Tuesday, December 5, 2006

News:: Best-of-2006

It’s been a pretty crazy year for the herohill team. Shane moved to Halifax and had a kid. I got married. What’s this have to do with music? Nothing, but considering we started this blog over four years ago to make fun of people and help our friends keep in touch, it seems important to do at least mention something about us.

As we started focusing more on the music side of things, our mission was clear. Tell as many people as possible that Canada produced way better music than Celine, Bryan Adams, and those ass-punchers, Nickleback. We’d like to think we’ve done that and this year we jumped up from Div III to maybe an arena ball player with some potential. We got to talk to some fantastic artists (MC Rell, William Whitmore, Jeremy Chatelain, Silversun Pickups and a boatload more) and are pretty stoked about that.

We also started a section called Word on the Beat. To me, this is personally the biggest thing that happened on herohill, since we are getting artists we are into writing about music that affects their own music. So a personal thanks to all the artists who got involved:
  • Beat Radio
  • Kyle Andrews
  • Evan Duby
  • Will Stratton
  • Ian Love
  • Hezekiah Jones
We have lots of artists already working on new songs for us, so hopefully it will continue to grow. But enough jibber jabber. Here are my Top 20 albums of the Year. Shane’s just waiting on the late breaking Rob Base box set to drop before posting his… I think.

20. Memphis:: Little Place in the Wilderness
“It’s the type of music you play after you head home for the evening. As it plays softly through your headphones, these songs are the tiny window between consciousness and sleep. Of course any Stars fan will be all over this record, but it’s more than that.”
MP3:: In the Cinema Alone
Lyric:: “Do you keep in touch with the one that killed you, the one that made start to you dream your life away.”

19. Shearwater:: Palo Alto
“The songs are a compelling mix of layers, textures, styles and influences. From the pulsating backbeat of Red Sea Black Sea to the brooding finger-picked folk sounds of Palo Santo, the band constructs some of the nicest arrangements and sounds I've heard all year.”
MP3:: Seventy-four Seventy-five

18. Eric Bachmann:: To the Races
“This is a reoccurring theme. Most of the songs are introspective, but in no way do they alienate the listeners. Eric invites us all to share in his self-exploration”
MP3:: Carrboro Women
Lyric:: "No reason to run from all your losing."

17. Ladyhawk:: Ladyhawk
“Already drawing praise, the album channels J Mascis and Neil Young, but doesn’t get stuck in one style. Ranging from up-tempo rockers to slow power ballads (like the fantastic Sad Eyes/Blue Eyes), the band shows diversity and unlimited promise.”
MP3:: The Dugout
Lyric:: “Could have been a champion. Could have shown them all a thing or two.”

16. Beach House:: Beach House
"Perhaps the most endearing thing about this record is that it sounds like a band you could start. That’s not to say the music isn’t great, but from the opening beat they programmed on the drum machine, no sound that Victoria Legrand or Alex Scully produce is overly complex. Much like the Velvet Underground, it’s not the sounds they use, it’s the way they put those sounds together."
MP3:: Master of None
Lyric:: “You always give me what you don’t want to hold, Ask the questions that you don’t know at all.”

15. Centro-matic:: Fort Recovery
“Instead of grandiose vernacular, Johnson uses simple but elegant descriptions to set his themes and moods and this album mixes his vocals with crazy horse guitars, subtle instrumentation, and intricate layers to slowly lodge itself into your day to day listening schedule”
MP3:: Triggers and Trash Heaps
Lyric:: "It’s a much needed start, for a parasite heart. With a quick isolation, no chance to inspire."

14. Mountain Goats:: Get Lonely
“Although the recordings are professional and he still uses layers of strings and percussion, the songs are stripped down, slower and focus more on John's voice and his guitar. The sound is perfect. He revisits the rawness and emotion of his earlier work without returning to the low quality sounds and somehow manages to satisfy every one and alienates no one”
MP3:: Woke up new
Lyric:: "I stood there like a business man waiting for a train, and I got ready for the future to arrive."

13. Beat Radio:: Great Big Sea
Writing music that fits into whatever style the kids are listening to (post-punk, emo) is one thing. Writing music that is part of who you are is another; nothing truer can be said about Beat Radio.
MP3:: Fearful
Lyric:: "Dreams are just like melodies, they’re delicate simplicity, you fill them up with words, drown them with philosophy. The dream I had was beautiful, I let it get away from me."

12. Califone:: Roots and Crowns
"There are no hooks that grab you. You can’t simply jump song to song to fill a musical void and truthfully, that is the appeal of the band for me. I enjoy the investment of a well-thought out record."
MP3:: The Orchids
Lyrics:: “Leave your memories, we’re almost new.”

11. Josh Ritter:: The Animal Years
"I've been looking for the perfect road trip song for the last week or two, and I finally might have found it. I usually don't do this, but I find myself repeating this song over and over again."
MP3:: Thin Blue Flame
Lyric:: "Sometimes in the frozen nights I go running, in the bed you used to share with me, I wake in the fields, with the cold and lonely, and the moon’s the only face I see."

10. Okkervil River:: Overboard and Down
"In today's society, it's so easy to take the popular view and agree with the herd. Writing an anti-Bush song has become an easy way to get on the charts, and let's be honest, no one is going to stand up and deny he's ruining the world. From Moby, to Pink, to Conor Oberst, it's easy to get attention from the masses for writing what they want to hear. Will takes a different approach, and I love it."
MP3:: The Presidents Dead
Lyric:: "Like three shots to my head, the president’s dead."

9. Daniel Hutchens:: Love Songs for Losers
"I wish I could come up with a better description for the record, but perhaps what hit home the most for me was Underground Cafe, 1923. The songs tells a story, nothing of consequence - just what everyone goes through when you fall in love, but it drips with emotion. A bass line that feels like it was tossed in after Daniel played the track for an audience of one, hundreds of time before anyone else heard it, and an occasional electric riff completes the simplicity of the song. Simplicity in meaning, simplicity in being."
MP3:: Blood From the Rock
Lyric:: “It’s like I’m in that hotel in the shining, wandering those hallways like a dream.”

8. Ian Love:: Ian Love
"Perhaps, the lyrics are the most important aspect on the album. Unlike Jeff Buckley's Grace, these lyrics seem poignant because of what Ian has already been through, not what could happen."
MP3:: The Only Night
Lyric:: "It's hard to live the life you've lived. Stop now, stop playing those games you know they'll drag you down, yes they will."

7. The Decemberists:: The Crane Wife
Instead of changing their style to reach more fans, the band actually went the complete opposite way and delivered their best album since Castaways and Cutouts.
Lyric:: "When first we laid eyes, I swore to no compromise."

6. Hezekiah Jones:: Hezekiah Says You’re A-OK
"From the sing-along misery of Albert Hash to the grainy feel of Just because it's quiet doesn't mean there's piece, this record explores the ground just outside the safe footing of the path most traveled."
MP3:: Nothing's Bound
Lyric:: “I work 40 hours a week, for a man that I don’t know, and his demands are like wet sands taken from the beach, in between my toes and up my nose”
NOTE:: Also wins for best album that uses one of those slide whistles in a song.

5. Band of Horses:: Everything All the Time
"The songs on their first full length, Everything All the Time are diverse and addictive. Standouts include the folky simple epic, Monster, the catchy, harmonized closing track, St. Augustine and the more upbeat, rocking anthem, The Great Salt Lake."
MP3:: The Funeral
Lyric:: "I’m coming up only to hold you under, I’m coming up only to show you wrong."

4. Silversun Pickups:: Carnavas
Twelve songs, all over four-minutes in length, rich in slow moving bass lines, keyboard textures, pounding drums and huge pedaled guitars crescendo into a wall of sound that is perfectly paired with bassist Nikki Monninger’s and front man Brian Aubert’s vocals.
Video:: Lazy Eye
Lyric:: “I’ve been waiting, I’ve been waiting for this moment, all my life.”

3. Tom Waits:: Orphans
"The star of the show is of course his voice. The unique tones, effects and power of this whiskey soaked, cut glass vessel is something special."
MP3:: Road to Peace
Lyric:: "But Bush is reluctant to risk his future in the fear of his political failure, so he plays chess at his desk, and poses for the press, 10 000 miles from the road to peace."

2. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone:: Etiquette
"Owen's songwriting is shown off on the beautiful 'Cold White Christmas' and 'I Love Creedance'. Sometimes, in a Mike Skinner way, less is more. Owen delivers simple emotions and simple stories over simple structures, but the sum of the parts is much bigger."
MP3:: Young Shields
Lyric:: “We laughed like we were queens & split our ballgowns at the seams & every single time I'd dream it was only El & me but then she slipped away from me she met a boy from New Jersey & they fell fast in love of course I swear it felt like a divorce”

1. William Elliott Whitmore:: Song of the Blackbird
"Whitmore voice instantly transports you to a porch swing in the Deep South, where you see a man singing, eyes closed, unashamed of his spiritual take off the world. His style is from a time long since gone, and long since overlooked."
MP3:: The Chariot
From William - "Thanks for the honor! I'm very proud of that record and it means a lot that y'all would say such kind words about it."

So there it is. Nickleback sucks.

Posted at 7:17 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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