Matt Nerney   PoOPlist 2006



Cultural Learnings of Music Geek for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of America

Hey! Now 2006, what a year … The world is still going to hell in a handbasket, but Americans finally woke up from their collective coma to try and straighten out our own freakish mess of a government. It may actually be too late for any kind of real salvation but, as always, I’ll try to find some salve in the mysterious, narcotic delirium of music. It also helps when you have a good-natured and forgiving wife and a little pip of a son running around to brighten the day. Anyway, some things will never change. As Borat proves, Americans can still make themselves look like the biggest jackasses in the world (with little or no coaxing) and I can barely get the POOP in before deadline (with just a little bit of coaxing). I do TRY Mark, really. Well, I suppose there’s something to be said for being reliably late. My taste in music seem to be pretty reliable as well, with a few old workhorses still trotting out new albums that I won’t give up on.

Oh-bla-di, Oh-bla-da, life goes on …

Tops of the Pops

  1. the Futureheads ~ News and Tributes
Simply, the album I listened to most this year. Less crazy manic than their insane debut, but a little bit more grown up. So, a fair trade overall. Still frantic, still catchy as hell, still very Northern. Really surprised that I didn’t see this on any year-end lists.

2. Los Lobos ~ the Town and the City
Just one of those bands who can really do no wrong in my book. Another great album, a little mellower, a little moodier than their last few, to good effect. Similar (in a way) to their watershed album Kiko. This is my soul music.

  3. TV on the Radio ~ Return to Cookie Mountain
A really interesting mix of sounds fronted by a really interesting mix of voices. Grimy, dense, and claustrophobic one minute, uplifting and angelic the next. Similar in spirit, I think, to Radiohead at their adventurous best.

4. Yo La Tengo ~ I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
I have to admit I had pretty much given up on YLT a few albums ago. However, this album immediately grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I think this ranks among their best, with simple, clean production, diverse sounds and songs, and an endearing innocence to the vocals. Very nice.

  5. Field Music ~ Field Music
Just another band from Sunderland. Like sensitive little brothers to the Futureheads, who play intellectual chamber pop, instead of hormonal power pop. The Kinks to the Who, as it were.

6. the M’s ~ Future Women
A very retro, very anglo “classic rock” indie album by a bunch of guys from Chicago. Catchy as all get out, but not too obvious. There is a sneaking subtlety to the just off-kilter arrangements that keeps you coming back for more. For fans of T. Rex, Bowie, & 70’s Kinks.

7. the Figgs ~ Follow Jean Through the Sea
Another band that I just love, no matter what. The exact opposite of Palais (their 2004 effort) which was a sprawling, messy 2 disc set, Follow Jean Through The Sea is a short, sweet burst of intense, perfect power pop. Just like the good old days.

8. the Flaming Lips ~ at War with the Mystics A bit of a looper, this one. A few really great tracks, a few major embarrassments, but a nice middle ground of mellow, Floydian space-rock in between. I guess maybe I’ve just come to expect too much of Wayne and the boys. Still, it ranks.

9. Sparklehorse ~ Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
I like it when a title sums up the complete psychological state of an album (and the writer). Mark Linkous is an odd fellow, but does make some sublime music every now and then (like every five years or so). Fans won’t be disappointed.

10. Midlake ~ the Trials of Van Occupanther
An interesting throwback of an album. The sound is 70’s California rock (with a very subtle psychedelic undercurrent) but the lyrics are the real twist. Reading like diary entries from some early colonist or frontiersman, they harken back to a simpler, less technological time. Imagine Desperado-era Eagles playing to M. Night Shymalan’s the Village. Odd but intriguing.

11. Sufjan Stevens ~ the Avalanche
I suppose you either love him or you hate him. A few glimpses of real brilliance on this album, but also a number of moments when the erase button should have been employed. You have to give this guy credit for his work-rate, no matter what you think of him.

12. M. Ward ~ Post-War
I haven’t really been a fan in the past, but I think the slightly more elaborate arrangements on Post-War did the trick. Sounds like he’s been listening to a few Roy Orbison records as well. Let’s hope the trend continues.

13. Vetiver ~ To Find Me Gone
Still folky, still mellow, but a bit livelier than last time out. Very San Francisco sounding. Actually reminds me of Jerry Garcia in a number of places. Pleasantly pleasant.

14. Thom Yorke ~ the Eraser
The nascent dreams of Thom Yorke realized in sound. Minor mood masterpieces but really only for the dedicated Radiohead fan. The voice though, still amazes.

15. Dirty Pretty Things ~ Waterloo to Anywhere
Born of the ashes of the Libertines (whom I could never really get into), DPT kick some dirt up, all right. Punky, petty, and pretentious, but still fun, and a fine return to punk’s messy heyday.


Other Notable News (and Olds)
Richard Thompson ~ Life and Music of RT: I haven’t actually got this yet, but come on …
Pretenders ~ I & II: classics, ‘nuff said
Deftones ~ Saturday Night Wrist: comparable to last time ‘round
Trail of Dead ~ So Divided: a couple of amazing tunes, some duds
Decemberists ~ the Crane Wife: still some beauty but the thrill is gone …
Bonnie “Prince” Billy ~ the Letting Go: too depressing but beautiful
Grizzly Bear ~ Yellow House: lo-fi baroque folk
Beirut ~ Gulag Orkestar: got the Balkan walkin’ blues

A Hawk and A Hacksaw ~ the Way the Wind Blows: Beirut buddies
Onieda ~ Happy New Year: keep on droning …
Little Ones ~ Sing Song EP: retro 1980’s power pop
Secret Machines ~ Ten Silver Drops: not as intense as the debut
Belle & Sebastian ~ the Life Pursuit: a little too slick on this one
Flogging Molly ~ Whiskey on a Sunday: acoustic and live retrospective
Akron/Family ~ Meek Warrior: sounds good but the lyrics! Uhm …
Michael Armstrong ~ Radiohead Lullabyes: sublime toy sounds
Dan Zanes ~ Catch That Train!: great for kids (and adults)
Various Artists ~ Rogue’s Gallery: truth in advertising
Tool ~ 10,000 Days: good for a certain time of …

Arctic Monkeys ~ Whatever People Say I Am: not sure what all the fuss is about

Well, as always, there is a lot that I didn’t quite get around to or don’t even know about yet … so here’s to you, POOPsters, for lighting the way through the darkness of the music industry wasteland. You deserve a toast! Hey, Mark, maybe we should start our own awards banquet, like the SAG awards, or something …

M. Nerney mattalie1 AT aol DOT com