Saturday, 29 December 2007

2007: A Year in Music [Part 6: Re-evaluation of 2006 list]

Time to re-evaluate my top 5 albums of 2006 post to see how my opinions have changed over the course of the year. Maybe some albums which I initially praised too highly have over time lost their appeal. And maybe some other albums which I didn't like too much at this time last year have grown on me (as many great albums do). In addition to this, I have also purchased many more albums from 2006 which I didn't have when I made the list last year.

These were my top 5 albums of 2006, as published at the end of last year:

1. Joanna Newsom - Ys
2. Augie March - Moo, you bloody choir
3. Belle & Sebastian - The life pursuit
4. Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis
5. Yo La Tengo - I am not afraid of you and I will beat your ass

And here are the albums from 2006 that I have purchased since I made that list:

Thom Yorke - The eraser
Tom Waits - Orphans
TV on the Radio - Return to cookie mountain
Paul Simon - Surprise
The Knife - Silent shout
Camera Obscura - Let's get out of this country
Loose Fur - Born again in the USA
James Dean Bradfield - The great western
You Am I - Convicts
Regina Spektor - Begin to hope

The eraser is a decent album, but nothing mindblowing. In terms of Radiohead albums, it definitely has the most in common with Amnesiac. Considering that Amnesiac is probably my least favourite Radiohead album, this isn't really a compliment. That's not to say there aren't some choice cuts on The eraser -- Harrowdown hill is an amazing track which could quite comfortably fit amongst some of the finer cuts in Radiohead's catalogue, and Cymbal rush is a highly effective closer.

Return to cookie mountain was highly praised by many critics as one of the finest albums of 2006, but after many listens, I'm not sure I quite understand all the praise that it is getting. There are some great songs on there, don't get me wrong, but so many of the songs aren't particularly memorable for me. Wolf like me is one of the greatest songs of 2006 though!

I have already discussed Orphans and Surprise in my musical discoveries post, so no need to repeat myself here.

While I am not generally a fan of the dance/electronica genre, there are always exceptions to this rule. Silent shout by Swedish band The Knife is one such exception. It was actually voted by Pitchfork Media as the best album of 2007. I'm always a sucker for a great review, so I picked it up this year. It's a highly recommended album: a haunting slice of electronica with eerie vocals and atmospheric beats. Kind've like a more scary version of Björk, but there's a male vocalist in there as well to mix it up a bit.

While Scottish band Camera Obscura sounded like Belle & Sebastian clones on their previous album Underachievers please try harder, they carved out a really unique sound for themself on their follow-up Let's get out of this country. It's a fantastic indie pop album with a Motown/soul feel in parts, and comes highly recommended. Very catchy stuff indeed.

Loose Fur (a supergroup consisting of Wilco members Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche, together with Jim O'Rourke) released the follow-up to their self-titled debut with Born again in the USA. I was very underwhelmed with their debut album, but Born again is a much better album; while Loose Fur was more jam-based, Born again is more song-based. It's a very solid album that comes highly recommended.

I recently purchased The great western (the first solo album by Manics frontman James Dean Bradfield) and Begin to hope (an album by the quirky anti-folk artist Regina Spektor). Unfortunately I haven't given these albums enough listens to comment on them.

Which leaves You Am I's latest album Convicts, which I recently picked up cheaply on eBay. I know two of my friends Pete and Dean aren't into this album and they summed it up as fairly generic rock music, and a shadow of their former brilliance. So you could say I went into listening to it with extremely low expectations. While I agree that it's a very patchy album, and nowhere near the heights that they reached in their glory days, I also don't think it's all worthless. Thuggery, The sweet life, Gunslingers, Explaining cricket and I'm a mess are all very catchy songs that wouldn't sound out of place on a compilation CD amongst some of their older classic rockers. One of the main problems with the album is that the opening track (Thank God I've hit the bottom) lacks a real melody, and it's unfortunate because I can see how it can put someone off the album from the start.

Okay, so that's a rundown of the more recent 2006 albums purchases. Initially when I made my top albums list of 2006, I didn't have enough to make a top 10, which is why I only made a top 5. Now I have 21 albums from 2006, so I think I can make a top 10 list. Without further ado, here's my (updated) top 10 albums of 2006 (old positions are in brackets):

1. Tom Waits - Orphans [New entry]
2. Joanna Newsom - Ys [1]
3. Paul Simon - Surprise [New entry]
4. Augie March - Moo, you bloody choir [2]
5. Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis [4]
6. Belle & Sebastian - The life pursuit [3]
7. The Knife - Silent shout [New entry]
8. Yo La Tengo - I am not afraid of you and I will kick your ass [5]
9. Camera Obscura - Let's get out of this country [New entry]
10. Loose Fur - Born again in the USA [New entry]

Summary of changes:
  • Tom Waits' brilliant 3-CD compilation Orphans has usurped the top position from Joanna Newsom's excellent Ys album. But it's a compilation! I hear you say. Yes, but many of the tracks on it are newly-recorded ones that have never been released before, which makes it eligible for the top 10 albums of 2006 list. My list, my rules.
  • Paul Simon's excellent Surprise album has also come in near the top, overtaking Augie March's Moo, you bloody choir which has slipped down two positions to number 4. I know some people who will be upset by this decision, but I love Surprise and time has not been any kinder to Moo for me.
  • Jarvis Cocker's debut solo album Jarvis has over-taken Belle & Sebastian's The life pursuit. Over time that album has continued to grow on me, and I think it's up there with some of the more classic Pulp material.
  • Yo La Tengo's long-titled I am not afraid of you and I will kick your ass has had its ass kicked down 3 positions, mainly because there's other albums which I have listened to more and appreciate more than that one.
  • Other newly-purchased albums have made the list: Silent shout, Let's get out of this country and Born again in the USA.
And that concludes my 6-part extravaganza on the music of 2007, musical discoveries, and the 2006 re-evaluation. I hope you have enjoyed reading it!

Happy new year everyone! I hope you all have a happy, healthy and safe new year.


  1. The Jiggy of old would never put a compilation CD atop a list of the best releases.....but then again the Jiggy of old would never buy the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever unless it was was to sell of ebay for a profit!!!

    Have been meaning to give Convicts another listen, but I thought it was not a very good album at all. Thank God I've Hit the Bottom is an appropriate title for a really bad song...heres hoping that was the bottom, and its all uphill from here.

    Once again your posts have been a source of much information and entertainment. Well done!!

  2. Thanks Wally!

    And give Convicts another listen. I think it could have at least made a good EP of 5-6 solid tracks. But I'll give it some more listens to see if the other tracks have any value as well...


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