Here they are, the twenty-one songs, carefully chosen, delicately arranged and lovingly burned to CD, that make up THIS IS OUR MUSIC: THE BEST OF 2006. Yes, only 20 were actually released in that titular year; I allowed myself a single cheat, reasoning that 20 is as pleasing a number as 21, and that said cheat was just a damn good song that I wanted to put on a CD. Maybe this is our music, but these are my rules. Direct all complaints to the webmaster.
Songs aren’t ranked, but are listed in order of their appearance on the TIOM CD:
The Rogers Sisters, “Why Won’t You”
I’m a sucker for a song that starts like this. I’m also a sucker for anthemic, declamatory choruses, and for shout-along lyrics like “I’m gone! I’m gone!” That makes this song 3 for 3.
The Futureheads, “Skip to the End”
Sounds like J. Geils wooing Joan Jett.
Voxtrot, “Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and Wives”
A nearly flawless indie-pop song.
Tapes ‘n Tapes, “Insistor”
A whispered breakdown, Spanish guitar, organ – what’s not to love?
Pernice Brothers, “PCH One”
This AM radio ode to the last-ditch road trip as a means of salvaging a faltering relationship is one of Joe Pernice’s best songs - it might even challenge “Crestfallen” for the title of most sing-along-able.
The Hold Steady, “Party Pit”
I had a hard time settling on one song from Boys & Girls in America. In the end, it might’ve been the “Gonna walk around and drink some more” refrain that helped me decide.
Ladyhawk, “The Dugout”
Dinosaur Jr. Jr.
Band of Horses, “Weed Party”
Sebadoh Jr.? Not the most representative song in terms of the overall sound of the album, but a great song, and it worked better in the context of the TIOM CD than “The Great Salt Lake.”
Silversun Pickups, “Kissing Families”
This is my cheat. The Pickups released the full length Carnavas in 2006, and it was good, but contained nothing that appealed to me as much as this song’s cello, harmonies, and well-placed scratched-larynx yelps. The fact that “Kissing Families” came out on 2005’s Pikul EP didn’t matter; I invoked the “new-to-me” clause.
The Big Sleep, “Murder”
Such a churning, chugging, droning and cacophonous noise, and yet danceable.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Cheated Hearts”
The reason this year’s compilation was nearly called I Think I’m Bigger Than the Sound (I also flirted with They Spit White Noise, from the title song on the Hold Steady record). I don’t know what I like best - Karen O’s Chrissie Hynde imitation, the garage-pop catchiness, or the squalls of noise that punctuate the song.
Califone, “The Orchids”
Seriously? A Television Personalities cover? It’s so pretty.
Cat Power, “Lived in Bars”
Chan Marshall did the interview circuit this year talking about how she’d cleaned herself up, so it seems that “Lived in Bars” is informed by genuine regret and costly experience. But the perversely wonderful thing about this song is the manner in which it takes the listener backward through time to arrive at the seedy latenight bar. We begin in the morning-after bedroom and eventually find ourselves rubbing elbows with the patrons the night before, just when the song gets loose, a little sloppy, and kind of goofy. And when the shoo-ba-doo’s kick in, the festivities are in full swing.
Neko Case, “That Teenage Feeling”
Case was meant to sing songs like this, about the undying appeal and ineffable sadness of nostalgia, because her voice evokes a nostalgia for an unnameable time and place, and does so with an ever-present tinge of sadness.
And speaking of nostalgia for an indefinite time and place…
Tom Waits, “Fish in the Jailhouse”
On first hearing, I was convinced this was an outtake from the Heartattack & Vine era. What do I know?
Man Man, “Black Mission Goggles”
Like Captain Beefheart doing afro-pop.
Scissor Sisters, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’”
I have a co-worker’s 12 year old daughter to thank for convincing me of this song’s considerable charms. I’d also like to insist that the only thing that kept me from turning it out on the dancefloor at the corporate Christmas party was the fact that the DJ (from “Quality Entertainment,” no less) didn’t have this song. Oh, what could’ve been…
Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy”
The single of the summer, the “Hey Ya” of 2006.
Masta Killa, “Iron God Chamber”
Remember when crew cuts didn’t suck? So do the Wu Tang survivors. Everything here is so simple that it’s really all about the wordplay. That verse - the one (by RZA? or is it U-God?) that goes “We go together like cheese and cheddar/like jeans and sweater/like mo’ and bettah…” – that kills me.
Ornette Coleman, “Turnaround”
I might’ve chosen any track from Sound Grammar, but I thought that maybe “Turnaround” was sweet enough to appeal to everyone.