Best albums of 2016: Death is not the end

2016 yeah-ah! Remember, the year when everyone died and also the year everyone discovered mortality? Losing David Bowie, Alan Vega, Prince, George Martin, Leonard Cohen or George Michael was very sad indeed as a few of them were really young but probably also has it meant a part of our youth was vanishing. I remember not being something new as such sad news in the past already occured with artists such as John Lennon, Jeff Buckley, Johnny Cash, Kurt Cobain, Elliott Smith, Lou Reed or George Harrison. Listening to their music on a regular basis is probably the best way to keeping the flame alive. Death is a weird topic in Western civilizations as we keep on doing as if it were nonexistent although this is the only sure thing…I advise for those interested by this very festive topic to read the first pages of Karl Ove Knausgaard memoirs’ “A Death in the Family”.

On top of being the year everyone died, it has been also the year everyone published records. For some reasons, I had more time than usual to listen to (almost) all records that went out this year if one considers my reviewing perimeter is confined within the pop/rock/soul/hip hop/metal/r’n’b perimeter. I am humble enough to recognize there is somewhere an amazing jazz or blues record I am not aware of but this is also probably true for a great record made by an Italian, Malian or Brazilian band. There are so many musicians in the world and so many ways to discover them with streaming platforms or the resurgence of records’ stores that this is getting frustrating sometimes.

So after death and frustration, let’s bring the good news! This was a really fantastic year in terms of records and new music and it has been more difficult than ever to keep a shortlist. A few usual favourites of this blog are not amongst the chosen few either because they are just out of this Top 15 or because their records was below expectations despite being good. In other words, it has been a great year for hip-hop and r’n’b genres and De La Soul, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, Solange or Franck Ocean 2016 records are also super-recommended. Same for a few indie rock favourites such as Shearwater, Bob Mould, Mark Kozelek, Wilco, Okkervil River, Teenage Fanclub or Pixies. As usual, I tried to stay as close to the end of the year as possible…but probably not enough as a new Run The Jewels album has just been available two days ago and a new Nine Inch Nails EP yesterday!

Anyway, always difficult to make choices but I guess that is the beauty of such lists. I had enough time this year to put on a ranking amongst my selection so here we go in reversed order. For those who did not get it, it means #1 is my record of the year!

Image result for biffy clyro ellipsis#15 Biffy ClyroEllipsis The main reason this record is here is probably that I live in the UK and that this band is really massive here. Biffy Clyro is a Scottish band made out of the twin brothers Ben and James Johnston on drums and bass and of Simon Neil on guitar and voice. On top of being known for playing bare-chested and being full of tattoos, their music has been evolving throughout the years from grunge metal to a kind of Scottish Foo Fighters. Not the most subtle music ever but it is soooooo good to shout out loud these anthems. Best stadium-rock record of the year!

Image result for sunflower bean human ceremony #14 Sunflower Bean – Human Ceremony Sunflower Bean is a young trio from Brooklyn and 2016 saw the release of their debut album. This record is a grower has one says and this band has a perfect sense of melody mixed with an exciting in-your-face attitude. If Liz Frazer from Cocteau Twins and Kurt Cobain from Nirvana had made a record together, it would be quite close to Sunflower Bean’s sound.

Image result for kanye west the life of pablo #13 Kanye West – The Life of Pablo This record has been probably too long and complex to make in a year that was a bit tough for Kanye West. After second thoughts, all years are tough, different and weird for Kanye… The reason why this record is not higher in terms of ranking is indeed probably due to the fact it requests many more hours of thorough listening to get over it. The reason why Kanye West is once again in our best of the year is named “Ultralight Beam”. This is the song opening the record and is one hell of a tune.

Image result for michael kiwanuka love and hate #12 Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate Michael Kiwanuka is a young British singer songwriter from Ugandan origins. After a very promising debut album in 2012 and great shows in a soul/folk tradition, he eventually faced a few difficult years looking for his real musical talent and trying to be at peace with his cultural background. After being closed to leave the music industry, he came back stronger and not afraid to show at the same time new ambitions but also happy to embrace any kind of music he likes. The results are really astonishing as one goes from one track sounding like Pink Floyd to another more related to black protest song a la Curtis Mayfield.

Image result for xiu xiu plays the music of twin peaks #11 Xiu Xiu plays the Music of Twin Peaks Of course, we Twin Peaks fans are all very much excited to discover in 2017 what Season 3 will be, directed by David Lynch himself…but that is not the reason this album is here. Xiu Xiu is a Californian band lead by Jamie Stewart and their music has always been complex to say the least. Here they succeeded to keep their weirdness to reshape covers from the series and the movie “Fire Walk With Me” whilst respecting the beautiful sense of melodies these songs hold. One of the most fascinating, frightening and powerful records one could find in 2016.

Image result for red hot chili peppers the getaway #10 Red Hot Chili Peppers  The Getaway “The worst band in the world”, “a cartoonish band”, “their best material is behind us” and so on… These are the articles one could find in reviews about the latest album by RHCP. This is totally untrue and shows how this is difficult sometimes for bands and their work to be really listened to. Thanks to the extraordinary production of DJ Danger Mouse, this is their best record for a long time and a few songs are really on par with their most famous ones (“Dark Necessities” for instance). This is also the first album in which Josh Klinghoffer succeeds in being himself and shows his guitar creativity without one having to remember his amazing predecessor John Frusciante.

Image result for meilyr jones 2013 #9 Meilyr Jones – 2013 This LP is the highest ranked debut album in our list and comes from a young Welsh singer. My best description of his music would be to mention Neil Hannon and his band The Divine Comedy if they still had the flame and kept on doing exciting records… The first track of this album called “How to recognize a work of art” is the best example of what a single should be nowadays. To put it differently, if you do not want to sing out loud or clap your hands, you are probably already dead (and I should have added you in my introduction). Click for concert’s review.

Image result for beyonce lemonade #8 Beyoncé  Lemonade A record from a major maturing artist, mixing all kind of music and sounds, not afraid to grab political topics such as the role of the black woman in Africa, being very much at the peak of visual and sound production, having prestigious guests such as James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Jack White or The Weeknd? Indeed and even better than it looks like.

Image result for palermo hollywood biolay #7 Benjamin Biolay  Palermo Hollywood Would Benjamin Biolay be more famous out of French-speaking countries if he were to sing in English, like Christine and the Queens did this year with a new English edition of her album? Probably not and not sure I would like it to happen… I was a bit afraid to read that he recorded this LP in Argentina as this is not always a good idea to mix different styles. No risk here as this record is as Argentinian as The Wings’ “Band on the Run” was Nigerian when they went to Lagos to record it. Beautiful as always and as usual a very thin line between production and emotion.

Image result for radiohead a moon shaped pool #6 Radiohead  A Moon Shaped Pool Quite a bit unexpected I must say as although I found the recent experiences of their members always rewarding, I had more or less abandoned hope in listening again to a traditional great Radiohead album. I was entirely wrong as this album is probably one of their best, mixing urgency, poetic themes and more importantly super exciting music. Good also to hear more than usual the great sounds of the underestimated Colin Greenwood on bass. Take the time to discover this new album and you will be immensely rewarded.

Image result for kevin morby singing saw #5 Kevin Morby  Singing Saw Sometimes a good singer makes a new record and one can feel he has stepped up and is now part of the greats. It happened in recent years with bands or artists such as The War On Drugs or Kurt Vile for instance. Kevin Morby’s first albums were really good but this one has an extra je-ne-sais-quoi, mixing super exciting guitar music with great lyrics. If Bob Dylan were in his 20’s today and had started directly with electric music, he would not sound that different from Kevin Morby. Click for concert’s review.

Image result for nick cave and the bad seeds skeleton tree #4 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds  Skeleton Tree Nick Cave has been a sort of old companion as I have been buying his records and listening to his music for thirty years now. Unless having a heart of stone, one could only share the indescribable pain he and his spouse had last year when they lost a son. Despite a few songs already written and produced before this tragic event, this album is all about this loss. It may be of course quite harsh sometimes to listen to but one must recognize this is a fascinating record and one of his best works. With lots of very long songs and more drones and loops than usual, it might surprise those familiar with a Nick Cave sound but the effort is really recommended.

Image result for field music commontime #3 Field Music  Commontime This is another fantastic record from this band of brothers from Newcastle and probably a blessing and a curse for them as one gets used easily with quality stuff. I have already wrote a few posts on this band, in particular throughout my review of the end of the road festival. Let’s be more specific here: Field Music are the best unknown band of our times and every record is an incredibly exciting piece of music, mixing british pop sound, Prince and Steely Dan. Now get this record!

Image result for iggy pop post pop depression #2 Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression To put this record under the name of Iggy Pop only is quite an injustice as he himself recognizes that this is the work of a real band with Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) on drums and Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) on bass. But the real architect of this album is the great Josh Homme, leader of Queens of the Stone Age and main man on guitar and vibes here. Legend is that he received a text from Iggy asking “I think we should make a record together”. After a couple of days of uncertainty and pride, Josh replied also by text “I think that would be beautiful”. And beautiful and exciting and moving and funny and…name it it is! They all gathered secretly in the Rancho de la Luna studio in the Joshua Tree, California area and polished these fantastic nine songs. The best Iggy Pop record since “The Idiot” and “Lust for Life” 1976/77 Bowie era. Iggy pop made it quite clear that it would be his last traditional rock album and tour. If such were to be the case, one of the most beautiful human beings on earth has left us with a record to cherish. No better way also to end up a record (career?) with the wise lyrics taken from “Paraguay”, the last song on the album: “You take your motherfucking laptop/And just shove it into your goddamn foul mouth/And down your shit heel gizzard/You fucking phony two faced three timing piece of turd/And I hope you shit it out/With all the words in it”.

Image result for david bowie blackstar  #1 David Bowie Blackstar I swear I did not want to put this album as my album of the year as it looked a bit obvious… Blackstar has been the first record I bought this year as I got it on the 8th of January at the excellent New York Rebel, Rebel record store. This is also in NY that I got the sad news of the morning of the 11th of January and I do recognize that the way the late great man organised this record as a farewell piece of art might be over controlled. But I am pretty sure this record would still be ranked as such if David Bowie was still alive. First the music is super fresh through it and I have never heard so-called jazz musicians be used in such a “non-jazz” way on a “non-rock” record. Donny McCaslin on saxophone is particularly amazing. But the real stars of Blackstar are the songs and the melodies. Has there been a better song this year than “Lazarus” with its moving lyrics, free jazz style and The Cure influences?  I know this is difficult to listen to this record out of context but to me it stands as an immense piece of exciting musicRECORD OF THE YEAR!

 

Here we go then for 2016. Probably not my most original list ever but these records were those that brought me the most emotion and excitement this year and as a reminder this is the criteria for this list rather than any cultural or trendy meaning. Please react if you feel like it and whip me harshly for any significant record I may have missed in this Top 15!

Other voices’ (websites, magazines, records stores, etc…) Top 10. David Bowie and Franck Ocean everywhere!

  • Mojo (music mag): 1.David Bowie Blackstar 2. Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate 3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree 4. Lambchop FLOTUS 5. Leonard Cohen You Want It Darker 6. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression 7. Franck Ocean Blonde 8. Paul Simon Stranger to Stanger 9. PJ Harvey The Hope Six Demolition Project 10. Heron Oblivion Heron Oblivion
  • Uncut (music mag): 1.David Bowie Blackstar 2. Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool 3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree 4. Leonard Cohen You Want It Darker 5. Ryley Walker Golden Sings that have been Sung 6. PJ Harvey The Hope Six Demolition Project 7. Sturgill Simpson A Sailor’s Guide to Earth 8. Anohni Hopelessness 9. Teenage Fanclub Here 10. Beyoncé Lemonade
  • NME (formerly great, now free weekly junk): 1. The 1975 I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it 2. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 3. Christine & the Queens Chaleur Humaine 4. Skepta Konnichiwa 5. Kaytranada 99.9% 6. David Bowie Blackstar 7. DIIV Is the is are 8. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression 9. Chance the Rapper Coloring Book 10. Franck Ocean Blonde
  • Rough Trade (London, Nottingham and Brooklyn stores): 1. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression 2. Anderson .Paak Malibu 3. Margo Price Midwest Farmer’s Daughter 4. Mark Pritchard Under the Sun 5. Charles Bradley Changes 6. Anohni Hopelessness 7. Thee Oh Sees A Weird Exit 8. Angel Olsen My Woman 9. Powell Sport 10. Car Seat Headrest Teens of Denial
  • Fopp (UK stores): 1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree 2. David Bowie Blackstar 3. Christine & the Queens Chaleur Humaine 4. Mogwai Atomic 5. Bat for Lashes The Bride 6. Brian Eno The Ship 7. Field Music Commontime 8. King Creosote Astronaut meets Appleman 9. Lambchop FLOTUS 10. Skepta Konnichiwa
  • Greg Kot (Sound Opinions radio DJ #1): 1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree 2. Franck Ocean Blonde 3. Jamila Woods HEAVN 4. Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate 5. Anderson .Paak Malibu 6. PJ Harvey The Hope Six Demolition Project 7. Drive-By Truckers American Band 8. Chance the Rapper Coloring Book 9. Solange A Seat at the Table 10. David Bowie Blackstar
  • Jim Derogatis (Sound Opinions radio DJ #2): 1. Savages Adore Life 2. TEEN Love Yes 3. La Femme Mysteres 4. Sneaks Gymnastics 5. The Gotobeds Blood//Sugar//Secs//Traffic 6. Honeyblood Babes never die 7. Jenny Hval Blood Bitch 8. Drive-By Truckers American Band 9. The Handsome Family Unseen 10. Beach Slang A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
  • Pitchfork (music website): 1. Solange A Seat at the Table 2. Franck Ocean Blonde 3. Beyoncé Lemonade 4. David Bowie Blackstar 5. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 6. Chance the Rapper Coloring Book 7. A Tribe Called Quest We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service 8. Anohni Hopelessness 9. Angel Olsen My Woman 10. Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Paste (music website): 1. David Bowie Blackstar 2. Beyoncé Lemonade 3. Car Seat Headrest Teens of Denial 4. A Tribe Called Quest We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service 5. Mitski Puberty 2 6. Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool  7. Angel Olsen My Woman 8. Lucy Dacus No Burden 9.Bon Iver 22, A Million 10. Franck Ocean Blonde
  • Les Inrocks (French mag): 1. David Bowie Blackstar 2.La Femme Mystere 3. Franck Ocean Blonde 4. The Lemon Twigs Do Hollywood 5. PNL Dans la légende 6. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 7. Leonard Cohen You want it Darker 8. Drake Views 9. Alex Cameron Jumping the Shark 10. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree
  • Time Out (London free weekly) : 1. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 2. David Bowie Blackstar 3. Solange A Seat at the Table 4. Skepta Konnichiwa 5. Kaytranada 99.9% 6. Anohni Hopelessness 7. Christine & the Queens Chaleur Humaine 8. Franck Ocean Blonde 9. Beyoncé Lemonade 10. Chance the Rapper Coloring Book
  • The Guardian (UK daily newspaper) : 1. Beyoncé Lemonade 2. Franck Ocean Blonde 3. David Bowie Blackstar 4. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 5. Solange A Seat at the Table  6. Anohni Hopelessness 7. Rihanna Anti 8. Christine & the Queens Chaleur Humaine 9. Skepta Konnichiwa 10. Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Noise Magazine (French bimonthly magazine) : 1. Dinosaur Jr. Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not 2. Cult Of Luna & Julie Christmas Mariner 3. Perturbator The Uncanny Valley 4. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression 5. Preoccupations Preoccupations  6. Nothing Tired Of Tomorrow 7. David Bowie Blackstar 8. Neurosis Fires Within Fires 9. Savages Adore Life 10. Oranssi Pazuzu Värähtelijä

TOP 100 Artists/Bands of all Times : 16-20

20. Queens of the Stone Age

 from : Palm Desert, California, USA / first great sounds : 90’s / style : stoner rock / essential albums : Rated R (2000) , Songs for the Deaf (2002), Lullabies to Paralyze (2005) / Click for more to read in the blog

How can a band be bad with such a name ? Nearly impossible I guess… Built on the ashes of Kyuss by giant red-haired Josh Homme, Queens of the Stone Age is one hell of a rock band, the kind of which you want to scream out of your lungs when you experience them live or you want to play dumb air-guitar at home when listening (loudly) to one of their (great) records. Joss Homme is a very welcoming person and his band has regular guests such as Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Mark Lanegan or even… Elton John if the rumours about the future LP were to be confirmed ! For those who like their rock melodic and heavy, this band is yours.

19. Curtis Mayfield

 from : Chicago, Illinois, USA / first great sounds : 60’s / style : Superfly!/ essential albums : Curtis (1970), Roots (1971), Super Fly (1972)

Probably the most important artist in the so-called “black music” genre, Curtis Mayfield started in the 60’s as leader of the beautiful soul band The Impressions (their most famous song “People Get Ready” being often found in U2’s setlist) before embarking on a solo career at the start of the 70’s. He was one of these rare artists who succeeded in mixing great music and strong intelligent political messages. His masterpiece will remain forever the soundtrack of blaxploitation movie “Super Fly” but there is no such thing as a mediocre Curtis Mayfield. He spent his last ten years in difficult medical conditions after a stage incident but your host will always remember enjoying the great man on stage in the small New Morning theatre in Paris in 1987. Move on Up !

18. Red Hot Chili Peppers

 from : Hollywood, California, USA / first great sounds : 80’s / style : punky melodic funk / essential albums : Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991), Californication (1999), By the Way (2002), Stadium Arcadium (2006) / Click for more to read in the blog

THE only band I went seeing two days in a row when they played in Paris a few years ago first as their sets were different every night and second as they were really great! This band really went from good to great when they left a bit behind them their cartoonish funk rock style and concentrated on songs, still keeping their legendary amazing groove. The rhythm section built on Chad Smith (drums) and Flea (bass) is probably one the best that ever existed whereas this is difficult to find a better showman than Anthony Kiedis. But the real genius of the band has always been my favourite all-time guitar player John Frusciante. He is probably not the most skilled musician in the traditionalist meaning of the word but his feeling and sensitivity are the elements made this band different from the pack.

17. The Cure

 from : Crawley, England / first great sounds : 70’s / style : Smith music / essential albums : Seventeen Seconds (1980), Faith (1981), Pornography (1982), The Top (1984), Disintegration (1989), Wish (1992)

I am not sure if I ever wrote down a word before about Robert Smith’s band and this might be due to them being a bit away from the news, despite regular fantastic shows (last one I saw in 2007 last 3 hours and a half…). This band is known by a few people as “goth” and others assimilate them to pop commercial songs but the truth is that Robert Smith has been a fantastic hard-working man, creating a piece of beauty and originality throughout all his career. Their peak period in the 80’s was particularly impressive (cf. essential albums) but one has to say that The Cure have been reliable since day one and never disappointed music lovers.

16. Talking Heads

 from : New York, NY, USA / first great sounds : 70’s  / style : rhythmic groove / essential albums : 77 (1977), More Songs about Buildings and Food (1978), Fear of Music (1979), Remain in Light (1980), Little Creatures (1985)

A bit as for The Cure, this is my first words about Talking Heads as this is indeed a bit more difficult to have news to tell about bands that do not exist anymore. Talking Heads was part of the late-70’s NY scene (if only I had a time-machine…) and their music was really mixing what the four members were : cold and intellectual (David Byrne on words and rhythm guitar), rock (Jerry Harrison, ex-Modern Lovers) and funky (married couple Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz respectively on bass and drums). 8 studio albums, all of them great and a never-ending influence on legions of great bands (Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem, etc..) make them my favourite band ever…out of our TOP 15 soon to come ! (I know, poor teasing…).

In and out of junkie life: Keith Richards “Life (2010)” & Anthony Kiedis “Scar Tissue (2004)”

I recently finished Keith Richards’ autobiography and it reminded me of a book I read a few years ago on Anthony Kiedis’ life. As a reminder, Anthony Kiedis is the singer of the great Red Hot Chili Peppers and this book had been done in the same way as the Keith’s one, i.e. a guy talks about his life and a journalist makes it readable.

Keith’s book has been very heavily promoted and lots of articles have been written everywhere and as always people tend to focus on the details and not on the grand scheme of things. So, yes, he says that Mick J. has a small willie; yes, he says he smoke his father’s ashes, blah, blah, blah… But one reading this book will enter the world of a guy fondly in love with music and all their forms (rock, blues, soul,…), amazingly human (great pages about friendship) and very honest and touching on his junkie years. This is a fascinating reading coming from a major musician who has a memory the size of an elephant and one understands better the alchemy within the Rolling Stones. And for our French amigos, please read it in English as you will feel that Keith is talking directly to you. (8.5/10)

Anthony’s book had been of my first great “rock readings” if such a genre exists. Here you will find a very sensitive personality, deeply in love with music and so human as well. I recommend it even to people not particularly interested in music or the Chilis, if such people really do exist… His junkie years are probably even more explicit that those described by Keith and this is sometimes very difficult to read them on a row. Great description too of life in California in the 80’s and 90’s. (8.5/10)

Best of 2006

La voilà enfin la liste que tous et toutes attendaient ! Si vous n’êtes pas parmi ceux-là, eh bien détruisez sauvagement et de manière rock’n’roll cet e-mail avec moults crachats, doigts et en bousculant votre voisin de l’épaule.
Pourquoi cette liste et cet exercice un peu vain de classement à partir d’une année calendaire qui ne veut finalement pas dire grand-chose et qui n’est qu’une larme dans un océan de listes de journaux ou sites web spécialisés ? Sans doute pour pouvoir enfin répondre à la question d’amis ou connaissances mille fois entendue : ” alors, t’écoutes quoi en ce moment” et ne plus faire cette tête de poisson de basses eaux surpris de ne pouvoir sortir une réponse immédiate et sans compromis, sans doute pour aimer passer encore un peu plus de temps devant son PC, sans doute pour le plaisr d’ordonner une fois de temps en temps ses propres chocs musicaux et enfin surtout dans l’espoir de dire au grand Nick Hornby au moment de le croiser :”moi aussi, j’en suis…”
Alors oui, c’est très rock et on trouve peu voire pas d’albums soul, jazz, français, blues ou world dans cette liste. Sans doute par parti pris et tempérament mais n’est-ce pas le signe que même en ces temps éclectiques le rock est finalement ce qu’il y a de plus excitant?
Allez, trêve de parlottes, on attaque :
Album de l’année 2006 :
 
Cover (Return to Cookie Mountain:TV on the Radio)
 
TV On the Radio : Return to Cookie Mountain
 
Parce que TV On the Radio, c’est une musique qui vient de nulle part, très blanche faite par des Noirs, parce que sur scène il y a eu des performances exceptionnelles, parce que chaque écoute révèle de nouvelles subtilités, parce ce que c’est à  la fois soul et rock new-yorkais, parce qu’il y a des boules à zéro et des coupes afros, parce que David Bowie (toujours le nez creux celui là) chante sur un morceau, que c’est génial quoi et au-dessus du lot (les années où Radiohead ne sort pas d’albums) : LP of the year !
Les 14 autres (par ordre alphabétique) :
 
Archie Bronson Outfit : Derdang Derdang
 
On se sait pas très bien si c’est sorti cette année ou en 2005 mais à vrai dire on s’en fout tellement c’est bon. Des Américains barbus (tendance de fonds d’ailleurs avec pas mal des groupes US indie) qui jouent un rock jouissif avec de bien belles basses comme on aimerait en entendre plus souvent.
 
Arctic Monkeys : Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
 
Album de l’année chez NME et les Inrocks, très hype, records de vente en Grande-Bretagne pour un premier album, en gros tout pour être dubitatif et cynique.. Eh bien non, nos p’tits gars font une musique qui rappelle The Jam ou l’énergie primitive des Dexys, avec des paroles très “Ken Loach/fish and chips” et surtout une grande présence scénique et beaucoup d’humilité. A suivre sur la durée of course.

 

Cansei de Ser Sexy : CSS
Quel bonheur de sortir de l’ornière US-GB avec ce groupe brésilien de São Paulo composé de 4 filles et un barbu. CSS, ça veut dire en portugais “marre d’être sexy”, phrase qu’autait lancé un beau jour la tanche Beyoncé. C’est du rock de furieuses sous influence british très 80’s avec un groove latin (assez caché certes). L’OSNI (Objet Sonore Non Identifié) de l’année.

 

 
Eels : With Strings – Live at Town Hall
 
Juste pour rappeler que E (leader des Eels) est une des meilleures plumes du rock dans tous les styles. A acheter en CD ou DVD pour avoir ou voir tous les merveilleux titres de ce concert live enregistré lors de la tournée acoustique du bonhomme. On recommande particulèrement le solo de percussions de valise…
 
Hot Chip : The Warning
La mélancolie des meilleurs New Oder vous manque, c’est à dire ce mélange de synthés évocateurs et de puissance rock sous-jacente ? Le premier album de ce groupe anglais est pour vous. L’autre grande révélation british de l’année.
Mazarin : We’re already there
Une arrivée surprise dans notre monde, une naissance qui nous avait été cachée, sauf que ce groupe dont on ne sait rien est lui bourré de talent. Pour ceux qui aiment les Beach Boys de Brian Wilson, les petites sonorités bizarres et le rock indie anglo-saxon. 
Midlake : The Trials of Van Occupanther
Encore des barbus américains qui jouent un truc étonnant, mélange de Fleetwood Mac et de Radiohead. Comme dirait la pub, un excellent compromis où Monsieur et Madame s’y retrouveront. Et une pochette pour les enfants…
Mudhoney : Under a Billion Suns
Sans doute la surprise dans cette liste.. Oui, les mêmes Mudhoney qu’on avait un peu perdus de vue, oui les légendes du grunge (mot un peu réducteur) contemporains du Nirvana des débuts qui signent un super album de mecs qui ne veulent pas sonner djeuns’ mais font évoluer leur musique vers plus de recherche avec même pas mal de ..cuivres ! A acheter en vinyl pour la belle pochette et le belle initiative d’un lien pour télécharger l’album gratos pour son mp3.
Phoenix : It’s never been like that
Pas d’histoire de quota pour expliquer la présence dans cette liste de nos Versaillais bien de chez nous mais simplement le fait que peu de groupe mélangent aussi bien mélodies et énergie. L’impression étrange de retrouver des amis de longue date à chaque fois qu’on se replonge dans les albums de Phoenix. Buy it for the French economy !
The Raconteurs : Broken Boy Soldiers
Le groupe de Jack White des White Stripes monté avec son pote l’excellent Brendan Brenson et la section rythmique des Greenhornes que l’on attendait comme un aimable pase-temps a dépassé toutes nos espérances de disque et de scène. Ce Jack White est décidément quelqu’un qui marquera l’histoire du rock. L’album que ferait Led Zeppelin s’ils étaient de cette époque. Album de l’année pour le magazine musical Mojo (lisez Mojo!).
Red Hot Chili Peppers : Stadium Arcadium
On n’est pas vraiment objectif avec ce groupe car oui, on les adore et on va les voir dès qu’ils jouent quelque part. Bizarre les critiques relatives à cet album et ces 28 (!) morceaux ; certains y voient des concurrents des Beatles, d’autres de.. pas grand chose. Une section rhymique au top, un Anthony Kieldis en constant progès au chant et surtout un John Frusciante qui réinvente ce qu’on peut faire avec une guitare au fil des ans. En résumé, pas vraiment de choses pertinentes à dire sur cet album, sauf qu’il y a des morceaux géniaux qui rendent euphoriques.
Sonic Youth : Rather Ripped
Une ambiance plus apaisée et mélodieuse chez nos New Yorkais chéris chez lesquels le temps ne semblent pas avoir d’effet : Kim Gordon a plus de cinquante ans mais une énergie et des jambes de jeune fille alors que Thurston Moore ressemble toujours à ce grand frère cool qu’on rêverait tous d’avoir. A avoir comme chaque nouveau LP du groupe ; la meilleure cure contre le viellissement…
The Strokes : First Impressions of Earth
On a l’impression que cet album est depuis toujours avec nous mais ne pas oublier qu’il est sorti l’hiver dernier. Certes des nouveautés avec des solos de guitare mais toujours cet esprit du Velvet chez nos amis new-yorkais et surout un Julian Casablanca qui chante de mieux en mieux ; best of both worlds comme dirait l’autre. A signaler qu’Albert Hammond Jr. (un des deux guitaristes) a sorti un sympatique album en fn d’année.
Thom Yorke : The Eraser
Last but not least dans cette liste alphabétique le premier album solo du chanteur de Radiohead. Comme on pouvait l’attendre, c’est une musique de facture plutôt électronique mais les mélodies sont du niveau des meilleurs morceaux de Radiohead et chacun des membres est venu donner un coup de mains. Un superbe cadau en attendant le nouvel album du groupe prévu pour 2007.
Tout près de cette liste (pêle mêle) :
The Long Blondes, The Rapture, The Thermals, Tapes’n’Tapes, Beck, The Lemonheads, Sean Lennon, Badly Drawn Boy, Sparklehorse, The Guillemots, Bob Dylan, Muse, Cat Power, Broken Social Scene, Mogwai, Two Gallants, Johnny Cash, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, Bruce Springsteen, Donald Fagen , Pascal Sevran, The Flaming Lips, Secret Machines, The Dears, Peter Bjorn and John, Pearl Jam, ESG, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bonnie Prince Billy, My Morning Jacket…
Meilleur DVD

 
Gorillaz : Demon Days Live
 
Une magnifique prestation scénique du génial leader de Blur Damon Albarn où apparaissent en guest stars tous les invités de l’album (Neneh Cherry, Ike Turner, Shaun Ryder, etc…). En attendant son nouveau projet 2007 avec Paul Simonon des Clash !!!
 
 
 
Meilleur Single
 
Gnarls Barkley : Crazy
 
Vous ne connaissez sans doute pas ce morceau si vous venez de passer 12 mois en retraite spirituelle au Tibet ou bien si pour vous les initiales U2 n’ont pas de signification particulière. Derrière ce projet se trouve DJ Danger Mouse qu’on retrouve aujourd’hui partout où il ya des choses musicales intéressantes qui se passent, dont notamment Gorillaz.
 
 
Meilleur Coffret
 
Tom Waits : Orphans
 
Le grand Tom nous livre un objet hybride fait de vieux et de nouveau morceaux répartis sur trois CD. Comme toute l’oeuvre du grand homme devant lequel nous devrions tous nous prosterner 10 minutes par jour, c’est assez intemporel et sera meilleur demain qu’aujourd’hui.
 
 
Meilleur Disque de Reprises
 
Grant Lee Phillips : Nineteeneighties
 
Le “cover LP” est un exercice assez casse gueule et souvent il faut bien le dire sans grand intérêt. Quand c’est l’ancien leader du groupe très US Grant Lee Buffalo qui s’y colle pour faire des reprises de groupes anglais des années 80 (The Cure, The Smiths, Echo and The Bunnymen,The Psychedelic Furs,…), c’est IN-DIS-PEN-SA-BLE !
 
 
Man of the Year : Sufjan Stevens
 
Il n’a pas sorti de véritable album cet année mais quand même deux compilations : une de chutes de studio de son album précédent, une autre de chants de Noël (!). Il a fait des concerts brillants et plein d’originalité et le bonhomme a un talent et une créativité peu communs. Ceux qui aimaient l’esprit de Prefab Sprout aimeront l’ami Sufjan.
 
 
 
Voilà. C’est au choix sans intérêt ou pathétique ou super subjectif mais si cela peut permettre à quelqu’un d’aller acheter un vinyl, un CD, d’aller télécharger ou d’aller voir un concert, eh bien ce n’aura pas été entièrement vain.
 
 
Have a nice year 2007 !