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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


April 6-9 : 82 songs played. 23 added. 19 removed.

out with the old, in with the new. tunequest is now powered by one of those new-fangled intel-powered imacs. getting it set up and customized took a good portion of my weekend, but my first impressions are quite positive. the thing is remarkably fast. it’s not perfect, but is a large improvement over the previous g4. for one thing, iTunes isn’t nearly as sluggish, and that can mean only good things for the tunequest.

despite the new hardware, not all is well in tunequest world. i’ve got two months of tunequesting under my belt and the numbers aren’t looking good for achieving my goal. in short, i need to be listening to more music. when i started, i had to listen to 44 songs per day; i haven’t been meetings that goal, so it’s now 46. likewise, i’ve got to listen to 318 songs per week, a number i’ve only achieved once in the eight weeks i’ve been doing this.

so i must redouble my efforts. it’s no easy task, since i want to actually listen to each song, not just play them.

onward to lackluster tunequest:

  • radiohead [high and dry] single
  • the cardigans [gran turismo]
  • the dandy warhols [dandy’s rule ok]
  • charlie hayden & pat metheny [beyond the missouri sky]
  • morcheeba [big calm]
  • soul coughing live in new your city 1992
  • jamiroquai [cosmic girl]single
  • the verve [bittersweet symphony] single
  • klaus doldinger [das boot]
  • gustav holst’s suite no.2 in f (performer unknown)

companion to holst’s suite no.1 is suite no.2, which is also quite brilliant, particularly the second movement: ‘song without words.’ go listen to it. go now.

today’s powerhouse album however is das boot. klaus doldinger puts out some epic, pulsing, tension-building music. this was the first time i actually seriously paid attention to the score in the 4 years i’ve owned it and must say i regret not listening to it sooner. it’s too bad i won’t be able to listen to it again for a while because of tunequest’s ‘no repeat’ rule. •

the big loser this tunequest is the charlie hayden & pat metheny album. i kind of feel bad about it, because it was given to me by a friend who has since passed away from cancer, but i’ve never been able to get into it. i respect the album, but just have never been able to listen to it. it’s jazzy, but for the most part slow and has a hard time holding my attention. so i ended up removing most of it from my library. •