The Zombie Lists, Part III
Best is such a subjective word. Sure there are certain criteria that we can all agree upon which denote quality, but so many other factors determine our emotional response to things. So the following is not a list of the Best 20 albums of 2006, but it is:
Bad Tempered Zombie's Favourite 20 Albums of 2006
19. Sarah Harmer - I am a Mountain
18. Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson in Crime
17. the Oohlas - Best Stop Pop
16. Margot and the Nuclear So and So's - Dust of Retreat
15. MSTRKRFT - The Looks
14. Hylozoists - La Fin du Monde
13. Hawksley Workman - Treeful of Starling
12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones
11. Editors - The Back Room (ed note - oops this was released in 05)
10. the Flaming Lips - At War With the Mystics
9. the Streets - The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
8. Kinnie Starr - Anything
7. Chad VanGaalen - Skelliconnection
6. Morrissey - Ringleader of the Tormentors
5. Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
- Although Stuart Murdoch slips into his old habit of writing about schoolboy days, he can be forgiven for forgetting that he is decades out of high school by the sheer strength of the music - a tantalizing mix of 70's pop, Thin Lizzy-inspired glam rock, and those slyly subversive tales filled with characters whom you will not easily forget.
listen to: Dress Up in You
4. the Hidden Cameras - Awoo
- "gay church folk music" has been used to describe the sound of the Hidden Cameras, and while their stage shows are certainly spectacularly flamboyant, the songs on Awoo do not shy away from issues of gay relationships. But it is the sheer exuberance of the music that makes Awoo such a joyous celebration.
listen to: Death of a Tune
3. Thom Yorke - the Eraser
- In making The Eraser, Thom Yorke has fulfilled a personal need to explore his own interest in electronica and to let that interest lead him to new sounds. The result is a disturbingly beautiful album that is simultaneously spare and filled with soaring ethereal vocals. And it is intentionally minimalist; it's Thom playing with the very thing of his nightmares - computers and percussions and the stripped-down coldness of an alien existence. But with the strange off-kilter beats as a backdrop, Thom's voice soars like it never has before. One becomes utterly lost in this album. It is a compelling marriage of detached computer-generated rhythms and agonizing humanity.
listen to: Atoms for Peace
2. Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
- In Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko Case has moved so far beyond her past offerings as an alt-country torch singer with the huge voice and has matured so astoundingly that one wonders how she can possibly top this. She has learned to modulate her insanely powerful voice, one of the fiercest forces in the Western Hemisphere, to produce songs that defy the usual choices between immediately catchy and grow-on-you-slowly to produce a hybrid known as instant classic.
listen to: Margaret vs Pauline
1. the Decemberists - the Crane Wife
- I won't even pretend to be unbiased about the Decemberists. I adore their music and I am enamoured of the literary references and the tales of murderers and rascals and rogues. But I was concerned when I heard that they were going to a major label to produce The Crane Wife. I was afraid that this would mean the compromise of their ideals and the forcing of the songs into a more marketable format.
I was silly to have worried. If anything, the move gave them the freedom to spend the time that they needed to make The Crane Wife the perfect gem that it is. The Decemberists explore a variety of musical genres here, from their more familiar traditional tales to a prog rock-like opus in The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel the Drowning to the Talking Heads-reminiscent The Perfect Crime No 2 to a return to a traditional round-song in Sons and Daughters. There are spaces within the songs that allow the music to breathe and to grow at the natural pace which the songs require. Nothing is rushed, nothing is forced. The Crane Wife is utterly beautiful.
listen to: The Crane Wife, Pts 1 & 2