Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Chris's Favorite Songs of 2006, Part One

*Update: The Epochs Link Has Been Added*

So I've been M.I.A. for some time. I blame many things: holiday turkey, flights to and from Chicago, and marathons of Law & Order (seriously - can we make a rule that the USA network needs to stop with the eight hours of SVU? Please? For the sake of my productivity?)

But tonight (this morning?) marks my return! Yes, I am late on my "favorites" list, but I had hoped to share a few things that you may not have heard, and some that you probably have.

This past year, I listened to a lot of things that were from the Washington DC area - much more predominantly than I did things from around the country. However, this list is just a random smattering of things I really liked. Some of them I've mentioned before, and I'm going to build on this list as I have the time over the next week or two. So stay tuned - I'll post parts two, three, four....well, however many there end up being. They're alphabetical because I'm just going through my playlists and picking out favorites at random. Enjoy!

Angela Desveaux - Heartbeat

I wrote about this tune after seeing Angela play alongside locals Revival, and this stood out that show as the obvious single from her album Wandering Eyes. This isn't necessarily the most revolutionary or inventive song...its just really catchy, and has such a pitch-perfect melody. Natural and effortless - as any pop song should be. The country twinge is perfect for a winter evening.

The Bonapartes - Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

The Bonapartes are no longer; they were not terribly well known outside of our fair District of Columbia. This five piece was a DC band that did a few shows outside of the District, and split up earlier this year. However! They put out an EP in LATE 2005 (okay, I'm bending the rules) that really had some gems on it. While "Concentric" was the track that was hawked as the single, I think this one is a bit more catchy - albeit more straightforward. Mosey on over to their MySpace page to check out "Concentric" as well - but "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow" ultimately did more for me. They'll be missed.

Calexico - All Systems Red

This closing track from Calexico's Garden Ruin is just fantastic...I love the slow building crescendo, the subtly determined vocals at the helm of a cresting wave of instrumentation. When those drums fall in - if you don't get goosebumps, you're missing out. Just a wonderfully beautiful song from this seasoned band.

Cedars - Holiday for the City

Cedars put out a new EP this year titled Another Season, and it is such an amazing accomplishment for them that I can't help but include this song on my list - but I had a hard time choosing between "Holiday for the City" and "Lamb" (featuring Aloha vibraphone player TJ Lipple). As a triumph of songwriting and arrangement, this fantastic DC foursome has created an atmospheric sound that is distinctly American, yet echoes some of the best of sounds from across the pond. This is among the catchiest from the EP, and one of my favorite songs of the year. To hear the rest, head over to Amie Street.

Damone - Now is the Time

Guilty pleasure alert. Okay, its cheesy. But rocks. RAWKS. I stumbled across this band during South by Southwest last year - my friends in Exit Clov were playing on the same showcase (I have NO idea who put that bill together...). In any case, I loved this record. I played it over and over and over againagainagain. Honestly, the only reason I choose this song over the single, "Out Here All Night," is because of the way Noelle delivers the line "well then you can bet that I know who they are" at the end of the second verse. She sort of clips off the end of the phrase and makes it sound perfectly natural and yet injects it with this perfect "fuck you" attitude. Man, this rocks. RAWKS.

Deleted Scenes - Trying to Remember a Dream

So I reviewed Deleted Scenes for the last magazine that I wrote for, and I compared them to the Shins. I don't really like the Shins very much. But I do like this song quite a bit - its a quiet, catchy tune from this DC group - and shows a lot of promise for them. Its off their debut EP, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else they come up with as time goes on.

The Epochs - Mouths to Feed

Harmonies and more harmonies! And crazy rhythm changes! And pianos! And a fantastic arrangement! And weird percussion blips! WOO! And I'm sold. For more, check these guys out over at Amie Street.

Exit Clov - Violent Berries

Exit Clov are friends of mine, admittedly, but I greatly admire their songwriting and musicianship. Like Cedars, Exit Clov put out an EP this year that shows incredible growth - Respond Respond contains this beauty of a track that should make any indie rock playlist in the country. Simple, lush and quite wonderful, pay particular attention to the harmony breakdown in the bridge - the split vocal beginning when Susan and Emily sing "I play the game, and hope that the day won't fade away," is just stunning.

Faithless - Miss You Less, See You More

No Roots did not come out in 2006. It actually came out in 2004. But I don't care. I found this band this year, and wish I'd known about them for years. For dance music with a rock influence, I don't think there is anything better than Faithless. The album is a concept where every song is written in the same key (C), and thus flows together from track to track. Thus I had a little trouble isolating a personal favorite - but I think this one does quite nicely. DEFINITELY find this band if you haven't heard them before.

Forget Cassettes - Venison

Oh man...what would happen if you combined Sonic Youth with the Smashing Pumpkins, and invited Caithlin de Marrais of Rainer Maria to sing? Forget Cassettes would happen. And you'd have one of my new favorite bands. This opening track off of Salt is particularly demonstrative. Awesome.

Gnarls Barkley - The Last Time

Yes, "Crazy" is the single of the year. We all know it. Everybody and their mom has written about it. But actually...I might like this song just as much. The disco-neo-soul crafted here is just as catchy as the first single, and the "doo-doo" backing vocal is about perfect. As a closing to St. Elsewhere, it is a phenomenal cap to one of the best records of the year. If you haven't heard it yet, you should. Now.

Grand National - Talk Amongst Yourselves

I just love the way that this song is structured - the synth arpeggios that open the tune are fantastic, and I don't know that there is a better disco influenced rock epic from the past year. For some reason, I feel like strutting down 14th street like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever whenever I hear this one. Now if only I can find a white leisure suit...if any kind reader has one and wants to send it to me, email me...please.

That's it for part one. I'm sleepy. And posting these tunes takes awhile. I'll try and post more this week.

Oh! And if any of you make it out to the Soft Complex show this coming weekend, do say hello. We've got a number of them coming up in the next month - you can check our website for details. I'd be thrilled to meet anybody there and say hi.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Grand National track rocks - but check out the sample used by breakbeat Newport duo Hybrid on their album Morning Sci Fi.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007  
Blogger Chris said...

Yes...but do you know where I can get a white leisure suit?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words..Sad Note was on my 2006 list, go locals! :)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

by the way, that last comment was left by the Cedars camp...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007  

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