Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Top 10 Albums of 2006

I was a little disappointed with the overall crop of releases in 2006. There are only a few albums that I think I'll love years from now. I liked a whole bunch of individual songs, but typically the overall album wasn't as strong as the one or two tracks that I liked. Nevertheless, here are my favorites of the year (I have only included albums that were released in 2006 - which includes imports. Albums that were released in 2005, such as Editors' The Back Room and Goldfrapp's Supernature, made my 2005 list, even if the albums did not get a US release until this year):

nice price

10. Saint Etienne - Nice Price - Ok, so it's a fan club album with remixes and demos of past tracks rather than a proper release, but I'm grasping for straws here people. It includes an alternative version of "Milk Bottle Symphony" from last year's Tales From The Turnpike House, which is another sweet ode to London, and also has some of the group's original white label releases, such as 7 Ways 2 Love and Who Do You Think You Are?. This is a nice trip through Saint Etienne's career and worth picking up if your a fan. Great show at Irving Plaza earlier this year too.


9. Cities - Cities - Post-punk rock out of Chapel Hill. Slightly Bloc Party, slightly Interpol, but perhaps a little more upbeat than either of them. "A Theme" and "Lounge Act" stand out. And props to Cities and their label Yep Roc for offering the masters for a remix contest. (Although the contest ended last summer, I'm still working on my remix!)


8. Thunderball - Cinescope - One of ESL's finest, Thunderball manage to blend lounge, James Bond, dub, a little 70's blaxploitation (see "The Panther"), funk, and world beat all on one album. One of the best from the Eighteenth Street Lounge crop. "To Sir With Dub" and "The Mysterious Mr. Sandobar" are my faves from the album.


7. Trentemoeller - The Last Resort - Copenhagen's Trentemoeller manages to combine electro greatness, dubstep funk, and cinematic bliss all on one album. Every song could be backing music for a film - no matter what the tempo is. If you can, pick up the double disc version of The Last Resort, which includes the vocal versions of many tracks (such as the brilliant "Moan" with Ane Trolle). Lucky for you, the double disc is available on iTunes.


6. MSTRKRFT - The Looks - These guys were shit-hot this year, throwing out some great remixes and DJing all the cool kids' parties. While most of the dirty electro funk on The Looks sounds the same, it all sounds quite good. "Work on You" and "Easy Love" are the stand out tracks. Now get up and dance.


5. 120 Days - 120 Days - Dark and heavy yet quite melodic, these Norwegians sound a little like a more uptempo Joy Division (i.e., Movement era New Order), if that's possible. The songs are epic in length, even their first "single" - "Come Out, Come Down, Fade Out, Be Gone" And apparently, I'm not the only one that likes this album - the Norweigian press voted it Album of the Year. "Sleepwalking" and "Come Out" stand out. Their CMJ show was the best that I saw at the festival.


4. The Rapture - Pieces of the People We Love - Ok this album is no Echoes. But The Rapture still bring the funk and make you get off your asses and dance. Actually, I think they may even tell you to do that on one of the tracks. There's no "House of Jealous Lovers" here, but "Get Myself Into It" comes close. "Don Go Do It" and "The Devil" also highlight the album.


3. The Daysleepers - The Soft Attack - The Daysleepers are brilliant. Following on the heels of the Hide Your Eyes EP released last December, The Daysleepers follow up with more fantastic "new-gaze." This EP has the flavor of Disintegration by The Cure thrown in as well. And nothing makes me happier than mixing shoegaze with The Cure. But see for yourself - you can listen to all of their tracks on their website (and even download a few tracks too).


2. Thom Yorke - The Eraser - Thom really can do no wrong. His "blips and bleeps" solo effort really stood out among 2006's releases. The Eraser sounds a lot like the Kid A/Amnesiac era of Radiohead, but I'm not complaining. I wouldn't put it next to a Radiohead album, but compared to other artists, it's quite brilliant. "The Eraser" and "Analyze" show off the best of Thom's "blips and bleeps" and he does a little beat-boxing on "The Clock." He also gives us a nice Christmas present with a free "Analyze" remix download.


1. The Sunshine Underground - Raise the Alarm - This is hands down the best album of the year. Every track on this album of uptempo dance rock is brilliant. "Commercial Breakdown" harkens back to the Britpop era while "Put You In Your Place" shows that TSU can put out dance rock like The Rapture. The bass lines infuse a little funk into the mix, especially on "Dead Scene." Every song on this album makes you want to get up and fucking dance, and their bio correctly states - this is indie rock for the dance floor. And you have to like a band that names itself after a song by The Chemical Brothers. They'll be getting a big push from NME this winter, as they headline the NME Awards Tour.

Honorable Mentions: Thieves Like Us' singles, New Young Pony Clubs' singles, The Killers - Sam's Town (a couple of great songs here), Mixel Pixel - Music For Plants (buy this for "Coming Up X's" alone), and Muse - Black Holes and Revelations ("Starlight" and "Map of the Problematique" are the only songs worth keeping really), Burial's Burial (dubstep greatness), and Roger O'Donnell's The Truth in Me (all done on a Moog) .

Albums that I rediscovered this year: Antarctica's 81:03, Goldie's Timeless, and Ned's Atomic Dustbin's God Fodder.


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