The Year in Review :: Part Two: Paradiso

we are slackers. it's true. but here's my take on 2006's best releases and what makes them so.

1. So Many Dynamos — Flashlights (Skrocki)
Because they do a damn fine impression of The Dismemberment Plan — one of my all-time favorites — and anyone with the chops and nervous energy to pull that off has to be atop any of my lists. Also, I’m of the opinion that the album you listened to the most is automatically your No. 1. Listen to “Search Party” and if you’re not dancing within 15 seconds, then you have no soul. The perfect soundtrack for your spazz-rock post-apocalyptic dance party. (Also gets bonus points for some of the coolest one-liners of the year.)

So Many Dynamos — "Search Party"

2. Russian Circles — Enter (Flameshovel)
Because this Chicago trio pulls off an astounding feat, blending the simple-yet-elegant beauty of Explosions in the Sky with the snarling, technical metal of Mastodon. Most impressive of all, Russian Circles manages to be an instrumental heavy metal band and keep listeners perched on the edge of their seats. Lots of hooks, gobs of gain and no mumbling about wizards or warriors. Best heavy record of the year.

Russian Circles — "Death Rides a Horse"

3. Band of Horses — Everything All the Time (Sub Pop)
Because local boys need love, too. Irmo native Ben Bridwell crafted a beautifully harrowing collection of songs about love, life and death without making any one of Everything All the Time’s 10 tracks seem cliché. He’s going to miss Mat Brooke, though.

Band of Horses — "The Funeral"

4. Mission of Burma — The Obliterati (Matador)
Because now, some 25 years after **Signals, Calls and Marches**, Mission of Burma still steamrolls post-punk imitators with the cathartic, chaotic energy they had when they were back in Boston during the Reagan years. (Aside: Mission of Burma, I love you with all of my cold, black heart ... but for the love of Everything All the Time, please get someone else to design your covers. You're fucking indie rock gods; your artwork shouldn't look like it was Photoshopped by a nine-year-old.)

Mission of Burma — "2wice"

5. ENVY — Insomniac Doze (Temporary Residence)
Because Japanese post-screamo simply doesn’t come any more beautifully done. Like Mogwai if they were Japanese and loved to scream their heads off. No other foreign language record has gotten me to sing along despite not knowing the language since “La Bamba.” Also because I'm a sucker for Japanese post-rock.

ENVY — "Further Ahead of Warp"

6. Pinebender — Working Nine to Wolf (Lovitt)
Because any time your favorite band releases an album, it absolutely must make an appearance. This is no mere token, however — Chris Hansen and company bring the dirge like nobody’s business. And while it’s no The High Price of Living Too Long With a Single Dream, the mere presence of the achingly beautiful epic “Fifth and Last,” which conjures up memories of previous epics like “There’s a Bag of Weights in the Back of My Car,” instantly makes Working Nine to Wolf better than 95 percent of everything.

Pinebender — "Polly Gray"

7. Aloha — Some Echoes (Polyvinyl)
Because “Brace Your Face” is my indie rock jam of the year. Because spacious indie-prog and xylophones go hand in hand. Don’t let its tropical name fool you — Aloha comes from deep in the heart of Ohio, where Pele and Sunny Day Real Estate never went out of style, and “emo” still means Rites of Spring.

Aloha — "Brace Your Face"

8. Yo La Tengo — I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador)
Because — cliché alert! — like a fine wine, Yo La Tengo only gets better with age. Combine the elegiac beauty of And Then the Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out with the guitar freakouts of May I Sing With Me and the indie-pop eclecticism of Summer Sun and you have the Hoboken trio’s best album since And Then the Nothing... — possibly since Painful. Also wins my award for best album name.

Yo La Tengo — "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind"

9. Cadence Weapon — Breaking Kayfabe (Upper Class)
Because Rollie Pemberton’s rhymes and flow are so ill they have cholera. Because the beats on Breaking Kayfabe sound like an Atari 2600 freaking out and vomiting on itself. That’s how sick the Canadian rapper’s full-length debut is. Hands down my favorite hip-hop release of the year. Canada's answer to Dizzee Rascal? Mayhaps.

Cadence Weapon — "Sharks"

10. The Sword — Age of Winters (Kemado)
Because it sounds like witches at black masses. Because doom-metal about epic battles between Norse gods is much cooler than colonies of Birchmen and writing sins instead of tragedies. Because it fucking slays. That’s why.

The Sword — "Winter's Wolves"

11. Thom Yorke — The Eraser (XL)
Because Thom Yorke needed to get his masturbatory electro-wank out of the way before Radiohead could concentrate on its next record. But it's all good — at times cinematic, at times childlike —yet all-the-time claustrophobic — The Eraser hearkens back to Kid A- and Amnesiac-style downtrodden technopop. Except, you know, not as weird. Bonus points for translating the captivating "Cymbal Rush" into a perfect live gem on The Henry Rollins Show. Why couldn't that been on Amnesiac instead of that woeful "Morning Bell" remix?

Thom Yorke — "Cymbal Rush"

12. Mogwai — Mr. Beast (Matador)
Because while it doesn't return the Scottish post-rock quintet to its Young Team glory days, triumphs more so because of its simple, straight-forward approach, eschewing masturbatory build-and-release epics such as "King Herod" and "Mogwai Fear Satan." Because like masturbating, sometimes you just need to get to the release as quickly as possible.

Mogwai — "Folk Death '95"

13. Mastodon — Blood Mountain (Reprise)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know I said that Blood Mountain was disappointing. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't rock incredibly hard. Best mainstream-oriented metal album of the year.

Mastodon — "The Wolf is Loose"

14. Venice is Sinking — Sorry About the Flowers (One Percent Press)
Because "Pulaski Heights" sounds like the perfect cross between Knife in the Water and Low. Because "Buried Magnets" rocks artfully like a White Trash Heroes-era Archers of Loaf b-side. Because violas are awesome. Yeah, it's not fair that Athens gets to be the home of every other cool band in the world. But if they all sounded like Venice is Sinking, the world would be a wonderful place.

Venice is Sinking — "Pulaski Heights"

15. Asobi Seksu — Citrus (Friendly Fire)
Because Asobi Seksu just won't let shoegaze die. My Bloody Valentine comparisons abound, with more than a few J-Pop touchstones for a new take on an old art.

Asobi Seksu — "Thursday"

16. Orgone Accumulator — Metallic/Organic (Underbed)
Because awesome music is not relegated to bands outside of Columbia. Because Orgone Accumulator combines just about everything I love — dense shoegaze, angular post-punk, electronic twiddling — with a few things I don't — traces of dub and neo-psych — into a melting pot of indie rock goodness. A perfect cross between Can, Jesus and Mary Chain and Sonic Youth.

Orgone Accumulator — "Raptor Attack"

17. Gnarls Barkley — St. Elsewhere (Downtown)
Because Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo are crazy. Just like me.

Gnarls Barkley — "Crazy"

18. Mono — You Are There (Temporary Residence)
Because, again, I'm a sucker for Japanese post-rock. Mono does it like no one else — guitars built like string arrangements, drums that thunder like timpanis, and lush, beautiful compositions that evoke guttural feelings. Classical music for indie rock types.

Mono — "The Flames Beyond the Cold Mountain"

19. The Evens — Get Evens (Dischord)
Because Ian MacKaye is a god. Because MacKaye and Amy Farina pull no punches. And why should they? Washington is their city. Pointed protest music at its finest.

The Evens — "No Money"

20. Boris — Pink (Southern Lord)
Because sludge hasn't sounded this inviting or exciting since Dinosaur roamed the Earth. Because "Farewell" slays.

Boris — "Farewell"

21. Owen — At Home with Owen (Polyvinyl)
Because despite all of my hatred for Mike Kinsella the man — long story — I can't bring myself to hate any of his musical endeavors. At Home with Owen recalls the finest points of sadcore heroes like Low, Mark Kozelek and Elliot Smith while maintaining his unique Kinsella approach to dirgey sad-pop. Perfect for that Sunday morning self-loathing session — especially "Bad News."

Owen — "Bad News"


drew said...

thank you for the mp3's, gentlemen.

Sara said...

hi indierocket! i'm a fellow South Carolinian/indie-rock fan/alt-weekly writer. in Charleston, tho. just discovered this excellent blog today and after reading all the posts ahead of this one chronologically, finally felt the tug to comment...

...because you love THE D-PLAN! are any of you going to the show(s) in DC at the end of the month? i'm going on both the 27th and the 28th ... anyway, i realize this is kind of an odd request from a stranger, but if you are going, would you potentially be interested in some good ol' Carolina carpooling? i can't find a damn soul in Chucktown who's going.

p.s. Patrick, I loved your Of Montreal article in the Free Times! did you go to the show?

tug said...

Hey Sara,
Welcome aboard the IndieRocket. Good to have a fellow alt-weekly writer as a reader. You can help keep us in check. As far as the D Plan show goes, I can't afford any more shows/trips. These past few months and the upcoming ones are just too jam-packed with travel. Enjoy the rest of the site. We'll talk to you soon.