Hi, I’m Larry Rose of Larry’s Lounge (Sundays 3-6pm PST). Well, once again it’s the time of year that brings a combination of sitting on the laps of bearded men and compiling year-end top 10 lists. This time I decided to combine the two and the results can be found below. To hopefully make it more entertaining, I have incorporated my top 10 into a story. Please enjoy.
The Tragic Loungery: Top 10 Albums of 2006 from a Series of Unfortunate Events
Last night, I awoke from a cursed sleep (“Cursed Sleep” from Bonnie “Prince” Billy, The Letting Go), and as usual following a restless night, donned a milkmaid outfit and ran through rolling fields shouting “ys”, not knowing fully what it meant or how to pronounce it (Joanna Newsom, Ys). It was a beautiful morning and as I ran, I reveled at a pack of three legged animals that glided alongside me (“3 Legged Animals” from Califone, Roots and Crowns). Just when I was achieving some kind of euphoric bliss, I noticed a man wandering along a nearby river. It was former evangelical minister Ted Haggard. He said that he had just escaped from a spiritual restoration camp and was looking for some public sex for Boyd McDonald (“Public Sex for Boyd McDonald” from Matmos, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast).
As he confessed this, I noticed that we were being surrounded by a skulk of foxes and the river began to flood (Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood). I picked up a stick and hurled it at the foxes. Ted shouted “pick a bigger weapon!” (The Coup, Pick a Bigger Weapon), though I wasn’t sure if he was offering advice or making a double entendre. As I looked around for something bigger, suddenly a giant grizzly bear emerged out of the river (Grizzly Bear, Yellow House) and with his vicious stare and menacing growl, made it clear that I was the object of his scorn, either because he was hungry or because he didn’t like my milkmaid outfit.
Confidently, I pointed my finger at the bear and shouted “I am not afraid of you and I will beat your ass!!!” (Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass). The bear, not knowing English or Yo La Tengo, simply ignored the threat and charged toward me. Just then, a hunter appeared out of the brush. I was temporarily relieved until I realized that it was Dick Cheney and he was about to shoot me in the face. With all hope faded, I closed my eyes and imagined the most pleasant thing I could from when I was a boy at school (“And I Was a Boy from School” from Hot Chip, The Warning).
Oddly, what came to mind was watching an episode of the Lawrence Welk show. I opened my eyes, and to my pleasant surprise, Lawrence Welk was standing in front of me and suddenly the air was filled with an orchestra of bubbles (Ellen Allien and Apparat, Orchestra of Bubbles), shrouding me from view of the bear and the vice president. I took this opportunity to hop on the nearest three legged animal and rode away as far and as fast as I could shouting “ys”, still not really knowing what it meant or how to pronounce it.
Ellen Allien and Apparat, Orchestra of Bubbles (Bpitch Control) - If you shop for albums the way you shop for fruits and vegetables, then pick this one up ‘cause it’s super fresh. This is a collaboration between two DJ’s and they successfully combine synthesizer sounds and futuristic beats to create an album that is a compelling listen from start to finish. The vocal tracks “Way Out” and “Leave Me Alone” are especially good.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy, The Letting Go (Drag City) - I’ve been enjoying Will Oldham’s music and unusual album photos of himself since the Palace days, but this latest recording really stands out to me as one of his best. Oldham’s voice combined with the backing female vocals of Dawn McCarthy, tasteful string accompaniment, and strong song-writing make for a beautiful and powerful listen.
Califone, Roots and Crowns (Thrill Jockey) - Califone writes rootsy folky songs and peppers them with electronics and tasteful horns to create a unique sound all their own. It doesn’t hurt that these songs are expertly constructed and full of provocative imagery such as three legged animals. On this disc, they cover Psychic TV’s “The Orchids”, of which the original was featured earlier this year on Diggin’ in the Lounge, my weekly vinyl segment (4pm Sundays). (Spider’s House - MP3)
Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti) - Neko could sing former congressman Mark Foley’s text messages and make them sound good. Ok, bad idea, but this album showcases her voice and imaginative lyrics incredibly well and surrounds them with great instrumentation. (Hold On Hold On - MP3)
The Coup, Pick a Bigger Weapon (Epitaph/Ada) - This year, when I wanted to get down and get funky, this album was my soundtrack. On top of all those phat beats you’ll hear some smart politically charged lyrics and a thumpin’ guest appearance by Black Thought and Talib Qweli on the excellent “My Favorite Mutiny”. (My Favorite Mutiny - MP3)
Grizzly Bear, Yellow House (Warp) - This is the perfect soundtrack for a rainy day - and if you live in Seattle, this is the perfect soundtrack for every day. A quiet, moody, complex album that demands multiple listens at a safe distance from actual grizzly bears. (On a Neck On a Spit - MP3)
Hot Chip, The Warning (Astralwerks) - This album is full of infectious beats and interesting complex rhythms. They’ve pulled off the rare feat of making an electronic album that is both fun and smart. A huge step forward from their first release.
Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City) - The first time I listened to this album, I thought it was interesting, but the song lengths (over 11 minutes on average) seemed excessive and the songs themselves meandering. The second time, each song began to stand out and I found myself becoming more and more intrigued by the lyrics and song structures. By the third listen, I was hooked and now I can’t get enough of this record. Jim O’Rourke’s production, Van Dyke Parks string arrangements, and Joanna Newsom’s unique voice combine to create a listening experience like no other this year.
Matmos, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast (Matador) - This is a fascinating listen as Matmos, through a combination of live instrumentation and unusual samples (such as the innards of a cow), create unique soundscapes that alternate between danceable, hypnotic, driving, menacing, and orchestral. (Steam and Sequins for Larry Levan - MP3)
Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador) - Yo La Tengo deliver the goods in a big, big way with their latest release. They cover so many different styles so well on these fifteen songs, from jazzy to rockin’ to poppy to beautiful, I cannot get enough of this album. Hands down, my number one of 2006. (Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind - MP3)