Monday, January 01, 2007

Stuff From 2006 That Didn't Especially Suck

The most depressing trend in my musical taste last year was an overarching wimpiness. Good lord, i occasionally even found myself listening to The Fray. It got so bad that at one point in the year i facetiously made a "Music Most Likely to be Featured on Grey's Anatomy" play list. Whatever. It's not like i'm listening to Ray Conniff or Barbara Streisand or something, but i developed a taste for more folky, indie-rock, poppy stuff. In a word, wimpy. So here's the music that i listened to this year that i enjoyed, though note that not all of it was released this year.
  • Richard Buckner - Meadow: Buckner has a distinctive voice and an amazing sense of melody.
  • Tool - 10000 Days - I like Tool. Get over it.
  • The Decemberists - Crane Wife - The Decemberists are the most improbable rock band in recent memory, and this is the most compulsively listenable concept album ever made on the basis of a Japanese folk tail.
  • Rise Against - The Sufferer and the Witness - As a rule pop punk sucks, but this one had a bit of an edge. You know when you're in your car and you want to crank it up and sing along that it's good stuff.
  • Greg Laswell - Through Toledo - Laswell's a San Diego home-boy with an amazing voice and some catchy tunes. One of those albums that makes you feel good about being melancholy.
  • The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow - From 2004, but this is my favorite album that i discovered this year. I'm really looking forward to the Shins new album later this month.
  • Snow Patrol - Eyes Open - I told you: wimpy. Chasing Cars was abso-freakin'-lutely everywhere this year, but i still liked this album. Snow Patrol owns the anthemic love-song like no band ever.
  • Pete Yorn - Nightcrawler - Not as good as Music for the Morning After, but i still spent a lot of time listening to it.
  • Mike Park - North Hangook Falling - From 2005. One of the best albums with an overtly political message that i've heard in ages.
I read far fewer books this year than normal, in part because i was sucked into George R.R. Martin's fantasy world, which accounted for 4 books and maybe 3000 pages. Read it, you'll like it even if you don't care for fantasy fiction.

The most memorable non-fiction i read this year was probably Eric Blehm's book The Last Season, about the search for missing back country ranger Randy Morgenson. I think the book would have been interesting had it only documented the search and rescue process, but the parallel story of Morgenson's life made the book an almost philosophical study about self discovery.

My favorite novel that i read this year was Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. It was written in the 1920s and 30s, but still holds up well, especially if you had any experience with Soviet Russia. It's a comical, farcical novel, with a very modern style and structure that basically turns Faust on its head.

Movies? I saw none of the supposedly good films this year, not even Borat. By default, my favorite film of the year is probably Talladega Nights, because it was funny and wasn't animated.

My favorite things on the Intarwebs this year were mostly web comics. None of that Web 2.0 bullshit impressed me much, except for the preposterous amount of unwarranted hype it generates. But i'm totally addicted to Diesel Sweeties and Scary Go Round and Mouse Wax, none of which require me to have a profile or contact anyone or write a blog.

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