my favorite music from 2006
- I missed a lot, but here's what I heard. My favorite albums from 2006:
1. Eleventh Dream Day, Zeroes and Ones (Thrill Jockey)
Screaming feedback combines with gentle organ and (on one track) pedal
steel, and the references extend beyond Neil Young's loud stuff to the
Who's "Happy Jack" and a wonderful lift from "Be My Baby." The best
rock recording of the year, sounding like it was recorded at 140db.
It is also the best album of Eleventh Dream Day's career.
2. Chris Brokaw, Incredible Love (12XU)
This came out in 2005 but I did not hear it until this fall. The
former guitarist for Come and Steve Wynn focuses on singing and
playing acoustic guitar and came up with an album David Grubbs would
(or perhaps should) kill to make. Best parts: when he picks up an
electrical guitar to flesh out some Roger McGuinn licks on
"Cranberries," the strings on "Xs for Eyes," and the propulsive
"Move." By far the best singer/songwriter record I heard this year.
3. Yo La Tengo, Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics (self-released)
The new Matador release is good (and I am especially happy to hear Ira
Kaplan has rediscovered his electric guitar), but if I am going to be
honest, this compilation of unrehearsed WFMU pledge drive performances
is my favorite Yo La Tengo release since Electr-O-Pura. Falling
somewhere between Fakebook and Eugene Chadbourne's approach to the
American songbook, I simply can't resist a record that tackles both
"Meet the Mets" and "Don't Worry Kyoko."
4. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti-)
Gorgeous, elaborate arrangements. Neko's singing has never been
better and she's grafted the atmospherics of Blacklisted onto a
stronger set of hooks.
5. Ernest Dawkins' New Horizons Ensemble, The Messenger/Live at the
Original Velvet Lounge (Delmark)
Most of the tracks by Chicago saxophonist Dawkins's funky ensemble
clock in at about 10 minutes, but seem much shorter. Best live album
I heard this year, and the best AACM-related disc I've heard since
Lester Bowie died.
6. Mission of Burma, The Obliterarti (Matador)
Picks up where onOFFon left off, but with more walloping drums.
Burma's challenging Wire for bragging rights on whose reunion
recordings could rock harder.
7. Steve Wynn + Miracle 3, Live Tick (Blue Rose)
The live follow-up to my favorite release of 2005 airs out many of
tick...tick..tick's best songs, cherrypicks other highlights from
Wynn's work with The Miracle 3, Come, and The Dream Syndicate, and
tosses in a fine cover of my favorite Bob Dylan song ("Blind Willie
McTell") to make this my favorite live rock album in quite a while.
8. Various, An Idiot to Not Appreciate Your Time: The Songs of
This 2CD tribute to Silkworm involving a bunch of bands associated
with Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studios. Works both as a tribute
to Silkworm and a sampler of some of the best indie rock (hear the
tracks by .22 and The Kadane Brothers for starters) being made these
9. Nina Nastasia, On Leaving (Fat Cat)
If Eleventh Dream Day is the child of Neil Young's live work with
Crazy Horse, On Leaving is its sister from Young's quieter work.
Might be the poppiest of Nastasia's (all gorgeous) recordings, and a
good place to start for the uninitiated.
10. Richard Buckner, Meadow (Merge)
Maybe his best disk since Since. The approach isn't terribly
different but the songs seem to be in more comprehensible English this
Other stuff I liked:
Bonnie Prince Billy, The Letting Go (Drag City)
Calexico, Garden Ruin (Quarterstick)
Outkast, Idlewild (Arista)
Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador)
The Roots, Game Theory (Def Jam).
Other stuff I liked but I need to spend more time with (just heard
these for the first time in the past couple of weeks):
Silkworm, Chokes (12XU)
I got the posthumous EP this week and have only heard it a couple of
times. Fittingly it ends with an enthusiastic Michael Dahlquist cover
of "Spanish Harlem Incident." I spent more time with the new
Bottomless Pit MP3s, which sound quite different. (Think Movement-era
New Order with no keyboards.)
Cat Power, The Greatest (Matador)
Califone, Roots and Crowns (Thrill Jockey)
Pere Ubu, Why I Hate Women (Smog Veil)
Eleventh Dream Day, "New Rules" "For Martha" & "Pinwheels"
Bottomless Pit, "Dogtags"
Chris Brokaw, "Cranberries" & "Move"
Neko Case, "Hold On, Hold On"
Calexico, "All Systems Red"
Steve Wynn + The Miracle 3 "Blind Willie McTell"
Favorite live shows:
Rocket From the Tombs, Beachland Ballroom, July.
Wow. If the reunion record rocks half as hard as this show, it will
join the conversation with Mission of Burma and Wire. The best David
Thomas show I have ever seen.
Steve Wynn & Miracle 3, Beachland Ballroom Tavern, March.
Dirtbombs, Blueberry Hill (Twangest), June.
Biggest disappointment: While I am glad Alejandro Escovedo is active
again, and the lyrics on The Boxing Mirror certainly read well, the
production and arrangements sound stilted. Maybe John Cale is simply
not a good match for Alejandro. I hope the songs sound better in
concert and would love to hear if this is the case.