Year in Film and Music: Xmas Bonus!

Hope you enjoyed CityBeat‘s Year in Film and Music wrap-up in this week’s paper. Due to the usual newspaper-y issues (space, deadlines, drinking blackouts, etc.), we couldn’t fit all of the 2006 music lists in the paper. But that’s why God (or Al Gore?) invented the Internet, right? We will unveil a few more lists on ye ol’ CityBeat blog over the next few days (maybe a “Top 10 Overrated of ’06,” so I can call out The Hold Steady for their reheated schtick?). Look for CityBeat‘s special year in review issue next week, and our top local CDs of 2006 in the Jan. 3 edition. And feel free to put your own list in the comments section.

Without further ado, here is CityBeat music scribe Brian Baker‘s favorite albums of the year-that’s-almost-gone:

BRIAN BAKER’S TOP 10 of 2006

I tire of the cynical blowhards who cast a weary eye to the waning year and pronounce that little good music has resulted from the previous 11 months. What a glass-half-empty tumbler of beer puke. If you didn’t hear good music in 2006, you clearly weren’t looking any further than chart trends and download tracks and industry tip sheets. Radio blows red-assed monkeys, so if you want to hear good music, you’ve got to go looking for it. It’s not going to find you, unless Volkswagen buys something cool for their next commercial (TV is the new radio, haven’t you heard?).

In compiling this year’s list, I went completely personal, ignoring the Big, Important Records You Really Ought to Own (as well as about 50 other deserving albums) and just went with the stuff that made me listen for fun when I should have been reviewing for a paycheck. This is only the tip of the very large musical iceberg that was 2006.

1. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti/Epitaph)
Between her part-time brilliance with the New Pornographers and her stunning solo career, Neko Case can do no wrong. The latest evidence came in the form of Fox Confessor, where Case showed her incredible diversity as she channeled Dusty Springfield, Emmylou Harris, Kate Bush and the McGarrigle sisters while maintaining her own unique musical identity. An absolute joy.

2. Bernard Fanning – Tea & Sympathy (Lost Highway)
On hiatus from Hard Rock Aussies Powderfinger, Bernard Fanning came up with one of the most unexpected delights of 2006 with his solo debut. Stocked to overflowing with the soulfully mellow, ’70s Country Rock/Folk vibe of Rod Stewart and Elton John, Tea & Sympathy was a complete surprise.

3. Tom Waits – Orphans (Anti/Epitaph)
Who but Tom Waits could turn an archive of unreleased nuggets and little heard rarities into a monolithic three-disc set that would be as captivating, compelling and challenging as any work in his catalog? With his usual genius, the Divine Mr. W transformed three albums-worth of throwaways and tribute one-offs into an essential listening experience.

4. Twilight Singers – Powder Burns (One Little Indian)
For anyone who wondered if Greg Dulli would ever combine the visceral potency of his Afghan Whigs work with the passion and subtlety of his maturing Twilight Singers projects, Powder Burns stood as the amazing response to that query.

5. Simon Dawes – Carnivore (Record Collection)
Not a gawky Folk singer but an amazingly gifted SoCal quartet with the vaudeville Pop chops of The Kinks, the candy-coated Rock veneer of Jellyfish, the riff-powered muscle of Pete Townshend and the cinematic Jazz vision of Stan Ridgway. Carnivore beats the Strokes and the Killers with musical depth and an infectious approach.

6. Kelly Stoltz – Below the Branches (SubPop)
San Franciscan Kelley Stoltz lives in a magical land where Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney play in a weekend combo at the Beatle Beach Bar, where John Lennon and Harry Nilsson sit in when they’re not entertaining the waitresses with their tampon impressions and guests like Syd Barrett and Todd Rundgren and Ray Davies and Brian Eno and Robert Pollard show up for baroque psych Folk Pop hootenannies. Below the Branches is the soundboard recording.

7. Scritti Politti – White Bread Black Beer (Nonesuch)
Grant Gartside has done music from all sides now with Scritti Politti, from Punk and R&B to Funk and Pop and Hip Hop. With White Bread Black Beer, Gartside threw everything into the studio mix, from Beach Boys warmth to British Folk gentility to Beatlesque wonder. A one man marvel.

8. Alejandro Escovedo – The Boxing Mirror (Back Porch/Virgin)
Another under-the-radar cult genius, Alejandro Escovedo came back from a near fatal case of hepatitis C to create one of the most effecting pieces of work in his illustrious catalog. The Boxing Mirror is Escovedo’s magnum opus, a visceral evocation of his middle age lyrical outlook and his Roots Rock brilliance.

9. Archie Bronson Outfit – Derdang Derdang (Domino)
Combining the unrelenting intensity of the first two Stooges albums with a shivering Soul groove, London’s Archie Bronson Outfit infused their sophomore album with lysergic disorientation, Blues density and Rock abandon. Turn it up loud enough and Derdang Derdang could actually alter your heartbeat.

10. Pernice Brothers – Live a Little (Ashmont)
With each passing release, I adore Joe Pernice a little more. His solo and project work bears little resemblance to his early Americana leanings, as he gives preference to his inner Burt Bacharach/Bee Gees passion. Live a Little finds Pernice drifting even further into his ’60s Pop guise without ever forgetting the gorgeous Roots melancholy that has become his signature.

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3 Comments on “Year in Film and Music: Xmas Bonus!”


  1. “maybe a “Top 10 Overrated of ’06,” so I can call out The Hold Steady for their reheated schtick?”

    Good lord, yes. I’m amazed that people are jizzing over. It’s awful. Best rip I’ve heard is that they sound like Charles Nelson Reilly fronting Toto.

  2. citybeat Says:

    HAA!!!! I can’t top that one.

  3. citybeat Says:

    That’s a rip? Sounds glorious to me.


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