Okay, I'm inflicting a list on you. I hardly ever do this, but 2006 was a weird year for me and I am compelled to document the things that made it fun.
Decemberists: Crane Wife
Colin Meloy played a few songs from this album at the 826 benefit in August (see below) and it made me even more excited for the release in October. So good.
Band of Horses: Everything All the Time
Lovely. I know it's on everybody's list right now, but that's for good reason. "Funeral" and "The Great Salt Lake" are great songs, but dig deeper because the whole album is great.
Silversun Pickups: Carnavas
This gets a lot of play on my ipod. My favorite tracks are "Checkered Floor" and "Future Foe Scenerios." Yeah, Pitchfork only gave it a 5 and I've read several other reviews claiming the band is too derivative of late 80s-early 90s rock--Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, etc.--but I'd argue their sound is more a distillation of what was good about that music, with none of the annoying stuff (like Corgan's whiny voice).
Jon Auer: Songs from the Year of Our Demise
I waited years for this release, and it lives up to my expectations. If I have one criticism it's that the songs are even prettier when Jon plays them acoustic, without any of the added layers of sound. Check out his appearances on KEXP last April and August if you want to hear what I'm talking about. But SftYoOD is a beautiful, beautiful album that you need to hear. A couple of mp3s are available at Pattern 25.
Ghostland Observatory: Paparazzi Lightning
This is just fun. "Vibrate" has to be my favorite song, but I like it all. Discovering them (thanks, Cass) reminds me of Bumbershoot (2004?) when I walked into Sky Church to see Math & Physics Club and United State of Electronica was still playing and it was dancy, dancy fun all over the place--only BETTER. GO rocks all.
Best Live Shows
Silversun Pickups/Viva Voce @ Hi-dive (Denver, not Seattle)
I came for Silversun Pickups and was not disappointed. I can't remember seeing a live band this good for about ten years. For serious. My faith in the crunchy guitar rock has been restored! Viva Voce was really good, too. I finally picked up "Get Yr Blood Sucked Out" the other day and I recommend it. It's not on the best list because I didn't get into it until the last week of 06 and I don't know if it rates yet.
Ghostland Observatory @ Hi-dive (Denver)
I posted about this back in August, but will reiterate what a great show it was. If Ghostland is playing near you, go see them.
the Gossip @ Bumbershoot
Why had I never seen the Gossip live before? I knew I liked them well enough to check them out at Bumbershoot, but I was pretty impressed. As soon as I got back home I was digging through my mp3s to find some of their stuff and have since been grabbing up their back catalog.
826 Seattle Benefit before Bumbershoot
I'm so happy Mel got us tickets to this. I was psyched to see Ben Gibbard and Sarah Vowell, but the whole thing was awesome. Some enterprising people YouTubed some of it. Check out Colin Meloy's acoustic "O, Valencia!" So awesome. And the Meloy-Gibbard combo just about blew me away with its sheer adorableness. The Seattle Times (kind of) liked it, too. Eggers reviewed the audience, glowingly, in the Stranger.
Best Awesome Internet Retailers Who Allow Me To Live in Wyoming and Still Occasionally Buy Good Stuff
What's not to love about a record store that always has what I want and has friendly staff? I go in every time I'm back in Seattle because there's stuff I can't get in WY. Plus they always send nice messages when I order online.
Peggy made some of my favorite pieces ever, like the slide oval choker I should wear more often and the bird charm necklace I wear several times a week.
The supplier of my favorite jeans, the perfect t-shirt, and many things I don't need.
Etsy, specifically Orange Peel Enamel and Adorn Jewelery
I love the jewelery too much and these two make beautiful stuff.
Shoes! Free shipping! And too many cute Campers for me to buy on my salary.
The one, the only. SJ's writing is indescribable, in a good way. From PNW'ed to Mal Mots, it's gold. Never go away again, Lady!
The Rich Girls Are Weeping
An mp3 blog all about the indie rock, but with a healthy and not snarkily ironic dash of old standbys like Harry Nilsson and Joan Baez. And it's not just a bunch of links to music; Cindy and Pinkie write really great posts about the music.
Gwen's is probably the first blog("online diary") I ever read. She kicks so much ass you can't even imagine it. She also writes books, and you should read them. If you're a librarian like me, you should buy them for your library.
Thanks to Doppelganger, my to-read list is longer than my lifespan is likely to accommodate.
Go Fug Yourself
Celebrities wear stupid stuff sometimes. It's fun to watch them do it.
What, No Best Books?
Well, I didn't really read any knock-my-socks-off books this year. I can't remember if I ever managed to post about the NYT "10 Best Books of 2006" or not. I'm guessing not. Of the alleged best books of the year, I've read exactly none of them. Ha! I mean, not that I think the Times knows all, but it still cracks me up. I also didn't read anything on the best lists of PW, the Times of London, or even the Seattle Times. Maybe next year.