Best Of 2006
It’s that time of year again when I turn one of my favourite pursuits of the year, the compilation of my records of the year. I have always been one for compiling lists of my favourite records, bands, singers and so on. I fact, when Nick Hornby wrote Hi Fidelity one of my mates reckoned he had written it about me because I did lists so much. Although not an easy task, it is never a chore for me to do a Top Five, Ten or Twenty. As usual several of my colleagues also their lists (yes we do all have lives and some of us have wives and girlfriends too) and this year we were only allowed to chose one track per artist. This makes the task more difficult but does focus the mind. Here then, without further ado is my Top Twenty for 2006.
1. Glasgow Mega Snake by Mogwai – This is the stand out track from Mr Beast, one of two albums released by Glasgow noise merchants, Mogwai this year. It, as usual, starts slowly and just when you least expect it takes your head off with a blistering, vicious and darn right noisy refrain. I saw the mighty Mogs three times in 06 and at a gig in Cambridge it was this track that moved my mate Charlie’s trousers it was so loud. How cool is that?
2. Made Up Love Song # 43 by Guillemots – Wonderful pop music is this. Main man Fyfe Dangerfield writes a damn good tune, so he does. This is as uplifting as it gets. It will brighten the dreariest of days.
3. Out Of The Angeles by Amusement Parks On Fire – Hurrah, Shoegazey is back! Initially APOF were a solo project by Nottingham based musician Michael Feerick. For his second album however he expanded to a five piece and as a result their sound is even more wonderful. I have always loved walls of noise and vocals far down in the mix and we get that in spades here. Reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, but none the worse for it this is a wonderful record.
4. Black Gown by The Lemonheads – The Lemonheads went away for a long while whilst Evan Dando sorted his head out. We all thought that he could never recapture the sound that made The Lemonheads such a darn good band. He has gone through a lot has Evan and as he is no longer a young man, we all thought that it would take its toll on his vocals. We were so wrong. This could be The Lemonheads finest moment. Dando sounds as youthful as ever and has definitely got his mojo back. Fab stuff, it is also one of Sybil’s latest fav raves.
5. Rise Up With Fists by Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins. - Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis goes solo(ish) and the result is a lovely album Americana tunes that are perfectly suited to Jenny’s sweet vocals. Rilo Kiley’s last album sounded a bit to polished and commercial for my ears but this is subtle and very pretty.
6. The Shy Retainer by Arab Strap – Alas no more Arab Strap. Moffat and Middleton have called it a day. There will be no more drunken musings on life in Falkirk. Well until Aiden Moffat’s solo next solo album anyway. The inclusion of this track may be seen as a bit of a cheat as it was first recorded in 2003 but I’m including it as it has been re-recorded for the Strap’s final EP that was sold on the final tour. Not, as they say, available in the shops.
7. Tera Nova by iLiKETRAiNs – The spelling is a gimmick, as is the old British Rail gear they wear on stage. However the music is far from gimmicky. Another Shoegazey type band, this time from Leeds. Check them out.
8. I’m Ready by The Twilight Singers – Greg Dulli can do little wrong in my book and we have a brand new Afghan Whigs album and tour to look forward to in 2007. Until then though Dulli’s new band will do. A bit more laid back than The Whigs on the album but this track is very reminiscent of that greatest of US bands.
9. Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken by Camera Obscura – Some might call them twee and some may be right. You cannot dispute that they write a catchy tune though. It is a crime that this wasn’t a massive hit.
10. Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager (part 2) by Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly. – At last Southend has someone to write home about. Sam Duckworth is probably the hardest working man in the business at the moment. Sometimes he has chalked up three gigs in a day. Give him somewhere to play and he’ll do a show. It shows, because he is bloody good. His debut album of the same name has been very well received and his sound, with acoustic guitar, accompanied by beats from his laptop, are unusual enough to make him stand out from the crowd. He will go far.
11. I Fought The Angels by The Delgado’s – Okay maybe this one is a cheat seeing as they split up last year and this is from a Peel Session years ago. But it was not released until this year and is fabulous. So there.
12. Cathkin Braes by De Rosa – Jock Pop tells me the title is something to do with a place in Scotland. I can’t remember where and I don’t really care. What I do care about is this is another fine band discovered by Chemikal Underground Records. I look forward to more.
13. Ramblin’ Man by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Campbell, ex of Belle and Sebastian recorded this with ex-Screaming Trees front man Lanegan without meeting him. They exchanged the bits they had recorded by e-mail. This may lead you to think that this is a techno record. It’s nothing of the sort. In fact it is a lovely country tinged song reminiscent of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra. And yes, it is a cover of the Hank Williams song.
14. Springfield by Sufjan Stevens – This, for me is the stand out track from ‘Avalanche’ an album released this year that included outtakes and alternate versions from the ‘Illinois’ sessions. It is nothing different or doesn’t depart from Steven’s sparse sound. It is rather beautiful though.
15. Big Star Baby by Mojave 3 – Several members of this band used to be in Slowdive who were for a short time my favourite band. They produced lovely Shoegazey stuff. Mojave 3 on the other hand sound like Big Star or the Byrds. Nowt wrong with that either. This is a lovely, sunny, feel good record.
16. It’s Not So Bad by Sparklehorse – Blimey, Mark Linkous almost sounds happy on this. Surely not? It must be the Dangermouse input. And pop-pickers that isn’t the one-eyed bepatched superspy mouse we know and love but the geezer behind Gnarls Barkley. Strangely though it isn’t a pile of shite, but the usual Sparklehorse stuff about being miserable and horses. Only a tiny bit more cheerful.
17. The Youngest Was The Most Loved by Morrissey – Morrissey’s latest album ‘Ringleader Of The Tormentors’ was a major disappointment to these ears. It didn’t move on any from previous albums and was a trifle dull. However, this was a blistering track, full of swirling guitars and great lyrics. If only the rest of the album had been as good.
18. Sukie In The Graveyard by Belle and Sebastian – I’ve seen Scotland’s best band four times this year (the most memorable being a jaunt to Germany) and as usual they invariably came up trumps. This was my favourite track from ‘The Life Pursuit’. Funky and fun it’s a great dance record.
19. Depleted Uranium Is A War Crime by Anti-Flag – This is a bit of a departure for the America’s favourite agit-punks as it’s about fluffy bunnies, flowers and staring into the sunset with the one you love. Only joking! It does exactly what it says on the tin. Anti-Bush, anti-war and anti just about everything else. The best leftist punk band in the States. Period.
20. Let The Cool Goodness Rust Away by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Although I bought this last year it sneaks in as it wasn’t released officially in the UK until January. It’s a lovely slice of oddness. Are they the new Talking Heads? Only time will tell.
That’s it folks, another year gone. I’ve bought far too many records this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve topped a hundred albums! There has been some great stuff and I can’t wait for next year for some more.
Labels: Best Records Of 2006