Justhipper’s Top 20 Albums of 2006

It’s that time of year again folks when everybody’s making lists and I realise that I’ve barely listened to the stuff we bought this year because I’m still getting caught up with all the stuff I didn’t get a chance to get into properly last year. So it’s an odd list this, possibly, and there’s a few that probably should have made it if I’d been able to wrestle them out of The Ledge’s car a bit sooner than last week. But here goes:

  • 20) The Organ, Grab That Gun

    A fantastic, energetic collection of pop tracks from the now defunct all-girl band. This is brimming with slightly retro synth sounds, it’s full of attitude and I was singing along by the second listen.

  • 19) Grizzly Bear, Yellow House

    This is one I’m only really starting to love. It’s soaring and soft at the same time, like folky shoegazing with melodies.

  • 18) Joanna Newsom, Ys

    This should be higher but for the fact I’ve really not listened to it closely enough. The initial impression is brilliant, I’m sure once I actually know what she’s singing about it will sound even better. But harps, meandering lyrics about princesses, meteors and medieval quests, that unique voice and orchestras, what’s not to love?

  • 17) Jarvis Cocker, Jarvis

    Boy how I’ve missed Jarvis. I may be the only one who thought his non-album track, “Running the World” was pretty poor, but this is Jarvis at his best with the wry, observational humour and descriptions of the minutiae of life all to a pretty catchy melody.

  • 16) Micah P. Hinson, The Opera Circuit

    This album makes the list solely on his amazing, textured voice – not that the twangy, simple country tunes are anything to scoff at. It is simply a lovely record.

  • 15) Mojave 3, Puzzles Like You

    The last Mojave 3 album I bought was the first one, which was soft, melancholic and sounded like Slowdive gone acoustic. This record came as quite a shock when I first heard it, as it’s all twee, upbeat melody, but it works. It works in a Rogue Wave or Belle & Sebastian sort of way. It is wonderful, giddy pop.

  • 14) My Latest Novel, Wolves

    This is a challenging, unusual and intense record that captivated me from the moment I saw this band on stage opening for Low. It veers between droning and experimental post-rock and light, summery seaside pop, sometimes all in the same song.

  • 13) CSS, Cansei der Sei Sexy

    Comical and sexually provocative lyrics, driving rhythms and sleazy, retro synths: this is one of the worst albums ever for getting highly inappropriate bits of songs stuck in your head, but you cannot help dancing to it.

  • 12) Midlake, The Trials of Van Occupanther

    Externally a pretty, soft, folky affair that hints at Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac, lyrically it’s a complex affair about relationships, marriage and American life on the prarie.

  • 11) Destroyer, Destroyer’s Rubies

    I’d love to meet the person who has some idea of what Dan Bejar is on about when he writes lyrics. This should not be catchy and compelling because it meanders so much, but it’s hard not to get drawn in. When it hints at Luke Haines and the Auteurs it is at its pop apex, but it’s the other, even stranger bits that make the album.

  • 10) The Young Knives, Voices of Animals and Men

    This is punchy and frenetic and exactly what intelligent guitar music should sound like in 2006. This album makes the top ten on the back of “You were screaming at your mum and I was punching your dad!” as a catchy refrain but the rest of the CD is ace too!

  • 9) Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Ballad of the Broken Seas

    This so should not work. Airy, wispy, gothy female vocals and gnarled, deep, countrified male vocals on songs about love, loss and human flaws. The two singers contrast beautifully and the album is absolutely stunning.

  • 8) Tapes n Tapes, The Loon

    What manic, swirling, lunatic guitar melodies on this! “Inisitor” is about the most onomatopoeic song title in ages as it is about the most insistent thing I’ve heard in years. Initially reminding me of Sons & Daughters, Tapes have far more depth to their songwriting, as they can not only knock out tracks that make you want to jump around like a maniac, they can also do the ballads.

  • 7) Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

    I loved Dear Catastrophe Waitress and after a disappointing gig the week before this album came out I was convinced that they’d never top it. But the album is actually a blinder, and almost experimental for B&S as there’s some unusual sounding stuff on there. Every song is memorable and Stuart Murdoch seems never to run out of tales of art school dropouts and quirky middle class white collar heroes.

  • 6) ¡Forward Russia!, Give Me a Wall

    Never has the post-punk revival sounded so grand as with Give Me a Wall. It’s yelping, angsty and full of intellect while still managing to be catchy too. The perfect album for headbanging in the car on the way to work, so you can work out your misery and aggression on something other than your boss.

  • 5) The Hold Steady, Boys & Girls in America

    With one of the most unusual and irritating voices in indie rock, Craig Finn has crafted a classic record about teen ennui and drug taking which is like a snapshot of the film Kids. It is both comical and disturbing and will have your brain working overtime painting mental pictures of these short stories about youth.

  • 4) The Hidden Cameras, Awoo

    You play a Hidden Cameras album once and it’s like you’ve known it your whole life. This is pop music as pop music should be: thoughtful, lilting and full of lyrical double-takes.

  • 3) Guillemots, Through the Windowpane

    I cannot possibly listen to the Guillemots and walk away without a smile. Full of epic moments and daft sentimentality, this is possibly the most sincere thing you’re likely to hear for a good long while. It’s bold, tender and wholly life-affirming.

  • 2) Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

    After the slightly disappointing Blacklisted, Neko returns with an absolute belter of an album. Full of strange animal references, this is the sort of thing Neko does best – show off that amazing voice with a range of country songs and an old gospel cover thrown in for good measure. It’s about love and life and you can hear every emotion in her voice as she sings.

  • 1) The Decemberists, The Crane Wife

    This is like The Decemberists concentrated. It’s like super-hyper-Meloy-in-a-tin on an album based around two long tales and full of rock and roll sounds to complement the usual acoustic, folky pop goodness. They’re experimenting with new sounds a bit but even where they veer towards prog rock it somehow works. Catchy and compelling from start to finish.

What comes next may be more accurate about my recent listening. Yes, in no particular order and in what is far from an exhaustive list, I now bring you the Top Ten Albums I Have Been Playing Instead of Albums that Came Out in 2006:

  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  • David Bowie, Hunky Dory
  • Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
  • Neko Case & Her Boyfriends, Furnace Room Lullaby
  • The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow
  • The Decemberists, Picaresque
  • The New Pornographers, Twin Cinema
  • Rogue Wave, Descended Like Vultures
  • Stars, Set Yourself on Fire
  • The Hidden Cameras, Mississauga Goddamn

And there you have it. A year’s worth of CDs. Looking forward to next year’s lists of things I haven’t had time to play.

6 Responses to “Justhipper’s Top 20 Albums of 2006”

  • Indie For BUNNIES » MUSIC BLOG TOP 100 ALBUM 2006 - TOP TEN - from #10 to #1 Says:

    […] “Midlake have brought the 60s into 2006 without sounding old-fashioned. A wonderful collection of melancholic songs, but nonetheless with a very positive vibe. And it is probably one of the best albums for cruising around in your car!” ( Music Of The Noment ) “Perfectly out of step with current trends, Midlake crafted a incredibly interesting and strong take on 70s rock. The record is densely layered sounds perfectly rustic.” ( Moroccon Role ) “Externally a pretty, soft, folky affair that hints at Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac, lyrically it’s a complex affair about relationships, marriage and American life on the prarie.” ( Indie Credential ) “The backwoods by way of Fleetwood Mac sound gave Midlake one of the more evocative albums for me this year.” ( The BM Rant ) […]

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