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
2.The Stones actually had a decent single: “Streets of Love,” off late-’05’s A Bigger Bang(Virgin).Sort of a Some Girls castaway. Never thought I’d see the day.
3.Beck wrote a pretty good Stones song too! “Strange Apparition,” off The Information, was surely an Exilecastaway. Loved it.
4.Art Brut,Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Downtown). Same influences as all the other fake-postpunk bands (Gang of Four, Wire, etc.) — but none of the easy gloom. Just joy and humor and humanity infused into every bleeping second, crystallized in the lyric “We’re going to write a song as universal as Happy Birthday/That makes sure everybody knows that everything is going to be okay!”Fave rave: “Formed a Band.”
5.Drake Bell, It’s Only Time (Motown/Universal). Mostly known as the star of Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh(and all of 20 years old), Bell and band made an ambitious album of piano power-pop — then played it on MTV’s Total Request Live! (Did I dream that?) Fave rave: the three-song medley (about 8 minutes total!), seemingly inspired by McCartney’s underrated ’73 LP Red Rose Speedway.
6.Weird Al,Straight Outta Lynwood (Volcano). The pop album that gave, and kept on giving, embracing recent and old shit in ways you just couldn’t believe: A Smiley Smile tribute called “Pancreas” next to a Green Day spoof called “Canadian Idiot”? Oh no he didn’t! The full-length R. Kelly salute “Trapped In the Drive-Thru” alongside a Sparks takeoff called “Virus Alert”? Oh yes he did!
7.Eagles of Death Metal,Death By Sexy(Downtown). Who knew a half-serious, sleaze-rock side-project could be halfway decent?
8. Cobra Starship, “Snakes on a Plane.” I know, you’ve already forgotten about this. Funny song, though.
?UNHAPPY UNSURPISES: A few predictable bummers.
1.Fergie’s “London Bridge”was a major Gwen Stefani ripoff — but Gwen can take as good as she gives. More annoying was the way “Fergalicious” ripped off JJ Fadd’s early girly-hip-hop hit, “Supersonic.”
3.Guns ’N Roses’Chinese Democracystill didn’t come out.
? STADIUM-ROCK AMBITIONS: In 2006, the late ’70s/early ’80s was the cool era to embrace — which meant, for the intrepid, attempting stadium-rock opuses. (And Yes, there was a lot of prog-rock influence going on, even on KROQ.) My faves were the LPs that managed — one way or another — to combine the yang of stadium rock with the femininity of glam.
1.Wolfmother,Wolfmother(Interscope). My all-around favorite album of 2006, and not just for the huge guitars and drums and pop joys and all-around Zep/Sabbath goodness. The clincher was that listening to it, I felt I was in secure hands. I could relax and enjoy. There was a basic level of quality control, precision and consistency — no filler. Wolfmother had an ambitious but simple vision for this album, and they achieved their goal as well as any band in 2006. Fave rave: “Colossal.”
2.Muse,Black Holes and Revelations (Warner Bros./WEA) Like the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, this album had an almost absurd pomposity you had to admire — whether or not you even liked the music. In spirit, if not always style, it tried harder to be Queen than anything else I heard in 2006. Personally, I’ll never get used to singer Matthew Bellamy’s hyper-stylizations, but I sure ain’t mad at ’em. Fave rave: “Invincible.”
3.The Killers,Sam’s Town(Island). Not the strongest album of the year, if only because it lacked convincing choruses. But the Killers deserved respect for attempting to surpass themselves, reaching up toward Queen and Springsteen. Instead, they got critical hateration. I can’t figure it. This is what they call “tall poppy syndrome” in Australia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tall_poppy_syndrome] : The brightest, most ambitious kids get cut down. Ain’t right, I tell ya. Fave rave: “Help Me Get Down.”
? RAD OLD STUFF:A few non-new things I discovered this year.
1.Andy Kim,How’d We Ever Get This Way/Rainbow Ride;Baby, I Love You/Andy Kim (Collector’s Choice). Hearing these 2006 reissues was like finding a jewelry box buried in the backyard. A singer-songwriter’s spin on bubblegum — Kim cowrote the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” — these ’70s treasures were pure delight. Fave rave: “Baby I Love You.”
2.The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons (Shout Factory). These DVDs — featuring uncut episodes of the astonishing late-night talk show — blew my very mind. Besides the sweaty, pimply, passionate, un-lip-synced performances (Janis, Joni, Sly, et al.), these shows featured gripping conversations between artists, actors, politicians — all of them as polite as they were outrageous. Cool.
3. Os Mutantes,Tecnicolor (Planet Rhythm). After recording this album in November 1970, these Brazilian psychedelic rebels reportedly lost the tapes — for 30 years! This year they had their day in the sun, though, and also opened for the Flaming Lips. Fave rave: “I’m Sorry Baby.”
? OUR LOSS, HEAVEN’S GAIN. Finally, a grateful farewell to some of the shining stars who took their place in the sky: Syd Barrett, James Brown, Ruth Brown, Desmond Dekker, J Dilla, Ahmet Ertegun, Freddy Fender, Arthur Lee, Arif Mardin, Anita O’Day, Buck Owens, Wilson Pickett, Gene Pitney, Billy Preston, Lou Rawls and Sandy West. Thank you.
Shine on, you crazy diamonds.
Hear songs from this week’s column on the Super Fun Music Hour, today (Thurs., Jan. 4) at 4 p.m. on littleradio.com — or hear the podcast later at laweekly.com.