Tuesday, December 26, 2006

TWNR 2006 End of Year Review

Yes indeed, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – it’s time for The White Noise Revisited end of year lists. I know most blogs did these back in November but here at TWNR we like to wait for the dust to settle before we name names.

Below you’ll find the ten albums I liked the best this year, along with Dave’s Top 06 for 06 (did you see what he did there?) and Lighthouse chooses some songs he likes. There's also a brilliant ten track mixtape featuring a selection of tracks that received our love.

We shall return in 2007 with the usual mix of songs, waffle, piffle and the odd picture I nicked off the artist’s My Space page. I’ve got a good feeling about next year on the music front – maybe because I’ve already heard three exceptional albums that I am sure will be soundtracking most of the good things that will happen to us all next year. We is Swayze - Happy New Year to all of you and as always – thanks for reading...

Craig Charles Smoking Crack In A Taxi - 10 Tracks From 2006
Working for a Nuclear Free City - The Tape
Maps - Lost My Soul
Psapp - Needle & Thread
Sunset Rubdown - Stadiums and Shrines II
Emmy the Great - Absentee
Matinee Orchestra - Run For Cover (It's Going To Rain)
Beirut - Canals of Our City
AFX - Crying In Your Face
Clark - Herzog
bravecaptain - jerusalem (feat. akira the don)

1. Working for a Nuclear Free City - S/T
It’s hard choosing a favourite but the big boys made me, so at the top of my pile we have Working for a Nuclear Free City's self-titled debut, sounding a bit like all of my favourite bands stuck in a blender, with added techno and occasional moments of pastoral whimsy. Every time I listen to it another track leaps out at me. I reviewed it back in August and was having difficulty pinning them down. Since I stopped bothering, I have come to love this album. This Manchester four-piece are destined for great things, and claim top spot as I am clueless as to what they will do next, and that my friends, is fucking exciting. Released on Melodic.

2. Clark - Body Riddle
Easily the best electronic album of the year. When I reviewed it in September, I prayed its release would sound the death knell for bog standard indie guitar bollocks. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened, as the Fratellis have since emerged and Clark never made the cover of the NME with the remains of Luke Kooks' straw hat spilling from his bloodied gob. No bother, he did make a sensational album that put up him up there with the greats of the genre. Released on Warp Records.

3. Psapp - The Only Thing I Ever Wanted
I love cats. Psapp love cats. I love Psapp. They also make sweet pop music with percussion that sounds like someone in a kitchen grabbing whatever utensils they can find and banging them together. Absolutely brilliant. I don’t much care for the Arctic Monkeys, but if it means that Domino can afford to fund and release music from bands like Psapp then they’re alright in my book.

Beirut aka Zach Condon, hard at work in the studio

4. Beirut – The Gulag Orkestar
I never expected that one of my favourite albums of the year would be written on a ukulele by a 20-year-old from New Mexico with an obsession for Balkan brass music, but it was. I avoided writing about this album at the time as I didn’t feel the need to add to the mountain of words already flying round cyberspace. But I do love this album dearly and you should too. Released on Ba Da Bing Records, Beirut has since signed to 4AD.

5. King Biscuit Time - Black Gold
The legend returned, released an album, quit music for good but thankfully came back with a new moniker, Black Affair and an obsession with 80s funk and electro. A rollercoaster year for Mr Mason no doubt, but ‘Black Gold’ was a stunning debut for his King Biscuit Time alias. The voice is iconic, the music consistently innovative and in ‘Paperhead’ he did everything I could ever want from him in one song, combining the vocal refrain from ‘Baker Street’ with synth lines lifted from 1970s kung fu flicks and an uplifting chorus that sends the heart soaring skywards. Released on No Style Records via Poptones.

6. bravecaptain – Distractions
One of the best albums this year was given away for free without any ceremony by a songwriting genius, who has since broken up with himself. This was the final musical missive from Martin Carr’s wonderful bravecaptain project, and what a way to go. I interviewed him when I was writing for Spoilt Victorian Child and he spoke at length about the album here. In ‘Jerusalem’, his collaboration with the mighty Akira the Don, he concocted my track of the year. A mutant skank stomp with the Don’s blazing anti-War on Terror raps, it is the only politically charged indictment of our countries’ current predicament that gets you dancing on the tables. This should have been number 1 forever, and inside my head it probably will be. You can still download it for naff all from the bravecaptain website – off you go…

7. Matinee Orchestra - S/T
The Matinee Orchestra sound a bit like an extremely accomplished school band coming together for their end of year project. It has a bit of everything, including a rebellious sort in the corner with a 303 who obviously wants to make techno but is being forced into playing on this album in order to pass his Music GSCE. It’s a beguilingly lovely record and one that whenever I stick on, people enquire, “What is this?” - always the sign of a great record if you ask me. Released on Robin Saville from Isan’s Arable label.

AFX on the beach

8. AFX - Chosen Lords
I was one of the saddos who bought the limited edition binder and all 12 slabs of vinyl, but when it comes to all things Aphex I am a bit of a fanatic. Plus, if I ever fall short on my mortgage payments I can always flog it on eBay. Anyway, Rephlex kindly slapped 10 of the best tracks from the ‘Analord’ series onto a single CD so everyone could join in the acidic analogue madness. Many words were spoken concerning the merits of this series, but there should be less words and more wigging out to the mental acid served up by the master.

9. Northstation – Wagtail
This album from the Dublin-based artist Steven Fanagan definitely wins the award for best packaging. Read about that here. Musically it was also a crunchy, twinkly electronic gem, with a juicy dollop of clang and a portion of fizz on the side – just how I like it.

10. The Longcut - A Call & Response
Now I’ve reached the age of 33 I don’t really do angst anymore. But if I did, the debut album from the Longcut would be the record I would be sticking on at full volume after slamming my bedroom door, and berating with the walls at the unfairness of my life, while swinging my ungainly limbs from side to side. They have a singing drummer, pulsating low riding bass lines and jagged guitars, and have made the only album in the entire NME Top 20 of 2006 that I actually own. Go figure… Released on Deltasonic.

That's me done, see you next year! Joe.

Dave's Top 06 for 06

Maps in the studio in Iceland

1. Maps - 'Start Something/To The Sky'; 'Lost My Soul/Sparks In The Snow'; and 'Don’t Fear' (Last Space Recordings)
A trilogy of singles from Maps, all perfectly formed on 10" vinyl and all simply glorious.

2. The Electric Penguins - 'Goodbye From The Electric Penguins' LP (Psychonavigation Records)
Inspiring, uplifting, beautiful electronica from Irish three-piece.

3. Working For A Nuclear Free City, S/T LP (Melodic)
So many different sounds, so many influences, yet something completely alternative, new and explosive.

4. Freelance Hellraiser - 'Waiting For Clearance' LP – (Sony BMG)
Unexpected, understated and underrated. The former mash-up king delivered a wonderful slice of original blissful dance music for grown ups.

5. Arab Strap - 'Ten Years Of Tears' LP (Chemikal Underground)
A fitting farewell for one of my favourite bands of all time, proving that they were a bit more than a couple of Scottish mumblies.

6. Hot Chip - 'The Warning' LP (EMI)
The coolest geeks in the land up the ante and the funk on their second album, and threaten to break your legs over and over.


Lighthouse Presents 10 Songs From This Year

Emmy the Great

1. Emmy the Great - Absentee
2. Sunset Rubdown - Stadiums and Shrines II
3. Laura Groves - I am leaving
4. bravecaptain - I don't know any better
5. Euros Childs - Stella is a Pygmy 3
6. Clark - Herr Barr
7. Richard James - Headlong
8. Champion Kickboxer - Perforations
9. Sunn 0))) & Boris - The Sinking Belle (The Blue Sheep)
10. Joanna Newsom - Cosmia