Friday, January 05, 2007

2006 Sunless Shortlist

Top 15 Albums of 2006

15. Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways

Not just a hastily thrown together batch of unreleased songs. This is as the album was recorded and meant to be released. And it's excellent. And no out-there covers. All songs just work.

14. Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea

Back to basics, of sorts, for the Fiery Furnaces. Possibly their most accessible album yet, but that's really not saying much. Still plenty of weirdness and scary sounds. Just not as polarizing as last year's Rehearsing My Choir, which I still love by the way.

13. Loose Fur - Born Again in the USA

More greatness from Jeff, Jim, and Glenn. I'm not as thrilled about this one than I was their debut, but it's definitely more of an album-sounding album.

12. Cat Power - The Greatest

Not necessarily a pouty Chan on this one, but it's like her "fuck it, I'm miserable" album. May as well embrace it.

11. Portastatic - Be Still Please

Mac's best Portastatic to date. Really sounding less like a side project here, and more like a priority.

10. Mountain Goats - Get Lonely

Boy this is one heavy album. If this is the sequel to last year's The Sunset Tree, then it definitely doesn't sound like things ended well. Still really awesome stuff here. "Woke Up New" is not only one of the best songs of the year, but has one of this year's best videos to boot.

9. Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country

If anybody else says Camera Obscura is just Belle and Sebastian lite, fuck em. This is a band that is on its own.

8. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - The Letting Go

Really, really good stuff from Will O here. His addition of string sections just makes this a devastating listen. Just listen to "Cursed Sleep" and try not to feel so good about feeling so bad.

7. Islands - Return to the Sea

Synth/quirk-pop at its finest. Probably the youngest-sounding album on this list, but damn it's a fun listen.

6. Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit

Okay, so I get shit for being a big Belle and Sebastian fan. They sound a little wussy. Eh, so I'm a big French New Wave fan too. I don't get much shit for that. If everybody has been clamoring for a return to the lo-fi early Belle and Sebastian, it ain't here. However, the songwriting is just a strong as ever.

5. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies

Some of my favorite songs from the year are on this disc. "Your Blood," "European Oils," "Looters' Follies," "Priest's Knees." All just so damn good. Do NOT get this if you are expecting New Pornographers. This is an album that sounds best in the most depressing smokey jazz bar in your town, or at least on AM radio at 3am. I'm actually listening to it as I write this list.

4. Danielson - Ships

The most bizarre fun you can have listening to music. Basically imagine an hour long crescendo of screeching. Yeah, that sounds right. So much fun. Zappa would be proud.

3. Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

These top three slots can be pretty interchangable, depending on my mood. I think this is pretty fair. As for this new Yo La Tengo, it just justifies why this is one of my favorite bands. I think I summed it up pretty well back in September.

2. Decemberists - The Crane Wife

Who the hell is this band, and how do they keep getting better and better with every release?? This album really took over my home and car and office for a solid month after its release. Less pirate songs on this one and maybe a little more prog rock. I actually think some sounds were used on "Band on the Run," or maybe something by Edgar Winter. Still everything is written as a historical ballad. I'm sure they will release another album next year and it will be even better.

1. Joanna Newsom - Ys

So much has been written about this album, but all the hype is so valid to me. You don't really listen to this music as much as you swim through it. Almost an hour on five songs with no music breaks and no breaths taken. Just a lyrical maze, so hard to decipher, but so rewarding when it's done.


Most Disappointing Album of 2006

Golden Smog - Another Fine Day

Man, I waited so long for this. Just to get this? It's so sad to hear some of my former favorite musicians struggle to put together anything worthwhile. This is one album that should NOT have been released. Sometimes supergroups lose the "super" prefix.


2007 should be a nice little year for music. Looks like it'll be a little slow getting off the tracks, but expect great new stuff from Wilco, Modest Mouse, Apostle of Hustle, Arcade Fire, and Bright Eyes. First up is new stuff from the Shins and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I can't wait to see what else I'll be surprised with. Enjoy!!