Music, etc.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

2006 Top Ten: #10,9

With the year winding down, I have no choice to compile my own list of the year's top 10. Instead of listing them all at one time, I have decided to list two a day for the next 5 days.

This year has definatly produced some great albums. Newcomers have put out completly magical debuts and even veterans pushing 70-years-old have managed to add something new and refreshing into the mix. Overall, the music year produced enough music to feed even those looking for someting completly new.

10) Paul Simon- Surprise

Even at 65 years old, Paul Simon has the same power that he had 40 years ago when he and Art Garfunkel put out some of the most poignant folk-rock this country has ever seen. The first track off of "Surprise," How Could You Live in the Northeast, sets the standard for the record. If you're looking for the same acoustic strum and phoned-in lyrics that most veterans try to pass off these days as music, then Surprise is not for you. Each song manages to encompass a lot of the themes Simon has played with throughout his carrer: love, loss and the incredible question as to what makes a person; only this time he is telling it from a perspective of an old man, who has been battared even more by life since America Tune and who has spent years Slip Slinin' Away.

With songs like Wartime Prayers and Outrageous, Paul ventures into familiar territory, giving it his own spin. Brian Eno's production really shows; especially on Outrageous in which Paul raps about somethings in life that just don't seem too fair. But it's outrageous for a man like him to co mplain, a paradox that seems to be eating up this old-timer. On top of the excellent, reflective lyrics and Eno's personal technological input, Paul's voice is another shining moment of the album. It seems as though as much as he has changed as a person since he began writing music, his voice has remined the same, with little signs of ageing.

I got a chance to see the living legend in concert this past summer and I was glad to see that he played the majority of tracks from this record. Paul seemed to be just as emotinally attached to thses songs as he did with his back cataloge. If Simon never relases anoter album, I will be happy with Surprise as a good-bye.

9) The Hold Steady- Boys & Girls in America

This is the tough thing about making a top 10. When the album first came out, I thought it was very good, but I did not really feel like hearing it again for a while. A few weeks ago though, it really hit me. I've been listening to it more and more now and I fear that I am not doing it justice by ranking it the number 9 album of the year.

This album follows their release last year, Seperation Sunday (the album that made me fall in love with them), and it is a pretty different album. The boys and girls in this album have a blast just drinking, doing drugs and having a good, easy time. This is the album that Art Brut was going for when they released "Rock and Roll," the similarities are undeniable, but there is much more truth in "Boys and Girls." The characters in each story remind me of people I know: doing anything they can to get some sort of buzz, but still are unsatisfyed when the buzz finally arrives.

Instead of merely belting out his vocals to his descriptive stories, band-leader Craig Finn finds his own singing voice, but it is just as raw as if he were talking. Unlike most other bands these days, The Hold Steady are not afraid to rock out on one track and completly go the opposite way on the next track. But, through out the album is Finn's truthful tales of young American life.


Blogger Matthew said...

Thanks for posting The Hold Steady - really good. I shall investigate further!

6:45 AM  
Blogger Bernie said...

No problem...they're worth cecking out. Thanks for stopping by, I'm trying to put together a decent blog and no one is really stopping by, it's good to help people discover good bands.

5:32 PM  

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