With 2006 all but over, it’s time to reassess the year’s music. It was not a year of upheaval or radical change; yet saw the release of two key albums (TV on the Radio’s ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’ and Joanna Newsom’s ‘Ys’) whose influence may be felt for some time to come. Both albums found new and interesting ways of saying things in an increasingly sterile and generic pop music landscape.
Elsewhere, it was a year of singer-songwriters, whether of the alternative (Amy Millan, Neko Case, Beth Orton, Cat Power) or evergreen variety (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen). The neo-psychedelic folk movement continued to gather force and fans, while the puff finally ran out of the post-punk revival. This was not before we were provided with perhaps two of its finest exponents – UK’s Arctic Monkeys and Young Knives.
2006 also saw the return of three British pop icons – Morrissey, Green Gartside (aka Scritti Politti) and Jarvis Cocker. All three released albums that proved they still have much to offer the pop world.
Metacritic.com identified four key albums for the year – Dylan’s ‘Modern Times’, Arctic Monkey’s ‘Whatever You Say I Am…’ and the aforementioned releases by Joanna Newsom and TV On The Radio. Other strong performers were albums by Gnarls Barkley, Clipse and Ghostface Killah.
The major magazines offered few surprises in their end of year lists. Bob Dylan topped both the Uncut and Rolling Stone lists, while the Arctic Monkeys album was number one for both NME and Q Magazine. Mojo placed the Raconteurs’ lp ahead of both Dylan and the Monkeys, while Pitchfork chose the otherwise ignored ‘Silent Shout’ by The Knife as its top album.
The Nausea team has listened to about 150 new albums in 2006 – only a fraction of the total number released. The Nausea Top 25 (see below) cannot, therefore, hope to be a comprehensive record of the year. Perhaps, instead, it can be seen as an overview, bringing to your attention something that you may have missed during the year.
Meanwhile, 2007 looms, with key releases from Bloc Party, Air, Field Music, Apples In Stereo, The Earlies, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Shins and !!! all due out early in the New Year.
Here’s to another good year in music!
The Nausea Top 25 Albums for 2006
1. TV On The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain
2. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – The Letting Go
3. Hot Chip – The Warning
4. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
5. The Rapture – Pieces Of The People We Love
6. Belle And Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
7. Cat Power – The Greatest
8. The Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics
9. Guillemots – Through The Window Pane
10. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Ballad Of The Broken Seas
11. Howe Gelb – Sno Angel Like You
12. Joanna Newsom – Ys
13. The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers
14. Morrissey – Ringleader Of The Tormentors
15. Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche
16. Herbert – Scale
17. Jarvis Cocker – Jarvis
18. The Dears – Gang Of Losers
19. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
20. The Young Knives – Voices Of Animals And Men
21. Sparklehorse – Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain
22. The Sleepy Jackson – Personality
23. Charlotte Gainsbourg – 5.55
24. Scritti Politti – White Bread, Black Beer
25. Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country
bubbling under – The Pipettes, The Knife, Howling Bells, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Scissor Sisters, Mates Of State, Beirut, Beck, Thom Yorke and Tapes ‘n’ Tapes.