Top Eleven Songs of 2006:
Download Best of 2006 iMix
The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
"I'm gonna go back to school today / but I'm dropping myself off / I'm throwing the childhood seat away / I'm through ripping myself off / I'm done ripping myself off."
The White Stripes' frontman Jack White has never sounded more at home than in this four-piece side project.
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say That I Am, That's What I'm Not
"Over there there's broken bones / There's only music, so that there's new ringtones / And it doesn't take no Sherlock Holmes / To see it's a little different around here."
In classic British critics fashion, deemed the best debut by an English band ever. Somewhere, Liam and Noel are throwing a fit. This is certainly not the best debut ever, but it is a great cd. Sheffield-born bandmates follow in the footsteps of Franz Ferdinand by fusing punk, rock, and disco to deliver one of the best albums of the year.
The Black Keys - Magic Potion
"All their homes are broken / and what are they gonna do / there's no magic potion / their lying days are through / love and lust go hand in hand / everthing in time adjusts / in our promised land."
Imagine John Lee Hooker fronting Jimmy Page's new album. Now picture them both as white boys from Akron, and you've got The Black Keys. Less of a blues influence than past albums.
Wolfmother - Wolfmother
"Oh I'm looking for a hidden meaning / Can you tell me if it's just a feeling / See the light is shining in your eye's / Is it love in disguise"
Stoner rock band from Down Under. Sounds like Jack White covering Black Sabbath - lyrics are farcical, but the sound is amazing.
Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll
"Honey pie, I don't know when it started / Just stop buying albums from the supermarket / They only sell things that have charted / And Art Brut? Well, we've only started."
Who says nothing in music is original anymore? These self-claimed pained outsiders debut with a clever, ironic, brilliant album. Frontman Eddie Argos never ventures from the frankest of lyrical topics: forming a band, finding himself a new girlfriend, and playing his songs on Top of the Pops.
Editors - The Back Room
"Oh, if fortune favours the brave / I am as poor as they come."
Birmingham, England-based indie rock band with Joy Division influences. Led by frontman Tom Smith, who at times sounds like a cross between David Gahan and Chris Cornell.
Razorlight - Razorlight
"What a drag it is, the shape i'm in / Well I go out somewhere, then I come home again / I light a cigarette 'cause I can't get no sleep / Theres nothing on the TV, nothing on the radio That means that much to me."
Second album from this Anglo-Swedish group debuted at #1 in the U.K. Reminiscent of Britpop/Mod-revival bands like The Jam.
Keane - Under The Iron Sea
"Don't wanna be first in line / Or make myself heard / I'd like to bring a little light / To shine a light on your life."
A sophomore effort revealing stronger U2 influences - most notably, on Is It Any Wonder.
Snow Patrol - Eyes Open
"All this feels strange and untrue / And I won't waste a minute without you."
This Northern-Irish band made the list in 2003. This follow-up effort is mellower yet still moving.
Beck - The Information
"What if it's wrong / What if it's wrong to pray in vain / What does it mean to fake your death / To wake up tainted?"
Personalized album covers? Raw tracks downloadable for remix? Home-made music videos for every track? Beck may have redefined the album in the digital age with this follow-up and continuation from Guero.
The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls In America
"We drink and we dry up and now we crumble in the dust / We get wet and we corrode and now we're covered up in rust."
Brooklyn-based band with clear links to the Twin Cities throughout this album. Frontman Craig Finn offers rousing commentary that hasn't been heard since since the likes of Robbie Robertson in his heyday.
Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
"I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind / There was something so pleasant about that place / Even your emotions had an echo in so much space."
One of the most creative collaborations between DJ Dangermouse (see 2004) and Cee-Lo. Known more famously for their in-concert costumes and corresponding covers to kick-off shows (e.g., chef outfits for Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf).
Sean Lennon - Friendly Fire
"Please don't ask me why / True as a sky everyone is born to die / So take your time but don't take mine / lose yourself but don't lose your mind."
When you consider that I've bought every Oasis song under the premise that this would be the closest I would get to The Beatles in my lifetime, are you surprised that I dig this album? Neither am I. Lennon evokes the vocal harmonies and musical arrangements of his father ... sans Gallagher antics.
As Tall As Lions - As Tall As Lions
"Our crooked feet burn up the street / And every time we're passing by you feel the heat / Of 80,000 burning souls asleep / There's 50,000 crying out to me."
I was introduced to this Long Island indie band by a friend from Duke. Similar sound to Luna ... you won't be disappointed with this album.
The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
"Each feather it fell from skin / 'Til threadbare, she grew thin / How were my eyes so blinded / Each feather it fell from skin."
A strong follow-up from this Oregon-based band from it's 2005 release Picaresque.
Thom Yorke - The Eraser
"Don't walk the plank like I did / You will be dispensed with / When you've become inconvenient."
What do you get when the frontman from Radiohead records a solo album? Music that sounds like Radiohead. The good news: it sounds like Radiohead.
Neil Young - Living With War
"Back in the days of shock and awe / We came to liberate them all / History was the cruel judge of overconfidence / Back in the days of shock and awe."
Neil hasn't been this ticked since Ohio, and while this album doesn't top his tirade against Nixon, it certainly provides a snapshot of current sentiment for many. Self-described as "metal folk protest music," Living With War provides a forward-looking view to its pre-2004 election counterpart, Steve Earle's The Revolution Starts ... Now.
Guilty Pleasure of the Year
The Killers - Sam's Town
"If I only knew the answers / If I changed my way of living / And if I pave my streets with good times / Would the mountatins keep on giving / And if all of our days are numbered / Then why do I keep counting?"
Some may be surprised that I listed this as the first Guilty Pleasure of the Year. After all, I love their debut, Hot Fuss. But in the wake of critics univerally trashing this album, I had to question my musical tastes. Maybe I'm inflating my review because it's by a favorite band. Maybe it's because I'm 30 and When You Were Young seems to take on a different theme than Brandon Flowers intended. Maybe it's because I've found personal meaning in the lyrics of Why Do I Keep Counting while flying at near-supersonic speed over the Rockies. But in the end, I realized the reasons don't matter. I like this album. Sue me.