And if that sentence didn't hook you, I really don't blame you.
But we're here to lay down our top tracks of 2006 - a weird year in music.
Unlike last year, there wasn't a song that made you go, 2006!, like "Golddigger" did last year; unless you thought "Crazy" united everyone like "Hey Ya" did in 2004. The year didn't feature an overall presence or trend like a Kanye, the rise of indie, or even Sufjan Stevens last year. Unless, to take my view, that we saw a lot of over looked music (come on down Neko Case) and a lot of overrated music (Sufjan writes the same song with new lyrics! Drink it up wantabe hipsters!) It was a so-so year in music. A year that featured a lot of solid efforts, but nothing that everyone could agree upon.
Just take Pitchfork which ranked the Knife as the best album of the year (Euro techno... seriously guys? Are you just giving a 'fuck you' to all the people that buy whatever you say is the best with that pick, right? It's not bad, but it's not great. Therefore I'm just assuming that Pitchfork is saying, 'you guys will buy it because we said so, go think for yourselves'.) and "My Love" by Timberlake as the best song? Really? You realize that this song isn't that much fun? Just some uncharismatic guy singing like a girl... and the song goes nowhere right? It's a classic 13 year old girl, top 40 song with no hidden anything? And this has nothing to do about hipsters (though hipsters hate the song because it's by Timberlake). This has everything to do with good music... and Justin ain't that good (though the SNL skit if FANTASTIC!). Justin's fine and that's it. And once again, he's totally uninteresting and uncharismatic. I don't know one male that wants to be Justin Timberlake.
That's Pitchfork... but check out some of these other lists... there is... no consensus pick... I mean, anywhere... nothing... even though TV on the Radio comes the closest. I guess.
So with that in mind, we give our two cents... as the Strokes said, "take it or leave it". And if we could, we linked the song. Yay youtube and MP3s!
And if you want to check out last year's list, go here... and btw, we would have added Andrew Bird's "Fake Palindromes" and Oxford Collapse's "Boys Go Home" if we had heard those songs last year. Just needed to say that. In fact, "Fake Palindromes" is probably one of my favorite songs of all time... same with that entire Andrew Bird album.
(Disclaimer: we are only one person (ha) and therefore didn't come close to hearing every song made this year, don't bug out if we forgot something, and no, I don't hear voices).
I've decided that I wouldn't list any band twice, but these songs could have made the list if I didn't have that rule:
The Funeral by Band of Horses
Margaret Vs. Pauline by Neko Case
Electricityscape by the Strokes
Turn Into by Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
Jackson Square by Mason Jennings
Rise Up With Fists!!! by Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
Songs that weren't bad, but I felt the need to list them or say something about them:
- When You Were Young by the Killers - how could something that that felt so right two years ago feel so wrong now? This song doesn't deserve half the praise it's getting. What a shame, I thought the Killers would be alright.
- White Daisy Passing by Rocky Votolato
- The Man Who Came to Stay (B-Side) by Babyshambles
- So Long by Willy Mason
- Gravity's Rainbow by Klaxons
And let's just drop some of the overrated bands/people of the year...
- Tapes 'N Tapes - No they are not bad, but come on. What was so great about these guys? Their songs were sort of bland, they didn't have a 'song', and they weren't even fun on top of it. Say what you will about the Arctic Monkeys, but at least they're fun (and btw, I firmly believe the reason the Arctic Monkey's have gotten so much crap is becaue they're 100% British. Their lyrics drip of Nothern England to the point where most Americans, the self included, understand little to none of what they're talking about).
- Joanna Newsom - I heard a few tracks and it's not bad. It's pretty at time and the arangements are cool. But her voice... it's so bad. Like not even enjoyablely bad like Craig Finn or Eddie Veddar.
- Sufjan Stevens - The guy has been writting the same songs for the last five years now... what's the difference between his outakes and Christmas album and Michigan and Illinois? I enjoyed Illinois as much as the next guy, but it's getting a little out of control now. Do something new... something different... a song with a lot of bells and whistles (litterally) isn't "indie" if you do the same bells and whistles over and over and over and over again.
- Pitchfork - I'm only adding them because they're best of/end of the year lists stucked. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're the best out there.
Now, the list...
30) Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles from Love
This starts as a stripped down Strawberry Fields and quite an enjoyable one at that... and then it goes nuts (well nuts in the "I'm 45 and out for a night of drinking!" nuts). I dare someone to figure out every Beatles song that makes an appearance in this song since I'm pretty sure it's more that it sounds. It's quite fun listening to it all, and it works on top of it. (In case you were wondering "In My Life", "Piggies", Hello, Goodbye" all make appearances). This cut is probably the highlight of the album since it's one of the few that pushes things a bit. Personally, I grew to enjoy Strawberry Fields a little more thanks to this... just a fantastic Beatles song. I won't say Lennon's best, but it's up there.
29) Steady, As She Goes by the Raconteurs
In a way, this song is a bit disappointing, but it's probably more disappointing since it's a solid start to the album that then spire rolls into nothingness quickly. And I don't mean that in a flattering existential way. A blah album which basically only features this song which I can't help feeling as if it was in a mailed in effort anyway.
28) Deadwood by Dirty Pretty Things
The other half of the Libertines responds! Pete Doherty may be more interesting and in the end maybe a better musician than Carl Barât, but it becomes evident that Carl Barât is no slouch... he can write a post-Libertines lick too (and the Libertines were basically writing post-Clash licks as it was). Maybe it's the urgency of the song that I enjoy so, or the slashing guitars, machine fire lyrical delivery... but it works. In a year where there wasn't enough urgency, this song showed us that urgency could and should be done.
27) Stuck Between Stations by The Hold Steady
The best song on one of the best albums of the year and features probably the best line of the year: "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." But that's what the Hold Steady do best... tell stories over guitars, shots of Jack, and High Lifes that lead to PBRs. Unlike last year's effort, Boys and Girls in America doesn't deliver as may fantastic singles, but it features a more complete album. And by the way, I would totally date a girl like that.
26) Postcards From Italy by Beirut
No other song grew on me as much as this cut from Beirut did. The song in fact is a bit underwhelming. It builds upon itself and you can't help but feel a little unsure of where it's going, but if you let the song happen, allow patience to take over, the song eventually comes together. And it features horns, and as you know, we're suckers for horns here at VFLOAB.
25) Life Wasted by Pearl Jam
For about three weeks, Pearl Jam made a come back... but then we all realized that Pearl Jam was not the same old Pearl Jam even when they tried to go out be who they used to be in the 90s. Apperently only U2 can do that. And while this song makes the list for nostalgic reasons, it wasn't that bad of a song with big guitars and Eddie trying to sound like he doesn't know how to articulate words. But in the end, like most of this decade, it's an attempt to go back to the 90s. Don't we all wish we could.
24) Louisiana by the Walkmen
In the summer of 2004, I had no clue what to do with my life. I had just finished school... I was totally lost working some dead end job and dating a girl long distance. All I really remember from that summer is the White Sox trading for Freddy Garica and listening to "Bows + Arrows" by the Walkmen. It still ranks as one of my favorite albums of all time. So when the Walkmen came out with a new disc this year, I was pumped. Too bad the album was completely unnoteworthy. But Louisiana is a damn fine song, even if it has nothing to do with Katrina. But I like how it sways back and forth, then gives us a chi-chi----chi-chi--chi/chi-chi----chi-chi--chi on everything from the drums, to bass, to piano. Best if listened to around 3:00 am or pm... it's your classic "Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do."
23) Policeman by Slings & Arrows
I like the hand claps. I really like those hand claps. And the improper grammar and guitar are cool too. And "Not My War" is pretty hot too.
22) Tricycle by Psapp
To be honest, I just like this song. There's nothing that special about it. The girl's got a nice voice... you know how it goes.
21) The Orchids by Califone
The prettiest song of the year. In fact, this is the prettiest song not by Sufjan Stevens in a long time.
20) Your Kisses are Wasted on Me by The Pipettes
Who would have thought that 60s pop would be so sorely missed that we would need a 21st century twist on it? No, the Pipettes don't bring anything too new to the table, but they do bring 60s pop without having to be subtle about sex. And it's fun. And whoever shouts "No, you don't know it!" during the pretty chours, well, love that too.
19) Please Visit Your National Parks by Oxford Collapse
While this song doesn't match the urgency of "Deadwood" it's the closest that you'll come in America this year. I love how it almost sounds like the band is yelling "You should be standing right next to me!" at the listener. And I'm totally not offended by it. And then the guitars sound like they're dueling in a weird way. But as the song wraps up, it slows down and becomes almost bittersweet as they play a few scales on a guitar as another softly strums... good night.
18) Coco On the Corner by Takka Takka
I'm not totally sure what it is, but this song just has it. There is something, but I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's the hooks. Maybe it's the hand claps. Or that organ, or at least I think it's an organ... and the dude is totally whistling... whatever it is. This song has something about it that makes it enjoyable. Who knows how it will stand against the test of time.
17) SOS by Rihanna
Easily the most fun song of the year. If you could choose any song to get drunk with a member of the opposite sex, this would get our vote. "SOS please someone help me!" and oh yeah, that is "Tainted Love" you hear in the background. Note to self, if I ever want to make a hit record either have big horns and a driving bass or sample "Tainted Love".
16) Crazy by Gnarls Barkley
Unless you lived in a cave, you know this song. I don't need to say anything else about it. And whoever said it was the most unifying song since "Hey Ya" is totally right.
15) Thursday by Asobi Seksu
I don't know, there's just something about this song that offers you both "I'm going out in a few hours cuz it's Friday night!" and "It's a rainy Sunday Afternoon, sigh" so the versatility along gives it big ups. Oh yeah, again a female voice sucks us in (btw, it was a good year for the girls) and the guitar part is quite nice. This song feels British... maybe that's just me. I have nothing else to add besides that I like it.
14) The Great Salt Lake by Band of Horses
The song of the summer? It probably should have been, but it didn't quite have it. But it was close. Yet another bittersweet sounding song in a long list of bittersweet sounding songs this year.
13) Another Sunny Day by Belle & Sebastian
Thing song never really went away. It was here on our laps right when 2006 started and stayed the entire time. It's a simple song, or at least sounds that way, and it's pleasantly happy (I know weird thing to say, but it makes sense). I'm pretty sure this is a joyful song that celebrates the past... but then again, I'm not sure. But it's got a nice hook and beat that just works.
12) A Certain Romance by Arctic Monkeys
The most hyped band of 2006 actually kind of sort of lived up to the hype despite what Pitchfork and other say (remember kids, if Pitchfork didn't discover them that band sucks unless the band came about before Pitchfork was even a website). After one of the longer intros of the year, the song finally gets to it's point... something about old Reebok's, ring-tones, and romance that isn't around here. But let's face it, the guitar is cool and who doesn't love that northern English accent.
11) Cheated Hearts by Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
We love songs that slowly build up, one instrument entering at a time, and then explode (see the Strokes "Last Nite") and now that we think about it, this might be the first song since "Last Nite" that does a good job at that. I'm sure we're wrong. Anyway, this album sort of worked, but even better it featured two pretty hot songs in this and "Turn Into". Come on, if you're listening to this your, moving your head. Gotcha.
10) Wolf Like Me by TV on the Radio
I'm not sure which song features better drums, this one or the Strokes "Heart in a Cage"... not matter. This song, somehow someway, rocks. I can't really describe it... which I guess means it's good. I like listening to it...
9) Napoleon Says by Phoenix
Phoenix is just good. Like the tri-color, they get the job done in ways you never really thought about... how could red, white, and blue be better? How could dance rock be improved... probably the easiest song to like on this list. And if it's to poppy, well tough shit.
8) Woman by Wolfmother
Anyone who says that this song is just a 70s rip off is missing the point. We need music like this. We want music like this. There's a reason why people listen to classic rock stations. People like that music. It's good music. And even if it first appeared 30 or 40 years ago, it doesn't mean anyone doing a 'modern' twist (and I use that loosely with this song) on that stuff automatically makes it bad and unoriginal. Odds are the person ripping this song either hates the Who and Led Zeppelin or is pissed that they didn't think of this first. Tough shit I say. I'll rock out to this. And yes Wolfmother, I know what you mean.
7) We Used to Vacation by Cold War Kids
I can almost guarantee that if Pitchfork had discovered these guys, not the bloggers, this would be a top five song and a top five album. I love Pitchfork, but over the past few weeks I've started getting sick of these guys. No matter, this song is a little weird, I mean, 20 year old kids talking in the first person about having a family and drinking problems? Maybe I'm missing something, maybe they really are preaching to us, but I'll just hope that they rote some killer licks and hooks and then just filled it in with weird lyrics.
6) The Big Guns by Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
First it's the kick ass guitar, then you realize Jenny isn't talking about a guy, but rather God. And then the guitar comes back, Jenny's flanked by the Watson twins, and the offers up something I think about: "And I'll pretend that everybody here wants peace/Have mercy, have mercy, have mercy on me/Cause we're tired and lonely and we're bloody" Classic. Finally some more guitar, Jenny's cute voice, hand claps, Big Guns... pretending people want peace (I assume she's calling out Bush and others there). And then fade out to the Big Guns. Awesome. And Jenny is like, totally cute, and we're totally in love with her.
5) Rough Gem by Islands
We know totally weird video. But it's a good song. Who doesn't love all the random sounds and instruments... personally I think my favorite fifteen seconds in music this year comes right after the bridge (or maybe that is the bridge, there are too many 'parts' to this song) when everything is going crazy and it's an absolute joy to listen too. And yes, by this point you should know that we're required to have a break out band or five each year from Montreal. I've got to get up there.
4) Heart in a Cage by the Strokes
I'm sort of shocked that the Strokes were completely forgotten on every best of list this year... I know the album came out in early Janurary, all the songs were leaked, and it wasn't their best effort, but it was still better than most of the 'hip' shit out there. I know this is crazy, but I was tempted to put Juicebox on this list, but I thought better of it despite it's "random Strokes generator lyrics" and the fantastic "for a while/it was nice/but it's time/to say bye". No it wasn't the best Strokes album, but it was pretty good. Fab's drumming is additive and piercing. Meanwhile, Nick and Albert seems to square off, once again, to see who can get the upper hand. And if you ask me, this song has the best lyrics on the album to boot even with all the "lefts". I love this song.
3) Eanie Meany by Jim Noir
In a way, it's surprising that there wasn't more music like this this year. Music that was carefree, innocent, and nostalgic considering how tough the past few years have been in this country. And what makes it even weirder is that Noir is from Manchester... England. But this song just goes to prove, there aren't nearly enough ditties out there. The way he sings "Eanie Meany, run away" over and over is addictive and fantastic. Plus if you didn't enjoy this commercial during the World Cup, you need to go see someone about happy pills.
2) Be Here Now by Mason Jennings
How this song isn't a hit just goes to show how corporate the music industry, and also American capitalism, can suck. Look, it might not be the best song. It certainly doesn't offer up anything totally new and Mason sounds a lot like John Lennon. But you know what.. that doesn't matter. I have no clue if he's talking about a love lost or a love next to him. But this song sums up every single relationship I've had and will ever have... for good and bad... and no it isn't necessarily poetic about it. It's fairly obvious, probably too obvious for those who actually think musical lyrics matter more than anything written by T.S. Eliot (which is totally ironic in the actual meaning of ironic). But "the sun does come up" and we do "start again". And we need to remember that.
1) Star Witness by Neko Case
As I've been hinting... 2006 was a bad year. A really bad year when you get down to it. It was bittersweet and we, as a society, seem stuck in October of 2002. Maybe we can't move on. Maybe the world can't move on. Maybe we shouldn't move on, or at the very least we don't know how to move on. I don't know. But big part of us, as Americans, died on 9/11. And we're still not sure how to deal with it. On top of that, our politicians seem hell bent on making the USA the most hated country since the USSR was up and running. Anytime you open the paper, turn on the news, fire up the Internets; you can't get away from the death and destruction and hate in the world. Sure if you look hard enough, you'll find silver linings, but over all, it's hard to say this was a good year when you add everything up.
Star Witness is about lost teenage love... the poor girl's boyfriend just crashed and is all but dead. And during these five beautiful minutes, the narrator is recounting the last minutes of her loves life. The imagery is fantastic: "Trees break the sidewalk/And the sidewalk skins my knees/There's glass in my thermos/And blood on my jeans/Nickels and dimes of the fourth of july". It's a sad song and like 2006 there is a sliver lining... Neko Case's voice. Oh that voice... Micheal Jackson, Edith Paif, Billie Holiday, and Neko Case all have/had voices that were the voice of God. That's how amazing her voice is. And as the song begins to rap up, she sings, "please... don't let him die/oh how I forgot". You think it's over... but then maybe the saddest and most beautiful piano lick I've heard begins. You have to listen to it. It breaks my heart every time I hear it. And I don't think there's anything else I would rather listen to at 11:59pm on Dec. 31, 2006. What a fitting end to a sad year. Hopefully 2007 will be better.