Saturday, January 06, 2007

Snobfest 2006: The Albums

Where going to go backward in comparison to last year, and start off with the albums. Again there is no specific order. I'll be honest and say I was a little concerned that this post could even reach a satisfactory number that it would be worth doing a list. I was gladly mistaken. Though the song list became much more difficult to narrow down so they could fit on one CD. Anyway, let us start off with the obvious ones I've mentioned before.

Twilight Singer - Powder Burns + Stitch in Time EP

Yes, I can hear you all groan from here, so I'll do my best to be short and sweet. I've had over eight months to absorb this album, and my final decision is that Powder Burns is Dulli's best album since Black Love. I still personally like Blackberry Belle more, but Powder Burns as a whole is the better album. The bonus Dulli fans received this year was the Stitch in Time EP which fits nicely with Powder Burns. First off it has the fantastic cover of Massive Attack's "Live With Me" with Mark Lanegan handling the lead vocals. What follows is just as good or at least comes really really close. There's the R&B groove "Sublime." The dark groove of "Flashback" which along with "They Ride" (co-written by Whigs guitarist Rick McCollum) would fit perfectly on any of the Afghan Whigs albums. The EP concludes with the haunting "The Lure Would Prove Too Much." Coming up this year I get not only the Afghan Whigs collection by Rhino, but hopefully the long anticipated Gutter Twins, which is an album Dulli and Lanegan have been working on together. It used to be years upon years between Afghan Whigs records. Now I've gotten something from Dulli once a year for the past three years.

The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America

I already covered the greatness of this album here. If someone I knew could just get past his voice.

The Exploding Hearts - Shattered

I still get sad about this band sometimes. I still remember listening to their debut album back in 2003, and knowing I would be sticking with this band for awhile. Then a van accident ends the band by taking three of the band members. What we have here is a collection of singles, alternate takes, and unreleased tracks. This is a band that rose above their influences and created one of those albums in Guitar Romantic that should grow in popularity as time goes on. This collection of songs is a nice gift, but also makes you wonder what more they could have given us. I suggest picking up Guitar Romantic. It's going to become one of those albums.

I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends

Again, I wrote about these crazy Swedes here.

Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit

I never belonged to the Belle and Sebastian cult of followers. I have Tigermilk and Arab Strap, but never fell in love with them like so many have. After picking up this album, I feel like the high school quarterback who realizes the girl that's been tutoring him is really kind of hot. Just like in that teen flick scenario it's because they took off their glasses and put on some cool clothes. For, Belle and Sebastian they glammed themselves up some on songs like "The Blues are Still Blue," and "White Collar Boy." Some would call this album a reinvention. I'd disagree and say they just took some tips from T. Rex, and Motown and gussied themselves up some.

Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies

I've often considered Dan Bejar the weak member of The New Pornographers. Which is pretty ridiculous but I think the cause was because I've enjoyed his Destroyer albums so much. On Rubies, Bejar ditches the MIDI sounds of Your Blues and shows his improvement as a singer. This is probably my favorite album of his after Streethawk, and that could be just because of nostalgia.

TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain

Normally this isn't my type of record. In fact, I avoided it on purpose knowing I would probably appreciate it but not really like it. I'm not a big fan of the so called "art rock." That's why I like Radiohead's The Bends over Kid A. Well I gave in, and I love this album. It all begins with Tunde Adebimpe's fantastic voice. From the opening track, "I Was a Lover" through "Providence" with its odd piano chord progression through the a cappella "A Method" and ending with the drone of "Wash the Day Away." I guess there can still be very good art rock. How can you not like an album titled Return to Cookie Mountain?

Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

Simply the best R&B/Soul album released this year.

Ghostface Killah- Fishscale

Veteran Ghostface is the best storyteller in hip-hop. While other rappers tell short stories of their neighborhood, Ghostface tells full novels. His stories include smells and sounds of his neighborhood. In songs "Kilo" and "R.A.G.U." Ghostface tells tales of the drug trade, but avoids lifting the pusher as the neighborhood king like so many other rappers do. Combine Ghostface's stories with deep soul samples and you have one of the best albums of the year. This is an album that shouldn't be limited to only those purists out there.

Rhymefest - Blue Collar

I wrote before that I was completely baffled how this album didn't become a hit. The line "Hot like hot sauce" should be right up there with bringing sexy back. As the title suggests, Rhymefest covers the life of the everyman. He uses refreshing self-deprecating humor in "Devil's Pie." In "Bullet" he tells the harrowing story of a young man joining the military to get out of the ghetto only to get shot while in Iraq. Rhymefest really shines when he uses humor in his stories. Even the song "Build Me Up" almost strays away from being a novelty song even with the ODB sung "Build Me Up Buttercup" sample. Rhymefest shouldn't be ignored.

Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That

This Parisian band have always excelled at crafting pop rock songs. On their latest they add a little scruff to hide the shine of their craftsmanship. The scruff comes in the form of Strokes like guitar. Normally this wouldn't work. Here though it doesn't hide the band's ability to write perfectly constructed songs but actually blends creating one their best albums. The songs are pop but they hang with you long after listening.

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