Monday, December 11, 2006

Top Albums of 2006

Year in Review 2006! The best albums!

Honorable Mention 1- The Decemberists "The Island/Come And See/Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel The Drowning" off of The Crane Wife.- I like the Decemberists and the album as a whole is good, but this song definitely marks the peak of the band's career. Redefining indie folk with it's complex lyrics, it's ornate structure and haunting ending. It might be bad news from here on out for these guys as it overshadows almost everything I heard them record. It seems with this much power behind one 11 minute song, the rest of the album can easily be forgotten. Well, minus "The Perfect Crime 2." But this sounds like a Talking Heads rip-off.

Honorable Mention 2- The Who's Endless Wire- So I love the Who and this album is really great. It's a new Who feel, but there are other albums that need to be noted before this one just because I am a die hard fan. The songs fit in well with the old classics live, but it's a new Who that I'm not 100% attuned to yet. It will happen soon enough as more and more of the tracks on the disc are in my LOVE LOVE LOVE list, but it's still something missing.

11. Lemonheads- So usually when one says that an artist's new album has changed much, that seems like a bad thing. Well, when that artist is the Lemonheads and they finally release an album after a few years of nothing (Car Button Cloth was in '97), it's a welcome return to form. Lemonheads, aptly named as their comeback to what they are, is a time warp to the mid 90's alt rock that they defined (for the most part.) With touches of punk rock, basic production, greatly down to earth and personal lyrics and not missing a beat throught the album as you get socked in the face with some J. Masics guitar craftsmanship and Evan Dando's backyard lyrics, gah... it's just great. I can't stress how much I love these guys.

Standout Tracks- "Become the Enemy", "Pittsburgh", "Rule of Three"

10. Muse- Black Holes and Revelations - Muse writes epics. That's that. They don't relaly stray far from the last few albums and thankfully they didn't. It's between powerhouse guitar hooks, bone-crushing drum beats and ear popping bass thumps that will get you grooving. The main thing they do different here is try a few different genre touches to their already post-apocalyptic rock feel. Songs infused with Prince qualities and straight up social commentary acoustic songs are spruced within the usual Muse framework of the album that make this one a special treat.
Standout Tracks- "Supermassive Black Hole", "Starlight" "Soldoer's Poem"

9. Electric Six- Switzerland/Senor Smoke- I include both here because I didn't include Senor last year since we ahd to import it and steal it from the interweb. Senor Smoke released finally to the USA in the spring and Switzerland given to us in the fall. Yes. 2006 for me was the year of E6. I will see them 4 times in 2006 alone with 5 concerts under my belt in a span of one year and two and a half months. The only thing that we can safely say about E6 is that they are pure fun and that's that. They don't really bring substance to their songs (which isn't exactly true... some social commentary, but it's mostly tongue in cheek politicism.) They only bring the party. Switzerland can lag at some points, but it's still a solid album.
Standout Tracks:
Senor Smoke- " Devil Nights", "Dance Epidemic", "Future is in the Future"
Switzerland- "Slices of You", "I Buy the Drugs", "Night Vision"

8. Secret Machines- Ten Silver Drops - Usually a band will slump in their sophmoric release. Secret Machines decided to say s*ck it to the phrase sophmore slump and deliver yet another amazingly spacey and tasty album. Ten Silver Drops has an isolated darkness to it that the first album did not have. THe songs are about loss, heartbreak and distance from the ones you love. This was generated throught their last tour for their debut. The music is still grandiose and beautifully produced and played. Filled with melodies and harmonies that melt your ear drums, their ain't a single wrong thing with this album.
Standout Tracks- "Faded Lines" "Daddy's in the Doldrums" "Lightining Blue Eyes"

7. Paul Simon- Surprise - When Mr. Simon teams up with Mr. Eno, you get the goods. This album is as far away from any other Paul Simon I have ever heard, yet it still has that touch of Simon's clever lyrics and subdued guitar playing. It also has a spacey ambient element thanks to the production of Brian Eno. With social commentary, love songs and songs of sheer joy at the birth of his new child, the songs still have the meaning and strength that we love from Paul Simon. It's just a reinvention of an amazing sound that came out of left field. I feel as if this album has gone virtually unheard of by anyone and heard nothing of it when it came out earlier this summer, but I feel the need to tell you to get it.
Standout Tracks- "Everything About It Is A Love Song", "Another Galaxy"

6. Cursive- Happy Hollow- Shit. How did I forget this!! Anyway, a late edition making this a top "these go to" eleven list of albums. Cursive was introduced to me via the Ugly Organ, Kev Ketners all time favorite album. It was so awesome that I had to get more of this bands material. Their b-sides and rare stuff disc was ok, but I was yearning for that pseudo-rock opera feel that The Ugly Organ had. Well, Happy Hollow delivered the money, and I really love this album. Like, a lot. I listened to it non-stop for about 3 weeks when I got it from Giles. It's themes of suburban demons and blatant problems with the catholic church definitely were a delightful backdrop to tell the story of the small titular fictional town. The songs rock, the added horn section fits in well and lead singers lyrics and vocals were at a blistering all time rock factor that I really got behind. So sorry you were forgotten at first, but thanks to a random thought I remembered that you needed to be on this list.

Standout Tracks- "Dorothy at Forty", "Bad Sects", "So-So Giggolo"

5. Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton- Knives Don't Have Your Back- The woman behind Metric and a member of the prolific Broken Social Scene goes psuedo-solo on this album and revels on the death of her father. The songs are dripping with melancholy much in the way Beck's Sea Change. Ms. Haines drops the keyboards and picks up the piano and the rest is history. This dark horse top 10 candidate is definitely an amazing peice of music. I can;'t express enough my love for Emily Haines. It really is a triumph to be able to go from
Standout Track- "Doctor Blind", "Our Hell", "The Maid Needs a Maid"

4. Sonic Youth- Rather Ripped - Sonic Youth has created a newish sound for themselves in the latter half of their career. Dropping most of the ridiculous distortion and anger and picking up more a sense of ambience is a great move for them. They still are edgy, but they have a more accessible and awesome sound. Rather Ripped is a step better than Sonic Nurse from a few years back. It just has better songs overall. Their live concert this year was pretty amazing. The new records might have a subdued atmosphere, but they still can pack a punch when they want to. A band that has been around for 25 years can still put out amazing stuff.
Standout Track- "Incinerate", "Do You Believe In Rapture", "Pink Steam"

3. Built to Spill- You in Reverse- Why isn't this bad more popular? Beats the hell out of me. Built to Spill is the reason rock and roll is not dead. With the feel of Neil Young and other great rockers of the 70's but with an updated jammier feel, You in Reverse has a modern rock and roll feel that is so awesome. Not a single bad song on this album. The guitar work is some of the best around and the lyricism is poetic and gorgeous. For some reason, I feel like Built to Spill will get recognition later in their life, even though they are already more than 10 years deep in that said career. This music is timeless.
Standout Track- "Goin' Against Your Mind", "Traces", "Conventional Wisdom"

2. The Flaming Lips, At War With the Mystics - I don't know why this album seemed to not get as much praise when it came out from fans of the Lips and others, but At War With The Mystics is pretty damn great. Although the first two tranks are jaunty and strange, they still rule with their world view and politically charged nature. The rest of the album flows just as beautifully as any other Lips album and this one is lacking that rock opera feel that the last two Lips albums had. Each song has its own identity, yet they work together. I feel like I will never get old of these songs. I won't hate their hilarious moments and their heartbreaking moments ever. It's silly, psychedelic and touching all in one package.

Standout Tracks- "It Overtakes Me...", "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion", "Vein of Stars"

1. Yo La Tengo- I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass- Again, a terrible album name, but don't let that fool you. The songs contained on this disc are all amazing. An album of schizophrenic genre changing, it might be a little harsh for the first listen. The first song is a ten minute guitar jam that abruptly ends and goes into a jaunty piano riff with goofy lyrics and lyric delivery. It has 60's Brit invasion tunes, ambient piano ballads, songs with ridiculous horn sections and avante garde shoegazing. For any Tengo fan, this is a true gem among their albums (if not their best?) For a musical adventuerer, this is a workout that you will appreciate. For someone who knows neither of those feelings, stay away. It's pretty intense at times with how much of a 180 the songs will take. It's a welcome thing, in my opinion, but for most it wouldn't be. Go out and get it! I swear, it's awesome and it tops my 2006 list.

Standout Tracks- "Mr. Tough", "Black Flowers", The Room Got Heavy",

As you may have noticed, several amazing albums did not make the cut. Beck's The Information, Thom Yorke's The Eraser and RHCP's Stadium Arcadium are not on this list. I love those three albums, but Beck lost steam for my listening surprisingly fast, The Eraser is too moody for me to love it all the time and Stadium Arcadium is better song based than album based... with 28 awesome tracks. Needless to say, they deserve mention, but they don't make the list. Sorry guys.


j. leo said...

Can't say I have anything to argue with. I really need to hear the new YoLaT .... i beseech to theee another data disc.

Although, I can't group Senor Smoke with Switzerland. To me, it's more like an equal love affiar with SS and Fire, and Swiz was just a step down. Plus, I've been listening to SS for a while, and I have it as my number 3 album of 2005 behind Of Montreal and Beck's geuro.

But yeah, good list. Now I want to see you fight Stev to the death over his.

Jelone said...

Your comments on Emily Haines def. get me interested again. i love Metric's first album, but the new one felt a tad bit dumbed down to me. Granted, it's kind of silly on my part to hold off on Haines' solo album when it's so different from Metric, but whatev. That's how i roll. i'll have to look into it again.

i have a love/hate relationship with Ten Silver Drops. Some days it blows my mind, and some days i'm bored like whoa. As for standout tracks, where's the love for "Alone, Jealous, and Stoned"?

Paul Tsikitas said...

Yea. Live It Out has its moments. Monster Hospital rules, but beyond that it's just ok. Her solo effort is hauntingly different and welcomed. Hints of Thom Yorke melancholy and gorgeous piano work. I see where your coming from on Ten Silver Drops, but it still is a definite high mark for me and last years albums. Like I said, I left a LOT off that I really really liked including what was already mentioned and albums by the following: The Fever, The Rapture, Tapes and Tapes, Adrian Belew, Bob Dylan, and such.

And I jsut noticed a HUGE discrepency on my list that needs to be rectified. That will be fixed shortly.