Music! Music! Music!

I’d have to say that when looking back on it, 2006 actually did fairly well for music.

And that being said, I totally chickened out. Totally.

Instead of making a top 5 I made my mix CD for 2006. Too many albums had too many great tracks to take one over the other. And just to be fair it does all fit on one album, so if you wanna taste of the glory, you can ask and I will assist you in getting your mitts on a copy of this compilation of classics. 

Let’s do this:

1. “Both Sides of the Gun,” Ben Harper– It’s funky, it’s fresh and it’s got a groove that you simply cannot escape. Not to mention it’s nearly perfect for your car compilations. The title track to Ben Harper’s dual CD set is, in my opinion, one of the better songs he’s put out. The opening verse is definitely my favorite.

Living these days is making me nervous
Archaic doctrine no longer serve us
Now we’re left as silent witnesses
We don’t know quite what this is
Other than a war that can’t be won”

2. “Rio Seco,” Juana Molina– *If* I did pick a song/album of the year, this would be it. It’s a gorgeous, full and intriguing acoustic guitar matched with interesting ambient track in the background that gives it a perfect twist which keeps it at anything but your average acoustic guitar with vocals duo. And, oh, the vocals. Juana Molina is mesmerizing and her voice is truly and entity of its own. This song/album/woman is not to be missed.

3.  “Sally’s Song,” Fiona Apple- Do not. For one second. Be surprised that I put this on here. Or perhaps you aren’t. If you really know me, you’re not. My favorite vocalist of all time takes an “oh-so-very-her” twist on one of the best songs Danny Elfman has ever written. It’s spooky as to how perfect she trades off with the gorgeous strings section as my mind pictures it serenading Sally strolling through Halloweentown.  She’s perfect for the song and it’s spooky how much I love it.

4. “Man in a Garage,” Coldcut– There isn’t too much electronic music I can really get into these days. So much of it is cross-filed as rock, so it doesn’t even count, but this most definitely is not and for damn good reason. There’s something so magnificently different about this song and I can’t quite pin it down. I’ve had this CD for almost a year,  and every time it comes on, my ears perk up and I hear some different layer, or notice a different instrument change, or something. It’s magical.

5. “My Valentine,” Rhett Miller– Sweaty Rhetty did a damn good job with his album “The Believer.” But, track that opens this album is one hell of an ass shakin’, toe tappin’ diddy.  When Rhett brings the rock, he brings it hard. This whole album is pure fun, top to bottom, but this track just sends the whole thing into intergalactic kick ass orbit.

6. “Portland is Leaving,” Rocky Votolato– I’ve always had massive respect for Rocky as a daddy and a husband just trying to make some money to support his family via music career. And the fact that he’s an incredibly nice guy. But that’s really as far as my love for him went. “Portland is Leaving” changed all that. This song is tragic, yet terribly sweet and has a wonderful story to share, if you’re willing to listen. And for some change in your diet, wait for the harmonica to come in. It works. It’s awesome. And it speaks just as well as his lyrics. “Love’s a train wreck, you’re a mistake.” Yep.

7. “I Wouldn’t Mind,” Duncan Sheik– This is the song that introduced me to Future Husband Duncan Sheik. And this song is what convinced me to make him Future Husband. I can hardly thing of a sweeter notion than the one expressed in this song, “I wouldn’t mind if all my big plans fell apart and left me empty handed. I’ll start again, like new. If you’re with me, how can I lose?” And yet it has this thread of sadness that runs through it and broke my heart into a million pieces, “Nothing like facts and the facts as they are, are harder to take, ’cause there’s a part of me that’s ready to break.” Oh god. It stings. Deep burn.

8. “Beautiful in Los Angeles,” Garrison Starr– Ms. Starr brings us back up, up and away with a song that comes from one of the (if I made a list) best albums of the year. This song has made it’s way on to nearly every car mix I’ve made since I heard it and it has a special place from here on out. Garrison’s got a voice that’s sweet and she really knows how to carry it well, and she especially knows how to make it rock. This song gives you the best of both worlds. Sweet, sweet Garrison paired with some absolutely rocking catchy guitar and outstanding lyrics. This girl has got talent in spades. She’s definitely still Beautiful in Los Angeles. And everywhere else this song is blasting from speakers.

9. “Everything But You,” Glen Phillips– I didn’t really like Mr. Lemons. Too much of one thing and not enough of the other, if that makes sense. But, this song is definitely the best that that album has to offer, and it makes up for most of the not-so-great stuff that comes after. One thing I’ve come to love about Glen is the massive amount of love and emotion he is able to pour into some 3 minute something-second song. This song has more going for it than most albums can muster up with 12 tracks. The imagery in this song is absolutely gorgeous and worth cherishing.  As he lets out the last “You terrify me, you are everything,” I didn’t think I could relate to anything better in all my days of listening to music. Until…. “I’m proud to be your fool. Everything’s a crutch. Everything but you.” Oh, Glen, you’ve done it again.

10. “Lullaby,” Dixie Chicks– I enjoyed this entire album 50 times more than I thought I would. Heck, from the first day I heard them I enjoyed the Dixie Chicks 50 times more than I thought I would. But this song is perfectly resting in the middle of this kick-ass album and takes the cake for “Sweetest Song Written in 2006 and Quite Possibly Ever.” I think the first day I heard this song I listened to it over and over for quite a long time. To hear this song is to love it and find yourself in love with the sheer notion of being in love. Which is the next best thing to actually being in love. I think. “How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough?” That brings a tear to my eye and makes my girly self get all girly. So simple. So perfect. So indescribable. I guess kind of like love.

11. “I Like Birds (Live at Town Hall),” Eels– An old tune with a new twist, it’s live! My love affair with Eels was reborn this year and this album being released in early 2006 allows me to express this new love. This is one of my favorite Eels tracks and any song that can throw in mention of astronauts in the first 20 seconds is a-okay in my book.  This song is easy, and it’s fun, and it’s Eels. What more could a girl want?

 12. “Starlight,” Muse– ATTENTION: There is NO ALBUM RELEASED IN 2006 THAT ROCKS HARDER THAN MUSE’S BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS. NONE. YOU WIN NOTHING. GOOD DAY, SIR.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way. This song jumped out and bit me in the face the first time I heard it. It’s got the dance feel that I LOVE which is brought on by this great keyboard riff.  And the line “My life, you electrify my life,” made me smile the biggest smile ever the first time I heard it. And synchronized clapping! And a bassline that, let’s be honest, if it doesn’t get you moving, you’re a corpse. Corpse.  This album. Is amazing. This song is fantastic. This band is phenomenal. The on the Muse Cruise.  (MASSIVE apologies to Clayton. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you when you told me how good this CD was. Wow.)

13. “The Greatest,” Cat Power– I am very late in getting to know Cat Power, but from what I’ve heard and been told, “The Greatest” is, well, the greatest she’s done so far. She’s got this smokey voice that rings of the “I’ve been smoking cigarettes with Rachael Yamagata since we were in the womb” variety, but she brings so much more to the table than a pack of cigarettes. The title track off this album has a great piano part, and a hidden violin, if you’re listening close enough and floating over all of it is a great song with a lazy back beat that tells an absolutely brilliant story.  It’s sexy, sassy and not to be missed.

14. “Melt Your Heart,” Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins– Not gonna lie, I really didn’t care for this album when it first came out. It was too boring, too flat and though it featured the sweet, sweet Jenny Lewis, I didn’t think she was working without the zapp of Rilo. But this song is one that I really did like at first. It opens up with a guitar part that would make Hope Sandoval proud and in Hope Sandoval, and Rilo fashion, it’s a tragic, sad, and absolutely beautiful song. Jenny Lewis knows how to write little singular lyrics that jab you in just the right way, and she does this better than almost any other writer I can think of.  “It’s like a Valentine from your mother.”

(HORRIBLE MIX CD TRANSITION. DO NOT USE THIS AS AN EXAMPLE. AND DON’T BLOW CHUNKS ON YOUR KEYBOARD.)

15. “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows Interlude,” Justin Timberlake– Would I have listened to N*SYNC? Effing HELL NO. But will I listen to JT Money? Oh, WILL I. Justified is a far superior album toFutureSex/LoveSounds. But guess what I bought the day it came out. This album is a ton of fun, and this song has got it going on in all the right places. It’s got his beat boxing, which it shall be known that beat boxing will ALWAYS make me go jell-o in the knees, and it’s got his vocal talents, which are quite good, and the super fun, super exciting and well done beats that make Justin Timberlake so damn addicting. Really, I’m sure that next to none of you have this song. Please ask me for it.  Would I replace this song with “Dick in a Box”… well, considering I had the damn song in my head for three days straight I’m going to have to say yes (And the fact that I am oddly attracted to Justin Timberlake in that video), but I don’t have an mp3 of it, so I can’t put it on a cd. (Hint, hint)

16.  “Waiting on the World to Change,” John Mayer– I seriously think that John Mayer is one of the best things that “newer” music has pumped out in the past few years. To be totally honest, the man is an incredible guitarist as well as musician and writes some absolutely outstanding songs.  Sure, “Your Body is a Wonderland” might be one of the cheesiest songs ever written, but it’s not *bad* by any means. “Waiting” works on so many levels. He’s got his fantastic musicianship, but these lyrics are smart and well written. (Twenty million times better than “Wonderland” foreplay.)

“And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want
That’s why we’re waiting
Waiting on the world to change
It’s not that we don’t care,
We just know that the fight ain’t fair”

17. “Cosima,” Joanna Newsom– I don’t care what you say. You cannot think of a more unique voice in music than Joanna Newsom’s. Or a more fantastical and and interesting song writing style. She’s original. She’s different. And she makes it work. Not original and different in that way that you describe crap artists, she knows exactly what she’s doing. “Cosima” highlights everything I love about Newsom. It’s got her beautiful harp and her voice that you’re not quite sure how it works, at points almost Bjork-y, but others it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard. This song builds and flows and when you think it couldn’t possibly get any more interesting and well written, it dances circles around everything  you just heard. Joanna Newsom knows she’s an acquired taste, so while she’s at it, make something different and beautiful, which she has definitely done.

18. “Mexican Blue,” Jolie Holland– Jolie also gets grouped in the uniquely amazing category of my music library. This song impresses me on so many different levels. I feel that it is the one song I’ve heard of hers that makes her voice work exactly how it should, floating, serenading and telling an absolutely beautiful little love story. This song paints a beautiful picture that is something out of a movie you know you’ve seen, or dreamed, or something. But then again, it’s like nothing you’ve never heard before. “I saw you riding on your bike in a corduroy jacket in the night. Past the hydrangeas that were blooming in the alley, with a galloping dog by your side.” Her jazzy voice and hypnotizing piano does a number on your imagination, something truly distinct from almost every other song you’ve heard this year.

“They said they started to get worried about me. They were happy we had finally met, we had finally met.”

And that just about does it for you, 2006.
If you’re still reading, I congratulate you. I know this was long, but it was the best way to do it and keep my mind at ease (movies was hard enough.)

Here’s to 2007. Great flicks, fantastic albums, and much love all around.

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