Since this is a slow traffic week around the blogosphere, I thought I’d take a moment to run down my favorite albums of 2006.
Storyhill – Storyhill
This album actually hasn’t technically been released yet – I was lucky enough to pick it up at one of their shows this fall. Storyhill, for those who don’t know, is an acoustic duo from Montana who have put out a number of albums over the years. Now in their thirties, they have signed their first contract with a record label to put out their new self-titled album. This new record was produced by Dan Wilson (Semisonic) and I was blown away by how beautiful it was. Listening to the opening track, I was stunned by the intimacy of the vocals and guitars, but was pleased that the recordings aren’t precious with the songs. The album features plaintive lyrics, sweet guitar work, and amazing harmonies throughout. Definitely my favorite of the year. Be sure to pick it up when it comes out nationwide on February 13th.
CLICK HERE to watch Storyhill performing “Give Up the Ghost” live!
Embrace – This New Day
This was a fine album from one of my favorite British bands. The only problem with it is that it isn’t as strong as 2004’s fantastic Out of Nothing. Huge songs, singalong choruses, great guitar work, and a real sense of urgency help propel this album along. The second half gets bogged down a bit with a few filler tracks, but the initial 6 song rush more than makes up for that failing.
CLICK HERE to watch their video for “I Can’t Come Down”
Beatles – Love
This album just came out of leftfield for me. The only problem I really have with the Beatles is that, in growing up with them, I’ve listened to their albums so many times it’s hard to hear them with fresh ears. Then this album of remixed, chopped up Beatles tracks dropped in my lap. Produced by the Beatles producer George Martin and his son Giles, this album takes hooks, guitar licks, harmonies, and beats from the Beatles catalogue and throws them into a blender. The end result is an exhilarating sprint through their finest work. It’s like hearing their talents for the first time. Even when Martin and his son are cautious with the material and don’t change much, their remix draws out the bass and drum tracks, adding muscle and urgency to the songs. Listening to this album was more fun than any musical experience I had this year.
Keane – Under the Iron Sea
This album took a few weeks for me to make a connection with it. I was such a fan of the huge melodies of their debut album, and I initially felt like they had abandoned what they did best. Under the Iron Sea is darker, subdued, and I have to admit that I never liked their choice of “Is it Any Wonder” as the kickoff single. After I had set it aside as a disappointment, my wife turned me back onto it, and by then its songcraft and melodicism were more apparent to me. I’ve continued to return to this album throughout the year.
Favorite Songs of the Year
Colin Hay – Waiting for My Real Life to Begin
The Hold Steady – Southtown Girls
Mark Knopfler and Emmylous Harris – This is Us
The Who – Mike Post Theme
Embrace – I Can’t Come Down
Mojave 3 – You Said it Before
Kubla Khan – Skate With Me
Keane – Atlantic