Culture Bully’s Best of 2006 Guest Posts
Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: Interviews, Lists, Music.
To close the year out, Culture Bully solicited contributions from artists sharing their year-end lists, reflecting on their favorite things of 2006.
Best of 2006: Daniel Toccalino of Leopold & His Fiction
At one point or another I devoted an immense amount of attention, in some form or another, to each of these songs. I can’t rightly tell you if I was obsessed with the thirteenth song I heard in March and I am not able to say if the tenth song is better than the last song on the list; but as much as I would like to describe what I feel and know about each individually, I will pick a few that had a marvelous influence on me and those I can easily connect to the idea of my encouragement and songwriting. The idea of old versus new is the first thing came to my mind when revisiting this list of songs, the oldest having to be “When I Was a Cowboy” by Leadbelly.
If y’all haven’t heard it’s about time you cough up a measly dollar or two and buy the song, actually don’t be a cheap skate and buy the whole goddamn album. It could very well beat anything you have worth living for. This story in particular could chill the flesh off of your scrawny self and if it doesn’t, you’re not listening to what the man is saying. He’s talking right from everything he knows; he is the encyclopedia of scary shit in the old world. You try going to battle with Jessie James on the dusty plains of the ol’ west when bullets are falling all around just like the showerin’ rain. It beats the hell out of a lot of folks writing songs today, or any day, trying to get a point across of some evil things.
Now skip ahead a few years, about forty, to The Stooges. This song hasn’t the disenchanting element of “When I Was a Cowboy” and it doesn’t touch on the substantive ideals which a good portion of the band’s other work consists of, but “Real Cool Time” has a damn good story line. It’s Simple and I feel pretty cool every time I listen to it; a raunchy visceral fascination of Detroit mediocrity and pleasure. Head hung low and demure emotion towards the cold cement and its virtue. Have you been to that part of the world? It hasn’t changed a whole lot. I think I left for a good reason.
Across the sea, across the sea, across the sea to London, England. Right around the exact same 1968 that the Stooges were recording their debut album Joe Cocker had him a big party inside a recording studio and called his debut album With A Little Help From My Friends. God dang right he had some help. A lot of the songs were covers and though he might have done a very exceptional job I must insist it was his friends on the album that made Joe shine. Take a little listen to track two on the album, a song published in 1926 that is very omnipotent and important in history, “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Joe does a pretty good job as do the background singers but none of that really means a thing once you get to the guitar solo at just about 1:40 in the song. The soloist? Some guy named Jimmy Page. It makes me downright moan. Now fast forward to recent times with “Strange Desire” by the Black Keys.
As a newer music or an older music, this song leaves me wanting to keep my band a rock duo. Every time I go and look for a bass player or an organist The Black Keys find their way to my ears and all that extra instrumentation is equaled to rubbish. Have you ever been to Ohio? Akron mind you? I have and I don’t remember it being as awesome as the band might lead you to believe, but wanting to move to the Midwest after hearing the band definitely says something of the music.
The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, “Phenomena” is powerful through its guitar tone, but more importantly through its vocal tone. I am so impressed how tight this band is, but then again the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are essentially a group of two instrumentalists. A rock duo with the addition of a singer makes all the sense in the world. Show Your Bones is pale in comparison to their debut but it holds its ground with songs like this.
I will have to encapsulate all of the independent bands that I cannot say enough about with our good, good friends The Studiofix. The pretty little things they are, down the way of Los Angeles, play some of the best music I’ve heard in my day! Certainly one of the best bands we’ve ever played a show with. Buy their whole album, get it, buy it, steal it, they just want you to give it a go. The Bloody Hollies are a San Diego based band you wish you were cool enough to know. I wish I was cool enough to know them. They have a ton of albums so you haven’t any reason to not listen to them. The Happy Hollows, another Los Angeles based group, are phenomenal. See them live for their best features, watch Sara roll around and she’ll make you wanna roll around too. They’ll make you want to do things you ain’t never done before. Listen to my favorite song of theirs,”Tell Me.” Ride the Blinds, by far the most talented band we’ve played with in terms of each member knowing its place – voice, instruments and how to use each of them. You like Cream? You like Led Zeppelin? Then why the fuck you haven’t you listened to everything Ride the Blinds has released? And Siddhartha, a Detroit born rock n’ roll band that will make you know something good one way or another. I think all these bands are going to be huge soon, I would say just you wait but you wont be waiting long. Buy into them before some enormous record company they become associated with makes you. Go and listen, do it for ol’ times sake. Do it just for me.
I want to pick apart each song on the list but all in all they make sense on their own. I don’t really mind when these songs were released because to me they might as well have always been around. Thank the good Lord that I crossed them this year. I haven’t worn the shoes of each of these songwriters but I try my hardest to put myself in their place. I think in a manner of traveling when I hear these songs with each story taking me a place I haven’t been. A state of the United States of America is as new to me in my head as it is in these songs. I have been to a lot of places but I haven’t stood in a lot of people’s shoes. These songs have been the most beneficial in allowing me to attempt to do so in 2006. Thanks.
The Best of the Rest:
Devendra Banhart “Now That I Know”
The Bloody Hollies “Cut it Loose”
The Stooges “Little Doll
Link Wray “Rumble”
The Allman Brothers “Whipping Post”
The 5th Dimension “California Soul”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Bold as Love”
Jacques Dutronc “Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi”
Johnny Cash “Big River”
The Kills “Hitched”
Love “My Flash On You”
Bob Dylan “Shelter From The Storm”
T-Rex “Ride a White Swan”
Nico “These Days”
Howlin’ Wolf “Shake For Me”
The Kingsmen “Jolly Green Giant”
Hank Williams “Lonesome Blues”
Patsy Cline “She’s Got You”
The Detroit Cobras “Last Night”
The Castaways “Liar, Liar”
Ride The Blinds “Whiskey at Church”
Cream “Four Until Late”
The Faces “(I Know) I’m Losing You (BBC Live)”
Jack “Never Far Away”
Soledad Brothers “White Front St. Front”
Best of 2006: The Upsidedown’s J-Sun Atoms
It’s been an interesting year because I expected our album to come out, but that’s what happens when you expect something. Thank the universe for showing us who’s the boss and slowing us down; something always comes along and turns us into something else. 2007 is going to be an exciting year for us, I feel like the album we are working on right now is a life’s work, something timeless that you can listen to proudly for a lifetime. For much of the year The Black Angels’ Passover was something that I listened to daily. Peter (Dandy Warhols) turned me on to Serena-Maneesh, he drove over the CD and dropped it off after they were on tour with them and I knew it was going to be special.
Some of the best live shows I saw this year were Dead Meadow, BRMC, the Dandy Warhols with the gathering of the geezers (drawing and painting and music together worked well), I picked quite a few northwest bands because they really were the soundtrack to our lives this year. Jeremy from The Village Green is making our album with us and listening to “Feeling the Fall” makes me excited about drums. I just heard a high violets remix for “Cool Green” that blew my head back, or my hair or whatever. One of my favorite songs that won’t be released until next year is The Sun The Sea’s song “Even Happier” (which you can check out here)… at any rate…Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind, Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne…
The Upsidedown 2006 Top Ten:
1. The Black Angels “Passover”
2. Serena-Maneesh “Serena-Maneesh”
3. The High Violets “To Where You Are”
4. The Dandy Warhols “Odditorium or Warlords of Mars”
5. The Village Green “Feeling the Fall”
6. The Strokes “First Impressions of Earth
7. Hypatia Lake “…and We Shall Call Him Joseph”
8. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah “Clap Your Hands Say Yeah”
9. Kings of Leon “Day Old Belgian Blues”
10. Muse “Black Holes and Revelations”
Tom Waits “Orphans”
Thom Yorke “The Eraser”
Raconteurs “Broken Boy Soldiers”
Band of Horses “Everything All The Time”
Best of 2006: Division Day’s Kevin Lenhart
I think it’s always a good year for music, whether or not you consider the albums that have been released that year to be good work. Music that we deem bad can still have a positive effect by pushing us toward something different, distinct from whatever it is we didn’t like about it. And of course, music that we deem amazing will inspire people as it always does to make beautiful music of their own. So yeah, I thought last year was great for music, though I wish I’d managed to hear more new stuff than I did. With regard to my list, I guess it’s a little far flung, but it all more or less falls under the rock umbrella. For each of these albums, I feel like each of the artists did an excellent job in fully realizing their vision of how they wanted their record to sound. That’s presumptuous of me – I have no idea what the writing/recording sessions were like for these records – but regardless of whatever the scenario behind these records actually is, these albums all communicate a purity of intention to me that I find irresistible and totally inspiring. They all do what they set out to do really, really well.
The top 10 (plus 1) best albums (that I listened to, but weren’t necessarily released) in ‘06:
1. TV on the Radio “Return to Cookie Mountain”
2. Mastodon “Blood Mountain”
3. Silversun Pickups “Carnavas”
4. The Mae Shi “Heartbeeps”
5. The Movies “American Oil”
6. Band of Horses “Everything All the Time”
7. Mew “And the Glass Handed Kites”
8. Liars “Drum’s Not Dead”
9. Joanna Newsom “Ys”
10. My Morning Jacket “Z”
11. Mission of Burma “The Obliterati”
*Special nod to Lavender Diamond’s “You Broke My Heart” and Midlake’s “Roscoe” for being pretty much the best songs of the year.
Best of 2006: The Majestic Twelve’s Kenyata Sullivan
Here are four things I’m truly enthusiastic about, and perhaps they might not all have been created this year, but they were all new to me in ‘06. So, in no particular order:
1. FOUR VOLTS – “Triple Your Work Force”. There are tons of bands trying to inherit a forward-thinking mantle while building off the Pixies, the Buzzcocks, Gang Of Four, etc, but I think this is the only one I’ve heard that feels like a completely genuine pseudo-surf-explosivo-apocalypse. Fucking love it. Start with “Heartworm” (truly one of the great singles of the past few years, the cd sounds so much better than the MySpace, buy it), and work your way in.
2. JOSÈ GONZÀLEZ – “Stay In The Shade”. Hipsters, don’t be dissuaded by this guy being so damn visible. This guy is for real. Think Elliot Smith, Nick Drake, and if you’re fucking superhip, Arthur Russell’s late night 8-track recordings from when he came home from the bars half-drunk and barely half-alive. This is beautiful, private, patient, passionate music. Embrace it, it deserves it.
3. HERO PATTERN – “Don’t Even Miss Me”. One of the great modern rock songs of the last decade from one of the great New Jersey rock bands of the last decade. Hero Pattern are to New Jersey what The Suburbs were to Minneapolis twenty years ago, and I really hope that one day they get the shot they deserve.
4. KEITH JOHN ADAMS – “Pip”. Holy shit! Real songwriting, genuinely interesting instrumentation, fantastic arrangements, all of which make for a disc I can listen to over and over again, and still repeatedly smile like a grinning idiot. Very British, very enunciated, hell, even very Teardrop Explodes at times! A pulsating heartfelt recommendation from me, indeed.
Best of 2006: The Sky Drops’ Monika Bullette
In 2006 The Sky Drops recorded and released our debut EP Clouds of People, toured the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard, played several shows in London, and started preparing new songs for our next release for early 2007. I had less time than usual for seeking out new bands but I quite enjoyed the “don’t call it a come-backs” and new treasures I did find.
Caveat: I’ve read some year-end lists and up at the top are bands that I name-recognize but have only heard maybe 1/2 of a song. I can only pull from the smaller roster of albums that I have actually lived with this year – and go out to investigate this top feeders later. Discretionary funds are going towards funding The Sky Drops’ new EP, not album purchases!
I’m interested in lyrics. I give kudos to these writers for perfect use of words I doubt I’d ever place in one of my songs: The Black Angels “Iraq”; Beck “cellphone”; Morrissey “retroussé”; Beyonce “chinchilla”; Clipse “gobstoppers”; Arctic Monkeys “robot”; Amy Winehouse “rehab”; Justin Timberlake “shackles”; Regina Spektor “cleavage”; Lily Allen “al fresco”; The Flaming Lips “Donald Trump”; Nellie McKay “balderdash”, & Bob Dylan “Alicia Keyes”.
I played these [artist’s] albums most this year: Wolfmother, Phoenix, The Raconteurs, Neko Case, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Darkel, Sonic Youth, Tom Waits, Licorice Roots. Best Soundtracks: Marie Antoinette, The US vs. John Lennon, Stranger Than Fiction.
Best of 2006: Victor Scott
Since this is the first time I’ve actually written down a year end list for publication, allow me to subject you to the navel gazing I’ve been doing for the last 2 weeks. Should I include more obscure musics on my list? Should I put more Vancouver artists on the list? If everyone else puts Joanna Newsom on their list, should I bother? Crap, most of the stuff I’ve been listening to was released in 2005! And finally, the realization that, according to last.fm, my favourite artist of the year is myself.
This is no surprise actually, because I listen to my own music way too much when I’m demo-ing it and writing it. the real list of my favourite songs of the year are for the most part, the songs that I’ve written but haven’t recorded yet. They remain in my head pure and unsullied by the compromises and realities of the recording process (that belly dance version of “Gotta Go” with George Abdo and his Flames of Araby Orchestra will probably never be realized).
Favourite songs (I wrote) this year (and contradicting what I just wrote most of these have been recorded): “Pink Motorola,” “High Fructose Corn Syrup,” “Dreamland,” “Atomic Clock,” & “Hollow Leg.”
None of those songs have been released yet though, too bad for you. As far as the rest of the music world goes, I experienced more disappointments than anything, suffering as I was from new music fatigue. I stuck with new records by old favourites and old records by old favourites. With a few notable exceptions, the new records by old favourites didn’t stick.
There is nothing quite comparable to seeing a new record by a favourite musician in the local record store. The excitement that demands you must buy it unheard. The anticipation as you rip it open in the car ‘cause you can’t wait to get home. The rising panic as you flip through each track hoping that it will be the one that recaptures the magic that made you like their music in the first place and the disappointment when you realize that you’ve been through all the songs twice, the record sucks, and you just blew $20 on something you’ll never listen to again. Oh, emusic and itunes, your lows are not as low, but your highs are not as high.
There were some greats this year though and I’m not going to feel bad about only having four of them:
Ys by Joanna Newsom
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood by Neko Case
Cast Away the Clouds by Rose Melberg
Hell Hath No Fury by Clipse
The Neko Case and Joanna Newsom records were more wonderful than I could’ve hoped, but you can read all about them elsewhere on the internets. We saw Rose Melberg open for Belle & Sebastien when they came to Vancouver. Her music was not suited to the cavernous Commodore Ballroom, but she was sweet so we bought her record. We’ve listened to that record consistently throughout the year and I can’t recommend it enough for dreamy afternoons when you need to tune out the world.
I heard about Clipse on the Sound Opinions podcast and since then it’s only left the car stereo on Christmas Day so that my sweetie could play that Sufjan Stevens box set. We downloaded that last year though, so by the time it came out and we bought it, I was sick of it. “O Come Emmanuel” is beautiful though and I wish I’d written “Put the Lights on the Tree.”
Now in terms of what I actually listened to this year, nobody could touch Of Montreal in playcount, especially “Satanic Panic in the Attic” and “The Sunlandic Twins.” Here’s a list of some of other things I liked this year that weren’t released in 2006:
Song: Black Cab by Jens Lekkman
Band that I finally got around to listening to: Of Montreal
Record I bought cause of a 2005 best of list: Das Mandolinenorchester by Cobra Killer & Kapajkos
Best mp3 I bought/classic (new to me): 13 Songs by Fugazi
Vinyl: Young MC: Stone Cold Rhymin’ & The Duke Plays Ellington¨C28C¨C29CBut Victor, you might ask, what was 2006 like for a young musician trying to make his way in this post-p2p file sharing musical landscape selling record downloads through an mp3 blog turned label? My first answer to that ran on a bit, and wasn’t nearly as profound as I’d hoped, so here’s the short answer:¨C30C¨C31CI made a lot more friends than I made money, and that’s all right with me.¨
[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]