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12.24.07 Staff Picks: Top 50 Albums Of 200712.27.06 Staff Picks: Top 15 Of 2006
12.27.06 Top Albums Of 200608.28.03 Staff Picks: Top Albums of 2009

Staff Picks: Top 15 Of 2006

Staff concensus, based on the result of the individual staff lists.
No Heroes

By far the most *** kicking release of the year, Converge drop their second guitarist but continue to be one of the most intense bands on the planet. From the brutal opening tracks, to the near ballad 'Grim Heart/Black Rose,' to the almost emocore 'Lonewolves,' this is arguably the most well-rounded album Converge have yet to release. -- John A. Hanson
2Kayo Dot
Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue

The latest addition to Toby Driver's already impressive list of achievements, Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tounge solidifies Driver's position as one of the most forward-thinking minds in modern music. While Choirs of the Eye was a record unlike any other, Dowsing... adopts an even more unorthodox approach to songwriting. With songs ranging in style from ambient, doom metal, modern classical and noise, Kayo Dot have created one of the most interesting records of all time -- Andrew Hartwig
4Yo La Tengo
I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

Possessing one of the most attention grabbing album titles of 2006, Yo La Tengo's latest effort further demonstrated their ability to play in an enormous range of styles, and still make it into a cohesive work. Sprawling and eclectic, I Am Not Afraid... is probably the most essential indie-rock album of the year --Andew Hartwig
5The Decemberists
The Crane Wife

Many associate major label debuts by indie bands as a form of selling out. They don't want the uniqeness of the band dumbed down for the masses, or even worse, they don't want to lose the indie chic of being a dedicated fan of a relatively obscure band. But for the Decemberists, their move to a major label has actually improved their sound. Although the minstrel tinged voice has predictably become more mainstream, the Decemberists feature some of their best songwriting yet, and perhaps more importantly, begin to show a breadth lacking in their previous albums. In the three part track "The Island, Come and See, The Landlord's Daughter", the Decemberists surprisingly display a classic rock influence, while the vocal melody in "When the War Came" sounds eerily like a Led Zeppelin song. While there are some typical Decemberist's songs on here like "Yankee Bayonet", they begin to branch out on song's like "The Perfect Crime", and display surprising musical skill in the process. All in all, the Crane Wife is not a story of a band selling out, but of a band growing up -- Jeremy Ferwerda
In the Absence of Truth

Isis' majesty and mastery of the genre fires on all cylinders, eclipsing the already-brilliant albums that were 'Oceanic' and 'Panopticon', making this the band's best yet. "Wrist of Kings" burns with a slow fire while the instruments build and take center stage, while "Dulcinea" and "Holy Tears" blow listeners away with their immense soundscapes. With each Isis release, the band continue to outdo themselves. A near-masterpiece -- Jom
7 Tom Waits

Usually triple disc albums are crammed full of useless filler but Waits proves that theory wrong. Amongst the epic, triple-disc album Waits showcases his wonderful songwriting skills by creating soft, lonesome songs, whiskey soaked ballads, and loud, boisterous avant-garde rockers -- Chris Jackson
8TV on the Radio
Return to Cookie Mountain

Yeah, it's a pretty stupid title. Nonetheless, TV on the Radio's sophomore album is a pulsating chunk of pop wrapped up in tremulous layers of guitar noise wrapped up in a stylish but one-of-a-kind production aesthetic. Return to Cookie Mountain is not without reference, but the human pieces of the band, especially singer Tunde Adebimpe and multi-instrumentalist/producer Dave Sitek, coalesce to form a Voltronesque monolith of uniquely sculpted guitar rock that's as catchy as it is defined. That sounds stupid, but that's my story and I'm sticking with it -- Robert Crumb
9Justin Timberlake

It had to happen, didn't it? With FutureSex/LoveSounds, JT's reached a stage in his career few others have reached in recent year; neither of his solo albums have come close to realising his massive potential, yet he's getting love spanning the length of the culture divide nonetheless. The highly publicised Rick Rubin collaboration turned out to be a damp squib, the Jackson-esque '(Another Song) All Over Again' limping across the finishing line, but the majority, produced by Timbaland and prot?g? Danjahandz, is a triumph. 'SexyBack' is charming, despite being the sonic equivalent of being beaten in the face with a mallet, while follow-up singles 'My Love' and 'What Goes Around' demonstrate his keen fusion of Prince's natural falsetto with Jacko's ear for a honeysuckle melody. FutureSex/LoveSounds is either 100% derivative or just 99%, but he's ripping off his heros better than anyone else right now, and that's all that really matters -- Dave de Sylvia
10M. Ward

A crackling radio spits out snatches of Western tunes, accompanied by a cracked baritone. It's 'Post-War' by M. Ward, and it's an absolutely stunning album that feels both old and new at the same time. This isn't necessarily singer-songwriter folk; it heralds back to an older tradition (think Johnny Cash minus the country). In any case, it's superb. Check out 'Poison Cup' and 'Chinese Translation' especially -- Jeremy Ferwerda
Saturday Night Wrist

Saturday Night Wrist is Deftones at their most diverse, interesting, and emotive. Chino's singing is still the highlight, and the songwriting is definitely a step up from their self-titled 2003 release. Nine out of the twelve songs are flawless, two are good but not great, and one is just fucked up -- Nick Greer
12Scott Walker
The Drift

Haunting, dark, dreary, and frightening. Walker creates an album that sounds no other musical artist can even attempt to mimic. The music combines eerie beats, sparse orchestrations and Walkers strange vocals all into one. One of 2006's most unique and interesting albums -Chris Jackson
The Trials of Van Occupanther

I gotta say, I was extremely distraught to here that Midlake, a band I had come to love for their quirky synths and lo-fi indie were going to turn there 2006 release, The Trials of Van Occupanter, into a 70's inspired folk rock album, but I was certainly not disappointed. Occupanter is an extremley relaxed opus of strings, acoustics and poetry, that further continues Midlake's journey into 19th century culture. Sprawling pop tracks like Branches and Young Bride make this record a classic -- The Katz Brothers
14Butch Walker
The Rise And Fall Of Butch Walker...

Butch Walker's never been one to evoke a luke-warm reaction- his steadily evolving musical style is about as offensive as pop music can be, and that's not about to change with the release of this semi-concept album, an attempt to stylistically and thematically tread the same ground as David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust did over 30 years earlier- the perils of rock n' roll stardom and the non-existence of redemption through indulgence. Through T. Rex/Bowie aping numbers like 'Hot Girls in Good Moods' to countrified rockers like 'When Canyons Ruled the City', The Rise and Fall... is a record that flows smoothly, only occasionally dropping in quality on the flip side of the record. The choice takes from the album are lead single 'Bethamphetamine', a glammy Lou Reed-type number which reverses the classic riff from Sinead O'Connor's 'Mandinka,' and the haunting Broadway-style ballad 'Dominoes.' -- Dave de Sylvia
15This Will Destroy You
Young Mountain

Young Mountain is proof that post-rock isn't quite dead yet. The band does not invent any sort of new sound or make any true advancements in the genre, they simply have the most refined and perfected post-rock sound of anyone around. Each member of the band plays with a confidence that very few bands can boast. They contrast beautiful quiet melodies and a huge wall of sound akin to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but they are a much more cohesive unit --Tyler Fisher
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