Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The 2006 Twenty (Part Two)

The Twenty are my favorite reasons to have owned a CD player in 2006. They are listed in alphabetical order by artist and the links (where applicable) lead to the original reviews posted on this blog over the course of the year. (The first half of The Twenty is in the post just below this one.)

Madeleine Peyroux – Half the Perfect World

A lovely, jazzy, utterly engaging CD filled with beguiling vocals and arrangements on a mix of carefully chosen covers and grand original songs.

The Pipettes – We Are the Pipettes

Bouncy, cheeky, and undeniable groovy, this upbeat party both celebrates and updates the girl group sound (from the Supremes to the Ronettes to Banarama) for the 21st Century with tight harmonies and sassy, unselfconscious lyrics.

Cat Power – The Greatest

Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) teams up with some crack Memphis session men to craft a sultry, atmospheric, melancholic jewel of a record that lives up to its seemingly-grandiose title.

Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope

Quirky, provocative, and compelling…Ms. Spektor approaches with piano riffs, rhythms, vocals, lyrics, and influences at odd, but never less than intriguing and imaginative, angles and makes it all work. The special edition features 5 bonus songs that are well worth the added cost.

Bruce Springsteen – We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (American Land Edition)

An enormously entertaining disc that will set your toes to tappin' and your soul to hummin'…or as Bruce himself says in the liner notes, “turn it up, put on your dancin’ and singin’ shoes, and have fun”. The “American Land” version adds 5 bonus tracks…including the potent title track and the evocative “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live”…to the mix with enriching effect.

Julieta Venegas – Limon y Sal

A delightful collection of energetic, irresistable pop songs…it totally enthralls even listeners who (like me) don’t speak Spanish.

Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards

A 3-disc collection of new songs, covers (including two Ramones songs and a tune from a Disney movie), oddities, and outtakes shouldn’t hang together as an evocative, coherent collection but this offering puts the lie to that. This is as astonishing in its breadth as it is in its soulful, raucous, bittersweet musical glory.

Cassandra WilsonThunderbird

A genre-defying gem that is one of those CDs that grabs you on the first listen and then continues to reward the listener with each and every subsequent listen.

Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

Silly title aside, this is, quite simply, a wondrous pop record (one hour and seventeen minutes well spent indeed.)

Neil Young – Living with War

A passionate, heartfelt, angry, hopeful, defiant record and that remains true whether you agree with Young’s politics or not.

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