FAVORITE MUSIC OF 2006
An Annual Report By Dave Ratzlow
Not as many undiscovered gems this year, but still a lot of great music, including several breakthrough solo albums and a few powerful debuts. As always, I'm excited to see what happens next. And please let me know if I missed anything this year.
***TOP TEN FAVORITE ALBUMS OF THE YEAR***
10. THE FIERY FURNANCES – Bitter Tea
09. M. WARD – Post-War
08. BELLE AND SEBASTIAN – The Life Pursuit
07. CAT POWER – The Greatest
(The title track is probably my favorite song of the year.)
06. BEIRUT – Gulag Orkestar
05. (tie) JENNY LEWIS & THE WATSON TWINS – Rabbit Fur Coat
(I think she's much better as a rock singer in her band Rilo Kiley, but she's still one of the most witty songwriters, filling this album with intimate country-tinged songs.)
05. (tie) TILLY AND THE WALL – Bottoms Of Barrels
(One of my favorite young pop bands. Surprisingly, after two albums, I'm still enchanted by the sound of tap dancing in lieu of a traditional drum kit. While there is a lot of melancholy music on my top ten, these kids help me remember what it's like to feel young and carefree, with the knowledge that anything is possible.)
04. GNARLS BARKLEY – St. Elsewhere
(There's a good reason the kids made this one of the biggest albums of the year: everything about it is fun, soulful and accessible. "Crazy" is the standout track, but unlike other pop albums, every song is a winner.)
03. EMILY HAINES – Knives Don't Have Your Back
(Former singer of the pop band Metric, Ms. Haines' solo album is full of introspective songs mostly featuring only piano and her distinctive raspy voice. Search the internet for her haunting video for the song "Doctor Blind".)
02. TAPES 'N TAPES – The Loon
(Catchy songs combined with a tough Pixies/Pavement-inspired sound, this album stayed in my CD player for a long time. Sure, we've heard it all before, but like Lenny Kravitz a decade ago, these talented musicians, all a bit older than is typical for a debut band, know how to bring it all together.)
01. JOAN AS POLICEWOMAN – Real Life
(Singer Joan Wasser had a band in the 90s called Black Beetle that used to make the boys swoon. With this new album she has vaulted into another stratosphere with lovely, intimate and catchy songs mostly about, what else, love's triumphs and heartaches.)
THE BE GOOD TANYAS – Hello Love
BECK – The Information
NEKO CASE – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
JOHNNY CASH – American V: A Hundred Highways
JOHNNY CASH – Personal File
(A 2-CD set of 49 songs and stories recorded in Cash's home studio in the 1970s. Just him and a guitar. Mesmerizing.)
THE CONCRETES – In Colour
HERBERT – Scale
(Featuring Dani Siciliano on vocals.)
MICAH P. HINSON – The Opera Circuit
(Doesn't include #1 song of the year "Yard Of Blonde Girls", but great nonetheless.)
JOLIE HOLLAND – Springtime Can Kill You
FRIDA HYVÖNEN – Until Death Comes
KAKI KING – …Until We Felt Red
LP FUNK – E.P.
NELLIE McKAY – Pretty Little Head
THE RACONTEURS – Broken Boy Soldiers
(Featuring Jack White of The White Stripes and Brendan Benson.)
DANI SICILIANO – Slappers
(Produced by Herbert.)
PAUL SIMON – Surprise
(Produced by Brian Eno.)
REGINA SPEKTOR – Begin To Hope
TORTOISE & BONNIE 'PRINCE' BILLY – The Brave And The Bold
(An album of covers, including completely transformed versions of Elton John's "Daniel" and Springsteen's "Thunder Road".)
THOM YORKE – The Eraser
***TOP TEN FAVORITE SONGS OF THE YEAR (Not on top ten albums)***
10. BECK – "Cellphone's Dead"
09. JESUS LICKS – "Terrible Beauty"
08. EL PERRO DEL MAR – "Hello Goodbye"
07. SUFJAN STEVENS – "Amazing Grace"
06. THE BE GOOD TANYAS – "When Doves Cry"
05. THE STARLIGHT MINTS – "Rhino Stomp"
04. REGINA SPEKTOR – "That Time"
03. PLANNINGTOROCK – "Bolton Wanderer"
02. LP FUNK – "Brooklyn Girls"
01. MICHA P. HINSON – "Yard Of Blonde Girls"
***TOP TEN FAVORITE CONCERTS OF THE YEAR***
10. CAT POWER @ Irving Plaza, September 10th
(She seemed a little goofy the entire night, anti-depressants I guessed, but for the first time that I've seen her, she actually finished every song. She was having such fun, they had to drag her off stage while she was singing her spirited cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy". Crazy she certainly is, but with the loveliest voice of her generation.)
09. JESUS H. CHRIST and the FOUR HORNSMEN of the APOCALYPSE @ Mo Pitkin's, January 15th
08. (tie) THE FLAMMING LIPS @ Webster Hall, March 31st
08. (tie) STARLIGHT MINTS @ Bowery Ballroom, June 12th
07. THE DUKE SPIRIT @ The Knitting Factory, March 26th
06. CAMILLE @ Joe's Pub, June 13th
05. (tie) KAKI KING @ Living Room, July 12th
05. (tie) LAVENDER DIAMOND @ North Six, November 2nd
04. WHITE MAGIC @ Cake Shop, June 20th
(While the album they released this year wasn't so good, when in full band mood, they still put on a great show, full of unique songs, simultaneously tough and tender.)
03. JENNY LEWIS & M. WARD @ Angel Orensanz Foundation, February 5th
(A terrific rock singer, Ms. Lewis struggled to find the right balance with the quieter numbers, but M. Ward showed her how it's done with a charismatic quiet intensity.)
02. TILLY AND THE WALL @ Bowery Ballroom, June 14th
(I'm always looking for a transcendent moment when I go to a concert. Tilly And The Wall didn't deliver until the end of the evening when 1000 kids sang "I wanna fuck it up" along with their signature song "Night of the Living Dead".)
01. JOAN AS POLICEWOMAN @ Tonic, October 10th
(Beautiful and strong. Professional yet intimate. Just like it should be.)