January 02, 2007

GirlReaction Reads: Favorites of 2006

[originally posted on Snip]

[Limiting myself MOSTLY to books published and read this year, as opposed to all the books I read this year.]

The best NON fiction books I read this year were "Guests of the Ayatollah" by Mark Bowden and "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion.

The best novels I read were "Black Swan Green" by David Mitchell, "Sharp Objects" by Gillian Flynn and "Towing Jehovah" by James Morrow [that one was not pub this year].

The best short stories I read were "In Persuasian Nation" by George Saunders and "When the Messenger Is Hot" by Elizabeth Crane (not from this year either).

The best poetry was "Strong Is Your Hold" by Galway Kinnell.

You can view the entire list of what I read here and reviews of most items are up on Snip (search by author or select category "readin").

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2006, All Faves, FaveBooks

Duff's Favorite Movies 2006

[originally posted at Snip]

By far, the best film I saw this year was "The Departed". For drama, I also highly recommend "Inside Man" "The Queen" and I personally loved "Marie Antoinette". For a smaller film "Come Early Morning" was very well done. For comedy "Scoop" and "Clerks 2" were both quite funny, in their own ways. "Casino Royale" was the Best Bond, perhaps ever. And "The Prestige" was a good movie about just how horrifically awful human beings can be. So you'd have to keep that in mind, should you choose to see it. There were other movies I liked also.

I'm pretty good at not going to movies I can tell I'm not going to like, in my old age. I'd have to say "Last Kiss" (yuck) and "Match Point" ("Scoop" is so much better!) were my least favorite movies in the theater this year and "The DaVinci Code" was about how I expected: not good, but not as bad as I had heard. Average. Middling.

For Keanu lovers like myself, there wasn't a damn thing wrong with "The Lakehouse." You can see the whole list of what I saw here or you can view Snip by category "watchin"; although I oddly forgot to write up a LOT of the concerts I saw, I pretty consistently reported back on movies.

And I've already seen my first movie of 2007 although I haven't written it up yet. Soon! :)

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2006, All Faves, FaveMovies

December 31, 2006

Books Read in 2006

(In descending order this time around!)

  • Acts of Faith, by Philip Caputo
  • Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse, by Helen Wells (reread)
  • Cherry Ames, Veterans' Nurse, by Helen Wells (reread)
  • Here Kitty Kitty, by Jardine Libaire
  • The Summer of Ordinary Ways, by Nicole Lea Helget
  • The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
  • Cherry Ames, Private Duty Nurse, by Helen Wells (reread)
  • The Thin Place, by Kathryn Davis
  • The Aquitaine Progression, by Robert Ludlum (reread)
  • Cherry Ames, Visiting Nurse, by Helen Wells (reread)
  • The Liberated Bride, by A.B. Yehoshua
  • (half of) Victoria Victorious, by Jean Plaidy
  • The Accidental, by Ali Smith
  • Raymond + Hannah, by Stephen Marche
  • Cash, by Johnny Cash
  • I'll Go to Bed at Noon, by Gerard Woodward
  • The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett
  • Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
  • Mutant Message: Down Under, by Marlo Morgan
  • Garner, by Kristin Allio
  • My Sister's Continent, by Gina Frangello
  • The Apricot Colonel, by Marion Halligan
  • A Carnivore's Inquiry, by Sabina Murray
  • Fly Away Peter, by David Malouf
  • One Shot, by Lee Child
  • A Cry in the Jungle Bar, by Robert Drewe
  • The Blood-Dimmed Tide, by Rennie Airth
  • Praise, by Andrew McGahan
  • Killing Floor, by Lee Child
  • Johnno, by David Malouf
  • Die Trying, by Lee Child
  • Shadowboxing, by Tony Birch
  • Magic or Madness, by Justine Larbalestier
  • Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell
  • The Light Fantastic, by Terry Pratchett
  • Tripwire, by Lee Child
  • Everyman, by Philip Roth
  • Magic Lessons, by Justine Larbalestier
  • Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton
  • A Mathematician's Apology, by G.H. Hardy
  • Lies I Told About a Girl, by Anson Cameron
  • Running Blind, by Lee Child
  • The Pact, by Jodi Picoult
  • Adverbs, by Daniel Handler
  • A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby
  • In Persuasion Nation, stories by George Saunders
  • Poetic Justice; The Literary Imagination and Public Life, by Martha Nussbaum
  • Echo Burning, by Lee Child
  • Without Fail, by Lee Child
  • Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • Persuader, by Lee Child
  • The Enemy, by Lee Child
  • Michael Martone, by Michael Martone
  • In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, by Marcel Proust
  • The Afterlife, by Donald Antrim
  • Guests of the Ayatollah, by Mark Bowden
  • Snow Blind, by P.J. Tracy
  • Skin, by Kellie Wells
  • I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • When the Emperor Was Divine, by Julie Otsuka
  • Liars and Saints, by Maile Meloy
  • Hocus Pocus, by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Private Wars, by Greg Rucka
  • The Dissident, by Nell Freudenberger
  • Which Brings Me to You, by Steve Almond & Julianna Baggott
  • China Mountain Zhang, by Maureen F. McHugh
  • The Lone Pilgrim, by Laurie Colwin
  • Forgetfulness, by Ward Just
  • When the Messenger Is Hot, by Elisabeth Crane
  • That Eye, That Sky, by Tim Winton
  • A Student of Living Things, by Susan Richards Streve
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
  • Restless, by William Boyd
  • Stolen Magic, by M.J. Putney
  • Mind Over Matter, Conversations with the Cosmos, by K.C. Cole
  • White, by Christopher Whitcomb
  • Towing Jehovah, by James Morrow
  • Be My Knife, by David Grossman
  • Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
  • The Keep, by Jennifer Egan
  • The Kitchen Diaries, A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater, by Nigel Slater
  • Strong Is Your Hold, by Galway Kinnell (poetry)
  • (the first half of) Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl
  • Semper Fi, A Novel of the Corps, by W.E.B. Griffin
  • Versailles, by Kathryn Davis
  • Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette, by Sena Jeter Naslund
  • All This Heavenly Glory, by Elizabeth Crane

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2006, Books

Duff at the Movies 2006

  • Casanova
  • Match Point
  • Tristan and Isolde
  • Something New
  • Syriana
  • V for Vendetta
  • 16 Blocks
  • Munich
  • Inside Man
  • Thank You for Smoking
  • The DaVinci Code
  • Mission Impossible 3
  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • The Lakehouse
  • Prairie Home Companion
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Clerks 2
  • Scoop
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Conversations with Other Women
  • Last Kiss
  • The Illusionist
  • The Black Dahlia
  • The Departed
  • The Queen
  • Marie Antoinette
  • The Prestige
  • Casino Royale
  • Come Early Morning
  • Bobby
  • The Holiday
  • The Good German
  • The Good Shepherd

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2006, Movies

Duff's Favorite Albums 2006

Favorite Album of 2005 that I Didn't Get Until 2006

Flipsyde "We the People" Why I wasted six months before buying this album I'll never know. The exact type of rapping/ singing blend I tend to like (think Chronic Future). Sassy and smart and stylistically diverse. Love it.
Favorite Songs: "US History" (great fucking song, dudes) "Trumpets" "Flipsyde"

Favorite Albums of 2006

1. Gnarls Barkley "St. Elsewhere" Band of the year, album of the year, and song of the year. These guys blew everyone else away. Not only are they great musicians, but they are all about having FUN with it: unrelentingly HAPPY and never shy about showing it.
Favorite Songs: "Crazy" Of course!! It was THE song of 2006! "Smiley Faces" "Just a Thought"

2. Gomez "How We Operate" If I had bought this on LP, I would have worn out the grooves. Didn't know them before this album. Love the contrast between the vocals tempo and the harmonies/background. Love the melodies.
Favorite Songs: "All Too Much" "How We Operate" "Hamoa Beach" "See the World" "Cry on Demand"

3. Golden Smog "Another Fine Day" This was a constant listen all summer long. Much more straight "rock" than most of the stuff I listened to this year.
Favorite Songs: "Long Time Ago" "Cure for This" "Strangers"

4. Hilltop Hoods "The Hard Road" Australian rap; probably my favorite purchase from the trip. No noticeable hos or bitches or guns or what you might expect if you listen to much American rap. Using the genre to different effect. Politically aware. Literate (Oscar Wilde shoutout, anyone?). Great beats. Unusual backdrops.
Favorite Songs: "Recapturing the Vibe" "The Hard Road" "Conversation from a Speakeasy" "Breathe"

5. Rosanne Cash "Black Cadillac" Dedicated to her mom, dad and stepmom, all dead in the past few years. Spent so much time listening to Johnny Cash in the past few years, I couldn't NOT check this out. So glad I did. Beautiful and elegiac. Bought early in the year, but never set aside.
Favorite Songs: "I Was Watching You" "God Is in the Roses" "The World Unseen" "Like Fugitives"

6. Band of Horses "Everything All the Time" Recommended to me by Paul in our ongoing exchanges before they really broke out. These guys just don't sound quite like anyone else. "The Funeral" is certainly one of the best songs of the year, although I find I generally listen to this as a whole album, only rarely breaking it down. Plaintive yet soaring melodies.
Favorite Songs: "The Funeral" "The Great Salt Lake" 'I Go in the Barn Because I Like the" "Monsters"

7. My Chemical Romance "The Black Parade" The most recent purchase on this list. This album is a crazy combination of mindboggling array of influences...Yet unlike other derivative bands, to my ears they have a very distinctive sound of their own that stands out above all that.
Favorite Songs: Wow, hard to pick out individual tracks here, I almost always listen to this as a full album... maybe "Mama" or "Cancer". Or ALL OF THEM!! :)

8. The Long Winters "Putting the Days to Bed" Didn't love their previous release, wasn't even going to buy this, but it turned out to be one of the albums I listened to the most! Melodius and musically diverse. Totally singalongable. Literate. Intellectually pleasing.
Favorite Songs: "Fire Island, AK" "Teaspoon" "Honest" (perhaps the best 'advice' song ever) "Clouds"

9. Cat Power "The Greatest" Lush and stately. Has a very dignified, old school, jazz standard feel to it. One of those rare albums that is just SO RIGHT ON that you can barely catch your breath while you're listening to it.
Favorite Songs: "Willie" "Where Is My Love"

10. Bishop Allen "June" You could argue that I listened to Bishop Allen more (and more consistently throughout the year) than any other band this year, since they put out an EP EVERY MONTH. Poppy, goofy and fun. Definitely quirky; definitely talented.
Favorite Songs: "The Same Fire" "Number 39"

Runners Up

Weepies "Say I Am You". -- "The World Spins Madly On" is one of the best songs of the year. Love it. Also like Deb Talan's solo stuff, but not quite as much.

Joseph Arthur "Nuclear Daydream" -- Beautiful. Heartbreaking.

Scissor Sisters "Ta Dah" -- Just as danceable as their first.

Damien Rice "9" -- More of the same from "O". But he does it so well.

Beck "The Information" -- Definitely the funnest thing I saw live this year. Can't listen without thinking about the puppets!

Imelda De La Cruz "Noise Noise Noise" -- She's a friend of a friend. This is the best album you're not listening to (or haven't heard about)! Maybe you should go buy it! Ran into her in Whole Foods the other night with aforementioned friend. Could not stop myself from blurting out "I LOVE YOUR ALBUM". As a (former) proud New Yorker, this is something I would NEVER do to someone famous. But I figured she's low key enough still (at this point) that I could embarrass myself.

The Audreys "Between Last Night and Us" -- Alt country from Australia.

She Will Have Her Way -- An entire album of Crowded House covers!! What's better than that. Fave: Renee Geyer's version of "Into Temptation".

Snow Patrol "Eyes Open" -- Anthems you can't get out of your head.

Keane "Under the Iron Sea" -- Pretty. -- Very pretty.

Raconteurs "Broken Boy Soldiers" -- Can Jack White make a bad album? Loving Brendan Benson more here than on his solo stuff.

The Fray "How to Save a Life" -- Sometimes cheesy radio ballads really ARE good songs.

Favorite Songs from 2006 (or mostly?) NOT on Any of the Above-Mentioned Albums

"Jenny Don't Be Hasty" Paolo Nuttini
"You" Switchfoot
Sad. Melancholy. As you might expect. Me being me. And all.
"Reason to Mourn" Ben Harper
Almost makes me cry. Every time.
"Multiply" Jamie Lidell
Overall he's not my usual type. But this is a crowdpleaser.
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" sung by Terrence Howard in the movie
You would not believe the grin I get on my face when I'm listening to this. As well as "Whoop That Trick". Loved the movie, love the songs.
"Halo" Bethany Joy Lenz
Sung as Haley James on that horror show "One Tree Hill". The best thing that's ever come out of that show is this song.
"Weight of the World" Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
This is more than I wanted, take me out of the dark... Time will change, still the world remains the same...
"Bad Day" Daniel Powter
Overplayed. Because it was good!
"Faith" Shawn Mullens
Haven't listened to him in years. When he's on, he's on.
"Emily Kane" Art Brut
We all wish there was a song like this out there about us, don't we.
"Skeleton Key" Margot & the Nuclear So & Sos
Love lovelovelove LOVE this song. Thank you, Silvia!
"Fidelity" Regina Spektor
"We All Lose One Another" Jason Collett
Go ahead. TRY not to sing along to the chorus.
"Listen" and "Letter to the World" Dead Heart Bloom
Listen as I write you a song... Here's my goodbye to the world...
"Since I Left You" The Avalanches
Another Australia purchase. Rest of the album is too electronica pour moi. But this song is great.
"Fancy Lover" The Whitlams
New stuff from Australians I learned about previously from a Brit (Hi Michele!)
"Tant Pis Pour Toi" Nous Non Plus
En francais! Bien sur!
"Boston", "Stars and Boulevards" and "Coffee and Cigarettes" Augustana
My cousin would call this "WB music" [i.e. Dawson's Creek, Everwood, etc.]. Yup. And I still like it.
"Hoquiam" and "Denton, TX" Damien Jurado
Set the player on repeat, you'll want to listen to these again.
"You're the Kind of Trouble (I Could Get Into)" Solomon Burke
Soul singer goes country, complete with sassy country lyrics!
"Happiness" Grant Lee Buffalo
More of my usual melancholy, despite its title.
"Home" Barenaked Ladies
Stuck in the middle of the road, for better or worse we compromise...
"Unspoken Love" The Electric Farm
You can fight it. But what's the use.

New (to me) Artists (that I liked) This Year

Strays Don't Sleep -- I try not to pay tooooo close attention to the lyrics, as some are a little, shall we say, Republican sounding. But I saw these guys open for Josh Rouse and they have a cool sound. Two vocalists, interesting voices/contrasts.
Ben Kweller -- Ben Kweller is toooo much fun. Has a real Peter Frampton '70s look to him although he's all of...what? 17? He was one of my favorite Lollapalooza discoveries. Very catchy songs.
Memphis -- Part of the whole Broken Social Scene / Stars / Metric / Emily Haines crowd. Soft and pleasing. Thoughtful. And perhaps less melancholy than is my norm in this type of sound.
Submarines -- Recommended by Sunday Undies Jen. Have seen them described as a "happy" boy/girl Stars-like band. A real "relationship" album. Haven't listened enough for them to make the top 10/runners up. But like what I hear.

Covers I Loved This Year

Gnarls Barkley covering the Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone."
James Blunt covers of Crowded House's "Fall At Your Feet" and the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?"
The Magic Numbers singing Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" and The Smiths "There Is a Light that Never Goes Out."
Joseph Arthur also singing "There Is a Light that Never Goes Out."
Boy Least Likely To rocking out to George Michael's "Faith. Saw this in concert!
Matt the Electrician's version of Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl." Heard live!
Multiple covers of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" by The Raconteurs (awesome, live!), Kanye West (OK, live at lolla), Nelly Furtado (slow but cool) and Ray LaMontagne (OK). As discussed, THE song of 2006!
Ben Folds singing Dr. Dre's(? Snoop's?) "Bitches Ain't Shit." There are a lot of great covers by Ben Folds out there.
Joshua Radin covering Yaz's "Only You." Man, I love this song. Still.

Albums I liked...And Then Got Over
Sometimes seeing someone live changes how you feel about them, for better or, as in these cases, for worse.

Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins "Rabbit Fur Coat" -- This is a pretty rockin', albeit very short, album. Then I saw her in concert. And she was all bible-banging / gospel-y / standing-on-the banks-of-the-Jordan prayin' and I don't think I listened to it a single time after that. Ah well. Not everyone needs to be experienced live. I'm sure I'll still check out her next efforts.
KT Tunstall "Eye to the Telescope" -- I liked this album a lot when it came out. I still think "Suddenly I See" is a great song. But in concert she was really...awkward? And at some point I lost interest; the album just dropped off my radar the rest of the year.
Corinne Bailey Rae (self-titled) -- It's amazing to see that huge voice coming out of a stick-thin body. But the songs are too much the same to keep me interested. Same tempo, same sounds. Throughout.

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2006, All Faves, FaveTunes

December 30, 2006

Duff Does Live Music pre-2007

Note that some of this goes back as far as high school (Bryan Adams, Corey Hart) and college (Rolling Stones, U2, UB40) and my very early years in New York (Cocteau Twins, David & David). I'm sure there are some things missing/some concerts I have just completely forgotten about, (as I found several I had forgotten about just digging through old ticket stubs, and I only have those going back so far) and that will drive me crazy to the end of my days.

Ambulance LTD - x2
Arcade Fire
Badly Drawn Boy
Barenaked Ladies - x4
Barry Manilow
BB King
Beastie Boys
Ben Kweller
Beth Orton
Blue Merle
Bob Dylan
Bob Mould
Bob Schneider
Boy Least Likely To
Broken Social Scene
Bryan Adams
Chris Smither
Chuck Berry
Citizen Cope
Clearly and the Mainstream
Cocteau Twins
Corey Hart
Corinne Bailey Rae
Counting Crows
Damien Rice - x2
David & David (Baerwald "Welcome to the Boomtown")
David Gray
Death Cab for Cutie - x2
Drive by Truckers
Duran Duran
Eliza Carthy
Elliott Smith
Elvis Costello
Erin McKeown
Etta James - x2
Fabulous Thunderbirds
Figdish/Caviar - x7 or 8
Fiona Apple (never again.)
Foo Fighters
Franz Ferdinand
Gnarls Barkley - x2
Hold Steady - x3
Hot Hot Heat
Imogen Heap
Indigo Girls - x7
In Living Color (opened for the Stones. Ugh.)
James Taylor
Jason Mraz
Jenny Lewis (with the Watson Twins)
Joan Baez
John Lee Hooker
John Mayer
John Mellencamp
Josh Rouse
Kaiser Chiefs - x2
Kaki King
Kanye West
Kasey Chambers
Katie Reider
Katie Todd
Kim Taylor
KT Tunstall
Lady Sovereign
Liz Phair - x4
Louis XIV
Local H
Lyle Lovett - x2
Maceo Parker
Macy Gray
Maroon 5
Mary J. Blige
Matchbox Twenty
Matt the Electrician
Matthew Sweet
Mike Doughty - x3
Modest Mouse
My Beautiful Diamond
Neil Finn
New Pornographers
Norah Jones
OK Go - x2
Over the Rhine
Peter Mulvey
Poi Dog Pondering
Psychedelic Furs
Queens of the Stone Age
Rachael Yamagata - x2
Rachel Ries
The Raconteurs - x2
Ray LaMontagne
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Rhett Miller
Robbers on High Street
The Roches
Rolling Stones
Ryan Adams - x2
Scissor Sisters
Secret Machines
Shane Nicholson
Shawn Mullins
Sheryl Crow
Shins - x2
Smoking Popes
Snow Patrol
Sondra Lerche
Spank 1000 (100?)
Strays Don't Sleep
Sufjan Stevens - x2
Tear(s) for Fear(s) (post departure of other member)
Three Five Human
Tom Jones
Veruca Salt

Multi-Artist Fests

Newport Jazz Festival 1991
BB King's Blues Festival 2002
Field Day Festival 2003
Lollapalooza 2005
Lollapalooza 2006

Some of the acts heard/seen at these Fests may be missing from above list due to lack of my serious lack of long-term memory. For example, according to press reports, My Morning Jacket and Bright Eyes both played the Field Day Fest. I have no memory of their performances, although I know I saw every performance that day. Oh well...

Posted by Duff - Say What? - Permalink | filed under 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, Gigs