Hello everyone! First and foremost I have to say what a great year to work at KEXP. There was tons of killer music and KEXP had some great events. Iâ€™m so thankful to everyone who listened and supported our great station in 2006 and I look forward to hanging out with yaâ€™ll in the big 07.
The end of the year always means two things: I eat and sleep twice as much as normal and Iâ€™m forced to compile some sort of list of the yearâ€™s events. OK, Iâ€™m not forced at gunpoint or anything and it does actually turn out to be fun once I get going, but it sure ainâ€™t easy. A top 10 is especially hard. I think a top 50 would be easier. As a disclaimer I want to first curse the adjective “best.” I mean really if I said these are the 10 best it makes me feel a little too arrogant and seems to put down lots of other great music that I really enjoyed. Plus being the best doesnâ€™t mean I want to listen to it.
Back in my early teens I decided I wanted to stop playing the clarinet (yes, I was a band nerd) and take up the electric guitar. Iâ€™m pretty sure Nirvana is to blame, though J Mascis was my guitar god. I bought a guitar, an amp and subscribed to a Guitar Player magazine. For those of you who arenâ€™t familiar these guitar magazines come chock full of songs for you to learn and also articles about bands and especially guitarists. They also quite regularly have “best of” lists. Best albums, best songs, best guitarists, etc.
Now I literally lived in the middle of nowhere. A town of 250 people in rural Northwestern Montana. Still I was able to keep myself somewhat hip to what was going on thanks to Rolling Stone, Spin and mail order catalogs from Sub Pop, Matador and SST. I grew up on a steady diet of hip-hop, metal and the recently coined “alternative” rock. For every Pixies record I bought I was also buying Sepultura and Tupac. Anyway, the “best” guitarists listed in these guitar magazines often eluded me. I mean who the hell was Yngwie Malmsteen or Joe Satriani? I must be missing out I thought and promptly bought some of these CDs. Now these guys sure had chops no doubt, but something just wasnâ€™t grabbing me. Maybe the best, but not anything Iâ€™d want to listen to. OK, OK shut the fuck up Chilly and give us the list already…
In order to make this list these CDs had to get heavy rotation in at least two of these categories: at home, in the car, in the discman (no, I donâ€™t have an I-pod yet, but it is almost Christmasâ€¦ hint, hint) and on my radio shows.
Chillyâ€™s favorite full-lengths of 2006 in no particular order:
The Coup – Pick A Bigger Weapon (Epitaph)
Boots admittedly doesnâ€™t freestyle. He wants to take his time to get it right and he murders with the pen for certain. His story raps are some of the best in the game. “Me and Jesus the Pimp in a ’79 Granada Last Night” from Steal This Album makes my top ten hip-hop tracks of all time. The problem in hip-hop is often that if itâ€™s political the beats are lame or if the beats bump then the words are banal. Here you get the best of both worlds, plus itâ€™s often funny. This is the funk and it got mad play in the Chilly household. (My Favorite Mutiny – MP3)
The Black Angels – Passover (Light In The Attic)
Drone baby, drone. Thick and dark like my grandpaâ€™s hair. As a DJ I love these tracks for their transitionability and as music fan I just straight up dig â€˜em. (The First Vietnamese War – MP3)
Silversun Pickups – Carnavas (Dangerbird)
First of all these guys should win a Grammy for not using any of the songs off of their debut EP (which is great too) on their first full-length. I mean really as a music buyer how damn annoying is that to buy the same songs twice. Silversun Pickups have just the right mix of pop and noise. Dreamy.
Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Banana/Fierce Panda)
Sharp, aggressive and snotty. I love it. Great storytelling. They sound like theyâ€™re from the UK too and I appreciate that. “Iâ€™ve seen her naked, twice!”
The Roots – Game Theory (Def Jam)
Everyoneâ€™s favorite hip-hop band is back (not that they ever left) with another stellar album. They havenâ€™t changed their sound up much here, but it matters not. This is one my favorites from them is quite a while and it gets better with every listen. They do smooth just as well as rockinâ€™. Itâ€™s ambitious, but they pull it off. “Here I Come” gets me so hype itâ€™s embarrassing. Please God let this kind of rap take over the air waves I beg of you.
Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere (Downtown)
Creative and unique. This ainâ€™t hip-hop but I suppose thatâ€™s where this blend of funk, soul, rock and more is based. I know, I know youâ€™re tired of hearing “Crazy”, but you canâ€™t tell me that itâ€™s not one of the best pop tracks of the year. This album is mental sometimes danceable and most importantly fun. Will it matter next year? Who cares, I just hope more folks get creative with their music. And maybe more people will remember the lost of art of singing soul music.
Spank Rock – YoYoYoYoYo (Big Dada)
File this under creative and unique as well. Hip-hop heads will once again say this ainâ€™t hip-hop and I once again say who cares. This is club music for certain, but I dare you to try and pigeonhole it. The production blows my mind and the lyrics are nasty as hell. Stop staring at your shoes and get your freak on. (Rick Rubin – MP3)
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Domino)
Go ahead and tease me about this one homie. This record got sooo much hype it made me wanna barf. I choked it back once I actually heard the album and well I dug the hell out of it. I love the tempo and the lyrics make me push out my chest for some reason. â€œFake Tales Of San Franciscoâ€ is my jam, makes me feel ten years younger. Sometimes I dance without bending my knees too.
TV On The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain (4AD)
This is gonna make a lotta lists and rightfully so. A hip-hop head like me can sure dig this. Itâ€™s arty, but never boring. I wish I had a vinyl copy of this so I could blend it in with the other beats Iâ€™m playing in the clubs. I love the harmonies, the layering, the drums, the mood, the challenge. Man this is so good.
Ghostface Killah – Fishscale (Def Jam)
OK, back to the hip-hop. This is probably my favorite of the year. Casual hip-hop listeners need not apply. I sure love me some Wu and while GZA is probably my favorite MC from said camp Ghost is close second and by far the most consistent. Heâ€™s released some super ill solo LPs and this ranks among his best. Vocally and lyrically he brings it hard and I love the soul-flavored production. This is that heavy East Coast shit weâ€™ve been dying to hear. Sure my life ainâ€™t about birds and blow, but this one is fun to play along with. “The Champ” is the biggest hip-hop head-banger since M.O.P.â€™s “Ante Up.” I think I broke the rewind button on my car stereo.
…and the tie for number 11 goes to: Viva Voce, Ratatat, The Lights, Twilight Singers, The Thermals, Hot Chip, Cold War Kids, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist and Comets on Fire. Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™m forgetting a few of my favorites, but Iâ€™m tired of typing. And thinking. Hereâ€™s something just for fun. My favorite You Tube music-related clips from 2006:
France Gall – Laisse Tomber Les Filles (Serge Gainsbourg song 1964. This song infected me. It took a month or two, but I found the original 45 and Iâ€™ve seriously played it 1000 times)
Little Superstar (I donâ€™t know what the hell is going on here, but itâ€™s HI-larious and that little dude sure can dance)
(“I donâ€™t taste your Tapes â€˜N Tapes” hahahahahahaha)