Sunday, December 31, 2006

WXPN Top 50 Countdown - Day 5

25. My Morning Jacket, Okonokos

Trip: My Morning Jacket is an amazing live band but it’s rare that a live cd captures the essence of seeing a great band in concert. Predictably Okonokos is a little self indulgent and for completists only. For those just coming to MMJ, I’d start with At Dawn or last year’s excellent Z.

Michael: The Digital Millenium Copyright Act continues to doom me to ignorance.

24. Flaming Lips, At War With the Mystics

Trip: For some reason I hadn’t gotten around to giving this puppy much attention – probably because of the schtickiness of the last Flaming Lips show I saw. Well, my loss, because Wayne Coyne is still very much in tune with his warped, psychedelic muse. This is the first “I’ve got to get that record” moment of the countdown.

Michael: I loaned out my copy of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots long ago, and it never came back, which, I suppose was OK. I admire the Lips’ willingness to go where no band has gone before, but the arch concepts can leave me a little cold. I haven’t heard this one. I’m sure it’s interesting, but I doubt it’s something I’d revisit much.

23. Los Lobos, The Town and the City

Trip: In all The Hold Steady hype around here, it’s been overlooked that the once, current and future best band in America might still be Los Lobos, a crown they’ve worn off and on for 25 years. The Town And the City is a real return to form, their best since 1992’s Kiko. All hail David Hidalgo!!

Michael: Got this one not long ago. Sounds like a Los Lobos album. Sturdy, professional, workmanlike, but I’ve yet to discover anything new in it. I’ll keep trying.

22. Rosanne Cash, Black Cadillac

Trip: “One of us gets to go to heaven / One has to stay here in hell”… I wish I’d wrote that 27 years ago.

Michael: I’ve had a crush on this woman for a long time, and here she delivers another fine effort, one of the best of a stellar career. The serial losses of her mother, father and stepmother in a short span shape these meditations on love, loss and grieving. Restrained and intimate but never boring, this is the work of a mature artist for a mature audience.

21. Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way

Trip: Any record that includes contributions from Neil Finn, Gary Louris, Mike Campbell and Semisonic’s Dan Wilson should be damn good… and Taking the Long Way is – though a little pruning would have helped. All you old-time Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne fans looking for quality country rock circa 2006 should start with this one.

Michael: The best commercial country act working today, bar none.

20. James Hunter, People Gonna Talk

Trip: This is like a small independent movie with modest charms and a winning execution. What could have been a musty Memphis/Stax homage turns out to be a fine little party record – not one you play to death but perfect for the right moment. And the title track is a stunner that reminds me of Arthur Alexander – high praise indeed!

Michael: Yeah, this is a genre exercise, but it’s an awfully damn good one. Hunter’s no nostalgia act, he’s a man out of time, born (too late) to play this kind of music. Feel good record of the year.

19. Pete Yorn, Nightcrawler

Trip: I like Pete Yorn but I’m not sure I heard one song from this record and didn’t hear it today on the radio, so I’m in no position to comment. Sometimes I actually have a life.

Michael: I really liked Musicforthemorningafter, but it always seemed like all the Yorn I needed to know. Am I wrong?

18. The Killers, Sam’s Town

Trip: Too bad this isn’t a singles countdown because “When You Were Young” might have been the single of the year if it wasn’t for “Crazy”. As for the rest – let’s just the Springsteen sweepstakes winner in 2006 was the Teenage Kicks’ house band.

Michael: Shouldn’t a band this arrogant be, you know, good?

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