December 26, 2006

The Very Best of 2006: 18-22

18: Yo La Tengo – I am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
Let me start by saying…by FAR the best album title of the year. As far as the album is concerned, it literally has a little bit of everything. A little R&B, some western thrown in the mix, some pop, some techno droning, centered around their natural alternative sound. The opener and closer are both over 10 minutes apiece, and stashed in the middle is where all the different sounds merge together to create a sensible listening experience for just about anyone. Yo La Tengo, though new to my headphones, are a band that has been around the block a time or two. With a 20 year career under their belt, they have covered their musical boundaries many times. I feel that this is sort of the summary of their career. Expertly molding together 10 minute guitar jams with horn filled ballads is something only the experienced can manage to pull of with this much grace. A real listening treat that makes me want to explore more of this bands albums

19: Bright Eyes – Noise Floor
Noise Floor is a collection of Bright Eyes B-sides and rarities spaning 1998-2005. 16 rough original tracks that are unmistakably Conor O’berst. However this album, as with most other b-side compilations, doesn’t flow as nicely as a real album. That may be the reason Conor O’berst didn’t make it as high on the list as he did last year. His albums typically have the gift of flow, if you will. Conor’s ability to blend songs is remarkable. Although Noise Floor lacks that great attraction, the song content is beyond compare. ‘Spent on Rainy Days’ is a collaboration with Brit Daniel from Spoon that is one of the many highlights from the album. For Bright Eyes enthusiasts, this album will be like stumbling upon a buried treasure. You will cherish nearly every song as if it were your first born child. For those of you that don’t know bright eyes, it will do absolutely nothing for your senses. You are much better off starting your bright eyes journey somewhere else.

20: Ben Harper – Both Sides of the Gun
I would love to write more about this album, but I feel my review from March sums up everything I could say about it. So go read that.

21: Damien Rice – 9 Crimes
The irish singer songwriter has done it again. With his charismatic voice and his beautiful sidekick Lisa Hannigan, Damien sticks with what works on his latest release ‘9’. Damien’s portrayal of solitude and betrayal are as chilling as walking alone in the forest during the winter solstice. Though a smidgen more angry and a whole lot louder than his 2002 release, I feel ‘9’portrays the deeper, darker side of Rice in a way that is just so pleasing to the ear. And for a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, which says a lot.

22: Ray Lamontagne – Till the Sun Turns Black
I only recently started listening to this man, but I wouldn’t feel right making a best of the year list without adding him. His soulful, untarnished voice along with his very captivatingly introspective lyrics is reason enough to start listening.. Throw in the bluesy guitar, enchanting string arrangements and almost ghostly backing vocals and you have in your hands a true listening pleasure. He almost slipped under my radar, luckily I was strongly advised to give him a listen. And truly glad I did.

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