Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mister Trend's Best of 2006

That's no mistake in the title - this is, indeed, my best of 2006. My best of 2007 will come tomorrow. However, while I did such a list last year, some albums that seem great for a few months lose a bit of their lustre, while others only get better and better and better. Additionally, last year's number 2 only came out one month before my list, and it only grew on me further after that, and some of the new entries here I hadn't had a chance to hear yet. So, with a full year-plus worth of reflection, here is my best of 2006.

1. Joanna Newsom, Ys - had this come out before November of last year, it probably would have been at the top. I continuously go back to it, and it's just top notch. The variaroiu between songs isn't enormous, but it's there and it's noticeable on repeated listenings (particularly the harp-and-voice only "Sawdust & Diamonds" followed by the lush "Only Skin"). It almost made number one last year when I only had a month to digest it, and now with a year in the bank, no questions - last year's best album.

2. Liars, Drum's Not Dead - It also just got better, between the obtuse metaphors for creativity vs. writers' block, and the creepy atmospherics. MOst unique concept album in a very long time.
3. CSS, Cansei de Ser Sexy - I hadn't heard it until this year. It's simply the catchiest and most delightful thing out of last year. Tongue-in-cheek yet simultaneously earnest makes it even more endearing. The lyrics don't always make sense ("Fuckoff is not the only thing you have to show", and their few Portuguese lyrics aren't always clear in either Portuguese or translated English), but they're super-fun and have great grooves. And "Let's Make Love And Listen Death from Above" may be the best song that references another band.

4. Beck, The Information - The more I listened, the more it revealed its nuances. A quasi-concept album dealing with the pleasures and pains of living in this age of technological wonders, it has so much richness and variety, I think it really may be Beck's best album (closely rivaling Sea Change).

5. TV on the Radio - It's still great, and there's still nobody who sounds like them. It hasn't lost anything over time - the previous 4 have just improved more over time.

6. Charlotte Gainsbourg, 5:55 - Lyrics by Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon, music by Air, and the heartbreaking, delicate voice of Serge Gainsbourg's daughter. What's not to love?

7. Cat Power - It's still so powerful, and still misunderstood (yes, she's cleaned up, and yes, it's not as much a downer as You Are Free, but that doesn't make it lighthearted and uplifting).

8. Neko Case - You know where Erik stands on her (I paraphrase: "Mix up the tempo, for crying out loud"). And you know where I stand (no voice like hers, nobody makes albums that are as perfect for nighttime as she does, and nobody has lyrics that hit me quite like hers).

9. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, So Divided - I don't know if it's their best album, but the diversity in sound they showed ion it was still great and hopefully is the sign of things to come.

10. Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped - It's not my cultish love of SY. It's simply the best guitar-pop record of last year, with killer hooks that remained both catchy and intricate.