So Not the Best of the ’00s

 Oh, the list of Best of 00s TV I could write!
What a decade, huh? This one's notable as having been spent entirely in NYC, and entirely of the digital age which changed the way everybody listened to music. (Maybe not my parents but everyone else.) We had more access to everything, and less to to spend with it. That said, there was no shortage of good music, though I don't think anything hit me quite as hard as the previous decade — partly due to age, party due to aforementioned information overload. There's nothing from this year, as I feel it's too close to really tell how a record is gonna hold up over time, and only a couple from the last four years. (Though in 1999 I knew The Soft Bulletin and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides were among the decade's best and that's not changed. Different Times.) There's also way more from 2000 than I woulda thought before I spent the last month trying to figure out this list. 

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a Best of the '00s, because lists like that have to include Important Albums, Influential Albums and the like. I listened to Radiohead, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, The Knife, The Strokes, Phoenix and whoever like everyone else. (I also listened to Louis XIV and Hot Hot Heat.) But, for the most part, these are a little more buried treasure-ish. I think the records that didn't get played to death in public are the ones you come back to the most. These are mine, in chronological order.
 

Sfa Super Furry Animals - Mwng (Placid Casual, May 2000)
Radiohead Schmadiohead. From 1995 to 2005, no band expanded the boundaries of guitar rock while remaining what you could call "commercially viable" than Super Furry Animals. Released in early 2000, less than a year after their last album (1999's Guerrilla) and the height of their creative peak, Mwng might be my all-time favorite SFA album, a relatively stripped-down affair — not much in the way of electronics, but some of their catchiest songs ever. And it's sung entirely in Welsh. Initial pressings came with a second CD's worth of songs (also all in Welsh) that was nearly as good.

MP3Ymaelodi Â'r Ymylon
MP3Dacw Hi

AislerssetThe Aislers SetThe Last Match (Slumberland, June 2000)
With Henry's Dress and, later, The Aislers Set, Amy Linton was the sound of Slumberland Records in the '90s and early '00s, and has proved highly influential on the label's new crop of bands. Listen to "The Way to Market Station" and you can building blocks of Crystal Stilts sound.  There's a timeless quality it, and I have little doubt it will still sound awesome in 2020.

MP3:The Way to Market Station
MP3: Been Hiding


 
GobetweensThe Go-Betweens
The Friends of Rachel Worth (JetSet, Sept 2000)
Nearly all reunions are worthless, just "we're in it for the money" affairs with new albums merely made to give excuses to tour and play the hits to an aging fan-base. But there was a chemistry between Grant McLennan and Robert Forster, even though they wrote separately, that could never be replicated with solo material. So this understated album, recorded 13 years after their last album — with Sleater Kinney as their backing band — it's doesn't just not suck, it was the best they ever made.

MP3: Surfing Magazines
MP3: Going Blind

Cinerama CineramaDisco Volante (Scopitones, Sept 2000)
David Gedge formed Cinerama as a side project with his then-girlfriend as perhaps wrist relief from The Wedding Present. It wasn't until the band's second album that Cinerama found it's sound: indie rock meets Ennio Morricone. (Lyrically, Gedge only does one thing — endless variations of romantic entanglements.) Disco Volante ties TWP's Seamonsters (both recorded with Steve Albini) as the best record he ever made.

MP3: Your Charms
MP3: Superman
 

Tfc Teenage FanclubHowdy! (Sony UK, Oct 2000)
Scotland's Teenage Fanclub have never broken any ground, musically, but they are remarkably consistent songwriters. I'm not sure that this album is that different than the one before or since but this is the one I tend to come back to a lot. Stick-in-your-head melodies, great harmonies, and really nice arrangements this time. They've mellowed out by this point and it fits them like a favorite sweater. This one barely got released in America.

MP3: I Need Direction
MP3:
Accidental Life

 

Oranger Oranger The Quiet Vibrationland (Amazing Grease, December 2000)
Underrated band from San Francisco, not unlike Teenage Fanclub in that they're clearly enamored with '60s sunshine pop. But Oranger will always a little louder, a little more raucous with a drummer who loved to go apeshit Keith Moon-style. (And appropriately, the album's title comes from Tommy.) Hands down their best record, The Quiet Vibrationland still sounds swell ten years later. Apparently they're still together, though somewhat dormant now.

MP3: Suddenly Upside Down
MP3:
 
Stoney Curtis in Reverse

Tsool The Soundtrack of Our Lives Behind the Music (Telegram, Feb 2001)
There's a lot of '60s psych inspired bands on my list, and TSOOL were like a greatest hits of the era all rolled into one nonstop Swedish Rock Machine and one of the decade's most amazing live bands. 2001's Behind the Music was their third record, the first to get recognition in the States, though it wouldn't get released till mid-2002. Sure, you can dissect the songs into its borrowed elements but why spoil the fun when tracks like "Sister Surround," "21st Century Ripoff," "Keep the Line Movin'," and "Nevermore" sound so great cranked all the way up. 

MP3: Sister Surround
MP3:
 
Independent Luxury

Spoon Spoon Girls Can Tell (Merge, Feb 2001)
You could make a pretty good case for Spoon being Artist of the Decade, a band who made great records all through the '00s. Pretty amazing for a band whose first album is so unremarkable. Maybe like Radiohead, it just took Spoon a bit to figure out what they wanted to be. By Girls Can Tell, they'd figured out that almost minimalist sound, where you hear every instrument clearly. I know a lot of people prefer 2003's Kill the Moonlight, but it's this one that proved A Series of Sneaks was no fluke and grabbed me the most… and still does.

MP3: Anything You Want
MP3: Fitted Shirt
 

Pernice Pernice BrothersThe World Won't End (Ashmont, June 2001)
This is clearly the work of someone raised on '70s AM radio pop before having their worldview (and sense of humor) informed by gloomy '80s Brit haircut music. Meet The Pernice brothers, a band who have t-shirts that say "I Hate My Life." The World Won't End (pretty sure the album's title is not meant to be a good thing.) is a gorgeous mix of those two worlds, with Joe Pernice's honeyed, weary vocals (and the swooning string arrangements) the icing on the cake. All the Pernice Brothers albums are good, but The World Won't End is the classic.

MP3: Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)
MP3:
 Let That Show

Amanset American Analog SetKnow By Heart (Tigerstyle, Sept 2001)
Warm yet chilly, lovely yet sinister, American Analog set on Know By Heart made music that seems to have come from that space between waking and sleep. Like the Austin neighbors Spoon, this is spare music, but methodically put together… and will haunt you like a half-remembered dream. AmAnSet never bettered Know By Heart.

MP3: Punk as Fuck
MP3: The Kindness of Strangers

Notwist The Notwist Neon Golden (City Slang, Feb 2002)
Incorporating the glitchy sound of of the then-current laptop scene, long-running German band The Notwist finally got America to take notice with Neon Golden. Rightly so. Digital manipulation is as evident here as it is on Cher's "Believe" but the Notwist make it sound as organic as blood coursing through veins. It hasn't dated one bit.

MP3: Pilot
MP3: One with the Freaks

Edwyn Edwyn CollinsDoctor Syntax (Setanta, April, 2002)
Before being sidelined by a stroke in 1995, Edwyn Collins was an in-demand producer when not working on solo material. 2002's Doctor Syntax (unreleased in America) might be his best album, slinky funk with a wicked mean streak, mostly aimed at the record industry. The production is brilliant. You could imagine couple of the songs here — "Johnny Teardrop" and "20 Years Too Late" —  reworked to be hits for Beyonce or Girls Aloud. 

MP3: 20 Years Too Late
MP3: It's a Funny Thing 

Bss Broken Social SceneYou Forgot it In People (Paper Bag, Oct 2002)
The start of the new Canadian Invasion, though Toronto never developed into an actual scene the way Montreal did. Seeing Broken Social Scene at Mercury Lounge summer of 2003 was kind of a revelation. Most American bands didn't try this hard, or have this many members. It helped that they were touring for an album as great as this, that echoed the '80s and '90s but fresh and new.

MP3: Cause = Time
MP3Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl
 

Dears The DearsNo Cities Left (MapleMusic, April 2003)
Let's set this straight. Dears frontman Murray Lightburn does NOT sound like Morrissey. Damon Albarn, I can hear that, but not really the Moz. And Lightburn has bigger aspirations, anyway, on No Cities Left, an epic album in every way that might collapse under all the bombast and melodrama if the songs weren't so damn good. And their shows around the time, they were one of the best live bands in North America. One thing Lightburn and Moz do have in common: not getting any enough credit for their sense of humor. 

MP3: Lost in the Plot
MP3: 22: the Death of All the Romance

Radiodept Radio Dept. Lesser Matters (Labrador/Shelflife, March 2003)
Here's a record that I still can't quite put my finger on why it's so good. It was like the sum of everything I loved in the late '80s and early '90s, as played and recorded on shitty equipment. The enigmatic nature of the band helped too, and you could be convinced that the tapes for this album were discovered by accident while cleaning out someone's basement. 

MP3: Why Won't You Talk About It?
MP3: Ewan
 

Newporno New PornographersThe Electric Version (Merge, May 2003)
Canadian Invasion, West Coast Division. I know the tastemakers say their debut, Mass Romantic, is the end-all be-all. But for my dollar, The Electric Version does it better and catchier. Carl Newman and Dan Bejar' songwriting had grown even more confident… and the hooks are undeniable. 

MP3: From Blown Speakers
MP3: Chump Change
 

 

Ulrich Ulrich SchnaussA Strangely Isolated Place (Domino, May 2003)
Laptop shoegaze, beautiful and hypnotic like Slowdive and Cocteau Twins, which are the obvious and admitted influences here. Perhaps my favorite sleeping album of all time, it's also good for walking around the city, road trips and doing the dishes. Dancing, not so much.

MP3: On My Own
MP3: Monday
 

Komeda

Komeda Kokomemedada (Sonet/Minty Fresh June 2003)
Like Stereolab's zany Swedish cousins, Komeda always swung a little too kitsch/novelty for my tastes on their first album so I checked out until hearing Kokomemedada, and my opinion changed immediately. Komeda stayed playful but became more sophisticated about the songwriting, sort of Krautrock with a personality and sense of humor. Also, ridiculously catchy stuff. 1998's What Makes it Go? is pretty great too.


MP3: Blossom
MP3: Victory Lane

Darkness The DarknessPermission to Land (WEA, July 2003)
No, I'm not kidding. At the time, debates raged — RAGED — about whether The Darkness was serious or not. Well, clearly you don't wear spandex cat suits, sing in a Tiny Tim falsetto and write a love song to a genital wart ("Growing On Me") and not understand irony, but it was clear singer/guitarist/songwriter Justin Hawkins loves this stuff. Part Thin Lizzy riff rock boogie, part Queen flamboyance, Permission to Land is all hits, start to finish. (If you can get past Justin Hawkins' falsetto.) And some of the most inspired, melodically-driven guitar solos (some songs have three) on any album of the last 20 years. Plus "Friday Night" which could almost be a Pulp song. And hilariously insane videos (especially "Growing on Me".) It all went up Hawkins' nose on the overblown second album, but Permission to Land is brilliant.

MP3: Growing on Me
MP3
Friday Night

Bs Belle & SebastianDear Catastrophe Waitress (Rough Trade, Oct 2003)
Who'd have thought having Trevor Horn, producer of some of the most bombastic records of the last 30 years, work with twee royalty Belle & Sebastian would be a good idea, let alone a brilliant one. Instead of turning them into Seal (or taTu) he focused the band back to their stong suit: Stuart Murdoch. Where B&S's three previous records had been democratic to a giant fault, letting everyone in the band contribute songs, Dear Catastrophe Waitress was almost entirely written by Murdoch who was up to the task, branching out from his VU safety zone into glam and new wave territory. Their best record since If You're Feeling Sinister and a terrific return to form, that would continue through the rest of the '00s. (Also seek out the 2004 b-side "Your Cover's Blown," one of their best, most ambitious songs ever.)

MP3: I'm a Cuckoo
MP3: Stay Loose
 

LomaxLomax A Symbol of Modern Living (93 Records, Nov 2003)
Of all the bands aping Gang of Four's postpunk in the early '00s (and there were tons of them) Lomax came the closest to feeling like the real thing — the anger, the aggression, the politics. And almost nobody heard this record, which is strange in some ways Lomax's frontman was Paul Epworth, who ended up producing some of the most hyped bands doing nearly the same thing (Rapture, Futureheads, Bloc Party…). Maybe because this record was never shoved down my throat is why I still listen to it.

MP3: Brought to Rights
MP3: Modern Life
 

MoonbabiesMoonbabies The Orange Billboard (Hidden Agenda, Jan 2004)
Sparkling pop music with lovely boy-girl harmonies, chiming guitars and a twinkle of electronics. It's just a lovely lovely record that got almost no attention at all at the time, though that changed somewhat when Moonbabies ended up on one of the Grey's Anatomy soundtracks. This is the musical equivalent to what I imagine Sweden to be like in the Springtime. Defintely one of the '00s unheard gems.

MP3: Sun A.M.
MP3: Forever Changes Everything Now

ThefallThe FallReal New Fall LP (aka Country on the Click) (Action/Narnack, March 2004)
Though 2000's The Unutterable contains perhaps my favorite Fall song of this decade ("Dr. Buck's Letter") I have to give the edge Real New Fall LP for overall quality. Coming off of one of The Fall's worst album's ever (Are You Missing Winner), Mark E. Smith rallied with a tight new band, a focused outlook and generally seeming fairly with it. This was the last great Fall album, though I have no doubt M.E.S. will deliver another to us soon. An album on Domino (a good sign) is due in January 2010.

MP3: Green Eyed Loco Man
MP3: Mountain Energi

Scissorsisters The Scissor SistersS/T (Universal, July 2004)
Originally part of the shortlived electroclash scene, Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears envisioned that extended further than Grand Street in Williamsburg. Their debut album (reportedly recorded in Shears' apartment) is the best bits of 1976 that weren't punk: glam, glitter, and disco. An ode to the fading flame that was the NYC nightlife scene, Scissor Sisters debut has a staggering number of phenomenal songs. Like the Darkness album, it's almost all hits. "Take Your Mama Out" and their Gibb-i-fied take on "Comfortably Numb" may have been the showpieces, it's ballads "Mary" and the stunning "Return to Oz" are the showstoppers.

MP3: Mary

Rakes The RakesCapture/Release (V2, Aug 2005)
In a sea of similar bands to pop up in Franz Ferdinand's wake, The Rakes were the best because they had personality and a point of view thanks to spazzy singer Alan Donahoe. They actually sang about something. "Everything's temporary these days/Might as well go out for the fifth night in a row" — still relevant! Capture/Release's tales of urban 20-something ennui still hold up. Donahoe's a Jarvis Cocker in the waiting, hopefully he won't give up music following The Rakes recent split. 

MP3: Retreat 
MP3:
 22 Grand Job

Elbow ElbowLeaders of the Free World (V2, Sept 2005)
My top album of 2005. Gorgeous melodies, inventive arrangements and musicianship, and some of the most heartfelt (without treacle) lyrics around. And Guy Garvey's amazing voice on top of it all. Elbow finally got some well deserved recognition (and the Mercury Prize) for 2008's Seldom Seen Kid, but this album is better.

MP3: Mexican Standoff

Hotchip Hot ChipThe Warning (DFA, June 2006)
My top album of 2006 and they have yet to better it. (That could change when One Life Stand comes out, we'll see.) "Over and Over" has been played to death, but you know it still sounds great, as does the rest of this album. It’s the sound of real live people playing – not programming – synthesizers, and that human element shines through.

MP3: No Fit State
MP3: Look After Me

SloanSloan Never Hear the End of It (MurderRecords, Sept 2006)
One of my favorite bands of the last 20 years, Sloan had a rough start to the decade trying to grab the brass ring. (The Canadian brass ring at least.) For Never Hear the End of It, they went back to doing what they do best – being themselves. The result was their best album in years; a sprawling, beautiful mess of 30 interwoven songs that never gets boring.

MP3: Fading into Obscurity
MP3: Blackout

 

Electrelane Electrelane No Shouts, No Calls (Too Pure, March 2007)
There is nothing you could call new or groundbreaking about Electrelane's final album. It's a sound echoing of the Velvets, the Pastels, and many other indie touchstones. But they just do it so well, with lyrics so sad and romantic this time, and for whatever reason No Shouts, No Calls really stuck with me. It's kind of perfect. I wish they'd change their mind and get back together.

MP3: To the East
MP3: Saturday

 

MetronomyMetronomyNights Out (Because Music, Sept 2008)
My top album of '08 and it still holds up a year later. Metronomy have a distinct sound that is instantly recognizable whether it's their own tracks or the remixes they do for other artists. It's manic, with a water-damaged quality to it that sounds like what it feels to be up for 36 hours straight, buzzing on espressos (or whatever) but dead tired. In a good way, obviously. It still sounds like nothing else. Metronomy are now a four piece, with a drummer and new bassist, so who knows what 2010 will bring for them, but I can't wait to find out.

MP3: A Thing for Me
MP3: Heartbreaker
 

Best of 2006 | Blender

What to make of Blender‘s list? Like Q‘s, it feels chosen and second-guessed to death. And like Q, it feels British. As in a bunch of 40-something Brits trying to still seem cool. So for all of this Anglophilia, why is Art Brut on this year’s list? "Because it didn’t come out in America until 2006." Okay, then why is Lily Allen on the list when her album Alright, Still doesn’t drop Stateside till January 30, 2007? "Sod Off!" Isn’t that an English expression? "We said Sod Off!!!"

Blender’s Top 20 Albums of 2006

  1. My Chemical RomanceThe Black Parade
  2. Arctic MonkeysWhatever…
  3. Bob DylanModern Times
  4. Justin TimberlakeFuturesex/Lovesounds
  5. Ghostface Killah Fishscale
  6. The BeatlesLove
  7. The Hold SteadyBoys and Girls in America
  8. Mary J. BligeThe Breakthrough
  9. Clipse Hell Hath No Fury
  10. Art Brut Bang Bang Rock and Roll
  11. Regina Spektor Begin to Hype
  12. DJ Drama & Lil WayneDedication 2
  13. Girl Talk The Night Ripper
  14. Todd Snider The Devil You Know
  15. Lily Allen Alright, Still
  16. John Legend Once Again
  17. New York DollsOne Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This
  18. Sonic Youth Rather Ripped
  19. Red Hot Chili PeppersStadium Arcadium
  20. Lamb of GodSacrament

Blender’s Top 20 Singles of 2006

  1. "Crazy" – Gnarls Barkley
  2. "What You Know" – T.I.
  3. "My Love" – Justin Timberlake feat. T.I.
  4. "Promiscuous" – Nelly Furtado
  5. "When You Were Young" – The Killers
  6. "Cheated Hearts" – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  7. "Ridin’" – Chamillionaire
  8. "Welcome to the Black Parade" – My Chemical Romance
  9. "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" – Arctic Monkeys
  10. "All of the Above" – Big City Rock
  11. "Me & U" – Cassie
  12. "Chillout Tent" – The Hold Steady
  13. "Ring the Alarm" – Beyonce
  14. "Over and Over" – Hot Chip
  15. "Call Me When You’re Sober" – Evanescence
  16. "J.E.E.Z.Y." – Young Jeezy
  17. "The Big Guns" – Jenny Lewis
  18. "Wolf Like Me" – TV on the Radio
  19. "We Fly High" – Jim Jones
  20. "45:33 Nike Original Run" – LCD Soundsystem

SoundBites Best of 2006 | Albums

While my Top Ten remained pretty solid, I finagled with the rest of the list right up to this posting. Lots and lots of good music this year, some of it was even great. Brits dominated the list this year (I am an Anglophile for sure) with the USA, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and, in a shocker, Australia rounding things out. If you disagree with my choices, I offer this quote from Yukon Cornelius: "You eat what you like, and I’ll eat what I like!" (MP3s are expired, sorry)

Hotchip1.
Hot Chip
The Warning (DFA/Astralwerks) | Overflowing with ideas, melody and humor, The Warning had it all: killer singles (“Over and Over,” “Boy from School,”), slow jams (the affecting “Look After Me”) and whiteboy funk (“Arrest Yourself”). Hot Chip are like a modern day New Order, and they do it without imitating Peter Hook’s bass style. It’s the sound of real live people playing – not programming – sythesizers, and that human element shines through.

Buy It | MP3: Hot Chip – "No Fit State"

Sloan2.
Sloan
Never Hear the End of It (Murderecords) | Canada’s indie elder statesman return after a few years of trying to grab the brass ring and go back to doing what they do best – being themselves. The result is their best album in years; a sprawling, beautiful mess of 30 interwoven songs that never gets boring. Though you never really went away, Sloan, it’s good to have you back.

Buy It| MP3: Sloan – "Set in Motion"

Midlake3.
Midlake
The Trials of Van Occupanther (Bella Union) | Yes, Midlake’s songs are often soft. But they’re not soft rock. Michael McDonald never sounded like this… or sang about 19th Century agrarian society. Bookish and beautiful, The Trials of Van Occupanther is a perfect album for Sunday mornings, drives through lush countrysides or doing research for that second doctorate.

Buy It | MP3: Midlake – "Roscoe"

Figurines4.
Figurines
Skeleton (Control Group) | Denmark’s Figurines sound like a Best of ’90s Indie Rock compilation all rolled into one band. A little Pavement, some Modest Mouse, with liberal splashes of Teen Beat and Flying Nun thrown in for good measure. More than anything else, Skeleton is loaded with fantastic songs. Great Danes indeed.

Buy It | MP3: figurines – "i remember"

Kelleystoltz5.
Kelley Stoltz
Below the Branches (Sub Pop) | Here’s a record that took nearly six months to work its magic on me, but has now burrowed deep under my skin and refuses to leave. Below the Branches has a real timeless quality about it, and it’s not just the songwriting. It’s not retro, yet it sounds like it could’ve been recorded any time over the last three decades. Kelley Stoltz is also a real charmer in person — don’t miss a chance to see him play.

Buy It | Kelley Stoltz – "Birdies Singing"

Theknife_16.
The Knife
Silent Shout (Mute) | Certainly one of the most hyped records of the year, Silent Shout deserved it’s accolades. The Knife‘s music is like one of those sea creatures that lives in the deepest waters: spooky, phospherescent, undulating, mesmerizing. And you can dance to it. Yet for me, this is a perfect record to listen to while walking around the city at night.

Buy It | MP3: The Knife – "Neverland"

Phoenix7.
Phoenix
It’s Never Been Like That (Astralwerks) | Phoenix started as slick dance-pop and have been devolving their sound ever since. Though we know they are skilled musicians, Phoenix pull off the sloppy, Strokesy rock with much elan. This is just one of those records that just sounds great, and their songs are catchy as ever. One of the most fun albums of the year.

Buy It | MP3: Phoenix – "Rally"

Lukehaines
8. Luke Haines
Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop (Degenerate) |
Like Mark E. Smith, I don’t think Luke Haines is ever going to run out
of bile. It fed four Auteurs albums, one by Baader Meinoff, three from
Black Box Recorder, and a flurry of solo work here in the last few
years. And all of it is awesome. That being said, I was a bit taken back
by just how awesome Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop is. Always looking on the dark side of life and England, this
time, Haines fixates on Serial killers, aging rock stars,
the art world, and the music biz — all wrapped up in glammy disco (not unlike Denim) and whispered vocals. This is may be one of the best things Haines has ever done. And that is saying something.

Buy It | MP3: Luke Haines – "Off My Rocker at the Art School Bop"

Dears9.
The Dears
Gang of Losers (Arts & Crafts) | Montreal’s perpetual underdogs are just starting to get some attention (aka play on Grey’s Anatomy) and it’s about time. After touring their asses off in 2005, gaining the reputation as one of the most firey live bands on the planet, the Dears finally nailed it in the studio. (Playing it mostly live with minimal overdubs helped.) Gang of Losers is the post-apocalyptic romantic pop album of the year. Not that there was much competition.

Buy It | MP3: The Dears – "Whites Only Party"

Dirtyonpurpose
10. Dirty on Purpose
Hallelujah Sirens (North Street Records) | Maybe it’s that Mercury Lounge seemed to be playing this album before every band I saw there this year, but Hallelujah Sirens is one of my most-listened-to albums of the year. Or maybe it’s just that there is no filler here — every song is great. Dirty on Purpose are friends of mine, but listening to this album, I am a mere fan.

Buy It
| MP3: Dirty on Purpose – "Light Polution"

Albums 11 – 20 after the jump.

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Best of 2006: Rolling Stone

Rs_bestof2006_1
Though not as bad as Q, the Rolling Stone best-of seems kind of desperate to stay cool. Not desperate enough to put anything but Bob Dylan as #1, but they threw in TVotR, Clipse and Ghostface Killah in the Top Ten. And as others have noted… Stadium Arcadium at #2? (Though I question John Mayer at #11 more.) I wonder how many of these Jann Wenner has actually heard? Heard of? I’m not sure if anybody cares anymore about RS. I can’t remember the last time I actually bought an issue, and has seemed out-of-touch as long as I’ve read it. Out-of-touch isn’t necessarily a crime, but when you’re out-of-touch and try and pretend you’re still hip to the scene, you get something like this. You can check out the mag’s whole Top 50 at thier website.

Rolling Stone’s Top 20 Albums of 2006

  1. Modern Times – Bob Dylan
  2. Stadium Arcadium – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  3. Rather Ripped – Sonic Youth
  4. Return To Cookie Mountain – TV On The Radio
  5. Fishscale – Ghostface Killah
  6. The Greatest – Cat Power
  7. Hell Hath No Fury – Clipse
  8. Boys And Girls In America – The Hold Steady
  9. Blood Mountain – Mastodon
  10. Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers And Bastards – Tom Waits
  11. Continuum – John Mayer
  12. One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This – The New York Dolls
  13. Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam
  14. American V: A Hundred Highways – Johnny Cash
  15. Wolfmother – Wolfmother
  16. Food & Liquor – Lupe Fiasco
  17. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys
  18. Game Theory – The Roots
  19. Taking The Long Way – Dixie Chicks
  20. The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance

Best of 2006: Maybe “Best” is the Wrong Word

Pitchfork’s "Worst Album Covers of 2006": Yeah, what was up with that Built to Spill art?

The Passion of the Weiss’ "Ten Most Disappointing Albums of 2006": I’m not sure how one can be disappointed with Morningwood. With a name like that, what do you really expect?

For those wondering how Silent Alarm will fare in ten years, The Onion’s AV Club looks back at "11 Ghosts Of Best-Of Music Lists Past (1989–2000)." Were people really excited about Living Colour’s Time’s Up? (Apparently yes… J from Heart-on-a-Stick certainly was. Still, not my thing.) Elsewhere, the editors explain why The Raconteurs, Beck, Clipse, Joanna Newsom and other common end-of-year contenders didn’t make their list.

The Golden Globe noms are in... the picks are unsurprisingly milquetoast. Dreamgirls, Blood Diamond, Seal for best song…zzzz.

SoundBites Best of 2006 | Gigs

Hotchip1_11I think I saw upwards of 70 shows this year, some more memorable than others. Some didn’t get written up even though they should’ve (The Young Knives, Battle, Aberfeldy) and others didn’t cause they weren’t worth it (dEUS comes to mind). But these ten were probably the best.

  1. Hot Chip | Bowery Ballroom | 3.11.2006
    "I hadn’t seen a Bowery Ballroom crowd go this bananas since the LCD
    Soundsystem show a year ago. Heck, I was dancing… and I wasn’t even that drunk."
  2. Soulwax + Klaxons | Studio B | 9.21.2006
    "Soulwax rival LCD Soundsystem in their ability to
    bring electronic music to life in a live setting. Or to put it another
    way, they absolutely rocked. (How many ways will I write a variation on
    that statement? Read on.) Why did it work so well? A perfect blend of
    skill, material, presentation and volume."
  3. Richard Hawley | Sin-é | 3.23.2006
    "With a velvety croon, reverbed, twangy guitars and lush orchestration,
    his music recalls Jimmy Webb, Scott Walker, Johnny Cash, Burt
    Bacharach, and Marty Robbins. That out-of-time quality was reinforced at last night’s show at Sin-é that can be summed up in two words: Pure class."
  4. Rakes + Towers of London | Bowery Ballroom | 3.21.2006
    "What a raucous night at Bowery Ballroom, with what I’m sure will be the
    most cups of beer, ice and water ever thrown at the stage, and the most
    gobbing by a band I have personally seen in the last ten years."
  5. Cansei de Ser Sexy | Warsaw | 7.20.2006
    "The queen of the party, however, was singer Lovefoxxx,
    a Bjork-lookalike who jumped around, stripped off clothing, mooned the
    audience, jumped into the fray, and generally partied-it-up the entire
    show."
  6. The Dears | Bowery Ballroom | 9.14.2006
    "
    You can say a lot of things about The Dears, but no one can claim that they don’t give 100%. If it were not physically impossible to give 110%, I’m
    sure they would’ve done that."
  7. New Young Pony Club | Williamsburg White Room | 12.09.2006
    "From the catchy-as-hell, extremely danceable songs, to the tight musicianship, to the effortless charisma of spitfire singer Tahita Bulmer,
    New Young Pony Club just had their shit together. It was like they were
    born fully formed, ready for the big time, and I mean that in the best
    possible way."
  8. Belle & Sebastian | Nokia Theatre | 03.02.2006
    "Stuart Murdoch isn’t shy anymore; now quite the cheeky
    frontman, dancing, telling jokes, flirting with the audience… but
    still forgetting the words. Luckily, Stevie Jackson (looking dapper in a mod-ish suit) knows them all and filled in the missing lines, not missing a beat."
  9. Midlake | Mercury Lounge | 6.20.2006
    "There were so many old keyboards, patch-bays, racks of guitars and
    other stuff up there the band didn’t really have much room to move. But
    they could play. Every member was miked, and the harmonies flowed out
    dense and beautiful."
  10. Art Brut + We Are Scientists + The Chalets | Knitting Factory | 5.18.2006
    This is as far as I got with this review: "I wish the Knitting Factory did shows like this all the time. Let a band currate an entire evening on both floors…" And so began the SoundBites Blog Blackout of Late Spring 2006. Which is now over, obviously.

Best of 2006 | The Guardian Music Monthly

Guardian Part of the erstwhile left-leaning British weekly, The Guardian, the Observer Music Monthly is a lot like what Q used to be (and what WORD is now) — a music mag for adults, who are still quite into music, thankyouverymuch. Again, no surprise as to the #1 album (it’s as if British mags MUST choose it or look like fools) but there are some curveballs in the list. Both the albums and singles lists actually go to 20, so read the full versions there, complete with commentary.

The Observer’s Top 10 Singles of 2006

  1. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
  2. Ali Farka Toure – Savane
  3. Tom Waits – Orphans
  4. Lambchop – Damaged
  5. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
  6. Bob Dylan – Modern Times
  7. Joanna Newsom – Ys
  8. Ghostface Killah – Fishscale
  9. Jarvis – Jarvis Cocker
  10. Lily Allen – Alright, Still

The Observer’s Top 10 Singles of 2006

  1. "Crazy" – Gnarls Barkley
  2. "Sheila" – Jamie T
  3. "Supermassive Black Hole" – The Muse
  4. "LDN" – Llily Allen
  5. "Standng In the Way of Control" – The Gossip
  6. "I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’" – Scissor Sisters
  7. "Country Girl" – Primal Scream
  8. "Prangin’ Out (Version)" – The Streets
  9. "We Are Your Friends" – Justice vs Simian
  10. "Over and Over" – Hot Chip

Best of 2006 | The Onion A.V. Club

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The Onion has changed and expanded more in the last year than it has in its its previous years of existence combined. This goes for the funny stuff, as well as its awesome, smart Arts & Entertainment section (which is also funny), The A.V. Club. Previously, the editors have shied away from making a Definitive Statement about the best year, instead offering individual lists from all its writers.

This year, however, for the first time (I think) there is a Definitive List:

The Onion A.V. Club’s Top Ten Albums of 2006

  1. The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America
  2. TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
  3. Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther
  4. Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat
  5. Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
  6. Ghostface Killah – Fishscale
  7. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
  8. The Coup – Pick a Bigger Weapon
  9. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
  10. Band of Horses – Everything All the Time

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The list actually goes to 25, and the writers all get thier individual top tens as well. Check out the whole thing here. Once again, my own Top 20 is like a combination of Noel Murray and Keith Phipps‘ lists. The A.V. Club‘s annual "Least Essential Albums of the Year" list has yet to publish, but you can check out the also-not-to-be-missed Cheap Toy Roundup (including the "Future Gun" seen here, right).

SoundBites Best of 2006 | Singles + Tracks

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I probably could’ve done a Top 50. It was a good year for great songs…

  1. "Over and Over" – Hot Chip (video)
  2. "Young Folks" – Peter Bjorn and John (video)
  3. "Crazy" – Gnarls Barkley (video)
  4. "Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above" – CSS (video)
  5. "Supervitesse" – Mahogany (MP3)
  6. "Love It When You Call" – The Feeling (video)
  7. "Rehab" – Amy Winehouse (video)
  8. "You Only Live Once" – The Strokes (video)
  9. "Casual Use" – The Shortwave Set (MP3)
  10. "Moving To New York" – The Wombats (MP3)
  11. "Roscoe" – Midlake (video)
  12. "When I Wake" – The Changes (MP3)
  13. "Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken" –  Camera Obscura (video)
  14. "Parentheses" – The Blow (video)
  15. "Boy From School" – Hot Chip (video)
  16. "Consolation Prizes" – Phoenix (video)
  17. "If You Fail We All Fail" – Fields (MP3)
  18. "O Valencia" – The Decemberists (video)
  19. "Rough Gem" – Islands (video)
  20. "She’s Attracted To" – The Young Knives (video)
  21. "God Knows" – El Perro Del Mar (MP3)
  22. "45:33: Nike + Original Run" – LCD Soundsystem
  23. "Lust in the Movies" – The Long Blondes (MP3)
  24. "LDN" – Lily Allen (video)
  25. "Gravity’s Rainbow" – The Klaxons (video)

Best of 2006 | SPIN

I wonder how many US magazines are going to have Cookie Mountain as their #1 album of the year? Will Pitchfork? (Joanna Newsom seems likely, though) Every time a song from it comes up on shuffle, I like it, but rarely find myself listening to the whole thing. Ponder these questions as you peruse SPIN‘s end-of-year lists. The singles seem to be chosen by Charles Aaron again (he’s been doing it there for eons) — I have really grown to appreciate his taste. "Crazy" may be obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

SPIN’s Top 20 Albums of 2006

  1. TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
  2. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere
  3. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say That I Am, That’s What I’m Not
  4. Ghostface Killah – Fishscale
  5. My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
  6. Joanna Newsom – Ys
  7. Cat Power – The Greatest
  8. My Morning Jacket – Okonokos
  9. Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury
  10. Beck – The Information
  11. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
  12. Hot Chip – The Warning
  13. Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat
  14. T.I. – King
  15. Lady Sovereign – Public Warning
  16. Editors – The Back Room
  17. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
  18. The Streets – The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
  19. The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers
  20. Lupe Fiasco – Food & Licquor

SPIN’s Top 20 Singles of 2006

  1. "Crazy" – Gnarls Barkley
  2. "When You Were Young" – The Killers
  3. "Ain’t No Other Man" – Christina Aguilera
  4. "Welcome to the Black Parade" – My Chemical Romance
  5. "Wolf Like Me" – TV on the Radio
  6. "Hustlin’" – Rick Ross
  7. "Ridin’" – Chamillionaire feat. Krazie Bone
  8. "Steady as She Goes" – The Raconteurs
  9. "Smile" – Lily Allen
  10. "Rise Up with Fists!" – Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
  11. "Kick, Push" – Lupe Fiasco
  12. "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" – The Artic Monkeys
  13. "Cheated Hearts" – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  14. "Notorious" – Turbulence
  15. "I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’" – Scissor Sisters
  16. "Vans" – The Pack
  17. "The Funeral" – Band of Horses
  18. "Silent Shout" – The Knife
  19. "Trains to Brazil" – Guillemots
  20. "Be Gentle with Me" – The Boy Least Likely To