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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. TV On The Radio – Possibly and probably the most innovative band in America right now. But definitely the one with the biggest ‘fro.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Stream: The Decemberists – “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” (ASX)

The Independent Weekly profiles the #14 hottest artist in America, Joanna Newsom, who in turn discusses Ys with Go Triad.

Metromix catches up with Explosions In The Sky, who will surely be all over next year’s poll when they release All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone next February 20. Spin has details and a tracklisting.

Also bound for a big 2007 – Spoon, whose Britt Daniel talked to Tiny Mix Tapes about scoring Stranger Than Fiction and the state of their next album.

The AV Club talks to Chuck Klosterman about being Chuck Klosterman.

np – Cat Power / You Are Free

By : Frank Yang at 8:28 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. craig mailman says:

    I like the new layout frank.

  2. Sara says:

    My love for that John Denver chestnut (a.k.a. the most depressing Christmas song ever) is almost equal to my distaste for The Decemberists! Not fair! My family listened to <i>Rocky Mountain Christmas</i> every single year as we were setting up the tree, along with Anne Murray’s Christmas album…oh, the schmaltzy, soggy memories.

    You know who I’d love to hear a Christmas album from? Okkervil River! In fact, why didn’t <i>they</i> cover this song?! *shrug/sigh*

    (p.s. I also think the new layout is great, and that illustration at the top is positively smashing!)

  3. sumptuous says:

    weird I thought you’d put grizzly bear in your top 10 since you constantly link to them, and seemingly like their new album.

    shearwater????

  4. Sara says:

    oops, didn’t realize i couldn’t use HTML!

  5. steve says:

    Adore the new layout.
    Thanks for pointing me to Shearwater, whom I’d never looked into although I’m a huge Okkervil River fan. And thanks, too, for getting me to the Klosterman interview.

  6. Five says:

    I like the new layout, too. Very nice. Still not a fan of having the main text at the very left of the screen, but I’ll adjust….

  7. Karl says:

    I think the CW on Casino Royale is about right — could have been shorter, but a otherwise a nice reboot for the series, in the mode of Batman Begins. Even the opening credits are nicely reinvented for the Internet age.

  8. Roland says:

    Nice new layout. Great to see NYU giving some attention to The Decemberists.

  9. Jennings says:

    Great layout Frank . . . seriously nice.

  10. Stephen B. says:

    that’s a fucking great list of ten artists – i mean, aside from one i haven’t heard (eric bachmann) and another that i could take or leave (sparklehorse), the rest of them are all fantastic – truly a cut above most of the american indie artists out there today!