Albums Of The Year 2006

I had intended to get my best of 2006 posts up while I was at my mom's house between Christmas and New Year's. That was silly. One should not try to blog while on vacation. Then I got back into town and have been busy with job stuff, and family stuff, and band stuff, and football stuff. I thought about just abandoning this post, but I'm pretty sure that if you write a music blog, you are required by law to do a post about your favorite albums of the year. So here is mine... better late than never.

1. Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways

I've been running this list in my head for the last month and a half. Until today, the album at number two was going to occupy the top spot. But listening to Cash's swan song again, I realized that it had to be number one. I
wrote about it at length back in August, but I hadn't listened to it in a couple of months. Perhaps a line from my favorite song on the album explains why...
"You won't read that book again because the ending's just too hard to take."
It's not that it's depressing, it's just heavy. It's not background music. It demands to be listened to. And these days, it's hard to find forty-five minutes to dedicate to a CD. But if there was ever an album that demanded that kind of attention, this is it.

This song still gives me goosebumps. They start at the "You know that ghost is me" line. Every time.

Johnny Cash - "If You Could Read My Mind" (mp3)

2. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Ballad Of The Broken Seas

When I first heard about this album, I thought it was an odd pairing. But it turns out that Isobel Campbell's delicate soprano and Mark Lanegan's gravely baritone is the perfect blend of sweet and sour. Isobel wrote and produced most of the album, but it is more grounded and rootsy than her usual brand of whimsical chamber pop. At times it sounds like an Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack for a David Lynch spaghetti western. Would it be too much to hope for a sequel?

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - "The False Husband" (mp3)

3. The Duke Spirit - Cuts Across The Land

I generally try to check out the opening acts whenever I go to a concert. I've discovered some of my favorite bands that way over the years. So I was a bit bummed last March when I went to see Ted Leo. I showed up at 9:30 on a Sunday night, and missed the first opener completely, and only caught the last three songs of
The Duke Spirit (apparently the Exit/In decided to start going all punctual and I missed the memo). But those three songs absolutely blew me away, and I was in line immediately after their set to buy their CD. The band was amazing, and there was something about singer Liela Moss that just exuded cool. My first impression was that they sounded like a cross between Mazzy Star and Jesus And Mary Chain. But Hope Sandoval actually sang with JAMC, and it sounded nothing like this.

The Duke Spirit - "Darling, You're Mean" (mp3)

4. Aberdeen City - The Freezing Atlantic

It's funny how some songs grow on you. I bought this CD on the strength of two songs last summer, but quickly grew to love the entire thing. Well, almost. I really wasn't that crazy about "Pretty Pet." But when I saw them in October at the Exit/In, that song was the absolute hightlight of the set, and ever since then I swear it sounds different. I know that the notes coming out of the speakers are the same, but somehow I hear them differently. Aberdeen City and The Duke Spirit were definitely my favorite musical discoveries of 2006. Read the full review from September for more.

Aberdeen City - "Pretty Pet" (mp3)

5. Your Black Star - Sound From The Ground

It's almost like somebody took a list of everything I'd want in an album and then went and made it. Delay heavy guitars? Check. Jackhammer drums and a rock solid rhythm section? Check. Lyrics that are just cryptic enough to keep you interested but not so much that they're nonsense? Check. Folks across the ponds in Japan, Australia and England have been enjoying this album from Louisville's finest since 2005, but it didn't get released stateside until last fall. It was worth the wait. Read the
full review from October.

Your Black Star - "Surrounded" (mp3)

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):
Richard Butler - Richard Butler
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Bring The Flood
Paul Simon - Surprise
Thom Yorke - The Eraser

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If You Could Read My Mind is such a great song. The original Gordon Lightfoot song reminds me of being a little kid. This version by Cash makes the words seem that much heavier. Gordon says the song is about divorce, but really it applies to any relationship that has ended or is broken. Great stuff. DM
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