Wednesday, February 28, 2007


"Give It To Me" (feat. Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake)

Furtado and Timberlake pretty much owe their success in ’06 to Timbaland. You could have had Nelly Furtado sing in Yiddish and “Maneater” would have still been a hot song. Hell, even Chewbacca could have brought sexy back with Timbo on the boards. So how does Timbaland guarantee success on his first single from the forthcoming Shock Value? Make another hot track, duh. As always with Timbaland, guest artist are like sandwich bread: necessary, but the meat is what you really look forward to. In this case, it’s a familiar dish: eastern style percussion, space-age synths and a couple of vocal effects thrown in for good measure. Nothing new, but, unfortunately for every other producer, he’s so ahead of the game he can afford to slack off once in a while. Besides, it’s not like he’s trying to impress. The entire track consists of Timbaland and co. bragging about how great they already are. “I get half a mil for my beats, you get half a grand” he taunts. The sad thing is that he’s probably being modest.

Download >>Give It To Me

Rosie Thomas

"Much Farther To Go" (feat. Sufjan Stevens)

Man. My mom would love this song. Until I told her Sufjan Stevens is featured on it rather than Baby Face. She LOVES Baby Face.

But seriously, if it wasn't for independent music's favorite God fearing man Sufjan Stevens, this song would be filed under "Adult Alternative". It is a nice song, one you might hear as the credits begin to roll after the tear jerking, but thought provoking, ending of some Sandra Bullock movie. It's filled with heart warming, sometimes cheesy anecdotes, and images ("Sometimes I cry when it's late at night"). Sufjan adds his intimately high, though somehow manly voice by the second verse. There's something amazing about the way he performs with his voice, which is what ultimately saves this song for me. When he sings, it's as if he's singing right in your ear or right there in your living room. His banjo adds rhythm to the sleepy melody, lazy guitar picking, and keyboard strings that would otherwise be fairly boring. If I were Sufjan, I'd stop jamming with my friends from church and get to work on California.

Download >>Much Farther To Go

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Blonde Redhead


Blonde Redhead are older than you think. The group formed back in ’93 and their debut album was released in ’95. In the music world, especially indie rock, fourteen years is a lifetime-and-a-half. You would imagine they’ve evolved well beyond any musical trends by now. So how come they’ve just discovered shoegaze? That may sound like a stab at the band, but it's actually meant as a compliment. The "shoe" could not have fit any better. "23" (Two-Three) opens with the kind of echo drenched piano chords you associate with bad 90’s music (à la Haddaway’s “What Is Love?”), but the meat of the track is a hypnotic, droning guitar wash. They cut back on the art-rock, but not the cinematic approach established on their last album, Misery Is A Butterfly. Kazu Makino’s melody steadily rides a river of reverb the rest of the band seems to swim in. "23" has My Bloody Valentine written all over it, but it’s an excellent example of imitation-as-art as opposed to wearing your influence on your sleeve. The sound is new for them, but the style is all their own, and style will almost always win over anything else.

Download >>23

The Bird And The Bee

"Fucking Boyfriend"

Coming off a solo album, it’s clear that vocalist/bassist Inara George has not lost her jazz-styling roots in this new collaboration with keyboardist/producer Greg Kurstin, (who, incidentally, produced Lily Allen’s premier record). Dropping the acoustic feel from her solo album, the duo opts for a quasi sugar-coated synthesized sound that will leave you tapping your feet and bopping your head against your will. But while you’re tapping and bopping, pay close attention to George’s lyrics; “Are you an amateur or is it you’re unkind?/ To torture all the other girls you keep me by your side/ Are you unsatisfied? You can’t make up your mind…/ Would you be my fucking boyfriend?” It speaks volumes about the depth of the song despite George’s breathy, bell-like voice. The song uses it’s playfulness to get across a very biting message of self-imposed dependency that is both funny and disturbing at the same time. Most of all, its sarcastic and satisfying sentiments ring true for most, making it a must-hear.

Download >>Fucking Boyfriend

Monday, February 26, 2007

!!! (Chk Chk Chk)

"Myth Takes"/"Heart of Hearts"

“Heart of Hearts” is the proper first single from !!!’s yet to be released album, Myth Takes, but the title track is much more interesting. It sort of comes off like a western showdown at double-speed. It’s definitely a left turn for the band. Normally, they would settle for the type of drum and synth driven tracks like “Heart of Hearts.” It actually sounds like The Faint (they’ve even got the extra dirty electro breakdown). “Myth Takes” pushes for more, and is a lot harder to pin down. Maybe that’s why it sticks with you more than the rest of the album. Clocking in at barely over two minutes, it’s gone before you get a chance to decipher whatever message it has to offer. “Sometimes it’s really just like the movies…/Sometimes you just stay home and watch movies.” There's a hidden meaning in there somewhere.

Download >>Myth Takes

Download >>Heart of Hearts

Los Campesinos!

"You! Me! Dancing!"

Ok, we're going to have to swallow our pride on this one. Los Campesinos! are indeed twee. But if twee channels our child-like sensibilities via music, then Los Campesinos! are the kids that introduced curse words into their fellow kindergartners vocabulary. “You! Me! Dancing!” sounds cute at first, but lines like “If only there were clothes on the floor I would really feel like I was bedroom dancing” make me slightly suspicious of their supposed innocence. The intro attempts to lure us into that trap with a harmless sounding guitar, eventually erupting into a frenzied crescendo before kicking into dance mode. The track is decorated with xylophones, handclaps, a various noise-toys. Basically, it sounds like Architecture In Helsinki with the guitars turned up. “If there’s one thing that I could never confess/Is that I can’t dance a single step” they sing on the bridge, but somehow manage to dance through the entire chorus despite themselves. The spoken-word breakdown towards the end is a little awkward, but endearing at the same time. Still, don’t be surprised if this song has you doing that silly dance you used to do when you were ten before self-consciousness kicked in. Even worse, you may be reminded how much fun being a kid used to be.

Download >>You! Me! Dancing!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Album Review- Loney, Noir

Loney, Dear
Loney, Noir


Hand claps are cool. Shouts? Yeah. Ecstatic, under-stated rhythms? Hell yeah. But the Clarinet? Of course. All of these are the secret weapons of Loney, Dear a.k.a. Emil Svanängen's Sub Pop debut Loney, Noir. The instrument made popular by seventh graders is used, ingeniously, by Svanängen to guide you through this quick and seamless album in less than 35 minutes. The instrument is in no means used as a gimmick or a crutch, it is simply used to underscore and highlight beautiful and oddly familiar melodies.

One of the obvious highlights of Loney, Noir; "I am John", is so infectious it's hard to sit still. The songs easy and natural build is reminiscent of the best Kings of Convenience. Though by two and a half minutes into the song Svanängen's falsetto harmonies, eyes-closed happy drumming, and seemingly lo-fi layers gives even Broken Social Scene and Neutral Milk Hotel a run for their money. He croons "I've got a feeling of you and we danced for so long/I want your arms around me like lovers do, and I'm never gonna let you down" in a magnificent head-voice like it's the only thing he can do to get it out. Be sure that your air bag isn't very sensitive, 'cause you'll be drumming along like it's nobody's business.

You may have noticed… "I've got a feeling of you and we danced for so long…" It doesn't really make sense. Well, he's Swedish. Like Jens Lekman and Jose Gonzalez before him, there's a distinct accent and rhythm used to elide lyrics and tell the story he'd like. Truly, these Swedes baffle me. How is it they write such prolific, interesting, and story worthy lyrics in a language that isn't even their own? What's more, they are stars in their own country. We've got Jessica Simpson. They've got Jens Lekman. Sorry…side bar…anyway. It's something to keep in mind as you listen to Loney, Noir because of some of the interesting rhyme schemes and the dialect he has. It's not forced or pretentious. It's earnest and kind of cute which he uses to his advantage.

The "Cute" factor might get on your nerves a bit though. Svanängen's high, but solid voice is a familiar trend among the indie crowd. Loney, Noir's first track "Sinister in a State of Hope" hits you right away with the limits of his voice. It's not grating, though it is not beautiful like Jónsi Birgisson of Sigur Ros, and it's certainly not twee…which is where I'll insert the inevitable Belle and Sebastian comparison. Though, unlike some of his colleagues, there's a certain gravitas behind Svanängen's voice. In another highlight, "The Meter Mark's Okay," he splays the songs theme right out in front of you in the first line; which is the songs title. Along with the muted electronic and acoustic tones that accompany him, his slight vibrato is devastating in a song that is either about settling and mediocrity, or running out of gas.

The album is thick with sound. A bedroom orchestra made possible with the wonders of today's technology. According to legend, Svanängen only recently retired his lamp and bought a mic stand which would suggest another bedroom recording of which Sub Pop has had no qualms with releasing in the past (i.e. The Thermals More Parts Per Million). Though, Loney, Noir stinks of studio time and well thought out harmonies. Blending electronic and acoustic beats with woodwinds, like in "I Won't Cause Anything At All".

With its thirty-four minute running time, Loney, Noir is easy on the ears and will grow on you with each listen. Only time will tell if this is only a wisp of aural pleasure that will fade with time, or a glimpse into something great. Meanwhile, start dusting off that old clarinet that you accidentally never returned to the rental place and start rockin' out to the sweet sweet sound of Sweden.

"I Am John" [Download]

"I Will Call You Lover Again" [Download]

Thursday, February 22, 2007


"Once Upon A Time"

Some groups never settle. Some groups purposely push themselves out of their comfort zone in order to advance their music for “arts” sake. Air is not one of those groups. In fact, no one expects Air to be one of those groups. People listen to Air knowing exactly what they’re going to get: music to daydream to. “Once Upon A Time” is exactly that; flutes float above clouds while strings wisp in and out of consciousness under satin-soft vocals. It could be the best acid trip ever, or a bad Charmin commercial in slow motion. The only thing keeping the song from floating away are the drums. While they work well as an anchor, they also provide a good groove without interrupting the “trip”. Aside from a few new tricks here and there, Pocket Symphony, the bands upcoming release, is mostly rooted in the sound that made them popular in the first place. I doubt anyone will be complaining.

"Once Upon A Time" [Download]

Get To Know: The Lovekevins

It’s been a year and-a-half since anyone heard from The Lovekevins. Actually, most have never heard from, or, of them. They released two E.P.’s in 2005, but attracted very little attention. It’s sort of baffling, since the music is so easy to love. It makes you wonder how much good music out there we may be missing out on. The first E.P., Blame the English was a beautifully irresistible mini-pop masterpiece full of Beach Boy harmonies and witty lyrics. Later that year, they followed up with Max Leon EP filled with more the same great happy-pop and witty lyrics. Don’t confuse them with twee, they’re no more twee than any of the bands from the “Sunshine 60’s.” Every song on these E.P.’s are immediately likeable and endlessly listenable. Then, they disappeared.

When I got word that The Lovekevins had finally return with a new single, "Private Life Of Cat," and new album on it’s way, it felt like the world would finally share what was once my holy grail-like discovery. But then I listened to the new song. I must admit I was a little disappointed. It’s seem like the song didn’t have the immediately accessible sound I had remembered when I first heard them. Nonetheless, it still showcases their great pop sensibilities. It seems like they’ve discovered a new fondness for 80’s style dance-pop as well. This is what happens when bands take this much time off; things change.

It’s still possible for The Lovekevins to deliver the full album I’d been hoping for. Apparently, they’ve forsaken their old material. This adds a little nervousness to the anticipation, but hopefully their own personal renaissance will pay off for the rest of us as well.
Oh yeah, did I mention that they're Swedish?

"Blame The English" [Download]     "" [Download]

"The Big Nono" [Download]     "Private Life Of Cat" [Download]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

LCD Soundsystem

"North American Scum"

Its gotta be the drums. As soon as you hear that stiff kick/snare combo, you’d have to chain your ass to the deck to keep from moving. Bring in the rubbery one-note bassline, muted guitars, and tell James Murphy to shout something demeaning. Apparently, it’s the only way to start a party. Is it meant to be political? Not really. Just know that the buildings are old, we’re not from England, and the DJ gigs aren’t as fun. In actuality, he’s probably being sarcastic, but who cares about the lyrics anyway? Murphy doesn’t, he doesn’t even write them until the day of. So obviously, we’re simply to ignore his disparaging remarks about our great country and dance like everything's o.k.


Download >>North American Scum

Amy Winehouse

"You Know I'm No Good"

U.K. soul singer Amy Winehouse is a mess, but at least she’s willing to admit it. She’s been known to be inebriated during shows to the point of not being able to function. She’s become the “What’s she going to do next?” girl. It’s gotten to the point where her bad press has gotten more attention than the music, but who goes to the record store to buy bad press? It would be a shame if it kept anyone from discovering how talented she is, and luckily it hasn’t (Jay-Z was spotted at her first U.S. show). “You Know I’m No Good” finds Amy owning up to her faults over a loose 60’s style track. Produced by Mark Ronson with backing band The Dap Kings, it sounds like a classic soul song with a hip-hop edge. But nothings sweet about the situation. Apparently Amy can’t keep the lovin’ at home. “I told you that I was troubled, you know that I’m no good,” Amy confesses to her man while somehow managing to keep us on her side at the same time. At least she warned him, right?

Download >>You Know I'm No Good

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


"My Moon My Man"

Well, well, well. Feist has always been a sexpot, but who knew she was a tease too? "My Moon My Man" is a brilliant lead single, not only because of the song, but more so because of what it reveals about her forthcoming album The Reminder…absolutely nothing. It begins with a skeletal 4/4 piano stomp; throw in a little guitar and some stuttering effects and voilà! You're left with a slinky, sparse, sexy ode to some lucky moon-man. It's so simple you can’t help but wonder if she's playing a trick on us. What it may lack in complexity, it more than makes up for in catchiness. If there’s one thing it does tell us, it’s that The Reminder has great things in store.

Download >>My Moon My Man

Andrew Bird

"Dark Matter"

Be careful of the fake out, while Andrew Bird could whistle you into a trance, he doesn't always. Instead he builds a crescendo like something real big is going to happen, and just when you're expecting him to tell us about some guy that saved the world, or some kid overcoming some terrible disease, the subject turns out to be a mere childhood obsession. And what better obsession than Operation? Yes, Operation. The game where you do your best to pull a funny bone from that fat naked dude without getting buzzed. If it seems odd to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Bird arrives to confirm that in fact it is indeed a morbid fascination, and how we had missed it before is a mystery (gives us a break, we were only kids for God's sake.) In reality, Bird’s ability to create a setting which balances silliness with clever songcraft is a testament to the man's songwriting skills. He manages to stay committed to the material with a wink and a smile, all the while cracking us up. Above all, it’s an extremely charming form of nostalgia.

Download >>Dark Matter

Monday, February 19, 2007

Modest Mouse


“Well it would have been, could have been worse than you would ever know.” He’s got a point. Fans of the pre-Good News For People Who Love Bad News Modest Mouse will ultimately scoff at the band for ostensibly cashing in on their pop success. Those who came on board post-“Float On” are going to eat this track up. It could have been worse. They could have made a song that nobody likes. In this case, the fans of the older Modest Mouse could learn a thing or two from the new ones. The first piece of advice: lighten up. Modest Mouse will always be Modest Mouse. The fact that Isaac Brock has been able to create a great pop song without sacrificing any of the idiosyncrasies fans have come to love should been seen as a triumph. Yes, there are horns. And yes, it threw me off too. But after only a couple of listens, “Dashboard” won me over. Brock even admits that he has been trying to write pop songs since the beginning. I’ll be the first to congratulate him on a job well done. And no, the album is not full of “Dashboard” carbon copies. And yes, Johnny Marr blends in perfectly. You can stop worrying and enjoy the music now.

Download >>Dashboard

New Young Pony Club

"Ice Cream"/"The Bomb"

Yeah, you’ve heard it before. Intel commercials, TV shows, you name it. “Ice Cream” has been the go-to track whenever dancing is involved. But NYPC aren’t the first to capitalize on television as a marketing tool. It’s not like the old days when indie bands would lose credibility for licensing their material to “the man.” Everyone wants exposure now. And since the O.C. began featuring a new band every week, sound-tracking became the primary form of publicity for undiscovered groups. Regardless of whatever marketing schemes brought us “Ice Cream,” it won’t keep anyone from dancing to it. And that is pretty much the primary function of all of NYPC’s music. When taken out of that context, the tracks don’t really add up to much. But I must admit; I’m a sucker for dance-rock. The track is pretty much a watered down interpretation of what dance-punk used to be, albeit more on the airy electro-house side of the spectrum. But guess what? Despite what the critics say, it hasn’t gotten old yet. So the new single from the group, “The Bomb,” pretty much goes full out dance-rock, disco hi-hats and all. As long as people want to dance, there will always be bands like NYPC to give them something to dance to.

Download >>Ice Cream

Download >>The Bomb

Sunday, February 18, 2007

TheMusicMiz goes .com!

Sellouts! is now the official address. The old one will still work, but this should be easier for people to remember and share. New posts on monday (2/19).

In the mean time, all songs from the Top 20 Albums list are now available for download along with the Top Songs 2006. Hopefully one of the many loyal readers will be willing to post bail on my behalf once the RIAA finds out.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Album Review- Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

Of Montreal
Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?


“We just want to emote til we’re dead”

And so begins another break-up album. But wait, where are the strings? Where are the plaintive acoustic guitar strums? Why doesn’t the music sound, you know, sad? Not since Death From Above 1979’s You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine has a break-up album been so well disguised. While most poor saps show up to the party with a broken half of their heart on either sleeve, Of Montreal main man Kevin Barnes would rather come dressed in a bright colorful coat and shout obscenities through a smile. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? makes use of exuberant synth-pop as release therapy. Each track makes a claim for the dance floor as a form of liberation. Basically, it makes parting ways sound like a party.

Ditching most of the classic psych-pop of their Elephant 6 days, Hissing builds even more toward the direction hinted at on their last two efforts. Clocking in at barely over a minute, “Sink The Seine” is the only remnant. It opens with a chorus of “La La La’s” sounding like a modern day Beatles song; from then on, it’s generally new territory.

While it’s a party on the musical end, the lyrical substance is nothing short of depressing. The album was created in the wake of Kevin’s separation from his wife, not your average two-year-relationship-gone-wrong. The centerpiece of the album, “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” is an eleven-minute psychological rant full of non-sequitors. “I guess you just want to shave your head have drink and be left alone?” Kevin asks himself in third person on “Cato As A Pun”. “Is that too much to ask?” he replies. “Come on mood shift, shift back to good again” he begs on “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse” over a bed of rumbling synths before they erupt into a cheerful chorus. It’s as if he has nothing but the music to persuade him.

Hissing Fauna also manages to illustrate the side of break-ups most tend to hide. Such as immaturity, “There's the girl that left me bitter/Want to pay some other girl to just walk up to her and hit her,” dependency “Chemicals, don't mess me up this time/Know you bait me way more than you should,“ and naiveté, “We want our film to be beautiful, not realistic".

Despite the overall weight of the subject matter, Hissing isn’t necessarily a heavy listen. It’s easy to ignore the dismal undercurrent and take it at face value, especially if you’ve never experienced a bad break-up. Even if you have, you won’t find a better form of therapy.

Download >>Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse

Download >>A Sentance Of Sorts In Kongsvinge

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Top Songs 2006

Had enough '06 nostalgia yet? I know, it may be getting old, but I’ll try to
make this my last post remembering “the things that were”… until the end of
the year of course. Pretty soon we'll be remembering '07 as the greatest year ever for music. But until then, here are 10 tracks from records that didn't make it onto the Top 20 albums list. Some of the albums were just shy of breaking into the top 20, while others only had nothing going for them other than the single presented here.

In no particular order:

Fujiya & Miyagi

Dancepunk was always geared towards white kids with no rhythm. It just so happened that even the kids with rhythm wanted to throw their body into convulsions and lose their shit too. But for those that craved a real groove, "Collarbone" was the real deal. They even make ankle bones sound sexy.

Download >>Collarbone

Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken
Camera Obscura
Aren’t songs supposed to help heartbreak? How did they get away with this? The sweetest organ intro ever, that’s how. It’s like that girl/guy that knows exactly what face to make to get you to do whatever they want. They set you up for defeat, and you obligingly accept.

Download >>Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken

Multiply [(In A Minor Key) remix by Gonzales]
Jamie Lidell

Never have I been so sure that a remix was better than the original. Don't get me wrong, Jamie Lidell’s got enough real soul for every pale skinned wannabe this side of the Mississippi on the original “Multiply”. But I’ll be damned if it didn’t come two-fold on the remix. Gonzales pretty much strips the original track and leaves nothing but solo piano and the gospel. It’s boogie-woogie blue eye’d soup for the soul; You’ll definitely beg for seconds.

Download >>Multiply (In A Minor Key)

Kick, Push
Lupe Fiasco
You have to give recognition to any rapper willing to rap about skateboarding. It’s probably even more daring than rapping about violence or guns, strike that, rapping about violence and guns is mundane; it’s about as unique as having a myspace. So when Lupe Fiasco gives us the 411 on grinds and girls, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the beat is flawless either.

Download >>Kick, Push

Star Witness

Neko Case

“Everything…except country” Famous words from the mouths of the indie elite (Guilty). But Neko Case isn’t your average country singer. The music isn’t explicitly country, but its roots are clear. “Star Witness” could sing you to sleep if it weren’t for the lyrics. They’re cryptic as all hell; the only clue
Neko has confessed to is it partially concerning a drive-by shooting (no
joke). Even country has street-cred these days.

Download >>Star Witness

Dream On (feat. Robyn & Ola Salo)
Christian Falk
No, no, it’s not an Aerosmith cover, although the song does show Robyn displaying sympathy for the outcast. Maybe washed-up rockers count too. Christian Falk applies the K.I.S.S. method to production and leaves the proper space for Ms. Robyn to do her thing. Check out how she repeats the same note for the entire “bridge.” She must have known how much we’d like it.

Download >>Dream On (feat Robyn & Ola Salo)

Young Folks

Peter, Bjorn, & John

On two occasions during the past couple of years did I appreciate whistling
as an art form; The first was listening to Andrew Bird, The second was the first single from Peter, Bjorn, & John’s Writer’s block. Even if every band tried to whistle a catchy melody on their song, I’m afraid it would never be as catchy as this one. Young Folks or old, no one can resist.

Download >>Young Folks

Grizzly Bear
It starts like the beginning of a classic film; the woodwinds float in and linger long enough to introduce an antique piano, the boys start whispering sweet nothings, and the deal is sealed. “Easier” is the sort of song that forces you to visualize. Exactly what it is you’re going to see is up to you. But they made it impossible for your imagination to just sit still.

Download >>Easier

And I Was A Boy From School

Hot Chip

Hot Chip finally stopped screwing around and starting making serious music. Well, ok not serious per se, but more serious than before. They basically tried to write actual songs instead of spoofs. And while they didn’t lose their sense of humor, they surely gained the gift of melody. Just give it two spins and dare yourself to not sing along.

Download >>And I Was A Boy From School

In this case, the comparisons are obvious. Add some of Broken Social Scene’s eclecticism, Animal Collective’s vocal voodoo, and Arcade Fire’s energy and you’ve got a dish called “Brother.” You gotta give the kid some credit. No, really. The lead singer is only nineteen. Even though his lyrics display wisdom far beyond his age, he still manages to capture the fiery outbursts of teenage youth within the music. Can’t wait to hear what quarter-life crisis sounds like.

Download >>Brother

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Arcade Fire Preview

If anyone knows anything about music, then anyone knows Arcade Fire's new album, Neon Bible is the most anticipated release....ummm, ever. Yeah, that big (I heard Davie Bowie and Bono are camping out at Virgin for the midnight release, but keep that on the low). I've decided that if you read this blog, you're probably a fan. And if you're a fan, you probably want to get a little taste of some goth-rock goodness. If you haven't heard of them yet, please leave a map to the rock you've been living under. According to Neon Bible, we may need a hiding spot for the apocalypse. Check out The Neon Bible website. It will probably baffle you to pieces.

Album due in stores 3/6/07.
"The king's taken back the throne." Indeed.

Make sure to leave a comment!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Music Miz-Top 20 Albums 2006

What better way can you think of to start your new blog? An album list of course.

It was hard as hell to make this list. Mostly because there were only a couple of truly outstanding albums. None the less, here it is. For any of you that know me, this list probably isn't too surprising. But when writing it, I honestly surprised myself.

I basically tried to think about how much I listened to a given album, along with how fresh it sounded now. I realized that I appreciated some albums more now than when I first heard them. It wasn't until I started compiling this list that I realized how important my #1 album was. It's something I listened to a lot, but I guess I never noticed how much it affected me.

Anyways, hopefully you'll find this list useful. I know how hard it is to judge a record just by the review (and I am not too good at describing them either), so I included a stream for each album as well as a playlist. You will almost definitely read about something that may not seem like your cup of tea. I encourage you to give every album a chance. You may be surprised at what you find.

Last of all, there was one album that I regret not being able to put on here. Le Fil by Camille came out in France in 2005 and was one of my favorites of that year. The album was finally released in the U.S. in 2006. Just know that it would have been #2 on the list. Check it out on the playlist.

Here's The Top 20 Albums of 2006. Remember, this is only one man's opinion.
I'll try to post Album/Song reviews and columns weekly.

Thanks for reading

Top Albums 2006- #20

Game Theory
The Roots

Apparently, someone gave The Roots the kick in the ass they needed. I started to lose faith when Black Thought started sounding like every other rapper “on the grind”. The most appealing thing about The Roots was the combination of an MC as good as Black Thought backed by a band with skills to match. This time out, they actually sound like a band instead of a solo act. And while Black is still on his grind, this time it’s to promote awareness rather than boost egos. Fans have been waiting for this since Things Fall Apart. It looks like this will be the album the following ones will have to measure up to.

Download >>Don't Feel Right

Top Albums 2006- #19

The Life Pursuit
Belle & Sebastian

It’s hard to really pin what makes this effort special over others. Is it really the fact they’ve grown tighter as band from touring? Probably so if you let them tell it. Maybe it’s the fact that they made an entire album of great songs, which is not always as easy as it sounds. As good as their back catalogue may be I’ve never listened any of their albums as much as this one. Most of Belle & Sebastian’s work seems like grown-up songs dressed in children’s clothing. On the surface, they sound sweet and unassuming. But one look at a lyric sheet might give a hint at what they’re really talking about. The Life Pursuit seems different though. Maybe they really did grow up.

Download >>The Blues Are Still Blue

Top Albums 2006- #18

Comments of the Inner Chorus

It’s hard to believe that the two main members of Tunng began by scoring soft-core porn. Not what you would expect after listening to Comments of the Inner Chorus. Most of the album is filled with a child like sensibility, especially “Woodcat”, a gentle fairy-tale like narration filled with rabbits and rats. The Books are an obvious comparison. In-fact, the most Books-like track (“The Wind Up Bird”) contains a sinister vocal sample shouting “The books have nothing to say!” Diss or coincidence? Beside the obvious comparisons, Comments is something entirely original.

Download >>Woodcat

Top Albums 2006- #17


Everybody knows that Matthew Herbert tries really hard. Every record has a message and every sample its own story. Who can blame him? We all should be so lucky to have such a distinct sense of purpose. After years of trying to dig directly into the consciousness of the listener, Scale takes the back door route to the subconscious to lay little eggs of activism. Musically, and lyrically, Scale ranks amongst the best albums, political or otherwise.

Download >>Something Isn't Right

Top Albums 2006- #16

Putting The Days To Bed
The Long Winters

Easily tagged as the “These guys should be on the radio” band, but I would dare to say that they are even too clever for that. John Roderick writes the kind of songs you can hum along too with the witty lyrical turns you wish you’d thought of. With songs as catchy as “Teaspoon”, Putting The Days To Bed feels like a guilty pleasure.

Download >>Teaspoon

Top Albums 2006- #15

Paper Television
The Blow

Too many electronic acts fronted by women singers come off either too cute or too strong. The Blow finds a perfect blend of the two. First of all, the beats kill for the most part. From the stuttering drums of “Pile of Gold", to the drumline drill of “The Long List of Girls.” And when they don’t hit hard (“Parentheses”, “True Affection”) they’re laced with the type of pop poison that can stay in your system for days.

Download >>Pile Of Gold

Top Albums 2006- #14

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Arctic Monkeys

Please don’t hate. If you're one of those people that lashes out against anything popular, get a life.
Shit. Who am I kidding? I’m pretty much talking about myself. Even though I got a hold of Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys EP well before the hype, I still felt a little awkward listening to them once their debut came out. But underneath the torrent of hype and backlash lies a great album. I’ve realized it’s unjust to hate a band due to their popularity. These guys got more attention in 2006 than any other new band. The best part about it is that they didn’t even care. No one called them innovators. Sometimes you need an album that's simply good.


Top Albums 2006- #13

Friendly Fire
Sean Lennon

Most people tend to disregard Sean Lennon since he isn’t an artistic replica of his father. But seriously folks, it’s time to give the guy his dues. Ok, ok…he’s not the best singer. And his songwriting, well, lacks something to be desired. But Friendly Fire displays a great knack for melodies that, when given enough spins, sneak up on the unsuspecting listener. The music itself (typical guitar, piano, strings, etc.) sits somewhere between Jon Brion (who lent a hand) and your typical MOR. I’ll admit its sad bastard music, but there’s something appealing about someone willing to put it all out there for others to indulge rather than moping all alone.


Top Albums 2006- #12

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, and Wives/Raised By Wolves

Raised By Wolves came out in late 2005, but Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives came out so close after in early 2006 that it’s hard to separate the two. These EP’s would be stand outs based on Ramesh Srivastava’s songwriting alone (try mapping all the chord changes), but it’s the musical muscle of the band that makes it exceptional. If you listen in chronological order, you can almost hear the band tighten into something greater than their influences. It’s a bit pessimistic, but with a start this strong it’s hard to tell if their full length can live up to such standards.


Top Albums 2006- #11

Night Ripper
Girl Talk

Most mash-ups settle for blending a couple of different songs, and rarely outside of their genres. Girl Talk brings the heat with a dozen or more samples per song. Night Ripper elevates the mash-up to a bona fide art. But the main thing that’s been missing from the mash-up is the party itself. Everyone should know by now that even indie kids want to dance. Everybody knows that no-one only listens to Hip Hop, Pop or Indie Rock exclusively. But I don’t think anyone knew they would go together so well. Dance Punk didn’t die. It was reborn as a mash-up. Unfortunately, Girl Talk is the only one that knows it.


Top Albums 2006- #10

Hell Hath No Fury

What the hell happened here? I don’t remember any indie heads bumping the virginia duo's Lord Willin’ back in ’02. All of the sudden, every indiezine from A-Z is championing the great white hope called cocaine. But that’s beside the point. Pusha T and Malice created an understated masterpiece with Hell Hath No Fury. Without sacrificing any of their grittiness or street cred, Clipse make their triumphant return to the game with critics and fans bowing at their feet. The Neptunes even ditch their sci-fi, radio-ready tracks (save for “Mr. Me too”, and “Wamp Wamp” of course) for beats straight from the gutter. Clipse even work the positive angle on “Hello New World”, telling fellow drug dealers to rise above adversity. Clearly they know the life they led was not the most enlightened path. But it’s like they’re forced to paint that all too real picture of what it was like, no matter how ugly. It almost makes it hard to believe any other rappers.


Top Albums 2006- #9

The World Is Gone

When you start and album with a track like “Thunnk”, your making a very clear statement to listener: Enter at your own risk. Dark and sinister, The World Is Gone is best likened to a dubstep version of Mezzanine. Somehow, the duo managed to blend folk, dub, and other genres into a standout album full of fear and sometimes even beauty. Upon first listen, it may not seem like it. But behind the murky backdrop, songs like “Circle of Sorrow” can be seen as dark and beautiful. The first single “Hater” with its industrial drum beat could be the dub contender for “crunk.” Or maybe dub-crunk? Ok never mind. Just know that this album is the sort of scary black hole you’d want to get sucked into.


Top Albums 2006- #8

Someone To Drive You Home
The Long Blondes

So after a gazillion singles, The Long Blondes finally drop their debut album. Turns out their debut album's got a gazillion singles. It’s almost impossible to pick the best songs, there isn’t a dull moment on the record. Appropriately dubbed “Glamorous Punk” by the band themselves, they seem to wear their influences on their sleeve (Blondie, Pulp). But the record is so much fun to listen too that you hardly notice. Oozing with sex and a playful sense of danger, Kate Jackson leads us through tales of stolen boyfriends, soon to be stolen boyfriends, and ex-boyfriends not worth keeping. It would be extremely trite if they didn’t pull it off so well. And get this, the liner notes of the album credit lyrics on all but two songs to Dorian Cox, the lead guitarist who apparently is a man! Say what? Feminism is the new masculine?


Top Albums 2006- #7

Return To Cookie Mountain
TV on the Radio

Beneath its dense sprawl of guitars, samples, beats, and everything else under the sun, lies the perfect album. Thought provoking, musically rich, experimental and accessible (I even heard “Wolf Like Me” on KROQ). You couldn’t ask for anything better from these guys. Finally delivering on the promise of the Young Liars EP, TV On The Radio create their own personal masterpiece. And despite its accessibility end up sounding like no other band or album. The addition of a drummer and bassist have clearly helped to flesh out what used to be top heavy sound collages into full fledge songs. After repeated listens, Return To Cookie Mountain proves to be one the most engaging and involving records of the year.


Top Albums 2006- #6

Gnarls Barkley

Don’t even kid yourself. This album should be at the top of everyone’s list. Whether you liked it or not, St.Elsewhere was the most adventurous album to break into the mainstream in years. If “Go-Go Gadget Gospel” doesn’t get you off your feet, check your pulse. Witness Cee-Lo Green the Soul Machine and Danger Mouse at the top of their game. Witness, ten years from now, people citing St.Elsewhere as the album that inspired them. If only everyone made music on their own terms and it came out this good.


Top Albums 2006- #5

Nine Times That Same Song
Love Is All

From the opening clicks and shouting “One More Time!” on opening track “Talk Talk Talk Talk", Nine Time That Same Song grabs a hold of your ass (literally) and never lets go. This lo-fi pop dance party is yet another testament to Sweden–is-the-new-Canada of indie greatness. Lead singer Josephine Olausson shout-sings songs about freezing the ones you love while the band hammers out jagged echo drenched guitar jams with saxophone licks mixed in. And it works. You couldn’t ask for a better time.


Top Albums 2006- #4

Joanna Newsom

Unmistakably one of the most talented songwriters of our generation. With Y’s, Joanna Newsom composed a classic. One that challenges the listener and, like her last effort, is endlessly rewarding to those who remain patient. As if her fairy-tale song structures weren’t enough, Van Dyke Parks colors these pieces with excellent orchestration adding to the adventure of the story. Newsom says these five pieces are all based on personal experiences, which is fascinating since all of them are told through fictitious characters and animals. This only reinforces her talents as an outstanding songwriter, and more importantly, a remarkable storyteller.


Top Albums 2006- #3

Silent Shout
The Knife

It’s hard to imagine an album like this winning any sort of Grammy, Swedish equivalent or otherwise. But it did. Maybe they’re more open-minded, but I can’t imagine anyone listening to “Silent Shout” on the radio on their way to work. The entire album is made up of distorted female vocals over dark electro-house beats. Oddly enough, there’s also a strange sense of humor beneath it all. Despite the attention Silent Shout has received, The Knife was able to keep just as mysterious as they were before the album was released. But mystery is nothing if the music isn’t good. And as good as the music is you still sometimes wonder what Karin Dreijer is singing about. But then again, maybe the mystery is the most compelling part.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Top Albums 2006- #2

Boys and Girls in America
The Hold Steady
I must admit, I didn’t see what the big deal was at first. I had a hard time getting past Craig Finn’s monotone speak-singing. It wasn’t until Boys and Girls in America that I realized what kind of band I was dealing with. Craig Finn is like an insightful beer drinking frat brother with literary wit to match. On the first spin, the album plays out like a soundtrack to the best movie never made documenting college life. But dig deeper. Finn has the sort of storytelling sense only true poets poses, breathing life and depth into tunes that would otherwise be nothing but typical bar band romps. But let’s not knock the music. With the addition of keyboardist Franz Nicolay, the band achieves a musical depth not seen on previous records. Tad Kubler tops it all with the chops to make any guitarist jealous. Make no mistake, each musician holds their own. It’s amazing how an album can turn you around enough to appreciate the bands entire catalogue. The Hold Steady definitely deserves your attention. Soon enough, you may not have a choice in the matter.


Top Albums 2006- #1

For Lovers, Dreamers, and Me
Alice Smith

When it comes to this type of music, I’m reluctant to use the “N” word. It’s easily the most misused word in the R&B lexicon. “Neo-Soul” I find it funny that most albums tagged neo-soul tend to be anything but. Most of them sound old. In comes Alice Smith who, like me, would love to do away with the term as well. The only problem is that she actually created an album that can only be defined truly as neo-soul. Allow me to explain. The one genre that has yet to receive its much needed make-over is R&B. Most R&B singers these days either sing over rap beats, or recycle R&B tracks from the days of old. No one has been able to escape these traps and expand the genre beyond its current boundaries.

Now, it would be unfair of me to say that Alice Smith has done this. But it’s safe to say she has the talent to make it happen. Most R&B artists that claim to be diverse tend to create individual songs with a genre in mind for each. For Lovers, Dreamers, and Me manages to be musically varied without overreaching. Somehow, Smith managed to blend her diverse taste in music with astonishing consistency and clarity. “Dream” starts off with a simple piano line and ends with Smith showing off her upper register over spanish style fanfare. Next comes the soulful bounce of “Woodstock” with its own fish choir (seriously) singing over a horn section. It’s obviously not you typical R&B affair and reads sillier than it sounds, but don’t let it deter you. Anyone who is not a believer needs a couple of sessions with “New Religion.” The song starts off with a sideways style vocal over what seems like a typical country-ish ditty. Good enough in its own right, but it’s when Alice brings it home that really makes it incredible. The last minute of the song contains a vocal only a truly gifted singer can deliver. And this is no exaggeration; it gives me chills every time. It’s moments like this where you get a glimpse of what an artist is capable of and it fills you with hope and excitement for the future.

It actually seems unfair to even label Alice R&B. Call me crazy, but I think there’s something bigger here. It’s typical for people to get so attached to an album that they begin to create something greater in their minds than the original music. But if this is just the beginning, I can’t help but imagine where we’re going to go from here.