[here] Beer, Booze & Bars, Dec 28, 2006
Craig’s 10 Favourite Records of 2006, Paired with Suitable Drinks
Here I sit watching Canada’s best soccer player’s team on TV, thinking about my favourite records from 2006. Owen Hargreaves is a star for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga, was England’s best player in this year’s World Cup, and he’s Canadian. Is he a traitor, an opportunist, or just managing his career? Actually, at the moment he is but a lame duck, sitting out with a web injuryâ€¦
It makes me think about my “best album” choices for 2006. Am I disloyal for not picking any New Brunswick bands? Should my list be All Canadian?Â I’ve been in several online arguments â€“ well, discussions â€“ over the past while regarding music. Specifically, is there anything wrong with your favourite music coming from away? Some think we owe it to our local music scene to support it above all others. There’s merit in this, but music is very personal, and anyone who is a serious fan of music, a collector, knows that, when you hear the right sound, you must buy it, regardless of origin. Some of us find those sounds easily, on commercial radio, as backing tracks to favourite TV shows, in a bar, or at a friend’s house. Others search far and wide, using the Internet as a valuable tool, to find that certain aural satisfaction that we just canâ€™t adequately describe to nonbelievers.
However you find your muse, it can be rewarding to share with others.Â Or not. When you list your favourite records, your Pet Sounds, you are to some extent laying your soul bare â€“ giving others insight into your most personal and perhaps political thoughts. “If he likes that,” they think, “he must be ignorant/gay/uneducated/a communist/misogynistic/a psychotic loner/insert your own psychiatric assessment here.”
Well, I’m willing to take that chance, just in case one of you finds your own pet sound amongst my picks.
So, here they are, my top ten from 2006, with drinks to match.
1. Sloan â€“ Never Hear The End Of It
30 tracks of diverse music from four singer songwriters with wide ranging influences, this was a welcome relief after their disappointing Action Pact. From Beatlesque pop to jangly, tuneful, retro rock, psychedelic angst, radio friendly ballads and hard rock/punk, Sloan does it all. It would be a great album to retire on â€“ a “magnum popus” of sorts – but I sure hope they don’t.
A Favourite Line: “I’m unable to tell if I know who I am. A modest success, a shill or a sham.”
Sloan demands four drinks for four unique performers. For Chris: Black Sheep English Ale, for his introspective Lennonish-leanings. For Patrick:Â Black & Tan, radically opposite, like his pop ballads and hardcore punk.Â For Jay: something classic, a Manhattan. For Andrew, how about some mushroom tea of the wild variety?
2. Elvis Costello and Allen Touissant – The River In Reverse
Arguably one of the most important urban American releases of 2006, The River in Reverse was missed by many, perhaps because a cocky white Brit was involved. The fact that soul legend Allen Toussaint would work with Costello to create this poetic response to the flood may surprise some, but not anyone familiar with both artists. Some noticed. It is up for a Grammy, in a category with some of the worst culprits in mass-marketed American crap. To see the hot touring band, complete with New Orleans horns, check out “Hot as a Pistol, Keen as a Blade,” a concert DVD released in time for Christmas.
A Favourite Line: “Wake me up. Wake me up with a slap and a kiss. There must be something better than this. But I don’t think that it can get much worse. What do we have to do to send the river in reverse?”
Classic N’Awlins: coffee made with chicory, or a Hurricane: lots of rum and fruit juice, bought and drank on the street.
3.Â Lloyd Cole â€“ Antidepressant
This 45 year old Scotsman â€“ living in New York — continues making fabulous records in the moping, manic depressive singer-songwriter style, along the lines of Bob Dylan consorting with John Lennon. Ever a critic’s darling, Lloyd sells few records. I find this depressing.
A Favourite Line: “I said Iâ€™m trying to write my novel. She said Neither am I.”
Drink? Vodka and Valium, hold the vodka.
4. Hawksley Workman â€“ Treeful of Starling
Hawksley took a major turn from Lover/Fighter, which had some folks comparing him to Bono (not me), and released this gorgeous, intimate folk-pop record. It’s perfect music for lazy relaxation, on the grass under a tree in the summer.
A Favourite Line:Â “And in ten thousand years time, when we’re found there, still entwined, in a near eternal kiss, that would impress the scientists.”
Drink? Homemade lemonade.
5. The Nines â€“ Calling Distance Stations
I’m not sure why it took me so long to buy a Nines record. They’ve been touted as a fave of XTC’s Andy Partridge and Jellyfish’s Jason Faulkner (who both guest on the new album), they are Canadian, and lead singer Steve Eggers does a dead-on McCartney.
A Favourite Line: “All of the things I could have said, I kept it all inside my head instead. So long Mary-Jane.”
Drink? Great Ontario wine: Henry Of Pelham Non-oaked Chardonnay.
6. Nine Horses â€“ Snow Borne Sorrow
Everything David Sylvian touches is golden. This new CD also features his brother and ex-Japan co-member Steve Jansen, and other guests including the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto. Enjoy ambient, haunting melodies, anchored by Sylvian’s deep, silky voice.
A Favourite Line: “God bless amnesia, and the things Iâ€™ve suppressed. I can reframe the image, I can discard the rest.”
Drink? Herbal tea of your choosing, or opium.
7. Andy Partridge/XTC – Fuzzy Warbles 7&8 + Box
Andy completes his epic cataloguing of rarities, assembled in his garden shed/recording studio. Fuzzy Warbles concludes with volumes 7 & 8, and a bonus CD, “Hinges”, included when ardent fans purchased the Collector’s Album, perhaps the most original and brilliant piece of CD packaging ever. It’s like a big, happy stamp album!
A Favourite Line: “I’m unbecome. I dissipate. You are the fresh bread upon my plate. Oh, what’s to be done? My heart was cloud light but now it weighs a ton.”
Drink? In Swindon, where Andy lives, typical ale on cask would be a Bitter from Archers, a local brewer. Stuck here, I’ll drink Picaroons or Pump House.
8. Elvis Costello Live with the Metropole Orchestra â€“ My Flame Burns Blue
Although mainly Costello classics reworked for a jazz orchestra, some of these tunes sound completely new with the treatment. Reviews from fans have been mixed, but people seem to like it at our dinner parties. Hora Decubitus alone is worth the sticker price. This opening track is a Mingus tune with Costello penned lyrics, which he practically scats.
A Favourite Line: “The score is obscure, the melody fractured. It went by my window, refused to be captured.”
Drink: Martini. Dry. Gin. Two olives.
9. Danny Michel – Valhalla
One of the best live shows in New Brunswick was Ontario’s Danny Michel at Sessions CafÃ© in Rothesay. This CD captures the intense feel of his stripped down live act. If you haven’t seen him â€“ do!
A Favourite Line: “When your heart is soaked in gas and someone fumbles for a match, you’ll be rescued by the wind.”
Drink: Straight whisky or whiskey, depending on your mood.
10. Roddy Frame â€“ Western Skies
Aztec Camera frontman Frame makes easy listening music for intelligent adults, which sounds vaguely insulting, but these are remarkable songs, beautifully sung, and the guitar work is fantastic.
A Favourite Line: “I’ve wiped my phone and I’ve grown my hair, and I’ve thrown away the things we used to share.”
Drink: Gin & Tonic â€“ relaxing and very British.
Note: I haven’t heard Tom Waits’ new 3 CD Box Set yet (“Orphans”), hence it’s absence here.
Craig Pinhey still listens to LP’s. Yes, he’s old. Visit him at www.frogspad.ca.