Artist: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Song: Honey Child What Can I Do
Album: Ballad of the Broken Seas (2006)
An unlikely album pairing, ex-Belle and Sebastien vocalist Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees fame. Beauty and the Beast, etc. It works though, especially on this track.
Artist: Lucinda Williams
Song: 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
Album: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
Lucinda's somewhat of a perfectionist. Finally released six years after her last effort, Lucinda switched producers and cities three times before settling on the right recordings and songs. It payed off though, earning her a Grammy award and cementing her position as country music royalty. A girl I had a crush on used to sign my yearbook every year with the song title set up as a mathematical equation. I received the album as a gift this year. Beautiful and heartbreaking.
Artist: Ryan Adams
Song: Look Who's Got A Website & English Girls Approximately
Adams had a pretty good 2005, he released three studio albums to generally favourable response. No one would have held it against him if he took off 2006. Instead, he released a thousand albums (more like 11) on his website. The songs, released under various personas/ alternate personalities? walk a fine line between terribly awful and terribly genius. To my knowledge the songs are still streaming, head on over there to hear for yourself.
Artist: Sam Roberts
Song: The Gate
Album: Chemical City (2006)
Hugely popular in Canada but still relatively unknown in the States, The Sam Roberts Band, as they are known south of the 49th, released their second album this year. Largely unfulfilling though it was, the lead single was as much of a shit kicker as I heard all year.
Artist: Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo released the coolest named album of the year (possibly the longest also), I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass. I loved the new album and started warming up to some of their back catalogue. Still, my favourite track by them, all time, still has to be this one.
Artist: Syd Barrett
Song: Bob Dylan Blues
When Syd passed away this year the obits overwhelmingly mourned what could have been. It's not like Pink Floyd really suffered from his departure, hell, some of their best songs post-Syd were inspired by Syd's troubles. I guess it's just a shame he couldn't be along for the ride. I'd recommend checking out his solo material, especially if you're not a big fan of the Pink Floyd sound, which I am not. That's where this tribute to Bob Dylan comes from.
Artist: White Denim
Both the band and song sum up the kind of bands and songs you're gonna encounter in the blogosphere. Generally like fast food, that is, immediately appetizing but over time immensely unfulfilling. Still...yummy.
Artist: Dolly Parton
Song: Travellin' Thru
I'm not sure how Dolly feels about this song losing to It's Hard out Here for a Pimp for best song at the 2006 Academy Awards. I'm sure that Dolly would have a sense of humour about it. She'd even probably do that cute little giggle if asked to comment on it. Dolly wrote it for Transamerica, starring Felicity Huffman.
Artist: Be Your Own Pet
Song: Bunk Trunk Skunk
Album: Self-Titled (2006)
The full-length debut from teenage buzz band BYOP. Hard, fast, edgy, angsty, and other adjectives. Punk music by teens for everyone. Instantly charming with lyrics like, "I'm wicked rad and I'm here/To steal away your virginity."
Two great songs off an incredible album. Old time sounds, but incredibly contemporary. Ward's past records have often been steeped in a heartbreaking melancholy. On this effort though, a refreshing optimism shines through. If I were to pick a favourite for the year this would be it.