5. HEAD AUTOMATICA Propaganda
Someone had this modern pop band up on their myspace and I just fell in love with their songs. They sound like old Elvis Costello mixed with Nick Lowe…with synth. They’re also a lil “Phantom Planet-y.” I like this band so much, I keep waiting to go see them play live when they aren’t on a bill with shitterriffic bands like “30 Seconds to Mars” or (worst.band.ever.) “My Chemical Romance.” I don’t think it’s gonna happen though. “Head Automatica” just isn’t “that” big and they have a horrible band name. Still, if you like peppy pop ala Costello…get this album.
4. JENNY LEWIS AND THE WATSON TWINS Rabbit Fur Coat
I really, really like “Rilo Kiley” and I especially really like Jenny Lewis…the singer for “Rilo Kiley.” This album is her at her vocal best doing slightly country/folky sounding songs with a pair of beauties who call themselves “The Watson Twins.” I wouldn’t call this a country album…it sounds like “The Travelling Wilburies” or something. There’s a cover of “Handle Me With Care” on the album. It’s hard to explain but it’s really great. Lots of great harmonies and good lyrics…great stuff!
3. Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Wow. My hero Bruce Springsteen puts together a 12 person plus band to reinterpret folk songs by Pete Seeger. Of course I don’t think The Boss can do any wrong, but this album is just so honest and heartfelt and fun it’s just…contagious. I had the good fortune of seeing this band live and it was incredible! Over 3 hours of music and I just didn’t want it to end. There’s something that just fills your heart and soul with joy in this music and also in Bruce Springsteen’s music. Put the two together and it’s magic. Plus I get a heavy feeling that Bruce did this album as a sort of salve for the people of New Orleans.
2. Will Kimbrough Americanitis
Will Kimbrough is an Alien. Or just a plain ole badass. But he’s also incredibly insightful, kindhearted, sensible, intelligent and damn irritated about the war in Iraq and the bullying going on in America. Hell, and in the way we bully other countries. He has a right to be. Yet he never gets preachy on “Americanitis.” He just puts thoughts and honest feelings out there and lets them lie where they may. They usually end up plopping down in the common sense area of your brain. Plus, he totally, totally rocks! “Americanitis” blends protest songs with songs about peace love and understanding. What’s so funny about that anyway? Get this album. It’s little but mighty!
1. Todd Snider The Devil You Know
I’m an unabashed Todd Snider fan but that doesn’t mean I like everything he does. I’ve been a vocal critic of a few albums from a few years ago. They just didn’t do much for me. But with this latest album and the last (“East Nashville Skyline”) Todd is sooo back. There’s only one song on this album that I’m not that crazy about. One song. I don’t even know where to begin telling you what a terrific album this is. The song “A Tale of Two Frat Brothers” has the greatest songwriting twist since “The Kinks” song “Lola.” I’ve seen Todd perform it live 2-3 times and the collective looks on uninitiated peoples faces when they get what the song is about gives me goose bumps. That’s what brilliant songwriting is all about.
“Thin Wild Mercury” is probably my favorite on the album. It tells the apparently true story about Bob Dylan throwing Phil Ochs out of his limo. I also like the easy going “Carla” and the looking-for-a-hit type song “Lookin’ for a Job.” I can honestly say I love this album more than any album this year and not a week has gone by where it hasn’t found it’s way into my CD player. It’s country, it’s rock, it’s folk…it’s amazing.
Coming tomorrow…Top Ten Films of 2006…