Saturday, December 23, 2006

albums of the year

Well I thought I wasn't going to be posting any lists this year, but I'm just can't help myself. I'm just going to put the list up at the moment, and then back-fill with tracks over the holiday. These are ranked roughly in order of number of times listened to end to end. Have a very happy holiday, wherever you are.

Avalanche by Sufjan Stevens - works amazingly well as an album, a little too well. Well I'm sure this whole album has been posted in its entirety by the blogging community enough times - here's a couple of tracks that you might not have heard:
Listen: Sufjan Stevens - a size to small (acoustic guitar solo)
Listen: Sufjan Stevens - he woke me up again (banjo solo)

Subtitulo by Josh Rouse - the sound of my sister and I in Barcelona givin' it up for good. As I tried to convalesce after last year's car crash we played scrabble, drank beer from little bottles and generally lived it up.
Listen: Josh Rouse - Quiet Town

Songs from the Deep Forest
Songs from the Deep Forest by Duke Special - a surprise late entry from the last two months. Chamber pop, lots of instruments, quite upbeat musically, despite the lyrics. It also has the strongest melodies I've heard in years - some real Paul McCartney moments there.
Listen: Duke Special - Ballad of a broken man
and from the equally brilliant debut album adventures in Gramophone
Listen: Duke Special - Love is a series of scars

Through The Window Pane
Through The Window Pane by Guillemots - genius album, gives the wife a headache in the car though so we don't tend to have it on on joint journeys. Here are some singles tracks:
Listen: Guillemots - over the mountains (from the songs ep)
Listen: Guillemots - my chosen one (from Trains to Brazil)

Puzzles Like You
Puzzles Like You by Mojave 3 - there's never been a better time to get back into the Byrds. I got my 12 string Rickenbacker this year for just such emergencies - anyone want to play too? Anyway, the mojave album is a cracker, it might not have the emotional clout to make me hold my breath in case I miss anything that the previous three have, but it has strong songs played with a tangible sense of fun, if not relief.
Listen: Mojave 3 - Big Star Baby (demo)

I want to just mention the sad passing of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci this year, just as folk seemed to be going places - if you don't own their blue trees album then go out and get it sometime soon.

Long Island Shores
Long Island Shores by Mindy Smith - sounding like the Sundays gone country, this little gem of a record has but a single duff track, the remainder making it easy to forgive.
Listen: Mindy Smith - out of control
Listen: Mindy Smith - peace of mind

So Much More
So Much More by Brett Dennen - upbeat, clever songs, traces of hi-life guitar mix with the jazzy chord progressions and folky overtones to make a very slick yet lovable record.
Listen: Brett Dennen - because you are a woman

Just-One-Second-Ago-Broken Eggshell
Just-One-Second-Ago-Broken Eggshell by Flying - one for the headphones, the album is all over the place in the best possible kind of way, not all tracks are lonesome style, but they are all worthy of your attention, it's like captain beefheart playing folk with Ive's marching band collisions in there sometimes, yet somehow it hangs together.

Listen: Flying - love dies here

Comments of the Inner Chorus
Comments of the Inner Chorus by Tunng - like the calming effect of 3 strong cups of tea and that slightly queasy feeling after the first half of the third cup that doesn't quite make you stop. Tunng share a lot of the same soundscape as flying, they just have marginally better PR. The album is full of warmth and comfort with asides and verses written mid-song as if they were in parentheses.
Listen: Tunng - woodcat
Listen: Tunng - jenny again

Hello Love
Hello Love by Be Good Tanyas - mumbling (and banjo) proved sexy. I've played this more than their previous album, somehow the songs work as a whole, even the Prince cover at the end.
Listen: Be Good Tanyas - for the turnstiles
Listen: Be Good Tanyas - crow waltz

That seems a very good place to end my best of 2006 - let me know if you think I've missed any, I'm always very open to suggestions for new music.