We’re entering the final third of 2006, and I’ve started to think about what I’ve heard in the past eight months to include on the year-end favorite list.
On the whole, 2006 hasn’t been that much more exiciting than 2005, but the brighter moments of this year stand out far more than last year.
The best album I heard in 2005 was originally released in 1982. (That would be Entertainment! by Gang of Four.) But the keepers of 2006 have far more staying power.
Still, I did manage to discover some albums in 2006 I wished I heard when they were first released. Although they can’t technically be included in a "best of 2006", there’s room to mention them with the "favorites of 2006".
The first half of my list is set, but there are still some open slots that the coming fall release season might fill.
Here’s the favorite list so far:
- SLOTH LOVE CHUNKS, Shikakui Vision
- Vola & the Oriental Machine, Waiting for my Food
- Utada Hikaru, Ultra Blue
- Tokyo Jihen, Otona (Adult)
- ACO, mask
- Ex-Boyfriends, Dear John
- Furukawa Miki, Mirrors
- The Gossip, Standing in the Way of Control
Late discoveries I wish I could include in that list (and just may throw caution to the wind and do so):
- Dylan Rice, Wandering Eyes
- Antony and the Johnsons, I Am a Bird Now
- Sacha Sacket, Shadowed
- Eluvium, An Accidental Memory in Case of Death
- Garrin Benfield, Where Joy Kills Sorrow
These albums ought to be mentioned, because they could end up in one of the last two slots if the rest of the year ends up sucking.
- Hajime Chitose, Hanadairo: Not as good a comeback I would have wished, but still a strong showing. Too bad Ueda Gen couldn’t contribute more.
- Morrissey, Ringleader of the Tormentors: I liked it enough, but just not enough to love.
- The Klezmatics, Wonder Wheel: The Lyrics of Woody Guthrie. I like hearing Lorin Sklamberg singing in Yiddish, so the fact there are no Yiddish lyrics on this album made me wary. But the Klezmatics do a tremendous job setting Guthrie’s lyrics to some of its most vibrant and consistent music in years.
- Hem, Funnel Cloud. I’ve only been listening to this album for the past two days, but the band makes some nice efforts to expand. Alas, there are some significant dead spots on the album.
- Sasagawa Miwa, Yoake. Her most introspective album yet, and it could have benefited from a bit more lift. But Sasagawa writes some compelling music.
Finally, the bad album I know I shouldn’t like:
- Nick Lachey, What’s Left of Me. Yes, my hormones have a weakness for Lachey, especially without a shirt. But this album achieves a level of earnest blandness that is fascinating to witness.
I do want to keep my eye on the coming releases:
- Mindy Smith, Long Island Shores, Oct. 10. I hope the sophomore slump doesn’t strike.
- … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, So Divided, Oct. 3. I’m one of the few people who liked Worlds Apart.
- The Killers, Sam’s Town, Oct. 3. Eh, I’m a child of the ’80s.