Sunday, 24 December 2006

2006: A Year in Music [Part 1: Overview]

It's that time of the year again!

Some things are pretty certain about this time of the year. Finding a parking spot at a shopping centre is incredibly difficult. You quickly grow sick of hearing Christmas carols wherever you go. And it's also that time when online music publications put up their retrospective of the year. It's a controversial and exciting time of the year for music geeks like me.

At this time last year, I had bought many albums from 2005. This made it very easy for me to write a good retrospective, and I could even come up with top 10 lists for my favourite albums and songs. At the time of writing, I have only purchased 12 albums from 2006. So it doesn't really make a lot of sense to do a top 10 list, because not all the albums I purchased deserve the acclaim of a position in a top 10 list. So I'll be toning things down a little this year, and only doing top 5 lists.

Here's a quick schedule of my next 6 posts (including this one).

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Top 5 songs of the year
Part 3: Cutting room floor
Part 4:
Top 5 albums of the year
Part 5: Musical discoveries of the year
Part 6: Re-evaluation of 2005 list

Part 1: Overview

If I had to sum up 2006 in one word, it would be disappointing. Harsh, isn't it? But that's the reality for me.

This was the year in which I was in a bit of a rut with respect to new music. I wasn't buying as much new music as I used to, and my attitude towards new albums by artists I loved had changed. In previous years, if a new album came out by an artist that I really loved, I would use the rule purchase unless proven not worthy.

In 2006, my rule became purchase only if proven worthy. I became really strict with what I bought. I had grown sick of buying music based on hype and being disappointed. It had happened too many times in the past, and now I was gonna be a hardass. Only buy something if I'm convinced it's going to be really good. After all, why by a lesser album by an artist who I already like? If I'm going to choose an album of theirs to put on, I'll put on one of their better ones.

I used to think it was a cool thing to get the monopoly of an artist - i.e. own all of their albums. Not so I could build houses and hotels on them, but just for the satisfaction of owning all of them. In 2006, I threw this attitude out of the window.

Keep in mind that 2005 was and still is a great year for music. So shouldn't I have been on such a high from 2005 that I'd be buying everything? Well, that's the attitude I had going into 2006. But after a few disappointments early in the year, I quickly realised that 2006 wasn't going to be as great for me.

In 2006, I started to embrace a lot of older music. There was a lot of older music out there, which has been around for many more years. I grew so sick of overhyped bands, and older music is so much better in this sense because it has had the ability to grow a reputation on its own merits and not on the back of NME (and the like) sponsored hyperbole. In a nutshell, I was sick of being taken for a ride.

Early on in the year, NME published a list of the greatest albums of all time. The Arctic Monkeys debut, which had only been out for 2 weeks before their published the list, made it to the top 10. Even if it was a good album (and from what I've heard it's decent, but nothing ground-breaking), this was absolutely ridiculous. And it was also one of the many straws which broke my music buying camel's back.

Getting married in November also probably had something to do with it. With all the stresses and organisation and lack of time, I simply didn't have as much time for music this year. Maybe in many years to come, I will be able to grow an appreciation for the music of 2006. I hope that time does come.

That's not to say that 2006 wasn't without its share of great music, and there will be a discussion of the great music of the year in the next few posts. Also, there are many albums from 2006 which are still on my list to purchase but I haven't gotten around to them yet (for various reasons). Because I have a rule that I won't review something that I don't legitimately own, none of these albums are eligible for making any of my lists (but they will get a passing mention).

Maybe in my re-evaluation of the 2006 list (published at the end of 2007) I will be able to expand my top 5 lists to top 10 lists. I certainly hope so! Enjoy reading the next few posts, and as usual I encourage anyone and everyone to comment. If you have any recommendations for 2006 albums, please let me know in the comments as well. Anything you can recommend that will make my appreciation of 2006 better will be greatly appreciated!


  1. NME is a joke, plain and simple. That's really all that needs to be said about them.

    As for 2006 lists, Begin to Hope by Regina Spektor is far and away my yearly number one, followed by Dukes of Windsor's debut. I've got a massive 2006 review post all written and ready to go, I just have to get around to it.

  2. Thanks, bjd. Will need to check out that Regina Spektor album. How would you describe her music?

  3. Reduced music buying? Welcome to married life!! :)
    Contrary to what your name suggests, Mr Young, I think you've matured as a consumer. It's also good in the sense that you can have time to appreciate those albums you buy, rather than giving them a couple of token listens because there are only 24 hours in a day.
    For me, 2006 was the complete shift to electronic-format music; I know you'll hate me for this, but it's all iTunes and bittorrents now.
    It was certainly a year for going solo -- 2006 saw releases from Jarvis Cocker, Thom Yorke, James Dean Bradfield, and Kevin Mitchell, to name a few. (Apparently Nicky Wire also released a solo album, but in the words of Frontline's Mike Moore "I'm not touching that one!") While I'll get to your other entries in good time, the Bob Evans album of 2006 is definitely worth a listen.
    In other significant 2006 events, I'll have to drop the "nomeat" from my name...

  4. Thanks for all the comments Pete, it was great to check my email today to see 6 comments from you.

    I've certainly become more picky as a music consumer, but does this give me more time to appreciate what I have? Well, I bought 78 albums in 2006. In contrast, I bought 179 albums in 2005! I guess that speaks for itself. I've also had a lot less time to listen to music in 2006 than in the past; luckily I'm allowed to listen to music at work otherwise I'd never get through them.

    As for electronic-format music, it's still not for me. I like having something tangible that I can sell and recoup my losses if I don't like it. I can't sell a track I bought off iTunes. And while BitTorrent is certainly the easy way out, I still consider myself a collector and I'd rather buy the music properly. There's a certain satisfaction with finding the real thing at the right price.

    >> In other significant 2006
    >> events, I'll have to drop the
    >> "nomeat" from my name...

    Good to see you finally got your appendage back ;-)

  5. I have to agree with nomeat again, Bob Evans is a really enjoyable album worth checking out.

    And, you will be surprised to see that stuff and nonsense actually has a new post on it...I know, amazing isn't it!!

  6. Good to see Stuff and Nonsense is still alive; I look forward to reading the new post!

  7. This is slightly delayed... but Regina Spektor is best described as a cross between Fiona Apple and Tori Amos, but with a very playful, quirky attitude to her vocals. Great melodies and a really nice voice. Like I said, far and away my #1 this year.


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