Sunday, January 28, 2007

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.

(Previous post: The Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept In Their Entirety, Second Half)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Here's the second half of The Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept In Their Entirety. Next week: the first.

Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat

Her ornate affectations and truisms are sufferable only when compared to her indie-folk peers, who either can't sing or can't write. But though I worry about its obtuseness compared to Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous, Rabbit Fur Coat still sounds direct, and similarly beautiful. At first the cover of Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care" seems like a trainwreck trifle, but it actually offers a tempo boost, cops to the relatively contemporary influence of VH1 and makes a joke of a New Dylan.

Love Is All, Nine Times The Same Song

It's fine to reduce post-punk to hipster dance as long as you're a great dance band, and these guys hop from rave-up to power ballad like Liliput rocking the prom circuit. I read in the issue of Venus my housemate keeps by the toilet that the tracks were remixed by a dude from Comet Gain, which helps explain the air-tight clatter and why the singer has a shirt over her mouth. But the lyrics, when I bother to focus on them, make me curious how they'll sound when they break free of his kung fu grip.


I checked this out after discovering I prefered DFA 1979's remix album to the original, a rare compliment to remixers and a rare insult to a band. A true technoid would know better than me if the sound is inherently post-the-other-DFA, but The Looks offers a less theoretical take on the crass pleasures Daft Punk always got backpats for. So smart stupid I want to bring up the Ramones, but less hung up on novelty than most '90s big beat I've heard. Hopefully it won't age like "The Rockafeller Skank."

Ne-Yo, In My Own Words

His songwriting is so assured that it's almost charming when he goes for amateurish vocal fireworks (including a prolonged, sub-Idol WOAAAAAAAAAAAH) on "It Just Ain't Right," which also happens to be one of the few songs where he's looking to get out of a relationship (and then, only to return to an earlier one). He's no pimp, just "a man with a very healthy appetite for chicks" who smiled in grateful disbelief when you said you'd be with him, telling his fuckbuddies he won't "get down like that" anymore. You're his sexy love, even when you're mad (especially when you're mad), and while he knows you're not ready for his "directorial debut," would you be bothered by a mirror in the bedroom? If you leave, this sex fiend with a heart of gold will sit alone by the radio, thinking about how he failed you.

Phoenix, It's Never Been Like That

Is This It? fans who liked to reference Television and the Feelies have a new band to adore, and, judging by First Impressions Of Earth, it's right in the nick of time. Band perky not ugly, singer lyrical rather than lethargic, this may be the only time in rock history where the French variant is preferable to the American brand. You'd never guess they still don't have a full-time drummer.

The Presets, The Presets

"Girl And The Sea"'s hazy synth-psychedelia didn't prepare me for the brash electro-clash and slight instrumentals that surround it on Beams. But the brash seems less rote with every listen, and the instrumentals are cute, minor joys. Then there's the processed vocal gibberish of "I Go Hard, I Go Home," a twisted melange of all three poles. Some, especially if they're tired of looking at party photos no one made them click on, might want more there there. I'll take my techno trash transparent.

Scissor Sisters, Ta-Dah

Aside from the disco Floyd, I thought their first album was shtick in search of songs. On Ta-Dah, they're a song band with a shtick I can get behind. They apply the same distilled, nothin'-but-hits aesthetic to soft-rock disco that the Darkness did to harder forms of pomp on One Way Ticket..., or Love Is All with femme post-punk on Nine Times The Same Song. That I'm no fan of Elton John means I'm even more grateful than usual for such a wry, big-hearted effort. If the hate for "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" is on point, I need to pick up some Leo Sayer.

The Thermals, The Body, The Blood, The Machine

Having mastered power trio pop-punk, they speed-read the bible, noting what's fucked and what isn't, why that is and why they give a shit. Spending more time than usual on the words, Hutch Harris abstracts them enough to avoid harangue but not so much that you miss the gist. I'm glad they've chosen thematic ambition over the musical kind, which would have defeated the point of mastering power trio pop-punk in the first place.

Tiga, Sexor

You've got to love a Jellybean Benitez that can double as Madonna. His DJ career implies a great love for mindless pop songs that intimate profundity, but there was no guarantee this immersion would enable him to write and perform his own. Irreverent covers blend in with his own confident prattle so well that Public Enemy, Nine Inch Nails and Talking Heads fans could be forgiven for missing them. Beatwise, he's got peers, but I'd be surprised if they could handle the mic with similar success.

Thom Yorke, The Eraser

After his agonized, song-sinking wails on Hail To The Thief, I would have assumed this for a Scott Walker-esque chore. But instead of reaffirming his intolerability, The Eraser's spare beats and samples make Radiohead sound like too many cooks in the kitchen. Ringing emotion out of key phrases and gorgeously mumbling the rest, Thom resembles no one so much as mid-period Michael Stipe, increasingly comfortable in the spotlight but still blessed with entrancing, elliptical logic. It's an "Idioteque" fan's fever dream, and I hope he never records with a real band again (at least not his).

(Previous post: The Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept Eight Or More Songs From! (A-L))

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Close, but no cigar! A-L of the The Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept Eight Or More Songs From!

Jon Auer, Songs From The Year Of Our Demise

His voice and songsense are pretty in a way that can be expected from a Big Star sideman who sang Grant Hart's "Green Eyes" a few years ago and wrote a song called "Grant Hart" a few years before that. What's surprising is that, ten years after the Posies were thrown from DGC and forced to breastfeed off their indie cult, his debut solo full-length would be so memorable and grand. Like Grant Hart, his morbid lyrics are usually less convincing than his melodies, but he's putting more work into his craft than I expect from semi-pop lifers who only need preach to the converted.

Blowoff, Blowoff

Blowoff consists of two well-toned and shorn gay dudes who throw shirtless parties in DC and make the kind of techno-rock you'd find on late 90's soundtracks (that "Setting Sun", Crystal Method Vs. Filter shit). I'm not familiar with the work of DJ Robert Morel, but I know the discography of the other guy, Bob Mould, pretty well, and it's official that he's at his best when he has to share credit with other people. This would have had to come out right after Sugar's Besides to sound remotely hip, but Mould's more engaged over these dance beats than on recent solo efforts (the author of "The Biggest Lie" now sighs about trying to get to "Overload"! Yow!) and Morel's shoutinglagerlagerlagerlager holds up to David Barbe if not Grant Hart. (I can't find any Blowoff youtube, so check out their Myspace page and enjoy some Husker Du)

Ciara, Ciara: The Evolution

Meta interludes sound stupid from just about anyone, and Ciara's no exception. But there's way too much fun on this album for me to sweat it much. Her voice is tender but assertive, her restraint less about being demure than simply knowing her limits. Her persona on the less literal tracks is one of a nice, romantic girl with enough common sense not to put up with crap from boys. From this context, her retro moves just seem like a taste for reliable pleasures (hey, I too love "Planet Rock" and "It Takes Two"). As long as her silly pretensions stay mostly on skippable skits, we're cool.

Kimya Dawson, Remember That I Love You

I hope that motherhood gives her something new to write about, because constant touring is leading to fewer novel rhymes and more livejournal-style status reports. But she's still capable of great twee ("Joey never met a bike that he didn't want to ride/ and I never met a Toby that I didn't like/ Scotty liked all of the books that I recommended/ and even if he didn't I wouldn't be offended") and "My Mom" and "12/26" are proof she hasn't lost her gift for heartbreaking empathy. Comparing the MP3 demo of "Loose Lips" to the version here reveals how much better she sounds without her buds hollering along. But when she busts out a batshit road-radio medley (Bette Midler into Metallica into Third Eye Blind into Edwin McCain) I can see why she wants her sing-alongs to include other singers.

E-40, My Ghetto Report Card

Judging from his overly g-funked best-of and the faceless if enjoyable Hyphy Hits comp, E-40 and this Bay Area brand of disco clap have a mutually beneficial union. The veteran swagger that seperates him from other crime-fetishizing egomaniac misogynists (is there anyone else today that sounds like they may have been influenced by KRS-One?) is most easily appreciated when the music supplies enough firecrackers for all asses in earshot (Keak Da Sneak also works better as a firecracker than as a track's focus). The album eventually trails off into uncharming ho dismissal, but thanks to Rick Rock and Lil Jon, the first half or so boogies past any qualms.

East River Pipe, What Are You On?

First, you think that East River Pipe songs, especially bitter jokes like "What Does T.S. Eliot Know About You?" or the resigned ballads like "Druglife," are begging for covers from folks who can get them more attention than the bedroom recordings of a shy guy who works at Home Depot usually receive. But then you wonder if any singer could resist the urge to add pathos or smirk to his slices of despondent life. You also realize that the vocals and music are pretty damn coherent for bedroom recordings. Finally, you just wish more people would hear his music.

Field Mob, Light Poles And Pine Trees

In which amiable if corny also-rans offer spins on other people's sounds and stand behind Ciara and Ludacris in the videos. "At The Park," which literalizes the food metaphors and jacks the vibe of Trick Daddy's "Sugar," is the highlight. "I Hate You," with the guy from Lazyeye(?) barking the chorus from "Caught Out There," is the dorky low. But the celebrity collabs seem more evenhanded on disc than on MTV, "1,2,3" is as good a screwed southern brag as I heard this year, and the sex rhymes are as cute as they are vulgar.

Ghostface Killah, More Fish

Also more Theodore Unit, which sucks (though I love to hear Eamon try out for Three Times One Minus One on Shawn Wigs' "Gotta Hold On"). The cover's unpromising enough that I planned to ignore this like I do most mixtapes. But rather than freestyles with commercial interruption, these are tangents and ephemera that didn't fit Fishscale's overriding narrative (waiting for GQ to declare this album "the black Amnesiac"). I love the fantasies about Minnesota, Hollywood and the World Poker Championship, "Josephine" deserves a video, and some of those group tracks would have been fine on Fishscale. I do wish the Beyonce remix was here along with the excellent Ne-Yo and Amy Winehouse.

Grandaddy, Just Like The Fambly Cat

Jason Lytle goes on a bit for somebody who says he's tired of going on and on, but I believe his new year's resolution of "50% less words" and that this is the last album he'll ever do. These noised-up fuzz-odes to old girlfriends, summers gone and outdated technology are some of his strongest - he wants to leave you something to remember him by. I did enough talk about moving on myself this year that I'm more than sympathetic, though in general I think you're better off going somewhere rather than leaving. If he changes his mind about retirement, I hope he takes longer than Jay-Z did and does a better job explaining why he came back.

Lyfe Jennings, The Phoenix
Rich's review on FourFour (last time I'm kissing his ass for a while, promise) got me to check out the album, so you should read it too. Lyfe is hands-down my favorite lyricist of the year: unbelievably eccentric, but so visionary and convincing that I never feel like laughing. If it wasn't for the excruciating intros before EVERY song, The Phoenix would probably make my top ten.

(Previous entry: The Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept Eight Or More Songs From! (M-Z))

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's time to celebrate the finest overlong CDs of last year! Here's M-Z of The Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept Eight Or More Songs From!

Nellie McKay, Pretty Little Head
Self-producing your second CD a year after the first? Your second DOUBLE CD, at that? Even before the label woes, this was a guaranteed sophomore slump. The best tracks are slighter takes on Get Away From Me's giggly but politically acute cabaret, and they're surrounded by startlingly vague emotional meditations and brief blurts of whimsy whose appeal depends on your fondness for cats, Tipperary and the French language. The arrangements are so sloppy that I'm surprised she wasn't credited with the mix. But her vocal charm and cracked wit push "The Big One," "Beecharmer" and "Real Life" past their bulk, and give her lyrical fog some necessary intrigue. Her mother issues are more interesting than Eminem's, and I'm almost always down for minute-long ode to cats. Like guest Cyndi Lauper, it's possible that McKay will wind up a one-album wonder, especially if she gives up singer-songwriterdom for the stage success she's already begun to achieve. But she's so gifted that I could imagine her making an album as rich and thought-out as her first, producer or no, whenever she decides to bother.

Mission Of Burma, The Obliterati
The falsettos, sea chanteys and hooky declarations are appreciated, but these guys are so dependent on the power of their wrangled feedback and martial plod that I have to play this one loud or not at all. Even if they're beyond (or incapable of) their '80s blitz tempos, the band has regained its cohesive force, making their initial reunion, 2004's OnOffOn, sound tentative in comparison. Only folks who think everything after "Revolver" was a waste of their time will complain about the songwriting, but I'll take the cheap musical joke of "Donna Sumeria" over the cheap lyrical joke of "Nancy Reagan's Head," because music's what they're good at.

Pharrell, In My Head
Just when I get used to this nerd's omnipresence, everybody else decides he's not ready for prime time. Well, no shit! I've been saying the Neptunes are like a hip-hop Ween (inherently an improvement, I'll admit) for years, rarely capable of seperating their craft from knuckleknob eccentricity. But with a year's-plus worth of tinkering, and Chad Hugo not there to whip out the spock ears and bongos, Skateboard P finally made a musical backdrop controlled enough to keep his goofy loverman lyrics afloat. Pharrell once admitted in Blender that, as a teenager, he'd do the robot while getting to his next class. This is as close as that kid's ever gonna get to being James Bond, and I'm nerd enough to enjoy it.

Pitbull, El Mariel
The political interludes are courtesy of slam-poet ringers - Pitbull would rather ruminate on how "the gift and the curse" of fame makes him feel like Keanu Reeves in The Devil's Advocate (his simile, I swear!). While some of his county-of-Dade callouts have energy, it's his enthusiasm for pussy that makes his albums rewarding. Panting, gasping, howling, slobbering - dude is HUNGRY. Reggaeton, crunk, Neptunes, the hook from "Rock Lobster," he'll use whatever gets you excited. "Pretty please, girl, GET IN MY FACE WITH IT!!!" It may be a tragic sign of the times when cunnilingus is as close as a popular rapper gets to feminist thought, but even if Young Jeezy was Alan Alda, I'd love Pitbull.

Placebo, Meds
"Because I Want You," "Infra-Red," "Meds" and "Pierrot The Clown" will wind up on the sequel to Once More With Feeling, a 2005 compilation that reveals how consistently Placebo has delivered their nervous buzz of a sound for the last decade. But fans will still need this album to hear "Follow The Cops Back Home," which would make the comp if "Pierrot" wasn't already the token resigned ballad, the anxious "Post-Blue," the anxious "A Song To Say Goodbye" and the anxious "Drag," which would be the best song they've written about jealousy if they hadn't already written a dozen or so classics on the subject. These eyelinered alt-rockers are such an anachronistic miracle (has anyone ever made a post-comp contract-capper this strong before?) that even Xgau gave them props.

Gwen Stefani, The Sweet Escape
Ever heard the version of "Wind It Up" without the "Lonely Goatherd" sample? So boring! If you're going to make an A+ Missy rip, you need to incorporate something grand and perverse, something truly "bizz-yerk" (as I mishear Gwen in the first verse). It's her first solo single that I wholeheartedly love, thankfully distracting me from the conundrum that is Fergie. She doesn't promote geisha slavery in the disco tetris, and the creamy new wave ballads don't stall in search of a word that rhymes with "Rossdale." Madonna sounded a lot more pretentious and mannered a decade after her first album, and Debbie Harry was already a has-been.

T.I., The King
I tune out on 2004's Urban Legend when T.I. asks God why nobody else cares about the streets except for him (check Billboard for the names of fellow missionaries, asshole), and I tune out on The King when Pimp C reprimands rappers who don't appreciate that T.I. calls himself King Of The South because he believes that we're all kings except for "fake-ass niggas" and so forth. "Prayin' For Help" was track 5, though, and "Pimp C (skit)" shows up at the tail end of track 11, so it'd be churlish of me not to acknowledge the improvement. The best selling rap album of the year should do better than double platinum, and the failure of The King to do even that is a sign that rap's classic-rock-style retrenchment (it's all payin'-dues and love'em-and-leave'em) is wearing on listeners. But the best macho boogie still holds up, and T.I.'s got more charisma than Paul Rodgers ever did. Maybe next time he'll compare to Ronnie Van Zant.

Robin Thicke, The Evolution Of Robin Thicke
He has a confident falsetto on the memorably descriptive ballads, and his voice is equally authorative on the rap collabs (Lil Wayne sounds overeager, downright lil, in comparison). The guitar and percussion hooks are classic and varied, rather than throwbacks to futurism past. His musical gifts are so attractive that I still want to hear them after discovering he looks like his not-particularly-sexy dad in the videos. I'm embarassed to put this mature r&b accomplishment so close to Timberlake's amateurish eclecticism, but that's alphabetical order for you.

Justin Timberlake, Futuresex/LovesoundsI've seen more than one person compare this album to Bowie, and if it fits, it's because he's r&b for new wavers and vica versa, all too gawky when compared to those who play it straight (see above). I still want Usher to pistolwhip the dork with a new album pronto, but Justin's copping more quirk here than on Justified, and it's a step in the right direction. Coldplay codas, vocal filters, guest rappers and all things Timbaland (who does seem inspired by JT's undeniable enthusiasm) help make something of the whinnying, herkyjerk manchild. The last third's ballads have me praying he'll hear about the DFA before he meets Robin Thicke.

The Vines, Vision Valley
More bubblegrunge, hookier space-ballads, shorter song lengths: an improvement far beyond what could be expected from a flash in the pan led by a brain on drugs. From what I've gathered, I'm the only one who's grateful, or even gives a shit.

(Previous entry: Anthony Is Right's Honorable Mentions Of 2006 Inna Xgau Stylee)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Hoo-de-hoo! It's 2006: The Year In Review!
(screencap swiped from Rich - like I usually acknowledge these things)

I originally planned to call this post The Robert Christgau Memorial Honorable Mentions, but the rumors of his consumer guide's death turned out to be premature (and I'm glad, believe you me!). Nonetheless, there's no reason he should be the only guy who gets to utilize the pithy one-liner to acknowledge the kind of relatively benign musical ephemera that made neither my Twenty Albums From 2006 I'm Keeping In Their Entirety nor my list of the Twenty Albums From 2006 I Kept Eight Or More Songs From (both coming later this month!).

I had a small selection of Duds to go with these Honorable Mentions (albums I kept five to seven tracks from) and Choice Cuts (albums which only offered one track I can recommend wholeheartedly), but, honestly, I'd prefer to focus on the stuff that's worth checking out rather than point out the recordings that completely failed me. Besides, I already wasted a whole post on Boys And Girls In America, and it's not like I gave Kingdom Come, Stadium Arcadium or Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Fountain much of my time, anyhow.

There are many albums I never got around to hearing (I was afraid of Joanna Newsom's Ys. BEFORE I knew Van Dyke Parks AND Jim O'Rourke were on it), even when a stray single rewarded my ear ("Stars Are Blind" and "Ain't No Other Man," for instance), so don't assume their exclusion from these spiels is a dis (or, rather, an informed dis).

Anthony Is Right's Honorable Mentions Of 2006 Inna Xgau Stylee (in order of preference)

Junior Boys, So This Is Goodbye
Why are people complaining about the lack of beats? I still hear them, the guy from Johnny Hates Jazz is just higher in the mix ("In The Morning," "So This Is Goodbye")

The Rapture, Pieces Of The People That We Love

Good thing they love dance hooks, cuz they suck at everything else ("First Gear," "The Sound")

The Evens, Get Evens
Determined to prove Ian and Amy stands up to Ian, Guy, Joe and Brendan - a goal they’d have already achieved with a bassist (“Cut From The Cloth,” “Everybody Knows”)

TV On The Radio, Return To Cookie Mountain
Improving on their Peter Gabriel-esque 4AD doo-wop (you heard me) with major label money and a real live drummer ("Province," "Wolf Like Me")

The Knife, Silent Shout
Some hear “haunted house,” I hear quirky new wave that’s one “Tainted Love” away from breaking the Billboard top ten (“We Share Our Mother’s Health,” “One Hit”)

Mudhoney, Under A Billion Suns
Juicing their reliable sardonic sludge with political frustration and horns (“Hard-On For War,” “Where Is The Future?”)

John Mayer, Continuum
The self-aware blues of a privileged pussy magnet – not for everyone (“I Don’t Trust Myself With Loving You,” “Belief”)

Stereolab, Fab Four Suture
More life in these bah-bah-bah’s than you’d expect from Marxist aesthetes in a decade-long holding pattern who finally got dropped from their label (“Interlock,” “I Was A Sunny Rainphase”)

Nelly Furtado, Loose
Better dance-pop than any other awkward, nasal Canadian chanteuse offers, and worse ballads (“Maneater,” “Promiscuous (feat. Timbaland)”)

Mountain Goats, Get Lonely
Smarter, more specific than Sea Change, still that sort of slog (“Half Dead,” “Woke Up New”)

The Killers, Sam’s Town
What’s the point of an E Street homage if it’s not absurd and catchy? (“When You Were Young,” “For Reasons Unknown”)

Regina Spektor, Begin To Hope
Seems older, more Lilith Fair, than other oddball cabaret types - probably because she’s less hip-hop and less indie (“Fidelity,” “On The Radio”)

New York Dolls, One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This
The number one album of 2006, if David Johansen's Sweet Revenge made your top 20 of 1984 ("Plenty Of Music," "Maimed Happiness")

Bob Dylan, Modern Times
Viagra may keep you frisky, but it won’t fight a grandpa’s tendency to ramble (“When The Deal Goes Down,” “Workingman’s Blues #2”)

Mogwai, Mr. Beast
Relatively varied indie soundtrack marginalia (“Acid Food," "Travel Is Dangerous”)

Camera Obscura, Let’s Get Out Of This Country
Threw her worthless ex out of the band and better for it - not that she’s over him or even close to finishing her thesis (“Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken,” “Dory Previn”)

The Gossip, Standing In The Way Of Control
Took ‘em three albums to hire a goddamn bass player, but it’s a sign they may go pro yet (“Yr Mangled Heart,” “Listen Up!”)

Band Of Horses, Everything All The Time
Not as proggy or sloppy a high-pitched swoon as the Flaming Lips', not as memorable either (“Our Swords,” “Weed Party”)

Heartless Bastards, All This Time
Low meets Concrete Blonde – almost Scrawl, but not quite (“Brazen,” “No Pointing Arrows”)

Metal Hearts, Socialize
Cat Power-influenced harmonizers need their laptop percussionist and vica versa (“Disappeared,” “Mountain Song”)

Lindsey Buckingham, Under The Skin
Still producing albums more engaging than those by the indie singer-somnambulists who idolize him (“It Was You,” “Cast Away Dreams”)

Taking Back Sunday, Louder Now
00’s emo-sogynists respond to major label upgrade with songs catchy enough to be mistaken for ‘90s alt-rock (“MakeDamnSure,” “Twenty-Twenty Surgery”)

Rainer Maria, Catastrophe Keeps Us Together
90’s emo esoterics finally let the girl sing everything and sweetly sell out about six years too late (“Burn,” “Clear And True”)

+44, When Your Heart Stops Beating
With DeLonge taking the long way to Uranus in Angels & Airwaves, it’s up to Hoppus and Barker to continue Blink-182’s segue into musically engaging mall-emo (“When Your Heart Stops Beating,” “Cliff Diving”)

Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit
No “Lola,” but more fun than most of The Money-go-round (“Another Sunny Day,” “The Blues Are Still Blue”)

American Princes, Less And Less
One of the few bands on Yep Roc that looks and sounds like they’re in their twenties - hell, thirties - but aesthetically they fit right in (“The Simple Life,” “Annie”)

Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
Their fifth straight double LP in just over a decade - not counting the multidisc comps, EPs and instrumentals - and over half the songs are twice as long as they need be, even when they clock in at three minutes (“Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind,” "Black Flowers")

Destroyer, Destroyer’s Rubies
Referencing classics, sounding like Robyn Hitchcock hopped up on goofballs (“Rubies,” “Watercolours Into The Ocean”)

Lansing-Dreiden, The Dividing Island
Wallowing in the gaudy sonics of New Pop’s dying days for reasons I can't begin to fathom (“A Line You Can Cross,” “Part Of The Promise”)

Drive-By Truckers, A Blessing And A Curse
Drummer revved, songwriters tired (“Feb 14,” “Space City”)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones
Going from Stooges-Pretenders to Bettie Serveert is in no way an improvement, let alone pop (“Cheated Hearts,” “Dudley”)

The M’s, Future Women
Little Steven’s Garage types hiding their macho behind whimsical production (“Plan Of The Man,” “Never Do This Again”)

She Wants Revenge, She Wants Revenge
Ian Curtis as ridiculous goth pussyhound (“Sister,” “Tear You Apart”)

Twilight Singers, Powder Burns
Haggard, sexed-up melodrama’s all Greg Dulli ever had to offer, really (“I’m Ready,” “Forty Dollars”)

Rose Melberg, Cast Away The Clouds
Married with child, somehow still writing sadface crush twee (“Take Some Time,” “Four Walls”)

Roots, Game Theory
If the MC was as great as he thinks he is, critics wouldn’t go to the drummer for pull quotes (“Game Theory,” “Here I Come”)

Diddy, Press Play
Burying his futuresex/lovesounds under numbnut Kanye (“Special Feeling,” “Last Night”)

Choice Cuts:
Deftones, “Cherry Waves” (Saturday Night Wrist)
Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy” (St. Elsewhere)
Janet Jackson, “Take Care” (20 Y.O.)
LL Cool J, “Control Myself (feat. Jennifer Lopez)” (Todd Smith)
Ludacris, “Woozy (feat. R. Kelly)” (Release Therapy)
Method Man, “Fall Out” (4:21…The Day After)
My Chemical Romance, “Dead!” (Welcome To The Black Parade)
Omarion, “Just That Sexy” (21)
Pearl Jam, “World Wide Suicide” (Pearl Jam)
Sonic Youth, “Reena” (Rather Ripped)
Bubba Sparxxx, “As The Rim Spins” (The Charm)
Strokes, “You Only Live Once” (First Impressions Of Earth)
Trick Daddy, “Born A Thug” (Back By Thug Demand)
Neil Young, “Let’s Impeach The President” (Living With War)