1st and 2nd Best Albums of 2006

Ore : 9:57 AM

So many are deserving (do me, Hamilton Leithauser. Stick it in, Jake Shears.) Some were a little too flash-in-the-pan (wherefore art thou, Louis XIV? And stick around a little while, Cold War Kids.) Some are fellow blog-fiends who deserve far more recognition than they'll ever see in this lifetime (Bobby, will deep-throat for MP3s; let's cut lines and a deal...) And I admit to personal bias: as former generations of gheys have been Friends of Dorothy, so I count myself a Friend of Debbie. I love Velvet Underground, Carole King, Ann Murray, Prince, Thriller-era Michael Jackson, Carly Simon, the Kinks, the Jam, Ann Magnuson, Lou Reed, Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos (I know, I know...), and many others. Yes, my tastes are impeachable, but they are mine.

In light of this, here are the Freedom Camp Awards for First and Second Best musical acts of 2006, the artists who I felt showed the greatest artistry and showmanship (not to mention commercial savvy -- nothing wrong with that), and to whose music I simply couldn't stop listening:

When that notoriously fickle bitch Elton John is fawning over you, you know you got it goin' on. What we hear on this their sophomore venture is a stretching out, a building upon, which is in itself laudable. Where Hot Fuss was almost exclusively super-confident, bittersweet love songs, Sam's Town showcases a broader range of themes. This isn't always a good thing: the lyrics to "Uncle Jonny," for one thing, veer uncomfortably into early 10,000 Maniacs territory ("When everybody else refrained/My uncle Jonny did cocaine" -- yeah, okay, whatever Brandon.)

Nevertheless, nevertheless. The product as a whole is as polished and perfect in its Vegas theatricality as their debut release, but here there is more nuance, more uncertainty, underlain with a greater wisdom -- just a touch more grit, which was all they needed. The Killers' Sam's Town bears multiple listens quite well, is as close to pop perfection as you can get, and as far as I am concerned is the second best album of 2006. Highlights include the singles "When You Were Young" and "Bones," as well as "For Reasons Unknown" and "This River Is Wild."

The following act is dirtier, grittier, and artier, yet in its own way just as melodic and catchy. Frontwoman Karen O exudes the NYC vibe from her pores; she is the bizarrely stylish Factory girl to Brandon Flowers's stagey lounge lizard. She works well within her limited range, and indeed, in the upper register of the notes she achieves at the end of certain phrases, one can discern the faintest echo of the gilded brass tones of Judy Garland, as pure and warm as soundstage snow. And Nick Zinner's guitar work is otherworldly -- he may be a self-avowed "little vampire," but here he only gives, and quite generously.

And as the Killers seem to be inching towards experimentation with slightly more tense and more elaborate arrangements, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs underwent a sort of devolution; they did not rise from below, or move laterally, but fell from the sky with a new set of songs as poppy and driving as lullabies -- a maneuver first hinted at in last year's single, "Maps."

No album I've heard this year is so chock-full of radio-friendly, possible top-40 singles (eat it, the Strokes.) Every song is a winner. There isn't a false or faltering moment on the whole record. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Show Your Bones is the best rock album of 2006.

(Honorable mention goes to -- please don't hurt me -- Gwen Stefani's oddly hilarious new cash-grabby, single-cum-LAMB commercial, "Wind It Up." It's disjointed, undanceable, and utterly brilliant -- so awful it's great -- as much Philip Glass as it is Timbaland. Give the girl her propers.)

* * *

Some of you may be wondering why I'm only updating about three days a week; it's because my computer at home is brizzoke and I can only access the Superinfohighwayinterwebs from work (shhh!) And of course, I'm very poor. Donations for a new computer welcome: This is what I've got my eye on; I've put it on my wish list:

My Amazon.com Wish List

Anyone want to help?

posted by teh l4m3 at 9:57 AM | Permalink |

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Comments for 1st and 2nd Best Albums of 2006
the profound and lasting influence of doctor who on the better albums of 2006 was obvious to even a layperson such as myself, yet i see no mention of russell davies, david tennant, or billie piper here at all. for shame.

also, who is this tom paine person you have in yr amazon queue? was he a scripter for series two or something?



dex: maybe.

chuckles: yes.

I hope yer computer gets teh fixxerz. And that Jake stops by to stick it in.

Alas, my computer is beyond even the tender ministrations of Mr. Shears. It's an old, decrepid eMachine that has breathed its last... I need a new computer.

Where do we send the checks to? :)

I need my pRon blogging buddy back.

When I found myself to be very poor some 2 years back (as oppposed to mostly poor, today) I bought the original supercheap Mac mini. Oh, wait, that exact machine. Krikey.

Well, I am so very satisfied with it, but man, spring for the RAM. Do not make the same mistake I did. SimCity - load takes forever. The widgets, disabled them. I even went so far as to extricate all the "Services:" using a great freeware tool, and removed all the foriegn lanuage support using another.

all because the internet audio plays perfectly.... until you are seriously multitasking... in which case it remains flawless in its delivery, but becomes temporarily inaccessble due to slow application swapping.

It's just a little slow sometimes.

also, do yourself a favor and choose the Intel based. I know today you don't want it, but that's gonna be a useful little cube for a long long time.

Midniter, maybe you could stop by your own home instead of over here flirting with MY boy toy.

Teh, are you signed up with PayPal or on the Amazon Honor System so people can give you money?

No but I might do that soon. Argh!!!

No time today, tho'.

Your boytoy? When did teh teh become straight?

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