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Best of 2006

January 2, 2007

Well, the time has come: my Best of 2006 list. I hope you had a good holiday season and New Years. I suppose I should have posted this list before I took a break from posting for the holidays, but I’m a rebel like that.

Most people don’t care about these lists, but they are usually good for a quick brush through. More than anything, it’s a nice way for me to take stock of what I listened to this year, see what held up over the year, and take note of what I need to still listen to.

These rankings are based on a complex algorithm taking into account whether I think the album is objectively good, whether I still actually listen to it over and over, how much I enjoy listening to it, regardless of how objectively good I think it is, my expectations of the album, and where it stands in the band’s cannon. That being said, these scores are relative only to one another, so no comparing them to OK Computer or Master of Puppets.

My Top 35 albums of 2006 (which is, frankly, nearly all of the albums I listened to this year from beginning to end). Numbers 21-35 fall anywhere from “good” to “meh,” with several “disappointments” thrown in for good measure. Numbers 1-20 are my favorites of the year and albums I still listen to and consider great albums:

35. Trail of Dead – So Divided
Much better than World’s Apart, but nowhere near Source Tags and Codes.

34. Joanna Newsom – Ys
When I’m in the right mood, I find theis CD to be really moving; when I am not, it is nearly unlistenable.

33. Elf Power – Back to the Web

32. Silversun Pickups – Carnavas
The hype had me, um, hyped for this album, but it didn’t quite deliver the way I wanted it to.

31. Granddady – Just Like the Fambly Cat
I am very sad they broke up, but this wasn’t the best way to go out.

30. Centro-matic – Fort Recovery
Probably just a minor dip in creativity from this otherwise brilliant band.

29. The Drams – Jubilee Drive
A little too overproduced for my taste, but it’s great to see Brent Best still making music.

28. the paper chase – now you are one of us
It breaks my heart that I didn’t enjoy this album as much as I wanted to. They just sound tired and out of ideas. I really hope they find some of the spark again.

27. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere
Three or four absolutely brilliant songs, but I don’t find myself listening to the CD that much anymore.

26. Drive-by Truckers – A Blessing and A Curse
It’s hard to follow up three straight masterpieces.

25. Tool – 10,000 Days

24. The Secret Machines – Ten Silver Drops
Considering how great their debut was, this was a bit of a disappointment for me.

23. The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers

22. Mastodon – Blood Mountain
This is the first CD I’ve heard of theirs and I think it’s great.

21. The Strokes – First Impressions of Earth


20. The Theater Fire – s/t
They deserve to be better known. Definitely check them out if you have not already.

19. Loose Fur – Born Again in the USA
This went way too far under the radar for most people, unfortunately.

18. The Flaming Lips – At War With the Mystics
I still listen to it, but I still skip about four songs when I do.

17. The Changes – Today Is Tonight
One of my favorite personal discoveries of 2006.

16. Gentleman Auction House – The Rules Were Handed Down EP
I LOVE these guys; I would have ranked them higher if this had been a full-length.

15. Beck – The Information
Perfect combination of his two sides.

14. The Long Winters – Putting the Days to Bed
This one grows on me with every listen

13. Built to Spill – You In Reverse
“Goin’ Against Your Mind” may be the best BTS song yet. A great improvement over Ancient Melodies of the Future.

12. Baboon – s/t
Another band that the whole world should know about. Their best album in a 15-year career.

11. Mission of Burma – The Obliterati
Destroys my face every time I listen to it.

10. Yo La Tengo – I am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

9. Girl Talk – Night Ripper
You have to listen to it in one sitting; downloading a track or two here or there does not do it justice.

8. TV on the Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain
Three brilliant songs, and the rest are merely outstanding.

7. Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped

6. Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
Expanding their sound for the better.

5. Band of Horses – Everything All of the Time
I cannot express how much I love this CD. It was a definite grower for me.

4. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Love Their Country
MFATGG are my ultimate guilty pleasure. This is their base CD since Blowin’ In the Wind.

3. M Ward – Post War
Brilliant. I love the fuller sound a whole backing band gives him.

2. Mogwai – Mr. Beast
The shorter songs are a nice touch. Although there is no “Mogwai Fear Satan” on here, “Friend of the Night” is about as perfect of a Mogwai song as you can get.

1. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
This incredibly ambitious, boundary-pushing, prog-rock teasing concept album retains enough of the band’s touchstones to keep it in my CD player since (before) it came out. I certainly did not see this one coming from this band.

***Honorable mention*** – There is no way I could compile a “Best of 2006” list without mentioning Bishop Allen. Their one-EP-per-month project this year was easily the most ambitious project of the year and yielded some outstanding music. They released 11 4-song EP’s and one 13-song live “EP” for a total of 57 released songs this year. That’s the equivalent of 4 full-length albums. At least four or five of the EPs would have ended up in my Top 20, which would have just muddied up the whole process. Or, if I had culled my favorite 12-16 tracks from all of them and considered that one “album”, it would have certainly ranked in my top 3 of the year. However, taken as a whole, which includes some less-than-perfect songs (hey, let’s see YOU write, record and release nearly 60 songs in a year), the whole project easily finds itself in the same category as those “proper” albums listed in my top 10.

For the record, my Top 4 Bishop Allen EP’s of the year are:
1. March
2. June
3. January
4. February

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3 comments

  1. dear Jeff,

    thansk for all your recommendations!

    seems that you are also quite into those indie music, do you like bright eyes then?

    again, thanks!

    lamkaho


  2. It breaks my heart you didn’t enjoy the paper chase album as much as you wanted to, either. They have an amazing sound! They’re on the Explosions in the Sky tour right now and coming to Chicago on March 28…maybe you can come across something you like better at http://www.thepaperchase.net


  3. Oh, I’m a huge paper chase fan – I have all their CDs and the EP. I have seen them live many times, as far as 9 or 10 years ago. My opinions are limited solely to this release, which, as of today (march ’07), has actually grown on me… but it still pales in comparison to the other stuff, IMHO…

    Thanks for reading, though.



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