Monday, January 08, 2007

Best of '06, Pt. 3

9. Nathan Johnson – Brick: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

This record might be the most guttural purchase of my life. It came from within me and had nothing to do with my brain. As I was sitting in the Arclight Theatre in Los Angeles watching BRICK on the screen, I just needed to have the soundtrack in my hands. As I walked out of the theatre, I stopped at world famous Amoeba Records and bought it on the spot. Many things caused that physical response to the music I was hearing – first and foremost, as a score, it perfectly mirrored the action on the screen. Secondly, the instrumentation was fantastic – the painfully underused clarinet, lots of percussion, all of it sounding like someone had stumbled upon a treasure trove of under appreciated instruments all wanting a home. The music was classical-inspired, but certainly borrowed liberally from the jazz and indie rock traditions. The only real criticism of the record that I can drum up is that it works best with the images – which is exactly what it is supposed to do. It just doesn’t make it the ideal soundtrack to anything other than what it was intended for, so it finds less time in my CD player than inferior music. Standout Track: “Kara’s Theme (The Drama Vamp)”

8. Brightblack Morning Light – Brightblack Morning Light

I mentioned earlier how eMusic has greatly influenced my listening habits this year – this record is prime example of that. I read a few positive reviews of BML, and decided to take a chance. What is so great about this album is the fact that it feels like one long exhale – it just flows out of the band naturally. Swampy, drawn out, bluesy grooves with lots of reverb make it the perfect 90 degrees in a sticky t-shirt stuck indoors record, but it is also a bit more than that. It is dance music for those of us who hate to dance – it has a groove, but rarely a strong beat. You can move, but you don’t have to. It is also, according to every review sans this one, a great record to smoke weed to. As I have never gotten high, I wouldn’t know, but hey, if that’s your bag, then you may love this record like you love Fu Manchu and Kyuss. But for me, it is the sound of humidity – but for once, that is a pleasant sensation. Standout Track: “Star Blanket Morning Child”

7. Robert Pollard – From a Compound Eye

One of Bob’s 6 full length records released in 2006 (I shit you not), this features, in his own words, “the 4 P’s – Pop, Punk, Psych and Prog.” A good ol’ double vinyl release, FACE (a happy coincidence I guess, but the record cover is just Bob’s face, so who knows?) feels like Pollard’s manifesto – this is what I am about – lo-fi in parts, catchy as hell, sprawling, in need of an editor, and a lot of fun. Anyone who has ever seen Bob either solo or in his days in Guided By Voices (I’ve had each pleasure) knows that this guy can drink you and most of your town under the table, and I still fathom at the concept that this guy who drinks so much can be so productive – that is, if he drinks as much off stage as on. Regardless, this is an album that speaks volumes about Pollard’s work ethic – and let’s hope that he continues his rigorous release schedule – because there is nothing missing in modern music today more than bands releasing a record or more a year. Few artists can boast even one a year (look later in this list for an example of one), let alone as many as Bob does. Do I buy them all? No,. But like looking in the window of a pizza parlor, there may be 15 delicious pies ready for consumption, but you only need one today; I only have two of Pollard’s 2006 records and for now, I’m full. But someday perhaps I’ll want to sample another pie. PS – “Gold” totally rips off a song my band in college used to play. Standout Track: “Field Jacket Blues”

6. Thom Yorke – The Eraser

Radiohead fans are stupid. There, I’ve said it. Why? Because they shat all over this record for ‘not being Radiohead-y enough.’ Well, perhaps that is why it is a solo album? Thom Yorke didn’t reinvent the wheel with this album, but he simple made a solid album. A glitchy, laptop record. From the intriguing artwork, to the A Scanner Darkly closing music “Black Swan” to songs about the environment, this is a wholly different Yorke than we’ve seen before, but the hints have always been there. This is also a great argument for why Yorke needs Radiohead – a career of this may not be as satisfying, but as a now and then type deal, I’ll take it any day. Standout Track: “Black Swan”


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