Sunday, December 31, 2006

Best Music of 2006

Album of the Year -Floating World by Anathallo

The famous wood block prints of the Edo period in Japan are called ukiyo-e (it translates to pictures of the floating world) and depict landscapes, samurai, theatre, and other forms of entertainment. Upon listening to Floating World, one can see that Anathallo tried to stay true to this when they made the album.

Japanese culture greatly influenced the band as the core of the album is four songs; Hanasakajijii (parts 1 through 4) tells the folktale of a farmer that owns a dog and how his neighbor steals the dog in a fit of jealousy and is punished by karma. Two other songs are old Japanese singsongs.
Instrumentation throughout the song is grand and extravagant. After listening to all of Floating World, you feel as though you accomplished something. Not that it is difficult to listen to, but because it is an epic. Moods change throughout different songs, and at one moment a faint whisper turns into a massive emotional wall of sound. Every single note of Floating World seems intentional, and I am glad.
If one does not immediately fall in love with Floating World, it is understandable. It is a lot, and it doesn't quite fit into any genre. Yet, it has something for everyone, and after a few listens, one can understand the bedtime story quality of it to truly let the fable take over.
Listen to "Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind, More Ash)" - the star of this amazing work

Song of the Year that Is Probably Disqualified Due to Technicalities - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin "House Fire"
There is debate whether this one counts because Broom was released widespread in 2005, but it was remastered and released by Polyvinyl Records late this year. Nonetheless, this is one of my favorite songs of all time (as noted by iTunes). Why? Because this song has amazing metaphors, repetition of key lines, and a weird sense of optimism. Add to this mix minimal subtle female vocal backing against John Robert Cardwell and Philip Dickey with interesting guitar work. I read somewhere that SSLYBY sounds like that local band that should have, but never actually, got big. Its true, and that's why this song seems so honest. Its a great pick for any time and any mood.

Video of the Year - Danielson "Did I Step On Your Trumpet"
Its innovative and catchy. Simple, yet very organized. Watch, you won't be disappointed.

Band of the Year - Bishop Allen
It was such an ambitious project to release an EP every month this year (buy any or all of them them here). They somehow succeeded with great songs on every album. Did I mention they were on tour for part of the year? Seriously, through hard work and dedication, these guys rocked this year.
Listen to "The Same Fire" off June and a year ending appropriate "Calendar" off December

Best Song by a Woman-lead Band - Headlights "Owl Eyes"
Man this song drives. I always start off tapping my heel to the "boom boom boom" bass drum that opens this gem. By the two minute mark, I'm slamming my foot up and down to the beat. Sure, you think this song is cute, but it also rocks. Not in that heavy metal hard rock stuff, but like true old rock and roll. The piano adds a little, but its the basic drums that carry "Owl Eyes" and Erin Fein's gorgeous voice that hovers over the music that make it so great. (buy Kill Them with Kindness)

Best Song by a Wolf Band (and we thought we got done with them on last year's lists...) or Best Song by a Side Project - Sea Wolf "Middle Distance Runner"
Alex Church has a side project that I love even better than his other band Irving. The song is uses metaphors of track to describe his inability to really get into a relationship. Awww... Guitar picking is phenomenal. Raspy lyrics feel intimate. And you know what, I may only be a middle distance runner myself.
BONUS (because I love Sea Wolf so much): "You're A Wolf" and "Black Dirt"

Hottest Track of the Year - Justin Timberlake "My Love"
JT's newest album FutureSex /Love Sounds really is pure aural sex. "My Love" is no exception, but the lyrics actually show that it is romantic, consensual, and really loving. He wants to marry this girl, not just use her as an object. Oh the ex-boybander really has a soft-side, how cute. Joking aside, this is a standout on a truly amazing record. I have a lot of respect for Justin Timberlake and the way he's been able to reinvent himself and try to really be a tiny bit experimental. Yeah, its produced like crazy, but its done well and makes me dance. Can you ask for anything more? Oh yeah, a hot video, but he gave us that too...

Biggest Secret Pleasure - Fergie "Fergalicious"
Fergie makes my day with this song. Its sugary sweet, and its saccharine character is evident in the lyrics she chooses. She plays the sexy vixen, but she's great. I especially love the ^^Fergalicious def-^^ breaks, and of course, check out the Willy-Wonka-esque music video. (buy The Dutchess)

Best Ballad - Owen "The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi"
At Home with Owen was a huge leap of progress for Mike Kinsella, and its my favorite work by him thus far. The help he enlisted and professional recording made such a difference, the piano work is wonderful. Kinsella's voice still has its trademark imperfections, but would I want them changed? NO! Pietro Crespi is a character from One Hundred Years of Solitude, and this song inspired me to pick up Gabriel Garcia Marquez's work. This song might not be as good as this book, but its a great love song.

Best Dance Song - Cansei de Ser Sexy "Lets Make Love and Listen to Death From Above"
Lovefoxxx and the rest of this Brazilian getup might be the coolest hipsters alive, especially because they shout out to the now defunct Death From Above 1979. I feel like they are just a bunch of fun loving musicians that make music for all the right reasons. Karma's rewarded these guys, and I can't wait for more stuff to dance to. (buy Cansei de Ser Sexy)

Best New Sound - Beirut
Who would have guessed that the indie scene would fall in love with the gypsy folk influenced music of Zach Condon? The new sound was a breath of fresh air. Gulag Orkestar, with light sounds and traditional sounds, made music fun to listen to again. Listen to "Postcards from Italy" and "Mount Worclai (Idle Days)"
Simplest Song of the Year - Matt & Kim "Yea Yeah" off Matt and Kim
A little guy/girl group that makes drum and keyboard music. I love 'em, and you will too.
Check out their funny music video:

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