Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Best Albums Of 2006 So Far (Pt.1 of 2)

Calum Marsh

I told myself I wouldn't do this. It's only June, I keep telling myself, but I can't resist. I look at all the wonderful recordings my iPod has been graced with in the past six months, and I simply must write about them. I've got to celebrate. I've got to throw my arms in the air and announce that yes, I, Calum Marsh, love these albums. You've been good to me, dear records, and telling the world that I've enjoyed my time with you is the very least I can do. I'm listing my favourite albums of 2006. Already.

And hey, why not? I figured it would be worth throwing together, if just to see what you all think. I'm going to do it all again in another six months, I can tell you that right now - and yeah, sure, the list will probably look a lot different by December. But that's what this is all about: saying things you're going to regret later. Tell me what you love or hate in the comment box, folks.

The 10 Best Albums Of 2006 So Far (Pt.1)

10. Hot Chip - The Warning

I think it's a testament to the strength of the DFA catalogue that the worst album they've ever released - this album, that is - stands strong as one of the best records I've heard all year. Few records warrant use of the word "smooth", but if any does, it's Hot Chip's The Warning - it's laid-back, "groovy" (as I believe the kids say), and, at the best times, a little bit silly. Whenever I'd describe a movie or album as "fun", my roommate would say "whee!"; he's right, of course - a piece of art isn't a rollercoaster, and it never will be - but that's always the word that comes to mind when I'm listening. Whee!

09. Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds

I spent a lot of time last summer sitting in Denny's at two in the morning, sipping coffee and chatting with my good friend Tate. One night, overcome with the boredom of what had quickly become routine, Tate and I decided we would go on an overnight roadtrip to Toronto - a mere 3 hours away. We made a quick pitstop to pick up Tate's as-of-then girlfriend, Laura, and headed for the only thing we knew would be exciting in Toronto at 5 in the morning: the CN tower. Sitting on the car, gazing up at the monument which would in a few short hours be surrounded by busy tourists, we listened to Final Fantasy's "The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead" - and that moment shall forever be burned into my mind.

The point? He Poos Clouds isn't as quirky or as charming as its predecessor, but it succeeds in a way that I didn't think a Final Fantasy album could: it feels like a great album. Its goofy title aside, He Poos Clouds is a graceful and, dare I say it, epic record, the kind of album you feel disenchanted by upon first listen but that stays in the back of your mind for weeks and months to come.

08. Casitone For The Painfully Alone - Etiquette

Have you ever felt like someone is singing a song just for you? Sure, idiotic couples pick "their song" because the lyrics fit juuuust right (or, you know, kinda close...), and angry females are drawn to bitter pop tunes because, hey, their boyfriend/father/friend/whatever is totally stupid and mean. God, Generic Singer X really gets it, ya know? They understand my inconsiquential issue - nobody else feels my pain, but this random millionare pop group that doesn't write their own songs sure does.

But then there's Owen Ashworth. He writes songs about like...well, me. And you, too, probably. If you're between the ages of 18 and 27 and have ever in your life: gone to University or College, borrowed money from your parents, stayed up until breakfast, slept until noon, or basically just felt sad about something even though you sure as hell don't have much to feel sad about, then chances are there's a Casiotone For The Painfully Alone song for you. Ashworth understands that when you're twenty-something, you're stupid - you feel crushed by the weight of whatever, and though you're old enough to understand that things could be worse and you've got no reason to be worried or sad or depressed, it's really goddamn hard not to. "We drink too much and fuck too soon/ cut our wrists and sleep till noon", he sings on lead single 'Young Shields' - think about that the next time you hear "Untitled (How Could This Happen To Me", or some such shit.

07. Liars - Drum's Not Dead

I'm pleased with how many good records this year I can describe as "scary". Fear is one of the most difficult emotions for art genuinely inspire in its audience, so I'm always appreciate it that much more when it's done well.

Drum's Not Dead is indeed quite frightening. Lead single "It Fit When I Was A Kid", for example, chuggs along like a freight train with that creepy tribal drumming before devolving into organ-based chamber piece that would feel at home in Count Dracula's castle. Intense and at times overwhelming, Drum's Not Dead is certainly not the most pleasurable record you'll hear this year, but it's one of the most engaging and, more surprisingly, one of the most rewarding.

06. The Knife - Silent Shout

I'm still not quite sure how to accurately describe Silent Shout. Is it scary? I didn't think so at first. It was too dancy, too focused on a techno-like pulse to engage my emotions, I thought. I enjoyed it as a spacy electronica record, one I might hear when I'm in the mood for something intense and a little off-beat (or, as my parents famously said, "when we're playing cards and having a lot to drink").

Unsatisfied with my orignal observations (in that almost everything I read about the album suggested I was missing something crucial when I listening to it the first time), I went back to Silent Shout - this time alone, in the dark, with my headphones. This experience made me realize: listening conditions change everything. I was shocked and amazed that I had once found Silent Shout even remotely fun and was even more shocked and amazed that I hadn't fallen immediately in love with it. This is rich, engaging record that is emotional, intelligent, and - gasp! - pretty darn scary.

The Knife - We Share Our Mother's Health
Liars - Let's No Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Cold White Christmas
Final Fantasy - Song Song Song

The Knife - Silent Shout
Liars - Drum's Not Dead
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Etiquette
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Hot Chip - The Warning

Comments on "The Best Albums Of 2006 So Far (Pt.1 of 2)"


Anonymous Juliane said ... (30/6/06 4:34 pm) : 

Hey you guys,
just wanted to say hello after weeks/months of irregular reading and thank you for the great suggestions and downloads! This is one of my favourite blogs and let's me discover so much new (and old) stuff. Thank you and take care!


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