Late discoveries, early contenders

It’s really not possible to discover all 35,000 some odd music releases in a year, so I end up finding things in the first quarter of a new year that were released in the previous year. If I ran across them in the year they were made, I probably would have included them in the year-end list.

Wow. Those two sentences use the word "year" a lot.

We’re practically half way through 2006, and if it’s been any good, there should be some early entries for favorites of the year. So far, it’s been all right. In fact, it’s been better than 2005, which bored me to the point where I started listening to music from 20 years ago.

Some late discoveries from 2005:

  • Antony and the Johnsons, I Am a Bird Now. Yeah, yeah. Mercury Prize, critical acclaim, guest appearances by Rufus Wainwright and Boy George. It shouldn’t have taken me so long to get around to this album, and perhaps, it would have made up for 2005 being such suck.
  • Dylan Rice, Wandering Eyes. Listed in the year-end top 10 indie list in the Advocate, Wandering Eyes is an impressive debut by Rice, a singer-songwriter based in Chicago. Rather pleasing to the eye as well.
  • Sacha Sacket, Shadowed. I’m not sure how accurate the Tori Amos comparrisons are since I was born in the era of Kate Bush. All I know is he’s got a terrific voice.

Some early favorites for 2006:

  • Tokyo Jihen, Otona (Adult). I wasn’t fond of Kyooiku, so I approached Otona with skepticism. Shiina Ringo and her crew sound far more confident on this album than the previous.
  • SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS, Shikakui Vision. Strong songwriting and boisterous performances make SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS the strongest post-Number Girl project to emerge since the seminal band’s break-up in 2002.
  • Vola & the Oriental Machine, Waiting for My Food. Ex-Number Girl/ZAZEN BOYS drummer Ahito Inazawa becomes frontman with Vola & the Oriental Machine, and he brings to Japan the ’80s resurgence in indie rock. Let’s hope he can stay ahead when the trend inevitably flames out.
  • ACO, mask. ACO brings herself back to earth after hovering in the stratosphere with irony three years ago. It’s nice to hear melodies and beats again, but it’s also nice to see she hasn’t lost any of her adventurousness.
  • Ex-Boyfriends, Dear John. There’s a bit of the Cure’s Robert Smith in the vocals, but the music is punk. Lesbians usually have the better rock bands, but this 2/3 gay trio can kick it.
  • Morrissey, Ringleader of the Tormentors. I’m still a Morrissey newbie, but this album sounds like it rocks out more than usual.

I still need a bit more time with these releases.

  • Van Tomiko, Farewell. Odd naming your debut album Farewell? At first I didn’t warm up to the very light jazz sound of Van’s first post-Do As Infinity project, but she has a maturity to her voice that’s well-suited for this kind of music. I’m leaning toward really liking this album in the end.
  • Yorico, second Verse. Yorico has been kind of buried under a whole lot of other things I’m listening to, but my quick impression is that she continues to be incredibly flexible with her writing. She can do piano ballads and balls-out rockers with ease, and on this album, she seems to be rocking out a lot more.
  • Hatakeyama Miyuki, Reflection. "Ai ni Melody" was a strong single, but Reflection itself hasn’t grabbed me, and I’m not thinking it will.
  • The Flaming Lips, At War with the Mystics. The stuff I heard at their SXSW show seemed really promising, but this album seems to want to rock hard but can’t help but be lush. It’s a bit scattered that way.