2006: "The music there, it was hauntingly familiar"
There are no two ways about it: rock took a big step forward this year, but only by unlocking its past. But does this suggest that rock is about to implode from a lack of originality, or that the current generation of hipster kids is finally willing to concede that their parents had pretty good taste in music after all? As long as it prevents the Beatles from becoming a footnote in music history (don’t laugh, it’s already happening), then I suppose it’s good. In fact, 2006, for a geezer like me, was more than good: it was invigorating.
You may notice that nearly nothing on my list dented the Top 40 singles chart. That happens as you get older. It’ll happen to you, too.
1. Muse: Black Holes and Revelations (Warner Bros.)
Everyone sing with me now. Ready? Here we go: No one’s gonna taaaaaake meeeee aliiiiiiiiiiiive!” Now bounce up and down as hard as you can. Feels good, doesn’t it? That’s how rock and roll is supposed to feel. Don’t ever forget it.
2. The Feeling: Twelve Stops and Home (Interscope)
Now slated for release in March 2007, the debut from the Feeling sounds like it came from another planet, one where they only recently received radio waves from the mellow rock sounds of the ‘70s. My God, isn’t it beautiful.
3. Hard-Fi: Stars of CCTV (Atlantic)
Please don’t make a “Hard to Beat” pun.
4. Scissor Sisters: Ta-Dah (Universal)
We don’t know this for a fact, but we’re pretty sure that the Pet Shop Boys and Blondie shared a tour bus and, well, do you wonder why you didn’t see Debbie Harry for about a year in the mid-‘80s?
5. Mylo: Destroy Rock & Roll (Breadfed/RCA)
There are good ways to use a Vocoder (Madonna’s “Nobody’s Perfect”), bad ways to use a Vocoder (Cher’s “Believe”), and freaking awesome ways to use a Vocoder (Mylo’s “Drop the Pressure”).
6. Def Leppard: Yeah! (Universal)
Little-known fact: you can draw a straight line between Def Leppard and the Kinks. Listen to Def Lep’s cover of “Waterloo Sunset” if you don’t believe me.
7. Keane: Under the Iron Sea (Interscope)
Worthy of inclusion solely for the epic opening track “Atlantic.” The rest of it ain’t bad, either.
8. David Mead: Tangerine (Tallulah)
Fuck, why isn’t this guy a pop star? I bet the Feeling likes him.
9. Roger Joseph Manning Jr: The Land of Pure Imagination (Cordless)
Quit waiting for that Andy Sturmer solo album. It ain’t comin’.
The Second Top 10: Some other records I really dug
Cheap Trick: Rockford (Big3)
Badly Drawn Boy: Born in the UK (Astralwerks)
L.E.O.: Alpacas Orgling (Cheap Lullaby)
Damnwells: Air Stereo (Zoe)
Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs: Under the Covers, Vol. I (Shout! Factory)
Editors: The Back Room (Fader)
Gin Blossoms: Major Lodge Victory (Hybrid)
What a Now record would look like if I were in charge of assembling one
1. “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” Arctic Monkeys
“Cold as the night!” “You’re dynamite!” God, I love singing those backup bits. The air guitar gets a vicious workout, too. As do the air drums.
2. “Valentine,” the Delays
If the Cocteau Twins went clubbing, this is what they’d sound like. Come on, record labels. They’re good enough for a (very popular) diamond commercial, but not enough for you? These guys are tragically overlooked.
3. “To Die a Virgin,” Divine Comedy
“If there’s a war, I’ll sleep with you before you get killed.” Best, opening, ever.
4. “Suspect,” Daniel Powter
I hate “Bad Day” as much as you do. But this song, which sounds like AC/DC’s Brian Johnson doing a dance track, positively kills.
5. “The Joker and the Thief,” Wolfmother
When the voice in my head isn’t reminding me of how dangerously close to Styx this song comes, few tunes get me pumped up faster than this one.
6. “Steady as She Goes,” Raconteurs
How about that: the garage kid just wants to pop.
7. “Faster Kill Pussycat,” Paul Oakenfold featuring Brittany Murphy
I once saw Brittany Murphy butcher an awards ceremony so badly that I was convinced that she couldn’t read. Luckily for her, she can sing reasonably well.
8. “Satin Chic,” Goldfrapp
There’s always room in dance music for a little ragtime piano.
9. “Rudebox,” Robbie Williams
Old school rap with a Kraut rock beat. If either of those interests you, head to iTunes at once.
10. “The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat),” Flaming Lips
If I didn’t know any better, I would have told you that this was Joe Walsh.
“Nth Degree,” Morningwood
“Joe Strummer,” Cowboy Mouth
“Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt,” We Are Scientists
“I’m with Stupid,” Pet Shop Boys
“Birds and Fishes,” Venus Hum
“Chasing Cars,” Snow Patrol
“In the Morning,” Razorlight
Miscellaneous observations about the year in music
Album Title of the Year: Yo La Tengo: I’m Not Afraid of You, and I Will Beat Your Ass
Band name of the Year: Eagles of Death Metal
Video of the Year: It’s a four-way tie
OK Go: “Here It Goes Again”
Gnarls Barkley: “Gone Daddy Gone”
“Weird Al” Yankovic: “White and Nerdy”
Scissor Sisters: “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’”
Six years is better than never.
World Party’s Dumbing Up finally sees release in the U.S.
My Chemical Romance is officially taken off notice.
The Black Parade erases nearly every bad thought I’ve ever had about the band. Nearly.
Anyone still think…
…the Killers are one of the best rock bands on the planet?
You say you love “The Sound of Music”…
…and yet Gwen Stefani’s songs are almost entirely melody-free. Discuss.