sábado, 23 de janeiro de 2010

Os Melhores Discos de 2006 - Uncut

1. BOB DYLAN
Modern Times
COLUMBIA
“I wrote these songs in a hypnotic state. These songs are in my genes, and I couldn’t stop them comin’ out,” Dylan told Rolling Stone this year, as the buzz around his first new album in five years reached a critical mass. As Dylan implied, Modern Times sounded like an effortless masterpiece: blues, jazz, folk and primitive rock’n’roll inhaled over many decades, then exhaled in beautiful and charismatic, subtly-adjusted forms. At once playful and apocalyptic, Dylan swaggered to the top of the American charts for the first time in 30 years, Harry Smith’s anthology in one fist, the Old Testament in the other. Now we should stop claiming that Modern Times completed a trilogy of late Dylan classics, and accept that wonderful records will roll and tumble out of him for years to come.

2. SCRITTI POLITTI
White Bread Black Beer
ROUGH TRADE
The odd career of Green Gartside reached an apotheosis with this, Scritti’s long-awaited fifth album. After Marxist post-punk, academic subversions of lush mainstream pop and a shaky dalliance with hip hop, White Bread saw Gartside creating intimate, voluptuous bedroom soul and lo-fi Beatlesy guitar pop from his Hackney headquarters. The arch theorist’s first, hugely touching, love songs, too.

3. COMETS ON FIRE
Avatar
SUB POP
With acid-folk being so ubiquitous, it was only a matter of time before the freaks found their amps again. The fourth album by California’s Comets On Fire was a modern psychedelic marvel, as Ethan Miller and his hairy compadres streamlined the freeform noise of their previous records into ferocious classic rock, proudly channelling Hendrix, the Dead, even The Allman Brothers in the process.

4. JOANNA NEWSOM
Ys
DRAG CITY
Perhaps the most single-minded and ambitious album of the year, Ys was an epic five-song suite performed by Newsom, a singer and harpist from just outside San Francisco. Myth, sex and nature intertwined in her compelling narrative, while Van Dyke Parks added a lavish orchestral score. A baroque pop masterpiece, that confirmed Newsom as this generation’s Kate Bush.

5. NEIL YOUNG
Living With War
REPRISE
If recent albums suggested Young was mellowing, the rough and ready protest grunge of Living With War showed how the old warhorse is at his most potent when he gets angry. Recorded on the hoof with bass, drums, wobbly trumpet and 100-strong choir, it was a crude and highly effective indictment of Bush and his disastrous policies, from the heart of a disillusioned patriot. Some of his best tunes in years, as well.

6. THE ARCTIC MONKEYS
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
DOMINO
Massive sales, the Mercury Music Prize, one lost bassist: at this end of 2006, it’s worth recalling what all the fuss was originally about. The Monkeys’ debut was a gimlet-eyed dissection of ordinary Sheffield lives passing from adolescence to adulthood, with a wit that aligned Alex Turner to English pop’s lineage of great social commentators and a surprisingly funky motor beneath the spindly guitars.

7. MIDLAKE
The Trials Of Van Occupanther
BELLA UNION
London’s Bella Union label have made a speciality of tapping into the Texan psych underground, and the second album by Midlake was their most valuable find yet. Van Occupanther took its cues from the Mercury Rev of Deserter’s Songs: mellow, captivating pastoral rock with a trippy subtext. But at their best, with their creamy harmonies to the fore, Midlake revealed their true peers to be Crosby, Stills & Nash.

8. HOT CHIP
The Warning
EMI
The second album by Putney’s wry tech-geeks, a winning combination of slightly fey, little-boy-lost indie, vintage synthpop and 21st Century dance music. Britain’s most potent response to New York’s DFA sound was at once surging and vulnerable – notably on the outstanding “Boy From School” - and paved the way for a clutch of indie-dance hybrids set to hit the mainstream in 2007.

9. SUFJAN STEVENS
The Avalanche
ROUGH TRADE
Slow progress on Stevens’ 50 states project, as he remained stuck on Illinois. The Avalanche was billed as a bunch of out-takes from 2005’s superb Illinois. But the fecundity and quality of Stevens’ songwriting ensured that these 21 micro-detailed, literate, funny and moving snapshots – hymning Saul Bellow and Adlai Stevenson amongst others - were very nearly the equal of their illustrious predecessors.
10. THOM YORKE
The Eraser
XL
Yorke’s solo debut was not, in truth, dramatically different from latterday Radiohead. In fact, The Eraser’s lucid and insidious blend of Warp-style electronica and singer-songwriter tumult – Uncut’s reviewer drew parallels with Roy Harper – placed it as a sort of belated follow-up to Kid A. In a year of fine and varied political engagement, Yorke’s voice was one of the most eloquent: subtle, profoundly frightened.

11. FLAMING LIPS
At War With The Mystics
WARNER’S
Business as usual in the Lips Laboratories, as Messrs Coyne, Drozd and Ivins conducted another dazzling experiment in Cosmic American Pop. If anything, the bubblegum melodies were catchier than ever, though these songs about mortality, fundamentalism and Britney Spears also featured excursions into ‘70s soul, their gnarliest riffs in a decade and, in the Floyd homage, “Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung”, a gushing career highpoint.

12. BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY
The Letting Go
DOMINO
Two albums from the prolific Will Oldham this year: an underwhelming covers session backed by Tortoise; and this cracker, up there with his very best efforts. The Letting Go saw the restless shape-shifter pitch up in Iceland, assisted by Björk affiliates, vocalist Dawn McCarthy and a string section that gave songs like “Cursed Sleep” a richness recalling Nick Drake.

13. LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM
Under The Skin
WARNER’S
Besides Bob and Neil, a bunch of American rock veterans – Paul Simon, Tom Petty, Donald Fagen, Springsteen and more – made auspicious returns in 2006. Unexpectedly the fifth solo album by Fleetwood Mac’s Buckingham was one of the very best: spacey, slightly disorienting acoustic ballads that addressed the tensions of art and family life with mature skill and no little experimentation. A great version of the Stones’ “I Am Waiting”, especially.

14. CAT POWER
The Greatest
MATADOR
Chan Marshall might have a risky, erratic reputation as a live performer, but her albums are reliably excellent. The Greatest, her seventh, privileged the soulful aspects of her art, finally shaking off the lo-fi reputation by hiring a crack team of Memphis session guys to put discreet muscle on her fragile beauties. Marshall’s charm remained intact, while her music was imbued with a brave new focus and accessibility.

15. BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT
Brightblack Morning Light
MATADOR
You couldn’t make this one up: two homeless, crystal-carrying hippies who pitched their teepees in northern California and recorded an album. The result, though, was as entertaining as the backstory, an utterly bewitching blend of torpid Southern gris gris soul and Spacemen 3 atmospherics that sustained us through the heatwave. Handily, the album came with a pair of prismatic glasses, all the better to enjoy the trip.

16. THE RACONTEURS
Broken Boy Soldiers
XL
On sabbatical from The White Stripes, Jack White turned jam sessions with his mates – The Greenhornes’ rhythm section and ace singer-songwriter Brendan Benson – into the impressively nifty Raconteurs. Far from a throwaway side project, Broken Boy Soldiers was packed with harmonious, rumbustious powerpop, juddering garage psych and cranky ballads, with White and Benson swapping roles with ease. A good time, clearly, had by all.

17. ALI FARKA TOURE
Savane
WORLD CIRCUIT
The music world lost plenty of heroes in 2006, not least Ali Farka Toure; Malian farmer, master of blues guitar, and a great, elegant populariser of West African music. His last album placed Toure’s snaking guitar – drawing equally from indigenous music and the American blues records he loved – at the centre of a traditional Malian big band, picking out melodies that were mantric, celebratory and, given his impending death from bone cancer, deeply poignant.

18. CSS
Cansei De Ser Sexy
SUB POP
Last year, the Souljazz label unearthed a trove of ‘80s post-punk bands from Sao Paolo on their ace Sexual Life Of The Savages comp. This year,the largely female Cansei De Ser Sexy (Portuguese for “Tired Of Being Sexy”) demonstrated that the scene still flourished. Exuberant and danceable, their debut ended up outranking more vaunted mutations of the punk-funk gene like Sweden’s Love Is All.

19. BECK
The Information
INTERSCOPE
Tired of flip-flopping between party jams produced by the Dust Brothers and ethereal singer-songwriter trips helmed by Nigel Godrich, The Information found Beck trying something new – a party jam produced by Nigel Godrich. The results were arresting: quirky folk/hip hop hybrids given a ghostly extra dimension, a wry counterpoint to Godrich’s other big 2006 job, The Eraser. “Cellphone’s Dead” also revealed a hitherto suppressed affection for “Loaded”-era Primal Scream.

20. BURIAL
Burial
HYPERDUB
With the grime scene fading somewhat, 2006’s underground dance phenomenon in London was dubstep, a largely instrumental evolution of garage that combined elephantine bass frequencies with bleak sci-fi atmospherics and a hefty dose of urban alienation. Its key text was the self-titled debut by Burial, a shadowy South London producer whose mastery of mood earned him comparisons with Tricky circa Maxinequaye.

21. VETIVER
To Find Me Gone
FATCAT
The first Vetiver album, 2004’s self-titled effort, was initially noticed thanks to Devendra Banhart figuring in the line-up. Its follow-up, however, gathered plaudits for the delicate songwriting of Banhart’s mate Andy Cabic. To Find Me Long Gone was a laidback gem, as Cabic’s songwriting moved fractionally away from the acid-folk template and embraced a richer, finely-nuanced West Coast sound.

22. ESPERS
Espers II
WICHITA
Propitiously located next to Vetiver in the chart (the two bands share a drummer, Otto Hauser), the second album by Philadelphia’s Espers was a dense, intense excursion into eldritch folk. At times, its churning drones were closer in spirit to The Velvet Underground than more obvious role models like Fairport Convention, though a Velvet Underground fixated on medieval myth and penumbral incantations rather than urban deviancy.

23. GHOSTFACE KILLAH
Fish Scale
DEF JAM
In a relatively quiet year for hip hop, nothing came close to the surreal belligerence of Ghostface’s fifth solo album. None of his comrades in The Wu-Tang Clan can match him for either freaky lyrical prowess, good taste in producers, or consistency – virtues all writ large on Fishscale alongside vivid gangster scenarios and, bizarrely, a paean to the corporal punishment dished out by his mom.

24. HOWLIN’ RAIN
Howlin’ Rain
BIRDMAN
Ethan Miller’s second appearance in the 50, following the Top Three placing for Comets On Fire. Howlin’ Rain’s debut was a magnificently blasted take on Americana. Also featuring John Moloney from the wild Massachusetts collective Sunburned Hand Of The Man, the Rain specialised in beer-chugging, freewheeling roots rock, heavily influenced by Credence Clearwater Revival, then given psychedelic thrust by Miller’s molten guitar solos.

25. SCOTT WALKER
The Drift
4AD
A trifling 11 years since his last album, Tilt, Scott Engel returned with an album that was uncompromising even by his daunting mature standards. The Drift juxtaposed solemnly intoned non-sequiturs with bursts of jagged strings, giving the impression of a faintly gothic, distinctly avant-garde Sondheim. Slabs of meat were beaten for percussion, too, but amidst the intimations of apocalypse, Walker revealed a surreal, but unmistakeable sense of humour.

26. TV ON THE RADIO
Return To Cookie Mountain
4AD
David Bowie was so impressed with the first album by the dense and impassioned Brooklyn artrockers that he ended up guesting on its sequel, Return To Cookie Mountain, adding backing vocals to “Province”. In truth, he was barely noticeable, lost in the enveloping post-My Blood Valentine soundscape, sublimated into the barbershop harmonies that flanked Tunde Adebimpe’s strikingly Peter Gabriel-esque lead.

27. YO LA TENGO
I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
MATADOR
On their 12th album to celebrate their 20th year in rock, and the Hoboken indie institutions used the opportunity to show off their encyclopaedic grasp of pop and rock. Unlike the quieter albums which preceded it, IANAOYAIWBYA flitted between beat pop, jangling folk-rock, indie-soul and mature introspection. Best of all, though, were the clanging freak-outs that bookended the LP, confirming Ira Kaplan as a truly innovative guitarist.

28. TOM WAITS
Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers And Bastards
ANTI
A boundlessly fascinating treasure trove of Waitsiana, Orphans was a 3CD set that mixed rarities from the archives with 30 fine new tracks. Bawlers prioritised Waits as cranky piano balladeer, while Bastards was a feisty hotch-potch of spoken word and oddities. Brawlers was the keeper, though: knockabout ramalams from some avant-garde juke-joint, with a song about the Israel/Palestine conflict an unexpected highlight.
29. OAKLEY HALL
Second Guessing
AMISH
More psychedelic Americana, this time from a gang of Brooklyn outlaws led by Pat Sullivan who used to figure in art-rockers Oneida. Fractionally the better of the two albums Oakley Hall released in 2006, Second Guessing was a levitating, joyous treat, chugging along like a hybrid of Lynyrd Skynyrd and third-album Velvet Underground, before trancing out for a gracious drone through Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Cod’ine”.

30. NEKO CASE
Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
ANTI
A small classic of contemporary alt-country, this, from the awesomely-voiced, Chicago-based singer. For her fifth solo album, Case called in a typically impressive support crew, including Calexico, Giant Sand and The Band’s increasingly active Garth Hudson. But it was her vivid, allusive lyrics and the way she delivered them – measured, expressive, never resorting to histrionics – that made Fox Confessor such a treasure.

31. MASTODON
Blood Mountain
WARNERS
A forbidding bunch from Atlanta, Georgia, Mastodon became the connoisseurs’ heavy metal band of choice thanks to 2004’s Moby Dick-inspired opus, Leviathan. Blood Mountain, their major label debut, took their monumental sound overground without losing any of the power. Hence thunderous riffs evolved into fiendish prog complexities, Mogwai were as potent an influence as Metallica, and Josh Homme turned up to help out on “Colony Of Birchmen”.

32. JOHNNY CASH
American V: A Hundred Highways
LOST HIGHWAY
Thanks to the endless slew of releases in the wake of his death, Cash has become country’s equivalent to Tupac Shakur. A good job, though, that Rick Rubin continued to mastermind the American Recordings project, placing the last recordings he made with Cash in 2002 and 2003 – infirm but stately, freighted with intimations of mortality - into starkly empathetic settings.

33. CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
WICHITA
Much like The Arcade Fire in 2005, the debut by this modest Brooklyn band was boosted to prominence by a network of assiduous bloggers. Fortunately, the hype turned out to be accurate. CYHSY was a classic American indie record: spindly, articulate, aware of Pavement but, in this case, enthralled by Talking Heads, too.

34. GRANDADDY
Just Like The Fambly Cat
V2
Evidently, critical acclaim can only sustain you for so long, since Modesto’s feted Grandaddy split in 2006, still impoverished after a decade of hard alt-rock labour. They left, though, one elegaic last album - a reaffirmation of Jason Lytle’s odd and plaintive songs, once again imbued with that bumbling, steam-powered majesty that always made the band so endearing.

35. SONIC YOUTH
Rather Ripped
GEFFEN
Back to a quartet following the departure of Jim O’Rourke, the Youth’s late-flowering adoption of classic rock was even more apparent than on 2004’s Sonic Nurse. With the effects turned down and the emphasis on songs, Rather Ripped was a skinny, linear reconfiguring of their sound, featuring some of Kim Gordon’s best contributions in years. Some suspected it may have been a last hurrah to the mainstream, as their lengthy Geffen contract finally came up for renewal.

36. SCISSOR SISTERS
Ta-Dah
POLYDOR
After the incredible success of their debut, some worried that New York’s foremost creatures of the night would be a kind of disco Darkness: skilful revivalists who couldn’t follow up a novelty initial success. No worries here, it transpired, as Ta-Dah proved Jake Shears and Babydaddy’s pop nous – brash, relentlessly upbeat, but with a covert emotional valency – would outlive nostalgic fads.

37. OUTKAST
Idlewild
RCA
Never knowingly unambitious, Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s much-anticipated sequel to Speakerboxxx/The Love Below came in the form of a movie and this accompanying soundtrack. Wild hybrids between hip hop, cosmic funk, contemporary electronica and big band jazz abounded, with the underappreciated Big Boi’s contributions (notably “The Train”) outperforming those of his more lauded, more self-consciously adventurous partner.

38. LILY ALLEN
Alright, Still
PARLOPHONE
Sceptics may have winced at the prospect of Keith Allen’s daughter launching herself on the music world, but Alright, Still was a terrific, bolshy, eclectic stew of London street pop. Like her father, Lily was blessed with great confidence and mouthiness. Unlike her father, however, she backed it up with real talent: “LDN”, in particular, was a joyous but unsentimental study of life in the capital.

39. LAMBCHOP
Damaged
CITY SLANG
After overseeing an extensive reissue programme of Lambchop’s early work in 2006, Kurt Wagner turned even further inwards for his eighth and most intimate album. Damaged found the gifted Nashvillian musing on mortality and the consolation of everyday trivia as he recovered from a cancer scare, while his band – far from country now – loitered empathetically, adding colour with the subtlest of gestures.

40. JOAN AS POLICEWOMAN
Real Life
REVEAL
Joan Wasser has been a significant presence on the New York scene for many years now: playing violin with Rufus Wainwright and Antony And The Johnsons; dating Jeff Buckley; figuring in the underrated Dambuilders and Those Bastard Souls. Her solo debut as Joan As Policewoman suggested, however, that she was finally about to move beyond the status of supporting artist; all potent white soul, a strong female correlative to Antony’s I Am A Bird Now.

41. JENNY LEWIS
Rabbit Fur Coat
ROUGH TRADE
As lead singer of Rilo Kiley, Lewis became quite the indie darling, but this funny, touching country album displayed her talent much more effectively. Lewis’ colourful upbringing provided the source material, embroidered with fine country-gospel harmonies by The Watson Twins. The unlikely highlight, meanwhile, was “Handle With Care”, a roistering Traveling Wilburies cover where Lewis recruited Conor Oberst and M Ward into her alternative supergroup.

42. DONALD FAGEN
Morph The Cat
WARNERS
By his meticulous standards, Fagen is on a phenomenally productive streak at the moment: counting the last two Steely Dan albums, Morph was his third record this century. No drop in quality, mind. As ever, the jazzy, endlessly mutating grooves evoked a stainless future, which the imperturbably droll Fagen undermined with his hipster sci-fi lyrics. Slick, dystopian and immensely sophisticated – nothing less than we’ve come to expect.

43. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
We Shall Overcome
COLUMBIA
A prolific time for the Boss, too. Following last year’s Devils And Dust, We Shall Overcome saw Springsteen corral a rollicking big band in his barn to record 13 songs made famous by American folk’s paterfamilias, Pete Seeger. From the title track’s noble protest to, remarkably, “Froggie Went A Courtin’”, Springsteen tapped intuitively into the idea of music as a communal and empowering activity.

44. KASABIAN
Empire
COLUMBIA
Designated as heirs to the British ladrock throne by the Gallagher brothers, Leicester’s Kasabian were actually a lot more interesting than their blokey, self-aggrandising reputation suggested. Their second album took the thumping, Screamish dance-rock of 2004’s Kasabian and gave it even greater clout, often referencing the boisterous end of glam. Brilliantly, the single “Shoot The Runner” even had the Cro-Magnon swagger of the lamented Earl Brutus.

45. THE WALKMEN
A Hundred Miles Off
WARNER’S
Of all the New York bands that emerged at the start of the century, The Walkmen were one of the most interesting and under-appreciated. The third album by these former members of Jonathan Fire*Eater found them at their edgy and dynamic best. Thanks to the rasping vocals of Hamilton Leithauser, they provided a gripping approximation of Dylan fronting a skinny downtown garage band.

46. BAND OF HORSES
Everything All The Time
SUB POP
An evocatively-named bunch from Seattle, Band Of Horses’ debut often came on like a countrified take on The Flaming Lips. There were also elements of Built To Spill in Ben Bridwell’s keening vocals, while the combination of the rootsy and the transcendent also recalled My Morning Jacket. “The Funeral” was typical: soaring, open-hearted, Cosmic American Music.

47. GNARLS BARKLEY
St Elsewhere
WARNER BROS
Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton has become one of the world’s most in-demand producers of late, as work with artists as diverse as Gorillaz, Sparklehorse and MF Doom has shown. Gnarls Barkley saw him team up with underrated Atlanta rapper Cee-Lo Green for a crafty, soulful update of vintage soul revues. “Crazy” became inescapable, but a Violent Femmes cover was a better indicator of their eccentricities.

48. MUSE
Black Holes And Revelations
WARNER BROS
One of the daftest and most entertaining British releases of 2006, their fourth album finally showed the Devon trio outgrowing their reputation as a sort of crass, stadium-rocking Radiohead. Instead, Black Holes found Muse manoeuvring onto even bigger stages, referencing Queen’s bombast and the falsetto funk-rock of Prince (on the “Supermassive Black Hole” single), before concocting “Knights Of Cydonia”, an epic as fantastic and ridiculous as its title promised.

49. BELLE & SEBASTIAN
The Life Pursuit
ROUGH TRADE
It would’ve been easy to take the seventh album by Glasgow’s indie perennials for granted; so consistently satisfying have they been over the past decade. But The Life Pursuit turned the spotlight back on a band still eager to push their music in new directions: towards glam and Sly Stone-ish funk, implausibly, while continuing to refine their literate, janglesome core sound.

50. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS
A Blessing And A Curse
NEW WEST
The latterday kings of southern rock made a conscious attempt to escape the regional stereotype on their seventh record: A Blessing And A Curse was, if anything, closer in sound to The Rolling Stones rather than Lynyrd Skynyrd. No drop-off in quality from their three gifted songwriters, mind: alongside the battered and compelling narratives of Hood and Cooley, the songs of junior Trucker Jason Isbell remained the band’s greatest asset.

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