The Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept In Their Entirety...fin.
Lily Allen, Alright, Still
In hindsight, it was only a matter of time before England burped up a trip-hop Nellie McKay, not that I was optimistic enough to predict it. Fine with me, as it makes her arrival all the more fantastic and inspiring. The "fake reggae" backdrops might bother you if you're unfamiliar with the last thirty years of British music, and not everyone will enjoy hearing her repeatedly bemoan fakes and disappointing boys. But only on "Take What You Take" does she forget to keep things dishy, and "Littlest Things" shows how much she notices the good things we do too.
Eef Barzelay, Bitter Honey
As heartful and catchy as John Prine, but with none of the good cheer. He identifies with one of Ludacris' pussy-poppers on the opener, and I believe it, because he spends the rest of the album self-loathing and fucked over. After making breakfast for an ungrateful alcoholic, apologizing for asking what that actress's name was when you clearly don't give a shit, spewing bile you know he's probably waited a decade to unload and almost wishing you would die just so he could prove his emotional bond, he ends with "Joy To The World" because good intentions are all he's got going for him.
Basement Jaxx, Crazy Itch Radio
After the all-star nuclear damage on Kish Kash, the singles here originally felt relatively milquetoast (relatively) and diffuse. This turns out to be a boon album-wise, as I don't pass out from exhaustion before Jaxx has finished extending the songs with techno doodles, which are less offensive in this mellower context. The Balkan influence helps make the album relatively naturalistic (relatively) and warm, as do the anonymous (Robyn excepted) but skilled and endearingly human (Robyn included) vocalists. The atypically manic "Run 4 Cover" is Kelly Osbourne's 2008 Lady Sov-rip "Grimin' (feat. Crazy Frog)" - which I predicted on last year's list - two years early.
Be Your Own Pet, Be Your Own Pet
Two-minute fuzzbomb yell-alongs topped with sexed-up in-jokes from a chirpy, frenetic moll for the first two thirds, before they drop a ballad and stretch the rest out to three-plus. Fever To Tell did on 11 tracks what takes Be Your Own Pet 15, which isn't an improvement (and, despite its charms, "October, First Account" isn't "Maps"). Jemina Pearl's hyper, humorous persona is more approachable than Karen O's, though, and less likely to be ditched after the first buzz clip.
Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury
By the end of '06, the last thing I wanted to hear was more trap rap (why does anyone find the minutia of the cocaine trade fascinating in and of itself?), especially if the rapblog-Pfork posse had already voiced their undoubtedly schooled opinions about the verity of the terminology and emotively hailed this vicarious, exploitive braggadocio (this album is about love, Peter Macia? You don't say.). The best review I read was Ethan Padgett's contrarian dis "Mobb Deep with more backpackerish lyrics," as Hell Hath No Fury is proof that Mobb Deep's cruel if infectious bullshit would have benefited from more shows of nerdish intellect. I might compare the album's compact, razor-sharp feel (it's so nastily seductive that I'm almost disappointed no one's panned it on principle) to high grade cocaine if I knew what the fuck I was talking about, and even then I'd be ashamed of myself.
CSS, Cansei De Ser Sexy
My "album of the year" for Jackin' Pop is the best pottymouth prefab faux-naive art-school pop-cult hipsterism I've heard since LeTigre, only even funnier and less reliant on concept - Paris Hilton and Death From Above aren't what "Meeting Paris Hilton" and "Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above" are about, let alone the true selling points (music really is their hot hot sex). With their witty broken English and accomplished amateurism, the rewards are so giddy and plentiful that you feel like a pedant for trying to figure out whether it should tickle like it does and why. And just when you've got a hold on the formula, they turn into the Mekons (a sign they know their faux-naive art-school roots).
Eagles Of Death Metal, Death By Sexy
You know how to get away with a song consisting entirely of woman-as-dog metaphors? Hide the track nine deep into an album devoted to spandex-tight rawk bubblegum and mutual objectifcation ("We're the magic boys and we'll make you smile/ real hot meals, won't you stay awhile, baby/we'll come dancing and we'll make you sweat/we're really rolling/we're solid gold/sweat!"). "I Like To Move In The Night" ("you know we move/yes, we move/yes, we like our dancing!") beats all Stones since "Start It Up" if not "Rocks Off" just by sounding like a good time. The Eagles' devotion to falsetto fuck-boogie trash doesn't demean retro-rock, it reaffirms its vitality.
Electric Six, Switzerland
They make cheaper videos now and bracket Switzerland with slower, slighter numbers, so I understand if people assume they've fallen off, even though "I Buy The Drugs" through "Rubber Rocket" is as strong a stretch as they've ever recorded. They're still a crunk Roxy Music (compare "Mr. Woman" above to "Editions Of You"), just more lyrical three albums in, which fits if you've heard Stranded. Their bonkers, apocalyptic vision - which they sum up this time as "There's Something Very Wrong With Us So Let's Go Out Tonight" - is one most people can only handle for the length of a novelty single, but they've got me like Barney Gumble screaming "OAHH, JUST HOOK IT TO MY VEINS!" They deliver, too, touring so much that I've caught them three times since moving to Philly in Aug '05, not including the Dick Valentine solo gig in NY where he played Def Lep's "Hysteria" and Camper Van Beethoven. I missed them this December (sold out!) but they'll be back in March. Album four should be out fall '07. Favorite band alive.
Ghostface Killah, Fishscale
Fishscale is so blatantly "more Ghostface" (god forbid he ever stops yelling) that I assumed the critical hype was based on desperation (familiar, cryptic pleasures...but it's all about crack so I don't sound out of touch! Eureka!). While I'm still not sure whether it's my second or third or fourth favorite Ghostface LP, I also can't figure out which near-psychedelic narrative fragment on it I'd toss. His sense of detail is peculiar but evocative, and never devolves into Kool Keith nonsensicality. I wish he was better at beginning-middle-end, and I worry that inspiration will wane if he accepts cult status. Judging from the remix of "Irreplaceable," this isn't an issue quite yet.
Lady Sovereign, Public Warning
Feminem without any Emonem. SOLD.
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