For some bizarre reason or another (medical?), Elling (!!!) from The Scope asked me to do a Top 10 of 2006 list, which i've kinda been meaning to do for awhile now. Let's establish three things first and then we can get the messy business of what i think about a bunch of random commodities out of the way, shall we? Great.
1.) The inherent limitations of the form of Top 10 lists. The Internet lends itself all too easily to identities predicated entirely on cliches and commodities, yadda yadda yadda, the spectacle, blah blah blah, late capitalism, etc. We cool?
2.) I've limited myself to things that came out in 2006. Non-2006 stuff that was new/kinda-new to me includes a bunch of stuff by Samuel R. Delany, Cormac McCarthy, Husker Du, Howard Zinn, Paul Bowles, DJ /rupture, Martin Amis, Kathy Acker and jesus too much other crap. As for stuff that i still haven't checked out but will probably be amazing, Pynchon has a new book out. Oh, and The Good Shepherd is a C.I.A. movie, which means i'll probably totally love it and... shit, this paragraph is getting a little thick. THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS PEOPLE.
3.) I'm actually a little embarrassed by my taste, which is why i
never rarely sometimes end up spewing shit like this. The return of the repressed and all: every man his own 3 paragraph local weekly music critic. For the (cough) record, THERE'S NO REASON YOU SHOULD GIVE A FUCK WHAT I THINK (excepting blackmail). On to the festivities!
10.) Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie - Lost Girls - As several friends will attest, i have a total fascination with the sexualization of children's entertainment. Not in a creepy, "I would die to fuck Strawberry Shortcake" (read: earnest) way or in a "look at how degenerate and sick pop culture has/can become" fashion (read: very earnest), but more because i'm fascinated at how utterly limitless the erotic imagination can be. If it's animated or easy to read, someone, somewhere, has masturbated to it. How crazy is that? And that says nothing of those children's tales that actually do seem to have erotic subtexts. Apparently, Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie share a similar fascination, but they actually did something about it beside showing their buddies slash and created an amazing, positively filthy comic out of it, which is just as weird and disturbing and wonderful as it sounds. I didn't think he could (ahem) top From Hell, but, fuck, here we are dog.
9.) Fucked Up - Hidden World - I loved this, completely and totally. Sure, it's a tad pretentious at times (personal beef: WTF does "Cognitive dissonance of the soul" mean? You can have cognitive dissonance with regard to beliefs about the soul, but souls themselves aren't cognitive (right?). YES I STUDIED PSYCHOLOGY + PHILOSOPHY SO WHAT) and the hype about them is getting to be a bit much, but, fuck, i played this record several times a day and i think may have permanently lost my roommates respect because of it. Whatever. They're amazing live and they make me wish i'd dropped out of high-school so i could re-enroll and go back to school and carve their logo on a desk or something.
8.) Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury - Clipse are two smart guys who write pretty clever rhymes about being rich and dealing coke. They are largely produced by the Neptunes, two (one? Pharrell is a joke with ice) equally smart guys who make pretty clever beats for them. Together, they made one pretty clever album about being rich and dealing coke with pretty clever beats. It was good. But say this pretty clever duo is fucked around relentlessly by their record company, has their album release pushed back numerous times and is generally ignored and treated like shit? Why, they release a few awesome mix tapes and then come out with a devastating album equally full of rage and self-doubt (duh). Where Lord Willin' was full of clever coke-and-gats raps, Hell Hath... is full of... coke-and-gat raps. But here they're less swaggering and more menacing, full of grey areas and reluctant introspection. When they talk about being rich, they're being dismissive and snide; not a party rhyme boast, but a "get out of my face" threat. When they talk about how they got so rich, well, that's where shit gets spooky. As for beats, there's Trill, which is possibly my new favourite Neptunes song. Another record i loved and that i think has cost me credibility. NO I DON'T READ PITCHFORK (that much)
7.) The Wire - Season 4 - The Wire is a cops-and-robbers show, which means, by rights, i should have nothing to do with it. Still, as i explained to more than one incredulous acquaintance, every year i tend to get really into one episodic TV drama. Naturally, this doesn't mean actually watching television week in, week out (oh the indignity), but instead downloading entire seasons via BitTorrent (THE ONLY WAY TO TRAVEL). Last year, i watched the entire run of The Sopranos in, like, two months. This year, it's been The Wire and i have to say, i really enjoyed this show. Police surveillance, police brutality, drug dealing co-ops, sociology experiments in the classroom... all pretty much shooting gallery fodder for one such as myself (know thine audience). But here's the thing. The whole episodic drama format, in theory, lends itself easily to extended character studies, as opposed to sitcom cliches or feature length films. Characters i've followed on The Wire have changed and developed over the show's run, acting in ways that might have seemed unbelievable to previous incarnations of the same character. My major qualm is uncertainty over whether, in this case, this represents writers exploring and developing a character or simply lazy, inconsistent writing: OH SURE PREZ HAD AN EPIPHANY, SEE AND THAT'S WHY HE'S NOT PISTOL WHIPPING PROJECT KIDS ANYMORE. In any case, the fact that i'm on the fence about this show as opposed to simply dismissing it out of hand probably strongly indicates that this deserves a spot on the list.
6.) Filastine - Burn It - As much as i love electronic music, i rarely feel qualified to talk about it. I can insert macros in a Word document and i'm a notorious Soulseeker, but technically and musically, i'm actually slightly clueless. So i loved this record and i have a hard time saying why. 'Eclectic' is a music journalism cliche that is to be avoided like the bird plague, so i can't call it that. And i refuse, REFUSE, to invoke the dread spectre of 'World Music', so let's just say this is a fearless, political, inventive album by someone whose passion for music(s) is deeper, wider and more far-reaching than my own. Don't believe me? Check out the mutant violin (?) d n'b of Crescent Occupation, that somehow manages to be a mournful sounding floorpacker.
5.) Bathroom Graffiti at Work: "Goddard, Truffaut: God Blows" - Everytime i pee at work, this makes me smile, which is more than i can say for most things.
4.) Limp Wrist - Want Us Dead 7'' - Six-odd minutes of raging faggot-ass hardcore, which is more than fine by me. I saw Limp Wrist last year and hot skinny sXe boys were stripping to the waist (and beyond!) and going bananas, which encouraged my non-hot, non-skinny, non-sXe ass to do the same. Any band that can, through sheer force of musical bad-assery, make me remove my clothes in public or practice stage dives (NAKED!!!) onto my mattress is just 2 HOTTT 2 HANDLE.
3.) Spike Lee - When the Levees Broke - I watch a lot of movies, but i have to say, i wasn't very impressed with the 2006 crop of films. I've heard varying things about Monkey Warfare and i must say, Borat kinda sucked (over-scripted; racist intro; too much fucking hype, etc.). So i needed a few movies here (for honesty's sake) and, pretty much at the buzzer for '06, i get to see this fantastic documentary. Lee's greatest strength here as a film-maker is to simply point a camera at an incredible array of people and just let them talk. Meteorologists, politicians, historians, conspiracy theorists (with some rather legitimate sounding conspiracies, as these things go) and, most of all, ordinary people tell stories of a storm and how its attendant fallout wiped a city off the map and nobody gave a fuck. Mix this with astounding and terrifying primary footage of Katrina's aftermath and you'll see what all the fuss is about and maybe, just maybe, forgive him for Girl 6. Lee also provides heaping doses of cultural and historical background material that, surprisingly, doesn't collapse under its own considerable mass (4+ hours?). A genuinely fascinating indictment of racism, poverty, indifference and, uh, the weather. It also made me realize i totally want a jazz funeral, which would almost be worth committing suicide so as to have RIGHT NOW.
2.) Martin Scorsese - The Departed - Another fine(?) movie i saw late in 2006. I could say something pretentious and sophomoric about the nature of identity in the film, but i'll leave that to lean-and-hungry critics and desperate undergrads. No, for me, Scorsese is kind of a guilty pleasure. Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino... they're all kinda shitty in their own misunderstood tough-guy way, but fucked if i haven't watched them all multiple times. In the same way if Limp Wrist make a pretty generic hardcore record that i love to death, i can deal with a generic Scorsese pic. And it's all here: within the first five minutes, we have all the Scorsese touchstones: casual racism, check; classic rock background, check; cheesy machismo, check. Although it has to be said, Scorsese kinda went all out for this one. I don't know much/anything about Hong Kong cinema, but Scorsese sure seems to be well at home with cheesy archetypes and sentimental soundtracks (The Pink Floyd scene is nigh-on unforgivable). He's got the usual stuff about masculinity and power in here but he's also less afraid to just run with it, no matter how convoluted and tangled the whole mess gets. Fun stuff. And, y'know, Matt Damon was pretty good and all... Did i mention i'm embarrassed by my tastes?
1.) Venetian Snares - Hospitality - Yes, i like Venetian Snares. Yes, i've listened to everything he's ever released. Yes, you probably already knew that. No, i don't think it's all amazingly brilliant. No, i don't think breakcore (sigh) begins and ends with him. But whatevs. This record rocks and you knew it'd probably be here, this being me and all. Yes, fuck you, i know i'm terribly predictable. But you know what? I've been getting the same vanilla frosted donut with sprinkles since i was about 5. BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE SPRINKLES UNTASTY.
Honourable Mentions: Girl Talk - Night Ripper, Everything by Skullface and Others, Timeblind - Ghostification (How good is Soot Records right now?), Nomeansno live, Drop the Lime and Syrup Girls - Shotgun Wedding, Vol. 4, Wisp - Building Dragons, you (DON'T YOU READ TIME??? YOU'RE BIG IN JAPAN)