URGH! A Music Blog


Some punk-ass new guy vomits yet another year-end list

Posted in Music Reviews by fleser on January 3, 2007

Hey. I’ve never written on here before, so feel free to ignore everything I write. But here’s my Top 20 of 2006.

20. JENNY LEWIS WITH THE WATSON TWINS: RABBIT FUR COAT

19. BAND OF HORSES: EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME

18. JOHANN JOHANNSSON: IBM 1401, A USER’S MANUAL
Probably the best Icelandic ballet that came out this year.

17. THE FIERY FURNACES: BITTER TEA
Well, it’s not for everyone. But these songs, especially “Teach Me Sweetheart” and “Benton Harbor Blues,” reveal deeper emotions than their usual “operas by 5-year-olds” idiom.

16. SUNSET RUBDOWN: SHUT UP I AM DREAMING
Way better than the traditional side project offering.

15. DANIELSON: SHIPS
Clangy, shrieky, obnoxious; ambitious, cinematic, gorgeous.

14. SONIC YOUTH: RATHER RIPPED

13. LOOSE FUR: BORN AGAIN IN THE USA
I love that Jim O’Rourke appears to me in some form or another every year, like the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. This year, he came to me in the form of a lost School House Rock ditty about the Ten Commandments.

12. HERBERT: SCALE
The orchestration is so spot-on, making Matthew Herbert the man of whom I’m the most jealous this year. Why can’t I do that?

11. TV ON THE RADIO: RETURN TO COOKIE MOUNTAIN

10. LIARS: DRUM’S NOT DEAD
Music geek moment of the year: watch the accompanying DVD to see how they recorded “Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack.” Any band with two drummers automatically rules.

9. BEIRUT: GULAG ORKESTAR
I really wrestled with if I should put Zach Condon this high on the list; the songs sometimes run into each other, and, you know, he’s got a lot to learn. But this release was unlike anything else I’d heard this year, and I just can’t put it away.

8. BECK: THE INFORMATION
The last album, Guero, sucked. Royally. And I wasn’t expecting to like this one, either, but Godrich put such a spacy sheen on it that I couldn’t stay away. The first six or seven tracks are just flawless. And I love how he blatantly rips off Serge Gainsbourg in “The Horrible Fanfare.”

7. J DILLA: DONUTS
I actually don’t like The Shining (the “proper” album). I think it’s boring. But these 31 tracks kept my head nodding for a good part of this year. I read a review that referred to this as hip hop’s Loveless, but I’m not sure I’m feeling that. I feel like it’s hip hop’s Alien Lanes, proving to us that, indeed, a minute and a half is a perfectly valid length of time for musical perfection.

6. NEKO CASE: FOX CONFESSOR BRINGS THE FLOOD
Me, to my sister, this last summer: “Why the fuck are you listening to Norah Jones and the Dixie Chicks and all that bullshit? Just listen to Neko Case. Now *that’s* a voice of power and musicality.”

A conversation in the office, a couple weeks ago, not initiated by me: “Why the fuck are these assholes listening to Norah Jones and the Dixie Chicks and all that bullshit? Just listen to Neko Case”, etc.

5. THE KNIFE: SILENT SHOUT
I mean, try *not* dancing all over the house to these ice-cold songs. It’s like The Matrix produced Trans Am’s Future World. Finally, a release that makes it sound kind of like it’s 2006.

4. THE ROOTS: GAME THEORY
Kind of slept-on, don’t you think? I mean, this album takes the best of everything that’s come before it in their catalog, and made a lean, hyper-focused work devoid of the bloat and wank that bogs down so much hip hop these days (extended J Dilla eulogy notwithstanding). In fact, I’m barely considering this release to be a hip hop album. The Roots have lapped themselves; instead of imitating the trailblazers, they’ve begun to write new rules.

3. JOANNA NEWSOM: YS
When I opened the liner notes, I was confronted with my dream team of musicians. I mean, Van Dyke Parks? Jim O’Rourke? Steve Albini? Bill Callahan? Come the fuck on. Yeah, yeah, it’s the year’s most divisive release. And if you don’t like it, I don’t expect you to anytime in the near future. But maybe you should do what Ms. Newsom did, and take a listen to _Song Cycle_ by Van Dyke Parks. Or maybe just pull out some Mahler. Sometimes music needs color; I, for one, am ready to take a little break from the three-chord riff.

2. XIU XIU: THE AIR FORCE
Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof, two vastly different but inextricably linked acts, both release albums at the pace of roughly one per year (Xiu Xiu being slightly more prolific with various EP’s and side projects). Sometimes this doesn’t work very well in Xiu Xiu’s favor; their last couple albums, while increasingly commercially successful, seemed to fall into the rut of Jamie Stewart’s “I’m-deeply-disturbed-and-I-own-every-Factory-Records-release” vibe. But this year’s effort is their best since their debut, 2002’s Knife Play. I still don’t understand how they make such disparate influences as Lou Harrison, Joy Division, and Metal Machine Music so infectiously catchy.

1. DESTROYER: DESTROYER’S RUBIES
This album came out early this year, but I decided upon first listen that it was the album of the year, and I subsequently dared every release thereafter to prove me wrong. Much has been made of Dan Bejar’s meta-songwriting: the self-referentiality, the blatant theft of melodic and lyrical snippets from Willie Nelson, Fleetwood Mac, R.E.M., etc., seemingly impenetrable plotlines. But really, these words just work well together; one can just enjoy their sounds if preferred. This release is the culmination of what Destroyer has been hinting at for years.

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2 Responses to 'Some punk-ass new guy vomits yet another year-end list'

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  1. M said,

    Everyone, please welcome Fleser to our URGH Music Blog!

    As you can tell there’s a lot more substance to this post than anything I’ve written in my tenure here. I spent the year listening to Def Leppard and insulting up-and-coming dance artists. So, uh, my hypothetical best-of-2006 would not be a pretty sight.

    What was the funny conversation we had about the Xiu Xiu album cover? Why didn’t I blog it?

  2. fleser said,

    I know, right? I can’t remember a thing about it. But it’s probably our only conversation about Jesus.


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