Sunday, January 07, 2007

Year In Review: Favourite Albums Of 2006


When reviewing the year in music, I wanted to list CD's (albums, tapes, whatever) that received extra attention from myself, which I suppose means enjoyable and repeated listenings, recommendations to friends and a permanent place on my hard-drive or in my CD boxes. In this age of fast internet connection my eyes are wide open to how easy it is to access any new and old music. This past year I listened to more recent music than ever before, I could probably list dozens and dozens of really good CD's that I've heard this past year.

I've made a listing of my top favourites for 2006 in no particular order, some I have already written about in previous blog entries, but all these artists are well worth seeking out. (check out their links, I've linked their Myspace sites so you can sample their music easily) I also wrote random thoughts about the album, just off the top of my head, so it's not exactly a review, just a comment. Of course, I welcome your comments and maybe your top choices for the year, let me know if there is anything I should be listening to.

NEKO CASE - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Never really got into her other albums, maybe because their too-country. Love all her New Pornographers work. On this album, her voice grabs you right from the beginning and sucks you in for a very satisfying listen. Neko is definitely a chick I would love to hang out with!

THE HOLD STEADY - Boys And Girls In America
Heard lots of hype about these guys and they sure live up to it, a rock band that truly rocks! Kind of a vintage Springsteen-ish thing happening...without the sax, but better!

GOLDEN SMOG - Another Fine Day
The mighty Golden Smog's first record in 8 years. Next best thing to a new Jayhawks record. Not their best, but Dan Murphy always saves his best work for GS. Interestingly, Soul Asylum's first album in 8 years is released within a week of Golden Smog's.

SADIES - In Concert Vol 1
I've said too much about the Sadies already (see a previous post), can't wait for Vol 2! A Canadian treasure.

HONEYDOGS - Amydgala
A hugely under-rated band from the Twin Cities that improves and matures each and every release. Saw the Honeydogs in St. Paul, in November 2005 around the time they finished recording this disc. They premiered most of the new material with many guests musicians from the Minneapolis music community in a special intimate show recorded for public radio. This show and this much anticipated release are both highlights for the year.

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN - The Life Pursuit
Never really listened to much B & S, but the Life Pursuit was a pleasant surprise. When I put this on, it instantly cheers me up and adds a bounce to my step. A well crafted pop album with extra emphasis on poppy.

MINUS 5 - Minus 5 (aka: The Gun Album)
The busiest man in music today has to be Scott McCaughey and his various projects. He performs solo (including some upcoming gigs with Jeff Tweedy), tours and records with R.E.M and Robyn Hitchcock and The Venus 3. He still fronts my heroes the Young Fresh Fellows who actually played a couple of gigs this year (Seattle and Spain) and he continues to pump out great music with the Minus 5. With special guests on this disc such as Colin Meloy, John Wesley Harding and Wilco, along with M5 regulars John Ramberg, and Peter Buck and Bill Rieflin of R.E.M. Another essential listen.

THE LEMONHEADS - The Lemonheads
In my opinion, this is the comeback album of the year. Sure he released a solo album a few years ago and Evan Dando has pretty much a different Lemonheads line-up every album, it's still the Lemonheads. A slightly more aggressive sound combined with those great hooks Dando is known for, this is their best album since It's A Shame About Ray. Proof that rehab can be a good thing.

BEN KWELLER - Ben Kweller
Remember when self-titled albums were traditionally the debut release? Ben (like the previous 2 other artists) seems to have run out of clever album titles, such as his previous classics, On My Way and Sha Sha. This is Kweller's 3rd full-length solo album, another step forward for the former frontman for Radish (Ben's band when he was 15), he continues to create strong material with maturity well beyond his age. On his latest record, he plays all the instruments himself.

ANGELA DESVEAUX - Wandering Eyes
This debut record was a wonderful surprise that seemed to come out of nowhere, at least for me living outside of Montreal. I love this album, it has this soothing effect on me that makes me want to replay Heartbeat over and over again... Be sure to watch the video I posted about a month ago for the song Wandering Eyes.

Other noteable releases in 2006:
THE DECEMBERISTS - The Crane Wife
Colin Meloy and Co. continue to gain more critical acclaim and mainstream attention, kind of like Death Cab For Cutie did last year. A weird marriage of catchy pop-rock and 70's Prog rock, very interesting.

SOME GIRLS - The Crushing Love
Some Girls was probably suppose to be a one-shot project with one album and a tour. Though not quite as satisfying as 2003's Feel It, this record sounds more like a collaborative band instead of a glorified Juliana Hatfield album with a female band.

JENNY LEWIS and the WATSON TWINS - Rabbit Fur Coat
This Rilo Kiley vocalist amazes with this sometimes eerie, sometimes spiritual, but always stunning performance. I doubted her range and lyrical skills, but I think Jenny legitimately pulls it off just fine.

BICYCLES - The Good, The Bad, And The Cuddly
YO LA TENGO - I'm Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
THE DEARS - Gang Of Losers
BE YOUR OWN PET - Be Your Own Pet
AMY MILLEN - Honey From The Tombs
MAGIC NUMBERS - Those The Brokes

1 comment:

Jay said...

I'm so behind... I've actually heard mostly the albums in your "other notables" file, and I have to agree they are most notable. Most of 2006 I was catching up on 2005.... but other than your notables I have to say:

Goldspot - Tally of the Yes Men

and the new Eagles of Death Metal - Death by Sexy

were spinning on my player for a substantial part of the year. I'll have to check out some of the others on your list.

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