I don’t buy CDs as often as I used to – We only bought 20 albums this year. We downloaded a few songs, but this just isn’t the same rabidity with which we voraciously devoured new releases before having kids. I also find that I end up listening to more of the “Coffee” music, as I call it, because that is what goes well against a backdrop of Sesame Street. It is strange how having kids changes your tastes and how you listen to music.
Without further ado, my 2006 Top Ten:
- Band of Horses – Everything All the Time. No surprise here. This was just a fixture for me this year – Lots of starting dinner to this album in the afternoons.
Favorite tracks: “The Funeral,” “Part One,” “The Great Salt Lake.”
- Johnny Cash – American V: A Hundred Highways. This one just about took number one, but I went on how much I listened to them, and Band of Horses was my most listened-to album in 2006. I think that if I had bought American V earlier than I did, this would be on top. I also think this is the one on my list that I will still be listening to in five years. There was a part of me that wanted to give him the top spot for purely sentimental “last album” reasons. The album track choices seem calculated to elicit that kind of response; All of the songs seem like something uttered in a dying breath. Johnny Cash is so timeless, and I can never quite get enough of him. There is an authenticity to his voice that cannot be replicated.
Favorite tracks: “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” “If You Could Read My Mind.” My mom listened to this Gordon Lightfoot song when i was a kid and I always liked it in a 70’s Peaceful Easy Feeling way, but Cash’s version is transcendental. “Rose of My Heart” – a love ballad unmatched by any I’ve heard recently.
- Silversun Pickups – Carnavas. This album is just sugary pop-rock goodness. They manage to make every track seem shiny, like a cool old car, chrome shining in the sunlight.
Favorite tracks: “Lazy Eye,” “Common Reactor.”
- Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. I really like New Pornographers, and more than I like Neko Case’s solo stuff. That being said, I really love this album. I think that I have a tendency to not want to jump on the bandwagon with some things that are really popular – A good example is my refusal for the longest time to really give the White Stripes a chance. When I finally did, I begrudgingly admitted they were brilliant. Neko Case isn’t brilliant, but she is really talented, and I didn’t want to admit that. I guess I just got so sick of hearing about the hot rock chick that I didn’t want to give her a chance. Todd bought this one, too, and I ended up really digging it. She is a truly original songwriter, and she has a strong , distinctive, and beautiful voice.
Favorite tracks: “Margaret vs. Pauline,” “John Saw That Number.”
- The Decemberists – The Crane Wife. I really don’t know how The Decemberists pull off this pretentious lit-rock shit, but they do. Each song is like a short story unto itself, or a time-worn folk tale, and they almost fall into the whole concept album genre, but it is so fresh and well-performed that I forget how ridiculous it is. Romantic, theatrical, and beautiful. It is no Castaways and Cutouts, and the slight disappointment over that probably prevents it from being any higher on my list, but the melody of “The Crane Wife 3” makes me want to cry it is so pretty; the second track, the modestly-named “The Island-Come And See-The Landlord’s Daughter – You’ll Not Feel the Drowning,” is so long that it makes me want to cry. Good, but I never pay attention the whole way through. I imagine an origami crane throughout the whole album. Too much Prison Break, I guess.
Favorite tracks: “The Crane Wife 3,” “The Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then).”
- Manchester Orchestra – I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child. I wish i could say that I was at the top of the curve on this one, but I really caught the tail of this wave. This one came out of nowhere, a December purchase on Todd’s part. Suddenly it is everywhere. I had heard a couple of songs and liked them, but the whole album is really good. It sounds a little like Death Cab meets Bright Eyes. I will be listening to this one into 2007, without a doubt. I was unsure about giving it the number six spot, but then thought to myself, “you know what? When was the last time you heard an album by a band you hadn’t heard before and you liked it this much immediately?” This album instantly made me a little excited about music again. Not easy to do when I am old and jaded and not as impressionable as I once was.
Added plus: Local band.
Favorite tracks: “Now That You’re Home,” “Where Have You Been,” “Golden Ticket.”
- Alexi Murdoch – Time Without Consequence. Great coffee-in-the-morning music. At once weary, melancholy and hopeful. Kind of like me.
Favorite tracks: “All My Days,” “Love You More,” “Orange Sky.”
- M. Ward – Post-War. More coffee music. Todd bought this one and it grew on me.
Favorite tracks: “Magic Trick.” “Roller Coaster” – Makes me think of young infatuation. I love the line “You’re like a roller coaster, you give me heavy metal dreams.” Gets stuck in my head for hours, and is fun to improvise the words and make them songs for the kids.
- Yo La Tengo – i am not afraid of you and I will beat your ass. Always new-sounding, always original. They never fail to surprise me on a few tracks with something that sounds different.
Favorite tracks: “Sometimes I don’t Get You,” “The Weakest Part,” “The Story of Yo La Tengo.”
- T.V. on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain. This one is in the top ten purely on speculation; I bought it so late in the year that I didn’t have time to run it into the ground, but if I had it earlier, it easily could have made the top five, if not number one or two. I’m sad I didn’t buy it earlier.
Favorite track: “Wolf Like Me” – It’s catchy as all get-out.
- Johnny Cash – The Johnny Cash Children’s Album. Rollie has as addiction to the Dinosaur Song that is like a contagious disease.
- The Long Winters – Putting the Days to Bed
- Ambulance Ltd. – New English EP
- Sparklehorse – Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
- Calexico – Garden Ruin.
Favorite Songs of 2006:
TV on the Radio – “Wolf Like Me.” Good God Almighty. This one makes me wish I played an instrument and that I had written this song. Hope this is inspiring some sixteen-year-old girl somewhere.
Gnarls Barkley – “Crazy.” I read that they did this track in one take. Awesome. Pure magic.
Band of Horses – The Great Salt Lake. This is my kitchen song, 2006.
Regina Spektor – “Fidelity.” Beautiful like fine porelain. Translucent and unadorned, but not plain. Cool video, too.
Flaming Lips – “The W.A. N. D.” This one is catchy, but doesn’t make up for a crap album.
Snowden – “anti-anti.” Atlanta band. Fun driving song.
I Just Don’t Get It, or Todd Bought It, but I Never Would Have:
Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit. They bore me.
The Essex Green – Cannibal Sea
Starlight Mints – Drowaton
The Streets – The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living
Wolfmother – Wolfmother. I have already listened to everything by Led Zeppelin.
The Flaming Lips – At War with the Mystics. The most universally disappointing album of the year. Did anyone like it?
Granddaddy – Just Like the Fambly Cat. You already made this album. Twice.