My Favorite cds of 2006
Each year I vow to get this out "earlier" and never seem to get my act together. Overall it was a strong year but there were some personal favorite artists that released somewhat "ehh" records. Everyone is allowed a stinker..lets just hope its not a long trend with them!
I try to steer clear of "best" as it is all subjective.
Here is my list of the records I liked and played the most in 2006.
20. The Roots - Game Theory - Still a great approch to hip hop...a live band. "Here I come" is one infectious track and on a whole the record is equal to previous releases. Although they are not breaking any new ground they still offer a fresh sound.
- Previous list appearences - Phrenology #15 2002, Tripping Point #24 in 2004
19. Wizzards - Hidden City of Taurmond - Brian Gibson (Lightning Bolt) drops the bass to play drums on this side project. It sounds a lot like a soundtrack to Nintendo games but its a fun/quirky listen. File under instrumental fun.
18. Built to Spill - You in Reverse One only needs to hear "Convential Wisdom" to get the sheer awesomeness that is Built to Spill. A strong effort from the only band I know off the top of my head from Idaho. BTS continues to evolve musically but not straying too far from the path it has already foraged. The extended guitar solo on "just a habit" harkens back to the epic Neil Young solos of the past (and present).
17. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - The UK press went nuts for these young lads. Selling faster than any Beatles album did at the time this band and album was all the buzz in early 2006. Did it live up to the hype, on some levels yes. It was no worse or better than the hype for the Strokes or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The rat a tat drum intro to "I Bet you Look Good on the dance floor" sends a clear message of what is in store. Some catchy freaking tunes... They already lost their bass player but lets hope that is all they lose as they prepare for album #2.
16. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere - Nobody could/can escape "Crazy" but don't let that song keep you from getting the cd if you are sick of it. There is a huge amount of potential here. It seemed to make a lot of best of lists from what I read. It has a little to offer even the harshest of critics.
15. Red Sparowes - Every Red Heart Shines Towards The Red Sun - Whew, you think that was long you should see the song titles. The back of the cd sleeve has a paragraph, well what reads as a paragraph that is actually the song titles. Add that to the fact there are just 8 tracks on the album. What further makes this crazy is that the shortest song is 1:42 whole the next closest in the "short" department is 6:59. A little less heavy that the previous release it is still great stuff.
Previous list appearences - At the Soundless Dawn #7 in 2005.
14. Deftones - Saturday Night Wrist - A record that was almost not made. The band has been having internal issues for the last few years but unleased a brutally heavy record that continues to showcase the hidden talents of the band. It shows further maturity in the band and as a fan one can only hope things have cooled down on the personel issues so we may be treated to further jems.
Previous list appearences - Around the Fur #13 1997. White Pony #18 in 2000.
13. Mogwai - Mr Beast - The band teases you with a few vocal tracks which can be a nice change after a series of records with none. Its not as loud/chaotic as the previous records which shows a sign of growth. Its not totally thrown out the window either. For a newer fan of the band this is a pretty good record to start with and is pretty easy to get in to. A strong come back after the not so great "Happy Songs for Happy People".
12. Silversun Pickups - Carnavas - If you like Ride, Built to Spill and early Smashing Pumpkins..take all those parts of those band you really dig mix em up and you get this. Awesome stuff. Check Youtube (or the web) for their Letterman performance. Its a shortened version of "Lazy Eye" but it does the trick.
11. Beck - Information - Beck the way we like, a little poppy a little quirky and even more focused. Overall a strong listen. Bonus points for the do it yourself cover art.
Previous list apperences: Odelay #4 1996, Midnight Vultures #4 1999,Sea Change #11 2002, Guero #12 2005.
10. Wolfmother - Wolfmother - A very strong debut this record had repeated (ad nasueum almost). Not shying away from the Sabbath meets Deep Purple influences this self titled release has no skippable tracks. The only fear at this time is the ability to not duplicate the success of this record. If it is half as stong they will be good to go.
09. Mastodon - Blood Mountain - If there ever was a "thinking man's/person's heavy metal" this is it. These tunes, and this record are epic. Its the record bands like Metallica wish they still had in them. 2007 will be even stronger for these juggernauts. Strap on some headphones and strap in.
08. Comets on Fire - Avatar - At times can be a challenging listen but the opening track "Dogwood Rust" gives a new listener a pretty good idea of their sound. The instrumental breakdown about the 4 minute mark leads to a swelling mass of sound that leaves the listener both exhausted and wanting more. Its not a record you'd throw on to get a party started for sure but in the confines of your car or headphones its a real barn burner.
Previous list appearences - Blue Cathedral #19 in 2004
07. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain - I had to major issues with this release that kept it from being higher. The first is no iTunes program recognized the song/artist etc. The second issue was with tracks 12 thru 25 being 16 seconds of nothing. Total waste. The upside is the record is so strong you can forget this stuff. I read the album is named for a a "board on the 4th level of Super Mario World". It may take you a second spin to "get it" but once you do..watch out.
06. Raconteurs - Broken Toy Soilders - I love the simple backbeat that Meg White gives on the White Stripes records but this is and was a record for Jack to let his hair down and really cook. Showing again why he is one of the finer guitar players out at the moment this collection takes no prisinors. The foursome made up of 3 different artists/bands the sound is all you'd want. An "alternative supergroup" of sorts that hopefull will refute the line "Supergroups rarely are Super".
05. Mono - You are There - Opening with "The Flames beyond the cold mountain" I always find my eardrums get blasted off 6 minutes in. Starting off very simple and quiet the tune slowly grows until the band drops in. It swells even further. When the band plays this song live your shirt and pants will wave from the "breeze of the sound". Not only is it done once in this tune, but twice and I fall for it EVERY time. The whole record is an auditory orgasm from start to finish. Easily one of, if not, the best instrumental band out there.
Previous list appearences - One More Step and You Die #9 2003, Walking Cloud...#6 2004.
04. The Sword - Age of Winters - Hands down the most played record at least in my car. A bundle of songs from 1 to 5 (well one is kinda an intro track) but bundled there range as heavy a batch of tunes since tracks 7->9 on Trail of Deads "Source Tags & Codes". If you like your rock "stoner" look no further.. this rips.
03. The Flaming Lips - At War with the Mystics - Once again the Flaming Lips knock it out of the park. The fall release of the DVD version in 5.1 of the record makes this essential in that format. While it may be a little "behind" the last few records (see the prev. list appearences) this bands "average" record is most bands "greatest". If you have a system that can play 5.1. DVD Audio get this. It won a few awards as the "surround sound" cd of the year.
Previous List appearences - The Soft Bulletin #1 1999, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots #2 2002.
02. Band of Horses - Everything all the Time - Sounding a smidge like the long lost brother Jim James (My Morning Jacket ) Ben Bridwell fronts one of them most stunning listens of this, or any year. Stunningly beautiful, and a record that needs your full attention from start to finish at least once..after that "once" you'll only want to hear it start to finish.
01. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America - Singer Greg Finn claims their songs have more lyrics that most rap songs, and I think he is right. The good news is the effort it might take to learn the words to these songs will be etched in your brain once compeleted. The album title taken from "on the road' by Kerouac is a great, solid effort. From "stadium rock like" anthems to beer guzzling barn burners. This is one hell of a great listen. Some folks can't get past Finn's nasal whine, but that is part of the charm. A nearly flawless release.