Monday, January 01, 2007

the best cd of 2006

1. The Drams - Jubilee Dive
Singer/guitarist Brent Best is one of those special breeds. Anyone who followed his previous band Slobberbone knows that when he's on, he can make you want to laugh, scream, and drink yourself into oblivion. With his move over to the Drams, however, Best seems to have decided to try and manipulate every other emotion.

While this not be rawk, it is a tremendously deep, nuanced, sophisticated slab of music. Best lets you know right away that lyrics are important here, from the opening lines of the disk's first track, "Truth Lies Low":

Trumpet blasts blare with ferocity of flame
Is it mourning Taps or Revelry? The email never came
Surely a light will glow
Commonplace come-on's you'd think would never play
Somehow trump the thoughtful things we used to do and say
Sadly these seeds do grow

Throughout this opener, there's a definite sense of disappointment with the world, with commonplace stupidity, with people's expectations, with how we respond to pressure, and with how we go along with the herd...but it still does hold out the slight hope that there are answers, there is truth, and there is a right way, if we're really willing to dig for it. There's also a lot of alliteration, which also amuses me to all ends, and Best plays a lot lyrically, with dual narration, popular references, and the like.

Musically, this album shows a nice range of moods and atmospheres. There are barn burners ("Crudely Drawn" and "Unhinged" are two of the best rock songs of the year), there are lush ballads ("Holy Moses" is something to behold), but then there are song which defy simple description; "Wonderous Life" and "September's High" both show a beautiful blend of creepy, lush, and hypnotic, while building into crashing, eartheal highs. The musicianship throughout is brilliant; guitar and keyboard solos intermingle in "Holy Moses" to near perfect effect, and "You Won't Forget" brings horns into the mix with an uplifting blast, a la The Beatles.

This album is most of what I like about music. It is fresh, it does not follow expectations, it's both approachable and intricate, and there are a variety of moments which refuse to get out of your head.

What's even better, however, is I got to see these guys twice over the past year (including their opening for Drive-By Truckers, my favorite show for the year), and they are, on top of being a great band, really cool people. Don't you love it when that happens?

1 comment:

smokeyb said...

I'm far too lazy to go to the trouble of writing out a real top-10 list with reviews. Still, in appreciation of your efforts, I did actually check out a song or two from some of your suggestions. With hopes of returning the favor, here's my exceedingly more metal 2006 recommendations:

10. tie: Sodom - S/T, Voivod - Katorz
9. Priestess - Hello Master
8. Kreator - Enemy of God
7. Amon Amarth - With Oden on Our Side
6. Satyricon - Now Diabolical
5. Sadus - Out for Blood
4. Katatonia - The Great Cold Distance
3. Rage - Speak of the Dead
2. Ihsahn - The Adversary
1. Korpiklaani - Tales Along This Road