A few caveats. First, some of you may be surprised to learn that I don't get paid to review music. Shocking, I know, but it's the truth. As such, I don't routinely get free music sent to me. Second, partially due to the last point, I can't really review stuff I haven't listened to, so everything on this list consists of CDs I've either bought, or albums downloaded legally. Finally, there's a lot of stuff I've left out, because this has been a banner year for stuff I listen to. A lot of really top notch bands released new albums, which contributed mightily to the record number of shows I saw this year.
I'm going to start this list off with this year's honorable mentions. These albums are just outside the top ten. Some are surprises because I didn't expect to like them this much. Some are surprises because I didn't expect them to fall out of the top ten, but that's how good this year's crop was. So without further adieu (in alphabetical order):
Nicole Atkins and the Sea - Neptune City
Saw her open for the Raveonettes in October, and to be honest, if this had been something I'd heard on the radio, or saw on TV, I would not have picked them out as a band I'd listen to. But the live performance was really terrific. And the whole album is really entertaining. Here's the title track.
BRMC - Baby 81
A bit of a return to their hard rock roots, which is good and bad, considering the last album, the rootsier "Howl" had really grown on me. Anlthough this has some really good stuff on it, it's not my favorite BRMC album, and didn't quite rise into the top 10 this year. Here's Weapon of Choice:
Interpol - Our Love to Admire
Big surprise for me here, as I really like this album a lot, and it's probably number 11, but just wasn't quite good enough to crack the top 10. They put on a really good show, but it was at a really crappy venue, and the sound suffered as a result. Probably slid a bit due to the lyrics. I'm not usually a big lyrics guy, but some of these songs were kind of dopey on the lyrical end, especially Rest My Chemistry, which is essentially about whether Paul Banks can find the strength to screw a groupie. Anyway, here's another with questionable lyrics, No I in Threesome.
Grant Lee Phillips - Strangelet
For me, this album suffered from timing. I got it right around the time I was listening to a bunch of other stuff, and as the year comes to an end, I realize I haven't listened to it as much as I would have expected, but it's his best album since Mobilize. It's the most musically diverse and the most fun to listen to. Here's Raise the Spirit.
Rogue Wave - Asleep at Heaven's Gate
Another one I would have figured would be in the top 10, but was edged out by a crowded field. After a longer than expected hiatus while they waited for drummer Pat Spurgeon to heal from a kidney transplant, Zach Rogue and crew returned with their third album, and much like the first two, it's very good. Put on a very good show as well. Here's Lake Michigan.
The Whigs - Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip
These last two are both albums that came out in 2006, and both from bands that I stupidly skipped seeing, even though I had tickets (they were opening acts), and I hadn't taken the time to listen to their albums enough before the shows. First up is this album from the Whigs, a trio from Athens, GA. I've since grown to really like it, and as the year ends, it's been in regular rotation the last few weeks. None of the Youtube videos are very good, so I'm posting the bad recording of my favorite song off of this album, the title track. They have a new album due out next month. Here's Give 'Em a Big Fat Lip.
Viva Voce - Get Yr Blood Sucked Out
Another 2006 album, though they did just re-release their previous two albums, 2003's Lovers Lead the Way, and 2004's The Heat Can Melt Your Brain. Still, this album is their masterpiece so far, and the video below is the best song off that album, and probably one of the three best songs to which I was introduced this year. It's From the Devil Himself.
So that's it for the honorable mentions. Tune in tomorrow for #10.