Best of tunequest: Top 10 discoveries of 2006

When I began the original tunequest in February of last year, I had ~6000 songs in my iTunes library that had a play count of zero. Part of that list consisted of old CDs that just hadn’t been played since they were digitized. A good number of them were the result of over-zealous music collection and exploration. That was one of the reasons I decided to undertake the endeavor in the first place.

By the end of the journey, every one of those songs had been played and a good number of them had been rated as well. Of those, 122 songs received a five-star rating after only a single play. About half of those were well-known songs from yesteryear. From those remaining, I whittled down the ten newly discovered or unearthed tracks over the course of the tunequest that had the highest impact on me.

Here they are in no particular order.

Ratatat – Noose – Live at Lee’s Palace Toronto 2004

I first heard this song on a CBC Radio 3 Internet stream, which is the version presented here. It’s the b-side to the Germany to Germany single and I liked it so much, I, a) captured the entire show and, b) instantly bought it from iTunes. Along with Ratatat’s Wildcat, the single from their 2006 album Classics, this is probably my favorite track of the year.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Ratatat - Germany to Germany - Single - Noose

Sonic Youth – Incinerate – from Rather Ripped

Rather Ripped is Sonic Youth’s latest new release, having come out last summer. This song is the perfect example of the ” radical adults’ ” effortless melodies and

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped - Incinerate

Pearl Jam – World Wide Suicide – from Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam came back into my life last year, after having been relegated to background noise for many many years. It comes in the form of renewed appreciation for the group’s back catalogue as well as the latest album, the self-titled Pearl Jam, and this, it’s lead single.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam - World Wide Suicide

Les Baxter – Oasis of Dahkla – from Tamboo!

A song I’ve had digitized for a while, but somehow never listened to. Les Baxter’s smooth and exotic compositions and arrangements have been perennial favorites around here. Oasis of Dahkla is lush and melodious, just like I like it.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Titel – Klaus Doldinger – From Das Boot

A soundtrack that I acquired several years ago, but resisted listening to it for fear that I couldn’t relate to it. What a mistake! Methodic, pulsing and indelibly thematic, Klaus Doldinger’s main title score to this 1981 film is captivating.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Klaus Doldringer - The Longest Day - Music from the Classic War Films - Das Boot (The Boat)

Stereolab – Pack Yr Romantic Mind – from Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements

I’m a big fan of Stereolab’s later releases with their heightened pop sensibilities and have traditionally shied away from the groop’s more expressly noise-influenced early records. Though the production value isn’t quite what I expect from the band, the somber beauty of this song, from their first proper album, quite surprised me.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Stereolab - Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements - Pack Yr Romantic Mind

Joe Hisaishi – Sootballs – From Spirited Away

Hisaishi’s score are as breathtaking as Miyazaki’s animations. This song from 2001’s Spirited Away is full of playful mischief.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Blondie – Sunday Girl – from Parallel Lines

For whatever reason, I had never listened to the second half of Parallel Lines, other than Heart of Glass of course. This song is pure pop bliss and I’m bummed I missed out on it for years.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Blondie - Parallel Lines - Sunday Girl

Stravinsky – Scene 1 from Petrushka – performed by the London Symphony Orchestra under Abbado

This ballet by Stravinsky, composed in 1911, is simply marvelous and the opening legerdemain scene at the Shrovetide Fair is quite engaging.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

John Barry – James Bond with Bongos – from From Russia with Love

If you thought James Bond was cool before, wait until you hear that famous theme slowly dissolve into some uber-smooth slacker jazz before 007 is put in danger once again. From THE master, John Barry, doing what he does best.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

March 20 – 41 songs played. 8 removed.

contrary to what one may think, given conventional wisdom, weekends are not the boom time of music listening that one would expect them to be. lots of free time should equal lots of play time. but of course there are commitments and chores and errands and all kinds of other activities that get in the way. i’m certain it would not be good for my marriage if i spent all our time together wearing ipod ear buds. it turns out so, this past weekend, i didn’t listen to a single song. but i did get re-acquainted with an old friend called deep space nine, and that counts for something i guess.

onward to today. well, unlike friday, today’s tunequest felt like a chore. i’ve got nothing against any of the music here; i just wasn’t in the mood for most of it. looking over the list though, i must say such feelings were mostly unwarranted.

  • guns n roses [appetite for destruction]
  • geinoh yamashirogumi [akira symphonic suite]
  • 10cents [buggin’ out]
  • christopher franke [babylon 5: whatever happened to mr. garabaldi]
  • berlin philharmonic performing r. strauss’ ‘also sprach zarathustra’
  • smashing pumpkins [bullet with butterfly wings]
  • mouse on mars [bib]single

ah appetite for destruction. a classic. and to this day, i have no idea why my parents let me listen to it. i was only ten years old or so when it came out. my only conclusion is that they must have thought i was too young to really understand what the songs meant. and it’s true. it wasn’t until i rediscovered the album in college that i gave the lyrics some serious consideration and there is some seriously mature themes. i guess ignorance was bliss in this case. but thinking back, i can’t help remember the times i listened to it in the van with my mom, just be-boppin along and she didn’t say a thing.

also in today’s play count, i must put in a good word about the smashing pumpkins. while the band were pretty decent musicians in their own right, they were also particularly good at covering other peoples songs. pisces iscariot has a cover of the animals ‘girl named sandoz’ and fleetwood mac‘s ‘landslide’ both of which i think sound better on that record than they do on the originals. similar story with the bullet with butterfly wings single (expanded version from the aeroplane flies high box set) which is a collection of five cover tracks by the cars, alice cooper, blondie, missing persons, and the cure. once again, i think the pumpkins exceed the cars on ‘you’re all i’ve got tonight’ and rock the house with alice cooper’s ‘clones (we’re all).’

also sprach zarathustra, better known as the theme from 2001: a space odyssey. there’s actually a lot more music after that first movement and the berlin philharmonic put out a great performance of it all.