By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Looking back at my rock & roll ’06, employing a list of lists . . .
So, 2006 was a decent year for songs, but not as great for albums. As you know, this has been the case for quite some time.
Nevertheless, there were some outstanding rock & roll albums in 2006. Even more, there were decent albums that would have made really unstoppable EPs. All of which brings us to List #1.
? CHARMING MISFITS:Fun indie rock albums that deservedway more lovin’ than they got last year.
1.L.E.O.,Alpacas Orgling (Cheap Lullabye). A supergroup (featuring members of Chicago, Hanson, the Black Crowes, Jellyfish, et al.) gathered to do one thing: record exuberant songs in the style of Electric Light Orchestra and the great Jeff Lynne. (Did I dream this?) At a time when everyone was borrowing from the ’70s and ’80s anyway, it was awfully refreshing to see a group admit their methods up-front, and do it all for nothing but love. Neat trick: E.L.O. novices and devotees alike can dig. Fave rave: “Goodbye Innocence.”
2.The Nice Boys,The Nice Boys(Birdman). This new glammy-pants Portland band reached beyond its grasp, sure — but what a tasteful grasp: T. Rex, Bay City Rollers, Ramones . . . With good hair and cool pants to boot, this is exactly the kind of indie-rock band we should be encouraging, people! Fave rave: “Teenage Nights.”
3.Citay,Citay (Important). Stoner rock for nonstoners like me, I guess. Largely instrumental, heavily Zeppelin- and Heart-based; undeniable gnome influence. Tonsa harmonized guitars. From the Bay Area. Fave rave: “What Never Was and What Should Have Been.”
4.Mohair,Small Talk (Grunion). Weird record — hard to define, exactly. Power pop-ish, with harmonies to please any Beach Boys head, odd structures — but a highly verbal, overly caffeinated delivery. Recorded in a barn in Scotland by a bunch of Londoners. A song about L.A., too. (I told you it was hard to explain.) Fave rave: “Life.”
5.The Ark,State of the Ark (Virgin). Glam-rock disco from Sweden, the kind of music Erasure and the Sweet would back. Cocksure leader singing politicized anthems to pan-gender liberation (“The Others”), love and the romantic potential of mortality (“One of Us Is Gonna Die Young,” my fave rave).
6. The Mother Hips,Red Tandy EP (Camera). You hear this music — “California Soul from the Golden Coast,” they call it — and you go, Excuse me, but what the fuck? Is there a reason this super-harmonic roots-rock sweet-potato pie wasn’t a bigger deal in ’06? And is there a reason this incredibly well-oiled veteran band of survivors still play the Mint when they come down from NoCal? Not a good one, anyway. Fave rave: “Red Tandy.”
?CURIOUS EXPERIMENTS:In 2006, several of my mainstream pop heroes released notable, risky projects — and most proved to be intriguing disappointments (which are preferable to boring ones!).
1.Pharrell,In My Mind (Interscope). Love Pharrell as a producer and collaborator, but this solo venture didn’t quite cut the ketchup. Of course, any album receiving that much pre-release hype (a “pre-quel” album to the real album?) is probably pushing it. (I dug the fluffy-wuffy “Angel,” with that fake Curtis Mayfield falsetto Pharrell does so well.)
2.Gnarls Barkley,St. Elsewhere(Downtown). The delightful pop-art spirit (and heroic costuming) get super high-fives. Musically, though, I got problems. I actually found St. Elsewhere difficult to listen to as an album, front to end, partially because it lacked genuine hooks to match its populist heart — and partially because it was pretty bleak lyrically. I think I actually prefer solo Cee-Lo. Does that make me crazy? (Possibly.) For anyone new to the Cee-Lo phenomenon: Check out “The Art of Noise,” a psychedelic-gospel collab with Pharrell (off 2004’s Cee-Lo Green Is the Soul Machine).
3.OutKast,Idlewild(the movie, mostly). I adore OutKast, but this overbusy one didn’t quite work for me. I feel like they were trying to make a Baz Luhrmann film when they would have done better with Bugsy Malone.
4.The Raconteurs,Broken Boy Soldiers (V2/Third Man). Kind of a jumble-sale of good but unfulfilled song ideas, lacking a cohesive sense of band-identity. For me, a head-scratcher. But I ain’t hating. People got to try new things.
5. The Beatles’Love(the soundtrack, not the Cirque du Soleil show). There will always be room in the world for skillful reinterpretations of great music — like this ProTools-y pastiche of Beatles recordings by their producer, George Martin, and his son Giles. More than anything, this one’s a portrait of Martin’s mind, and of his vision of the Beatles’ music, shot through the prism of time, and of digital technology. He’s the one for the job, if anyone is. Then again, for me this mashup is too much a cleanup — which is ironic, since it culls heavily from alternate takes originally omitted from the more “perfect” studio albums. In the end, I miss the rough edges of those records. I need the rough edges.
?HAPPY SURPRISES: Along with disappointments, last year offered numerous moments of pop-cultural surprise.
1.Justin Timberlake,FutureSex/LoveSounds (Jive).The title pretty much guaranteed success for this album (see also: BloodSugarSexMagik, Love.Angel.Music.Baby). The pandrogynous genre-bending helped. Fave rave (duh): “Sexyback.”