Saturday, December 23, 2006

This Is The Season...Music Finds You.

In 2006, we've had an onslaught of indie bands catapulted to stardom by the free press (blogs, e-zines), well-established mainstream artists returning to the scene (The Lemonheads, Pete Yorn) and the omnipresent surprise package of the year (think Sweden). Hordes of Scandinavians made the list in music-related blogs across the board. Judging from that, it isn't a surprise that Arlanda remains a hot ticket during winter (yeah, I've had problems moving shipments there!).

Building a year end list of my musical inclinations and excavations is fairly complicated. It is almost always a matter of taste and crankin' up the volume doesn't always help. Why? Minimalistic albums ruled the year's best releases and noise has taken a backseat. In summary, these albums have held a special place in my heart - abashed with simplistic views on life.

So, 2006. This has been the season...

In between the months of March to September 2006, I have been juggling in between a lot of music genres but mostly those that fall into the 'indie' music category. Rattling acoustic tunes, jarring electric guitar feedbacks, folky guitar twangs and seemingly bad but ironically befitting vocals ruled those months. After months of searching for the perfect album this year, it's a pleasant surprise that this year's four (4) most favourite albums of the year for me chose to present themselves at a very late stage.

Album of the Year: Peter John & Bjorn - Writer's Block
Released: 29 June 2006
Highly recommended tracks: 'Young Folks', 'Amsterdam', 'Let's Call It Off', 'Paris 2004', 'The Chills'.

The Swedes are at it, again. I friggin' swear - they're immaculate geniuses when it comes to this!

During my growing up years, Sweden has never been able to stop churning out catchy-sounding bands that whet my appetite even more for music. Like many people out there who thought that we may have narrowly escaped the stereotypical disco '80s when ABBA held court, we were then served with a feast of other influences ranging from Dr. Alban to Ace of Base (urgh!) to The Cardigans, The Radio Dept., and now Peter John & Bjorn. Yes, the last name there may seem alien to most of you but make no mistake - PJB is as radio-friendly as it gets if you're a new into indie-pop. Three albums old, Peter Morén (voice, guitar, harmonica), Björn Yttling assisting in vocals, playing bass and keyboards and John Eriksson on percussion work and vocals breeze through 'Writer's Block' with seminal tunes that puts a smile on your face.

PJB - Young Folks

PJB - Let's Call It Off


Badly Timed Comeback of the Year: The Lemonheads - The Lemonheads
Released: 26 September 2006
Noteworthy track: 'No Backbone'.

All credit to Evan Dando. The man certainly has chutzpah written all over him. The fallen alternative rock icon of the 90s chose to come out of his self-imposed hiatus with an album many would regard as a futile attempt to break-in to the indie charts. Obviously in contempt with his old line-up, Dando recruited a host of "old hands" for his reunion, enlisting J. Mascis and Eric Hudson for self-titled 'The Lemonheads'.

Relying heavily on his old fanbase would be a disaster as this album proves much to do with. In its entirety, 'The Lemonheads' feels isolated and trapped between the guises of "paycheque" and "revisiting the '90s". However, to the puritans (I've asked some), it brings a sense of normality in the indie-pop scene that too often reminds them of porn film music.

Done, tried, exhausted. Any fresh ideas, mate?


Dance Album of the Year: Hot Chip - The Warning
Released: 22 May 2006
Recommended tracks: 'Over and Over'

Hot Chip - Over and Over

Wait a minute...didn't The Rapture cover this genre well enough already??

Pariahs or next big things on the dancefloor? I've absolutely no idea who these lads are until a friend of mine recommended a track. I've been hooked ever since!


Leak of the Year: Explosions In The Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
Release date: 20 February 2007
Leaked: Late November 2006
Highly recommended tracks: All the tracks!


Now there comes a time in everyone's life that music touches the very essence of your soul. Explosions In The Sky, the still fantastically underrated American post-rock quartet will do just that! Crisp clear .flac/.mp3 encodings of the entire upcoming album has surfaced on the internet (which is slated for 20 February 2007). It is common most major release get a 3-month head start on the Web but no one really knows Explosions In The Sky. Or so we thought?

A few years after their film score ('Friday Night Lights') & super rare EP ('The Rescue'; freely available on their official website), the boys miss everyone and decided to have a go at their first proper full length album in 4 years. The upcoming album, 'All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone', doesn't deviate from their usual sound but instead submerges into deeper depths of emotion with this outing. Common sense prevailed as the Texas-based outfit grinds out the routine track-by-track of uplifting guitar riffs and thumping percussions reminiscent of 'Friday Night Lights'...only this time around the dramatics work!

'All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone' will be a two version release (single and double disc). The double-disc release features a bonus disc consisting of the album's tracks remixed by Four Tet, Jesu, Eluvium, Adem, Mountains and fellow Texans, Paper Chase.

Track listing as follows:

All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

01 The Birth and Death of the Day
02 Welcome, Ghosts
03 It's Natural to Be Afraid
04 What Do You Go Home To?
05 Catastrophe and the Cure
06 So Long, Lonesome

Bonus disc:

01 The Birth and Death of the Day (Jesu Mix)
02 Welcome, Ghosts (Adem Mix)
03 It's Natural to Be Afraid (The Paper Chase Mix)
04 What Do You Go Home To? (Mountains Mix)
05 Catastrophe and the Cure (Four Tet Mix)
06 So Long, Lonesome (Eluvium Mix)

Buy the album via Temporary Residence.

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