Best Dozen Albums of 2006

I listened to about 65 new albums in 2006. That means two things, I spent a lot of time listening to music that came out last year and I listened to a fraction of all the music that came out last year. When I say these are the best albums, I mean they are my favorite.

Magnolia Electric Co - Fading Trails

This album was short and concise. With 9 songs at 29 minutes this album is slim, but powerful. With every new album Jason Molina shows his increasing skill in song writing. I think this is the best Magnolia Electric Co album to date.

I will admit that I have other reasons to love Fading Trails also. This album came out slight after a breakup. It was the ex-girlfriend who got me into Magnolia Electric company. This was a great breakup album.

Build to Spill - You In Reverse

This album is full of songs that are ear worms. I hear this album and the tunes do not get out of my head for days. The songs really rock. It is a great album to drive very fast to.

Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit

With each new album I am more impressed with Belle and Sebastian. They have grown more than any other band in the last 10 years. Compare Tiger Milk to The Life Pursuit and you will find a band that is writing totally different songs. I am amazed at the way they have been able to change and stay good. This album is good because of how it is different and the same as the other albums.

Cat Power - The Greatest

There are those albums where from the first time you hear it, you cannot put it down. It seems to always in your CD player. One of those albums you listen to for weeks and still do not get enough of it. This is one of those albums.

Josh Ritter - The Animal Years

This album surprised me. I had never heard of Josh Ritter before hearing him on the SXSW 2006 Bittorrent. The album is very complex. I know Peter would say that he is just a whiny guy with a guitar. I love the well written songs and the emotions that he sings them with.

But you need faith for the same reasons that it’s so hard to find

Gnarles Barkley - St. Elsewhere

This album is tricky and simple all at the same time. I love it becuase it makes me want to dance. It also surprises me. They take simple pop tunes and get every ounce of goodness out of them.

Islands - Return To The Sea

Everyone loves Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over The Sea. For the past two years I have been wondering where all the albums that are influenced by In the Aeroplane Over The Sea. If everyone loves this album why has it made so little impact on other music? The Islands - Return to the Sea is the album I have been waiting for. Any Neutral Milk Hotel fan should check out this album.

Mecca Normal - The Observer

The Observer is like a great movie or a good book. It is a challenging. It is not an album that you put on and rock out too. It is an album you listen to and think about. I know that people do not want to think, but that is that is their problem. This is an album that people should listen to. I think it is challenging and hard to listen to at time, but sometimes that is a really good thing. This is one of those times.

The song writing on this album just amazes me. It is insightful and interesting. The album is about relationships. It seems real in a way other albums do not. For the way the songs describe relationships it is worth listening to. I really get the idea that I understand the woman as being single about about my age.

Kimya Dawson - Remember That I Love You

I know lots of people who will not like this album. Like all K Records bands, you either dig the lo-fi, high emotion, indie ethic or you do not. This album has the feeling of someone grabbing a guitar and pooring their heart out to a microphone. Of the 12 songs on this album, about half of them make the hair on the back of neck stand up. Each time I hear this album I hear something else. Kimya Dawson is an impressive songwriter.

Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

This is one of those albums once I hear it, I need to listen to it three or four times in a row. The songs get stuck in my head. I sing them for days at a time. They haunt me like an opportunity I did not act on or a woman I ruined my chance with.

Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies

This is the kind of album that sneaks up behind you, grabs a hold of you while you are not paying attention, and does not let go. I already love the New Pornographers. This album has just enough elements of the New Pornographers for it to be familiar and just few enough for it to be new.

Mates Of State - Bring It Back

This is the best Mates of States album to date. The song writing has caught up to match their unique sound. The songs work really well as an album.

Karl Blau - Beneath Waves

This album was a surprise to me. There is no song that really stands out. The whole album is just relentless and strong. It has a good combination of pop structures and low-fi production.

Special Mention
Joanna Newsom - Ys

I have a hard time saying this is one of the best albums of the year. I want to say it is not really an album, at least in the sense of rock and roll. This is a collection of 5 songs. The shortest song is almost 10 minutes long. It is not like old prog rock albums either. There are no long musical sections. It is a collection of songs trying to be short stories. I am not sure I get this album, but I have been listening to it a lot. It is worth taking a listen to see if it is for you.


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