December 20, 2006

Year-End Wrap Party: Eight Records You Should Have Heard In 2006

Year-End Wrap Party: Eight Records You Should Have Heard In 2006This is our second annual list of records that music fans should have heard this year, or should seek out now that we've stamped them with our seal of approval. We pointedly do not dub these records "best of the year," although in many cases we feel that this is true. No, this list is created with the intention to highlight sets overlooked or ignored by the MSBM (tm), the Mainstream Blog Media. Our list, for example, does not contain the Joanna Newsom record. Or The Decemberists record. Even the excellent Asobi Seksu record Citrus, which we've championed since its beautiful package crossed our threshold last spring, does not make this year's list, as we feel that it has garnered the attention it has deserved now that it has made higher-profile lists. Our goal is to highlight lesser-known titles and to get people to hear them. The records warrant the attention, that we promise. If you'd like to see our list for 2005 that we posted at Junkmedia's World Of Sound blog, hit this link. And now, this year's models, in roughly alphabetical order:

1. Armalite -- Armalite -- No Idea

>> What It Is: Clever, economical pop punk with bright harmonies and layered guitar lines.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Only six hits at Hype Machine, the most recent being from March 12 (Hype Machine didn't start picking up our feed until Oct. 1, so our posts aren't included in this total). By way of comparison for Armalite's self-titled set and the rest of our selections, Sufjan Stevens is the most blogged about artist on Hype Machine, with some 10 pages of hits each holding something like 30 hits or so. No review at Pitchfork.

>> Why You Should Hear It: Key dudes include the wildly entertaining Atom Goren (formerly of Fracture and the various iterations of Atom And His Package) and Dan Yemin (formerly and once again dude behind Lifetime and Kid Dynamite). And they made a great record.

Armalite -- "I Am A Pancreas (I Seek To Understand Me)" -- Armalite
Armalite -- "Entitled" -- Armalite
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Armalite: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

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2. The Beatings -- Holding On To Hand Grenades -- Mid Riff

>> What It Is: Professed Mission Of Burma acolytes render intelligent tunes with walls of blistering guitar.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Only 10 hits on Hype Machine, and only one in the six months following the initial release of the record in January. No review at Pitchfork.

>> Why You Should Hear It: Holding On To Hand Grenades is very ambitious, and not just because it has like 16 songs on it. The music is dense and dynamic. Read our full review here.

The Beatings -- "Feel Good Ending" -- Holding On To Hand Grenades
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The Beatings: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

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3. Daylight's For The Birds -- Trouble Everywhere -- This Generation Tapes

>> What It Is: Airy dream pop with surprising structures anchored to stirring melodies by two compelling female vocalists.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: It came out very late in the year. Only three hits on Hype Machine, not including our post Nov. 9. No review at Pitchfork, although there is a mention in the newswire.

>> Why You Should Hear It: This set comes across particularly strong as a whole, and we listened to it in its entirety perhaps more regularly than any other record since its release. This is one of the strongest dreampop/shoegaze titles of the year (along with the aforementioned Asobi Seksu, among others).

Daylight's For The Birds -- "To No One" -- Trouble Everywhere
Daylight's For The Birds -- "Worlds Away" -- Trouble Everywhere
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Daylight's For The Birds: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

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4. Fields -- 7 From The Village -- Black Lab

>> What It Is: Acoustic pop that laces together seemingly ancient British psych folk with modern trappings like hot female Northern European synth players.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: There are dozens of hits at Hype Machine, and many of the bigger blogs endorsed the band. But although the coverage was there, we can't help but feel that the band deserves greater kudos for 7 From The Fields. Reviewed at Pitchfork, but it wasn't a markedly positive review.

>> Why You Should Hear It: The seven-song set showcases a sonic breadth that is surprising for a debut from such a new band. Not long after forming this quintet was the subject of a pretty heated bidding war, and it is easy to hear why on this EP. And while the dark arboreal folk leanings are compelling, the band can clearly write big winning indie pop such as "Brittlesticks." Read our full review here.

Fields -- "Brittlesticks" -- 7 From The Village
Fields -- "Song For The Fields" -- 7 From The Village
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Fields: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

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5. Haywood -- As Long As There Is Track I Will Not Go Back -- Unreleased

>> What It Is: Unreleased posthumous tour de force is one of a series of tour de forces. Haywood was the biggest secret of the late '90s, crafting intricate vignettes about different ways of living with a broken heart ("Take An Inventory," "My Self-Empowerment Song"). Not reviewed at Pitchfork, or anywhere. This record doesn't exist. Yet.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: While it is roundly excellent, this record also makes the list for a very literal reason. It was supposed to be released this year, but never was. One track was issued on Music.For-Robots v. 1 and made available for download at MySpace, and as a result that one song registered a single hit on Hype Machine in 2006.

>> Why You Should Hear It: As Long As There Is Track... places songwriter Ted Pauly's familiar sentiments in the wider context of an unexpected adult life and changes in attitudes and latitudes. Add in more-detailed, and in one case exploded, pop compositions and you have what is song for song the most interesting Haywood record.

Haywood -- "A Pair Of Tragic Paper Kites" -- As Long As There Is Track I Will Not Go Back
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Haywood: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

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6. Meneguar -- I was A Born At Night (Reissue) -- Troubleman Unlimited


>> What It Is: Heart-on-sleeve and angry compositions from the only band in America that we think really earns Archers Of Loaf comparisons, even though we may be the only ones to make them. And the Archers are just one facet of this act's game, which also draws from near-to-the-street indie punk vibes too.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Because you idiots just won't LISTEN!! Seriously, we've been ranting about this band since we first heard "The Temp" more than a year-and-a-half ago. Only six hits for the band at Hype Machine. It must be some sort of vast right-wing conspiracy. Somewhat positive review in Pitchfork, but a relatively low rating.

>> Why You Should Hear It: Did you really think we'd get through this list without mentioning I Was Born At Night? Troubleman Unlimited's reissue makes it eligible for consideration, and since this band seems criminally under-appreciated, we use this opportunity to berate the wider indie kid population for not jocking these guys 24/7 as we do. Read our full review here.

Meneguar -- "The Temp" -- I Was Born At Night
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Meneguar: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

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7. Okay Paddy -- The Cactus Has A Point -- Prison Jazz


>> What It Is: Earlier this year we described this band as a cross between Weezment and Paver and we think that is still apt (KoomDogg mentioned Sloan as another point of reference) and doesn't overstate the serious pop skills wielded by Mike Quinn and company.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Only two hits this year for songs from this album. "The Waive," a hot number from the band's very good Hunk EP, also got one hit for 2006 and another for the prior year. No review at Pitchfork.

>> Why You Should Hear It: This record is the reason we decided to make this list again this year. Just amazing songwriting and lyrics. The tune "Gas Money" in particular gracefully equates questions about how to spend all the gas money with the kicker, "all the feelings you'll waste on me." It also works in a mention of a hoagie, which is just one example of the curious smarts on this record. Read our full review here.

Okay Paddy -- "Oo-man, la-world" -- The Cactus Has A Point
Okay Paddy -- "Furrier" -- The Cactus Has A Point
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Okay Paddy: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

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8. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start -- Girls Names EP -- Gradwell House

>> What It Is: Intricate and powerful post-emo from a group that has mostly stopped touring and gave this most recent set of tunes away for free on the InterWeb.

>> Why We Don't Think People Were Listening: Only 11 hits on Hype Machine, and six of those come from the once great MP3 blog Two And 1/2 Lbs. of Bacon. No review on Pitchfork.

>> Why You Should Hear It: Songs full of yearning with big dynamics and memorable melodies. It's the full package. Check out the YouTube clip below. Earlier this year the band also posted this awesome film short capturing the band recording its live set in the studio for posterity. If the featurette doesn't sell you on the band, nothing will. Except for maybe the MP3s below. Or the YouTube clip.

UUDDLRLRBAS -- "Janet Bateman" -- Girls Names EP
UUDDLRLRBAS -- "Melanie Flury" -- Girls Names EP
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Two more tunes here.

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start: InterWeb | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr



Our work here is done. See you in 2007.

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2 comments:

diakron said...

Many thanks for pointing me towards the Armalite record. It's great!

-- Dave (we were introduced at Quips by Troy a few days ago)

jbreitling said...

Hey Dave, thanks for stopping by.