2007 Verve Awards

2006 Verve Awards

Best Arts and Culture Blog 2005 Queer Day Awards

Best Gay Blog Nominee 2004 Weblog Awards

Best Arts and Culture Blog Nominee

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


ModFabulous 2006: Best Music of the Year

By now, it's old news to talk about the hemorraging disintegration of the music industry; the internet and the revitalized indie scene have taken care of that. Similarly, it's hard to do a "best albums" list, when the truth I bought very few 'albums' this year; ModFab is officially a member of the download generation.

Part of the problem may also be that NEXT year, 2007, is shaping up to be a zinger, with new releases from u2, Rufus Wainwright, Tracey Thorn, The Fugees, The Blue Nile, Bloc Party, Annie Lennox, Mos Def, Lily Allen, Fall Out Boy, Lucinda Williams, Modest Mouse, The B-52's, Common, The Bravery, Duran Duran, PJ Harvey, Linkin Park, Moby, Panic at the Disco, Travis, Stereolab, Underworld, Portishead, and Nine Inch Nails, to name but a few. Hard to compete with a lineup like that.

But flipping through our hard drive, here's what we found to move you:


Honorable Mention: Tom Waits, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards
Orphans is to Tom Waits’ catalog what Biograph is to Bob Dylan’s: a career-spanning compilation that emphasizes the character and scope of the artist’s work as opposed to simply trotting out the most familiar or widely covered tunes. Like Biograph, Orphans spans three discs and fifty-plus tracks. Also, as with Biograph, there’s a plethora of rare and unreleased material for diehard fans to savor in one convenient package and a treasure trove for newcomers to plunder without having to wade through an extensive (and intimidating) discography." - Shaking Through

10. Junior Boys, So This Is Goodbye
"So skilled a songwriting team Greenspan and Didemus have become, that every carefully-planned note packs a wallop, the starkness continuing to masterfully mask some of the most soulful Canadian music to come out in years." - PopMatters

9. David McAlmont, Set One - You Go To My Head
"In a time when musicians seem to resort to attention-seeking behavior to gain notoriety, it’s nice to see an artist gain critical plaudits on the strength of their singing voice alone. Having achieved a certain amount of fame on the back of the intriguing (yet flawed) collaboration with Suede’s Bernard Butler, McAlmont has kept a low profile. Set 1 is a cover album of songs originally made famous by some of the best female vocalists of the 20th-century, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey and Whitney Houston. It proves that McAlmont’s astonishing voice is more than capable of doing justice to all of those legendary stars. The result? Pure aural pleasure. - VLM [Ed. Note - released in the UK in 2005, elsewhere in 2006]

8. Lady Sovereign, Public Warning
"The Eminem comparisons are not completely unfounded: Sovereign is a feisty white chick armed with some comical rhymes and biting verses. But her decidedly British demeanor sets her apart. On 'My England' she raps, 'It ain't about tea and biscuits/ I'm one of those English misfits/ I don't drink tea, I drink spirits/ and I talk a lot of slang in my lyrics.' There's no shortage of lyrical inventiveness throughout the album, and it's the perfect complement to the musical adventurousness found in the production. Hip-hop, drum 'n' bass, crunk and grime are all stuffed into a blender." - Prefix

7. Original Broadway Cast, Spring Awakening
"What makes the musical completely enthralling and exhilarating is the music written by Duncan Sheik....His music here completely works as emotional vestiges for the characters to cry out their emotions." - Tapeworthy

6. Emma Bunton, Life in Mono
"It's weird to think of Emma Bunton as the only Spice Girl still with a record contract. Yet, over 10 years after 'Wannabe', the erstwhile Baby Spice is still going strong.....Bunton's third solo follows on the '60s pastiche sound of her previous record Free Me. It's as light and fluffy as candyfloss, completely inoffensive and, in parts, surprisingly good....Perhaps the highlight is the title track, a blissful cover version of trip-hop duo Mono's song. Keeping the John Barry stylings of the original, the horns and strings combine beautifully while Bunton's breathy vocals add some sensuality. Similarly arresting is opening track 'All I Need To Know', a beautifully tender piano ballad." - MusicOMH

5. Roseanne Cash, Black Cadillac
"Albums based in eulogy can be tricky -- how to channel overwhelming grief and pain without resorting to hollow clichés or sentimentality? For Rosanne Cash's Black Cadillac, that challenge was compounded by multiple, massive losses (of her mother, stepmother and dad, all within the space of two years) and a family mythology that's caught the public consciousness....she pulls off that balance with staggering grace here. At times, Cash nails the knife-edge of hurt and love so adeptly, you feel like you're intruding on too-personal confessions." - NOW Magazine

4. Corinne Bailey Rae, Corinne Bailey Rae
"When songstress Corinne Bailey Rae released her sashaying single 'Put Your Records On' in her native U.K., it was a feel-good adult alternative phenomenon -- a kind of Norah Jones, Joss Stone, David Gray, or Macy Gray phenomenon. One listen to her breakout soft soul anthem and it's easy to hear why, since Rae is a mix of all the above but not a contrived one concocted by some major label's scientist." - AllMusic

3. Scissor Sisters, Ta-Dah
" Having successfully avoided one-hit wonder status, Scissor Sisters tread confidently throughout Ta-Dah, perhaps due to the guiding hand of John's mentorship, but more likely because the band realizes that no amount of cavity-inducing hooks will capture Stateside attentions, so why not go for broke? Bursting at the seams with sounds that fell out of favor around the same time as slap bracelets, Ta-Dah is a futuristic glance back, an album that seamlessly fuses swaggering discotheque beats with exuberant 21st-century sexuality." -- Slant

2. Pet Shop Boys, Fundamental
"Reunites the duo with [producer] Trevor Horn and sees a return to the band's core values, set, on many of the best tracks, to a disco beat. This is true of the album's lead single 'I'm With Stupid' - bright, funny, sad and opinionated....this comeback from a band who never really went away is the Pet Shop Boys' best album in over a decade, sitting neatly between their previous career highpoints of Very and Behaviour, and it propels them back into the pop premier league." - London Guardian

1. Scritti Politti, Black Beer White Bread
[Scritti Politti mastermind Green] Gartside's evolution from squat-dwelling, theory-espousing post-punk radical to a mid-'80s synth-pop hit-machine with a political agenda is one of the more fascinating stories in modern pop (check out Simon Reynolds' great post-punk history Rip It Up And Start Again for the full details), and for the 21st century, he's transformed himself into a bedroom Brian Wilson capable of singing lines like 'made me think of how brave you are and how come I have strayed so far / and how everything came apart in my head and in my heart' as easily as most singers croon 'I love you.' Rarely have Pro Tools and a melancholy disposition fallen into such capable hands." - A.V. Club

Ten Best Songs (not included on any of the above)
10. Regina Spektor, "Fidelity" [watch][buy]
9. Goldfrapp, "Fly Me Away" [watch][buy]
8. Fall Out Boy, "It Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race" [watch][buy]
7. Moby ft. Debbie Harry, "New York, New York" [watch][buy]
6. P!nk, "Stupid Girls" [watch][buy]
5. The Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready To Make Nice" [watch][buy]
4. The Gossip, "Standing in the Way of Control" [watch][buy]
3. Paul Oakenfold ft. Brittany Murphy, "Faster Kill Pussycat" [watch][buy]
2. Christina Aguilera, "Ain't No Other Man" [watch][buy]
1. Amy Winehouse, "Rehab" [watch][buy]

Would Have Made My List, But Were Actually Released in 2005:
Mary J. Blige, The Breakthrough [listen][watch][buy]
Panic! at the Disco, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out [listen][watch][buy]

Robbie Williams, Rudebox; Christina Aguilera, Back To Basics; Erasure, Union Street; Keith Urban, Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing; Gwen Stefani, The Sweet Escape; The Killers, Sam's Town; Brand New Heavies, Get Used To It; Shape:UK, Sound Advice; John Mayer, Continuum;

Completely Over These Ten:
"Give Me Danger", Dangerous Muse; "Promiscuous", Nelly Furtado; "Crazy", Gnarls Barkley; "My Love", Justin Timberlake; "Stars Are Blind", Paris Hilton; "London Bridge", Fergie; "Beautiful", James Blunt; "Bad Day", Daniel Powter; "Hips Don't Lie", Shakira; "Unwritten", Natasha Bedingfield

Previously: Best Music of 2005
Tomorrow: Best Theater

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