My favorite releases for 2006 seem to alternate between the All-Time Favorites I am constantly trying to shove into your hands, and the lovely gems that I keep meaning to own”¦ after which I will then metaphorically foist upon you like the rest. Let’s get to it!
Music is Power – Richard Ashcroft
Richard Ashcroft is on my list. In addition to Doves and Glasvagas, I need to see him perform live. (David Bowie is on the list too, but the chance of him touring in the Northwest U.S. seems”¦ low. But you never know.) Ashcroft’s music is indeed power because I feel a weight lift in my chest and my brain alight every time I listen to him or, of course, his original band, The Verve.
If the melody is timeless
it won’t let you down
Feel the air moving
Submit to the sound
I love the sentiment, the strings – everything about it. I cannot recommend his music enough.
I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor – Arctic Monkeys
More than one person has assumed I’d be really into the Arctic Monkeys, since they belong to the generation of British rock inspired by all the ’90s bands that I love with a good dash of punk rock. It is a fair assumption, though to be honest, I am really not all that familiar with them. I know, they have been huge in the UK ever since they released their 2006 debut album, Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not.
And you know what? Every time I listen to them, I enjoy them. I love that this video says, “Don’t believe the hype.” They are a band with whom I should better acquaint myself.
Rise Up With Fists!! – Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins
I’ve talked about my favorite song from Rabbit Fur Coat, “Handle With Care,” but now that we’ve reached its release year, I must talk about one more song. First, can we get some love for the !! in the title, and the Hee-Haw parody video? So fantastic.
This is another melancholy Jenny Lewis gem, all about loneliness, ennui, and screwing up. If you’re not already familiar with this album, do give it a listen. Hell, even if you are, put it on again. You won’t be sorry.
Countenance – Beth Orton
This might be Beth Orton’s most alt-country song, which feels apt for a song talking about theological hypocrisy:
For those who preach forgiveness
while they’re practicing revenge
man will do to man
but nature’s got it all in hand
It ain’t free
It ain’t fooled you’ll see
It’s a short song that I find myself enjoying right up until that cut-off, where I think, That’s it? I get roughly two minutes? In that way, it’s like any old song on a record, designed to sound best on one 20 minute side of an LP.
Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
Maybe some of you are still sick of this song, seven years later. And that’s fair, but I’ve always loved it. The rest of the St. Elsewhere album is just all right for me – some groovy gems, some boredom, one excellent Violent Femmes cover. “Crazy,” however, is one of those songs that is an instant classic. I will gladly sing along to it any time I hear it.
Steady, As She Goes – The Ranconteurs
The Ranconteurs are another band whose gap in my music collection really needs to be rectified. Every time I hear Jack White play anything, I think, Why do I not own everything this man has done already? And yet, and yet, so many musical desires, so little disposable income.
That the video for “Steady, As She Goes” takes place inside an old farmhouse attic seems appropriate – the sound is loud, crunchy, and has vocals that seem to come from another era. I love it.
Love Like Winter – AFI
This might be AFI’s most dancey, directly ’80s-pop-inspired song. Their album decemberunderground is one of their most polished efforts, which tends to make some punk fans cranky, but screw them. To me, AFI’s evolution has felt very natural in that they have grown as people and their interests in how to make music. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with straight-ahead lo-fi punk rock, nor anything “small” about it – musicians are free to change, that’s all. They don’t need our permission.
I have already talked about “Miss Murder“ from this album, which is fantastic. This video is quite pretty, and the whole album is excellent.
Fidelity – Regina Spektor
Oh, I know I’ve already said this a lot this week about everything, but Begin to Hope is such a wonderful album. To make a somewhat strained comparison – Regina Spektor is like the higher-register, Russian version of Fiona Apple. Of course I was going to like her music.
I hear in my mind
All these voices
I hear in my mind all these words
I hear in my mind
All this music
And it breaks my heart
It breaks my heart
That, right there, sums up my writer-brain quite succinctly.
Hit It Hard – Peaches
Here’s punk rock badass Peaches performing for (P-Mag’s favorite Platinum Pomegranate winner) Henry Rollins on his IFC show. My question is, does she just have a bin of silver hot pants that she travels with? I hope so.
I would love, love, love to be out somewhere and hear this song played. I would dance my ass off.
To Try For The Sun – Lindsey Buckingham
This is a Donovan cover, and yet no song seems better suited to tell the tale of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks’ relationship when they were first performing together. He alters the lyrics somewhat to make them fit:
Who will be the one
To say it was no good what we done
I dare anyone dare anyone to say we were too young
We were only trying for the sun
The finger-picking guitar is beautiful and impressive, and this is my favorite song from his album Under The Skin.
Saint John – Cold War Kids
About six months before the release of Cold War Kids’ first album, Robbers and Cowards, my husband and his brother saw them play at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle. They weren’t even the headliners – Tapes ‘n Tapes were. There was a third band, too, that I can’t remember, but the mister was instantly smitten. He came back to Spokane, where we lived at the time, and immediately began asking after the album at one of our favorite music shops. They had yet to hear of the band. He bided his time, and eventually, he could buy their debut.
Though I also really enjoy the band, it is because of his discovery that I let him pick his favorite song from the album to feature this week. It’s is bluesy and big, despite the simplicity in the recording. Yes, it’s another album I recommend you hear, if you haven’t yet or if it’s been too long.
Love is a Losing Game – Amy Winehouse
Oh, Amy, Amy, Amy, I am so sorry that addiction took you. Her unique jazz voice is a treasure to be missed, and she always seemed like a sweet person, despite her substance problems.
I prefer the more stripped-down version of this song compared to the studio version. It really allows her to shine. The ache in this song hurts so good.
Songbird – Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson covering a Christine McVie/Fleetwood Mac song, produced by Ryan Adams, backed by The Cardinals? Of course I am going to talk about this song. Usually, I get a bit nervous about “Songbird” covers because the original is one of my All-Time Favorite Songs, so I don’t like to see people fuck it up.
Willie, Godtopus bless ‘im, does not fuck it up. He shines.
Rootless Tree – Damien Rice
Damien Rice did not really want to release 9, but a record contract is a record contract, and the result is a compelling, lovely, but angry album. Shortly after this, he and Lisa Hannigan parted ways, and you can feel the strain here:
And fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
And all we’ve been through
I said leave it, leave it, leave it
There’s nothing in you
And if you hate me, hate me, hate me, then hate me so good
That you can let me out, let me out, let me out
Of this hell when you’re around
Also, big high-five to Vyvienne Long’s cello. She’s great.
SexyBack – Justin Timberlake
And now, to end on the complete opposite end of the song-subject-matter-spectrum: sexy, sexybusiness. Go on, JT. Play us out.
When you’re done shakin’ it to “SexyBack,” do peruse the roundup of 2006 in music, and tell me your favorites.