• best of 2006

    Jan 1 2007, 4h44

    2006 Top 10 Albums: (no order, fuck it's hard enough to actually narrow this shit down to 10, there was a lot of good stuff this year)

    The Only Thing I Ever Wanted I think this is my favourite album this year (favourite doesn't mean best though, I actually agree with the pitchfork reviewer about the slight flatness of the background especially when listening to the vinyl. )

    He Poos CloudsIf you've heard this album, and you know my tastes, you'll know why I like it, It's like an indie pop album filtered through the soundtrack from a silent film and shot back into the world. I fucking love this guy. I'm a sucker for chamber pop I admit.

    Denies The Days DemiseThom Yorke's been getting the props on other critics lists for experimental electronica due to his being, well, Thom fucking Yorke, but if you ask me between the Eraser and this album, I think Daedelus has put forth the more compelling and interesting album and that's exactly why Denies the Days Demise is here and Thom Yorke is in the honourable mention section this time.

    St. Elsewhere It was a given that this would be here I suppose, it's a fucking good album, I don't think I can think of one song on there that's not strong. Plus they covered my all time favourite Violent Femmes song. The album actually occaisionally reminds me of Mike Patton's interesting but inconsistent 2006 release, Peeping Tom, only here everything succeeds.

    Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not(I swear that this came out in 2005 but I guess it's just that I heard demos and all that last December as it wasn't actually released until Januarry) As loathe as I am to say anything nice about any band that Liam Gallagher extolls in print, goddamnit this was the catchiest album of the year. I know, it's popular, mainstream radio loves it and they're the band whom everyone was in the knobshine line over, but it is a really solid and welldone album and one should never poopoo a good assshaking.

    Silent Shout infectious danceable electro, I could get music elitest about why it's good, but I'll refrain.

    The Beautiful Lie very solid pop album from British singer-songwriter, I went on about this album earlier in the year and it's managed to stand up nicely (though he'd be in honourable mentions I suspect if I'd actually gotten around to listening to the Tom Waits album I somehow missed noticing had been released. oops)

    Empire you occaisionally need some swaggering electro rock and roll in your life. I've been amused that most of the negative reviews for the album grouse that they're ripping off the wrong decade, but if everyone was on that 80s bandwagon... well the world can only have so many Neo-wave bands now can't it and it's already getting impossible to tell them all apart.

    Jarvis I pretty much love everything about Jarvis Cocker in general, except for the fact that his new 'look' can only be described as 70s era paedo chic to the point that I seriously find myself wondering if he's gone out and bought himself a nice retro brown full size conversion van with the little bubble windows on the sides and red shag carpeting in the back to drive about town in. I mean I loved back in the day when he mooned Michael Jackson at an awards show before it was totally the in thing to dis the 'king of pop' and I loved even more that he let out that back in the heyday of Pulp he used to pay impersonators to go out at gigs and do all the requisite Jarvis Cocker posturing that the fans all wanted because he was sick of it all and just wanted to do the singing. And I love how he started a really good band pretty much for the soul purpose of taking the piss of Fischerspooner. But anyway, about the album: When all is said and done with our generation and we start really taking a look at who the really important musicians of it were, who's really going to stand the test of time; Cocker is going to be among them. He's flat out one of the best songwriters in the last 20 years and if there was any doubt of that claim, you merely need to listen to this record.

    The Crane Wife You can debate me on it all you like, but I don't think this album is near as good as Picaresque or Castaways and Cutouts. There's something different and more tired about this record, but it's hard to pinpoint what it is because it's still a great album so it's hard to put my finger on what exactly I feel somewhat disapointed in with it. The more interesting stuff are the tracks with the more 70s psychedelic tones to them like the perfect crime and the island:.... The more, I guess you'd call it traditional Decemberists fare is sort of missing that special Edwardian edge that really opened up the world that exists in Colin Meloy's songs in private cinema before your eyelids. Here it just seems like rather ordinary indiepop. Don't get me wrong, it's still better than most ordinary indie pop and the album was still one of the best of the year, it's just lacking that really special ambiance that elevates it over its contemporaries that I've come to expect from the Decemberists. I think maybe they want to avoid being pigeonholed with that whole shantycore sound and are trying a little to hard to avoid going there for another album. I'll be quite interested to see where the next album takes them.

    Honourable Mentions:
    The Eraser
    This Is Hazelville
    Derdang Derdang
    Return To Cookie Mountain
    brightblack morning light- s/t
    Through The Window Pane
    Gang Of Losers
    The Warningthe album as a whole couldn't quite live up to the ridiculously addictive single
    Curse Your Little Heart
  • every song is its own little cinema

    Nov 14 2006, 3h29

    How do you experience music? I was thinking about this not so much because I'd made a comment on someone's journal awhile ago that sort of touched on how I obsessively categorise everything, but I don't experience music in categories, it's just the easiest way to find something or explain it to someone else, but because I'd watched a programme about this guy who could do giant calculations and figured pi to like 212 decimal places in his head and how he was talking about how he experienced every number differently, he didn't just see digits exactly but they all had these different visual manifestations so every number looks completely different, like 9s to him are very tall and zeros are very dark and that's how he can do the maths.

    It made me wonder about music because that's sort of how I experience songs, I see films in my head when I hear music, it could be an entire little short film or just a scene. It may have something to do with the song's lyrics or it could be totally at odds, for instance the song 'COncerning the UFO Sighting near highland illinois' by Sufjan Stevens is a short film about a parafin coated newspaper boat on a voyage down the gutters of a long past Brooklyn tenement neighburhood toward the sewers and on its way to a destiny out at sea. It doesn't have anything to do with UFOs or even Illinois, but that is how I experience the song. I guess that's not exactly the same as seeing massive long division in your head exactly, but generally I can recall what the song sounds like by thinking of the filmstrip that my brain invents for it.

    Unless a song is really rubbish or boring it always has a film as long as I'm paying attention to it, an underwater ballet of socks in a washer, a family of escaped circus bears blending in with tourists in New York City, the end of a romantic comedy where boy and girl go riding off across the park with him sitting on the handlebars of her bike in the muted fall (that's not a happy ending really it's sort of bittersweet as she knows she's the baxter, a company of cheap wooden artist's models having a dance battle, something.

    Perhaps Dr. Woods was right and I do have the mind of an animator. But then, perhaps everyone sees little films when they listen to good music. Do you?
  • Has the mp3 revolution destroyed any possibility that my collection will ever feel…

    Out 19 2006, 3h43

    Making mixes used to be one of those things that I found relaxing and really enjoyable, even when I was making them for people who I felt I had to make sure everything was perfect because I really cared about the craft involved in mix making in their case (meaning either I had a pash for them or they were super music snobs and top rate at mix making and I wanted to compete in their league) But lately I just find that mix making stresses me out and it's because looking at my music folders to find a narrow potential selection is just over-whelming. Thanks to the sheer abundance and ready availability of music in the digital age; instead of having a collection where I know every good song I owned and could keep track of its sound and theme in my head to detirmine suitability, I have a vast sea of music, most of which I've only listened to a handful of times and can't always remember. Sure my collection is meticulously arranged by genre and subgenre, but it's just not the same anymore.

    Don't get me wrong I love the freedom to readily discover new things that we've got now, I don't exactly miss the days when being the one with impeccable music taste who was supposed to turn less adventurous friends onto hidden gems and new sounds meant taking flyers on expensive potential crap (even if there was something a bit exciting about that first listen to a random purchase. It's as close as I'm ever likely to get to the feeling of appearing on 'Let's Make a Deal') Being able to use p2p software to find out whether something is worth the investment has definitely increased the length of my 'to buy' list significantly and in even broader genres than I was buying previously, but I'm starting to feel burnt out on the digital age.

    I decided about a year ago that I was abandoning cds as a format for music (at least in terms of pre-recorded purchased music) because they don't seem worth the expense at all. Also MP3 doesn't seem to me to be the way I want to purchase my music. I mean it's fine for computer listening, but when it comes time to pony up the money to own the really worthy music, what's the point of buying it on mp3? All you've got is a bunch of ones and zeros in a file that can be lost in the blink of an eye like it never existed, not to mention the restrictions legal downloading puts on the file. No, if I'm spending my money on really good music, music worthy of owning and supporting, I want tangible ownership, I want vinyl.

    I never thought I'd be a vinyl snob, I guess it's rather fitting though, seeing as how when I was growing up my family was too cheap to buy me pre-recorded cassettes and so until I got old enough to earn an income I listened to records from the library or from my parents vinyl collection of mostly lounge music and classical. It's perfect though, for that desire to be really physically connected with a music collection. There's a sense of fragility and presence that just doesn't exist with the digital mediums. Records let you feel the history of music too, and who doesn't feel a thrill at being a bit antideluvian, I know I do (which is also why I use manual analog cameras from the 60s more than my digital and did all my film school work on Bolexes and did a degree in hand produced book, I'm good at being obsolete.)

    I just want to figure out how to feel as intimate with all my music in an age when my collection has become so massive.

    There is, by the way, a very nice discussion about similar quiestions with Jarvis Cocker, Nick Cave and others in this month's Observer here
  • in which I deride the narrator of [i]Someday You Will Be Loved[/i]'s sincerity

    Out 19 2006, 2h58

    I was listening to Death Cab for Cutie's 'Plans' today in the car and it occurred to me that that 'you will be loved' song really manages to stick in my craw every time I hear it. At first it was all, 'oh a sappy emo ray of hope' and then it further dawned on me that that's not what it is at all; instead it's a fucking cop-out, condescending, so -you-can-sleep-at-night break up speech. (though if you read the lyrics they could perchance be interpreted as not even break up, but merely sexual encounter, which would make such lyrics even more condescending) Seriously quasi fictional narrator of song get over yourself. Even if girl you screwed and ran out on was really and truly all about you and heartbroken by your buggering off, do you really and truly think that she's going to listen to bullshit tripe like that and it's going to make her feel any better, or infact feel anything other than derision at your self-importance or probably more hurt that you can't even just perform a break up in normal terms instead of some emo speech rehearsed so it sounded all poetic and deep and assuming of her fragility? Because shit like that is really designed to make the speaker feel poetic and better about themselves, like they are somehow absolved of any hurt the breakup might cause because they're sensitive, but also to make sure that in case the dumpee is not feeling so devestated by the loss they know how deep and emo the dumper is so they should be heartbroken.

    Okay, so perhaps that reeks a bit of bitterness, perhaps because I've experienced a lame ass break up discussion that followed a strikingly similar vein of thought, or well bullshit lameness and am therefore reminded of the lameness of it by that song everytime I hear it. I think if I manage to actually have a relationship with anyone in the future (and if we're honest my spinsterdom is not really all that troubling a thing to me even though I'd really like something ridiculously storybook to happen in London this winter, but thus far I have been doing admirably well at keeping all expectations and shit like that firmly grounded in the world of reality, giddy ceding to heart can come after acquaintance in person has been satisfied) that the next time a break up is required that I just be dumped in a straight-forward manner. No cliche bullshit, just 'look I think we should break up. I'm just not interested in maintaining a relationship anymore. I've ___ [met someone else and don't want to cheat on you; don't feel we've anything in common anymore; just plain old don't fancy you that way anymore] ' and that's it. Sure it stings, but it's simple and at least it respects your ability to deal with reality.

    And you calling people on thier bullshit watchers can feel free to throw this post back in my face if in the future I ever get dumped by such a straightfoarward individual should I pretend I wanted the cushiony bullshit let down. :) I doubt I will I've had enough dealings with people who're afraid to just express what they actually felt with maddeningly frustrating results for me where I ended up feeling 1000 times more bitter at what I'm sure was probably their rationalisation of being softer a blow than the truth. Fuck having to read between the lines.