The Best and Worst of 2006

05-Jan-2007 12:50 am

Contributed by: pete

I like to wait until January before writing a "best of last year" article. You know, wait long enough for all the Champagne and seasonal goodwill to be replaced by the reality of a potentially long and gray winter. It's just the right frame of mind for me to look back and close out the previous year. And I know you've already read or seen a whole heap of these lists, but what makes my article original is, uh - well, basically nothing (maybe not even my selections). The categories are:

Best Show

To prepare for this category, I created a 2006 Retrospective that forced me to go through the shots from every single show I photographed in 2006. But then there were the shows that I attended and didn't photograph, and there were even a few shows that I went to and didn't even tell you about, like Radiohead. I had a great time doing this, remembering all the shows and looking back on my photographs.

There were so many memorable moments. Like when the guitarist from the Black Lips puked all over the stage, on purpose. Or when Adam Kittridge from Jets Overhead went from a mild mannered guy to Mr. Hyde of the guitar. Or the amazing mental connection between Jessica and Dave of The Golden Dogs. Or the love that Islands showed their fans. In fact, if it wasn't for one other concert, I think Islands would've been the winner of this category. But, as it turns out, earlier in the year I attended a concert I will never forget:

The Flaming Lips
The Phoenix Concert Theatre, April 4th 2006

It was everything a concert should be, and more. It pushed all the right buttons in my brain. But rather than go on about it here, just accept that it was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. You can read about it in my review: Big Balloons and a Fish-Eye Lens.

Top 10 Albums

I realize that the internet is flooded with top 10 lists starting in December and they keep coming non-stop straight through January. I'm guessing readers are getting tired of reading top 10 lists by now. But I'm not going to let that stop me! Nope. Even if no one reads this, it was still something I had to do. Note: I don't always find out about music the moment it is released, so I've included a few albums that I discovered in 2006, but were actually released in the latter half of 2005. Flame me if you like, it won't change my selections.

Islands / Return To The Sea
Like some of my all-time favourite albums, Return To Sea didn't make an enormous impression on me during the first listen. But it had enough to make me listen again, which in turn drove me to get out and photograph Islands when they played in Toronto. And then the concert drove me to listen to the album even more. Each time I listened, I heard more and more depth. Somehow I got into the habit of listening to this while editing concert photos. For me, this album will forever be associated with 2006.
Phoenix / It's Never Been Like That
This album didn't grow on me. I like it just as much today as the day I first listened to it. I'm not going to lie and tell you that I'll be listening to these songs in 10 years time, because by then I'm sure I will have grown tired of them. But in 2006, this album made a big impression on me. It tickled my ears on a day when I was feeling a little depressed about music, and it ended up being the soundtrack to a good number of my Saturday evening warm-ups. What a great album.
Tapes 'n Tapes / The Loon
Sometimes you just love music and it's kind of hard to explain why. I just needed more music like this, and now I can't get enough of The Loon. Featured as Pete's Pick in August.
The Flaming Lips / At War With The Mystics
I associate this album with the concert I saw back in April. Did I mention that show yet? Oh right. Enough said.
Wolfmother / Wolfmother
Wolfmother does 70's rock better than some bands from the 70's, and yet it still feels original and fresh. As I said before: This trio is both hilarious and amazing all at the same time; one part Black Sabbath, one part Spinal Tap, one part big fat sound.
Supergrass / Road To Rouen
The Song Tales Of Endurance (Parts 4, 5, and 6) is high in my Top 100 Most Played Songs list. It's no coincidence that I featured it as Pete's Pick in March. It mixes some of the best aspects of prog rock with modern Britpop. This album was released in 2005.
OK Go / Oh No
I've been listening to this album practically on repeat since I added it to my collection. As I said in the Pete's Pick entry on this album: If Invincible doesn't get you going then perhaps you forgot to take your medication today. Another album that is actually from 2005.
Rogue Wave / Descended Like Vultures
Just one more that I discovered in 2006, but was actually released 2005 - featured as a Pete's Pick in June. Amazing indie-pop, with a high density of 4-star songs. Sadly, I missed them when they came through Toronto.
Richard Cheese / The Sunny Side Of The Moon
Yes, I love Dick and I'm not afraid to admit it. If Richard Cheese's versions of Rape Me, Baby Got Back, Bust A Move, and Down With The Sickness don't make you run out and buy the whole catalogue of Dick CDs, then I'm not sure you can call yourself, uh... never mind. Just buy it. (Hint: You can get it from, just click a banner ad on this site).
The Golden Dogs / Big Eye Little Eye
Even though a portion of my review of Big Eye Little Eye may have come across a little negative, you should notice that I did score it 4 enemas. This band has a live show that kills. The energy is brilliant, the music is tight, and the connection between Jessica and Dave is obvious. This album may not quite equal their live performance, but has enough great songs to make the grade.

Biggest Disappointment

If you've ever checked out my listening statistics (and I don't expect you have), you would've noticed that it exposes my love for the band Grandaddy. So when the news of Grandaddy's breakup was announced, I was not only surprised, but obviously more than a little disappointed. Jason Lytle explained the reasoning in an article featured in Magnet magazine, and so from the band's perspective I understand. But I had only just learned about Grandaddy in 2004, so I was blindly looking forward to many more new releases, and the chance to see them in concert. The EP Excerpts from the Diary of Todd Zilla released in 2005 was enough to hold me over, but I couldn't wait to get my hands on their upcoming 2006 release. Then, before it was even released, the band called it quits. Although Just Like The Fambly Cat was released as promised, it just didn't feel the same. The album has some brilliant moments and one song, Summer... It's Gone, received a 5-star rating in my iTunes (a relatively rare occurrence). Yes, I'll miss Grandaddy.

The Whipping Post

I think 2006 was a bit of a transitional year for music, which makes it all that more exciting and easy to be enthusiastic about. But it's hard for me to write all that positive stuff without complaining about something. And that's what this category is about: letting off a little steam.

The 2006 CASBY Music Awards were a musical feast, and the bands were all amazing, pumping out 2-3 song sets with skill and energy often reserved for the last few songs of a full set. Also, 102.1 The Edge deserves massive credit for pulling it all off so well; it was tight. And, yes, since it's run by 102.1 The Edge, the in-between entertainment should be, well, edgy. But I think this quote from David St. Hubbins (Spinal Tap) sums it up best: "It's such a fine line between stupid and... clever." And that fine line was nowhere to be seen.

I went to the show expecting the non-musical part of the awards to be offensive, amusing, and probably even contain the word "rectum" many times - it's just that kind of an affair. But morning radio mockery just doesn't work as a live evening act. Having a really fat nearly-naked guy doing jumping jacks or getting a guy with no almost legs act like a seal are routines that the morning show hosts should keep to the confines of their own masturbatory fantasies. Was the mocking offensive? I don't know, I guess, maybe. But couldn't they get someone to really offend me? Maybe next year (assuming I'm allowed back after this little rant).

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