Here it is, what I have been stringing all of you along for...My top 10 list of the best albums of 2006, you have seen the Honorable Mentions, you have seen the League of their Own, now in full, short and long list of the best of the year....
For those with ADD here is the short list:
10- Brand New-The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me
9-The Streets- The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
8-Protest The Hero-Kezia
7-Patent Pending-Save Each Other, The Whales are Doing Fine
6-As Tall As Lions
5-Richard Ashcroft-Keys to the World
4-The Loved Ones-Keep Your Heart
3-Gnarls Barkley-St. Elsewhere
2-Bouncing Souls-The Gold Record
In Long Form:
10. Brand New- The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me
Could this be the soundtrack to Donnie Darko? Or just a subliminal S.O.S.? You decide, I reviewed the record in full on my first post (see Nov. 2006). It is the first of three Long Island bands on my list.
Key Tracks: Millstone, Archers
9. The Streets- The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
The idea of the white rapper has never really received much praise and especially when you are British. However, The Streets (aka Mike Skinner), has conceived a record so honest, so overt that every rapper in "the game" should take note. Before their was Lady Sovereign, there was The Streets, the group that made British hip hop listenable. On Skinners third disc, he drops the bravado and stops trying to sound like Dizzie Rascal and becomes himself. Its a full on poetic diary of what its like being on cocaine, making music, touring and oh yeah getting millions of dollars (or pounds) to do it. Skinner makes hip-hop emotional, much like his American counterparts, Atmosphere and Sage Francis, he does a grassroots hip hop record that not only transcends but translates across the pond, and leaves you wanting more.
Key Tracks: Prangin Out, Never Went to Church
8. Protest The Hero-Kezia
If Cedric Baxter (during his At the Drive-in days) fronted Killswitch Engage, the result would be Protest The Hero. This stellar debut from this Canadian Quintet is the only concept record you should buy this year, it tells the story of a female religious and political protester during the French Revolution named Kezia. How the record is presented is another story, it plays like the greatest soundtrack ever conceived, the album is broken down through three stories, the story of the girl Kezia, the Priest who tries to help her yet ends up falling in love with her and the executioner who is ordered to pull the slipknot and have her life taken, yet he even ends up believing in the protests Kezia has displayed. Its an album thriving with emotional angst, confusion and anger.
Key Tracks: No Stars Over Bethlehem, Heretics and Killers
7. Patent Pending- Save Each Other, The Whales are Doing Fine
The most fun you will have listening to any band or album this year. Patent Pending packs more energy than a case of Red Bull, this Long Island band (the second of three on my list) creates a high energy and originality that if this formula could be sold on shelves they would already be millionaires. However, the album does not do the band justice, it is a fantastic fun voyage, yet it is missing one thing...what their live shows are like. Out of the hundreds of bands I have seen in my day, no one goes on and takes the stage and turns it into a full on traveling McDonalds playground quiet like Patent Pending, just ask anyone from WQAQ or who caught them on this summers Warped Tour, or opening for Gym Class Hero's this fall. Every up and coming punk band should take note on how these guys perform, market themselves and make records. Save Each Other, is a must own.
Key Tracks: Los Angeles, Cheer Up Emo Kid
6. As Tall As Lions
Beautiful, ambitious and astounding are three words that sum of As Tall As Lions sophomore record. The last of three Long Island bands on my list, make their way into the minds and hearts of everyone that presses play to begin listening to the album. It opens up and closes like a crashing wave hitting the beaches of their native Long Island. Its a disc for fans of Coldplay and early Radiohead and one that will certainly not disappoint.
Key Tracks: Love Love Love (Love Love), Ghost of York
5. Richard Ashcroft-Keys to the World
The former lead singer of the Verve, fires back with an album comparable to his namesakes first two records. On Ashcrofts third album, he takes what made the Verve so popular and perfects it on his own. Fantastic song writing and arrangements and it doesn't hurt that he had a little push from Coldplay for hand picking him for the third leg of their "Twisted Logic" World Tour.
Key Tracks: Keys to the World, Why Not Nothing
4. The Loved Ones- Keep Your Heart
This Jersey based super group, yes an indie-punk super group so-to-speak featuring members of Kid Dynamite, The Explosion and touring musicians of the Bouncing Souls. This trio caught listeners attention with their self titled Jadetree E.P. that mixed the rockabilly of The Clash, the emotional value of the Bouncing Souls and the thrashing guitars of The Ramones made listeners and fans wanting more and knowing that a full on L.P. will be great. Their Fat Wreck Chords Debut was released in March and has practically not left my CD player, it contains a new version of 100K which also appeared on the E.P. . Its a fast, furious and fun album.
Key Tracks: The Odds, Jane
3. Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere
One reviewer said it best "If Marvin Gaye had the ability to sample, Gnarls Barkley would be it." The genius of Danger Mouse, fronted by the soul of Cee-lo created the most ambitious and hypnotic record of the year. The fact that the hit single "Crazy," which has stolen the radio air-waves world wide is my favorite song this year and is the worst track on the record speaks volumes to how fantastic St. Elsewhere truly is. Its the best produced, creative and assembled musical journey this year, in other words....its a trip.
Key Tracks: Go-Go Gadget Gone, Necromancer
2. Bouncing Souls- The Gold Record.
Before Joe Strummer passed away, he stated "I wake up everyday and thank God for Punk Rock." Strummer would be smiling down from the gates of heaven with this legendary Jersey bands latest effort. Its the most polished the Souls have ever been on wax, they keep to their roots, a record full of heart, love and of course fast punk rock. What the Souls do on The Gold Record that they have never done before was have someone else write their lyrics, its only done on the track "Letter From Iraq," written and sung by a former U.S. military personal it tells the story of the Living Hell and the mess that Bush has created. In all else, what is in a name says it all, this record is Gold.
Key Tracks: So Jersey, Letter From Iraq
1. Pearl Jam
Break out your flannel, grow out your hair and cut up your denim cuz this records for you! The legendary Seattle quintet are back and better than ever on their eighth record and the best they have released since 98's Yield. Vedder and Co. take on everything from the Bush administration, to FEMA, to the economy and of course make it sound so good, that no other band has made you want to stand up and raise a fist in the air and take action since Rage Against the Machine. Pearl Jam return to their punk roots with that legendary grunge sound that made them what they are today. If their is one record you own, listen to, or buy before the end of 2006, this is it.
Key Tracks: Unemployable, World Wide Suicide.
So that's it, my list in full of the best of 2006. You read everything elese. The next few posts wont be as long and will probably be videos or MP3's or something I promise. Thanks for reading...