Saturday, December 27, 2008

Revisionism: Year End List (2006)

Near the end of 2006, I started taking a deeper look into indie music. The results didn't initially show up in my year end list (with the exception of the number spot, but more on that in a second.) This was the year I discovered that rap music could kind of rule in certain contexts (T.I. - What You Know being one of those contexts). It's a little embarrassing to be making these discoveries at age 23, but the underground doesn't buzz very loud when you live in the middle of nowhere.

Original List (Link)

10. Mewithoutyou - Brother, Sister (They've softened in the sonic sense only. The lyrics carry the same bite that A->B Life's did - and almost more in some cases.)

9. Starflyer 59 - My Island (They've long since abandoned the more shoegaze-y sounds of their earlier stuff, but these songs sound awesome anyway. The less droning, more immediate guitars do Jason Martin's songs well.)

8. Children 18:3 - Songs of Desperation (I've noted numerous times, but 'LCM' was truly a revelation the first time I heard it. It's since been cleaned up and fleshed out quite a bit, but the more garage-y quality still has it's merits.)

7. Incubus - Light Grenades (Mm... It's got some very good songs, and it's got some sort of 'meh' moments on it, as well. Kind of middle of the road for them, but 'Anna Molly' still brings it.)

6. Gym Class Heroes - Cruel as School Children (Travis McCoy is no one's idea of an amazing rapper, but this CD is extremely enjoyable. Why should I have to affix 'guilty pleasure' status on it? Songs about MySpace can be cheesy as hell, but that doesn't make 'New Friend Request' any less hook filled or fun.)

5. People in Planes - As Far As the Eye Can See (The opening line to 'Baracuda' sold me on this CD more than possibly any 20 seconds of a song ever has. The rest of the CD is good, 'Baracuda' is killer.)

4. Lacuna Coil - Karmacode (I suppose in some alternate universe, these guys get massive play on all the radio stations, while Evanescence is relegated to endlessly playing Club1 while emo kids hold conversations in the mosh pit and make out. I sort of prefer that alternate universe.)

3. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere (Let's get this straight - 'Crazy' is the biggest song of this decade. It rules in every way imaginable. If this were a song list, Crazy would hold positions numbered 1-10. That being said, what I said about Gnarls Barkley - that the rest of it is "extremely good" - isn't entirely accurate. There's a lot to love ('Smiley Faces', etc.) but there's also plenty of very skippable songs. Luckily 'The Odd Couple' came along this year. I'm sure we'll hear about that next week.)

2. My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade (I stand by this. It's a great CD.)

1. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - So Divided (Okay, I'll admit it. I got caught up in some serious ToD love upon discovering them and sort of gave them one of those 'Lifetime Achievement' awards. This isn't their best CD... or their second best.... or maybe even their third best, and it's pretty certainly not the best CD to come out in 2006. Source Tags and Codes earned this spot. This exact spot is pretty much why I decided to take up this endevour in the first place - well... that and that inexplicable Souljahz thing in 2002... I mean...... seriously??)

And now... the revised list

10. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere (Sketchy as it sometimes gets, the highs are SO high...)

9. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - So Divided

8. Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton - Knives Don't Have Your Back (Soft piano songs backed by the lightest of arrangements aren't supposed to have this weight. Emily Haines tears her heart open and lays it on the table for the world to see. The result is emotional, raw music that grabs the attention and doesn't let go.)

7. My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade

6. The Decemberists - The Crane Wife (Who would have thought they'd have come out with something like the epic prog-rock 'The Island'? Who would have thought the concept would flesh out so well?)

5. Shiny Toy Guns - We Are Pilots (Easily my favorite 'guilty pleasure' album ever - though for how many spins I've gotten out of it, can I really call it a guilty pleasure? In the end, it doesn't matter either way, this CD is just awesome.)

4. Viva Voce - Get Yr Blood Sucked Out (They've come a long way since 'Hooray For Now', but the vaugely druggy fuzz still comes flying out of Anita Robinson's guitar, and that makes it all good. They've stripped away some of the pop from their earlier releases, and the tunes have a certain immediate feel to them as a result.)

3. P.O.S. - Audition (In yesterday's post, I mentioned how nice it is to have a rap-rock artist focus on the rap side. P.O.S. does this better than anyone I've soon. He fuses guitar lines that one would think completely incompatible with rap - Underoath? Song of Zarathustra?? - and somehow makes them sound like they were meant to be rapped over in the first place. His show at First Avenue prompted me to pick up as much of his discography as I could find. This is the pinacle so far - fiercely political without being preachy, streetwise without being either condescending or dismissive. This is honestly one of my favorite CDs, period.)

2. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (This is real rock from a real rock band. I dismissed it upon hearing Craig Finn's voice, but it's since grown on me to the point where I could safely say it's in my top 15 favorite albums ever.)

1. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (You know up there, where I said 'Crazy' was the song of the decade? Well... it is, but 'Wolf Like Me' has to be included in the discussion. The wall of guitar and effect sounds like the most furious storm of bees ever, and the intensity in the lyrics matches in pound for pound. That being said, I initially panned the rest of the CD as weird and a little bizzare for my tastes. I couldn't have been more wrong. This CD is easily in my top 5 ever. There's maybe one or two skips, and the bonus songs aren't incredible, but there's so much to absolutely love about this CD that it seems like second nature to just love it. One kind of funny note from this post in which I discuss new CD purchases. The idea of Eve 6 being as good as TV on the Radio is an amusing one to me now.)

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