Music of 2006 (mini reviews and whinging)


Dez 29 2006, 7h30

Well, I'm in bed with a cold. Again. Stupid immune system. So while I lie here and bemoan my fate and cry out pathetically for sympathy whenever anyone passes my bedroom door, I'll do the typical "best of 2006" things. You can't criticise me for lack of originality, I'm sick, and demand sympathy.

In chronological(ish) order:

Please Come Back - (EP) - 24/01/2006

Oh how I love this EP. Discovered nestled in the second hand shelves, I took this fledgling disc under my wing, took it home, and listened to its merry music all day long. Ok, there's a chance that I'm just rambling deleriously. And I'm sure that word isn't spelled right. Not to worry, I'll push forward.
Please Come Back features some very wonderful music. Bluesy unrestrained rock type stuff. Singer/songwriter (and I think guitarist, but I can't remember, and am too lazy to find out) George Hunter really puts everything into the vocals, it's hoarse and intense and I just adore it. The lyrics may not be Shakespeare (It's a crying shame/crying shame/no wonder you're crying), but who cares, we already have a Shakespeare.

Moo, You Bloody Choir - 13/03/2006

While the way in which I came to own this album, or indeed how I got into Augie March in the first place, are shrouded in mystery so mysterious it couldn't even be simulated by an automatic mystery simulating machine ... I've lost track of this sentence, I'll start again. Great music. As an album it feels a little long and disconnected. Not in the sense of there being lots of filler and pointless stuff. Just insofar as by the time I'm listening to the end of the album I've forgotten the start - it doesn't quite seem to gel. In general, I believe the ideal album length is 43:07, and this clocks in at over an hour. I think it was someone from the Okkervil River camp who said "If your album goes over 50 minutes you really need to think about whether you want to make a double album". But that's beside the point. There is some great music on this album. A very distinct sound from their two earlier albums, perhaps best described as having a different "character". But the same complex lyrical genius and unique, vaguely folky, musical textures. Rocks a fair bit, in places, too. And sounds great live. Plus there's radio friendliness there. One Crowded Hour has kinda lost it's magic for me, which is probably a good thing, 'cos it's not the cheeriest thing to have on constant repeat, but it's still a good song.

One Crowded Hour - (single) - 1/04/2006

Wheee, B-sides! Acoustic versions of earlier favourites (There Is No Such Place, Asleep In Perfection and Clockwork) which are nice, and a new song Passed Out In Clarkefield, which is fun.

Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground - 24/04/2006

To be honest, I've only listened to this once. There were a handful of songs I really liked and a handful of stuff I didn't care for at all. I think I'm over Bright Eyes. I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is still a brilliant album, and I intend to keep it in fairly high rotation, but I am entirely sated by it, I need no more Conor Oberst songs in my life. Which is kind of a pity, but I think I have enough mournful raw voiced singer songwriters to dote on for now.

Yours, etc. - Pitching Woo - (EP) - 8/05/2006

I was surfing around the AMO (Australian Music Online) website one day and saw their jukebox had a song by these guys and I thought it was the coolest band name I'd ever heard. I'm old fashioned that way. Anyway, I delved a little more and discovered that they were locals, which is always good. This EP is really good. I haven't listened to it for a while (maybe I'll get a chance now) but how can anything which features the words "bubble and squeak" in the lyrics not be excellent? I can no longer remember the context, but, really, who needs context? Maybe sundials, and sundial installers. But no one else.
Hmmm, lost the plot there. Sorry. Electronic/guitar music. Good.

Palo Santo - 9/05/2006

Another album I need to listen to more (so much music, so few hours in the day). Some of it (but I can't remember which bits) is breathtaking in its beauty. Some of it just reminds me too much of Jethro Tull for some reason, possibly some insane reason, but there you have it. Not that there's anything wrong with sounding like Jethro Tull (minus the flute) but it's something I've never really got into - constant exposure (my dad's a big fan) has built up some kind of natural resistance. But since the comparison is possibly based on insane reasons, I won't dwell on it. At any rate I need to listen to this more, and perhaps the bits that I don't currently find breathtaking will grow on me. They probably will. I'm sure I was foolish enough to expect Okkervil River Mark 2 and just got a little disappointed.

Broken Boy Soldiers - 16/05/2006

Wow, am I only up to May? My attention span is not that long.
I was very excited about buying this album. It was a supergroup and there was hype. I'm usually not paying enough attention to get caught up in hype, so there was a whole novelty thing going on. Not that I'd ever heard a White Stripes song in my life, but I knew a bit of Brendan Benson, and I liked that. Plus, I'm a total sucker for supergroups and side projects. Cream, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Manassas, Golden Smog. I even maintain romantic notions about The Souther, Hillman, Furay Band, despite the transparent commercialism of the grouping and the fact that I've never heard a note of music by them and probably never will.
Anyway, back to Broken Boy Soldiers. I love it. It's solidly ear candy, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. My definition of ear candy is anything that sounds really good, with reasonably sleek production values. Shiny vocals and harmonies and that kind of stuff. No distortion or yelling or what I ambiguously like to term "grit". I live for ambiguously termed grit. But everyone needs ear candy from time to time, and this fits the bill very nicely.

The Believer - 25/05/2006

It isn't Rhett Miller's job to make albums that I like, but I can't help but be a little disappointed by this album. I love the alt-country-rock-thang of the Old 97's, and Rhett's earlier solo project The Instigator is my favourite bit of ear candy - pure, sweet pop music start to finish. The Believer just doesn't work for me. Some token good songs - Fireflies leaps to mind. But at the end of the day, I just can't get excited about it. I don't know what's wrong with it, but it just doesn't sound good. Even the rendition of the Old 97's song Question lacks a certain "je ne sais quoi".
All in all I was very happy when a little bird told me that there was movement in the Old 97's camp, and possibly a new album in the pipework, although that may have just been a wonderful, wonderful dream.

Bluebottle Kiss - Doubt Seeds - 12/06/2006

Unambiguous brilliance. Seriously. A really, really good album. A finely crafted double album, drawing on just about every western music influence there is. Rock, jazz, folk, all that good stuff. And boy does it rock. Their live show is amazing too. There's really not much that I can say about this. It's a sound thing. I hear Doubt Seeds and I think "There's a band that understands music." They are masters of their craft. In past times they would have been regarded as the wise men of their village, and consulted before the purchasing of white goods and other large appliances.

Desert Lights
Desert Lights, Something For Kate , 1/07/2006

I really like this album. I've heard it described as being "closer to their live sound" possibly by the band themselves. I'm not sure that I necessarily agree with that, so I don't know why I brought it up. Anyway, it's really good. It's my ideal 43 minutes long, and sits together really well as a cohesive collection of songs. It's up to SFK's usual standard of probing lyricism, and perhaps a little heavier than usual on catchy riffs. Plus Washed Out To Sea is a lovely, lovely song, slow and lilting with lots of whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh's, which always reminds me of Tomorrow.

Gulag Orkestar - 10/07/2006

I don't know what I was expecting from this, but it wasn't quite what I got. Interesting, but I'm not really "into it" yet. Needs more time.

Another Fine Day - 18/07/2006

This album is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a post-Jayhawks, Gary Louris and Jeff Tweedy colaboration. It's good, it's just not surprisingly good. It sounds an awful lot like a late Jayhawks album interspersed with Tweedy songs, plus a few other influences. Not that any of that is a bad thing, but we've heard it before. And I think the songs on Down By the Old Mainstream were better.

Pete Yorn - Nightcrawler - 25/08/2006

I have a lot of time for Pete Yorn, but I have to be in the right mood. I haven't listened to this much yet. But it's Pete Yorn. Gotta be good, right?

Oh Kamikaze - (single) - 1/09/2006

Wheee, more B-sides! Which is actually why I bought this. Of all the songs on Desert Lights, Oh Kamikaze is probably my least favourite. But they played The Amazing Machine That Does Not Work live, and I thought it was wonderful. And it is. One of the other B-sides, a cover called Close to Me, is fantastic. I'm too tired to think of descriptive words or identify genres properly, but it's very upbeat and cool. Something For Kate do great covers. I heard them do Everybody Knows live a while back, it blew my mind. Not that it takes much to make Cohen songs sound good, but anyway.

Overboard and Down - (Tour EP) - 4/09/2006

Apparently the songs for this came out of a session of recording a pile of songs "just for fun". With or without that in mind, these guys are just dripping with talent. They must spread it on their toast in the morning. The songs are fantastic, The President's Dead and Love To A Monster particularly. Clever, fast, wordy and abundantly "gritty", with Will Sheff's earnest "gritty" voice driving it all along. Oh, and catchy as hell.

Tell Me - 12/09/2006

After the EP I had such rediculously high expectations of this album that I was bound to be disappointed. And I, like a fool, never saw it coming. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this album. But there's a whole soul-groove-thang they've got going on which I was not expecting and while I should be pleasantly surprised by the bands musical diversity, I'm just disappointed that it's so unlike the bluesy music of the EP, which I prefer. The songs are good, the music's good, but I was expecting something realy spectacular ... like a fool. It may grow on me. You never know. But my favourite Catfish Haven song remains Paper Thin, from I don't remember when and where. I think it's still on their website somewhere. That's what I wanted the band to sound like. I don't know that they explored that sound fully enough for my liking. Oh well.

Fading Trails - 18/09/2006

I listened to this once and thoroughly disliked it. I do intend to listen to it again, once I get over my bitterness at missing Jason Molina live 'cos I had exams. I don't know how long that might take.

Lapalco - 2/10/2006

It's ok. I wanted Alternative to Love but I couldn't find it, so I bought this instead. Some good indie-pop type songs. Needs more listening.

Deloris - Ten Lives - 30/10/2006

Ah, Deloris. I love this album. It's 43 minutes long, and it's wonderful. Clever, wordy, poignant, catchy, upbeat, filler adjective, fun. All of those things. I'm clearly running out of steam, and I've reviewed this before and I have a dr's appointment now so I'll simply say Ten Lives - yay!

9 - 3/11/2006

I was very excited by the concept of a new Damien Rice album. I was starting to think he wasn't a real musician, just some side project of Ryan Adams to try out some new songs and a fake Irish accent. What I mean to say, of course, is that O was taking on a life of its own. So new material was going to be welcome, whatever it is. And it's good. The songs are great, an extension of the whole "folk singer songwriter" thing. It's intelligent stuff. And I finally worked out why Damien Rice gets compared to Ryan Adams. It isn't the depressing songs, or the sensitive singer/songwriter idiom, or a similarity in vocal timbre. It's that gravelly half-singing-half-talking they both do. Glad I got that one figured out.

Dappled Cities Fly - Granddance - 11/11/2006

These guys are so wonderfully weird. Anyone who writes lyrics like "You're not a fire so I will not dance in you" is great in my book. My enthusiasm was cooled a little by not enjoying their last Melbourne gig at all, although that may have been more owing to my mood than their performance. In fact it was probably mostly attributable to the fact that England were 3 for 266 at the end of day 1 in the Adelaide test. I still thought we'd win, and did much gleeful "I told you so"ing five days later, but I nonetheless had not enjoyed the first day's play. But enough of that. Granddance is eccentrically lovely.

All I Said - 1/3/2006

I forgot to put this in chronologically because it wasn't sitting on my CD shelf, and now I'm too tired to do it justice. You could just go here and listen for yourself. It's well, well worth it. It's warm and rich and, to use today's catchphrase "kinda folky". And I hear tell there's another album in the making. Eager anticipation goes without saying.

Well, that about does it for 2006. There are notable absences, like Post-War, which I haven't got around to buying yet, but I'm sure 2007 will provide.

Happy New Year to all


  • untalkativer

    er... Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground was released in 2002...or maybe 2003 at the latest. :D

    Jan 2 2007, 7h41
  • waterbeetle

    You make a good point. That will teach me to make lists while half asleep and miserable - one misread number and humankind is doomed to walk forever in the mire of oblivion and misinformation... Or whatever. Good catch though.

    Jan 2 2007, 22h40
  • andaru

    re pitching woo: Not only does it have 'bubble and squeak', but it has the line 'I can stand, but I can't deliver!' :-) great album from these boys from suburban melbourne.

    Jan 19 2007, 22h04
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