Sunday, December 31, 2006

Best of 2006 - Part 5

10. Built to Spill - You in Reverse
It's probably not their best, but I think I was just in the mood for a new BTS album this year.

9. Damien Jurado - And Now That I'm in Your Shadow
2006 was the year of Denton, Texas. In addition to Damien's song named for this small north Texas city, Centro-Matic came in at #24 and....well, read on.

8. Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
This is an album of outtakes and extras from last year's phenomenal release, Illinois. Despite this, I found myself almost as enamored with this as with its predecessor. Sufjan is one of two artists to land in my top ten two years in a row.

7. The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
Indie rock dorks experimenting with 70's influenced prog rock. Could it get any nerdier? Could it be any more magnificent?

6. The Flaming Lips - At War With the Mystics
Conspicuously absent from most critics' year-end lists, this one was all over the place, but still great.

5. Drive-By Truckers - A Blessing and a Curse
One day they will be inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. You heard it here first.

4. Joanna Newsom - Ys
I highly recommend this, unless you're one of those people who are easily annoyed by quirky voices, extremely long songs, or music that takes a little time and patience to let sink in.

3. Mates of State - Bring it Back
I probably rated this album higher than anyone else did, but maybe that's because I'm a sucker for infectious indie pop.

2. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
The second artist to make my top ten in both 2005 and 2006. I'll have to check the archives to see if this has ever happened, even in the days when I only listened to 50-60 new releases a year.

1. Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
I'd never even heard of these guys until I was searching on for the new album by The Drams. One of Amazon's "customers who bought this item also bought..." recommendations was this masterpiece by their fellow Denton, Texas brethren. Is it the Eagles meet E.L.O. or an America/Alan Parsons Project hybrid for the new millenium? Either way, it was easily the most compelling record of the year.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Best of 2006 - Part 4

20. Wolfmother - Wolfmother
Sometimes a band that so obviously wears its influences on its sleeve just plain hits the nail on the head.

19. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
Up until last year I only did a top ten, but even if I'd been doing a top 50 all along, this would be the highest charting hip-hop album yet...unless you count The Streets, which I suppose you could...but that's a whole other debate.

18. Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
Some say they're not quite the same without Isobel Campbell, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

17. Cat Power - The Greatest
To all of you who thought this was too polished, I don't know what else to say except that this was the first album of the year that I really got into.

16. Band of Horses - Everything All the Time
I'm not ready to crown these guys the new kings of indie rock, but this is a really good album that reminds me of the direction I wish My Morning Jacket would have gone...if they hadn't met up with Dave Matthews.

15. Regina Spektor - Begin to Hope
The first half of this could have won album side of the year, if records still existed...well, they do, but you get the picture. Side two leaves a bit to be desired, otherwise this one could have finished top 5.

14. Mojave 3 - Puzzles Like You
A bit of a turn towards a poppier sound for this band...maybe not as good as Spoon and Rafter, but no complaints here.

13. Neil Young - Living With War
I went nuts over this when it first came out. Upon repeated listens, it revealed its shortcomings, but this is still a tremendous album from an icon who at 61 is as vital as ever.

12. Anders Parker - Anders Parker
I feel no obligation to rate Anders' album as high as this...especially not because my Edison Motor Inn team beat his Wallace Insurance squad in a one-game playoff to capture the 1982 Town of LaGrange Senior League (13-15 yr old) baseball championship. It's just that Anders is a much better musician than he was an athlete.

11. Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming
Not quite as good as last year's Wolf Parade debut, but a pretty impressive side project nonetheless.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Best of 2006 - Part 3

The top 30 is where it really starts to get good...

30. Golden Smog - Another Fine Day
A fine comeback album for the so-called alternative Traveling Wilburys. Will this be Gary Louris' primary outlet now that The Jayhawks are history?

29. Jason Collett - Idols of Exile
A really great rootsy effort from the Broken Social Scene sideman.

28. Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
This one would've been better with a little editing, but there are some really great moments here.

27. Editors - The Back Room
26. The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off
25. The Futureheads - News and Tributes
Critics and fans of these three bands seemed to be mostly disappointed, but I enjoyed all three, although the Walkmen album was a little weaker than their last.

24. Centro-Matic - Fort Recovery
The AllMusic entry for Varnaline refers to them as a "crunch rock" band, but in my opinion Centro-Matic's sound embodies this description more than any. This one starts strong and tails off near the end, but overall is a very solid effort.

23. The Long Winters - Putting the Days to Bed
One of my absolute favorite power pop albums of the year.

22. Asobi Seksu - Citrus
One review I read referred to this album as "music for summer days driving around with the top down" or something like that. I absolutely agree, although it is surprising that I like it so much, given my general distaste for Japanese female vocalists.

21. Tres Chicas - Bloom, Red & The Ordinary Girl
While my taste seems to be drifting from the purely alt-country (whatever that is) stuff, it's the female vocalists in this genre who are keeping my attention. I liked this one so much, I bought it for my Dad for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Best of 2006 - Part 2

The second ten includes mostly first-time honorees, many of whom I'd never heard of prior to this year, and a couple ridiculously long album titles...

40. Augie March - Moo, You Bloody Choir
39. Jennifer O'Connor - Over the Mountain, Across the Valley and Back to the Stars
38. Two Gallants - What the Toll Tells
37. The M's - Future Women
36. Bonnie "Prince" Billy - The Letting Go
35. Antennas - Sins
34. Liz Durrett - The Mezzanine
33. Oh No! Oh My! - Oh No! Oh My!
32. The Damnwells - Air Stereo
31. Sparklehorse - Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Best of 2006 - Part 1

Another year is almost complete, so of course that means it's time to start rolling out this year's list. It seemed to start out a little slowly, but I'd say it turned out to be a pretty good year for new music...not that many great albums, but a lot of good stuff. In fact, it was difficult narrowing this down to only a top 50, but here goes...

50. Califone - Roots and Crowns
49. Joseph Arthur - Nuclear Daydream
48. Pernice Brothers - Live a Little
47. Ms. John Soda - Notes and the Like
46. Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
45. Richard Buckner - Meadow
44. M. Ward - Post-War
43. Envelopes - Demon
42. Beth Orton - Comfort of Strangers
41. Roseanne Cash - Black Cadillac

Yes, there are three artists in the 50-41 range who used to be mainstays in my top 10, and who account for 3 of my previous 10 #1 albums. What can I say? Times change, my tastes change, and old favorites remain close to my heart despite the fact that new ones have grabbed most of the attention...kind of like when your parents told you they don't love you any less after your younger sibling was born. Actually, I wouldn't know, since I'm that younger sibling.

Stay tuned for the rest of the list...