Monday, January 08, 2007

Best Albums of 2006 by Bob Girth (The Hub)

Best Albums of 2006

These lists are always hard to compile. Most ‘best of’ lists I’ve put together in the past have suffered from what behavioral economists call ‘the fallacy of vividness’. I tend to latch onto my most recent musical favorites and give them more weight than they statistically deserve. That’s why I carefully scanned The Hub play lists for the past year to refresh my memory. That’s just the kind of year it was—lots of good releases with only a handful of truly outstanding albums. The litmus test I applied to all of these releases was simple--will I put this CD into my boom box 5 years from now and still think it belongs on this list? I think so. In no particular order:

TV On The Radio
Return To Cookie Mountain
(Interscope/4AD)
A work of immense, cataclysmic, almost overwhelming power and righteous fire. Avant-pop or cubist-soul, at its heart this is a rock ‘n roll album.

Yo La Tengo
I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
(Matador)
Shaggy, dreamy, cuddly, sometimes explosive indie rock. This is the band in full 32-flavors mode. Like a one-stop indie jukebox.

Sonic Youth
Rather Ripped
(Geffen)
There’s nothing wrong with accessible indie rock especially when it’s this pristine and polished. Remarkably melodic for these notorious noise mongers.

The Decemberists
The Crane Wife
(Capitol)
Big label debut for this Portland band. Amazing, innovative storytelling. Colin Meloy’s songwriting is ambitious, melodic and rich.

The Thermals
The Body, The Blood, The Machine
(Sub Pop)
If you buy one punk album this year, this should be the one. Simple, urgent songs. Uplifting and brash, this is an essential purchase.

The Hold Steady
Boys & Girls In America
(Vagrant)
Catchy, well-played rock. Great story songs, anthemic and a lot more fun than any Springsteen album. Crank it up.

Subtle
For Hero: For Fool
(Astralwerks)
Smart, melodic, poetic and sometimes funny. Part electronica, part hip-hop, part experimental rock, this is very innovative music. A wonderfully sprawling mess.

Joanna Newsom
Ys
(Drag City)
Steve Albini, Jim O’Rourke and Van Dyke Parks—a dream team of collaborators. This is the most astonishing (and quite possibly off-putting) album of the year. A demanding listen, but a rewarding and inspiring one.

Howe Gelb
‘Sno Angel Like You
(Thrill Jockey)
Sometimes a ragged sound comes from a highly refined aesthetic sensibility. This album has the unpolished, tossed-off sound of other Gelb or Giant Sand albums—the difference is the Gospel choir.

Band Of Horses
Everything All The Time
(Sub Pop)
Loud, raw mid-tempo indie rock. Shimmering, layered guitars with reverb-heavy vocals. Woodsy, ragged, epic songs.

Honorable mentions: Gnarls Barkley, The Stills, The Dears, Matthew Herbert, The Submarines, Comets On Fire, Midlake, Stan Dingo (an amazing electronica artist living right here in Tucson)

Bob Girth
The Hub
Saturday 11:00pm—2:00am

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