Overlooked Albums, 2006

It’s still too soon to comment on my favorite music of 2007: who knows what will surprise me in the final 24 hours of the year… Really, though, I just haven’t had time to finish up my best of list. In the mean time, I’d like to take a moment to ring in the new year with a look back to 2006.

There’s a little distance between me and the list of Best Songs and Best Albums I made for 2006 in January, and I can already see a couple of albums fading in my mind from the positions I gave them. At the same time, over the past 12 months, I’ve managed to discover a couple of albums from 2006 that weren’t really on my radar when I made the list. Since I suspect I’m not the only one to overlook some of these albums, I thought I’d start a tradition:

The Top Five Albums I Overlooked Last Year (in no particular order):

  • The BlowPaper Television [Highlight: “Parentheses”]

    “If something in the deli aisle / makes you cry / you know I’ll put my arms around you and I’ll walk you outside / through the sliding doors, why would I mind?”

    I really can’t think of a more genuine expression of love than those lines. Khaela Maricich just touches me in all the right ways. And Jona Bechtolt lays down the most exuberant little electro-pop beats. Too bad he left the band to pursue his solo project, YACHT, though YACHT still gets me excited, in a similarly childish and just unabashedly fun sort of way.

  • Ghostland ObservatoryPaparazzi Lightning [Highlight: “Piano Man”]

    “Got a man that brings the beat / Got a man that practices / Got a man that loves you / that holds you / I swear.”

    …and bring the beat he does indeed: funky chromatic piano licks over heavy, danceable beats and frenetic, tweaked-out synth sounds from the era of Atari. Like its androgynous frontman and cape-clad beatmaker, Ghostland Observatory is a hybrid creature that can only be described, in its own words, as “A robot making love to a tree!!”

  • Casiotone For The Painfully AloneEtiquette [Highlight: Young Shields”]

    “There’s a shield around us / it’s invisible & soundless / & we drink too much & fuck too soon / smoke cigarettes in rented rooms / we quit our jobs & shoot the moon / & cut our wrists & sleep til noon”

    I want to learn how to do this with a Casiotone. I think if I could do that, I would quit my job and shoot the moon. Probably not cut my wrists. I already sleep til noon.

  • Arctic MonkeysWhatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not [Highlight: “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”]

    I bet that you look good on the dancefloor / I don’t know if your looking for romance or… / I don’t know what ya looking for.
    Well I bet that you look good on the dancefloor / Dancing to electro-pop like a robot from 1984 /From 1984! “

    I hardly “overlooked” this album, but somehow managed to temporarily buy into the anti-hype hype and forget just how fucking awesome this album is. Seeing their live set at Coachella reminded me what I was missing. No, it’s not the best album in the history of British music, as NME proclaimed, but it does manage to tap into the best of vitriolic British rock and update it for the 00’s. The Arctic Monkeys take all of the bottled up energy of dispossessed youth, at a crossroads with the law and not quite sure what to say to women, not sure what they want to become but pretty certain what they don’t, and transform it into mile-a-minute indie rock that still looks good on the dancefloor. If nothing else, praise ought to have been due for an album that brings quality track after quality track right to the end.

  • The Hold SteadyBoys And Girls In America [Highlight: “Stuck Between Stations”]

    “There are nights when I think that Sal Paradise was right – boys and girls in America have such a sad time together:
    Sucking off each other at the demonstrations / making sure their makeup’s straight,
    Crushing one another with colossal expectations / dependent, undisciplined, sleeping late.

    She was a really cool kisser and she wasn’t all that strict of a Christian.
    She was a damn good dancer but she wasn’t all that great of a girlfriend.
    He likes the warm feeling but he’s tired of all the dehydration.

    Most nights were crystal clear but tonight its like it’s stuck between stations / on the radio.

    The devil and John Berryman took a walk together / They ended up on Washington talking to the river / He said “I surrounded myself with doctors and deep thinkers / but big heads with soft bodies make for lousy lovers”.

    There was that night that we thought that John Berryman could fly / but he didn’t so he died.
    She said, “You’re pretty good with words but words won’t save your life” / and they didn’t so he died.

    He was drunk and exhausted but he was critically acclaimed and respected.
    He loved the golden gophers but he hated all the drawn out winters.
    He likes the warm feeling but he’s tired of all the dehydration.

    Most nights were kind of fuzzy but that last night he had total retention.

    These twin city kisses / sound like clicks and hisses / and we all come down and drown in the Mississippi River.

    We drink / we dry up / we crumble into dust.
    We get wet / we corrode / we get covered in rust.”

    In January, I had barely given this album a chance, and it took an energetic and just all around fun set at Lollapalooza this summer to really convince me that this album was anything more than a showcase for “Stuck Between Stations.” But even still, leaving “Stuck Between Stations” off of my best tracks last year was criminal. Craig Finn is channeling Kerouac, Berryman and Springsteen here with a little bit of Woody Allen in the delivery, all on top of good, solid classic rock that would sound at home in a college town bar, except way better.

I hope to make these tracks available when I’m done posting my picks for ’07, so stay tuned.

~ by Matt on December 30, 2007.

2 Responses to “Overlooked Albums, 2006”

  1. […] with two excellent posts, covering the disappointing end-of-year music lists and his own list of 2006’s underrated albums. Yes, it takes a particular kind of mind to sum up 2007 by writing about 2006, and surlacarte has […]

  2. […] rule is one track per artist. Including 1 standout track from each of the top 20 albums, and the 5 Overlooked Albums of 2006 I posted about earlier, that makes 55 tracks I’m hoping to share with all of my readers. […]

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