Ray Troll's Top 5 CDs of 2006
By Ray Troll
January 06, 2007
Ketchikan, Alaska - Well I gotta say it truly is getting tougher
and tougher to put together a list of complete CDs in this age
of downloading and file swapping. I bought fewer CDs this year
overall so this list is not comprehensive in the least. It's
merely a reflection of the music I enjoyed and spent the most
1. The Decemberists: The Crane Wife
There's been much discussion in the press about this Portland
band moving to a major record label and whether or not it would
affect their sound and indie credibility. That's all a non-issue
for me. It's the music that matters, eh? The album holds together
as a suite of songs, three of which are about a marriage between
a man and a bird. Ah, you ve got to love the quirk. Yankee Bayonet
is written around a dialogue between a dead civil war soldier
and his sweetheart ( a duet with guest artist Laura Veirs ).
The funky alliteration and clever wordplay throughout is a load
o' fun. A few of the songs are over the top tragic tales with
a tongue firmly in cheek tone about them ("O Valencia!"
features a vengeful and murderous brother in law). But lest you
think it s all fun and games it gets dark and ominous with tunes
like When the War Came . Don't just download this one folks.
Get the CD with all the cool art and spend some time with the
I was blown away by a song called "Hoje Eu Quero Sair So"
( I Want To Go Out Alone Tonight) on David Byrne's Belize Tropical
2 collection of Brazilian pop music way back in 1999. It was
a standout cut with real presence to it performed by a musician
and producer named Lenine from Recife along the northern coast
of Brazil. Many years later this CD marks his U.S. debut drawing
from several of his earlier CDs. It's all in Portuguese folks,
so sit back and groove to the smooth sounds and wild mix of Brazilian
rock, pop, and electronica. The rhythmic soundscape is deep and
3. Lindsey Buckingham: Under the Skin
This is the first solo album from Lindsey in over a decade and
the 58-year-old sub-geezer's still got it in him. Frenetic guitar
riffs are layered throughout this meditative and sonically rich
album. There isn't quite the mega-hit in this batch of new material,
unlike the days when Lindsey effortlessly penned many a blockbuster
for Fleetwood Mac, but it's a beautiful collection of melodies
nonetheless. Maybe the lack of a "hit" is a good thing
because these tunes aren't trivial fluff. He's also tossed in
a couple of fine covers: the Stones' "I Am Waiting"
and Donovan's "To Try for the Sun". Lindsey's an underappreciated
visionary dreamer - a topic he takes on in the very first cut
of the CD, "Not Too Late". This CD is a guilty pleasure
for we aging boomers.
4. Regina Spektor: Begin To Hope
Born in Russia, raised in Brooklyn, trained as a classical pianist,
Regina has been making waves in music circles for years, but
only now has come to my attention here in the hinterlands of
Alaska. She's all over the board experimentally, spinning freely
between jazz tinged hummable pop songs like "Fidelity"
to devastating emotional broadsides like "Samson",
a tune that reminds me of Joni Mitchell's masterpiece of confessional
piano balladry "The Last Time I Saw Richard". "Samson"
uses a mélange of lyrical metaphors from the bible to
Samson went back to bed, Not
much hair left on his head
He ate a slice of wonder bread and went right back to bed
And history books forgot about us and the bible didn t mention
5. Bert Jansch: The Black Swan
Way back in the Pleistocene of rock'n roll in the late 60's there
was a Neo-medieval-tinged folk rock movement that thrived in
jolly old England with bands like Fairport Convention and Pentangle.
Bert Jansch was a Scottish guitarist and songwriter for the latter
and after laying low for the last decade or so he s released
a beautiful collection of songs. He's reworked a couple of the
classic Pentangle tunes with help from some of the younger folkies
( Beth Orton and Devendra Banhart) along with great batch of
Detroyer: Destroyer's Rubies
My daughter Corinna just turned me on to this and it's great.
Definitely growing on me.
Prince : 3121
The purple one is back with a vengeance with some of his best
work. Love is one damn fine dance song.
Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Beautiful new tunes by the golden voiced Northwesterner. She
s the new Patsy Cline.
Leonard Cohen : I m Your Man Soundtrack
Another tribute to the Keats of the song world. The Wainwright
family steals the show... but check out a guy named Antony's
killer version of "If It Be Your Will". It'll stop
you in your tracks. The concert's also available on DVD.
Not actually from 2006 but I discovered them this year and enjoyed
the hell out of em:
The Hidden Cameras: Mississagua Goddam
This Toronto band describes their sound as "gay folk church
music". One reviewer compared them to the Magnetic Fields
after an all night bender and I think that fits. I loved this
CD's catchy tunes.
Jim White: No Such Place
Southern style avant-garde music that ll get under your skin.
Jim White s a true master storyteller that creates soundscape
based songs that will transport you.
My 16-year-old son Patrick's list:
1. Phoenix - It's Never Been
*key track - Napoleon Says*
2. Hush Sound - Like Vines
*key track - Where we went wrong*
3. M. Ward - Post War
*key track - Eyes on the prize*
4. Early November - The Mother
*key track - Hair*
5. Cold War Kids - Robbers & Cowards
*key track - Saint John*
6. ...And you will know us by the trail of dead - so divided
*key track - Stand In Silence*
My Top 5 from 2005
1. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
2. Iron and Wine: Woman King
3. Matisyahu: Live at Stubb's
4. Andrew Bird: The Mysterious Production of Eggs
5. My Morning Jacket: Z
6. laura Veirs: Year of Meteors
7. Gorillaz: Demon days
8. Amadou and Mariam
My Top 5 2004
1. Iron and Wine / Our Endless
2. Broken Social Scene / You Forgot It In People
3. Haley Bonar / The Size of Planets
4. West Indian Girl
5. Drive By Truckers / The Dirty South
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