Give me 10!

CN&R’s music writers offer up their Best-of lists for 2006

No need for a longwinded intro here. Everybody loves lists. We love music. Here they are—the musical goodies of the past year from our voracious music writers. Enjoy!

Jason Cassidy
10. Scissor Sisters, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing": What is wrong with the U.S.? Even with Elton John co-writing and playing piano, this throwback to the Bee Gees barely dented the Top 100 here, despite hitting No. 1 in half the countries in Europe and Australia.

9. The Blood Brothers, live at The Library in Sacramento: Unrelenting ferocity for an hour straight. Headliners Trail of Dead should’ve stayed in the bus.

8. Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not: Finally, a worthy follow-up to Oasis and Pulp, who sing in accent like the Jam, rock as well as The Libertines and dance all night with your girlfriend.

7. West By Swan: In a year with personal faves Lott Lyzzyrd, The Makai, The Shankers and Arrangement Ghost, the effects pedal pushers of W.B.S. ride a wave of noise (and a new CD) to the top of the local band heap.

6. Calling All Monsters: S.F. four-piece keeps the noisy parts noisy and the poppy parts poppy. And that’s how I likes it.

5. Grinderman, “No Pussy Blues” (www.myspace .com/grinderman): Nick Cave is in a new band, and he sounds horny.

4. The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America: Album of the Year.

3. The Devil and Daniel Johnston: Moving documentary of beautifully primitive bi-polar singer/songwriter.

2. British Chicks: The four most fun albums of the year weren’t even released in the U.S. There were two super-girl group greatest hits collections: Girls Aloud, The Sound of Girls Aloud, and Sugababes, Overloaded; the cute-core pure pop of the Pipettes, We Are The Pipettes ("Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me” forever!); and the breezy club pop of Lily Allen, Alright, Still. Of the four, Allen’s is the only one scheduled to be released stateside (Jan. 30).

1. Lords of Outland, live at 1078 Gallery during Palais Idéal: Evil, evil, evil free jazz and pure noise. The most impressive marriage of technical prowess and impassioned expression these ears and eyes have ever absorbed.

Arctic Monkeys

Meredith J. Cooper
10. Bob Sinclair’s “Love Generation": Cheesy but fun. Plus it reminds me of last spring in Europe, where it was playing just about everywhere.

9. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere: Unlike anything else I’ve heard all year. And funky.

8. Bluebeard at the Blue Room: This is the first musical I’ve been to in years. And it just might inspire me to see more.

7. Tool: 10,000 Days is killer. Plus I got to see them live for the first time, in Marysville.

6. Dan Cooper, Never Look Back: My little bro put out his first CD of all original stuff. Check him out at

5. Zepperella at LaSalles: Chicks singing Zeppelin? I’ve got a whole lotta love for these ladies, who rocked the house.

4. Reggae night at Lost on Main: Can’t get much better than dancing to Damien on a Thursday night.

3. Arctic Monkeys: These guys kick ass. ‘Nuff said.

2. Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam: For a hardcore PJ fan, this is just about the best thing I could have asked for this year.

1. Chico’s music scene: When I moved to Chico in June, I’d never set foot here before. News of a rockin’ music scene helped seal my fate. I certainly haven’t been let down.

The Makai

C. Harris-Nystrom
10. Asobi Seksu, Citrus: A tsunami-load of guitars bearing down on sweet melodies trilled by a vocalist who could be The Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser fronting My Bloody Valentine or Ride.

9. Times New Viking, Dig Yr Self : “What have you done for your freedom? Too busy making love every day?” Distorting all shapes and suggestions, suckling on pop songs’ splinters. A fervent, fevered “Fuck You, Man!” to the architects’ laws of sound.

8. The Americas: Juxtaposing a dance of delicacy and volume, Travis and Casey deliver a single-minded ferocity no band in North America can touch.

7. Youth Group, Casino Twilight Dogs and Skeleton Jar: Championed by Death Cab for Cutie, this Aussie quartet proves tighter and more formidable than almost any indie pop band today.

6. Human Television, Look at Who You Are Talking To: Taking the best from early ‘90s jangle and indie shoegaze, yet louder and even sweeter.

5. Deerhunter: My favorite “discovery” of 2006. The Atlanta band dreams in dripping, fluorescent colors that drone a repetitive reverie of fluid beauty.

4. The Makai: Chico Kings of Heavy weave weird, dual guitar lines melding fierce hardcore and trad metal, while forging exhilarating new dark, visceral kingdoms of dread.

3. Wolf Parade, live at The Independent (S.F.): Canada’s best band? Apologies to the Queen Mary was easily 2005’s finest album.

2. Monstros Pizza: Owner Greg, booking by Brent and Rachel—Chico’s brightest hope for a successful all-ages venue.

1. Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped: Their best album since Daydream Nation.

Jet Fuel Only

Christine G. K. LaPado (in no particular order)
• Lucinda Williams Duo, Laxson Auditorium: A lengthy (thank you!) performance of just plain fine, and sometimes gritty, loveliness.

• Jet Fuel Only: Local pre-teen four-piece is rocketing into fame after being featured in a People magazine article on the beneficial effects of music on autism. Look for JFO on an upcoming segment of the Rachael Ray Show.

• John Milbauer’s performance of late avant-garde composer and pianist John Cage’s “Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano": The creatively lit performance-dinner brought a long-awaited “urban-worldly” vibe to Chico via the minimalist-industrial 1078 Gallery.

• Crux Artist Collective: Moving into its funky new digs on Park Avenue to continue its cutting-edge mission of melding the talents of musical, visual and written word artists into one big, happy creative output of art pieces and shows.

• Chico Art Center’s Open Studios Art Tour: This may not be music-related, but it’s worth mentioning. An exciting two-weekend tour of the workspaces and artwork of some of the very best that Chico (and its environs) has to offer in the area of visual arts.

• UK “guerrilla artist” Banksy: Took his thought-provoking game to the U.S. by, among other things, placing a life-sized replica of a Guantanamo Bay detainee inside a ride at Disneyland, which wasn’t discovered for an hour and a half.

• Palais Idéal: A Festival of Adventurous, Strange and Visionary Music: A four-day, multivenue extravaganza featuring more than 70 captivating “musical experiments.”

• World-class jazz pianist Grant Levin moving to Chico from Reno, Nev.: Lucky for his music students at Chico State, and for the audience members who get to hear him play at clubs like Monks (and for the musicians who have the pleasure of playing with him!).

• First annual CAMMIES (Chico Area Music Awards): Showcases all over town and a Senator Theatre awards show. What a great injection of musical eclecticism and camaraderie into the local music scene.

• Béla Fleck & the Flecktones at Sierra Nevada Big Room: Genre-bending banjo king Fleck and his amazing crew kicked some serious musical booty during their two-day run, which was filmed for the PBS series Sierra Center Stage.

Reigning Sound

Mark Lore
10. Dr. Dog, Takers and Leavers EP: Not as strong as the Philly band’s debut, Easy Beat, but a worthy collection of songs that highlights their knack for creating dark, harmonious ‘60s-influenced pop.

9. The Fucking Ocean: First I watched them, then, immediately after, purchased their Le Main Rouge record. The S.F. trio makes interesting, danceable chaos … and who doesn’t love interesting, danceable chaos?

8. Wolfmother, self-titled: The Aussie trio rips plainly from Zep and Sabbath—chock-full of big riffs that will make you want to break out the air guitar when no one’s looking.

7. Nothing People: A hidden gem among the rocks and sticks of Orland, Nothing People sound like a band lost in time, creating noise through an arsenal of vintage equipment.

6. La Dolce Vita, self-titled: It took the local rock trio a year to complete, but the results are impressive. A fun romp through myriad music styles with a perfect mix of pop hooks and rock riffage.

5. Band of Horses, Everything All the Time: The brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Ben Bridwell and guitarist Mat Brooke, Band of Horses dishes out reverb-heavy melancholy pop, but with plenty of loud guitars and soaring vocals.

4. The Shankers: It was fun to watch these guys evolve and tweak their rockabilly weirdness in 2006.

3. Monotonix, live at 1078 Gallery: Tel Aviv punk-rock three-piece came and conquered Chico. Vocalist Ami Shalev plowed through the audience, used a trash can as a pogo stick, and scaled walls before ending up in the rafters of 1078. The performance dropped jaws, and had people talking for days—just as a rock show should.

2. The Country Teasers, The Empire Strikes Back: A little bit country. A whole lotta strange. One of the most compelling rock records to come out this year.

1. Reigning Sound: My new favorite band. Period. Channeling ‘60s garage, country and even early Bruce Springsteen, the North Carolina band is flawless on albums like Home For Orphans and Timebomb High School. Thanks, Mr. Derr.

Toby Keith

Charles H. Peckham V
Top 10 bands cute girls ask me to find for them at Best Buy that immediately make me stop wanting to go out with them.

10. Nazareth: “Love Hurts” is not a perfect boy-meets-girl soundtrack.

9. The Blue Collar Comedy Tour: I have yet to meet a fan of these guys who isn’t almost as obnoxious as they are.

8. Slayer: Just wouldn’t jive with my Leonard Cohen days very well, and I got to have my Leonard Cohen days.

7. Smashing Pumpkins: Stuck in 1994 = kind of a turn-off.

6. Blue October: Into bands that are stuck in 1994 = even more of a turn-off.

5. Sublime: People who listen to it tend to downplay the whole social change aspect of the band in favor of the smoking pot aspect.

4. Metallica: When you kill Napster, you kill my attraction to your fans.

3. Any Christian rock band: No explanation needed.

2. Tie: Lynyrd Skynyrd/Toby Keith: The two asshole customer favorites.

1. Insane Clown Posse: Pretty much everything wrong with all the other bands plus face paint.

Sin Twister

Carey Wilson
10. Elvin Bishop, Sierra Nevada Big Room: The encore number at a concert that didn’t have any low points managed to channel all the energy of the evening into one gospel-powered crescendo of beautifully sung lyrics and blazing lead guitar.

9. Motörhead, Stage Fright: Stellar video and musical production values make this concert DVD a must-have for fans of high-energy, ultra-heavy power trio rock.

8. Gorgeous Armada, at Off Limits: Band leader Handsome Gorgeous knows how to turn a bar room gig into a raging party.

7. Southern Culture on the Skids, Double Wide Live: The six-minute opus “Banana Pudding” packs enough lascivious licks to fuel a dozen make-out sessions.

6. Brett Dennen, Chico Women’s Club: Dennen’s live show, accompanied by only a drummer, was full of joyful dancers, including a couple of little kids who Dennen encouraged to dance with him on stage.

5. Neil Young, Living With War: Young was working under genuine inspiration when he cut these 10 songs in six days last March, accompanied by a bass player, drummer, trumpeter and 100-voice choir.

4. Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks at the Big Room:The guy who invented a self-contained musical genre by blending old-time hot jazz, Andrews Sisters harmonies and acoustic folk instrumentation sounds as fresh and lively today as he did 35 years ago.

3. Sin Twister playing “Beat on the Brat” with 10-year-old Gibson Little leading the band at Barbara Manning’s graduation party.

2. Lou Reed, Laxson Auditorium: Having a phone interview with Reed was the highlight of my journalistic career thus far, and seeing Reed perform live on the Laxson stage with two of the world’s premiere bassists was a treat equaled only by …

1. Emmylou Harris, Laxson Auditorium: The art of Emmylou Harris transcends mere entertainment and transports us to a realm of emotional truth that allows us to grasp the poignancy and preciousness of our own mortality. Hats off to Chico Performances for bringing these two musical treasures to Chico.