Top 10 Albums of 2006
We’ve come to think that we can usually take in a good amount of music in one year and give a “Best Of…” list. Trickling back through the years, we are more judgmental than ever: it’s hard to live up to the past. When a rare occurrence happens, and an album seems to require one to take note, it’s like finding a $20 bill on the ground: Freakin’ awesome.
In the year 2006, we had many artists making their return, and a few youngsters along the way surprising us with a smash. Regardless, if anything, 2006 was mostly just a year of surprises. Though album sales are still extremely low, Myspace.com has helped small bands gain big fame in a world of pop titans who choose commercialism over creativity. Purchasing music online through iTunes, and the like, has also seen the rebirth of singles.
With all of this in mind, it’s obvious why Sophie Zine has decided to publish two lists of the best music of 2006. Compare and contrast, gripe and groan, do whatever, just read.
10. THE KNIFE – SILENT SHOUT
Taking the entire world of electronica by surprise, this Swedish brother-sister combo gave of a taste of what it would be like to make a soundtrack for OETA’s NOVA. With off-the-wall lyrics and even more precise beats, The Knife can provide you with a great late night soundtrack at home.
9. SONDRE LERCHE – DUPER SESSIONS
For Norwegian boy-wonder Sondre Lerche, it would have been far too easy to craft another indie-pop masterpiece (see Two Way Monologue, Faces Down), so he decided to pay homage to the crooners of old with his latest effort. Think of it as jazz without a horn section: devilishly clever lyrics with impeccable song structure to match, Sondre isn’t running out of steam, he’s just warming up.
8. THE RAPTURE – PIECES OF THE PEOPLE WE LOVE
Brooklyn’s blue-blood, rug-cutting pioneer’s The Rapture pick up right where they left off with 2004’s Echoes: Sing-a-long, dance-with-your-nearest-neighbor music that’s infectious whether you’re dancing up a storm or walking to wherever.
7. BE YOUR OWN PET – BE YOUR OWN PET
If you ever wanted to eat a lot of pixie stix and go on a blood-thirsty rampage of searing sugar rush punk rock, Be Your Own Pet will definitely steal your insulin. Four teenagers from Tennessee bring us the “singles from a shotgun” album of the year. With Jemina Pearls Karen O-esque vocals and fuck you attitude on stage, it’s hard not to go crazy in the presence of this band.
6. BEIRUT – THE GULAG ORKESTAR
Leading the way in the gypsy rock scene, Beirut deliver us a picture perfect scene of vodka drinking Russians yelping out of tune about the Motherland, listening to the radio in the 40’s (“Postcards From Italy”), and clanging along with any percussion instrument within five feet of us. Hailing from New Mexico, Beirut proves that location is no barrier for brilliance.
5. BELLE & SEBASTIAN – THE LIFE PURSUIT
Don’t let any too-indie-for-you bastards tell you that “The Life Pursuit” is Belle & Sebastian’s worst album. If you enjoy smiling while listening to music, then I highly suggest picking this up. It’s hard to say no to Belle & Sebastian when they can produce an album that is nothing but ear-to-ear grinning from start to finish.
4. GNARLS BARKLEY – ST. ELSEWHERE
Make way for the new kings of everything! Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse struck gold early with “Crazy”, but few anticipated the album “St. Elsewhere” to have such monumental success. Blazing a trail as he always does, Danger Mouse gives us an album with complexity, depth and color. Just like an excellent wine, this outfit can only get better with age.
3. THE FLAMING LIPS – AT WAR WITH THE MYSTICS
Freak rock godfathers The Flaming Lips give us a space opera for the 21st century with this nearly flawless disc. Tightening up their sound, the Lips have found their niche with a healthy balance of “The Soft Bulletin” and “Yoshimi…”. Proving that they still have it, they’re paving the way for the emerging rock scene in Oklahoma.
2. PHOENIX – IT’S NEVER BEEN LIKE THAT
Phoenix decided that enough is enough with the clicks and buzzes of electronic and funk, and they dropped everything with a record of this year’s catchiest album including two guitars, a bass and drums, all created in just three months studio time. The album truly gets better with every single solitary listen, and considering what this French band did in three months, it’s extremely difficult to ignore this album. Buy this now!
1. TV ON THE RADIO – RETURN TO COOKIE MOUNTAIN
TV On The Radio puts their money where their mouth is and delivers an epic album that is so on the money, no one else even comes close to this Brooklyn opus. An appearance by David Bowie, Doo-wop marches, swirling fuzz and feedback mixed with precision percussion make this the hands-down best album of 2006. Duh.
10. THE SLEEPY JACKSON – PERSONALITY, ONE WAS SPIDER ONE WAS BIRD
The Sleepy Jackson have one of the most unique sounds out right now. You feel like you’ve gone on some magical ride once you’ve listened to this from start to finish. Their albums continue to improve and create original sounds that no one else is really doing right now. Best track: “You Needed More”
9. THE WHITEST BOY ALIVE – DREAMS
The Whitest Boy Alive consists of Erlend Øye (from Norwegian acoustic duo Kings of Convenience), Marcin Oz, Sebastian Maschat, and Daniel Nentwig. Whitest Boy Alive has the same vocalists as Kings of Convenience, plus some funky bass lines and minus the acoustic guitar. This whole album is solid. Best track: “Burning”
8. GRIZZLY BEAR – YELLOW HOUSE
The best thing about this album is their subtle yet powerful sound. The whole album just sounds like it melts together. You’ll start to think you know where the song is going, and then it takes a turn out of nowhere, then you’re right back on, never really knowing what just happened, but it still sounds right. Jim James may have inspired the Grizzly Bear’s love of reverb, but it fits with the overall sound amazingly. Best track: “Knife”
7. M. WARD – POST-WAR
M. Ward’s raspy voice is as beautiful as the Northwest, where he calls home. This is a folk, indie, blues, and rock album all in one. This is such a simple album, but simple is good for M. Ward. It’s the feel good album of the year. Best track: “Post War”
6. HOT CHIP – THE WARNING
Electronic music is really growing on me and this album helps its cause. Everything fits in this album, the harmonies, the lyrics, the beats. Very catchy and fun to dance to. I can’t wait for the next album. Best track: “And I Was A Boy From School”
5. THE DECEMBRISTS – THE CRANE WIFE
Colin Meloy is one of the best songwriters out today. His lyrics sound like stories you would hear if you were sitting at the local tavern of a small fishing town, a hundred and fifty years ago. The Decemberists have continued to come out with very different albums. This a rock album, Decemberists style. Best track: “Sons and Daughters”
4. THOM YORK – THE ERASER
The first time I heard this album I thought to myself, “This doesn’t sound like Radiohead.” This isn’t a Radiohead album, and I don’t really think it’s even close to sounding like any Radiohead album, but it’s still incredible. The album is totally electronic as well. Thom Yorke is one of the greatest artists of all time. Best track: “Analyse”
3. TV ON THE RADIO – RETURN TO COOKIE MOUNTAIN
It’s hard to find a top ten that doesn’t have this album on it. The vocals may not have worked out for me if I hadn’t already gotten used to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Modest Mouse’s strange vocals. If you like to dance, buy this album. This album is TV On The Radio’s ticket to the big time. Best track: “I Was A Lover”
2. BAND OF HORSES – EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME
Band of Horses come in at a very close second place. This album is reverb city. It’s been awhile since I’ve heard an album this good that is just drums, bass and guitar. This is a very well written album with each song impressing you just as much as the last one. This album didn’t leave my CD player for three weeks. Best track: “St. Augustine”
1. BEIRUT – GULAG ORKESTAR
Band of Horses had number one, until I heard this album. Everything about this album is good. Beirut has brought back the old world, but made it much better. Don’t look for Beirut on MTV anytime soon. The lyrics are beautiful, the vocals are beautiful, the various instruments are beautiful. Everything is beautiful. You need to own this album. Best track: “Postcards From Italy”