top 20 albums of 2006

Just Missed : Joanna Newsom - Y's, Eef Barzelay - Bitter Honey, The Decemberists - The Crane Wife, Mutemath - s/t, Snow Patrol - Eyes Open, Snowden - Anti-Anti, Scatteredtrees - Song For My Grandfather, Gomez - How We Operate, Anathallo - Floating World, Far-Less - Everyone Is Out to Get Us, Owen - At Home with..., The Format - Dog Problems

and now the top 20...

20. Sondre Lerche & The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
19. Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
the Avalanche [mp3]
18. Aloha - Some Echoes
Brace Your Face [mp3]
17. Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
the Canals of Our City [mp3]
16. Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That
15. Josh Ritter - The Animal Years
14. What Made Milwaukee Famous - Trying to Never Catch Up
13. Copeland - Eat, Sleep, Repeat
12. Ray LaMontagne - Til The Sun Turns Black
11. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Broom
10. The Long Winters - Putting the Days to Bed

Who doesn't love geeky indie rock bands who can't NOT write a catchy pop hook? John Roderick is (in my opinion) one of the best frontmen/songwriters out there.
Fire Island, AK [mp3]
9. Margot & The Nuclear So and So's - The Dust of Retreat

This album is so diverse and dynamic, it's a wonder it wasn't bigger.
Barfight Revolution, Power Violence [mp3]
8. Some By Sea - on fire! (Igloo)

Probably the second CD I heard this year that I immediately said "this is ending up in my top 10, period. The lyrics to this record are raw and poetic and the reckless ambition of the whole thing more than makes up for its flaws.
A Night Without a Cineplex [mp3]
7. Maritime - We, the Vehicles

The FIRST record I heard this year that I knew would be in the top 10. In any other year, this would be an easy top 5 pick. I have big expectations for this all-star band (ex-Dismemberment Plan and The Promise Ring) in 2007.
We Don't Think, We Know [mp3]
6. The SLIP - Eisenhower

A worthy (semi-)latecomer to the mix. Every song I heard was amazing, so I caved and bought the whole thing. The hype is real. Solid creative indie rock with a Secret Machines edge.
Children of December [mp3]
5. John Mayer - Continuum

Honestly, this was a surprise. Not to say John Mayer wasn't always immensely talented, but this record is an immaculate collection of songs where his soul finally feels like it's on display. Sure, there is a "radio" single (which always felt out of place to me here), but it's still solid and the remainder of the album is modern blues done flawlessly.
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room [mp3]
4. {+/-} - Let's Build a Fire

I wanted this album to be amazing long before I knew it was coming. Honestly, it's better than I'd even hoped. They (mostly) ditched the drum machine (tasty and unique as it was), focused on their real instruments, and totally crushed this recording. The entire thing is a cohesive and rewarding experiment in timing and arrangement.
Steal the Blueprints [mp3]
3. Say Anything - ...is a Real Boy

I doubt many other bloggers have this in their top 10 of 2006 (I haven't seen any), but ...is a Real Boy is a masterpiece. It was re-issued this year with a 7 song addendum on a major label so I'm counting it this year. It's a veritable rock opera with one of the most enigmatic singer/songwriters imaginable (Max Bemis spent time in a mental hospital while recording this album for legitimate reasons). If Queen met up with Pinocchio and made a record with lots of sexual frustration throughout, this is what it would sound like.
Alive w/ the Glory of Love [mp3]
1b. Grizzly Bear - Yellow House

This is hands-down the most beautiful record of the year and it's actually hard for me to even hear any arguments to the contrary. This album completely blows my mind. I have no idea how these boys in their 20's wrote this record. Actually, I don't know how anyone could write this record. The strings are soaring and heartwrenching, the harmonies omnipresent and uplifting. This record is timeless.
Lullabye [mp3]
1a. Midlake - the Trials of Van Occupanther

How can anyone beat Grizzly Bear? To be honest, it's not possible. I'm calling it a draw. Still, Midlake has constructed a near-perfect collection of sparkling songs that sound straight off the AM dial. There are woodwinds and syrupy vocals. Seriously, this sounds like modern music recorded in the '70s. Finding "Young Bride" on a blog was actually the impetus for making my own. That's a pretty big deal.
Young Bride [mp3]


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