Monday, 25 December 2006

2006: A Year in Music [Part 2: Top 5 songs of the year]

As per my comments in last year's top songs post, this is not a list of my favourite singles of the year. Merely a list of choice cuts. To make this list, I must own the song on CD. That means that a lot of great songs which I don't own are not eligible. My blog, my rules.

This year, to make it more interesting, I will include a link to an MP3 download of all the songs in my top 5. Please download them all; it won't take long, especially for you broadband folk. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Note that the MP3s will only stay up for a couple of weeks. Please grab them as soon as you read this post the first time, even if you don't listen to them immediately. Otherwise you may miss out! If you like them, please buy them on CD or legally download them.

5. Jarvis Cocker - Tonite [Link Removed]

I'm a big fan of the minor album track, and this is one of those songs. It's not from the first half of the Jarvis album where most of the songs which sound like they could be hits are from. It's tucked away near the end, and it's a gem.

Lyrically, it sounds like something which was sweeped off the cutting-room floor at the This is hardcore sessions. Jarvis revisits his familiar themes of sex and drugs, and also stabs the wannabes in the back like he did so often on the Pulp magnum opus Different class.

One could argue that this is Pulp-by-numbers, but it's the sparse production of this song which takes it to a different level for me. Jarvis gives this song so much space to breathe in, and it makes it a much more fascinating track for me than it probably deserves to be. And for some strange reason, the sound of this song reminds me of a few tracks from the latest Go-Betweens album Oceans apart.

4. Belle & Sebastian - Another sunny day [Link Removed]

This was the first song I heard from the 2nd album of the reinvention of Belle & Sebastian, and I fell in love with it instantly.

Where Seeing other people, My wandering days are over and The boy with the arab strap were perfections of their earlier melancholic cardigan-wearing sound, all cylinders are firing on this power-pop masterstroke. It's catchy as all hell, and it's one of the few tracks on The life pursuit that sounds like it could have easily been one of the poppier tracks on an earlier album. It introduces their new sound without rubbing your face in it, and the end result is that the band finally feel completely comfortable in their new incarnation.

3. Bob Dylan - Nettie moore
[Link Removed]

Most of Sir Bobness' latest album Modern times alternates between standard bluesy numbers and drawn-out ballads. There are a mere handful of gems, and this is one of those.

Lyrically, it sounds like a lost Basement tracks song; it's musically organic and Bob's husky vocal performance gives a sense of honesty to the proceedings that not many artists could pull off. It pulls on all the right emotion heartstrings, both lyrically and musically.

This is a track that is comparable with some of the finer songs in his vast catalogue. For a man who has been recording music for five decades now (and is still going strong), this is no small feat.

2. Augie March - Bottle baby [Link Removed]

After a handful of EPs and 3 albums, Glenn Richards is one of the few vocalists who can almost bring a tear to my eye, so beautiful is his voice. And this highlight from their latest strangely-titled album Moo, you bloody choir could possibly be his finest vocal performance to date.

The lyrics can probably be best described as surreal poetry. I'll admit I don't always know what Glenn is on about in his lyrics, and this song is definitely no exception. But it doesn't matter, as his voice tells you more than you need to know. Every syllable, every nuance, every turn of phrase: this is emotional singing at its best and that alone makes it one of the finest Augie March songs to date.

1. Joanna Newsom - Emily [Link Removed]

I pretty much fell in love with this song, the opening song from Joanna Newsom's ambitious 2nd album Ys, on the first listen.

Over the course of its 12 minute running time, it ebbs, it flows, it revisits lyrical and musical themes. It's an epic song of breathtaking beauty. No song better encapsulates the richness and scope of what she has achieved on her new album Ys than this.

I'm definitely more of a musical person than a lyrical one. I also have a fairly short attention span which is continuing to diminish as I get older. I never would have thought that a song as long and lyrically dense as this one would be my song of the year.

The meteorite, meteor, meteoroid movement (yes, merely calling it a verse is unfair) is breathtaking. It doesn't even matter that she's not astronomically correct. This song urges you to meet somebody named Emily and befriend her, just so you can make this the leading song on a mixtape for her.

UPDATE: Song links removed.


  1. Bottle baby an interesting choice... SOTY, hard call, but I quite like Mt Wellington Reverie from "moo."
    And that's all I have to say about that.

  2. "You aint no Picasso" has done his top 20 of 2006:


Sing some harmonies here: