(Originally posted on 31 December 2006)
I’ve put together a selection of some of my favourite tracks from throughout 2006 that would fit nicely onto a single CD if you were that way inclined. I’m not going to say that the final 20 are by definition the best songs of the year – I’ve hummed and hawed my way through about ten previous drafts that have seen some great tunes come and go because my mood at that particular moment had shifted. I’ll also admit that having spent a lot of the past few months looking back over old music, I’ve not listened to as much new stuff as I should have, so there will be some great songs from 2006 that I haven’t yet discovered.
But for what it’s worth……here we go:-
Track 1 : Razorlight – In The Morning (3:42)
An unashamedly populist opening number. Razorlight are a band that seem to divide people on a love/hate basis largely based on whether you think the lead singer is a twat. I think he is, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating a fabulous pop song. But all year I’ve been trying to remember where the guitar rift is stolen from. Help me out dear readers….*
From the LP Razorlight.
(*The dear readers then came up with the answer – Coming Up, a single from 1980 by Paul McCartney)
Track 2 : The Young Knives – Here Comes The Rumour Mill (3:41)
My good friend Jacques The Kipper doesn’t get TYK. I’m quite sorry about that. I reckon they’re the latest in a fine line of English bands in the mould of The Kinks, XTC and Blur – great tunes with a bit of social commentary, often laced with wit and black humour. They’re also a very good live act.
From the LP Voices of Animals And Men
Track 3 : Albert Hammond Jr – In Transit (3:32)
A continuation of the upbeat mood.
Now the last LP by The Strokes wasn’t all that bad, but they should be kicking themselves for rejecting this track. An impressive, and consistent debut record was followed by a superb live show in venues that Albert won’t have set foot in for many a long year. For me, the most pleasant surprise of 2006.
From the LP Yours To Keep
Track 4 : Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins – Rise Up With Fists!!! (3:38)
I first became aware of Ms Lewis when I heard the truly wonderful Potions For Foxes by Rilo Kiley some 18 months ago. Her 2006 LP features highly in most End of Year reviews in magazines and across blog-land, and deservedly so. Mrs Villain disagrees – she doesn’t go for women-led bands nor for most music with a country or folk twinge. But we still live together happily enough.
From the LP Rabbit Fur Coat
Track 5 : Gnarls Barkley – Crazy (2:58)
It was everywhere during the Summer. I didn’t take to it immediately, but it was a real grower and proof the general populace (I’m sure it spent 9 weeks at No.1 in the singles charts) sometimes pick up on things which are in the best possible taste. I thought it would fit in rather nicely on the imaginary disc at this particular point.
From the LP St Elsewhere
Track 6 : Alexi Murdoch – Song For You (4:38)
Now’s the time to drop the tempo just a little bit.
I have only just picked up on this track in the last week or so, and have hardly stopped playing it since. There’s something truly beautiful about this guy’s voice, and I’ve already pledged to make his album one of my first purchases in the new year. Gorgeous.
From the LP Time Without Consequence
Track 7 : Belle & Sebastian – Sukie In The Graveyard (3:02)
Was this from the best album in the career of B&S? The purists might go for Tigermilk, but for sheer consistency I reckon the 2006 release has been a bit of a highpoint in the band’s career. I could have gone for any one of half-a-dozen perfect pop songs from the band, but in the end went for the one that makes me most think of my home city.
From the LP The Life Pursuit
Track 8 : The Dears – Whites Only Party (3:10)
A band I didn’t know anything about until someone put a song from a previous album on a home-made compilation CD. People make Morrissey comparisons – and if you visit their website and read the regularly updated blog/diary, you’ll see that they are great fans of the great man. But I hear quite a bit of Damon Albarn in the vocals and bits of The Go-Betweens in the music. I really regret not being able to go and see them live a few months back.
From the LP Gang Of Losers
Track 9 : Lloyd Cole – Woman In A Bar (3:37)
I’ve been a big fan of Lloyd Cole for more than two decades, and it was great to see him live on stage alongside Neil Clark from the Commotions a few months back.
He was supposedly promoting his new album, but bizarrely chose to play just three or four songs from it. This was a bit of a pity, as many of the new songs match up to most of his previous solo offerings.
When you think of the number of male singer-songwriters that were set loose on the public in 2006 in the wake of the James Blunt phenomena of 2005, it’s sad that Lloyd doesn’t get decent radio and that his fan base is largely the same as it was when the Commotions were going strong.
From the LP Antidepressant
Track 10 : Arctic Monkeys – When The Sun Goes Down (3:20)
DO believe the hype. Great LP, tremendous in concert, and the follow-up singles featuring new material were every bit as excellent. Oh, and the videos were also some of the best made in 2006.
From the LP Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
Track 11 : Jarvis Cocker – Tonite (3:56)
From the newest Sheffield Superstars, to probably the greatest talent to ever come out of the Steel City.
It was a real joy to have some new Jarvis material to listen to – he’s been missed in recent years. But in saying that, the album is a bit of a mixed-bag. When the songs are anything decent – they are truly magnificent. But there’s a couple of duff tracks as well.
I really wanted to put on the hidden or secret track – Running The World – but have made do with this great commentary on 21st century society.
From the LP The Jarvis Cocker Record
Track 12 : Morrissey – Life Is A Pigsty (7:22)
The most epic song of 2006. The LP was hugely enjoyable on its release, but strangely enough, I fear it has dated a bit over the months. This was a truly majestic live track – especially in the confines of venues with capacities of 700 as was the case in Stirling and Greenock. I’m still of the view that Morrissey, having got the critics onside once again, should give serious consideration to bowing out following the highs of the past two and a bit years. The backlash awaits – no matter how good his next record is. It’s the way of the world….
From the LP Ringleader of The Tormentors
Track 13 : Arab Strap – Dream Sequence (4:15)
It starts off with the sort of piano-playing that Chris Martin has deployed on many a Coldplay record. But please don’t let that put you off.
Another wonderfully consistent LP with not a bad track on it. Maybe they knew it was all coming to an end – or maybe Aidan wanted to release something as playful and catchy as Malcolm’s solo record of 2005 – but whatever the reason(s) it made for a fantastic 35 minutes. Again, I could have taken my pick from around half-a-dozen, but this makes it mainly because it is so un-Strap like.
From the LP The Last Romance
Track 14 : The Decemberists – Summersong (3:31)
Happiness personified. I now know they’ve been on the go for a few years, but it was only surfing around the Internet and reading various blogs that allowed me to discover this band. I’ve got a bit of catching-up to do, and getting a hold of the back catalogue is a priority in 2007.
From the LP The Crane Wife
Track 15 : The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes (3:35)
Ah…..a great song from what was, to my ears, a hugely disappointing LP. When this was getting heavy airplay and was never off MTV2, I had great hopes for the latest project of Jack White. But…..maybe now that he’s got it out of his system he’ll go back to what he does best.
From The LP Broken Boy Soldiers
Track 16 : Bettie Serveert – Hell = Other People (3:50)
As with Track 14, my knowledge of this act is all down to the Internet. Once again, I’ve got a lot of catching-up to do, but I’m looking forward to it.
From the LP Bare Stripped Naked
Track 17 : Stuart A. Staples – That Leaving Feeling (4:02)
I was saddened to hear that Tindersticks were taking a break from recording and touring to allow the band members time to concentrate on solo projects. In my experience, that is industry-speak for the band actually calling it a day.
But this was, in some ways, a real eye-opener. I was expecting something completely different – what I got was a Tindersticks LP in all but name. And a very good one at that. I can offer no higher praise.
From the LP Leaving Songs
Track 18: Regina Spektor – That Time (2:39)
This is another album that has a lot in common with that of Jarvis Cocker – there are some brilliant songs to be found alongside others which, quite frankly, are just too self-indulgent for my liking. But having said that, there were three or four other contenders for inclusion on the compilation; I don’t think the chosen track is the best on the LP, but it fits in well at this point on the imaginary CD.
From the LP Begin To Hope
Track 19 : The View – Superstar Tradesman (3:18)
The next Arctic Monkeys? Quite possibly…..
But from what I’ve heard on record, seen on TV/video and most importantly, caught live in a very small, hot and sticky Glasgow venue, they cut the mustard. By March 2007 it will be the 2000+ capacity venues in a huge UK tour, by July they’ll be headlining some of the Festival stages, and by October, it will be the arenas. Trust Me.
From the single Superstar Tradesman
Track 20 : Jenny Owen Youngs – Fuck Was I (3:30)
We’ve all been at this particular juncture at some point in our lives – whether in relationships, in the workplace or looking back over some dodgy favourite songs from two decades back!!
This song made me smile when I first heard it – again courtesy of someone’s blog – and is the perfect ending just in case you disagree with anything I’ve written above.
From the LP Batten The Hatches
The whole thing comes in at 74 minutes and 06 seconds. Handy enough for a single CD.
It was only be reading other folks end of year round-ups and listening to what they were recommending did I realise that I had missed an awful lot of great stuff in 2006. I’m cringing now at opening up any compilation with the one-trick pony that was Razorlight, while my further dabblings with The Decemberists brought nothing but disappointment, And I was waaaaaaay wrong about The View……seven years on and they’re playing the same venues they did at the start of their career.