I don’t really see anything else coming down the pipe, so I may as well call it now.
I usually draft my end-of-year list in November anyway, and if I encounter something in December, it goes toward the following year.
There isn’t much deviation from last quarter’s forecast of the year-end favorites, and honestly, this list only really goes up to nine in terms of 2006 releases. That doesn’t mean I didn’t encounter a lot of great music in the past year.
Catalog releases have more interest for me these days than new releases. The constant race to find the new is wearing me out, and what constitutes "new" anyway? It’s new to me if I’ve never heard it before.
So here then are the 2006 releases I ended up liking more than the rest:
- SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS, Shikakui Vision. As sad as I was when Number Girl broke up, SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS made me glad Nakao Kentaro took that risk.
- Utada Hikaru, Ultra Blue. Ladies and gentleman, the truly mature Utada Hikaru. She’s taken her pop appeal and made something really sophisticated from it.
- Vola & the Oriental Machine, Waiting for My Food. The Killers can go fuck themselves.
- Furukawa Miki, Mirrors. Supercar is dead. Long live Supercar.
- Tokyo Jihen, Otona (Adult). Shiina Ringo sounds like she’s actually letting her bandmates have a little leeway in directing her exacting muse on this album.
- ACO, mask. OMG! Waitresses cover!
- Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere. Yeah, I know the requisite critics’ darling pick. But I liked it.
- Now It’s Overhead, Dark Light Days. This album has the odd distinction of being incredibly likable without being garish or precious. Very accomplished indie rock.
- Ex-Boyfriends, Dear John. Diety, thank you — something other than Pansy Division.
- Nick Lachey, What’s Left of Me. I said this is a favorite list, not a best list. When I got over my rockist upbringing and embraced all that is bad with this album, I couldn’t help but love it. And yeah, I like looking at Nick Lachey shut up.
These album weren’t released in 2006, but I heard them in 2006:
- Dylan Rice, Wandering Eyes. A (gay) guy with a guitar who sounds like he could put a beat down on James Blunt’s ass.
- Antony and the Johnsons, I Am a Bird Now. This should have been on my favorite list last year.
- Sacha Sacket, Shadowed. The Advocate erroneously compared him to Tori Amos. Sacket isn’t nearly insufferable.
- Eluvium, An Accidental Memory in Case of Death. I wish there were more non-classical piano albums like this. As it stands, there are two extremes — Martha Agerich or John Tesh.
- Dmitri Shostakovich, The String Quartets (Fitzwilliam Quartet). Some of the most wrenching works set to score.
- Györgi Ligeti, Ligeti Edition, Vol. 1: String Quartets (Arditti Quartet). Intense.
Finally, other 2006 releases that shouldn’t be overlooked:
- Hajime Chitose, Hanadairo. It’s great hearing her voice again, but this album could have done with a little more Ueda Gen.
- Envy, Insomniac Doze. Some of the most tuneful screaming I’ve heard from a Japanese band in a while.
- The Gossip, Standing in the Way of Control. That Beth Ditto has some wail in her.
- Michael Nyman, The Piano — Composers Cut, Vol. 3. Nyman turned his score for the Jane Campion film The Piano into a concert suite. I love the soundtrack, but I hated the movie.