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Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Jim Connelly's Favorite Recordings Of 2006

Monday, January 15, 2007
Jesse Steichen's Favorite Recordings Of 2006

Friday, January 12, 2007
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jim Connelly's Favorite Recordings of 2006

Neumu's Michael Goldberg writes: In case you're wondering why things slowed down to a crawl at Neumu last year, the answer, in a word (and in a web site), is MOG (www.mog.com). I've been spending most of my time working on MOG, the awesome music-focused social networking site, and Neumu has suffered (if you haven't been there yet, check out my MOG: www.mog.com/Michael_Goldberg). Still, with 2006 over, I asked Neumu contributors and friends to share some of the albums that rocked their world. Today, Neumu contributor Jim Connelly provides us with his faves of last year. By the way, Jim spent 2006 co-founding and writing for Medialoper — check it out.

Jim Connelly writes: Musically, it was another year that was defined by albums eventually reassembling themselves, song by song, after being put into the blender of the iPod and Squeezebox. Here's what won out:

1. The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America (Vagrant): Craig Finn and Tad Kubler opened up their music this year, and so instead of riffs with rants that were part of a larger storyline, we got an album full of, well, just fucking great songs. Now, I happened to love those riffs with rants, but pound-for-pound, this is their best album. There isn't a bad song here, and just when you think that a song isn't going anywhere, it's redeemed by some telling detail in the words or a sing-along chorus, like for example "Gonna walk around gonna walk around gonna walk around and drink," which is both. I think that this is their third straight winner in three years. The last time the same band made my #1 record two years in a row was The goddamned Clash in 1979-80, back before many of the boys and girls in these songs were born, and I was just beginning to live a lot of these stories.

2. The Long Winters, Putting the Days to Bed (Barsuk): Big epic pop songs, full of ringing guitars and memorable choruses. Never, ever will there be anything wrong with that.

3. Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not (Domino): Yes, the hype became almost unbearable, but over the year, the songs kept getting stronger even as the hype mutated into backlash. Bollocks to the hype and to the backlash: it's just purely modern two-guitar post-Britpop that is either the beginning of something all-time or a fondly-remembered one-off. Upcoming song title: "Sometimes the Hype Given Something Is Actually Well Deserved, So Shut Up, Already."

4. Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador): Welcome back Ira, Georgia and James, all is forgiven. Thanks for not just the album title of the year, but leading off with "Pass the Hatchet, I'm Goodkind," which isn't just the psychedelic noise-guitar jam of the year, but quite possibly the first time that the Velvet Underground have loved them back.

5. Drive-by Truckers, A Blessing and a Curse (New West): You just get the impression that Patterson, Jason & Mike could do this every year: walk into the studio and crank out a dozen or so near-perfect rock 'n' roll songs. This year, the songs seemed a bit more personal, as announced by the (criminally ignored) single, the unironic love/hate song "Feb 14" and sealed by the closer "World of Hurt," where Patterson Hood — the writer of some of the best death songs ever — declares "it's good to be alive."

6. Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3, Ole Tarantula (Yep Roc): An unexpected return to form after what seems like a decade (some might say two, but they're wrong) of wandering in the wilderness. Of course, for Robyn, that wilderness is his own brain, which was still good for a couple-three strong songs per album. This time around, he gives us nearly a full record's worth in what is by now his classic, highly personal style. If you ever liked him in the past quarter-century, you'll like him again. Let's only hope that his most famous bandmate was paying attention.

7. Bob Dylan, Modern Times (Columbia): If I don't think that his first #1 album ever isn't quite as good as his last two albums — neither as startling as Time Out of Mind nor as epic as Love and Theft — that's on me, because other Zim fans think this is the best of his latest trilogy. Where he goes from here, not even he knows. Just as long as he keeps going.

8. The Concretes, In Colour (Astralwerks): On some songs, great gobs of color; or others, just little dabs where needed.

9. Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Live at the Fillmore East 1970 (Reprise): Sure, it could have been longer. And sure, "Winterlong" and "Wondering" are nice rarities, but hardly essential (except for pointing out how little he was really trying on Everybody's Rockin'), and "Downtown" isn't all that different from the take on Tonight's the Night. Then what's to recommend this? Oh yeah, the amazing extended takes on "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Down by the River," each of which I've heard 35 zillion times in the past 35 years, yet both of which sound fresh and new because — oh yeah — they were. Also just missing this list: Living With War, where Neil single-handedly rassles the Prez to the ground.

10. Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped (Geffen): As per entries on Yo La Tengo and Robyn Hitchcock, a long-time fave returning to form. If you love the form, you'll love this record. I do, and I do.

The InsiderOne Daily Report appears on occasion.



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