Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Best Albums 2006 - Love Love Love
Cat Power, be my Valentine and we will walk in a field of flowers
Okay, here's the last post with a bunch of 2006 albums and me droning on about them. Since it's Valentine's Day, I thought that it would be appropriate to end all of this on the albums I just love love love, as the subtle title indicates. These are my favorites from the non-dance genre (cop-out, you betcha), the five best LPs of the year (along with Hot Chip and The Knife). For real, these albums floored me the first time I heard them and never let go throughout the year.
1) Cat Power, The Greatest - I assume that everyone knew this was coming. Chan Marshall dropped a stunningly beautiful album early in 2006 and it probably competed with Hot Chip for most listens over the entire year. G-d, you need to hear this one. Rock music and I don't always get along; in fact, most of the time I just don't think we're that into each other. But, then along comes an album that floors me and I understand the power of rock. The Greatest is in the tradition of redemptive music, songs about love, love lost, struggles with demons, overcoming, falling. I don't throw the comparison around often, but there's a lot of Dylan in here. I also see the comparison in the fact that Marshall's sound on this album is 180 degrees from her previous guise as a solo, singer-songwriter. Here she becomes a blueswoman, fronting a rocking, soul/r&b band. Such a great sound on this one, lots of horns and piano and sha-boop backup vocals. To top it off, the voice seals the deal. It's raspy, forceful at times, soft at other times, not always perfect, in other words she's got a expressive, human voice that fits these songs perfectly.
Cat Power, "Willie" (YSI link)
2) Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury - This is a stone-cold classic, an album that I will return for many years. I know that this one gets a lot of hate from rap fans, as they loathe hipsters like me carpetbagging or whatever the fuck they think. While I won't defend my credentials, I will defend this album. For me, it's in the greatest tradition of cold, nihilistic rap music, best exemplified by Mobb Deep's first two albums (maybe the Wu's first one too, as I imagine everyone has heard that). The beats are cold and brutal, the lyrics even moreso. While I love the standard thug stuff, this one takes it all to the next levels with brilliant lyrics and an awareness of the world, the rap game, even the reality of being known for selling drugs. At no point does it turn this into inspirational garbage, it looks at the blackness and shrugs it shoulders.
Clipse, "Keys Open Doors" (YSI link)
3) Liars, Drum's Not Dead - The final album in the trilogy, Liars' latest album was their best and one of the best of the year. The band was one of the original names lumped into the disco-punk movement a few years back. I'm not sure the tag ever fit, but since they've moved to Berlin and dropped this album, it's almost farcical. Drum's Not Dead is a concept album, telling the story of Drum, although the only concept I really follow is that of kicking ass. This one is dark, dense, not an easy listen. But unlike the majority of experimental music, it never seems pretentious or difficult for difficult sake. Maybe that's a result of their understanding of the dancefloor from the beginning, I don't know. Either way, this is one of the best albums of the year.
Liars, "Let's Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack" (YSI link)
Honorable Mention: Regina Spektor, Begin To Worry; T.I., King; TV On The Radio, Return To Cookie Mountain