It's the end of the year and that means that it's time for my top ten albums list of 2006. At the end of every mini-review/description or whatever you want to call it, I've included a link to a song that I think sums up the album it's from, or at least is one of the better songs from the album. The link takes you to a page where the song streams, so if you want to download the song to your computer just right-click and hit "save as" on the "Download This File" link on the bottom right. Well, without further ado, here are my Top 10 Albums of 2006:
10. The Decemberists "The Crane Wife"
-There's not much to be said about this album that Evan didn't already say in his review. Instead I'll just quote him: "When the sound of what can only be described as the sickest accordion/keyboard note this side of the Atlantic bleets above the rolling din of drums and vocals at 7:51 in the 'Landlord's Daughter' section of 'The Island,' you know you're listening to one of America's most important bands." Simply put, "The Island" is one of the best songs of the year and the fact that it clocks in at a whopping 12'26" does nothing to diminish its awesomeness.
Standout Track: "The Island"
9. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy "The Letting Go"
-I've been waiting for this album since Will Oldham's last album as Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, "Master and Everyone", came out in 2003. Between then and now, he has released a live album and an album as one-half of the duo Superwolf. With "The Letting Go" and the resumption of the BPB mantle, Oldham brings a return to form. As BPB, Oldham has mastered the art of creating albums that sound like a weathered old appalachian man singing about a lifetime full of heartbreak and disappointment. "The Letting Go" just builds on his trademark sound with the inclusion of a female backing vocalist on almost all of the tracks and a somewhat "slicker" production sound. But luckily for us, the darkness and pain of the previous BPB albums still remains.
Standout Track: "Cursed Sleep"
8. Spank Rock "YoYoYoYoYoYo"
-I don't really know how to describe Spank Rock. They're hip-hop, yes, but they're a lot more than that. The best way I've heard them described is when my friend told me they were "pure shake-your-ass music." And he was right. The beats are glitchy and super hard and their lyrics are just ridiculous. For example, one of the hooks for the song "Backyard Betty" is, "Ass-shaking competition champ/Oooh that pussy gets damp." I guess another, possibly more pretentious way to describe their sound would be to say they take certain aspects of American hip-hop and mix in British grime and garage with a dash of techno. But you should really just listen for yourself.
Standout Track: "Backyard Betty"
7. Justin Timberlake "FutureSex/LoveSounds"
-Some people may give me flak for this one, but this album is fucking good. Yes, Justin Timberlake used to be in N'Sync, and yes, he used to be a Mouseketeer, but damnit if our little JT hasn't grown up. This album is an ass-shaker and anyone who says otherwise is soulless. It's also more mature, in many ways, than his debut solo album, "Justified." It's got a darker vibe to it and the instrumentation and beats are more complex. One negative thing, though: the single "SexyBack" has been so overplayed that I want to break the radio everytime I hear it.
Standout Track: "FutureSex/LoveSound"
6. Girl Talk "Night Ripper"
-Apparently this was the year of awesome party albums. Girl Talk's "Night Ripper" is one album that could play at a party from start to finish and everyone would dance the entire way through. Here's the story behind "Night Ripper": Girl Talk is a DJ and this album consists entirely of mash-ups he's made of other people's songs. I think the number of songs used on this album is some ridiculous number like 150 or something. It's possible to recognize quite a few of them but some samples only last for a few beats so you have to listen closely. It seems like it could have been really easy for this album to become gimmicky but Girl Talk mixes these songs together so well that he really makes them his own.
Standout Track: "Once Again"
5. T.I. "King"
-Another one that I may get guff for. Again, I don't care. This is the only mainstream hip-hop album that I can listen to almost straight through. Many mainstream hip-hop albums are mostly all filler with a few really stand out singles but T.I.'s "King" is entirely the other way around. In addition to knocking out the filler, T.I. has also mastered the art of self-aggrandizement on this album. When he says, "I'm the king," you believe him. Also, the bass-lines and old school horn samples make this album perfect to cruise to on a hot summer day with the windows open and the volume up all the way.
Standout Track: "King Back"
4. Lily Allen "Alright Still"
-Who knew an album full of songs about a British girl's break-up could be so addicting? Lily Allen's "Alright Still" is just that. In addition to being incredibly poppy, it's also witty and bitchy and catty. In the song, "Not Big," she states, "I could see it in your face when you give it to me gently/Yeah, you really must think you're great/Let's see how you feel in a couple of weeks/When I work my way through your mates." The songs deal with issues like a break-up and drug abuse with a very laissez-faire attitude, super catchy hooks, and great choruses. The fact that it's so catchy is probably the reason it's so high on my list. Also, the fact that she's got a really cute accent and that she's pretty hot help, too.
Standout Track: "Smile"
3. Beck "The Information"
-I like Beck. I like Nigel Godrich. And when Beck and Nigel Godrich get together, I get very excited. "The Information" brings them together again and it's everything I hoped it would be. Beck has always been a little out there musically and this album is no different. What is different, however, is the cohesiveness of the album. Sure, there are songs where he raps and yes, there are songs where he sounds like an old-timey country singer, but thematically and musically, it all fits together. Don't ask me how, but it does.
Standout Track: "Dark Star"
2. Gnarls Barkley "St. Elsewhere"
-Did anyone think when they heard that Cee-Lo and Dangermouse were teaming up that it wouldn't be awesome? If anyone did, I hope that upon hearing "St. Elsewhere" their suspicions were put to rest. It was probably the most funkily eccentric album of the year and it also included one of the most catchy songs of all time. That, of course, being the hit single "Crazy." I still find to this day that I get that song stuck in my head. Plus, you could hardly go to a concert this year without hearing it covered by whoever was playing.
Standout Track: "Crazy"
1. Thom Yorke "The Eraser"
-Is anyone surprised by the fact that Thom Yorke's solo album is my number one album of the year? Probably not. BUT! It is an awesome album, nonetheless. How could it not be? Although, anyone who had been expecting another Radiohead album may have been a bit disappointed. It's definitely got more electronic bleeps and bloops, and more synths in the background. Also, there's no really straight up guitar or piano based songs. But if you take the time to listen to the songs individually and thoroughly, you will be greatly rewarded. The song "Analyse," for example, has one of the sickest bass-lines of the year, but I didn't notice until probably the fifth time I listened to it. And pretty much every song has incredible backing vocals, you just need to PAY ATTENTION. Go grab a pair of headphones and sit down with "The Eraser" and you will see why this is my number one album, regardless of the fact that it probably would have been even if it had just been Thom Yorke farting into a microphone.
Standout Track: "The Eraser"
That does it for my Top 10 List. I hope you all agree with me, but I'm sure some of you, maybe even most of you, don't. But that's what makes music great. I can be a snob and pretend I'm better than all of you if you don't like what I like!