I've been reading a lot of posts saying that 2006 was kind of a blah year for music. For me it was exactly the opposite. I discovered and enjoyed more new music this year than I have in the last ten years combined. I found something new and interesting literally every day.
The result is that my top album list (same goes for my top song list) for the year is a hodge podge of stuff, bouncing between genres and, I guess, somewhat shallow, in that I didn't spend too much time with any one album. But, looking over my Itunes playlists, these are the albums that stuck with me, in an order that seems to make sense:
27. Joanna Newsom - "Ys" - Pretentious overly-long songs. She sounds like she wants to be Joni Mitchell after she discovered Mingus. Van Dyke Parks' strings are so disconnected they sound like they are coming from the studio down the hall. And yet... all this words, and all those notes. As much as I want to hate it, and as easy as it is for me to find reasons to hate it, this shit is just so damn interesting. A year from now I will either blush with shame that I put it on this list or listen to it all the time. I really don't know.
26. Arctic Monkeys - "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" - The album survived the hype. I found that the band's thin angry tone and off the cuff lyrics made for really effective social commentary. Remember when rock was, by definition, angry? These guys get that.
25. Mylo - "Destroy Rock and Roll" - Some kid in Scotland creates an album on a Mac. I think it actually came out in Europe a couple of years ago but didn't make it to the States until this spring.
24. The Lucksmiths - "Warmer Corners "- I'm embarrassed I'd never heard of this band before. Satisfies the twee in me.
23. The Glaciers - "The Moonlight Never Misses An Appointment" - Associated with the Mendoza Line and Essex Green. One of the first bands I discovered on MySpace. Very melodical.
22. Hot Chip - "The Warning" - Spiky electronic music with a melodic sheen.
21. Paper Moon - "Broken Hearts Break Faster Every Day" - Lush melodic folk rock from the Canadian Midwest. I imagine them as a band very popular in Winnipeg, and pretty much unknown outside of that. Although they were nominated for some Canadian music award.
20. My Brightest Diamond - "Bring Me the Workhorse" - Sings back up for Sufjan Stevens. Don't hold that against her.
19. The Weepies - "Say I Am You" - Melodic folk rock from LA. Loved by "Grey's Anatomy." Don't hold that against them.
18.Feathers - "Feathers" - Oddball '60's throwback. Great album cover references the Incredible String Band. Songwriting credits are first name only. Hippies from Vermont. Jeez.
17. Islands - "Return to the Sea" - Pleasant
16. Beirut - "Gulag Orkestra" - Liked it. Then disliked it because of the hype. Now like it. Can't wait to hear what's next.
15. Essex Green - "Cannibal Sea" - Smart melodic folk pop from Williamsburg
14. Fujiya and Miyagi Not Japanese.
13. Final Fantasy "He Poos Clouds" Ethereal intel-pop. Unfortunate album name.
12. Camera Obscura "Let's Get Out of the Country" Brilliant pure pop from Scotland.
11. Dirty on Purpose - "Hallelujah Sirens" - Tough street smart multi-textured pop music. Nick Hornby would love this.
10. Album Leaf - "Into the Blue Again" - New band by the guy from Tristezza. Reminds me of "Music for 18 Musicians." Makes me feel like I'm floating on a cloud.
9. Lewis and Clarke - "WPRB Live" - Probably shouldn't be included in albums, because it was an EP. Amazing folk rock for 2006. Long songs, smart lyrics, interesting arrangements. Made me enjoy long songs again.
8. Daylight's For the Birds - "Trouble Everywhere" - Folk rock with a nasty edge.
7. Band of Horses - "Everywhere All the Time" - Solid
6. Hotel Lights - "Hotel Lights" - A guy I see every five years walked by me at a party. "What are you listening to?" he asked. "Lewis & Clarke," I said, "How about you?" "Hotel Lights, check 'em out."
5. Venice Is Sinking - "Sorry About the Flowers" - Bought this early in the year and it's never let me down
4. Asobi Seksu - "Citrus" - Phil Spector and Blondie recaptured. Best album art of the year. Even though is got an 8.4 in Pitchfork and was constantly blogged, it's the most under-appreciated pop album of the year.
3. Destroyer - "Destroyer's Rubies" - It keeps sounding better and better. A year from now I'll be sick of Number 1, but I'll still be listening to this
2. Espers - "II" - Lie back and enjoy it.
1. The Knife - "Silent Shout" - As soon as I heard it, I knew I was going to love it. It has a sense of familiarity combined with surprise that only the best music has.