I hate end of the year lists. As soon as they’re done and posted, I go back and “Oh shit, I totally forgot about this!” or worse, I find this life-changing album in 2007 and I’m all, “Tthis is the greatest album ever and I can’t even talk about how much it’s changed this year of my life because I’m a year too late!” That being said, here are ten albums I really enjoyed this year, released in 2006. They are probably not the CDs that dominated most of my playlist, as most of the music I listen to isn’t always up-and-coming hipster jam. Nonetheless, enjoy numbers 10-2.
OK, I pretty much slammed Hamasaki’s album in my formal review but if you had looked between the lines, you’d still find a general appreciation. I left out some of the little bits and pieces which equated Hamasaki’s album to a parts greater than the sum analogy. Plus, it kind of grew on me. The singles were (and definitely are) the poptastic energy one could find spanning all of her discography; “Startin’,” “Beautiful Fighters,” “BLUE BIRD”…maybe even the cheesy “Born To Be…”, if you look at it strictly under the sub context it was produced. The LOVEppears flashback of “momentum” is pretty great, even following the tear-jerking “JEWEL” and the interludes are so wonderful, you wonder why they were never developed into the brilliant full tracks they could have been. Sure, what we’re basically left with is potential, but even that string is strong enough to grip and hang on to, maybe. Nine out of fourteen ain’t so bad, I reckon. As always, I’m greatly anticipating her 2007 releases. (Note: I might have picked (miss)understood, but regardless of its January 1 release date, I consider it a 2006 release due to its leak and even early store release.)
until that Day… / momentum / kiss o’ kill
09. The Changes – Today is Tonight [ Buy Today is Tonight ]
In one of the most surprising twists of fate this year, The Changes have somehow made it to my list. Sure, they sound nothing like the rest of the albums featured on this list, but perhaps that’s why it initially stood out so much for me. I can’t even recall where I picked up information about this band or how “When I Sleep” went into heavy rotation in my playlist, but before long, I found myself pleading fellow friends to see them live with me. My dream was never realized, but I did fall asleep that night listening to this CD and it has (at least somewhat) change the way I see the city. And if album picks are based on feeling and emotion, rather than on the basis of composition, then yeah. That is all.
Such a Scene / When I Sleep
08. Snow Patrol – Eyes Open [ Buy Eyes Open ]
Yeah, I’m going there. So the album isn’t really all that great, I’ll admit. The opening two tracks are even lackluster and I never boarded the “Chasing Cars” bus. Ever. But the trifecta. Oh, the trifecta. Tracks six, seven, and eight are one of the greatest triplets ever given birth by a musical outfit, especially if we’re not talking about Ayumi’s “vogue,” “Far away” and “SEASONS.” “You Could Be Happy” drips with melancholy until it’s practically bursting at the seams with sobs. The gentle and soothing music box melody is offset by the bitterly hopeless lyrics which pretty much equals perfection. The pace picks up a bit with “Make This Go On Forever,” a song with crescendos run amok that never reach that pinnacle they constantly strive for but keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time. And finally, “Set The Fire To The Third Bar,” that plateau it was constantly striving for, mounted and then descended. The rest of the album, I can’t tell you much about. But if The Decemberists can compose novels, then why can’t Snow Patrol wrap depressing ballads in a sorrowful box and tie it with a ribbon of angst and market it as one of the best albums of 2006? Sure, three tracks do not a great album make. Or do they?
You Could Be Happy
07. Johnny Boy – Johnny Boy [ Buy Johnny Boy ]
Thank you, Good Weather For Airstrikes. I noticed a lot of music bloggers say things like, “I don’t like reading other blogs in case I find something I want to blog about from them and then I’d be repeating and blah blah blah.” Who cares? Spread the love. For all this talk of The Pipettes resuscitating 50s and early 60s pop, where is the talk of Johnny Boy? With the re-release of their tunes on the self-titled 2006 release, “Generation” is still one of the most simple, “Be My Baby”-influenced gems in the treasure box that is the entire collection.
06. MSI – Straight to Video: The Remixes [ Buy Straight To Video ]
So it’s a maxi-single and I’m cheating a bit. Truth is, the single is longer than some, maybe even most, albums. Some of the greatest bands (Birthday Massacre, Assemblage 23, KMFDM) got together to remix one of the already most amazing songs, “Straight To Video.” Techno, dance, house, industrial, electronic…all of the hipster genres pretty much wave their magic wands over the song to morph them into the amazing products that compose this single. Sure, maybe the original melody gets a bit annoying after sixteen different versions, but the journey is totally worth it. The best are probably the kick your ass “Funker Vogt Remix” and, of course, the insanely good “Dramaclub Remix” by the Birthday Massacre. If the Birthday Massacre doesn’t release some new material in 2007, sadness will most definitely be felt.
Straight To Video (Funker Vogt Mix) / Straight To Video (Dramaclub Remix)
05. T.M.Revolution – UNDER:COVER [ Buy UNDER:COVER ]
I have to give it to Takanori Nishikawa; the dude made an amazing comeback. T.M.R. was one of the first Japanese pop rock acts I got into back in 1999 until his pitiful demise into musical stagnation and anime-con exposure. Surely he could have set his standards a bit higher. But in all honesty, he really whooped my ass with this album. UNDER:COVER is Nishikawa covering the songs of his own discography, although the songs are almost remixes, they’re so different. All of the songs I grew up loving were redone, most with a bombastic rock edge and an almost arena-sized ego, but a perfectly executed ambition. I’m sure he’ll just go back to writing more crap, but for this brief moment, I was one with the past and present T.M.R. simultaneously. Niiiice.
Yume no Shizuku
Puffy was one of the big surprises of this year, mostly because I never liked Puffy and probably still don’t. Sure, I met them at a signing, they autographed my CD, and a good time was had by all after the two hour wait, but their music was never something I could really get into. At the time I met them, it was all hide this and X Japan that and, “Can they not attempt crossing over a Japanese musical act without the anime tie-in thing, for Chrissake’s?” But the album turned out to be pretty nice and after I climbed over the wall of hate I had erected between us, well, what I discovered was a beautiful world of 60s pop songs, except with lots of alternative. Let’s just forget about that “Basket Case” cover, shall we?
Koi no ETUDE
I liked this CD, then I didn’t. Then I liked it. Then I plateaued. Then my love wavered and dipped again. Yeah, I’ve been on a tumultuous journey with the boys of AFI, but it turned out for the best. Maybe they do wear too much makeup, but who cares? Maybe they are producing music with a pinch or five too much pop, but who cares? The results are still lovely. “Prelude 12/21?” Bad. Bad asssss. That foot stomping entrance takes me to dizzying heights I’d rather not come down from, thanks. “Miss Murder?” Maybe too radio-friendly, but me likey. “Love Like Winter?” C’mon, must I seriously go on? “37mm?” It almost leaves me speechless. Instead of commenting on AFI selling out and messing up their organic punk sound, I would just like to take this moment to congratulate them on their commercial success. OK, moment over.
02. Junior Boys – So This Is Goodbye [ Buy So This Is Goodbye ]
2006 was a pretty shitty year for me, on a personal level. There was this really shitty part in the beginning, right after it looked like shit was going to happen this year and that shit was gonna’ rock. Instead, it did not. And so, I listened to a lot of sappy, teenage cry-cry music for a long time, and then lots of angry music, you know, like whatever Tommy heavenly6 had put out to that point, alongside mainstream nu metal. I mean, Adema, Seether, Alexisonfire, Hoobastank, Killswitch Engage, Tool…I was all over that. And then the shit cleared and I stepped into the world of bubbly electronic music. Again, not sure how I stumbled across Junior Boys, but I stumbled and fell. Hard. Head over heels. “In The Morning,” is such a catchy dance hit, it was like getting knocked in the head with perfection. The rest of the album turned out to be just as amazing. I mean, when I hear a song like “In The Morning,” my first thought is usually, “Surely, surely the rest of the album cannot be as great, for this song can almost move mountains with its awesomeness.” I mean, the beat, the melody, the breaths, the bass line… I don’t use this word often, but I totally have to bust it out here; majestic. There I said it. A veritable magic carpet ride through the greatest, most brilliant montage of a sunset ever beheld. But if this song was the jelly filling in a delicious donut, than the rest of the CD was the necessary dough and powdery topping, and honestly, this is a bad, maybe even the worst, analogy, but the album leaves me without words. It’s like a delicious donut and while the center is the delicious part (and maybe it’s not strawberry or raspberry, just insert your favorite confection or pudding flavor), it’s really the other pieces that bring it all together and bring out that taste even better. That is this album and if it was sitting there in front of me, there is no way I could not just eat it all up in one sitting and come back for seconds and thirds and fortieths…
Count Souvenirs / So This Is Goodbye