The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

December 29, 2006

Songs of the year 2006

Favourite songs this year. Not a top ten, just a top nine, sorry.

9. Tortoise & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: Daniel - This year's second-best cover version comes from Will Oldham and Tortoise, who give Elton John's "Daniel" a particularly successful treatment, removing all the easy listening pop feel and filling it up with a profound sadness that is enhanced by a rhythm track of repetitive sound loops that further enhance the feeling of loss - "I can see Daniel waving goodbye, God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes".
On: The Brave and the Bold

8. Jonathan Kane: I Looked at the Sun - This year's most interesting instrumental track is Jonathan Kane's 13-minute improvisation over a simple, steady blues beat that very cleverly variates several guitar riffs into overlapping loops. The result is both hypnotic and eminently listenable.
On: I Looked at the Sun

7. The Mountain Goats: Woke Up New - John Darnielle sings about what happens "on the morning when I woke up without you for the first time", and it rings so true that it's painful even if you haven't lived through it recently.
On: Get Lonely

6. Victory at Sea: To You and Me - I guess what I like so particularly about this band is the clever way in which the piano player fills in for the missing bass, and the sheer competence of their drummer, and of course the tortured vocals -- when Mona Elliott sings "we can still be friends", you're fully aware that it won't work out. Greatness.
On: All Your Things Are Gone

5. Iron & Wine: The Trapeze Swinger - Want to know if you are a good person? Simple: if you don't weep at some point during the seven minutes of this song, you don't qualify. Sam Beam gives a new meaning to the word "sentimental", but even though nothing much happens during this song (and there is a "clean" version omitting one occurrence of the "f" word), this is almost seven minutes of perfect beauty.
On: Live Session

4. Yo La Tengo: Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind" - An 11-minute extended guitar jam with some mostly undecipherable lyrics; certainly the most cathartic song this year, especially if listened to loud. Not that it would work any other way.
On: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

3. Califone: The Orchids - It's one of those songs you feel forced to play at the end of the day "when all the numbers swim together, and all the shadows settle, when doors forced open shut again". Originally by Psychic TV, Califone have recorded this year's most beautiful cover version.
On: Roots & Crowns

2. The Decemberists: The Crane Wife 3 - Colin Meloy's slightly abrasive voice sits on top of one of the most cleverly constructed songs in a long time. That bass guitar entering after the first few bars must be the most exciting thing that happened in rock music since the 1970s. "I will hang my head low"? Not at all.
On: The Crane Wife

1. Beth Orton: Shopping Trolley - A brief, simple song sung over a catchy riff and a fast-paced, almost thundering drum beat; this song has an immediate pop appeal and still remains interesting even after you've listened to it a hundred times, as I certainly have this year. "I think I'm gonna cry but I'm gonna laugh about it all in time." -- yep, exactly, that's what 2006 was like in a nutshell.
On: Comfort of Strangers

Posted by Horst on December 29, 2006 01:22 AM to reviews | Tell-a-friend
dieter said on January 8, 2007 09:39 AM:

Last comment was rather spooky. I, on the other hand, just want to wish you a happy new year. Merely judging from your song selection, you seem to have ended the last one on a rather sad note. Hope you will cheer up again, and best wishes for your father too.

Jann said on January 10, 2007 08:45 AM:

I find this version of "Daniel" to be particularly haunting, and "The Trapeze Swinger" to be every bit as beautiful as you describe. "Woke Up New" is growing on me also.

Some of these songs that iTunes has are not available at the American iTunes store, and the Austrian store won't accept credit cards that don't have Austrian billing addresses. I was able to buy these songs from Rhapsody. The only one I couldn't get at either place is "I Looked at the Sun"; I guess you do need to buy the album for that one.

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