2006 has been a pretty awesome year for music. Some really cool stuff has come out this year (as has some amazing rubbish, but we don’t discuss that in polite company). So, to pay tribute to some of the releases of 2006, I present to you the Half Goon Half Blog Top Twenty Albums of 2006!. Today I will count down 20-11. Tomorrow’s update will continue in the same fashion, travelling from 10-1.
Oh, and I assure you, dear reader, that there will be no mention of Arctic Monkeys in this list. The same can be said for Hilltop Hoods. It’s time somebody else got to be number one for a change!
20. Hot Chip – The Warning
To be completely honest, Hot Chip’s The Warning has got into the Top 20 purely because of the genius of Over and Over. It’s definitely the highlight of the album for me, and one of 2006’s greatest tracks. The rest of the album, though it wasn’t what I was expecting, is also quite decent.
KEY TRACK: Over and Over
19. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Ballad of the Broken Seas
I’d never really thought of ‘country’ as a real musical genre until I got hold of this album. The concept was rather strange – take Isobel Campbell (formerly of Belle & Sebastian) and her wispy voice and cello, and chuck her together with Mark Lanegan – a man who sounds as if he eats shards of rusty metal and is usually accompanied by general distortion and noise. But it works! It actually works! I think it was described somewhere as an album of sea shanties, which is probably the best description for it. Lanegan growls his way through, Campbell flits through the cracks, and everything clicks together.
KEY TRACK: Ramblin’ Man
18. The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers
Jack White with a band. Who’d have thought that he could work with other people, huh? It’s quite a novelty (even still!) to hear him accompanied by such things as bass and backing vocals. While the standout was certainly Steady As She Goes, there were a few quiet little gems in this album. It’s remarkably short, though. 10 songs, but it’s all over in just over half an hour, and always makes me think that I’m missing something.
KEY TRACK: Steady As She Goes
17. Regina Spektor – Begin To Hope
Some people think that Regina Spektor has a weird voice and sounds shit. I wouldn’t agree, which kind of explains why it’s at number 17. I’m not even sure why I bought this, but I’m quite glad that I did. As well as the radio singles Fidelity, On The Radio and Better, there’s the tiny epic of Après Moi, which builds from just Regina, her bizarre enunciation of words, and a piano, to strings, big drums, and those xylophone things that always accompany skeleton dancing in the cartoons. It’s just a very cool album. And one that manages to reference obscure literary figures, but also squeak about tangerines.
KEY TRACK: Après Moi
16. Jarvis Cocker – Jarvis
He’s Jarvis Cocker. What more do you want? If thi was released a few months earlier, it would probably be higher up in the list. But seeing as I only managed to pick it up last week, well, it will have to make do at 16. Which I think is quite respectable. There’s some good moments on Jarvis, especially the lead single Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time (I’ll forgive the fact that its opening sounds like Oh Yeah by End Of Fashion) and Fat Children, with the line “Oh, the parents are the problem; giving birth to maggots without the sense to become flies. So pander to your pampered little princess – of such enormous size“. The man’s still got it.
KEY TRACK: Don’t Let Her Waste Your Time
15. The Zutons – Tired of Hanging Around
Oh how I wish for the day when the saxophone is accepted back into the mainstream. It was so cool back in Bowie’s heyday. At least The Zutons are doing something to regain its coolness factor. As I’ve mentioned before, I like horns. And this has horns-a-plenty! And a song about kidnapping the object of obsession in a ‘it puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again’ kind of way. This was another where reviewers were all like ‘Oh, they’ve gone soft and shite since their first album’, but I reckon that they’ve built on what made their first album (Who Killed..?) so good – the horns.
KEY TRACK: Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love?
14. Lily Allen – Alright, Still
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it’s verging on fluffy pop. But Alright, Still has an edge to it. The fluffiest of the songs on this album, Smile, seems like a nice little song. Until you realise that she is taking pleasure in hurting people. Another track pretty much chops the nuts off anyone she’s been with. It dropped a few places on the list because of Take What You Take, which is all platitudes and cliches and sounds as if it should have been recorded by the Sugababes. But I’ll forgive Lily, because she’s admitted that the song is indeed shit.
KEY TRACK: Everything’s Just Wonderful
13. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere
I freaking hate hip hop, r’n’b, rap, and so on. I just don’t like it at all. It’s all ego and bullshit. But Gnarls Barkley’s St Elsewhere is genius. It’s mostly because of the brilliant production skills of Danger Mouse, which, after Gorillaz’ 2005 album Demon Days, I’ve quite admired. And Cee-Lo Green’s voice is incredible. From his performances on Crazy and Smiley Faces, you know that he is more than just a washed-up rapper.
KEY TRACK: Smiley Faces
12. Peter Bjorn & John – Writer’s Block
Who doesn’t like whistling? How about Swedish whistling? How about bongos? And early-90s influences mixed with 60s guitar pop? Does that sound like a good mix to you? Of course not! It sounds revolting! BUT IT ISN’T! Peter Bjorn and John manage to get all these influences together, as well as writing lyrics in understandable English, and have produced a tight little album relatively free of filler.
KEY TRACK: Let’s Call It Off
11. I’m From Barcelona – Let Me Introduce My Friends
Aww. More Swedes! And this time, there’s twenty-nine of them! Playing indie-pop! About stamp collecting, chicken pox, and treehouses! I’ve found this to be one of the sweetest (‘sweet’ as in ‘aww, look at that cute puppy!’, not ‘dude, that’s totally sweet’) albums I’ve ever heard. Not bad for an album I bought purely from reading one review of on the internet.
KEY TRACK: Collection of Stamps