Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The 2006 Baker's Dozen

For those of you not familiar with the “Baker’s Dozen” end-of-year list, it’s quite simple. Any music lover should get at least one album a month and/or a 13th title as a gift or as a splurge for one’s self. It’s science. And the list is based solely on the opinions of Todd Totale. Any argument of the list is completely wrong and those who take issue with it should shut the fuck up and get their own website.


1.) CAT POWER-The Greatest
Never mind that Chan Marshall has completely reinvented herself this year (both physically and psychologically) although it may have helped in this year’s rating. The reality is she made an album that completely validates her catalog of heartache while standing up against acknowledged classics like Dusty In Memphis, I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, and Call Me.
2.) T.V. ON THE RADIO-Return To Cookie Mountain
Unlike anything you’ve heard in some time and then, after you’ve heard it, it’s still unlike anything else. Challenging, topical, and sometimes poetic; Return To Cookie Mountain isn’t a “rock” record, but it’s definitely one of the heaviest records you’ll hear all year. It won’t immediately grab you either, which is totally awesome considering today’s Ritalin-induced culture.
3.) MASTODON-Blood Mountain
Leviathan hinted at how good Mastodon could be and Blood Mountain confirms it. It’s the album that ultimately places them as the king of metal’s hill and forgives every single sin that the genre created during the past decade.
If signing to Capitol means making an album this good then cash in, baby. Equally lifting from British folk and English progressive rock, these Oregonians have made sounding English forgivable, as well as making an album that equally lifts from British folk and progressive rock. This is coming from a guy that hates both Donovan and Yes with a passion.
5.) DESTROYER-Destroyer’s Rubies
It’s official: being a part of The New Pornographers means that you’re all but guaranteed a spot in the Baker’s Dozen. And while Neko Case just missed the list, Dan Bejar gets the nod, if only for the line “those who love Zeppelin will eventually betray Floyd.”
6.) THE ARCTIC MONKEYS-Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
They have more going against them (youth, hype, inexperience) than for them (a great debut). And while the world is littered with over-hyped bands (Oasis, Stone Roses, The Strokes, The Libertines, etc.) that hit their zenith shortly after releasing their debut, at least they all have a fucking great album to stand on. Start to finish: this album rocks.
7.) TAPES 'N TAPES-The Loon
In late 2005, they were one of the most hyped bands around. In late 2006, it seems they've lost some of their luster (see Arctic Monkeys). Ignore the press/bloggers/pundits that feel the initial attention wasn't warranted. There's a reason why they were hyped to begin with and it starts with the fact that The Loon is filled with distinctive songs that capture the ear and beg to be played again.
8.) LOVE IS ALL-Nine Times The Same Song
Oh, Sweden. There’s a great wave of nostalgia throughout the country and, unlike other bands that ride the wave with a clear purpose, Love Is All rides theirs with passion. There also a good hint that they’ll find their own niche, but for now, Nine Times The Same Song is as stunningly original as the influences it mirrors.
Yep, it’s another overwrought epic endeavor that, surprisingly, works. So while these Kansas natives throw a ton of imagery in their lyrics and sound, there’s something about making an album that doesn’t feel restricted by its locale.
10.) CLIPSE-Hell Hath No Fury
The idea of “gansta rap” has become increasingly laughable, particularly when one considers the blatant commercial appeal behind the beats of some of the genre’s biggest acts. Not Clipse; Hell Hath No Fury is stark, minimal, and downright scary in places as it paints a chilling portrait of the life of pushing coke. The closest thing that rap has to the television show The Wire.
11.) WILLIAM ELLIOT WHITMORE-Song Of The Blackbird
The greatest rock star to come from Keokuk, Iowa since Mr. Mister's Richard Page! Authentic folk blues with a voice that occassionally hints at Tom Waits. Whitmore's other talent is his ability to weave up some legit Midwestern mystery that's probably a lot more romantic than it actually was. A tremendous piece of work from one of music's most overlooked artist.
12.) BORIS-Pink
Groovy, ear-melting garage/metal/stoner rock from....wait for it...Japan. Proving that the electric guitar and a barking amplifier are indeed the universal language. Also proving that my musical tastes haven't expanded much since hearing Raw Power, The Perfect Prescription and Masters Of Reality. But shit, dude, you could do worse than those albums anyway.
13.) SONIC YOUTH-Rather Ripped
They’re not going to turn heads and re-define music like they did 20 years ago, but what they are doing is completing a veritable trio of incredibly tight guitar rock albums. Rather Ripped may be the band’s most accessible album to date, but that doesn’t mean that it’s their least compelling.

(also known as 'the other 13' and in no particular order)

THE RACONTEURS-Broken Boy Soldiers
BOB DYLAN-Modern Times
YO LA TENGO-I'm Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
THE HOLD STEADY-Boys And Girls In America
NEKO CASE-Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
THE FLAMING LIPS-At War With The Mystics
LIARS-Drum's Not Dead

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