The Year in Review :: Part One: Vilification

Patrick's disappointing albums of 2006.

(in no particular order)

the hold steady

The Hold Steady — Boys and Girls in America

Honestly, I tried. I really did. But Boys and Girls in America is really nothing more than a fourth-rate Let it Be. Looks, kids in Minnesota no more fucked up than anywhere else — I should know, I spent some formative years in the suburban Midwest — and I really think that any well-read sixteen-year-old with a worn copy of On the Road, a shit-ton of Thin Lizzy records and a basic knowledge of barre chords could make Boys and Girls. I think The Hold Steady is kind of a clusterfuck — first-rate lyrics and mind-numbingly stupid music — but, ironically, that's the exact representative of "the boys and girls in America."

dj shadow

DJ Shadow — The Outsider

File this one under "They Can't All Be Winners." Josh Davis is easily the white boy who single-handedly saved (experimental) hip-hop, but The Outsider falls flat. The cavalcade of of guest stars — Kasabian, Keak da Sneak, David Banner — is nothing new for Shadow, as his James Lavell U.N.K.L.E. collabo, which produced Psyence Fiction, one of my all-time favorites, featured everyone from Thom Yorke to Richard Ashcroft to Kool G Rap to Jason Newstead and Mike D. So if The Outsider doesn't suffer from a lack of starpower, what does it suffer from? It's too scattershot, its crunk-rap beats too crunk-rap and it's ultimately an unexpected commercial venture for Shadow. I'm not holding out for Entroducing II: Re-Entroducing, but anything coming close to the underrated The Private Press is gold at this point.


Mastodon — Blood Mountain

I do these kind of lists every year, and I always feel the need to clarify: Just because I was disappointed by an album doesn't mean I didn't think it was good or that I didn't care for it. On the contrary with Blood Mountain — while I don't believe it holds up to Leviathan or even Remission, it's a damn brutal record. But for all its forays into psych-prog territory, it never quite settles into any sort of groove. Que cera, cera.

The Arctic Monkeys

The Arctic Monkeys — Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Don't believe the (blog) hype.

The Tapes 'n Tapes

Tapes 'n Tapes — The Loon
See The Arctic Monkeys.

yeah yeah yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Show Your Bones

Bonus points to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for daring to go beyond the garage-punk freakout that was Fever to Tell. Minus points for doing a really piss-poor Siouxsie and the Banshees impersonation. I spun this in my cd player once, and was unimpressed enough to not play it again.

the decemberists

The Decemberists — The Crane Wife

Blah blah blah The Decemberists blah blah blah hyper-literate indie prog blah blah blah Death Cab for Cutie blah blah blah another boring, bland Northwestern band blah blah blah. Once again, don't believe the (blog) hype. I honestly don't understand what people see in The Decemberists. Colin Meloy looks, dresses, sings and writes songs like Ben Gibbard's retarded younger brother.

...and you will know us by the trail of dead

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead — So Divided
So Divided is everything this album is not, as far as critics are concerned. Universally panned, So Divided fails oh-so-spectacularly to save face from 2005's embarrassing Worlds Apart. New Year's Resolution for Conrad Keely: Give up.


Danielson — Ships

Another critical darling I can't wrap my head around. In fairness, I couldn't get into the Danielson Familie either. And that misspelling always bugged me.

susanna hoffs and matthew sweet

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs —
Under the Covers, Vol. 1


Anonymous said...

DJ Shadow's The Outsider needed an editor. I found about 30 minutes of good listening interspersed in the 46 remaining minutes of shite.

I run into an even shorter time limit with The Decemberists, though. Any more than 15 minutes of listening to Colin Meloy's voice and I want to punch him in the nose from which he sings.

My first exposure to The Hold Steady was at New Brookland Tavern (before I read the hype or listened to the album). I just thought they were a good bar band, not the new critical darlings of anyone in particular. I appreciated them as such-- standard rock in a dingy bar.

[Aside: I walked into an Urban Outfitters (hipster walmart) store in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago and heard The Hold Steady being piped over the speakers (followed by none other than The Decemberists).]

And it's not that I have anything against standard bar rock being played in standard bars (while drinking standard amounts of PBR)-- but don't the editors of countless music reviews have bar bands in their respective home towns?

patrick said...

i agree one hundred percent on the outsider anon. i thought "turf dancing" was pretty awesome, and keak da sneak made "3 freaks" better than it was. and i'm always a fan of shadow's instrumentals, so "artifact" was up there for me.

punching colin meloy in the nose would be counterproductive, mainly because it would make his already shrill, nasal voice even more shrill and nasal.

i think the hold steady have one, maybe two songs that are worthwhile. aside from that, you're exactly right — they're a typical bar band.

drew said...

the most irritating thing about colin meloy is the way he's so smug about his schtick, which is making sure he places words like "somnolent" in every verse or refrain.

that being said, they're not bad. i just don't care to listen to them excessively.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sara said...

The Hold Steady - meh. the albums don't do much for me. i loved their New Brookland Tavern show in November, though.
Lifter Puller (lead singer Craig Finn and guitarist Tad Kubler's previous band) - INCREDIBLY AMAZING ANGULAR PUNK ROCK AWESOMENESS!

Sara said...

p.s. nice Clerks reference!