#12 – Jim Noir: Tower of Love
I first became acquainted with Jim Noir during the World Cup; the song "Eanie Meany" was featured very prominently in Adidas's ads during the competition. That song got stuck in my head and I had to find out more. The rest of the album is the same. Jim Noir draws more inspiration from the Beach Boys than either The Beatles or Rolling Stones, and it makes for a perfect background soundtrack for just hanging around or entertaining.
#11 – The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers
No we know what The White Stripes would sound like if they weren't just half a band (i.e., had a bass line somewhere lurking in their songs). A lot of people thought this was a rather light-weight effort considering the star power lent to it by Jack White and Brendon Benson, but I thought it worked very well. "Steady as She Goes," is a fantastic, straightforward rock and roll tune that will roll around in your head for weeks if you aren't careful.
#10 – Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere
Fun. Pure fun. I would never have guessed that any album that prominently features Cee-lo would end up in one of my year end lists (just not my bag generally), but here it is nonetheless. I defy anyone to listen to this album, especially "Crazy", and not find themselves moving in time with the music.
It's been out for quite a while now, but it still sounds as fresh to me as it did when I first heard it.
#9 – Lucero: Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers
I'm sure that this album's inclusion on my year-end list will surprise very few of you who know my listening tastes well. I guess I had to get some southern rock on the list since I was a little disappointed with the Drive-By Trucker's last album (at least compared to their previous two). Well, Lucero certainly fits the bill. They get better and better with each album.
#8 – We Are Scientists: With Love and Squalor
When I first made up my draft list for the year, this album wasn't on the list. It's not because I don't love the album (I do), but because it came out early in the year. It had already assimilated itself into my more permanent rotation. I'm really disappointed that I missed their show at the Roxy in October.
#7 – Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins: Rabbit Fur Coat
If you had asked me last December what I thought would be on my year-end list for 2006, I think this is the only album that I would have put on that list, even though I had only heard a single song at that point, the outstanding "Rise Up with Fists". Well, the rest of the album is just as strong, including a nice cover of the Traveling Wilbury's "Handle with Care." Adding the Watson Twins was a masterstroke for Jenny Lewis. Their sound matches the songs she has written here perfectly.
#6 – TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain
A lot of year-end lists have this as their top album of the year. While I'm also enthusiastic about this, I'm not quite that enthusiastic. I'm not sure really how to describe TV on the Radio's sound. All I can say for sure is that they make really interesting and literate music that challenges me at every listen without becoming an dreary exercise. Besides, they have the best 'fros in the business.
NP: "Lost in Boston" - The Walkmen