2006 is overrated, part 2: tracks of the year (1-12)
continuing on with 2006 is overrated, part two spotlights my twelve favorite tracks of the year (part one, with tracks 13-20 and my favorite concerts of the year, is here)
tracks of the year (1-12)
the elected : "did me good"
from the lp sun, sun, sun (subpop)
on an album full of songs that i saw myself in, there was probably one or two others that i related to just a little more than "did me good". the reason i loved this song was the second verse, which features some gospel-like choral singing as blake sennett does his best revivalist impersonation:
and i know that you'll come back11.
'cause i have seen that other man
and baby--he ain't doin' you no good!
the submarines : "peace and hate"
from the lp declare a new state! (nettwerk records)
i'm a sucker for songs about relationships, especially when they involve male/female vocal duets where the verses alternate as if it is perfectly normal to have a conversation in song. the fact that john dragnetti and blake hazard actually lived this tale makes it all the more compelling.
jenny lewis with the watson twins : "born secular"
from the lp rabbit fur coat (team love)
i could listen to jenny's voice for eternity, especially with the voice of a watson twin perched on each shoulder, sounding as if they are descended from heaven. but i don't know how many times i listened to this song just to listen to the incredible drumming exhibition given by jason boesel to close the last two and a half minutes.
arctic monkeys : "a certain romance"
from the lp whatever people say i am that's what i'm not (domino)
the whole chav culture thing is a bit of a mystery to me, but i love the way this song finishes off the most fun i had listening to an album all year. some splintering guitars, a bass line that sticks in your head for days, and lyrics about loving the music instead of the image.
tanya donelly : "world on fire"
from the lp this hungry life (eleven thirty)
three things make this song for me: 1) the lines "the world is on fire / so how am i still in the dark / i see you there too / you're low in your shadow / but lit by the passing of sparks"; 2) the way the line "you know for now i'll just let that one slide" (0:52) rolls off tanya's tongue; and 3) the way that tanya, herself an artist, expresses the kind of love for another artist's song in much the same way as i would, through the personal connection she has created with it:
i want in on lucinda's "sweet old world" if it's there7.
i swear to god there are days that song is what gets me out of bed
joanna newsom : "emily"
from the lp ys (drag city)
i haven't had enough time yet to really know how much ys means to me, but just a single listen of "emily" was enough to convince me how incredible this song is. at more than 12 minutes it is certainly ambitious and fraught with pretentiousness, but joanna ably carries the song from start to finish. i love these lines
that the meteorite is the source of the light,6.
and the meteor's just what we see;
and the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid of the fire that propelled it to thee,
and the meteorite's just what causes the light,
and the meteor's how it's perceived;
and the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void, that lies quiet in offering to thee.
neko case : "star witness"
from the lp fox confessor brings the flood (anti)
the voice. that is all that needs to be said about this song, about a gang incident that occurred in front of her in chicago, and the indifference that is afforded to the event in the name of race. the voice carries the song and instills emotion in characters that she does not even know. listen for the words of the mother, "please don't let him die", at 3:42.
camera obscura : "let's get out of this country"
from the lp let's get out of this country (merge records)
when tracyanne campbell "feels like getting confessional" about her unhappiness--with her current environment, her inability to see what everyone else sees (the bee's knees), and her nagging self-doubts--she does so in one of the more upbeat songs on the record and makes me think, "you too?"
sunset rubdown : "us ones in between"
from the lp shut up i am dreaming (absolutely kosher)
as a whole, this is lyrically my favorite song of the year. but what truly made this song for me was the unofficial video produced by dan at said the gramophone, in which a brilliantly simple idea perfectly captures the essence of the song.
beth orton : "heart of soul"
from the lp comfort of strangers (astralwerks)
on every one of her records there is at least one song where the emotional resonance in beth orton's voice runs white-hot, and this is that song from comfort of strangers. the references to neil young are nice, but her delivery of these lines at 2:28 was my favorite vocal moment of the year:
and you, you look at me in disbelief2.
like you could teach me god
when all of a sudden i'm consumed by love
and you, are all lighting up
with your heart of gold
and everything we touch just turns to soul
swan lake : "all fires"
from the lp beast moans (jagjaguwar)
i didn't have enough time with beast moans to really consider it for my albums list, but luckily jagjaguwar released this track well beforehand. and with good reason. the imagery alone is worth the price of admission, but i latched on to spencer krug's recurring theme of the consumption of life to sustain itself. the philosophical ideas that this encompassed were fascinating to me and became material for one of my favorite posts.
m. ward : "poison cup"
from the lp post-war (merge records)
this was a no-brainer for my favorite song of the year. everything about this song is perfect. ward's haunting voice kicks off the song as he counts off "one..."; some gentle strumming on the acoustic guitar is quickly joined by exquisite violin strings; and then exactly halfway through the drums kick in to switch the tone of the song from a plaintive longing to a confident rapture; all of this accompanied by the simplest expressions of love and desire. i could not ask for a more perfect song.
tune in tomorrow for my favorite albums of 2006!