Friday, November 17th, 2006
Boys And Girls In America Have Such A Sad Time Together
Mr Blower Of Leaves has compiled the results of his third annual “Top 40 Bands in America”, in which I, despite my Canadian-ness, was invited to participate. The criteria for submissions were as follows: “Send me a list 1-10 with 1 being the highest, of the bands you wrote about the most this year. Who did you spend your time covering? Who got the most mentions on your site? Who did your readers respond to? Who did you go see multiple times in concert, things like that.”
Naturally, I didn’t pay these instructions much heed, mainly because I was not going to go back over ten and a half months of posts and count up the number of times I talked about whomever when that didn’t necessarily reflect who I thought was most deserving based on whatever they were pushing this year, just my diligence in digging up interviews and links about said artist.
Instead, I balanced what I felt were the quantitative leaders in my coverage this year with the bands I was most excited about… and to be honest, even writing this seems to imply I spent more time and consideration on my list than I really did. But anyway, here’s who I went with and the why:
- The Hold Steady – Five unlikely and unassuming guys from the midwest capture the spirit of the youth of America on record and goose it up with classic rock riffage. Awesomeness.
- Cat Power – Even if she hadn’t released an amazing album like The Greatest, her battle (and triumph) over alcohol and her personal demons would have been worth talking about. But she did and that makes her year even more remarkable.
- The Decemberists – Everyone wondered what signing to a major label would do Portland’s greatest geek-rockers. As it turns out, it would encourage them to make their best and most challenging album yet.
- Shearwater – Jonathan Meiburg takes over the creative reins and shakes the “Okkervil River side-project” tag once and for all with an epic and emotional folk-rock masterpiece.
- The Mountain Goats – John Darnielle crafts a sad and beautiful break-up record that those who aren’t able to connect with should count themselves as lucky.
- Sparklehorse – After five years of hiding in the mists of Appalachia, Mark Linkous finally returns with a new record that sounds an awful lot like his old ones. And that’s a good thing.
- TV On The Radio – Possibly and probably the most innovative band in America right now. But definitely the one with the biggest ‘fro.
- Okkervil River – Yes, their only releases this year were an Australia-only EP and a 12″ single, but if the lead song on both – “The President’s Dead” – is any sign of where Will Sheff’s mind and pen are at, then they deserve mention if only as a warning that 2007 will be the year of Okkervil.
- Eric Bachmann – Putting Crooked Fingers on the shelf and striking out under his own name, Bachmann found inspiration through minimalism and living in a van. His set at SxSW was one of the absolute highlights of the festival.
- Wilco – No new album but constant touring kept them on the radar. The current lineup sounds better and tighter with every passing day but for pity’s sake, give us a new album already.
Completely unsurprisingly, the comments on the post are filled with confusion, support and vitriol. After all, what good is a hearty list-burger without a tall glass of haterade to wash it down? Mmm mmm good.
The Guardian talks to Craig Finn, Philadelphia City Paper explains why The Hold Steady’s Boys And Girls In America deserves all the praise it’s getting and That’s F-ing Dynamite (we’re a family site here, folks) gets Tad Kubler to list off his top five albums of the moment.
The not-dead-yet RBally has a live Cat Power set from this past August, fully Memphis Rhythm Band-powered, available to download and next Monday night, NPR will be webcasting her show at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. She’s in Toronto at the Phoenix two nights later.
Washington Square News chats with Chris Funk while LA Weekly, The Westender and Seattle Weekly talk to Colin Meloy about The Crane Wife. JAM!, on the other hand, prefers to get his take on the new 007. For the record, I also grew up with Roger Moore but am more than happy to forget about him trying to look remotely dashing in A View To A Kill. But it sounds like Daniel Craig does a bang-up job in Casino Royale. Oh, and you can stream a track from their exclusive session for Sony Connect – an old festive bluegrass tune, natch. More details at Pitchfork.
The AV Club talks to Chuck Klosterman about being Chuck Klosterman.