As promised, a quick round up of 2006 as seen through the eyes of the overworked propellerheads at IrkThePurists Towers. Drum roll, please....
Most overrated band Red Hot Chilli Peppers
How can a band that gives props to The Gang of Four and The Durutti Column in their interviews consistently turn out the most turgid, lily-livered drivel and yet still fill stadiums on a regular basis (I've a feeling the two things may be connected...)? Their latest, Snow, is unmitigated dreck, a sing-songy nursery rhyme that goes nowhere and takes an age to do it.
Most unanticipated re-union All Saints
You have to at least let us miss you before re-forming, OK?
Most overused phrase "Fit For Purpose"
Once only uttered by New Labour policy wonks, this tired cliche has now found its way into policy makers' jargon and appeared in every paper, proposal, and booklet I read in 2006. Enough already!
Best jazz-rock album Acoustic Ladyland--Skinny Grin
Acoustic Ladyland are (confusingly) the electric version of Polar Bear, a skronk-jazz outfit of some repute. Skinny Grin, their second long player, includes a mix of one track by Scott Walker and guest sax by long-missing-in-action NY scenester James Chance, and it's mighty impressive, ranging from Peter Brotzmann-like sax squalls to percussion-driven workouts. By the way, kids, if you want to see what twenty-odd years of heroin abuse will do to you, just gaze at the ravaged visage of James Chance in Don Letts' recent biopic Punk Attitude. Even scarier than Zammo singing 'Just Say No'.
Most disappointing album Primal Scream Riot City Blues
After three trail-blazing albums in a row, Bobby Gillespie and co decide to play it safe, eschewing the Can, Velvets, Kraftwerk and My Bloody Valentine influences for tired Byrds and Stones riffs. Out go the politics, and in come the crowd-pleasing cliched lyrics, as Bob seems more interested in being in Heat and Grazia than in doing it for the kids. I blame Kate Moss.
Most outspoken pop star Pink
Good for her. Mr. President isn't a must-listen by any means, but at least she's stuck her head above the parapet.
Best cartoon band since The Banana Splits Eagles Of Death Metal --I Gotta Feeling
Chanelling the sound, if not the vision, of Alice Cooper. Axl Rose called them "The Pigeons of Shit Metal", but you really can't pay attention to anything said by a man with cornrows.
Best hidden track Cunts Are Still Running The World--Jarvis Cocker
Tucked away at the end of his recent Rough Trade release, and still, surprisingly, awaiting a playback on Saturday morning kids' TV...
Best music-related book Rough Trade by Rob Young
Best autobiography Rupert Everett's Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins
Most interesting new prospects The Victorian English Gentlemen's Club
They're Welsh, which is slightly confusing (though Welsh Gentlemen's doesn't have those kinky overtones), and more than one critic has compared them to the B-52s. And that's no bad thing.
Best live act Scritti Politti
And I wish I'd put money on this. Just think of the odds I would have gotten in December 2005. Graham Coxon ran them a close second.
Most low-key comeback Section 25 at Poulton-Le-Fylde's Over The Edge club
Northern miserabilists decide on another go round; typically perverse, they do it some 4 years after interest in Factory peaks with 24 Hour Party People.
Album I most wanted to love and couldn't quite Joanna Newsom--Ys
The critics said this was an album you'd either love or hate this. I beg to differ. I certainly don't hate it; it's different, it's ambitious and hell, it brought together Van Dyke Parks, Steve Albini and Jim O'Rourke on the same record; that doesn't happen every day. Its longest track clocks in at 16 minutes. It's sumptuously packaged. It'll make your hi-fi sound like a million dollars. It's the best album by a harpist you're likely to hear this year. And yet I'd be lying if I said I'd taken it completely to my bosom. Perhaps its the convoluted subject matter, perhaps it's the depiction of Ms Newsom as an medieval wench on the sleeve, perhaps it's her voice, midway between Bjork and Janis Joplin. But somehow, I couldn't quite fall in love with this, much as I wanted to. Maybe it'll grow on me in 2007.
Bonus interview: Steve Albini talks food
Download Acoustic Ladyland Salt Water (Scott Walker mix) (deleted Feb 2007--sorry!)
Download Joanna Newsom Cosmia (deleted Feb 2007--sorry!)
9 hours ago