28 December 2006

2006: Recap... albums

While I didn't catch an inordinate amount of shows this year, I did manage to squeeze a very healthy number of 2006 release onto the old iPod. Of course, you can never listen to all of them, so I'll leave it to you to tell me what I've missed, so I know what to ask for for my birthday. I don't purport to list the best, but these are definitely my favorites... at least right now, they are. Who knows how I'll feel tomorrow.

These are studio albums, my favorite live album was, hands down, My Morning Jacket's Okonokos, with the Duo's live import, Raw Horse coming in second.

Here are the top 65 of the 80 or so I've heard this year, with comments for the top vote getters. I would have liked to put in some links, etc., but I just don't have the energy right now.

1 The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
These guys took the next step with this album, their quote/unquote "major label debut." It ain't hype, it's well-deserved praise.

2 Benevento Russo Duo – Play Pause Stop
As objectively as I can say this: totally amazing follow up to last year's barn-burner. The Duo is matching their live intensity with a separate-but-equal skill in the studio.

3 Rashanim – Shalosh
I love these guys. Power-trio, Jewish-tinged mind-tingling instrumental jazz-rock. Madof's guitar is right between Scott Metzger and Marc Ribot and the rest of the trio is tight, tight, tight.

4 Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther
Got this album about a month ago and am totally smitten with it. By the time I wear the thing out, it may prove to be the best thing released this year. This is dense, 70's-radio style pop music and totally mesmerizing from top to bottom.

5 The Beatles – Love
Surprisingly sick-ass, both in stereo and 5.1 surround. This is probably the must-have of the year. Can't wait for others to follow suit -- I can just imagine what a guy like David Byrne could do with the Talking Heads catalog.

6 Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
It would be easy to lump this with a few other excellent female country albums, but I think this, and Case, stands alone near the top. Haunting and gorgeous all at once.

7 Ratatat – Classics
If the Beatles came along in 2006 and were playing instrumental pop music, this is what it would sound like. Also reminds me of the original Slang release, which is to say I love it.

8 Wolfmother – Wolfmother
Should I feel guilty for loving something so incredibly derivative and unoriginal? Great rock and roll is hard to resist.

9 TV On The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain
I'm not sure I've reached the minimum number of listens required to fully appreciate this album... although I've listened to it quite a bit. If Ratatat is some sort of newfangled Beatles, TVOTR are the Beach Boys in Brooklyn 40 years later.

10 Califone – [Roots & Crowns]
Like some minimalist folk art. Hypnotizing.

11 Earl Greyhound – Soft Targets
Sending out a memo: this is the band to watch in 2007. Vicious guitar-drums-bass rock and roll.

12 Joanna Newsom – Ys
This is either too high or too low, I'm not sure yet. Like absolutely nothing else I've ever heard.

13 Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere
This music just makes me smile, plain and simple.

14 Various Artists – What It Is! Funky Soul & Rare Grooves
This collection's name speaks for itself. Funky, funky, funky

15 Persephone’s Bees – Notes from the Underworld
Any two points define a line, and these guys are somewhere on the line between Edie Brickell and the Fiery Furnaces. Delicious pop.

16 The Fiery Furnaces – Bitter Tea
17 Loose Fur – Born Again In The USA
18 The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers
19 Built To Spill – You In Reverse
20 Cat Power – The Greatest
21 Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
22 Beck – The Information
23 Jenny Lewis With the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat
24 The Flaming Lips -- At War With the Mystics
25 John Zorn – Filmworks XVIII: The Treatment

26 The Slip – Eisenhower
27 Pinetop Seven – Beneath the Confederate Lake
28 Derek Trucks Band – Songlines
29 Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche
30 Bob Dylan – Modern Times
31 Junior Boys – So This Is Goodbye
32 Thom Yorke – The Eraser
33 Josh Ritter – The Animal Years
34 Damien Rice – 9
35 Michael Houser – Sandbox

36 Willie Nelson – Songbird
37 The Mammals – Departure
38 Uri Caine – Book of Angels Vol. 6 Moloch
39 Bobby Previte – The Coalition of the Willing
40 Gov’t Mule – High & Mighty
41 The Avett Brothers – Four Thieves Gone
42 Jack Johnson – Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies For the Film Curious George
43 The Bamboos – Step It Up
44 The Black Keys – Chulahoma
45 Ollabelle – Riverside Battle Songs

46 Charlie Hunter Trio – Copperopolis
47 Paul Simon – Surprise
48 Old Crow Medicine Show – Big Iron World
49 Spanky Wilson & The Quantic Soul Orchestra – I’m Thankful
50 Stanton Moore – III
51 Mates of State – Bring It Back
52 Eef Barzelay – Bitter Honey
53 The Wood Brothers – Ways Not To Lose
54 Frank Smith – Red On White
55 The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls In America

56 Widespread Panic – Earth To America
57 DJ Logic – Zen of Logic
58 Calexico – Garden Ruin
59 Tool – 10,000 Days
60 The Cracow Klezmer Band – Book of Angels Vol. 5 Balan
61 Bela Fleck & The Flecktones – The Hidden Land
62 Neil Young – Living With War
63 Buzz Universe – birdfishtree
64 Zorn/Douglas/Patton/Laswell – The Stone: Issue One
65 Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam

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