2006. Contrary to some peoples belief (if peoples is a word), music can STILL be groundbreaking. For me, 2006 proved it through and through. Blindsided by the overwhelming amount of bands emerging from the Brooklyn scene (Slowlands, the Mugs, Aeroplane Pageant, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, to name a few) as well as other newbie’s from across the nation like Dr. Dog, Ladyhawk, White Whale, Kelley Stoltz, The Rosewood Thieves and the Little Ones, I believe that there is a shift in meaningful music once again. The local hip-hop scene grew out of it’s own pants, the decibel festival was a great success, and independent music is finding more and more outlets as time goes on. Hopeful for the future of music with integrity for the first time in a long time!! (That statement actually doesn’t make sense if you think about it, but it sounded good in my head.)
Here is my best of 2006:
1. Thom Yorke â€“ The Eraser (XL)
I know, I know, obvious right? I guess I could have lied and put some creative, very obscure and amazing release at #1. Well, although not obscure, it is most definitely creative and amazing. And I’m not going to lie. Harrowdown Hill is one of the most beautiful and darkest songs I have heard in a long long time.
2. Trentemoller â€“ The Last Resort (Poker Flat Recordings)
Minimal electronic rhythm patterns and lush soundscapes have never sounded more soothing and beautiful from this Denmark DJ.
Trentemoller - Pretender (MP3)
3. Comets on Fire â€“ Avatar (Sub Pop)
I love when you hear an album and know that it is classic. Hard album to explain, and it’s hard to sound smart explaining it. Probably because it is what it is, and you don’t need to.
Comets on Fire - Dogwood Rust (MP3)
4. Extra Golden â€“ Ok-Oyot System (Thrill Jockey)
Indie rock meets World beat? Two members of the band Weird War visit Nairobi, meet Kenyan musician Otieno Jagwasi, and create one of the years most interesting and unconventional albums of 2006. It’s sad that Jagwasi passed away before the album’s release, but at least he left this behind.
4a. Kelley Stoltz â€“ Below the Branches (Sub Pop)
Transcending the spirit of artists like Lou Reed and Brian Wilson may seem like an odd coupling, but a gorgeous one at that. Meticulous songwriting that sounds effortless.
5. The Hidden Cameras â€“ Awoo (Arts & Crafts)
I’ve heard people say that certain melodies and notes can unlock ancient feelings and emotions. This band does that for me, almost every song. Pop brilliance with the strongest baritone in recent memory.
The Hidden Cameras - Awoo (MP3)
6. Brightblack Morning Light â€“ Brightblack Morning Light (Matador)
Soothing hushed vocals over an organic soundscape that allows the listener to mentally transport themselves to a place of peace. Sounds deep? It is, and I’m surprised I came up with that. That’s how good it is.
7. Slowlands â€“ Never Was There a Town (self-released)
Dreamy and Ethereal are two words that come to mind when I think of Slowlands. The innocence in Josh Kolenik’s vocals draws me into their sweetly crafted melodies.
Slowlands - Listeners Dilemma (MP3)
8. The Lights â€“ Diamonds and Dirt (Wantage)
One cup of Gang of Four. Two scoops of Dream Syndicate. A tablespoon of punk rock and a sh*t load of awesomeness = The Lights. And some may say opening your album with a cover song is cheeky, I say it’s ballsy.
The Lights - Setting Sun (MP3)
9. Slumber Party â€“ Musik (Kill Rock Stars)
Beat machines and smooth female vocals. What else do ya need but minimal atmospherics and synthesized tones? Well they got that too. Even with some critical praise and an underground following, I still feel these girls are one of the most underrated bands out there today.
Slumber Party - 10-9-8-7-6-5-4 (MP3)
10. Asobi Seksu â€“ Citrus (Friendly Fire)
This album sounds like it’s from somewhere else. As in, not Earth. Heavy on the reverb and echo, wall of sound guitars and great melodies, Asobi Seksu will actually make you gaze at your shoes. That was my shoegazer joke, and it wasn’t that funny.
Asobi Seksu - New Years (MP3)
-- Troy Nelson