Artist: Christina Aguilera
Song: Ain't No Other Man
Album: Back to Basics (2006)
I'll admit right now to being completely head over heels in love with the new Christina Aguilera. She's said goodbye to the teen pop and slutty images. As the title of the album suggests, the former genie in a bottle is returning to her roots. Gospel, R & B, and pop, with a huge smacking of soul. The album was a bit bloated at two discs, but still, a triumphant return for Christina. Ain't No Other Man packs a massive wallop, sultry and all curves.
Artist: Joel Plaskett
Song: Nowhere With You
The song was included on the bonus EP that accompanied his Make a Little Noise live dvd. It was also heard all over your tv sets as a commercial for K-Mart. If you're one of those types you might cry sellout. Of course, that means you'd be ignoring as great a pop song as Joel's ever done. And that would make you a douche.
Artist: The Hold Steady
Song: Stuck Between Stations
Album: Boys and Girls in America (2006)
The third release from The Hold Steady was easily the most hyped on the blogosphere this year. While I'd argue it failed to surpass their previous work, it was still an inspired effort. Lyricist Craig Finn is a rock and roll Kerouac. And like the authour was for his generation, Finn is a vital voice to understanding ours.
Song: Perfect Situation
Album: Make Believe (2005)
I haven't bought a Weezer album since Pinkerton. I though the first two singles from this album, Beverly Hills and We Are All On Drugs, to be two more sad indications of how far from the path the band has strayed. Then they go ahead and release this gem. As the video for the song informs us, Before there was Weezer, there was Weeze. This is the emo song every emo band wishes they wrote. Perhaps all that time spent in women's jeans cuts off their creativity. In '06 Rivers Cuomo finally graduated from Harvard, got married, and put Weezer on "hiatus," which might be like doing the right thing and taking Old Yeller out of his misery.
Artist: Cadence Weapon
Song: Black Hand
Album: Breaking Kayfabe (2006)
Known to his mother as Rollie Pemberton, Cadence Weapon released his debut album this year to great fanfare. He was nominated for the inaugural Polaris Music award and although he didn't take home the award this could hardly be considered a setback. Critics and fans love him for his intelligent brand of hip hop that skirts the usual shit. On a good night, he's like a revelation.
Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Song: Pay Me My Money Down
Album: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006)
A lot of the rock royalty were getting political this year. Bruce stopped by with his collection of Pete Seeger songs. The whole album feel like a raucous back alley jam. The songs are essentially timeless, although Bruce does do a bit of updating, "Well I wish that I was Mr. Gates/ they'd haul my money home in crates." A Great effort from the Boss.
Artist: Cat Power
Song: Could We
Album: The Greatest (2006)
For Cat Power fans this shall be known as the year Chan Marshall got sober. By most accounts her live shows are no longer the train wrecks of yore, which is definitely a good thing. Cat Power tends to be good for rainy days. Rainy days nursing a broken heart, even better. Recorded in Memphis with a band of veteran players, Chan crafted a country drenched effort that may not be her Opus, but certainly bodes well for the future.
Artist: Corinne Bailey Rae
Song: Put Your Records On
Album: Corinne Bailey Rae (2006)
Corinne Bailey Rae had a great year on the heels of her first album. Nominated for Best song, record, and new artist of the year at the upcoming Grammy awards, Rae will probably have a fruitful career as a popular artist. My tendencies tend to lead me away from middle of the road popsters, or what I assume to be middle of he road popsters. Judging a book by its cover and all that. I was going throwing the racks at an HMV one day and I hear this track. Asked about it and went home and downloaded it. This is the only song I've heard by her. Anyone out there with a strong endorsement? I probably shouldn't be so judgemental, I did , after all, praise Ms. Aguilera a few tracks back. This tune sits with me real well. Such a beautiful pop song.
Artist: Nelly Furtado
Here Ms. Furtado covers that Gnarls Barkley so that everyone didn't hear everywhere this summer. I've also heard a Ray Lamontagne give it a shot. All versions are great in their own right. I really enjoy seeing artists cover their peers. Hey, I'm a sucker for Neil Young covers too, it just seems that artists today are afraid to touch the work of their contemporaries. It seems to be much less prevalent today, then say, 40 years ago. Nelly had a pretty big year with the success of her own Maneater album. I've never been a huge fan of Nels, always liked her singles though. Hated her whole, Promiscuous Boy, persona. Lazy fuckin' club anthems. Utter and complete shit. And don't even give me the 'ol "has a good beat" excuse.
Elliott Brood plays "death country" whatever that is. Country-tinged i suppose, but sounds a bit darker. Either that or him and his band are either zombies or terminally ill. The first track comes from the LP Ambassador, originally released in 2005, but re-released in '06. The second one is from the EP Tin Type from 2004. Both are great and highly recommended. Boo-tiful stuff. Get it, "boo" tiful. Oh boy, I'm good. Cut. It. Out
Artist: Loose Fur
Song: Hey Chicken
Album: Born Again in the U.S.A. (2006)
Comprised of Jeff Tweedy, Glenn Kotche, and Jim O' Rourke. Really just a side project for everyone to get their ya-ya's out on. A bit too heavy on all the instrumentation added. Still, a decent effort for a side project. The lead track, included here, is a playful rocker. Rock and Roll. That's all baby.
Artist: The Black Keys
Song: Your Touch
Album: Magic Potion (2006)
The BK's play the modern day blues. I find it hard to sit through a full album, even Magic Potion, which was a great effort. Still, If I'm trolling through the blogs and I see talk of the band, I will always take the time to read and listen to what they've been doing. They rarely disappoint.
Artist: The Pipettes
Album: We Are The Pipettes (2006)
If I were to compile a list of my favourite artists I'm sure the Ronettes would show up in the top ten. Though I have indie tastes I'm clearly a fan of pop music. A weird term that has certainly taken on a negative connotation since rock and pop supposedly went their separate ways. When I say pop you probably conjure up American Idol visions, which is okay, even if it is false. The Beatles, Beach Boys, Oasis, Wilco, White Stripes, they all play pop music. It can also be called rock and roll. Hell, it could be described a million ways, but at its base, its all pop music. I know folks who won't listen to music if it doesn't fit into the parameters they have decided they enjoy. It has gotten to the point where I lie to them in describing the genre the artist supposedly belongs in, just so they will give it a listen. The term "guilty pleasure" was spawned from this kind of thinking. I mean, why be able to simply say you enjoy an artist or type of music without ruining your ego or credibility. I love the Ronettes, in fact I've got a soft spot for a lot of those sixties girl groups. The Pipettes are a throwback to that era. They reference Andy Partridge among others, all with a wink, which hooks some of the indie kids. I'm hooked 'cause they're fun. No pretensions. Just rock and roll music with a shake.
Artist: Belle & Sebastian
Song: The Blues are Still Blue
Album: The Life Pursuit (2006)
Not a huge B & S fan. I'll pull out an album every couple months and then put it back halfway through. Their latest is full of great singles. Sometimes that's all you really want anyways.
Artist: Shotgun & Jaybird
Song: Marquee Glass
Album: There Are Days and Then There Are Days (2006)
Shot and Jay also released a full-length later in the year. Bound to get Pavement comparisons
every now and again. The two piece, comprised of Shotgun Jimmie and Dick Morello, with JulieDoiron on guesting vocals, here, craft lo-fi music that sounds like even you could have made in your bedroom. Here's the thing, you can't. As our mother repeatedly told us growing up (and which we'll pass on to you), "you're worthless. I don't even know why I had you."
Terrible album name, though apt. The Bicycles are cuddly. And cute too. They wear matching "B" shirts on stage. They write carefree songs that make you go "weeeeee." I'd go have a popsicle now if I didn't have that weird phobia of popsicle sticks. Too saccharine? You decide.