Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sean's Top 10 Albums of 2006

I wasn't feeling particularly inspired to compile a top 10 list for music this year, mainly because I didn't feel like there were a lot of albums that really stood out for me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have indeed enjoyed a fair amount of music in 2006, and I just couldn't let it slide.

Like a lot of music bloggers, I probably fell victim to that all too common habit of too much downloading, not enough serious listening. Still, despite the large number of albums that I sampled this year, there were still a bunch that were memorable enough to receive plenty of repeat listens.

10. The Prototypes - s/t (Minty Fresh)
This French band just barely edged out my many other honourable mentions to make the #10 spot on my list. I had heard a lot of people raving about them earlier in the year, but didn't get around to checking them out until a few weeks ago. Very groovy and fun electro-clash stuff, and if you can accept a Karen O lookalike singing in French, it's highly addictive!
» MP3: Danse Sur La Merde
» Buy it on Amazon

9. Danielson - Ships (Secretly Canadian)
If it wasn't for Daniel Smith's unique child-like falsetto voice, the Danielson Famile would probably be indie rock superstars by now, merely through virtue of their close association with Sufjan Stevens. However, without Smith's voice, the band would not be nearly as charming. Ships could well be the Family's most accessible group of songs yet, which is to say they still aren't for everyone but they have definitely hit their creative stride.
» MP3: Two Sitting Ducks
» Buy it on Amazon

8. The Pipettes - We Are The Pipettes (Memphis Industries)
If pure pop perfection is your poison, then The Pipettes are precisely what your personal pleasure center prefers! Ultimately there's nothing groundbreaking here, but this female trio (and their male backing band) from Brighton, England, are reviving that 50's/60's doo-wop sound in a truly delightful way.
» MP3: It Hurts To See You Dance So Well
» Buy it on Amazon

7. The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth (RCA)
I guess I'm a bit late to the party when it comes to The Strokes but I actually find myself becoming more of a fan with each new album they release. First Impressions of Earth (released all the way back on January 3rd of this year) is a bit more unbridled than anything they've done before, but mostly it just has some sweet rock guitar riffs and great hooks, inspiring me to return to this record again and again throughout the year.
» MP3: Electricityscape
» Buy it on Amazon

6. The Meligrove Band - Planets Conspire (V2)
This Toronto-area band have been part of the Canadian indie rock scene for years, and at the time I wasn't even aware that they were still together. Planets Conspire was the biggest surprise of the year for me, not just because I didn't know it coming out, but also because I didn't expect it to be so lush and accomplished. This is some of the best piano-driven rock I've heard in a long time, somewhere along the lines of Ben Folds and Koufax.
» MP3: Planets Conspire
» Buy it on Amazon

5. Headlights - Kill Them With Kindness (Polyvinyl)
Fans of Stars and Mates of State will probably find something wonderful in the sounds of Headlights. I was a fan of their first 4 song EP, and now this full-length album is exactly what I was waiting for. A fun, jangly indie pop album with a great delicate male/female vocal combination.
» MP3: Lions
» Buy it on Amazon

4. Annuals - Be He Me (Ace Fu)
Maybe my affinity for this album is a hold over from the Arcade Fire excitement of 2004, because there are distinct similarities between this band and the Arcade Fire. But there's other stuff going on here too, it seems to be just the right mixture of Flaming Lips hippie noodling and Shins power pop. Tailor made for the hipster blogger crowd? Perhaps. But still a great album nonetheless.
» MP3: Mama
» Buy it on Amazon

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones (Interscope)
Here's another band that I didn't pay enough attention to when they first broke into the mainstream, and now I'm playing catch up. I don't know why I didn't give Fever To Tell a closer look when it came out (I liked all of the songs I heard from it), but this time around I made sure I was on board from the start. All it took was one listen to Show Your Bones and I was hooked. Catchy as hell, but still edgy enough to be interesting.
» MP3: Phenomena
» Buy it on Amazon

2. Girl Talk - Night Ripper (Illegal Art)
Zak told me about this album, and I was curious but really didn't think it would hold my interest for long. Like all mash-up albums, it seemed like a bit of a novelty and nothing more. But Gregg Gillis has completely convinced me that the art of sampling really is something special. This album is proof that if you're talented enough, you can create something new and original that is greater than the sum of its parts (although in this case many of the parts are also amazing in their own right).
» MP3: Double Pump
» Buy it on Amazon

1. Hot Chip - The Warning (Astralwerks)
You know, this band has been getting so much love on the internet over the past year or so that I really don't need to be adding to it right now. But the fact of the matter is, this album has fascinated me all year long. The subtle electronic beats and gentle melodies always seem to be just what I'm in the mood for, regardless of where or when I'm listening to the album. Coming On Strong had some cool moments, but The Warning is where Hot Chip became a big deal to me (and apparently to a lot of others). In light of that fact, I have no choice but to name it my #1 album of 2006.
» MP3: Colours
» Buy it on Amazon

...And So Many More Honourable Mentions:

CSS - s/t
Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
Thunderbirds Are Now - Make History
Swan Lake - Beast Moans
The Advantage - Elf-Titled
Pilot Scott Tracy - We Cut Loose
Spank Rock - YoYoYoYoYo
The Album Leaf - Into The Blue Again
The Dears - Gang of Losers
The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
Sparklehorse - Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain


James H. said...

Very interesting. I look forward to hearing these tracks.

I've heard the Junior Boys album and rather enjoyed it, but beyond that I didn't hear much on your list this year. Frankly, 2006 was a pretty craptastic year for music in my books. I didn't buy many new albums, and saw even fewer shows. Final Fantasy's "He Poos Clouds" was my favorite album by a long shot.

Anonymous said...

Have to add my own list. :-D

The Knife - Silent Shout
Hot Chip - The Warning
Joanna Newsom - YS
Gnarls Barkley - St Elsewhere
Neko Case - Fox Confessor
Thom Yorke - Eraser
TV On The Radio - Return To...
Danielson - Ships
The Gossip - Standing In..

Feels like I'm forgetting something though.. :)

martin - sweden

Sean said...

I actually realized the other day something I forgot on my list... the latest Belle & Sebastian album.

Anonymous said...

Sean: Your list is great, and very open-minded. The only thing that makes me sad about it is the absence of Midlake. And Kelley Stoltz.

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