It’s no coincidence my favorite cds of the year are from my favorite live acts of 2006. I’ve decided to nominate bands in a variety of outstanding categories you won’t find anywhere else.
The envelope please...
The Official Gatekeepers of Heaven: Mew
This Danish band will welcome you with open arms as “Frengers” do. Their live shows are out-of-body experiences but I’ve had to come back to reality only so I could do my weekly radio show and immediately relapse. Ever since I saw them in Seattle, Portland and NYC last month I’ve dreamt in Mew-vision. They’re rumored to be back in the US early next year.
Little known fact: Their keyboardist is a regular KEXP listener in London.
Armageddon Rockin’ Trio Who Make Being “Over-The-Top” Fashionable: Muse
I admit I’m a sucker for Muse. Their new album, Black & Holes and Revelations uproots them from previous albums and plants them firmly into solid ground. A wickedly blended album despite the heavily saturated lyrics. A guilty pleasure.
A bit shaky when the pit gets going and I’m knocked unconscious...well, not really:
Thrill-Seeking Moody Britrockers Who Save Me From the Dulldrum of American Life: Clearlake
One of my top 3 bands of all time right after Gene and Doves. (Notice the one-word band names.) Their first album, Cedars, is a masterpiece and this album continues on the unbeaten path. Look for a new album next year. I’ll fly to Brighton, UK, to get it when’s it ready.
Greatest Singer/Songwriter of My Lifetime: Thom Yorke
Not much to say except I love this man, I love this album. “Atoms for Peace.” Pure pleasure. No solo show in Seattle but I’m sure he’s amazing.
Modern Art Makes Me Want to Rock Out: Art Brut
Songs based on true stories i.e. appropriate diary entries from awkward teenage years. Eddie Argos writes about his brother’s mixed tapes and also his innocent experiences with his first girlfriend, when he saw her naked -- Twice! Dance, scream, laugh and be overjoyed. See them live already, geez.
Bottled Up Energy from 43 Toddlers and Released on Stage: Cold War Kids
Damn these guys are good. These kids bang on beer bottles and crash cymbals. Pace back and forth. Use extreme gum chewing as a sport. Slam down on ivories tickled with harmonies. Please move to Seattle so I can see you every day. I’ll even babysit. Thanks.
No Frills, Just Chill with a Little Help from Duck Tape to Keep the Music Strapped In for Good Measure: Archie Bronson Outfit
I wish in-studio performances, either in Seattle or remotes, were webcast so our listeners can witness what we do. For now you just have to trust me and 11 out of 10 djs at KEXP who can attest to their incredible performances. Intense. Even his headphones secured with duck tape didn’t limit drummer Mark Cleveland’s movements.
Leaders of the Free World: Elbow
Manchester breeds beautiful musicians. Is it something in the water over there? Their first album, Asleep in the Back, got me through a rough, dark and rainy Seattle winter while unemployed in 2001. Leaders of the Free World was self-produced and released in the US this year. I can’t stand getting great albums months later than the UK. So worth the wait.
Hottest Album: Junior Boys
Yes, oh yes.
Skinny As Rakes, Boys Who Can Shake and Break It: The Rakes
See my KEXP Blog.
Also I’m Most Honored to Present...
Love Them Even More After Seeing Them 5 Times in 1 Week during SXSW in Austin: Editors
The Back Room was on my top 10 of 2005 (not released in US until this year though) but I didn’t see them live until this year. This pic and video explains it all:
Best Reincarnated Freddie Mercury Performance and Balls-Out Award for Making Seattle Dance: Ghostland Observatory
I tracked down their album for John in the Morning’s show way back in January. The day I received it, I ran into the on-air booth, handed it to John and said, “You’ve got to play this band. They’re in town tonight and I expect great things.” Later on, I tried to talk our KEXP bowling team to head over to the show with me. Only convinced Leslie. I was blown away and stumbled into the station at 6am to assist on the Morning Show again and shared my experience with him. The rest is history.
Little Known Fact: Lead singer Aaron is engaged and if he becomes a Mormon I’m first in line to become wife #2 so step back.
Honorable Live Act Mentions: Jamie Lidell, ¡Forward, Russia!, Fields, Silversun Pickups, Band of Horses, The Grates, Tokyo Police Club, Low Frequency in Stereo, The Stills and too many others.
Most Anticipated Albums of Next Year: Clearlake, Hopewell, Goldrush, Arcade Fire, Engineers.
Check out my Sasquatch coverage from this summer for more great live performances.
Happy New Year in Music!