Thursday, January 04, 2007


by Michael Strenski

02006 had it's fair share of disappointments on the album front but after much deliberation I have ultimately decided that Beck's The Information is a slightly bigger piece of aural garbage than the Flaming Lips' At War with the Mystics. Were these former geniuses both infected by some talent-sucking radiation on their joint tour in 02002, coincidentally the last time either band released a half decent album (emphasis on "half")? Anyhoo, screw the losers, why waste digital print on albums I hope never to hear again. Below is a completely unbiased selection of the top six releases in '06. That's right, unbiased. If you disagree, you're wrong.

#6: OOIOO-Taiga
Yoshimi's pet project dropped an incredibly energetic, surprisingly cohesive album in 02006. I say surprising because over the course of the album's 8 tracks, the band throws almost every musical genre into the mix, as disparate as avant jazz and cheerleader anthems. The album's highlight is the opener "UMA", a Japanese girl chorus over a relentless, infectious drum pattern reminiscent of Joy Division's "Atrocity Exhibition", albeit ten times louder.

#5: Ghostface Killah-Fishscale
I have a confession: no hip-hop sounds as good to me as a Wu joint. Although the Clan barely makes a dent on his new album (save Raekwon), G-Deini came back strong with his most slamming record since Supreme Clientele. Though nowhere as cohesive as that past success and frankly a bit long, it was the most inspiring, lyrically dense hip-hop album in a long while. MF Doom's numerous cuts are almost as good a compliment to Ghost's style as the RZA's.

#4: Joanna Newsom-Ys
Envision, execute. The greatest thing about Joanna Newsom's sophomore release is the purity of the vision. She wrote 5 great songs that more than warrant their much-discussed length. She got Steve Albini to record it, fucking Van Dyke Parks to write the string arrangements, and then called up Jim O'Rourke to produce it at... ABBEY ROAD. BAM! What now?!? How can you fuck with that? I wish more albums would be this audacious. It would make life a little more interesting.

#3: Sonic Youth-Rather Ripped
Rather Ripped is the complete opposite of Ys in a purely aesthetic way. Where Ys is grandiose and whimsical, Rather Ripped is Sonic Youth pared down to their bare pop bones. All the songs are concise (save "Pink Steam") and for Sonic Youth, conventional. Turns out that after three meandering, jammy albums this was the exact curveball the band needed. 12 songs simply recorded and full of wonderful hooks and lovely guitars. Beautiful.

#2: the Gothic Archies-The Tragic Treasury
What would a year be without a witty, catchy collection from Stephin Merritt? A compilation of tracks he wrote for the Lemony Snicket series of children's books, The Tragic Treasury turns out to be Stephin's most pleasurable and consistent album since the Magnetic Fields' 01995 album Get Lost. No, it's not better than 69 Love Songs but then again, nothing ever will be. Here are 15 pop songs about the most dire subject matter, intelligently executed and absurdly addictive.

#1: the Country Teasers-The Empire Strikes Back
These Scottish ruffians warmed my little heart this year with their odes to all manners of bad thoughts. How can you top an album that opens with an embellished version of Pink Floyd's "In the Flesh" and closes with an epic called "Please Ban Music"? And damn, check out that album title. Full of lovely little mistakes and misery, nothing this year made me happier.

Except this:
Tricked y'all. The Melvins further solidified their status as the self-proclaimed "Greatest Band in the History of Music" with their 20th full length, the massive, incredibly heavy (A) Senile Animal. After firing their bassist and swallowing up bass and drum metal ensemble Big Business, the Melvins delivered the goods in spades. "The Talking Horse" is a low-riding, bass-bumping anthem, while "Blood Witch" may be the trickiest thing ever recorded, and "A Civilized Worm" culminates in the greatest sing-along of all time. And those are only the first three songs! No album warranted more repeat listens, nor more pleasure than this album, and if you disagree then you must be deaf.


  1. Where the hell is Modern Times??

  2. Tricksy! False!

    I think we both know you're the deaf one. But all facts aside, sweet list. I don't own a single one on it. Even Ys, which I adore, I haven't bought. ...times have changed. Gonna have to rectify this.

  3. Did you not hear The Clipse's new album? I did the other day in Borders: banging. Coke rap never sounded better. Except, of course, on their first album. Pharrell still has some beats left in him and the brothers are pretty good wrappers. I say check it out. You could probably borrow it from Riley...

  4. No homo. Melvins is gay. The order is to "Please Ban Music". That means even your beloved Melvins. SILENCE!

    Silence is number 6,5,4,3,2,1, and suprise seventh on my list of favorite albums from '06.