Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Best of '06, Pt. 2

12. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love Records)

A perfect ‘cup of coffee in the office’ record, occasional Postal Service vocalist/full-time front woman for Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis made an early bid for my favorite album of the year on the sheer beauty of her voice and the instrumentation on this record. In fact, it would be significantly higher up my list if the lyrics weren’t so blah – I just don’t see Lewis as a great lyricist. Case in point: “Its like cleaning the ocean/what are you going to do, drain it?” However, the quartet she leads with M. Ward, Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie/Postal Service) through the Traveling Wilbury’s “Handle With Care” (perhaps my favorite guilty pleasure ever put to wax) is worth a spot on this list alone. The songs and the emotions behind them are strong, even with the lyrics aren't. Standout Track: "Rise Up With Fists"

11. Ray Davies – Other People’s Lives (V2 Records)

Another early-year favorite of mine, Ray Davies delivers exactly what you’d expect from the sexagenarian Kinks leader – sardonic lyrics, strong melodies, and a few surprises. The surprises? A healthy dose of female backing vocals, the lack of age-appropriate mellowing and the realization that he may still be in the top 5 songwriters alive. The downfall of this album is that there isn’t quite enough variety and, as his live show will attest, Davies can still rock, just not on disc apparently. Here’s to hoping his release schedule from now on is swifter than the decade we had to wait for this one. Standout Track: "The Tourist"

10. Bob Dylan – Modern Times (Columbia Records)

Another '60s holdover who made a damn fine album this year is Bob Dylan. A lot has been said about this album already – you all know he name drops Alicia Keys, plays with a pre-rock and roll feel, and produced the album under the pseudonym Jack Frost. What you may not know? “Spirit on the Water” has perhaps Dylan’s best melody ever, the lead guitar on “Beyond the Horizon” sounds drunk, “Ain’t Talkin’” is his darkest in years and the album flies by it is so enjoyable. If you have any doubts about that gravely voice letting you down again, take the leap – it is well worth it. So what if he aped the cover from a Luna record? Standout Track: "Spirit on the Water"


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