Friday, December 08, 2006

Pop o' th' Tops
For whatever reason, the top songs worked out as a nice even 25, but albums turned out to be a funnier beast. It seems kind of quaint even to think in terms of "albums" anymore, but it did make me think more about who put forth a body of work that was substantial. Let me know what you think!

1. The Kooks--Inside In/Inside Out
Irrepressible exuberant sheer fun. They are here atop the list as a vote for pleasure. Catchy beyond belief, with a romantic joy that hits all the notes spot on for what I want in a pop song.

She Moves in Her Own Way (Live)

2. Rainer Maria--Catastrophe Keeps Us Together

Their last best album. Packed full of yearning and danger and a remarkably consistently excellent selection of great songs and their most developed jolie laide harmonies.

Catastrophe (Live)

3. Calhoun--Calhoun
This is my token "nobody else has heard this and it's great album." If it's cliched to do, I don't care. This is my personal effort to bring to your attention great songwriting and a band with a depth and complexity that is truly worth seeking out.

What Makes Your Black Heart Sing

4. Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton--Knives Don't Have Your Back
Magnificently menacing. Continuing down the eerie and haunting path she had drawn with Metric, Emily Haines and a horde of talented cohorts have made a burningly fantastic piano record that is disturbing, but electric.

The Lottery

5. Sambassadeur--Coastal Affairs
A jangly jumpy jumble of pop that alternates between soothing and teeth-rattling, sometimes simultaneously.

Between the Lines

6. Lily Allen--Alright, Still
Again pop from a new place, a new voice, that is fun and sloppy and ambitious.

Everything's Just Wonderful (Live)

Arctic Monkeys--Whatever People Say I am, That's What I Am Not
Working it hard. "Mardy Bum" contains the most startling phrasing of a line of the whole year.

Mardy Bum

8. Gnarls Barkley--St. Elsewhere
Popular and rightly so. So many people are sick of the single, but really it is an astonishingly great song--that's why everybody has covered it. Smartly retro and note perfect throughout. Each single just made it seem even smarter.

Hem--Funnel Cloud
The quietest record here. Thoughtful and, in a way, soaring. Pretty and sad, defined by the negative space and scenic desolation of the words and music.

Not California (Live)

10. TV on the Radio-Return to Cookie Mountain
Love them or hate them, nobody else is going out on that limb. "Dry Drunk Emperor," which I have deliberately not checked if it is from this year, is the only "political" song I've heard in many years with any substance.

Dry Drunk Emperor

11. Hello Saferide--Introducing
I feel like she's the Lily Allen of Scandinavian Pop. Saying complex things in a simple way that startles and charms.

The Quiz

12. Fionn Regan--End of History
Solid and introspective with something to say, quietly and in the just right tone. Maybe just as quiet as Hem, oops...

Blackwater Child

13. Fibes, Oh Fibes--Emotional

This year's Scissor Sisters. Joyously retro explosions of cheery Swedish chocolate that I first heard at Lost In Your Inbox.

Can't Be So

The Fratellis--Costello Music
Somewhere someone went off on how The Fratellis are going to last and The Kooks and Arctic Monkeys aren't which is a fairly silly debate. They are quite consistent, but to me less surprising. Polished, but still punchy and fun.

For the Girls (Live)

15. The Feeling--Twelve Stops and Home

Pure pop, like The Thrills pumped up on Mentos.


16. Scissor Sisters--Ta-Dah!
I was initially left a little flat by Ta-Dah! but it slowly grew on me. The world needs them.

17. Sol Seppy--The Bells of 1 2
A great introduction from Rachel at Untitled. Here again yearning reigns as the supreme emotion.


18. Kate Havnevik--Melankton
Somewhere at the other end of the Scandinavian pop scale, Kate Havnevik has a super-smooth ear for tight harmonies and bombast.

19. The Oohlas--Best Stop Pop
Good good good, but I almost forget why I like them. Though I know they are startlingly consistent.

Maria Mena--Apparently Unaffected
The rawest and most embarrassingly sincere of my selections. I have moments of recoil from her earnest confessionals, but there is something about the way that she wills the difficulty of her vocal style over the edge that slays me.

Joan As Policewoman--Real Life
I don't quite know what to make of her still. I'm amazingly pleased she isn't Sheryl Crow.

Quite hated and, not to throw stones, there is something uncomfortable about the criticism. Maybe it's unintended, but it often sounds like some people are saying "she's too big to try to act that sexy." I hope I'm wrong about that. I think there is something aggressively winningly defiant about them. It doesn't hurt that they are so darn tunefully poppy as well.

Josh Ritter--The Animal Years
I just forgot, sorry. Some great songwriting, though even in the same song, he can mix a great line like "Paul said to Peter you got to rock yourself a little harder," with a bunch of mush like "her eyes are like champagne. They sparkle, bubble over, and in the morning all you got is rain" which is just silly.

The Weepies--Say I Am You
Thought they were last year. But when you want some keenly observed bliss, both happy and sad, that is impeccably romantically crafted, this is it.


Rachel said...

Well of course I second the Kooks and Sol Seppy nods, as well as Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton and Lily Allen...I have gone back and forth on including TV On The Radio in my year end list.

Can I veto the Hem and Gnarles Barkley albums? hehehe ;-P

Solid list! Cheers to a great year of music.

fb said...

I feel like Gnarls Barkley & TVOTR did the same thing as Lily Allen and really expanded the pop universe in a a fresh way. And by now they all three feel a bit overplayed, but particularly in the case of GB, it's hard to find a weak song on the album.

I am totally looking forward to hearing what you picked! Did you go route "A" or "B?"

Eric said...

Great list! I think I saw only 3 on your that made my top 50. Excellent.

fb said...

Nobody seems to be agreeing with me! What gives? How can you all be so very very wrong?