From roots rock veterans to blog-discovered newbies, so many seemed to get it right in 2006. It was also a year when there was something great going on in every sub-subgenre imaginable. Whether you're into psychedelic folk, art metal or indie dance, 2006 offer a stellar crop of albums to obsess over from beginning to end. Proof that any claims that the iPod is killing the album are completely bogus.
1. BELLE & SEBASTIAN The Life Pursuit Dear Catastrophe Waitress was a nice comeback for the archetypical twee pop band, but it's the back-to-back gems of The Life Pursuit that will forever solidify them as one of the most important bands in indie rock history.
2. MEW And the Glass Handed Kites Danish band Mew creates a world where aggressive riffs and soaring melodies artfully coexist on this collection of gorgeously dynamic hard rock fables. Never thought an album could simultaneously make me feel like a metalhead and a big wuss.
3. DESTROYER Destroyer's Rubies I used to think that too much Dan Bejar was a bad thing. His wandering vocal schtick grated on the nerves after a while. But on Destroyer's Rubies, he exhibits brilliant control, toning it down to let each impressively unique pop song glow.
4. THE DECEMBERISTS The Crane Wife Just listen to the epic track "The Island" and it's apparent what separates The Decemberists from most folk-inspired indie acts. Colin Meloy isn't the type of songwriter who'll ever rely on a single trick. He seems to enjoy to challenge of constantly reinventing roots rock.
5. CLIPSE Hell Hath No Fury The long delayed sophomore CD from Clipse turned out to be well worth the wait. At a time when there are few mainstream rap acts putting out memorable material, the Pharrell-produced album came to resuscitate life into hip-hop.
6. BONNIE "PRINCE" BILLY The Letting Go Will Oldham's latest simmers with quiet intensity. A traditional folk rock album carefully furnished with abstract arrangements and harmonies.
7. ALOHA Some Echoes Semi-psychedelic Ohio band Aloha take ownership of their eclectic sound on this meticulously-designed progressive indie pop album.
8. GNARLS BARKLEY St. Elsewhere Try to forget about all the overexposure that made us sick of Gnarls Barkley by summer's end, then perhaps it'll be easier to remember how many of the album's tracks blew us away on first listen.
9. M. WARD Post-War Singer/songwriter M. Ward attempts a fuller sound on his fifth effort, resulting in a confidently-composed, rich roots rock album.
10. ESPERS II Psychedelica, post-rock and folk are all reimagined on the Espers' second full-length -- a mood-commanding and dreamlike experience.
11. BEIRUT The Gulag Orkestar
12. TV ON THE RADIO Return to Cookie Mountain
13. SNOWDEN Anti-Anti
14. GRIZZLY BEAR Yellow House
15. CALIFONE Roots and Crowns
16. GHOSTFACE KILLAH Fishscale
17. THE LIARS Drum's Not Dead
18. MIDLAKE The Trials of Van Occupanther
19. NEKO CASE Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
20. THE BLOW Paper Television
21. BEACH HOUSE Beach House
22. THE KNIFE Silent Shout
23. JUANA MOLINA Son
24. DANIELSON Ships
25. ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT Derdang Derdang
26. ISLANDS Return to the Sea
27. THE ROOTS Game Theory
28. JOSH RITTER The Animal Years
29. HOWE GELB 'Sno Angel Like You
30. HIS NAME IS ALIVE Detrola
31. MARGOT AND THE NUCLEUR SO AND SOS The Dust of Retreat
32. SCISSOR SISTERS Ta-Dah
33. MOGWAI The Beast
34. CSS Cansei de Ser Sexy
35. ASOBI SEKSU Citrus
36. BAND OF HORSES Everything All the Time
37. JOANNA NEWSOM Ys
38. CAT POWER The Greatest
39. THE EVENS Get Even
40. ROBERT POLLARD From a Compound Eye
41. JUNIOR BOYS So This is Goodbye
42. SWAN LAKE Beast Moans
43. EMILY HAINES AND THE SOFT SKELETON Knives Don't Have Your Back
44. PHOENIX It's Never Been Like That
45. JENNY LEWIS with THE WATSON TWINS Rabbit Fur Coat
46. EL PERRO DEL MAR El Perro Del Mar
47. CURSIVE Happy Hollow
48. CAMERA OBSCURA Let's Get of Out This Country
49. YO LA TENGO I'm Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
"Love Song No. 7" "Underwater (You and Me) " (ClapYourHandsSayYeah.com) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has wasted little time sprouting a sophomore effort and now we all can judge whether the band is a long-term indie force or just a spark of hype that made us realize the power of music bloggers. Gaging from these two tracks alone, it seems like they've developed their sound a bit, but -- after a few listens of each -- it's a tad less engaging.
For the first time since I started making year-end music list, I was compelled this year to rank my favorite songs of the last 12 months all the way to 50. I think it's because 2006 was my first full year of mp3 hunting and video clip scrounging for this blog. It's not only made me more fully appreciate the beauty of a great single, but it's also just made it easier to figure which tracks are the actual singles. Heck, three or four years ago, who had any clue which songs off all the best indie albums were official singles?
26. "Goodbye" / The Postmarks 27. "Over and Over" / Hot Chip 28. "Did I Step on Your Trumpet" / Danielson 29. "LDN" / Lily Allen 30. "Supermassive Black Hole" / Muse
31. "Buttons" / Pussycat Dolls 32. "Rally" / Phoenix 33. "In the Morning" / Razorlight 34. "The Greatest" / Cat Power 35. "Check on It" / Beyonce featuring Slim Thug
36. "Get Myself Into It" / The Rapture 37. "God Knows" / El Perro Del Mar 38. "Skip to the End" / The Futureheads 39. "Don't Feel Right" / The Roots 40. "Put You In Your Place" / The Sunshine Underground
41. "Ooh La La" / Goldfrapp 42. "When We Were Young" / The Killers 43. "Boy Soprano" / Xiu Xiu 44. "Jique" / Brazilian Girls 45. "Inside of Me" / Starlight Mints
46. "We Are The Ones" / The Coup 47. "Sing" / Dresden Dolls 48. "Cobrastyle" / Teddybears 49. "Love" / J Dilla featuring Pharoahe Monch 50. "Lolita" / Elefant
"Sorry" (Anti-) Australian band Youth Group has already enjoyed chart success in their home country. Now, they being their free-spirited rock to the U.S. and try to make their mark with next month's release of their sophomore album Casino Twilight Dogs.
"Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse" (Polyvinyl) In January, Of Montreal follows up the success of 2005's The Sunlandic Twins with their latest album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, an album that will without a doubt strive to make pop more peculiar.
"Free Stress Test (Harkin & Wolf Remix)" (Insound) On their summer EP Professor Murder Rides the Subway, the post-punk-influenced band Professor Murder gave a glimmer of hope that there was someone around to revitalize New York's indie dance scene. Now full-length yet, but check out this remix of this EP highlight.
The old Listening Room was kind of silly. We at The LARRY Page have concluded the kids will like this better.
To download MP3s, right-click on link and choose "Save Target As." Most MP3s are only available online for a limited time, so some links in the archives may no longer work. The LARRY Page does its best to ensure all downloads that appear in Hobby Box are legal.