You can’t have a music related blog and not have an end of year chart, so for what its worth here are the tracks that make up my best of. I’ve been fiddling and repositioning the chart for weeks, but there comes a time when you just have to publish and be damned…or more precisely publish before its 2007! In this age of internet MP3 leaks, I did have a dilemma whether to include tracks that aren’t actually physically out yet, but in the end it seemed strange not to include music that I’ve practically had on a loop for months just because its official release date happens to fall in 2006.
1. LCD Soundsystem
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House (Soulwax Shibuya Mix)
Apparently this remix is considered sacrilege by LCD purists, but not by me…Its genius! Soulwax get out all their electronic toys, and pepper the six and a half minutes with cowbells, sirens and general bedlam. The highlight being the huge build and “never ever let them go” refrain till the point where Soulwax simply turn all their dials to max and dance floor mayhem ensues.
Useless fact: Shibuya is a shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo.
Download: Original Video / Soulwax Daft Mix MP3
1. Coldcut feat. Robert Owens
Walk A Mile
The standout track from the mighty Coldcut’s first album in 8 years, Walk A Mile gives me goose-bumps. Featuring THE “Voice of house music” Robert Owens on an epic, building, hands in the air, push-up-ya-lighters tune that recalls classics like Joe Smooths “Promised Land” and Sterling Voids “Alright”. This actually comes out as a single in June 2006, but I’ve played it twice as many times as any other track this year (and I’ve only had it a month or so). To be honest though I’m a bit of a Coldcut obsessive…. they could release a looped Funky Drummer sample with a kazoo solo over the top and I’d rave about it (oh hang on they already did that!)
Useless fact: Originally recorded by Joe South, but also covered by Otis Clay, Brian Ferry, Elvis, and unfortunately Crystel on Super Euro Beat! Vol 142 (No I hav’nt made up that number).
3. Antony & The Johnsons
For Today I Am A Boy
“One day I’ll grow up and be a beautiful woman/ One day I’ll grow up and be a beautiful girl”
2006 has been the year of Antony Hegarty, Mercury Award winner, and the man who has put acheingly beautiful songs about transgenderism on the nations ipods. I saw him in concert three times last year, and have become known as a bit of a A&J “pusher”, not that he needs the coverage anymore.
4. Roots Manuva
“Guns, Bitches, Hoes, Crack, Death and disease and a baseball bat”. No Rodney hasn’t gone Gansta, its just the far too catchy opening line of this “should have been a single” track from Mr Manuva MCs latest album. For a while after its release I would get the tune stuck in my head, and absentmindedly mumble “Guns, bitches, hoes,crack…” to myself to puzzled looks from work mates/passerbys.
5. Stevie Wonder
So What The Fuss (feat. Mario Winans & Q-Tip)
2005 marks the return to classic form of Stevie Wonder, or so say the magazines and press releases. In reality his long awaited album was mostly a bloated ballad fest, but “So What The Fuss” the first single stands up to any of Stevie’s back catalogue.
Hopefully he’ll tour the UK some time and I can fulfil a lifetimes ambition of seeing him live in 2006.
Bad Cartridge (Paza’s E-Pro remix)
Beck’s album version of E-Pro featured the guitar riff of the year if not the decade. However for this remix the Nintendo-loving sonic hooligans Paza just dumped it, replacing it with Gameboy bleeps and squeaks. It shouldn’t work, but its simply an 8bit feast.
7. Arctic Monkeys
Without a doubt the most hyped and most blogged about band in 2005, The Monkeys are a rare example of a band where you should believe the hype. The new album is packed with great tracks but for me the standout has to be Mardy Bum. Its a perfect pop song with spot on lyrics about the pit falls of stroppy girlfriends.
Useless fact: Definition of Mardy: sulky and whining. Moaning.
Live Video Not great quality though
Download: Arctic Monkeys demo & live MP3’s available at Mardy-Bum.com
8. The White Stripes
Just tub thumping drums from Meg and Piano from Jack, and not a guitar to be heard. The piano line is addictive, and Jack spits tongue twisting lyrics over the top to make one of the highlights from their “Get Behind Me Satan” LP.
Scandinavian Robyn released one of the pop albums of the year, which while popular online doesn’t seem to have translated into chart positions. Konichiwa bitches is a pop-hop gem which out Missy’s Missy Elliot, with stop start beats, great synths, and best of all hilariously braggadocio lyrics. Mid way through there are also tantalising hints of the Cures Lovecats.
10. Jim Noir
Insanely catchy and guaranteed to get people singing and/or dancing along. Jim Noir is a breath of fresh air with floaty beach boys vocals, flutes, and other silliness. Buy the album for a dozen 3 minute doses of musical happy pills….”if you don’t give me my football back i’m going to get my dad on you”.
Credited only to Various Production..its all throbbing low-end padding so fans of sub bass will lap this up, but coupled with an alien female vocal, somehow merging a folk slant with something beautifully futuristic.
12. The Crimea
Lottery Winners On Acid
“If she get a black eye I want a black eye, if she get a splinter I want a splinter too.” so starts the best love song of the year, although not quite up with Divine Comedys “If you were a horse, I’d clean the crap out your stable”. A laid-back song that meanders along at its own pace and perhaps that’s why it begins to bury itself in your head after a while, and the xylophone backing is lovely too. Officially released this month…go buy it.
Download: Lottery Winners on Acid
Hit That Tavil
Tavil is the South Indian version of the North’s Tabla. This track is off a 65Rs (1 euro) bargain bin CD, so it may not of come out this year but what a tune!! Bonkers drums, sitar riffs, cackling laughter and screamed vocals make this essential stuff, and a tune I always seem to rewind to the top for more every time it appears on shuffle.
Download: Available from the crucial blog here.
14. Ward 21
Fantastic ragga from Ward 21. Based on the Grimey rhythm, the lyrics crack me up with a request to the girl to text him…but shhhhh dont talk or your man might hear it. Gets me moving like a granddad doing the bogle dance.
Louder Than A Bomb
Camp Canadian covers PE! His deadpan vocal may strip away all the original intensity and anger, but he creates an addictive stripped down house tune in the process. Its catchy as hell, and bodes well for the Tiga LP.
16. The Doves
Black and White Town
The Doves have a tendency to be a little dirgy and overwrought at times…why have 6 layers of sounds when you can pile sound on top of sound to create beautiful harmonics or a stodgy soup of a sound depending on your preference. For Black & White Town however they seem to have stolen a forgotten late 80’s chicago house keyboard riff which they harness to a driving urgent beat to create the perfect driving tune. Actually I wouldn’t drive listening to this I might run people down.
“If I tell you this has a little bit of surf, Spanish flamenco, punk and western you must shut up and believe! No one has ever describe them yet because the chosen one is not still on earth. GINFERNO are great and this release is awesome!” So says the press release, and I cant argue with that. Came out on limited edition (500) hand-screened 10″ courtesy of the Spanish “Gssh! Gssh!” label.
Download: Kat-Chas by Ginferno
18. New Orleans 2005 feat. Kanye West & Mike Myers
Heard ‘Em Say
Kanye Wests unscripted rant on the TV telethon for Hurricane Katrina was one of the TV moments of 2005. This track is a remix of the “Heard ‘Em Say” album track mixed up with the Mike Myers & Kanye speech. It could only be better if there was a video with it so you could see Mike Myers rabbit in the headlights terror as Kanye goes off on one culminating in the famous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people!”
19. Gnarls Barkley
Gnarls Barkley is made up of DJ/producer, Danger Mouse, and the “Soul Machine” himself, Cee-Lo Green. If this isn’t one of the most interesting and enjoyable albums of 2006, I’ll be equally surprised and disappointed.
Download from the Swedish blog Mojito: Download here
20. The Rumble Strips
I got a bit carried away reviewing this after seeing the Rumble Strips live (review):
Upcoming single “Motorcycle” is a slice of pure pop genius. Its one of those rarest of songs…a uniter! Everyone will like it. Your granny will dance to it at your cousins wedding, slaughtered rugby lads will holler along while pouring beer over their heads, and squadies in Iraq will film their own hilarious video to it (a la Amarillo) featuring an Iraqi pow recreating the high note in the middle as they attach diodes to his vernaculars! Its instantly recognisable…..the lovely horn soaked opening…and also evocative of many acts before (Dexy’s Midnight Runners & The Beautiful South being the most obvious).… to sum it up Transgressive have a potential monster on their hands, and it would be a crime if they insist on releasing it as a limited edition run of 1000 seven inches.
This stuff needs to available in Woolies!
Watch the video HERE, its like a low budget of U2’s “Sweetest Thing”…only better.
21. Crazy P
Former Paper recordings act Crazy Penis seem to have had the snip to become Crazy P, but they returned with a new LP on the “wow we’re cool we love marijuana” themed Shiva Records (yawn). The first single “Lady T” is a bit more pop soul than they used to be, but its armed with a deliciously squelchy 808 bassline, and soul vocals that make it sound like a 21st Century Chic.
Push The Button
“My sexy ass has got him in the new dimension, I’m ready to do something to relieve this mission”
The Sugababes may have lost Mutya, but she bowed out with an absolute pop stormer. I was hooked on this track from the moment I heard it, and it wasn’t all due to the hot pants in the video (no honest!)
23. Missy Elliot
Lose Control (feat. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop)
I was disappointed with Missy’s last album which was missing the madly inventive touch of Timbaland. “Lose Control” however was classic Missy, containing samples from Cybotron’s “Clear” and Hot Streak’s “Body Work. Jacques Lu Cont also turned “Lose Control” into an electrohouse monster on his remix.
24. Anthony Hamilton
Where Did It Go Wrong?
An absolutely gorgeous R&B tune from Anthony Hamilton’s new album. The close harmonies on the chorus stick in the head with the music recalling the great Curtis Mayfield..which is praise indeed.
25. Bloc Party
So Here We Are
It starts with a great melancholic guitar riff, that runs through the whole song, while the drums shuffle and skip and Kele’s vocals at first breathy and faltering grow stronger and more impassioned through the song as it builds. Great stuff, even if they were a bit underwhelming live.
26. Twin Freaks
Maybe I’m Amazed
The Freelance Hellraiser and Paul McCartney got together to remix and rework his back catalogue to great effect. It was pretty much ignored on release but with songs this good you cant help but enjoy it. Maybe I’m Amazed is subtly remixed, extending the song, building it up with the keyboard riff, and Pauls looped yells. Also worth checking out for reworking of Live and let die, Comin Up, Oh Women Oh Why, but skip the version of Temporary Secretary which manages the feat of sounding more dated than the original (by which I mean the original could have been recorded last week).
27. Jegsy Dodd and the Original Sinners
Grumpy Old Men
This was voted No.1 in the first ever Radio 1 Festive 50 without the sadly departed John Peel. Its essentially the Baz Lurhmann “Sunscreen” reworked by a scouser, but it just works. Mosquitoes, wasps, green peppers and the Sun Newspaper you can all Fuck right off! Although ignore his advice about the TV License 😉
28. Bromheads Jacket
A very English tale of everyday life, highs and lows, girlfriends, mobile phones and car washes. Following on from the Arctic Monkeys another great Sheffield band! Reminds me of Billy Bragg for some reason even though they clearly sound nothing like him. Well worth checking out live too (review)
Down To My Grave (Audio Suspects Remix)
Ironweed is Aniff Akinola, formerly one half of the massively underrated Manchester band Chapter And The Verse (amongst other things!). “Down To My Grave” is a slab of soulful, stoned blues delivered with an awesome deep 1930s dustbowl style vocal.
30. Konono No. 1
KONONO N°1 was founded over 25 years ago by Mingiedi, a virtuoso of the likembé (a traditional instrument sometimes called “sanza” or “thumb piano”, consisting of metal rods attached to a resonator).
Concocted in the suburbs of Kinshasa, Congo, its a mixture of world music, electronica and avant-rock that certainly doesn’t sound like what most people consider “World Music”. Think Lee Perry jamming with the Aphex Twin.
31. Amadou & Mariam
Senegal Fast Food
Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia met each other in the 1970s in Bamako, Mali at the Institute for Blind Youth. They fell in love, got married and embarked on both starting a family and building a music career. Senegal Fast Food is my favourite track off their latest and western breakthrough LP.
Useless fact: Don’t eat Senegal fast food…9 % of the chickens sold have unacceptably high levels of contaminants.
32. Mystery Jets
You Can’t Fool Me Dennis (Justice remix)
Took a while to grow on me this one but its now well and truly implanted in my brain. Superb remix by Justice (but are any of his remixes not!?) Voted tune of the year in this poll (which is well worth a read).
When The Levee Breaks
I know..Just what you wanted..A Siberian throat singer doing a folk cover of Led Zeppelin! Trust me its better than it sounds. Simmering the song to its bones, and rebuilt as a Siberian folk masterpiece, the lead “singers” unnervingly deep growl spinning a magical, mesmeric tale over absolutely beautiful instrumentation. I find it the album of covers a bit much though.
34. Franz Ferdinand
Do You Want To [Erol Alkan’s Glam Racket]
A storming electroclash rework of the already fantastic Franz tune. At almost 8 minutes long it takes a good four minutes to build up using the looped guitar riff, and pounding 808! Wonderful stuff. The Justice remix of Fallen is also worth checking too.
35. Nina Gordon
Straight Outta Compton
What can I say… I’m 34, White, achingly middle class, so I love ironic folk cover versions of 80’s gangsta rap tracks. It is actually genuinely a beautiful tune, albeit with less than sweet lyrics about slapping the ho.
Download: Straight Outta Compton MP3
36. The Fall
I finally got around to seeing The Fall live last year after 15 years of somehow not managing to see them, and it was everything I’d expect. Smith kept the crowd waiting for an hour, played a not bad 30 minutes before suddenly wandering off stage mid song never to return. Luckily the album is up to their usual standard and “Blindness” is all about the killer guitar riff…a monster! Check out their version of “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” which outdoes the original by The Move.
37. Theo Parrish
Falling Up (Carl Craig Remix)
Carl Craig’s absolutely killer, stripped remix of Theo’s classic “Falling Up”! Its actually more than a remix, this is a full-blown Carl Craig track.
As Headphonesex put it: ” There’s something indescribable about how these Detroit boys can just hold down one chord for minutes at a time while at the same time managing to fill it with so much emotion. On headphones this pins your brain back and pulls it out through your ears”
38. Rachel Stevens
Ohh Bollocks…this came out in 2004…well I can’t be bothered to reorder the whole chart now! Its Richard X really with Rachel the voice for hire, and pop in 2004 didn’t get any better. The same applies to Rachels “I Said Never Again (But here We Are)..which I think came out in 2005?
39. Daft Punk
Human After All
A return to form for the Parisian duo. Unquestionably one of the highlights of their last album, “Human After All” is a vocoder-led song – you can’t help singing to – that stylishly kicks pop music into the future. The remixes by Justice and The Emperor Machine’s Krautrock injected epic remake are both good.
My Friend Dario (Dima Prefers Newbeat mix)
A technoid club barnstormer with a synthetic female monologue about my friend ‘Dario’ who likes drinking and driving too fast. If the Telebubbies invaded the stage at a Kraftwerk gig and took over the laptops this is what it would sound like.
I Turn My Camera On
Come on tell the truth..this is the Scissor Sisters recorded under a different name isn’t it? Sounds like it to me, but if you like the sounds of Jake Spears and co you’ll love this. It’s built around a spiky new wave riff that brings to mind Gang Of Four, but it has a pop sensibility that should by rights see it in the Top 10. It was however largely ignored by the record buying public.
Download: MP3 available from this site / Stream the Video HERE
42. Saul Williams
List of Demands (Reparations)
This track is either A: Absolute genius…a monster of a beat thats guaranteed to have you pogoing around the room while Saul eloquently damns the people who are fucking up this planet… or B: Like being trapped in a lift with a Socialist Worker seller with tourets who goes right up to your ear and shouts a list of wrongs at you for 5 minutes. I vote for A mostly, and his track with Coldcut “Mr Nichols” is breathtakingly good.
Stream the video here for an example of why Saul rubs people up the wrong way. As Lindsey blogged earlier in the year: “At the climax of the song, the music pauses and Mr. Williams looks at the camera very seriously and dramatically and says: “God is just a baby. And the diaper is wet.” It’s gotten to the point where I fast forward through the show to get to that line. It makes me laugh so hard.”
43. R. Kelly
Trapped In The Closet
Pitchfork summed up the madness/genius of this up:
“After “Trapped in the Closet”, making fun of R. Kelly just isn’t fun anymore. Because no matter what punchlines are zinged at him, Kells has proven that he will always, always hit back with something more hilarious, more insane, and more outrageous than could ever be cooked up in the mind of a mere mortal. We can only bask, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, in the glow of the man’s cracked genius, and rejoice in the fact that R. Kelly has nothing but time and money on his hands.”
44. The Chalets
“I know you love me but you’re fuck’n crazy”
A fantastic hook line from this 5 piece Irish girl-boy band. Great guitar riff too, all in all catchier than avian flu.
Download: MP3 / live video version here
49 Percent (Ewan Pearson Glass Half Full Remix)
Ewan Pearson turns a average album track with a detached vocal into a tech-house classic. I didn’t like it at first but it now seems almost perfect…upbeat, but with a melancholy feel. Lovely.
1 Thing (Remix)
Producer Rich Harrison seemingly has just 1 trick in his bag, but when on this and Beyonces’ very similar “Crazy In Love” its this good who cares. You’ll have heard this at your office christmas party, the local corner shop, in trendy clubs, at the gym, and blaring out of cars all summer..so you dont need me to tell you how good it is!
47. Sufjan Stevens
“Illinoise” No.2 in Sufjans madcap plan to record an album in tribute to every US state is top of almost all the blog end of year list and not without good reason. Its crammed full of amazing tracks, but picking one standout is tough when at least half a dozen standout. I plumped for “Chicago” in the end due to its majestic strings, brass and harmonies, and the haunting “I’ve made lot of mistakes” refrain. Buy the album.
If theres any justice Manchester’s Stickboy will finally make it big this year (although to be fair releasing some more widely available tracks would help). The most obvious comparison is with Badly Drawn Boy but on “The Shiver” Stickboy is joined on vocals by drummer Carolyn for a much more folky feel. Musicdash described it best: “the acoustic guitars and strings are arranged in an atmospheric descent, that sees both singers play into a folk face off that’s crammed with distant effects and the feel of a bohemian, cinematic, Mediterranean epic.”
49. The Earlies
I Must Have Been Blind
Taken from the Tim and Jeff Buckley tribute record, “I Must Have Been Blind” is an astonishing transformation into some kind of late night torch song. Its laid on thick with wall of sound vocals but the overall effect is mesmerising. Now can we have some more on the new Micah P. Hinson album please!
50. Richie Spice
Youths Are So Cold
Needledrops: “This Richie Spice track over the Truth and Rights riddim reached the Billboard charts with its indelible hook: “In the streets it’s getting hot/ And the youths them-a get so co-whoa-wold …” Even better is the falsetto wail that ends each verse on an almost ghostly note”.
51. Girls Aloud
Fluxblog: “Every great Girls Aloud single is overflowing with energy to the point of seeming entirely restless and fidgety, as though the girls are hopped on megadoses of caffeine and are overeager to get to the next hook or wtf?-inducing lyric. (“We’re gift-wrapped kitty cats” from “Love Machine” is the all-time best, but this song’s cappuccino tangent is a pretty solid nonsequitor.) In their own way, they are like the Ramones of UK girl pop groups”.
Kel’s Vintage Thought
Kel’s Vintage Thought’ is a fizzing, euphoric electronic juggernaut, recorded in Birmingham, Taunton and Dayton, Ohio – where The Pixies/Breaders Kim and Kelley Deal added the finishing touches.
53. Busta Rhymes
Touch It (Dirty)
Busta may be 52 and have shaved off all his dreads but he’s still rambling on about ladies “Touching it, stroking it, feeling it”. The incurable old romantic says “she wants him to put his dick in her mouth”… really “Bus” this kind of behaviour is going to get you thrown out of the sheltered housing! Luckily the beats, and the tune are top notch, and Busta still sounds the business. Whats that Busta..”You be beating the coochi and beating it well!” honestly you’ll put your hip out.
54. Kate Bush
55. Three 6 Mafia
Stay Fly (feat. Young Buck, 8Ball & MJG)
56. The Russian Futurists
57. Jose Gonzalez
Hand On Your Heart
58. The Game
Hate It Or Love It (Feat. 50 Cent)
59. Sebastien Tellier
La Ritournelle (Original Version)
60. Architecture In Helsinki
Do The Whirlwind
Zen (feat. Ab-Liva & Sandman)
62. New Order
Pull Up the People
Tits & Ass: The Great Canadian Weekend
65. Juelz Santana
66. No Bra
Munchausen (The Most mix)
67. Jamie Lidell
A Little Bit More
68. A.C. Newman
Homemade Bombs In The Afternoon
69. Cut Copy
70. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
All Over Again
71. The Mitchell Brothers
72. Milk Kan
Bling Bling Baby
73. Tom Vek
C-C (You Set the Fire in Me)
Download: Visit here to download
74. Gruff Rhys
Gwn Mi Wn
All About Us (Stephane K extended mix)
76. Four Tet
Smile Around The Face
When she smiles she lights the sky (4 Hero Remix)
A Bit Patchy
79. The Juan Maclean
Give Me Every Little Thing
81. The Futureheads
Hounds Of Love
82. Jneiro Jarel
Get Yuh Own
83. Gang of Four
To Hell with Poverty 2005
84. Plan B
Sick 2 Def (acoustic)
Take Your Own Medicine, a MP3 blog well worth a visit or three summed it up:
“From the first 22 seconds the acoustic guitars reveal little until superbly told lyrics spin you into a tale introducing you the grimeyer side of West London and the UK and the experiences we see everyday but choose to ignore. It’s superb and one of the best rap tracks I’ve ever heard. The parts of life you can’t ignore. Its got reasoning. It’s got real class.”
Download: Sick 2 Def WMA
85. The Chemical Brothers
87. Bobby Valentino
Tell Me (Remix) (feat. Lil Wayne)
88. Boom Bip
Do’s and Don’ts (feat. Gruff Rhys)
Slide In (DFA Remix)
90. Ambulance Ltd
Primitive (The Way I Treat You)he charts these days …?
93. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Is This Love?