Top 10 Records of 2006

To celebrate the 1 day birthday of Pop Headwound I thought it would be appropriate to share with you my top 10 records of 2006. What kind of music blog would Pop Headwound be without a top ten? Not a very good one. And as a bonus, at the conclusion you get last year's top ten. Somehow it exists even though we didn't!


10. Josh Ritter / The Animal Years

Although not necessarily as consistent as Hello Starling, this record did produce several songs that are better than most anything he's shown before. Ritter is quite a skilled songwriter, his lyrics are very often head-turning. They are backed by restrained, tasteful arrangments that keep the focus on the intimacy of Josh's vocals and lyrics. The production of Brian Deck is noteworthy here as well, using a variety of flourishes, but keeping the music wide-screened and spacious.

9. The Decemberists / The Crane Wife

This was a late entry for me, as I steered away for several months after its release. Last year's Picaresque didn't do much for me, aside from a few songs. One listen to "The Crane Wife 3" and I was hooked. It's nice to see an indie band jump to a major label and release a record that improves on its back catalog.

8. M. Ward / Post-War

Another year, another excellent collection of songs from M. Ward. It's hard to think of any other singer-songwriter who has produced 4 straight albums as good as Ward's since 2001. Arguably his best yet, Post-War offers exactly what last year's Transistor Radio offered: catchy tunes, nice vocals, skilled instrumentation, and an expert balance between traditional and modern folk sounds.

7. Centro-Matic / Fort Recovery

Speaking of 4 straight good albums this century, Centro-Matic delivered their 4th as well this year with Fort Recovery. Not as reckless as Redo the Stacks, and without the high points of Love You Just the Same, this is their most cohesive and mature-sounding record yet. At the end of 2005 Patterson Hood (of Drive-By Truckers) announced (in Harp magazine) that Fort Recovery was his favorite record of last year, months before it was even released. And by the way, no one uses feedback like Centro-Matic. Just listen to "Covered Up In Mines".

6. Camera Obscura / Let's Get Out of This Country

I don't know much about them yet, as they made a strong push after I picked up this record a few weeks ago. I do know that they are Scottish (like my ancestors..ooh, maybe I'm related), they have a female lead singer, they're on Merge Records, and that "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken" may be the best pure indie-pop song in a good long while. This album is highly listenable straight through. A really nice internet find.

5. TV on the Radio / Return To Cookie Mountain

Dense and claustrophobic, Return to Cookie Mountain was my biggest challenge of the year. While other "difficult" records didn't win me over (Ys, Yellow House) after many tries, this one got significantly better with each listen. The songs are worth the time on this one, as it has consistently crept up all year. This is one of those records that sounds important, visionary.

4. The Hold Steady / Boys & Girls In America

Oh yeah!! An indie band that breaks the mold and relishes its classic rock influences. Craig Finn spits out his lyrics like an early Springsteen, only rated R and drunk on PBR instead of the American dream. Monster riffs, power ballads, and more great lines about kissing than I can count right now: "these twin city kisses sound like clicks and hisses", "don't even speak to those sequencer and beat boys, when they kiss they spit white noise", and "I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere". The best old-school American rock and roll band to come along since My Morning Jacket.

3. Band of Horses / Everything All The Time

Filling this year's quota for great indie-rock debut (see The Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade from '04 and '05, respectively) Band of Horses comes on like the offspring of The Shins and My Morning Jacket (cliche, I know. I swear I thought of it first). "The Funeral" is the rock anthem of the year, and this is perhaps the most consistent album in the top ten.

2. Califone / Roots & Crowns

Always the bridesmaid....I fell in love with Quicksand/Cradlesnakes soon after seeing Califone open for Wilco in Portland, Maine back in late 2002. That record was the runner-up in '03, and here we are 3 years later and they're the runner-up yet again. Roots & Crowns is another stunner, filled with rustic Americana sent back from a noisy, industrial future. This is Music From Big Pink fresh out of the state hospital, laptop tucked up under its arm and headed for the city, meds kickin' in and finally starting to feel like itself again.

1. Destroyer / Destroyer's Rubies

Dan Bejar lives somewhere else. His words come on like a slightly more fallible Dylan circa '64, all winding, allegorical narratives. His music recalls some kind of futuristic hootenanny, and his voice is Bowie at his most wild and exotic. Destroyer's Rubies is one of those career defining records, one that would be near impossible to top. As a member of The New Pornographers, Bejar has become familiar to a wide indie audience over the past few years. His latest Destroyer album is his defining moment, a career peak, and as close to a masterpiece as 2006 came.

There you go fine folks. Would have put my heart and soul into it, but couldn't figure out how to upload them.

Oh yeah, a quick look at last year's top 10:

1. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday (Frenchkiss)
2. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (Jagjaguar)
3. Spoon - Gimme Fiction (Merge Records)
4. Sleater - Kinney - The Woods (Sub Pop)
5. The National - Alligator (Beggars Banquet)
6. The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree (4AD Records)
7. My Morning Jacket - Z (ATO Records)
8. Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary (Sub Pop)
9. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - s/t
10. Bright Eyes - I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning

1 comment:

Evan Kessler said...

I think you should rename the post "Top 10 Albums Evan Will Have To Steal From His Roommate and Burn Onto His Itunes Thereby Circumventing The Anti-Piracy Laws"