Friday, December 15

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2006 (Part IV.)

Top 5 Albums Of 2006.

We've finally made it. Here are the CDP's Top 5 Albums of the Year. This list represents the albums that have stayed in my car the longest, the albums that have blown my mind the most, or the albums that changed the way I thought about music in 2006. It's no easy task, but they bravely stepped up to the plate, and promptly gave me a swift boot to the rod.

Polysics - Now Is The Time!
Honorable Mention - Polysics - Now Is The Time!

Because this album was technically released in Japan in 2005, Now Is The Time! was controversially omitted from the Top 20. I still felt it deserved recognition, however, as Polysics still hold the CDP title of Greatest Band On Earth. Even though Now Is The Time! doesn't stand up to the best of Polysics (buy Polysics Or Die!!! for a crash course), they still destroy everything in their path, even on their worst day. These geniuses make their instruments do awful things.

The Crane Wife.
#5 - The Decemberists - The Crane Wife

The Decemberists are consistently releasing music at a plane of existence higher than just about any band playing today. On the heels of the amazing Picaresque, The Crane Wife is more of what we'd expect to see from Colin Meloy and company. When Arcade Fire releases four straight albums that are on par with what Funeral was, then I'll start to compare them to the Decemberists. To be this good all the time is downright scary.

#4 - Mew - And The Glass Handed Kites

Already a well-established group in their native Denmark, Mew's monolithic sound and lush landscapes even put Muse to shame. And The Glass Handed Kites is truly one of the most beautiful albums of the year, in that it honestly transports you to somewhere else, while still retaining a melodic rock sensibility. It may take a listen or two, but eventually you'll understand why this group has such a devoted following.

Return To The Sea.
#3 - Islands - Return To The Sea

Even though they received plenty of buzz for containing two members of The Unicorns in their group, Islands' Return To The Sea was a severely underrated album this year. Perfectly-crafted indie rock with touches of Neutral Milk Hotel and buzzing amps for good measure, Return To The Sea marked the release of an album done amazingly proper. From the swirling 9-minute intro to the almost radio-friendly singles, Return To The Sea will make all fans of music happy at some point.

#2 - P.O.S. - Audition

Out of absolutely nowhere, Minneapolis' own P.O.S. released the hip-hop album of the year. Hands-down, no argument and no conversation necessary. Almost more punk than rap, the angry beats, angrier rhymes and intelligent musings of P.O.S. will make this man a huge star in no time. If you thought that angry, political, smart, funny and once again, angry hip-hop was dead, Audition is your new best friend. There was no other album that was played in my car more than Audition this year.

Before we crown the Best Album Of 2006, a quick look back at the CDP's previous Album Of The Year choices:

Reconstruction Site.
2003 Winner: The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site
Runner-Up: The Postal Service Give up

2004 Winner: Arcade Fire - Funeral
Runner-Up: Communique - Poison Arrows

The Sunlandic Twins.
2005 Winner: Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins
Runner-Up: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

Okay, here it is. The CDP's pick for the 2006 Album Of The Year:

Cum Laude!
#1 - The Velvet Teen - Cum Laude!

The Velvet Teen is one of those bands that constantly reinvents themselves with every new album, yet consistently maintains their own signature sound. With 2004's Elysium, recorded entirely on a laptop with no guitars, The Velvet Teen propelled themselves into a world of orchestral arrangements, experimental techniques and truly heartbreaking imagery. Advancing further with Cum Laude!, they again take a concept to its natural conclusion, all without alienating the listener.

It's a rare breed that can take an artistic statement, and still make it catchy, melodically pleasing and instantly memorable. It took me a couple of listens to fully realize the magnitude of what was happening, but once I heard it, I couldn't stop hearing it. This was the sound of original beauty; raw, coursing and without comparison. They gambled with an altered, 'distorted' vocal technique which paid off in spades, and replaced the late Logan Whitehurst with one of the most technically amazing drummers I've ever seen in a live setting, Casey Dietz.

A quick snippet of an interview with Dietz reads: "To those who have never seen him play, Deitz is the best drummer in town, and to many (myself included) he's the best they've ever seen in person. I've seen people watching him play for the first time shake their heads in disbelief, turning to their friends and pointing at the show Deitz is putting on."

I don't know how the Velvet Teen manages to keep these tracks as tight as they do in concert, but it's truly a sight to behold. You'll be wondering how they even managed to do it in the studio. I don't know what else to say, other than that I had absolutely no doubts about placing Cum Laude! in the #1 spot. Truly the best album I've heard this year.

Sound off in the comments section, call me a loser and mock my musical tastes. I'll be waiting.

(The final CDP essay of the year; I saved the best for last.)

Thursday, December 14

The CDP's Christmas List.

In case you were looking to buy me something this year, here are 15 suggestions. This list will also come in handy if you happen to have a hipster asshole in your family that wears a size Small and hates the outdoors.

Gifts have been organized by price. Tally-ho!

Nintendo Wii - $748.25

This is the best used price I could find online, so don't wait! They'll just get more expensive! After seeing how large and cumbersome the PS3 is, my next-gen console mind is made up. I swear to God, the PS3 is the size of an Atari 2600, only the 2600 actually had cool games.

Electronic Drum Kit.
Hart Dynamics Prodigy Electronic Drum Set - $500

Living in an attached townhome, I can't just go into the basement and drum away like I used to. Even with the attached silencers, it's still loud and not the least bit gratifying. I'd learn to play the guitar, but that's like eating dog food when you could have lobster. Vegan lobster.

80GB iPod.
80GB Black Video iPod - $350

This iPod has a larger capacity than my last computer, and could very well store 30,000 tracks. After some quick math, I've determined that accounts for almost every worthwhile song in my CD collection. If someone doesn't buy this for me, I'll buy it myself the day after Christmas.

The Prisoner.
The Prisoner - Complete Series Megaset - $130

Why this DVD collection hasn't decreased in price is beyond me, but it seems worth it. The Prisoner is #1 on my list of television shows I've never watched but absolutely have to at some point. Besides, I needed another excuse to sit in front of my television for weeks on end.

OBEY Savage Posse Gang Jacket - $120

If this jacket doesn't help my transition from emotional cute 'boy' to a serious, badass 'man,' then nothing will. Furthermore, I find it ironic that I've given several hundreds of dollars to a company that so opposes brand stereotypes that they can't help but create tons of merch.

Kids In The Hall.
The Kids In The Hall Megaset - $119

When it comes to sketch comedy, The Kids In The Hall rival even Monty Python when it comes to the art of deconstructing the one-act comedy piece. Still fringe after all these years, Kids In The Hall is, in the CDP's opinion, one of the funniest shows of all-time.

Calvin & Hobbes.
The Complete Calvin & Hobbes - $100

True, I have every Calvin & Hobbes book ever published, but there's still something all-encompassing about getting the complete treasury. Nobody has encapsulated the warmth, humor, intelligence and beauty of the comic strip better than Bill Watterson.

Rhodium-Plated Top & Bottom Grill - $92

When I wear my grill,
I know I'm better than you.
Because my teeth shine.

Wrestlemania: The Complete Anthology (Volume III) - $70

I'm watching every WrestleMania in reverse order from XXII, so this is the next logical step in my progression. Even though the WWE is nowhere near the peak of their late 90's popularity, you can always count on being entertained by the biggest Pay-Per-View of the year.

Serial Experiments Lain - Signature Series Box Set - $40

Lain is the only Anime that the CDP has ever cared about. Impossible to understand after just one viewing, Lain was in the forefront of online, hacker and cyberpunk culture. Now, while that all doesn't interest me too much, the series itself is addictive and surreal, as you'd assume.
Trivial Pursuit.
Trivial Pursuit: Totally 80's - $40

Every year, Trivial Pursuit comes out with a game that I want more than the previous one. Everyone who grew up in the 80's should have an 80's trivia game somewhere in the house, and nobody does it better than the Pursuit folk. Not sure if this is a DVD game, but who cares?

Swiss Army.
Swiss Army Cologne - $35

Someday, when the Internet develops 'Scent Technology,' you'll all realize just how amazing I smell at all hours of the day. However, when this Internet breakthrough does occur, you might want to stop visiting certain sites. "Ain't It Cool News" instantly comes to mind.

Arrested Development.
Arrested Development - Season 3 DVD - $30

Folks, when it comes to situation comedies of the last decade, it gets no better than Arrested Development. This final season sticks it to FOX, the fans and the state of popular television in general, leading to some of the best satire ever seen on the small screen. Brilliant stuff.

I Walked On The Moon.
Brian Regan - I Walked On The Moon - $20

I would get a Brian Regan CD, but he's a comedian that works better under a visual medium. Unlike a Demetri Martin or Steven Wright, Brian works the entire stage, adopting a high-energy, 100% clean-yet gaspingly funny act that could get a laugh out of absolutely anyone.

Walk Into The Light.
Communique - Walk Into The Light EP - $6

I could easily buy this myself, but I'm too lazy to do the mailorder thing anymore. I'm an instant-gratification guy; if I have to wait a week for an album to arrive in my mailbox, I simply won't buy it; instead opting for whatever second-rate album I can grab at Best Buy.

Best Buy.
Gift Cards For The Following 10 Locations (Any Price):

Barnes & Noble - Who doesn't want to spend $20 on a CD?
Best Buy - If Best Buy didn't exist, I could have retired years ago.
Borders - Just like Barnes & Noble, only with more magazines!
The Buckle - Where the CDP goes when he wants $100 pre-torn jeans.
Exclusive Company - Wisconsin's best indie record store. A WI hipster tradition.
Express - Where the CDP goes when he wants to look gay.
Godiva - Because I happen to like truffles. Jealous?
Marcus Theatres - Why does it cost $50 for two people to see a movie?
Olive Garden - Unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks? It's not even my birthday!
Target - Where the CDP buys pretty much everything he truly needs.

Get buying!


Wednesday, December 13

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2006 (Part III.)

Top 10 Albums Of 2006.

We're officially in the Top 10. The meat of the order. The tomato on the patty and so forth.

Just a quick word on the validity of this list. It's by no means a 'difinitive' or 'good' list; merely a list of the 20 best albums purchased by me this year. I'm not Pitchfork, I don't get free albums, and I don't actively seek out things that would boost my indie cred. I'm just a dude, dudes, so get right the hell over it.

Let's go.

St. Elsewhere
#10 - Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere

The oddest duo in popular music, Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse released one of the most eclectic and universally praised albums of the year with St. Elsewhere. What started as a mostly underground movement slowly turned into a multi-platinum success, mainly centered around one of 2006's biggest singles, Crazy. I would venture that at least half of the album is more diverse and listenable than Crazy, so it's well worth a listen.

Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album
#9 - Reel Big Fish - Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album

After being (mercifully) dropped from Jive Records earlier in the year, RBF took the reigns and released their first official live album, boasting a DVD and two discs full of material. With tracks ranging from their entire 10-year catalog, I instantly remembered how amazing and memorable their live shows are. OLAIBTYLA is the perfect way to check out the greatest 3rd wave ska band ever, doing what they do best.

Happy Hollow
#8 - Cursive - Happy Hollow

Tim Kasher is a jerk, or at least that's what my wife says. She doesn't like that he mopes around and feels sorry for himself, despite the fact that he refuses to stop acting like a jerk. Simple logic, I guess, but Happy Hollow contains almost none of the self-effacing pity we've grown to expect with Cursive. Taking a concept-album approach, Kasher leads us on a tour of Anytown USA, and the things we like to pretend aren't within.

Boys And Girls In America
#7 - The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls In America

I'm quite certain that I'm the last person to become intensely aware of The Hold Steady's awesome-ness. Don't hold that against me, however, because I'm catching up as fast as I can. Boys And Girls In America picks up where we left off, showcasing troubled youth, sex, drugs and stories that most of us would have to make up to sound cultured and world-weary. Not only that, but the melodies and powerful sing-along hooks make Boys And Girls almost untouchable.

The Beatles - Love
#6 - The Beatles - Love

A Beatles album full of mash-ups of over 100 Beatles songs. Need I say more? In all honesty, this would officially qualify Love for "Best Album Ever" honors; I simply placed it at #6 for the fairness of equality. The production value, creativity and timeless excellence of the Beatles all come together on what amounts to a completely overwhelming and emotional experience. If you don't yet own any Beatles albums (dumbass), pick this up and change your life.


Tuesday, December 12

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2006 (Part II.)

Top 20 Albums Of 2006!
Another day, another 5 albums on our countdown list. Away we go.

Supersystem - A Million Microphones
#15 – Supersystem – A Million Microphones

As we now know, A Million Microphones will be the last album from Washington DC post-punk outfit Supersystem. As is the case with many of the albums on this year's list, Microphones doesn't compare to Supersystem's previous showcase, Always Never Again. That being said, this album contains multiple influences and excuses to dance, so it's easy to overlook.

Saves The Day - Sound The Alarm
#14 – Saves The Day – Sound The Alarm

Saves The Day is a band that evolves within themselves. A band intent on not listening to what the fans want (to a certain capacity; they are quite in touch with their audience); instead going where their musical tastes dictate. Sound The Alarm is STD's angriest album yet, continuing to change the emo and hardcore game that they created (and abandoned) years ago. To this day, Stay What You Are remains as one of my most beloved albums ever, so Chris Conley and company can do no wrong in my book.

Demetri Martin - These Are Jokes
#13 – Demetri Martin – These Are Jokes

Never mind Jim Gaffigan's Beyond The Pale; this is the comedic performance of the year. Demetri Martin's first comedy album explodes with creativity, abstract one-liners, endlessly quotable bits and a signature charm. There is something here for everyone, so if you're unfamiliar to Demetri's world, say hello to your new favorite comic.

Guillemots - From The Cliffs
#12 – Guillemots – From The Cliffs

On the strength of Trains To Brazil, one of the best singles of the year, Guillemots presented From The Cliffs to the United States. Fyfe Dangerfield's beautiful voice and amazing songwriter prowess allow Guillemots to rise above the rest of the indie pack, creating something very unique and nostalgic at the same time.

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am...
#11 - Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

After shattering UK sales records and being hyped as the Next Greatest Band In The World, Arctic Monkeys came close to living up to the hype. This young group of incredibly tight musicians (they claim to have learned their instruments in less than a year) takes us on a tour of the UK after dark, weaving tales of clubs, alcohol and shady characters. The act wears thin after a few tracks, but there's no denying the impact that the Monkeys made in 2006 (I've always wanted to say that).

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2006 - #10-#6.

Monday, December 11

The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2006 (Part I.)

After doing a quick check, it appears as if I've purchased over 80 new albums this year. Out of those 80, only about 35 of them were released in 2006. It makes sense, though, as this year was sort of slow.

I don't mean 'slow' as in, 'aged like a fine wine,' either. I mean 'slow' as in 'Christopher Reeve's 40-yard dash time.'

The massive breakout artists of the last two years (think Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens and so forth) were surprisingly lacking this time around. Even though there were some amazing artistic statements made in 2006 (Decemberists, Islands, The Velvet Teen), indie music history will look at 2006 as the year that their heaviest hitters took a vacation.

Here now, the 20 best albums I've heard all year.

VCR - Power Destiny
#20 – VCR – Power Destiny

All things considered, VCR should be a far more popular band. Their spastic, synth-punk noisefest style seems to be all the rage on the MySpaces and the MTV's. It probably doesn't help that VCR is pretty much the least attractive band I've ever seen, however. If you like synth-driven insano-core and are still young enough to mosh, Power Destiny will make your day.

The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
#19 – The Mountain Goats – Get Lonely

Hands-down the most depressing album of the year, Get Lonely finds primary songwriter John Darnielle in the midst of a horrid breakup. For the course of the album, we go where he goes, feel what he feels, and stew in our own loneliness and mortality. Done correctly, a breakup album transcends false emo tendencies and approaches something very real and truly emotional. Get Lonely will be impossible to listen to if you truly do understand where Darnielle is coming from.

Morrissey - Ringleader Of The Tormentors
#18 – Morrissey – Ringleader Of The Tormentors

For years now, Morrissey has proved there is life after The Smiths, although his best work cannot compare with the magic he created with Johnny Marr back in the day. With Ringleader of the Tormentors, Morrissey brings us back into his world of grandiose mope and hopeless romanticism. It's good to be back.

The Rapture - Pieces Of The People We Love
#17 – The Rapture – Pieces Of The People We Love

The Rapture spearheaded the dance-rock explosion a few years ago, with their spectacular debut, Echoes. Although Pieces of the People We Love doesn't approach the statement made with Echoes, they get the job done on the dancefloor, boasting beautiful production and instantly repeatable hooks.

Maritime - We, The Vehicles
#16 - Maritime - We, The Vehicles

When the Promise Ring and the Dismemberment Plan broke up, it officially ended the only reign of emo that ever mattered. Davey Von Bohlen, the frontman and primary songwriter for the Promise Ring, gives We, The Vehicles the charm and lyrical originality we've come to expect from him. If you still bust out Very Emergency every winter, We, The Vehicles will cure what ails you.


The CDP's Top 20 Albums Of 2006 - #15-#11.