Treble’s Best Songs Ever of 2006

TV on the Radio

“Steady as She Goes”
by The Raconteurs
from Broken Boy Soldiers

People magazine recently put out their 2006 edition of “Sexiest Man Alive” that includes not just one featured sexy man (this year’s leading contender being George Clooney), but a whole bunch more to indulge your inner prepubescent hormonal fangirl (she’s in all of us – this is true). The “sexiest band” title of the year was given to the Killers, and for my inner fangirl, this was disappointing. Personally, I would have awarded the sexy band award to the Raconteurs, whose lineup of Jack White (rock star sexy), Brendan Benson (skinny scruffy sexy), Patrick Keeler (floppy-haired drummer sexy), and Jack Lawrence (not so much sexy, but I guess I can’t leave him out) makes for one fine specimen indeed. I digress. All sexiness aside, “Steady As She Goes” is a great song. Steadily showing off the talents (pun intended) of the Greenhornes’ rhythm section and a successful fusion of White and Benson’s raw blues and power pop tendencies (respectively), the song quite nicely represents the Raconteurs’ 2006 supergroup debut. Broken Boy Soldiers wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking or innovative, but hey, it’s fun. And sexy. Can’t forget the sexy. – Anna Gazdowicz

“We Share Our Mother’s Health”
by The Knife
from Silent Shout

With the release of Silent Shout, the Knife has become one of the most respected and most written about electronic bands working today. A major reason for that is their ability to create a persona which matches their music. Both are at once inviting and recalcitrant, swathed in an attractive and voluptuous mystery. “We Share our Mother’s Health” is perhaps their most satisfyingly enigmatic track, both lyrically and musically. Centered on Karin Dreijer’s androgynous, altered vocals and a clatter of electronic percussion, it invokes a mesmeric spectrum of images, sounds and sensations. As the lyrics invite any number of potential interpretations, many intriguing though none sufficient, the track itself leant itself to excellent remixes by Ratatat and Trentemøller, neither of which matches the impenetrable mixture of dread and ecstasy present in the original. – Tyler Parks

“White Collar Boy”
by Belle & Sebastian
from The Life Pursuit

Awww! Whatsa matter?!! Poor wittle rich boy having some problems?! Isobell Campbell may be long gone but Scotland’s prime pop exports are still reigning supreme as their sixth proper release The Life Pursuit, a long player chock full of jangly goodness, showed no signs of waning creativity. “White Collar Boy” contains a buzzing cardiograph fuzz line that any savvy DJ could mash up with Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.” Even though it may be B&S’ first single not to make it into the top 40 since 1997’s “Lazy Line Painter Jane,” it’s just as good as any other of their charting ditties—so good that it almost made me feel bad for laughing like a bastard when Jack Black referred to Belle and Sebastian as “sad bastard music” in the film High Fidelity. – Chris Pacifico

“Bicycle Bicycle You Are My Bicycle”
by Be Your Own Pet
from Be Your Own Pet

We ride bikes, cars are for idiots.
Be Your Own Pet had already blown me away with their debut single, “Damn Damn Leash,” but their full-length album on Thurston Moore’s label was, amazingly, even better. Songs like “Adventure” and “Let’s Get Sandy (Big Problem),” the latter lasting less than one minute in length, were the singles, but to us here at Treble, a different track stood out from the rest. “Bicycle Bicycle You Are My Bicycle” finds the four youngsters following the maxim `write what you know.’ They do indeed ride bicycles, and thanks to this year’s gas prices, they’re having the last laugh. On the album, there are more examples of this practice including songs about asthma inhalers (which they all apparently use). The song was only released outside the album proper as a `download only’ single in June, but for the BYOP faithful, most of us newly initiated thanks to their meteoric rise, it was the best one. One can’t help but scream along with winsome singer Jemina Pearl Abegg as she and her cohorts yell, “We’re on two wheels, baby!” It’s enough to make you want to ditch the Scion and trade it in for a Schwinn. – Terrance Terich
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“Mothers, Sisters, Daughter & Wives”
by Voxtrot
from Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives

The title track from Voxtrot’s EP released in April, “Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives” marked the start of something beautiful wrapped up in disguise as something overwhelming. The EP showed that Voxtrot had come into their own as songwriters while still having ties to their Brit pop influences. The result was a song that has the ability to exhaust and elicit awe simultaneously. Ramesh Srivastava’s lyrics on “Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives” are a dense, exasperating collection of well-turned phrases that almost resemble diction exercises (e.g., “Two years of taction only teaches you to fight,” “You always stop when you start, and listen, you would be smart“). Between the chorus and the next verse, there’s a much-needed respite to give Srivastava a chance to catch breath as the guitars and rhythm section push straight ahead into the next chorus of call-and-repeat chords and a haunting leading guitar. Admittedly, I still can’t quite make out what “Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives” is about. I get the sense it’s about struggling through exhaustion to make one’s situation better or getting through to someone you care about, yet even that’s pretty vague. It’s still a song that is undeniably affecting like a runner’s high. – Hubert Vigilla
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“Lazy Eye”
by Silversun Pickups
from Carnavas

Problem: How to channel aggression, induce catharsis, and craft an original sound while avoiding the pitfalls of the pop-punk crowd. Solution: Turn up the distortion, invoke the masters of shoegazing from the early ’90s, and write a climactic song that leaves the listener yearning for that well-timed scream rather than counting the seconds until it’s over. With “Lazy Eye,” L.A. ‘s Silversun Pickups accomplish just that via their unique brand of brazen, pedal-friendly guitar work and the luminous atmospherics of swirling keyboard effects. “Lazy Eye” is loud, often abrasive, and entirely unapologetic. Lead singer and guitarist Brian Aubert’s unassuming strums lead the listener up the tracks’ perilous peak before plunging them into an abyss of glorious fuzz midway through. Bass goddess Nikki Monninger’s steamy plucks invigorate Aubert’s impassioned howls before the effects pedals really go to work. The result is a flawlessly executed exercise in tension building and the ecstasy of release. Aubert seems to recognize his achievement in the songs final few seconds, crooning “I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life.” I couldn’t agree more. – Mars Simpson

“Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind”
by Yo La Tengo
from I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

Listen: ner-ner-ner-NER-ner-ner, ner-ner-ner-NER-ner-ner. That is, apparently, all it takes for Yo La Tengo to get all excited and write one of their greatest songs to date. That chugging bass riff is, once heard, irremovable from your head and sets its targets directly on your dancing feet. Slap some viscous, squealy guitar mania over the top of the already solid-as-The-Rock foundation and witness Yo La Tengo outclassing everyone for a blistering eleven minutes. As an opening to their classic (yes, classic) album I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass this is more than anyone could have hoped for and serves as a wonderful introduction to an odyssey that we thought they couldn’t still pull off nowadays. With ease, they have reminded everyone just how powerful simplicity can be when they’re unafraid to just try and thrill people. This song is the beginning of another golden era for Yo La Tengo. – Daniel Ross
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“Mr. Tough”
by Yo La Tengo
from I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

There are many examples of the power of dance throughout human history, most notably from the Breakin’ movies and the way Pee-wee Herman soothed some savage Hell’s Angels in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. More evidence of the power of dance is found is found in Yo La Tengo’s “Mr. Tough.” The lesson: that on the dancefloor you can pile up your woes in the corner like jackets and coats on an empty bed. Of course, it’s not so much the message itself but the quirky method of delivery that makes the song compelling: a mix of falsetto vocals, funky ass bossa nova and cowbell. It’s enough already to elicit some slow, summery hip swaying. But if that isn’t infectious enough, an arrangement of soulful horns box steps in during the second verse, giving the rest of “Mr. Tough” a lush, warm groove. Perhaps the next time you’re in a jam, you can give it the old soft shoe to the tune of “Mr. Tough” rather than running away or resorting to fisticuffs. If you’re lucky, you may ditch the problems, even if only for little awhile. And hey, if that doesn’t work, there’s always platform shoes and “Tequila.” – Hubert Vigilla

“Postcards From Italy”
by Beirut
from Gulag Orkerstar

The revered indie rock progeny of 2006 shines as much as he shivers on this track from his debut album that reveals the broken heart behind the concisely constructed Balkan-esque beauty. As everyone from Dylan to Mangum to Oberst have proven, young love lost translated through a precocious voice can often times yield poetic pain that twists the insides and weld up eyes. Dwelling on the memories and yearning for a present that can create a smile, “Postcards from Italy” utilizes images of a frostbit winter juxtaposed with a bright May day to play the misery against the hope and show that even the worst of times with someone are better than without. Pawn shoppe strums and gramophone horns with pacing snare rolls lift Condon’s vocals past the point of whisper and showcase the maturity residing in the shell of a broken boy. – Kevin Falahee
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“First Vietnamese War”
by The Black Angels
from Passover

It starts off with jarring staccato guitar licks and an impending helicopter’s propeller before Jennifer Raines’ slithering organ sets in the mood sailing the PT boat up the river of the Black Angels’ psychedelic haze. Even though members of this Austin quintet were probably born within the fifteen years immediately after the Vietnam War, they still capture the essence of a burned out solider with his mind deep in the mist of potent acid, as well as all the weed and opium that grew wildly in ‘Nam like my uncle used to tell me about. As soon as the tension layered waver in singer Alex Maas’ voice declares “We got off that boat/Charlie’s everywhere” the Black Angels have contrasted an unpopular war from yester generations to one taking place today, complete with the paranoia associated with not knowing who the enemy is or when and where they’ll strike next. – Chris Pacifico
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