Thursday, December 14, 2006

Airwave Blog 2: Best CDs of 2006

Slain rapper star Tupac Shakur still lives on more than 10 years after his death at the age of 25 from a gang relating shooting in Las Vegas. What I have been impressed with is the continued success of the most famous murder victim and in the five years that he was famous while still alive he was able to record a handful of hits within a short period of time and even did a photo shoot with famed photographer David LaChappell for RollingStone Magazine the year he died.

Remember the photo with him in the bath tub? Yes, one of his most famous of him with the words "Thug Life" across his abdomen. Long live Tupac and his music. Get this album...NOW!

White Stipes Jack White expands the music with The Raconteurs and the first album Broken Boys Soldiers. Teaming with fellow Detroit songwriter Brendan Benson and Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, the rhythm section from Cincinnati band the Greenhornes, White exhales a bit, deferring enough to his mates to make Broken Boy Soldiers play like a team effort.

Following the Benson blueprint, "Steady as She Goes," which opens as a slice of 1960's radio pop from the Soliders album (V2 Records/Third Man), the record steers away from pigeonholing the rest of the way. White's in a Middle Eastern mood for the title track as he pulls off a wicked Robert Plant howl, while Lawrence and Keeler excel on the chorus-strong "Intimate Secretary" and the optimistic acoustic rocker "Yellow Sun." Like so many all-star bands before them, The Raconteurs could be one and done. But don't place the blame on this fertile and genuine debut.

England's own The Pet Shop Boys was a good one the 2006 Limited Edition Release of the Duo's Eighth Full Length Album, Reuniting them with Producer Trevor Horn (Who also Produced "Introspective") that Includes a Special Bonus CD Filled with Remixes!

"Fugitive" was Originally Written at the Beginning of 2005 and Completed with Richard X. "in Private" is the Duo's Own Version of the Hit They Wrote and Produced for Dusty Springfield in 1989.

It features Duet Vocals by Neil Tennant and Elton John. Chris Lowe Commented: "we've Really Enjoyed Making this Album with Trevor and his Team and Are Very Happy Indeed with the Finished Result." Neil Tennant Added: "we Think It's a Great Pet Shop Boys Album and also a Great Trevor Horn Record."

NME Has Proclaimed "Fundamental" as "Their Best Album in 10 Years". Features the Initial Single "i'm with Stupid", a Pointed Jab at Tony Blair and George W. Bush.

My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way has alternately described his band's third album as "completely over the top" and "borderline psychotic."

But even those words can't adequately prepare fans of the group's 2004 platinum major-label debut, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, for the onslaught of twisted song suites, glam-rock cannon fire and drama-club theatrics that make up The Black Parade.

Tracks like "Mama" and "The End" make "Bohemian Rhapsody" sound like "Blitzkrieg Bop." It's no coincidence that the disc feels as dizzyingly monumental as Green Day's American Idiot--after all, the two albums share the same label, producer, studio, janitorial team, and sense of apocalyptic dread.

Similarly, The Black Parade will cast its creators in a completely new light. Despite its overly histrionic tendencies and a totally oddball cameo from Liza Minelli, it offers a clear signal that My Chemical Romance is ready to be taken seriously.

It's easy to dismiss the music of this cute, vegan, bare-pated relative of Herman Melville (known as Moby), especially if you don't actually listen to the music and focus instead on his ultra-PC interview style or the manner in which he sold dozens of songs to commercials and film soundtracks back in Y2K.

Listen the music from Go: The Very Best of Moby (V2 Records) and you will hear why his album Play was as good as it was and why he continues to be the man that Eminem goes after.

But to do so is to knee-jerkedly miss out on some very fine and innovative music by one of the most influential musicians of the last decade. With the exception of two tracks (one of them the title tune), Go is a best-of from the years that Moby's been on the V2 label, from 1999's breakthrough hit Play onward.

But Play--with its uncanny reworking of field recordings with playful beats and ambient textures--remains the artist's finest moment. A full disc of remixes and a smattering of unreleased songs (including a rad new number with Blondie's Debbie Harry on guest vocals) make this an essential purchase for rabid fans.

And, as a judicious selection of Play-era material is included alongside the finest songs from Moby's subsequent albums, 18 and Hotel, this is also the perfect entry point for the more casual fan.

FROM THE SONG, "THE REAL SLIM SHADY": MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE: I SAID MY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A PROBLEM HERE. Eminem Presents: The Re-Up (Shady Records/Interscope Records), began as a street mixtape project--an underground, unofficial CD with raw production values--designed to help launch new Shady Records artists Stat Quo, Ca$his and Bobby Creekwater.

"But what happened is that the material was so good and the tracks were getting produced like a regular album," said Eminem. "Instead of putting it out there rough and unfinished, I thought we should add some other new tracks, make it a real album, and put it in the record stores to give these new artists a real boost."

The album was executive produced by Eminem, who also produced the majority of the songs. A handful of selections were produced by The Alchemist, who also compiled the album in true mixtape fashion. The Alchemist is best known for his work with Cypress Hill, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Mobb Deep, and Jadakiss.

Each of the tracks makes its official CD debut on Eminem Presents: The Re-Up, though Stat Quo's "Billion Bucks," and Obie Trice's "Cry Now" (Remix), produced by LT Moe, was recently released on mixtapes and to radio. The first single and video will be "You Don't Know" from Eminem, 50 Cent, Ca$his and Lloyd Banks. With Eminem and Ca$his from the Shady camp and 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks from G-Unit, the rap illustrates the unity of the two organizations.

The Re-Up also gave acclaimed hip-hop producer The Alchemist a chance to work with Shady's new regime. After joining forces on-stage as Eminem's DJ on last year's Anger Management 3 tour, Alchemist and the Shady camp began collaborating in the studio. This new album features the results of this anticipated collaboration with new tracks produced by The Alchemist featuring Stat Quo, Ca$his, Bobby Creekwater and Obie Trice.

Among the album's other recordings are "No Apologies" from Eminem; "Talkin' All That" from Ca$his; "City Of Gold" from Bobby Creekwater; "Murder" from Bizarre and Kuniva (both of D12); and The "Smack That (Remix)" with Akon.

Stat Quo, hailing from Atlanta, was signed to a joint deal between Shady Records and Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment after Eminem and Dre heard him on the Underground Atlanta mixtape series. Creekwater, also from Atlanta, was inked after Eminem heard his work on demos and in the studio with The Alchemist. Ca$his, a Chicago native transplanted in his youth to Orange Co., California, was a member of West Coast underground favorites The Renegadez.

Rampant misinformation about Eminem Presents: The Re-Up included many false internet tracklistings and that the mixtape would be a tribute to D12's Proof, the recently slain rapper and close friend of Eminem. "The D12 album and those unreleased songs with Proof are coming," said Eminem. "But The Re-Up is about these new artists and these new songs. It isn't fair to them or to the memory of Proof to mix them up."

The long-awaited third record in the Bat Out of Hell trilogy, The Monster Is Loose, has Meatloaf proudly on its album sleeve. More a pop orchestral mishmash than a well-defined rock opus, Bat III is dark, seemingly hopeless at times, and ├╝ber dramatic. Oddly enough, that's also its saving grace.

Meat Loaf and company create a great escape into the realm of grand theatricality, with a bunch of radio-friendly rock tunes that sound 20 years old, and several lyrically memorable AOR ballads to sustain it all the way to Broadway.

With collaborator (and occasional defendant in Meat Loaf lawsuits) Jim Steinman, producers Desmond Child and Todd Rundgren, the Meat man consistently has the big sound booming and his despair and his rage on to the point that listeners may feel his pain a little too often.

Bat III ain't for sissies. Balanced by the powerful female voices of Marion Raven, Patti Russo, and Jennifer Hudson; along with guest musicians and songwriting help from Steve Vai, Marilyn Manson's John 5, Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx, Queen's Brian May, and others; Meat Loaf's Monster has roared the unlikely rock star back to life like a bat out of Baghdad.

Beck is the single most inventive and eclectic figure to emerge from the '90s alternative revolution. In an era obsessed with junk culture, Beck seamlessly blends pop, folk, hiphop, indie/underground and electronica with the end result being an authentically uncategorizeable musical style that nevertheless has sold millions of records and scored multiple Grammy awards.

Three years in the making, The Information is the album Beck began work on in 2003 with producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead's OK Computer, Kid A; Beck's Sea Change, Mutations) and finally completed this year once Guero's massive success and encore touring engagements, as well as Nigel's other commitments, were fulfilled.

The album is comprised of 15 songs and a DVD featuring homemade videos for each of the 15 songs shot in-studio during the actual sessions. The artwork for The Information is either non-existent or infinite, depending on one's point of view.

Each copy will come in a blank package with one of four collectible sticker sheets specially designed by European and American artists and representative of the unique Beck aesthetic. The stickers will give every Beck fan the opportunity to participate in the creative process by designing his or her own one of a kind CD cover.

NOTE: This IS the LAST blog of the year for me. It turned out to be my longest ever blog entry. I will return on Jan. 8, 2007. So, if you want to contact me over the course of the next three weeks I will answer my email at

There was so much music in 2006 that I know that the new year 2007, will be filled with so much more than I can handle. Anyway, I appreciate having been given the opportunity to inform the public of great music. See ya all in January, be safe, have fun and happy new year and enjoy the gifts under the tree.


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