Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Best of 2006 Albums (according to me)

Making my “Best of this year” list is always a rather difficult chore for me (check out my 2005 version which featured 19). This year out of the 127 2006 albums I’ve got I’ve picked 25, with notable others bringing the total list up to 54.
The Irish blogosphere’s best ofs  - Sinead Gleeson ; In Fact Ah; Fergal @Tuppenceworth.

  1. Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
I listened to this so much when I bought first that when the 3 concerts in the Point came around last month, I didn’t think I’d be able to listen to it again. The concerts were amazing and the album withstood the fatigue test.

  1. The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
The first song, Crane Wife Part 3, is possibly the best rock/indie song of the year.

  1. The Weepies – Say I Am You
Deb Talan’s delicate voice brings their lyrics to perfection – “Thunder rumbles in the distance, a quiet intensity / I am willful, your insistence is tugging at the best of me  / You're the moon, I'm the water / You're Mars, calling up Neptune's daughter / Sometimes rain that's needed falls  / We float like two lovers in a painting by Chagall”

  1. Cat Power - The Greatest
It’s certainly her greatest album.

  1. Alejandro Escovedo – The Boxing Mirror
I was a little bitter with Alejandro after I bought a fairly standard tribute CD to him to support him with his Hepatitis C. The Boxing Mirror has assuaged that bitterness and more.

  1. The Gossip – Standing in the Way of Control
Missed them in the Temple Bar Music Centre, and while I don’t like the politics, the energy on this album is amazing.

  1. The Minus 5 – The Minus 5 (Gun Album)
The Minus 5’s “Down With Wilco” album didn’t prevent Wilco and REM bandmembers from singing Scott McCauughey’s songs. (That version sounds better than mentioning that Wilco of course played on “Down with Wilco”)

  1. Hem – Funnel Cloud
I love Hem. I know not many people have heard of them, but they’re making some of the most consistently beautiful music today.

  1. Seth Lakeman – Freedom Fields
I blogged about this album back in April - But unlike Damien Rice, Dempsey or any other of these new folk/acoustic/singer-songwriters from these islands, Lakeman is an original, singing his own songs about, well, “Freedom Fields” is about the 1643 Civil War. And he sings about it like he was there. (I doubt Damien Rice could even spell 1643.) He plays the violin like he means it. The production is immaculate and the album was made in his Devon kitchen. The drums are reminiscent of red-coated garrison men, marching with the sun reflected in their brass buttons, before their canons explode. He sings about mermaids, mariners, riflemen, soldiers who came “a courtin a maid, took her home, stole her beauty, took no gold” and the like.

  1. Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat
Rising up with fists.

  1. Isobel Campbell with Mark Lanegan – Ballad of the Broken Seas
A surprising duo delivering the goods.

  1. The Killers - Sam’s Town
From track 5 on, it’s superb. Pity about the first few songs.

  1. The Blood Arm – Lie Lover Lie
Almost standard 2006 indie rock, but as the track 7 says “Do I Have Your Attention?”, one is tempted to throw fists to the wind and scream wildly.

  1. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - The Letting Go
Unless he developes a latent ambition to become 6th member of Boyzone or record a duet with Red Hurley, The Prince, will always be on my top albums list
  1. Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
It’s a standard choice for 2006 best albums list, and it deserves it.

  1. Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
A great album. And a great concert in Crawdaddy a few months ago.

  1. M. Ward - Post War
An Americana triumph.

  1. Shooter Jennings – Electric Rodeo
My effusive praise back in May still applies - This album inspires me to get to a greasy bar stool in Carolina with a large bottle of Jack Daniels before driving away in a beat up pick up truck with Shooter beside me and playing loud on the stereo. “You can’t see the tears behind my aviators” and his heartfelt admissions of caninicide – I’m in love. Or lyrical lust or something. My holidays are over, so I’ll have to settle for the next best thing. Men of the Red Cow Inn watch out

  1. Amos Lee – Supply and Demand
His sophomore album seems to be more lyrically memorable and RnB tinged than his first – and is way better. Night Train is simply gorgeous.

  1. Kelley Stoltz – Below the Branches
Introduced to me by Sinead, she’s dead on about this one.

  1. Eric Church – Sinners like Me
Probably the only artist on this list that I wouldn’t mind having a poster of in my bedroom – Eric Church is a pretty gorgeous country singer – and what’s a rightwing girl to do but swoon when she hears lines like this – I believe that gas is too damn high / The tax man and the devil share the same address / I believe dogs are better than cats / And I believe that Jesus is comin' back before she does”. He’s even got Merle Haggard singing a tribute song to himself. As he sings himself - I know where I come from: How 'bout you?

  1. Old Crow Medicine Show – Big Iron World
Perhaps the most raucous bluegrass band around, this album is faithful to a tradition that deserves the creativity and virtuosity of this group and their producer, David Rawlings.

  1. Ollabelle – Riverside Battle Songs
Gospel, bluegrass, country – it’s all here with fab vocals.

  1. Bob Dylan – Modern Times
Better than some of the new stuff, not as good as some of the old stuff, but holding it’s own.

  1. The Wailin’ Jennys – Firecracker
Named after Waylon Jennings, these girls know how to sing folk.

Best of the Rest –  (kind of in order)
Sparklehorse - Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain
Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones
The Be Good Tanyas – Hello Love
Amy Milan – Honey from the Tombs
The Duhks – Migrations
Crooked Still – Shaken By A Low sound
Belle and Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
Joanna Newsom  - Ys
The Pipettes – We Are The Pipettes
The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
Drive by Truckers – A Blessing and A curse
The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
Calexico – Garden Ruin
T Bone Burnett – The True False identity
TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
The Subdudes – Behind the levee
Howe Gelb – ‘Sno Angel Like you
Lambchop – Damaged
Ray LaMontagne – Till the Sun turns Black
Paul Simon – The Surprise
Damien Jurado – Now That I’m In Your Shadow
Matisyahu – Youth
The Little Willies – The Little Willies
Josh Ritter - The Animal Years
Islands – Return to the Sea
The Mountain Goats – Get Lonely
Slaid Cleaves – Unsung

The Leftovers = (I had them all typed up to make the list so here they are) =
ALO – Fly Between Walls / Muse – Black Holes & Revelations / Ben Harper – Both Sides Of The Gun / Regina Spektor – Begin To Hope / Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself / Joan As Police Woman – Real Life / Built to Spill – You In Reverse / Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - All the Roadrunning / Tom Waits - Orphans / Yo La Tengo-I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass / Allison Moorer - Getting Somewhere / Rosanne Cash - Black Cadillac / Van Morrison – Pay the Devil / Tom Petty – Highway Companion / Thom Yorke – the Eraser / Shearwater – Palo Santo / Sarah Harmer – I’m A Mountain  / Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man Soundtrack / Roseanne Cash – Black Cadillac / Lou Rhodes – Beloved One / Carrie Rodriguez – Seven Angels on A Bicycle / Josh Rouse – Subtitulo / Jolie Holland – Springtime Can kill you / Jerry Lee Lewis – Last man standing / Hem – No Word From Tom / The Elected – Sun, Sun, Sun / Cara Dillon – After the Morning / Califone – Roots and Crowns / Bonnie Prince Billy/Tortoise  - The Brave and the Bold / Beth Orton – Comfort of Strangers / Pajo – 1968 / Band of Horses – Everything All the Time / Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Etiquette / Centro-Matic – Fort Recovery / Dave Alvin – West of West / Deftones – Saturday Night Wrist / Elvis Costello / Allen Toussaint – The River in Reverse / Emily Haines – Knives Don’t Have Your Back / Fionn Regan – End of History / The Fratellis – Costello Music / G. Love – G. Love’s Lemonade / Johnny Cash – Personal File / John Legend – Once Again / Jolie Holland – Springtime Can Kill You / Julie Roberts – Men and Mascara / Kasey Chambers – Carnival / Lindsey Buckingham – Under the Skin / Magic Numbers – Those the Brokes / Mary Lorson & Saint Low – Realistic / Mindy Smith – Long Island Shores / Peter Bjorn and John – Young Folks / Rhett Miller – The Believer  / Rhonda Vincent – All American Bluegrass Girl / Shawn Colvin – These Four Walls / Shawn Mullins – 9th Ward Pickin Parlor / Teddy Thompson – Separate Ways / Tom Russell – Love and Fear / Willard Grant Conspiracy  - Let It Roll / Willie Nelson – Songbird / Jens Lakeman – Oh You’re so Silent Jens / Brigitte Demeyer – Something After All / Richard Buckner – Meadow / Chatham County Line - Speed Of The Whippoorwill /



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joanna Newsom only one of the "best of the rest"? Ys is my favourite album of the decade, so far -- it improves incredibly with repeated listenings. Vastly superior to Jenny Lewis's patchy offering, as was The Elected's album, if you ask me. I'd say that Regina Spektor's album was my biggest disappointment of the year, with Lily Allen's the biggest surprise.

Still, different strokes for different folks!

December 21, 2006 12:32 a.m.  
Anonymous Sinéad said...

I'm with you on Ys, Auds, it's only in my 'honourable mentions'.

M. Ward? Goddamit, how did I forget that album, it's fantastic...

December 21, 2006 9:17 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this list. Very cool. You've introduced me to a few new bands.

December 21, 2006 9:29 a.m.  
Anonymous ground said...

Nice list, but on Sam's Town (The Killers), but is it not a sweeping statement to say that Tracks 1-4 are not as good as the rest? For instance, Enterlude (Track 3) is pretty much the same as Exitlude (Track 12), no? Though I would like When You Were Young more if it wasn't played to death on the radio. It has the best intro on the album

December 22, 2006 12:48 p.m.  
Anonymous click here said...

Joan As Police Woman as a leftover??

For shame, young woman!

December 24, 2006 2:00 a.m.  
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