The Losers’ Bracket: 2006

The metaphor says: some albums, knocked out of the CYO playoffs, then play each other for the consolation trophy. Everyone has ice cream, dodges the molesting priest/coach, and goes home happy.

Meaning —
Of all those albums that won’t show up on anyone’s best of lists, these are the best. Got that? okay:

Kid Koala – You Mom’s Favorite DJ
Almost too short to be a full-length work, this is so much fun it matters little that it only lasts around 30 minutes. Longer, it’d be one of the best hip hop records of the year or last year. As a DJ, Koala’s a virtuoso, and much funnier than his peers like Shadow et al.

Wilderness – Vessel States
Although it was the same album as their debut, it still rocked the shit out of stuff like Malajube.
Wilderness – Gravity Bent Light

Nine Horses – Snow Borne Sorrow
Nine Horses – Serotonin
Over the years, David Sylvian’s work has grown on me, although I always did find early Japan interesting (“Adolescent Sex” especially – one of the best vinyl cuts I own for dj-ing). This album, a cut and paste collaboration with Burnt Friedman (an Atom Heart collaborator) and Sylvian’s brother Steve Jansen, placed lush arrangements of clarinet, piano, drums and electric guitar beneath Sylvian’s pop version of Scott Walker. It mostly succeeded.

Bjorn Olsson – S/T (The lobster cover)
A wackjob, weirdo project purely for its straight-faced recreation of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack Morricone never wrote or recorded. The details are right, from the horse-hooves clopping to the tone of every note — but the kicker, amazingly, is that the melodies and compositions are almost as good. Olsson is mostly known as a reclusive Swedish producer and former member of The Soundtrack of Our Lives.
Bjorn Olsson – lat-i-h-moll

Working for a Nuclear Free City – S/T
When you revive an old style, at least update it, and that’s what WFNFC did with Charlatans UK (some real thievery there), Stone Roses, Ride, and the good ‘ol Madchester psych sound of the late eighties/early nineties, adding electronic skullduggery and less wank and more ambient with their guitars, or doing an afropop rhythm, as on “Innocence” below; and if that isn’t Ian Brown singing, it’s his 20-year-old illegitimate son.
WFNC-Quiet Place

Skygreen Leopards – Disciples of California
Skygreen leopards -Disciples of California
On first listen it doesn’t seem like much, each song almost a carbon copy of that before and after, but first listen was nice enough, so you listen again: fragile melodies, deceptively simple, acoustic guitar and maybe a Byrds-ian electric. It’s good. The lyrics begin to clarify themselves, and the SL’s are sining about Jesus Christ and the prophet Elijiah, and then something about California and Sally Orchid, but it’s all out of Syd Barrett territory, and you have an acid-influenced Byrds take on Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. That should be enough for you.

Dear & Glorious Physician – S/T
New Granada records also released the Candy Bars’ awfully-long-titled album last year, another notorious mistake-rave-record by Prawnfork; the Candy Bars aren’t totally offensive, just too precious and forced. Dear and Glorious Physician, named after a 50s novel by Tyler Caldwell, features real siblings – all four members, I believe — delivering better-than-expert guitar-based rock, in that they play their hearts out rather than try anything affected or too smarty pants. And so they come off with the power and band-skill of the early Pixies salted with the southern-preach atmosphere of early X, certainly when their sister-brother harmonizing of southern-accented vocals take off. So retro it doesn’t really belong in the best of 2006, this self titled debut stood out for its disproportionate ratio of high quality to lack of attention. It always happens. I could pick one for the last 10 years. Even with broadband, some of the better music still misses exposure.
D&GP-Spooky Action
D&GP-Behold the Man