(originally published 1/08/07)
Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped
The fans who simply cannot tolerate a song-oriented, retro-NYC “punk” thing from the Sonics confuse the crap out of me. “Jams Run Free” belongs on the Kim Gordon’s Greatest Hits blog I’m slated to pull off by 2009. If you’re crying about wanting more ‘experimentalism’ from the group, you should check any of the 100s of such albums they break their backs making available to you.
Gob Iron, Death Songs for the Living
I had low expectations for this record, and found myself pert near bowled over by it. I’ll take this over Uncle Tupelo’s March album any old day, because Death Songs is a baldly modern recording, and the other suffers from residues of wannabe coal miner pretense. Amazing musical performances by Jay and Anders, on all sorts of instruments. Solid all the way through (even the instrumental interludes, for real.)
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, The Letting Go
I bet you this’ll have climbed up my ranks by May. It’s amazing, but the combination of my oversaturation with Superwolf (Bonnie’s last offering) and Dawn the Faun’s sometimes overbearingly expressive vocals, has me hesitant to scream its name throughout the hillsides. Amazing recording, though; and the string stuff is austere as all hell.
Jason Molina, Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go
People give Jason a lot of shit for Magnolia’s decidedly “rockist” direction, not paying any attention to more home-spun, stark and chilly solo recordings like these. This is a worthy follow-up to Pyramid Electric Company, which is saying something.
Anders Parker, Anders Parker
A big, beautiful, classic “acoustic band” album, just as Anders promised on his website early this year. Don’t let all the wooden guitars fool you, though – there’s some really scorching, exploratory electric work here too. All that aside, Anders is quickly becoming one of my favorite singers in the game.
5) Hush Arbors – Where the hell did this come from? From Three-Lobed Recordings’ Modern Containment Series, the definitive 2006 memento of all post-indie striving. I am having a delightful time watching my generation of (latter-day) Forced Exposure and Opprobrium junkies doing what comes naturally. (To say that, virtuosity aside, Ben Chasny could practically be Rob Smith or Dougan or me or whoever is ultimately just to say that I love and cherish this particular mileu on the fringes of the no-wave/psych/folk mutations happening around Thurston Moore.) Anywho, Mr Wood’s Landscape is my favorite thing-y to emerge from this crowd (,which probably ain’t no crowd at all, but such wishful thinking is the province of the Prisonship.) Simultaneously sweet and haunting, this should keep you from ever being too cool for Pro Tools, if’n you ever were. You should take your folk music on the modern side like everybody else, cuz only hippies (or anarchists) would confuse playing a banjo with being a coal miner.
4) Tie: Magnolia Electric, Fading Trails
Tara Jane O’neil, In Circles
Two particularly stunning records from people who’ve always only worked in the stunning records biz. The Magnolia is culled from 3 seperate ‘albums’ (as yet unreleased), thus as staggering in its beginning-middle-end self-evidence as it is proficient in getting across its gushing imagery. A lot of people only care about lyrics in a haphazard, ‘icing on the cake’ kind of way. Worse, some people only think lyrics are ‘good’ when they ‘understand’ ’em. Those people needn’t concern themselves with my assertion that Molina is writing as well as anybody in this country at present. And I’m talking Springsteen or Dylan or Cohen or Oldham or Buckner or whoever. Molina wins.
Tara Jane’s records have gradually moved closer and closer to song forms, without losing the all-important ambience of a personal, singular encounter with one’s tools. There’s nothing necessarily formal about these compositions, verses and choruses notwithstanding. I think that’s why she’s undergone the transition from noise-punk impresario to arty folkie way better than more famous art-folkies like Pajo or whoever. Couple her gorgeous voice with her outstanding, restrained multi-instrumental services rendered, and you’ll quit blaming me for wanting to be her when I grow up.
3)Liars, Drum’s Not Dead
How come nobody mentions the Dead C when they mention this band? The hilarity of the Dead C comp’s’ featuring a ‘RIYL Lightning Bolt, Wolf Eyes‘ sticker deserves a corrective reference to this group as the C’s rightful sons and heirs. This band answers to nobody but their own selves, and all the resultant bad faith , illness, incest and paranoia make for an incredibly compelling work. The percussive focus on this one really, really merits recognition – it’s like Bad Moon Rising times 90, in that way. And in terms of the concept, well, if you don’t get it, then you’ve never played in a band, never enjoyed unnameable intimacy with a same-sex friend, never organized or been organizes….basically you’ve never related to anybody ever. It’s not that hell is other people; It’s that heaven’s other people, and that’s hellish.
2) Walkmen, A Hundred Miles Off
My favorite rock record in a very, very long time (at least since Empty Rooms.) I don’t listen to it anymore.
1) Scott Walker, The Drift
Writing about a Scott album within a year of its release is real, real stupid. Let’s just say that I’m only beginning to begin to get to the middle of getting to the bottom, but that I know enough to say that there is more “going on” on this than any alb of ’06. Maybe this will ‘help’ you?
* Addendum. Late Entries I haven’t heard yet:
Make Believe, Of Course
MV + Erica Elder, Green Blues
Red Krayola, Introduction
Six Organs of Admittance, The Sun Awakens
Vaguely Interested in ’06 albums by: Pissed Jeans, TV on the Radio, Neil Young (Living With War), Ghostface Killah, SkyGreen Leopards
Most Awesome Discovery of ’06, Despite their not having released anything recently: Abilene.
Reissues: Dead C, Vain, Erudite and Stupid; What it Is? Box Set