HOLIDAY NEWSLETTER: THE YEAR-END LISTS!
NEWS FLASH: CDs MAKE BETTER GIFTS THAN DOWNLOADS!
SAL & TONY'S YEAR-END LISTS!
YEAH YEAH, HO HO, SANTA'S ON THE PIPE....
And now... THE NEWSLETTER! (SPECIAL YEAR-END VERSION)
It's that time again, dear readers. Time for eggnog, mulled wine, cats choking on tinsel, and of course, NYCD'S TOP TEN RECORDS OF 2006.
Both Tony & Sal have put together their faves, as well as some honorable mentions. So here we go!
TONY'S TOP TEN:
10. THE LEMONHEADS - LEMONHEADS. Yes, Evan Dando is a stoner nincompoop, but he's also an excellent performer and songwriter, and he proves it on his best and most exciting album in over a decade.
9. ELVIS COSTELLO & ALLEN TOUSSAINT - THE RIVER IN REVERSE. This album flopped big-time; I can almost hear the would-be record buyers saying "I like Elvis Costello, but why's he dressed like a pimp on the cover? And who's the black guy next to him?" It's a shame so many people passed it by, because it's a beautiful, heartfelt and passionate tribute to New Orleans by two brilliant musicians.
8. YOU AM I - CONVICTS. Think Paul Westerberg crossed with Pete Townshend with a bit of young Paul Weller thrown in for good measure. Australia's finest band rock harder than ever on their eighth album, but on first listen it seems like the power pop magic that fuels their finest music is missing. Give it a couple of chances, however, and the melodies and hooks creep in amidst the buzzsaw riffs and screaming vocals. They've still got it.
7. THE RACONTEURS - BROKEN BOY SOLDIERS. My favorite thing about this union of Jack White, power-popper extraordinaire Brendan Benson, and the rhythm section from garage rock greats The Greenhornes is that you really can hear strong elements of all three -- it's not a vehicle for any one artist. Somehow, they manage to combine their strong personal styles and fuse them into a great group effort. I don't know if I'd want them to give up their day jobs, but this is a great side project.
6. GNARLS BARKLEY - ST. ELSEWHERE. Every year or two, there's a record that's so undeniable that everyone loves it -- hip-hoppers, alt-rockers, Top 40 fans, the classic rock crowd... everyone. This year that record was Gnarls' "Crazy," and the rest of the album is damn near as good.
5. THE ESSEX GREEN - CANNIBAL SEA. Indie pop meets '60s pop, and this Brooklyn band does them both perfectly. Catchy as hell, but with a cynical edge that makes it clear this is no dewy-eyed nostalgia act.
4. JAMES HUNTER - PEOPLE GONNA TALK. There's a big, big difference between doing an album that sounds like it was recorded in 1962 and one that sounds like a great lost album from 1962. This is definitely the latter -- great songwriting, fluid, supple guitar playing, and soulful vocals that sound like Sam Cooke crossed with Georgie Fame. The only disappointment about it is that his live performances show how much more he's capable of.
3. BELLE & SEBASTIAN - THE LIFE PURSUIT. I never understood the appeal of these tweesters when they were conquering the alt-rock world, but now that they've gotten a little more peppy and beefed up the instrumentation, they've revealed themselves as an absolutely brilliant pop band. This album may have been roundly ignored upon its release in February, but I kept coming back to it all year long, and it holds up.
2. BOB DYLAN - MODERN TIMES. At age 65, Dylan's not only in peak form, he's selling more records than he has since the '70s. He's still able to toss off lyrics that any songwriter would kill to think up, and his band is able to make the music stand up to the words. If you've ever liked Dylan, then this album is worth picking up.
1. BECK - THE INFORMATION. He hasn't been Mr. Zeitgeist for a while now, but Beck's records have gradually been improving, and this is his best yet. At last, a cohesive fusion of all the stylistic hats he's tried on in the past -- from ironic slacker to sensitive folkie to party animal, to name a few -- and the result is a wall-to-wall display of the man's genius. Great packaging, too.
SAL'S TOP TEN:
10. THE RACONTEURS- BROKEN BOY SOLDIERS. Jack White left his Stripes behind to join forces with pop-craftsman Brendan Benson, and the killer rhythm section from Cincinnati, The Greenhornes, for a record of psych-pop, hard rock, and hummable melodies.
9. JAMES HUNTER- PEOPLE GONNA TALK. This wunderkind has blessed us with a perfect throwback to the heyday of 1960s British R&B. Part Sam Cooke, part Van Morrison, all amazing.
8. SCISSOR SISTERS- TA-DAH! This is like listening to your favorite '70s and '80s mix tape. After a solid debut, the Sisters' sophomore release has more hooks than Mike's Bait & Tackle on Emmons Avenue. Elton, Bowie, The Bee Gees, Donna Summer, T.Rex -- they all show up in spirit on this fun-filled CD.
7. CORINNE BAILEY RAE - CORRINE BAILEY RAE. Could have easily been dismissed as another Norah Jones wanna be, or the British Darling du jour. Thankfully, Corinne Bailey Rae is neither. She is full of charm and talent, and her songs are full of melody. An acoustic soul record that overrated artists such as India Arie and Mary J. Blige wish they could have made.
6. IRMA THOMAS- AFTER THE RAIN. The Queen Of New Orleans released some of the greatest R&B of the 60's, with the help of songwriting genius Allen Toussaint. But over the last 25 years, Miss Thomas has had more misses than hits -- until now. Inspired and moved after losing everything to Hurricane Katrina, "After The Rain" is an understated but powerful record, featuring some of the New Orleans finest musicians backing Miss Thomas on her best record in 35 years.
5. BOB DYLAN- MODERN TIMES. The greatest living songwriter completes his trilogy that began with "Time Out Of Mind" and continued with "Love & Theft." A record that sits right up there with his best.
4. WILLIE NELSON- SONGBIRD. Nelson's umpteeth release is his best in years, thanks to solid production and song selection from Ryan Adams.
3. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - WE SHALL OVERCOME: THE SEEGER SESSIONS. A joyous and emotional romp through American folk classics. The Boss drives home many a message with the help of a stellar big band.
2. ELVIS COSTELLO/ALLEN TOUSSAINT- THE RIVER IN REVERSE. Two legends collaborate on a post-Katrina gift to New Orleans. Consisting of mostly Toussaint songs originally recorded by Lee Dorsey, as well as some Costello originals, The River In Reverse is a truly inspired creation.
1. STANTON MOORE- III. Quite possibly the funkiest record since Sly Stone's heyday, New Orleans drummer-extraordinare's third solo release is as much a party record as it is a groove record, much like the brilliant jazz releases of Grant Green & Jimmy Smith. Chock full of chops, Moore's drumming will knock the wind out of you.
THE BEATLES - LOVE. Not sure if this really counts as a "new" album, but the chance to hear these songs in a new context and jaw-dropping remastering is worth mentioning regardless.
BOBBY PREVITE- THE COALITION OF THE WILLING. A longtime figure in N.Y.'s downtown music scene, drumming genius Previte releases his most accessible album to date. With the help of Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore, Jamie Saft and DJ Logic, Previte crosses jazz, funk, fusion and surf for a jovial, yet challenging listen.
ROSANNE CASH- BLACK CADILLAC. The loss of Miss Cash's parents inspired this beautiful work, which is arguably the best of her of distinguished career.
TWILIGHT SINGERS- POWDER BURNS. Greg Dulli's Afghan Whigs are no more, but thankfully he continues his hard rocking soul with The Twilight Singers' newest release, Powder Burns. The music is riff-heavy and packs a punch, yet Dulli's vocals can, at times, sound like he's crooning a soul ballad right in the middle of it.
FRANK SINATRA - VEGAS (BOX SET). Four CDs and a DVD of previously unreleased nightclub performances from 1961-87 that will convert the unconverted, raise the dead, bring about world peace, you name it. An astonishingly good collection that's not for fans only.
THE BEE GEES - THE STUDIO ALBUMS 1967-68 (BOX SET). Record Label Of The Year goes to Rhino, hands-down, for continuing to release beautiful, well-thought-out box sets like these in the face of a declining CD market. If you've never heard the Bee Gees' lush, Beatlesque late '60s albums, then you need to check out this box. Six CDs of pop bliss, and even the outtakes and alternates on the bonus discs are first-rate.
NAT KING COLE - STARDUST (BOX SET). It'll cost you an arm and a leg, but you won't miss 'em once you hear the 11 CDs worth of pop and jazz brilliance in this box, containing everything the King recorded between 1955-59. Classic albums, rare singles, and even a dozen or so previously unreleased gems, with an enormous hardcover book included to guide you through it all.
IRVING FIELDS & ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ - OY VEY... OLE! Tony never misses an opportunity to mention Irving Fields, one of the last cocktail pianists from the '40s and '50s who's still active. He's still going strong, too, as this fantastic fusion of Cuban and Jewish music proves. Assisted by Rodriguez's red-hot band, you'll be on the floor, whether you're dancing a rhumba or the hora.
And because Tony is a list-making machine and just can't stop... here's another list!
TONY'S FIVE FAVORITE CHRISTMAS ALBUMS!
5. FRANK SINATRA, DEAN MARTIN & SAMMY DAVIS, JR. - CHRISTMAS WITH THE RAT PACK. A great mix of three of the heppest cats around singing some of your favorite Christmas songs. Apparently someone forgot to remind Sammy that he was Jewish, because he chimes in with a couple of Yuletide carols as well.
4. THE FAB FOUR - CHRISTMAS WITH THE FAB FOUR. An anonymous studio band does letter-perfect hybrids of holiday classics crossed with Beatles songs. They've got the accents and the instrumentation down perfectly, and... well, you've got to hear it.
3. VARIOUS ARTISTS - CHRISTMAS COCKTAILS, VOL. 1. The kings and queens of '50s and '60s E-Z listening doing straight and not-so-straight versions of holiday classics. Which means you'll get "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" by Dean Martin alongside "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Mambo" by Billy May. Volumes 2 and 3 are great, too!
2. VINCE GUARALDI - A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. It wouldn't be Hanukkah in my home without Guaraldi's classic album adding to the holiday cheer. If you've heard it, you don't need me to tell you how great it is. If you haven't heard it, you've obviously been in a coma for the last forty years. The album has just been reissued with unreleased bonus tracks added, by the way.
1. VARIOUS ARTISTS - HIPSTERS' HOLIDAY. One of the only things I like about December is that it gives me the opportunity to play this CD again. Amazing swing, jump blues, rock n' roll and jazz by legends like Louis Armstrong, Eartha Kitt, and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross alongside fantastic unknowns from the '40s and '50s.
If you've got a top ten list you'd like to submit, email it to us at HEYNYCD@aol.com and we'll post it on the blog. First come, first served!
CDs MAKE GREAT GIFTS!
Once you've checked out our lists, get your orders in for those stocking stuffers and under-the-menorah gifts (nothing like a Corrine Bailey Rae CD for day 6!).
And since we're here, why not a little bit of NEW RELEASE INFO!
GWEN STEFANI - SWEET ESCAPE. The harmless followup to Love, Sex, Angel, Shoes contains the usual assortment of slickly produced, all-style-no-substance la-di-dah beloved by music industry tools.
FRANK ZAPPA - MOFO PROJECT/OBJECT. Official album #78 from the Zappa camp features the original stereo vinyl mix of the legendary debut album "Freak Out," along with a second disc featuring unreleased sessions and alternates.
ELVIS COSTELLO & ALLEN TOUSSAINT - HOT AS A PISTOL, KEEN AS A BLADE (DVD). Two-plus hours of concert footage and more, captured earlier this year in Toronto. This DVD features Costello faves and Allen Toussaint hits reworked with a New Orleans R & B flavor. This is a good one!
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER...
VARIOUS ARTISTS - RHYTHMS DEL MUNDO. This project brings together the legendary surviving musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club (which at this point is one guy named Jose) with Chris Martin (Coldplay), Dido, Franz Ferdinand, Sting, Bono, and Radiohead among others, performing collaborations on some of their classic hits. We've heard their version of Radiohead's "High & Dry," and it doesn't sound as funny as the actual description. As a matter of fact, it was damn good.
DON'T FORGET, WE CAN GET YOU ANYTHING MENTIONED HERE PLUS ANY OTHER CDs OR DVDs YOU'RE HANKERING FOR THIS HOLIDAY SEASON! CALL (212) 244-3460 OR EMAIL US AT HEYNYCD@AOL.COM!
SELL US YOUR OLD CDs & DVDs! COME ON, WE KNOW YOU NEED THE CASH FOR CHRISTMAS GIFTS! CALL OR EMAIL!
UNTIL NEXT WEEK, WE LEAVE YOU WITH THIS:
What's the difference between James Dolan and e.coli?
The bags under Jeff Van Gundy's eyes