↓ Download all ten songs I started this project back in December, but work and life in general have conspired to slow me down considerably. That said, I have been slowly picking away at my list, and eagerly awaiting my next chance to work on this particular piece of the puzzle. I think the added time made this a much better mix, and hopefully a more entertaining read. I certainly had a blast pulling it all together.

All told, I have about eight hours into this post alone, not counting the hours spent pouring over each and every album I purchased in 2006. Luckily hours and hours of work make that task a pleasant one (good headphones are a must, if only to concentrate in the midst of that madness).

You should also know I have my favorite singles from 2006 picked out, and I’ll start work on that next. When I’m done with that, as well as two other brief best-of lists, I’m going to go back through and hyperlink the crap out of these posts (oh, and add tags too), just for the fun of it, all the while hopefully resisting the urge to add more nonsense in the process.

And one last thought before I dive into the songs, if I could somehow make this my job, and by that I mean the crafting and condensing of these silly stories into something you can consume each and every day, I’d be the happiest person in the world. I know very few of you have both the time and inclination to indulge me like that, but Ze Frank gets away with it on a daily basis, and that has to be a hoot…

Here are my favorite albums of 2006, along with an mp3 from each (caution: honkin’ big 102 MB zipped file), sequenced in the following order, for you to enjoy with this post. I sincerely hope you do and look forward to your thoughts.

Song
outlined view
Artist
Ms. John Soda
Album
Notes And The Like
Label
Morr Music

I absolutely love the pace of this song, the way it gently rises in intensity only to completely take off in the middle then drift off perfectly at the end, all made even more dramatic by the way her voice soars without the heavy filters at the beginning of the song. I was hooked on Ms. John Soda from the moment I first heard “Solid Ground” in 2002, and eagerly awaited their new album. I was lucky enough to grab this on bleep.com at the end of 2005, even though it wasn’t officially released until March 2006, not sure why it was there but I bought it on sight, knowing the three month wait would drive me crazy. It’s the perfect song to start to this mix.

Song
Harmonise
Artist
Herbert
Album
Scale
Label
Accidental

I’ve been buying Matthew Herbert records off and on forever, from the Dr. Rockit releases on Clear Records (two of just a handful of 10″ records in my collection) in 1996 to the strangely wonderful Let’s All Make Mistakes mix on Tresor in 2000 (almost lost that one to Andrew Babson and Geoff White some years later… I still love to bump that in the A3). I did see him DJ at the Rickshaw Stop in SF in 2005–I haven’t danced that much or that hard since–though I didn’t buy much of anything in between. But when I heard this song on bleep.com I bought the entire album right away. This song literally bounces. There is no way for me to listen to this song and not wiggle first my head, then my shoulders, then my arms, then my hips, then my booty, finally my feet. I look like a wet dog shaking dry. Oh, and the lyrics are stunning as well, in particular:

always have a day in a month to be yours now
always have a month in a year to be yours now
always have a ground for an ear to be yours now
always have ways to your house in my head now

As much as I love this album, Matthew Herbert was one of if not the worst show I saw last year. I was so excited to hear Dani Siciliano only to get an imitation Barry Manilow (not a compliment) instead. Abby and I left after five songs. The music was phenomenal, but the vocals completely ruined the mood. : ( That said, I love this song.

Song
Sexual For Elizabeth
Artist
Tortoise
Album
A Lazarus Taxon
Label
Thrill Jockey

I was never really into Tortoise like so many other people. I have a number of their more recent releases, each of which has some decent to excellent songs, but I was usually bored of them after a week or so of listening. It wasn’t bad per se, just not enough to keep my attention. I’m not sure which if any song made me purchase this release, but I thoroughly enjoy almost every song on it, especially this one. Sure, I’m a sucker for pretty much any song with a vocoder, but this is one of the best. I never noticed it before, but I always listen to the first half of the song three or four times before I can let it ride out at the end… it just isn’t long enough. I also love that this is a remix of a Five Deez (from Cincinnati, Ohio) track, though the original has none of the “We Rock On” vibe that first drew me into their sound.

I can only imagine how silly I must look when I’m bumping this on my rides to and from work, and believe me I’m nodding my head like a fool, tapping out beats on the wheel, and wishing I could sing like a robot…

Song
Planetarium
Artist
Squarepusher
Album
Hello Everything
Label
Warp Records

If I had to rank these ten albums, Hello Everything would be in my top two without any hesitation. This is the album I always wanted him to make. In many ways it sounds like a greatest hits album, with all of the raw emotion of Feed Me Weird Things from 1996 and Hard Normal Daddy from 1997 to the much more experimental / instrumental sound of Music is Rotted One Note from 1998 to the spastic Go Plastic from 2001 to pretty much everything since. I still remember finding my first Squarepusher record, with it’s distinctive rounded-square die-cut purple Warp record bag, and the Squarepusher brandname across the top (I didn’t even listen before buying it, there’s no way it could have been anything less than spectacular to get that kind of treatment). Of course I can’t omit the fact that I always played it on 33 instead of 45, something I never realized until I heard it on cd much later, but then again Stewart Brown, Myungho Choi and I were always doing that back in the day, especially when it came to Autechre’s “Anvil Vapre” and “Envane” singles. I wonder why…

At any rate, this album is the first of his that I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping more than two tracks (so many, well, pretty much all of his prior releases left me wanting for long stretches at a time… believe me I tried to love them, MIRON for instance, but it wasn’t easy). I really struggled to find the one song for this mix that best represents the full range of the album, but in the end I kept coming back to this one, even though it only shows one small side of it. It’s a monster of a track, almost ripped directly from FMWT (reminds me of “Tundra” and “Theme from Ernest Borgnine” in particular). Blisteringly fast, the bass is thunderous, but the melodies are perfectly sublime. The production is exquisite too, even with each and every element present (those high-hats throw me over the top!) it’s still remarkably well-spaced.

Hello Everything has completely taken over slot number six in the A3. I haven’t been able to take it out yet, and don’t expect to anytime soon. And if by chance I were limited to only one slot, much like my old ’87 SAAB 900 with Midnight Mauraders stuck in the cassette deck (I could rap that thing up and down, forward and back, in an Asian or Indian accent or any number of other ridiculous voices), I’d be thrilled with this one. It’s simply that good.

Song
Bump
Artist
Spank Rock
Album
YoYoYoYoYoYo
Label
Big Dada

“YoYoYoYoYoYo” is without a doubt the second of my top two albums. I found this one on bleep.com as well, a completely random score since I rarely find anything outside of Roots Manuva on Big Dada. But this description had me more than just a little interested… I was practically salivating!

Taking a bit of detroit electro, a bit of miami booty bass, a big dose of their hometown music Baltimore Bounce, and a large slice of pisstake humour and have-a-go fun not seen since 2live crew or the BBoys, Spank Rock are hotter than Californian tarmac. - The Independent

I’m not sure which Californian tarmac they’re referring to, but it clearly isn’t SF (it’s cold here!). While I never placed much faith in British music rags, this was too good to pass up.

Like most of my favorite albums, this one took a while to fully wrap my head around it. With the exception of the last few tracks (they bore me for one reason or another), it’s quite possibly the first / best pure party cd since Bizarre Ride II from 1992. This song in particular sends me over the top when I hear it, especially when Amanduh Blank launches into double-time at the end of her rap. It’s a perfect blend of old and new, at once strangely well-known (it sounds exactly like it should) and completely new (perhaps because its elements are so familiar, yet pushed together for the very first time?). Either way, Armani XXXchange’s typical tight production pulls it all together. I have missed three chances to see them, for good reasons each time, but I don’t want to miss out again. I absolutely love this album and everything I’ve heard from them since.

Song
Do The Pigeon
Artist
Pigeon John
Album
Pigeon John & The Summertime Pool Party
Label
Quannam Projects

Sterling Hughes and I (maybe Will Bell and / or Keith Brown–can’t say for sure, too many vodkabulls that night) saw Pigeon John open up for Lyrics Born back in October 2005. Sterling was (is) way more into the hiphop scene than me, so I had no idea what I was getting into, but I went along because I trusted him and genuinely liked the venue. LB blew my mind, but I was absolutely mesmerized by Pigeon John. He worked alone in front of a dj in the shadows, never losing his trademark fedora even as he bounced up and down on stage. His clever (and clean) rhymes, humble (and hysterical) lines took me way back to my most favorite hiphop of old: a freshness / uniqueness like early Tribe, a seriousness / rawness like Special Ed, an innocence / goofiness like Kwame, modesty / humility like the Pharcyde, and on and on…

This song became a bit of an anchor for me in my life over last summer. I mean, how can you go wrong with a chorus like this?

All these dudes telling lies for the fame and wealth
I’d rather kick back and just be myself
Enjoy the good times and enjoy the hell
“And there’s nothing in the world better than life itself”
Just come on do the Pigeon yeah yeah
Just come on do the Pigeon yeah yeah
I know it gets rough
But you gotta let the sunshine just a smidgen yeah yeah

It’s borderline over-produced in my opinion, but the song hops and makes me smile from ear-to-ear every time I hear it, like a bolt of sunshine, no matter the weather. And who can argue with rhyming pigeon and smidgen?? PJ is brilliant! One more thing, the next time you see me, ask me to do the pigeon for you. It’s rad, and I’m really good at it. There’s a small chance I’ll hurt myself in the process, but it’s totally worth it.

Song
Pudpots
Artist
Nightmares on Wax
Album
In A Space, Outta Sound
Label
Warp Records

Abby and I were lucky enough to see NoW perform as a full band in November 1999. I’m still not sure how I convinced her that we should go to London to see three nights of music at Warp’s 10th anniversary parties, but we did and had such an incredible time together. The first night was kinda lame if I recall, but NoW was an unannounced special guest, much to our delight. Abby and I were whacked from arriving early that morning, plus this was my first (and only) trip to Europe (sad to say that), so I was completely lost. We left briefly after Jimi Tenor (soooo lame) to get some fresh air and water, only to come back as NoW was picking up their instruments and starting their set. The crowd went absolutely wild when they released what was happening. I had never really heard them “live” like this (blunted hiphop played by a eight-piece full-on funk band, that’s what LB did for me that night, and then some). I was instantly hooked from that moment on…

NoW albums have this uncanny way of settling in my subconsciousness. I don’t often seek to play them, but they tend to bubble up at just the right moment. I didn’t have this album on my original list, but as went back through my purchases from 2006 this one easily pushed its way in. This particular song is maybe my third or fourth favorite on the album, but it’s so damn funky… the utterly sick fills, phat-ass bass-kick, snappy snares, and that exquisite breakdown at two minutes in. There’s so much room to move around within it, in fact, it’s the space in between the notes that make it (and me) pop. I absolutely love this song.

Song
Black Swan
Artist
Thom Yorke
Album
The Eraser
Label
XL recordings

I remember Darryl Levering and Kate Gresham raving about Radiohead way back in 2000, but I never really listened to them until Kevin hipped me to Amnesiac several years later. It didn’t take long before I devoured the rest of their cds, and was then searching for the rumored bootleg mp3s of Hail to the Thief before its official release. I downloaded them, even though Thom suggested the album was way better and well-worth the wait. Of course it was, and remains one of my favorite albums of that time, especially since Abby and I went with Kevin to see them live at Blossom that summer of 2003.

I’ll always remember how unbelievably hot it was that night. We were wringing wet from the heat and humidity, and even pouring bottles of water over our heads and down our backs did nothing at all to help. Kevin snagged excellent seats, just under the shelter (he’s always finding his way into amazing concerts, especially now with Kate by his side, and almost always finding some way to get upfront and center). The show was astonishing from start to finish, visually enthralling (they understand the theatrics of performance as well as if not better than anyone else), musically hypnotizing, just totally and completely mind-blowing.

That said, as much as I dig Radiohead, they’re barely in my top ten according to Last.fm. And I’ll be honest, I had very little interest in this album prior to its release, and even after Kevin gave us the mp3s in February, I still didn’t listen to it right away. Keith bugged me about enough that I finally sat down and listened to it. It’s quirky and downright weird at times, but songs like this one are so completely infectious that I can’t stop listening to them over and over again. There’s that innocence again, and a rawness that runs counter to the polish of Radiohead. This is a definite favorite of 2006.

Song
The Ray And Whistle
Artist
Posthuman
Album
The People’s Republic
Label
Seed Records

Yet another find on bleep.com, but with press like this (aforementioned caveat remains), how could I not buy it?

“Possessed of a sublime emotive beauty…Posthuman join the dots between early Mogwai and Autechre, then add something extra” – DJ
“Somewhere half way through Radiohead and Skam, you might find the crossroad that says Posthuman” – VITAL WEEKLY
“Few make albums like this anymore. 8.5 out of 10″ – BARCODE

This album is deceptively simple at first, but further listens pull me deeper and deeper into its trance (still!). Much like Boards of Canada, but nowhere near its league, these songs float so effortlessly and organically that I often lose track of my place, even when I’m actively listening. I absolutely love that sensation, and yes, you guessed it, this song.

Song
A Whistle And A Prayer (featuring Fog)
Artist
Coldcut
Album
Sound Mirrors
Label
Ninjatune

Like The Eraser, this one wasn’t in my original cut either. Initially, I liked a handful of songs, especially the second track with Roots Manuva (I almost, almost wore myself out on that one… what a phenomenal track!). But as I went back through and listened to everything all over again, I simply could not ignore this album. Much like NoW, I don’t often listen to it from beginning to end on purpose (there are some odd songs), but it’s stunning in its depth and breadth. The sheer variety of guest vocalists and their musical styles is astounding but easily made whole when matched with Colcut’s masterful production skills. Plus, their show at Mezzanine in May was one of my favorite shows of last year, even more a dj feel than most djs in SF. Simply amazing.

I was tempted to share the RM track, or maybe the first track with John Matthias that I love so much (I really should look for more of his stuff), but then I stumbled across this one and really, really listened to it for the first time (and also flash-backed to when they played it live). Aside from the lyrics and vocals (which are haunting yet strangely uplifting: “The big joke gave you a toy flute so you have to blow on it”), the music itself is thick at once yet shockingly sparse. I have no idea how they do that, not only without sacrificing the richness but quite possibly creating it and then some.

This song is exquisite. And the ending is perfect way to close this mix, leading you flawlessly back to the beginning with Ms. John Soda and another pass through my favorite albums of 2006.

As always, more soon.

3 Responses

  1. On Jan 1, 08, scott truitt is tankt | I made a list of my favorite songs and sounds of 2007 said:

    [...] all ten songs Just like last year, though admittedly much less ambitious, I want to mark the passing of another year of with my [...]

  2. On Dec 31, 09, 20 songs from my favorite 20 albums of the 2000s | tankt said:

    [...] I wrote about The Eraser in general and “Black Swans” in particular in 2007: It’s quirky and downright weird at times, but songs like this one are so completely [...]

  3. On Dec 31, 11, I made a mix of my favorite songs of 2011 | tankt said:

    [...] always make a mix of my favorite songs of the year, but I’ve only posted a few here (see 2006, 2007, and 20 songs from the 2000s). For one, these posts take an enormous amount of time to do, [...]