Monday, December 11, 2006

Underrated's Top 25 Albums of 2006

I honestly despise "best of" end of the year posts. But I couldn't let my favorites be forgotten. And yes, if everyone else was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, I probably would too. Who wants to be left alone?

Last year I compiled my favorite songs of the year, which I plan to do again, but I had to give props to the albums that were almost played to death for me this year. My list will be obvious to those who know me, and to those that aren't -- you will notice there is no Grizzly Bearesque, TV on the Radioesque like many other bloggers. Those aren't the albums I played on repeat. I'm much more of an accessible music listener. You'll be able to tell.

For the first time, I ranked the albums. I felt incredibly guilty while doing so but I thought it was time I owned up and made some decisions in my life. Without further adieu: my top 25 albums of the year along with my favorite songs from them. Keep a look out for the favorite EPs and best songs of the year that will be posted soon.

1. Annuals - Be He Me
There was no question that this would be in my top three, but when push comes to shove, this is exactly what I want in an album. Starting off with the explosive "Brother" and ending with the dreamlike "Sway," it's ordered, executed, and performed almost perfectly. When you have a sound that is musically "different," it's easy to lose people with its inaccessibility. But not Annuals. In his young age, Adam Baker has crafted a stand out debut that I'll never get sick of. It's quirky, addictive, and down right beautiful. I will always remember the first time I listened to. Expletives ensued.

  • Annuals - Complete or Completing

    2. Birdmonster - No Midnight
    Easily the most played album of the year, I even shocked myself by not having it as numero uno. But here's the thing. As much as I sincerely adore Birdmonster, both on and off the stage, and as much as I wore out No Midnight, the best is yet to come from this band. It's a fabulous debut, filled with numerous hits that you cannot help but scream along to. "Spaceman" could not have been a better closer, but it's the sometimes passed over gems of "Of Mice" and "Ball Of Yarn" that set this band apart from the others. They chose content over production, which I always admire and I thank the band for giving me an album that instantly makes me smile.

  • Birdmonster - Ball Of Yarn

    3. The Changes - Today Is Tonight
    I was, quite frankly, surprised at this album. It had been almost a year since I listened to their EP, and I feared that The Changes could become something of a novelty act. Their jazz infused lounge act sound was fun, but could it keep my attention through a whole album? The answer, of course, is yes. What The Changes have done on their full-length debut was combine the simplicity of a good pop song, and the creative juices needed to layer an old fashioned sound. It's instantly memorable, like you've always had these songs floating around your head. But The Changes are not recycled and hardly a novelty act. It's almost obnoxiously flawless, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

  • The Changes - On A String

    4. Lily Allen - Alright, Still
    Music is a very personal experience for both the artist and the listener, so I find myself constantly looking to artists to relate to. Growing up I listened to a lot of the Lilith artists, but hadn’t found a female artist recently that has fit in with my current taste. Until Miss Allen came along. Equal parts snarky and sweet, she plays with her lyrics in a way that is guiltless and fun. She has no shame, and I respect that. Plus, each song on this album is as the last, with "LDN" proving to be the summer anthem, while "Everything's Just Wonderful" has become part of my daily routine. I can't wait to see what's in store for this little lady. Hopefully her talent will override the hype.

  • Lily Allen - Everything's Just Wonderful

    5. Oh No! Oh My! - Oh No! Oh My!
    As soon as I finished listening to a burned copy of this album, I knew this band was on to something big. It's hard to classify exactly what their sound is, which I find fascinating. It's a true test of talented song writing, from the melancholy "I Have No Sister" to the dance anthem "I Love You All The Time." And of course, there's a catchy melody in every one of them. I keep my burned copy that I bought for $3 next to the official release. I can guarantee it'll be worth some money one day.

  • Oh No! Oh My! - I Have No Sister

    6. A Brief Smile - R.E.S.T.
    2006 marked a year where I lot of bands I have been following finally released their debut album. My musical experience with A Brief Smile is going on two years, with songs that have become almost as familiar as the back of my hand. Hearing those songs that I had sung along to live oh so many times on album was a wonderful gift. When I heard the final mastered versions, that same wow factor the first time I heard their EP came seeping back. It's undeniable the amount of talent and preciseness this band has. They strive for something grand, a new spin on a shoegaze pop that is fresh. Keep a look out. If this was their introduction to the world, I can't wait to see what is next.

  • A Brief Smile - This Machine

    7. Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
    I will never forget listening to this album for the very first time. It was an impulse purchase on Insound and it sat on my desk for a couple days. I woke up in the middle of the night, restless and decided to listen. I sat in my Brooklyn apartment, chain-smoking, and listened to the album in full. I wasn't looking at anything in particular but it was as though the songs were being painted in front of me. This album is hands down one of the most beautifully sounding albums I've heard in a very long time. It's bittersweet and painful, with the songs sounding as though they are being performed in front of you. There's an echo in the vocals that make it almost ghost like. From the haunting "The Funeral" to the nostalgic "St. Augustine" this album is one that is worthy of every listen.

  • Band Of Horses - Monsters

    8. Kevin Devine - Put Your Ghost To Rest
    It's no secret that I have a bit of a musical crush on Kevin Devine. You may just want to write him off as another Brooklynite singer/songwriter but I urge you to seriously reconsider. I was very nervous to hear his major label debut on Capitol. I worried he was going to lose a bit of his edge. Luckily enough, Kevin kept his fundamentals intact and released a collection of work that is both heartbreaking and sincere. Never one to shy away from what's on his mind, Kevin has proved that a little hard work will take you somewhere. "Brooklyn Boy" is a perfect NYC anthem, while "You'll Only End Up Joining Them" gives me chills each time. But "Just Stay" is that lovey dovey song that really won me over. Okay, I'll stop gushing now.

  • Kevin Devine - Just Stay

    9. Liam and Me - There's A Difference
    This album is basically a non-stop party. From the beginning to the end, it's the kind of pop music that is filled with singsong hits. I'm shocked; yes shocked that this has not hit the mainstream music world. But perhaps I'm grateful it hasn't. I could listen to this album all day every day and never get sick of it. It's that good. Just try sitting still while listening to "Don't Say A Word" or "There's A Difference," or any of their songs frankly. It's impossible. Oh, and go see them live. So much fun.

  • Liam and Me - There's A Difference

    10. Princeton - A Case Of The Emperor's Clothes
    Quite possibly my favorite discovery of 2006, Princeton is a band that now has the (un)fortunate experience of me bothering them on a regular basis. One of my new years resolutions is to get this band to New York City, and goddammit, I'll do it. Their album was instantly a favorite, their happy-go-lucky tunes complete with handclaps and egg shakers are totally up my alley. I even appreciate the fact that it was recorded on their own and sounds raw. It gives it more character. Only downfall? There are just six songs, that I repeat an embarrassingly amount of times. Doesn't hurt that they are young little floppy haired indie rock boys too. This band is just way too likeable for its own good. I fear their safety.

  • Princeton - The Indifference Curve

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