know Why – Ben Kweller

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Top 10 Records of 2006 - Number Four

The best live album of the year, maybe the best live album in a long time (not including stuff like the Neil Young Fillmore record that was recorded over 30 years ago and just relased) is Okonokos by My Morning Jacket.

I got the record when it came out in mid September and had it in heavy rotation the rest of the year. The Gotham Gal and I got to see MMJ at Roseland in NYC at the end of November and they put on a show that is very similar to the Okonokos record.

MMJ is a great rock band who is better in front of a crowd than in a recording studio. The back to back jams that start the second side, Donate which is 11 mins long, and Run Thru which is 9 1/2 minutes long, are the highlight of this double live record.

If you want to hear what a great rock band circa 2007 sounds like live and at the peak of their game, get Okonokos.

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Top 10 Records of 2006 - Number Five

I mentioned previously that two artists have been in my top 10 records three years in a row – Josh Rouse and M. Ward.  These two artists are operating at a creative level that few artists obtain. They are putting out great record after great record, year after year.

M. Ward makes my favorite kind of music; inspired, unique, intense, beautiful, guitar driven folk rock. He plays guitar with the best of them and he can play any style and does it brilliantly.

This record, called Post-War, is for some a let down after the masterful Transfiguration of Vincent and Transistor Radio. But I was not let down in the least. Post-War is what it is, a treatise on life in a world gone wrong. From the title track:

I know when everything feels wrong
I got some hard hard proof in this song 

It moves from melancholy to upbeat and back again for twelve wonderful songs, each one perfectly timed.

The song that makes the record for me is Requiem, an obituary for a man who “was a good man and now he’s gone”.  The guitar solo in the middle of the song is classic M. Ward.

The whole record can be summed up by this line in the song Rollercoaster:

Rollercoaster, it was the best of times
Rollercoaster, it was the worst of times too
Because you lift me up so high
It’s the most unbelievable ride

And so it is. You should give it a try.

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Top 10 Records of 2006 - Number Six

Probably my favorite band that is still at the top of their game (rules out Rolling Stones, Beatles, Pink Floyd, etc) is The Flaming Lips. They put out a new record this year called At War With The Mystics. I listened a bunch, liked it, but did not think it was at the level of The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi.

Until I saw them live twice in the span of one week, first with Gotham Gal and friends at ACL, and then with Jackson at Hammerstein. It was at the second show, with Jackson, that the brilliance of three songs in the middle of the record hit me; The Sound of Failure, My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion, and Vein of Stars.

After those shows I put At War With The Mystics back into heavy rotation and its been there ever since. I love this record.

My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion is a classic Flaming Lips song, up there with Do You Realize?, Waiting For A Superman, and Turn It On.

If you are a Lips fan and haven’t gotten into At War With The Mystics, give it another chance. It grows and grows on you.

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Top 10 Records of 2006 - Number Seven

When I was in college, we had a saying, "if you don’t know what to play, put on Steely Dan". Everyone liked Steely Dan.

In my family, the artist that fits that bill today is Belle and Sebastian. Everyone loves Belle and Sebastian.

They put out a terrific record this year, called The Life Pursuit.  It’s full of that wonderful Belle and Sebastain sound, but its a bit more up tempo than their usual efforts. And that’s a good thing.

I’ll post a couple tracks from this record later (having Internet issues in Venice).

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Top 10 Records of 2006 - Number Eight

There are two artists who have been in my top 10 for the past three years; M. Ward and Josh Rouse. That’s because they are at the top of their game, putting out amazing record after amazing record.

Josh Rouse is the more accessible of the two. He sings wonderful songs that are catchy and easy to sing along with. This record, called Subtitlo, is right up there with Nashville and 1972. And that is saying something.

The wonderful Summertime is the highlight of the record, but the whole record flows like a lazy summer afternoon.

If you haven’t heard Josh Rouse, you really need to check him out.

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