Monday, January 15, 2007

Really? You want to know my best of 2006?

Happy New Year everyone!
I never really write, much less give much thought to my favourite whatevers at the end of any given year, but I want to make an effort to write in this blog more often, so here goes:

Awesome stuff of the '06
1. Going to Melbourne to see Death Cab w/ Meg!
2. Fighting the Shakes playing This Night Creeps last ever show w/ the Mint Chicks (plus more or less everything else involved with the band... it all went far far better than I had ever anticipated)

3. Finding out I'd been awarded POSTER OF THE WEEK (for a Fighting the Shakes poster no less) on while i was in melbourne
4. Finally getting screenprinting gear, and beginning work on an exhibition with Meg
5. Managing to more or less support myself financially for another year.

Crap shits of 2006
1. The insane financial instability that comes with freelance contracting.
2. Feeling like I was gonna collapse and die in Melbourne after a hard night on illicit substances and no sleep.

3. Being an insecure dick.
4. Ummm... I dunno, last year was pretty sweet and nothing too awful is coming to mind. Hurrah!

Albums of 2006:
Last year was a pretty odd one for albums. Tons of albums that I'd classify as "really good" came out, but not a lot of stuff that really wowed me and ended up going into constant circulation. I'm not even sure I can pick 5, but here goes:

1. The Mint Chicks - Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!
My opinion of the Mint Chicks has rollercoastered dramatically over the last couple of years. Initially stoked to hear a band playing the kind of music I wasn't expecting to hear from a NZ band with the Octagon Octagon Octagon EP, only to have them lose me with the F**K The Golden Youth album, and their somewhat arrogant standoffish attitude throughout this era (plus an unfortunate drunken run-in with Ruban Neilson after a gig at Indigo). I hadn't been looking forward to the new album much at all, outside vague curiosity. At least until I heard a crappy mp3 of You're Just as Confused as I Am. The punchy guitar riff, and poppy as hell vocal melody grabbed me and I had to hear more. I'd always preferred the more pop-driven side of the Mint Chicks as opposed to the spazzier artwank side of things, and this song hinted that perhaps they'd headed down the path I was hoping they would. In this day and age of every fucking album leaking weeks in advance, it was strange to have to wait for release day to actually hear an album. I went to Real Groovy the day it came out, picked it up and then cursed the fact that you can't just rub a CD against an ipod to transfer the songs.
On first listen the album seemed to be a non-stop sugar-rush (with some rather surprising almost nu-metal (in a good way... it's possible, they did it) riffs) for the first half and then peter out somewhat. Which isn't that far from the truth. The album definitely shifts gears 2/3 of the way through. But like all good albums, with time these songs became contenders. Kody's voice has always been really good and suited the music, but he's got some really good stuff going on here. Great memorable and infectiously catch melodies on a few tracks.
My band had the incredibly good fortune of playing with the Mint Chicks a few times this year, and it was really awesome to see and hear all these new songs played live. They've always been a strong live act, but things have really clicked into place. Highly recommend checking out their live show if you get the chance, and definitely check out this album. I could go on, but I'm hungry.

2. My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade
Believe me, I know okay! I've heard more than enough about how much they suck and emo's gay and blah blah blah. This is an incredibly solid rock record, with more than its fair share of overblown theatrics, but hell, it works for me. I started going off on a rant about how somewhere along the line no one noticed that all the cliches they're throwing around in the mainstream press as to what 'emo' is, is exactly the same as 95% of all goth cliches. IT'S THE SAME THING PEOPLE, just a few less ankhs and whiny, rather than mopey music.
Uh.. okay, so I guess that counts as a rant.. either way it annoys me and I don't see why anyone cares. Including me. Also, I'm not emo. Although in saying that it instantly means I am so I guess I am emo. Does that mean I'm not now?
Anyway, this album = good as.

3. Cursive - Happy Hollow
"WHERE THE FUCK IS THE CELLO?!?! Horns? what?! *sob*" Initial reactions can be misleading. The Ugly Organ is definitely one of my top records of all time (that list in a future post), and a big part of what made that album so incredible was the addition of the cello. Happy Hollow ousts the cello and replaces it with a horn section. I'm a big fan of bands with horn sections (notably Rocket from the Crypt), but it just didn't seem like the right fit for Cursive. The dark atmosphere that the cello brought to Organ was all but absent on Hollow and I wasn't a happy man. Then I started to absorb the lyrics, and low and behold, a happy man I became.

4. Shaky Hands - Cut Off Your Hands EP
It wasn't much more than a year and a half ago (maybe less) that I saw Shaky Hands play Room 101 at Bodega to next to no one. Since then they've signed to a reputable indie label, toured Australia a bunch, toured with Steriogram and Deja Voodoo (okay, so crappy bands, but still, that's a big tour), and then one upping that by ending 2006 on a tour with Shihad and the Datsuns. All up I think I saw them play 6 times in 2006. FTS had the good fortune of playing with them too, towards the end of the year. Anyway, this EP rules. I managed to acquire it through nefarious means (aka soulseek) months before it was eventually released, but it's remained a mainstay in my playlist (this is more or less my main criteria for anything that's made it into this here list). Infectious basslines and vocals, sharp drumwork and hooky songs make a very tasty package indeed. If I had any gripe at all, it'd be that closing track Sorry has some kinda iffy lyrics. That, and the damn thing is too short and I want more more more!

5. .............
I'm kind of at a loss now... so here's a list of stuff I liked this year, but can't quite justify going in a 'BEST OF 2006' list.

TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
Thursday - City by the Light Divided
Taking Back Sunday - Louder Now
the Matches - Decomposer

damn, even making this list is hard. There was definitely more than this, but I'm drawing a blank. Oh well.

I was gonna do a movies list, but I'm blanking out on that too. I'll have some dinner and maybe come back to it....
otherwise, that's all folks!

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