Best Overall Albums or Albums that I Keep Listening to Like Crazy
I am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass by Yo La Tengo
Yo La Tengo returns from some mellower albums with the coolest named album of the year. Though less playful than some of their albums, the trio covers all of the bases here. Some of the tunes are long, soaring, artistic pieces, while others are quiet introspective folk songs. They do a little bit of everything on this album and do it all well. This is one of the best from YLT in years and that is saying something from such a consistent band.
Eyes Open by Snow Patrol
The incredible lyrics and sweeping choruses have not grown old after numerous listens. Gary Lightbody’s superb lyrics are what keep the album fresh. The simple rock song structures and harmonies are solid but belie the overall strength of Snow Patrol as a band that is much, much more than a U2 or Coldplay wannabe.
Nightcrawler by Pete Yorn
It took a while to grow on me, but the combination of modern folk-rock and buzzy modern rock songs makes for a great album. It is not easy to make quality albums when your first disc will probably be your masterpiece, but Yorn rebounds well on his third album. Lyrically, Yorn takes on nightlife and is not as quite as introspective as in the past, though it is a completely successful undertaking. The fact that Yorn is just as comfortable with rocking out as he is with storytelling, shows just how talented he is.
Best Albums that Grew on Me Throughout 2006
Year of Meteors by Laura Veirs
This album is absolutely charming. Yes, it is a bit over produced and she needs to learn to take more risks, but this is a quality outing by Veirs. Her writing is quite deep and highlights the inherit challenges of relationships. I’m glad I kept listening to this one.
It’s Never Been Like That by Phoenix
Biggest Disappointment of 2006
Sam’s Town by The Killers
I did not review this because it was so horrible. Their debut was full of synth laden pop, while their sophomore effort is pure schlock. Pretending like you are Meatloaf or a bad version of U2 is not a good way to keep an audience. And for that matter, neither is writing horribly pretentious stereotypical songs about America.
Biggest Surprise of 2006
The Eraser by Thom Yorke
I wanted to dislike this album for several reasons. 1. Pretending this is a solo disc and not a Radiohead CD is silly. This is a Radiohead album. 2. The music press wants everyone to like this album in a big way and Yorke was in every music magazine for weeks. 3. While I like a bunch of their music, the overall philosophy of Radiohead as a band that creates postmodern pessimistic landscapes somehow bothers me. The Eraser, though, is great. Yorke’s writing is superb. He writes intensely introspective and hopeful songs that are consistently good and interesting throughout the CD. This is another of my most listened to discs of the year.