Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Indoor Fireworks Presents: The Top 25 Albums of 2006

Another year. Another best of list. While I had a blast listening to my tried and true, 2006 also provided me the opportunity to discover a whole helluva lot of new music. I created the following best of list based on how much spin time these albums saw over the course of 12 months or so. Hope you like it. It's Ok if you don't. Thanks for reading Indoor Fireworks this year, here's to a great `07! For your listening (dis)pleasure:


Nelly Furtado...Loose (Geffen/Mosely Muisc Group)

Thanks to producer Timbaland's spacey beats and freeze-dried synth lines, Furtado put together what should have been her stellar sophomore album.

Nelly Furtado: Say It Right


Pearl Jam...s/t (J Records)

Don't call it a comeback! Just call it one of their strongest and most cohesive albums since the mid 90's.

Pearl Jam: Gone


SCANNeRS...Violence Is Golden (Dim Mak)

For those still lamenting the demise of Elastica, salavation has come in the form of this London quartet. A stunning debut filled with plenty of hooks, fuzz, and the intense erotic wail of lead singer/bassist Sarah Daly.

SCANNeRS: In My Dreams


Gomez...How We Operate (ATO)

Creative relief came in the form of new label ATO and legendary producer Gil Norton; who allowed Gomez to spread their wings and flex their melodic muscle. The group's best album to date.

Gomez: All Too Much


The Strokes...First Impressions Of Earth (RCA)

While not covering any new ground, The Strokes continue in their quest to bring razor sharp garage rock to the masses. If you liked either of their two previous releases, then FIOE will slide nicely into your collection.

The Strokes: You Only Live Once


Sean Lennon...Friendly Fire (Capitol/EMI)

With the release of his excellent sophomore album, Lennon manages to at once shed his father's shadow and embrace it at the same time. A stellar collection of breezy pop songs that continue to unveil their beauty after repeated listens.

Sean Lennon: On Again, Off Again


Band Of Horses...Everything All The Time (Sub Pop)

Looking for that perfect album to listen to while watching the rain collect into puddles outside your window? Then look no further. A shimmering debut filled with all the reverb Jim James of My Morning Jacket tossed from the Z sessions.

Band Of Horses: The Funeral


Ben Harper...Both Sides Of The Gun (Virgin)

Think the double album format is dead? Try telling that to Ben Harper, who deftly writes, arragnes, performs, and produces one of his best albums. From bluesy rockers to his signature Wisenborn slide ballads, BSOTG shows everyone that he continues to be a force to be reckoned with.

Ben Harper: Engraved Invitation


The Raconteurs...Broken Boy Soldiers (XL)

Somewhere, Meg White is crying. You would be too if your meal ticket just put out his strongest album in 5 years. Without you.

The Raconteurs...Store Bought Bones


The Roots...Game Theory (Def Jam)

Explosive and more focused than 2004's The Tipping Point, GT showcases a more galvanized Roots band matching world views with Funkadelic style beats and, in one of the best samples of the year, Radiohead's You & Whose Army.

The Roots: Here I Come


Placebo...Meds (Astralwerks)

While not as experimental as previous albums, Meds nonetheless find Placebo stripping down their confessional glam rock to reveal the stunning and brutal honesty that used to lay beneath layers of ambiguity.

Placebo: Follow The Cops Back Home


The Dresden Dolls...Yes, Virginia (Roadrunner)

They're cooler than you and have a sound big enough to clobber The White Stripes with. Somewhere Meg White is still crying.

The Dresden Dolls: Dirty Business


Beck...The Information (Interscope)

Proof that Beck is so talented that he can shelve even his most potent material. Originally bypassed for the more old school Guero, TI finds Beck in a schizophrenic mood, shifting from straight up blues to the slacker hip hop that originally made him famous.

Beck: Cellphone's Dead


Neko Case...Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (Anti)

Two words are all that's needed to describe this album: Haunting masterpiece.

Neko Case: Star Witness


Cold War Kids...Up In Rags e.p. (Monarchy Music)

One band that deserved all the blogger hype it got this year. This jaunty, blues infused e.p. hung around my stereo for the better part of the year. Only 6 songs in length, UIR still packs enough punch to merit repeated spins.

Cold War Kids: We Used To Vacation


The Killers: Sam's Town (Island)

While The Killers may have discovered their love jones for Bruce Springsteen, they also uncovered a newfound maturity while recording their sophomore offering. More gritty and full bodied than Hot Fuss, ST is the sound of a young band growing up right in front of our very eyes.

The Killers: Bones


People Under The Stairs...Stepfather (Red Urban)

Easily their most cohesive album to date, PUTS show the hip hop world that West Coast rap can still be creative and influential without having Dre behind the boards.

People Under The Stairs: Tuxedo Rap


We Are Scientists...With Love And Squalor (Virgin)

Hook filled choruses. Coiled lyrics about lost loves. All style and substance, WAS show Bloc Party and The Rapture how cribbing from the 80's is really done.

We Are Scientists: Lousy Reputation


Sound Team...Movie Monster (Capitol)

How these guys ended up so far below everyone's radar I'll never understand. Combining passionate lyrics and ethereal post indie rock, ST come up with the sleeper album of 2006. You really are missing out if this isn't part of your collection.

Sound Team: Back In Town


The Stills...Without Feathers (Vice)

Displaying a more rustic vibe than their debut, WF's showcases The Stills taking the road less travelled and succeeding. Don't jump on the bandwagon of naysayers who claim this album doesn't live up to it's predecessor. It's pure pop loveliness with a hint of melancholia thrown in for good measure.

The Stills: Destroyer


Thom Yorke...The Eraser (XL)

Cutting loose from his bandmates in Radiohead, Thom Yorke enlists longtime producer Nigel Godrich to help flesh out tracks that never saw the light of day on any major RH release. The results, while uneven at times are quite stellar overall. With his effects-less vocals front and center, Yorke displays a naked emotion sometimes absent from his other songs. With Radiohead's shadow looming large over him, Yorke successfully manages to carve out a his own little place in the wide world of music.

Thom Yorke: The Eraser


Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins...Rabbit Furcoat (Team Love)

J-Lew stops hanging out with her boys in Rilo Kiley. Instead starts hanging out with Bright Eye's Conor Oberst. Signs to his indie label. Takes some notes. Makes the best album Bright Eyes never made.

Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins: You Are What You Love


Division Day...Beartrap Island (self released)

Major record label: Hi. Can I help you?
Me: Yes. You can pull your head out of your ass.
MRL: Excuse me?
Me: You heard me. Do yourself a favor and sign Division Day right now.
MRL: Division Day? Never heard of `em.
Me: Why am I not surprised? You got your head up your ass.
MRL: Are they any good?
Me: Are they any good? Are you kidding me? Clever lyrics? Check. Tight, syncopatic arrangements? Check? Stellar musicianship? Check. Blazing live shows? Double check!
MRL: Wow. You really seem to know a lot about good music!
Me: Yes. Yes I do. Now go pull your head out of your ass and sign these guys!
MRL: On my way!

Division Day: Hand To The Sound


Margot And The Nuclear So & So's...The Dust Of Retreat (Artemis)

The best album Arcade Fire never released. I couldn't remove this from my stereo even if I had wanted to. The ideal experimental pop record for hopeless romantics everywhere.

Margot And The Nuclear So & So's: Quiet As A Mouse


Vicious Vicious...Don't Look So Surprised (Redemption Record Co.)

Passionate. Playful. Sexy. This is how AMG describes Vicious Vicious. The. Best. Damn. Album. Of. The. Year. That's how I describe Don't Look So Surprised. Encompassing more sonic styles than even Beck, Erik Applwick and a revolving cast of musicians have created a love letter to, well, love. Applwick really needs to stop dicking around playing bass in Tapes N' Tapes and start working on a follow up to DLSS. He's got quite a following now.

Vicious Vicious: Under California Skies


Anonymous wm. said...

Stellar work, as usual. I love the list, and having the guts to rightly assess the new records from both the Stills and the Killers earns the whole thing bonus points. I read a few music blogs from time to time, and yours seems to be the most connected to the music and the least connected to the hype- it's a compliment, so take it as such. Kudos.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Jesse a.k.a. The Vicar said...

Wow. I really don't know what to say except thank you for your kind words. Thanks for reading!

10:00 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Great list. Many many of these are albums I haven't listened to much (if at all). I've got some listenin' to do now.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Cortizzle said...

Great stuff Jesse! I need to check some of this stuff out. I'm preparing my with the requisite metal masterpieces of '06!!!

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the luckiest gal in all the land....I get the pleasure of non-stop musical experimentation with the Vicar...seriously. Can't wait to see what 2007 brings! And I must say thank you for your Pearl Jam and The Killers props...my two personal favorites this year.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous keira said...

I may be one of those selfish people who doesn't want the whole world to discover Placebo before I do.

Move Thom up to #1, nix Furtado for RHCP.... and I concur with this list wholeheartedly.

Well done!

10:54 AM  
Blogger w said...

very nice non hype sensitive list indeed :) i myself found three tracks from Loose as the top 3 list most played songs on my work computer's itunes haha

11:30 AM  

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