mxdwn Top 20 Albums 2006: 10-610. Morrissey – Ringleader of the Tormentors
Even though he was the front man of one of the most important bands of the 1980s, Morrisseyâ€šÃ„Ã´s solo work has been impressive to say the least. His most recent release, Ringleader of the Tormentors, may even be the crowning achievement of his work since Viva Hate (1988). This record beats its listeners into submission with heavily layered guitars and intricate orchestral movements. Lyrically, it deals with Morrisseyâ€šÃ„Ã´s classic topics such as death and lost love while not being overly reminiscent of The Smiths. Anyone interested in this record should check out the distinctive track â€šÃ„ÃºYou Have Killed Me.â€šÃ„Ã¹
– Brendan Welsh
9. Hank III – Straight to Hell
For those irritated by twangy glee of modern pop country, Hank III’s raucous Straight to Hell is breath of fresh air. Recorded on-the-cheap, with friends and without record label supervision, Hank strives for nothing less than pure honesty. Each song is an ode to drinkin’, druggin and the wild side of life. “Thrown Out of the Bar,” “Smoke & Wine” and “Crazed Country Rebel” take fiddle and lap steel to frantic mosh-worthy heights, while “Country Heroes,” “D Ray White” and “Low Down” tell soulful tales from the dark side of life. If that wasn’t enough, StH even has a 45 minute jaw-dropping countrified-audio experiment nearly doubling the amount of material. Yeehaw!
– Raymond Flotat
8. Beck – The Information
Now over ten years into his pop career, Beck continues his genre-hopping twists-and-turns on the long-gestating The Information. The Information lands squarely between the hip-hop folk of Odelay and the somber balladry of Sea Change. Here Beck and Nigel Godrich (who also produced Sea Change) deftly deploy a clever hybrid of dynamic futuristic hip-hop beats and sweeping atmospheric drones. The strongest moments here (“Soldier Jane,” “Cellphone’s Dead,” “We Dance Alone”) simultaneously pull off a gripping sense of seriousness and a playful composite of structure. It might not be a total revolution of style like many of Beck’s albums, but it is a great, subtle evolution.
– Raymond Flotat
7. Wolfmother – Wolfmother
Wolfmotherâ€šÃ„Ã´s self-titled record is one of the most exciting debuts in recent memory. The Aussie power trio mines retro-rock, adding its own unique spin and a ton of noise. â€šÃ„ÃºWolfmotherâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is light on pretension and heavy on kinetic, involving music; the energy the band generates virtually melts the media used to play it. The bandâ€šÃ„Ã´s performances on such shows as â€šÃ„ÃºLate Night with David Lettermanâ€šÃ„Ã¹ are so vigorous that they nearly make the TV shake in exhilaration. Thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s not one dud here; every song crackles with life, from the opening scream of â€šÃ„ÃºDimensionâ€šÃ„Ã¹ to the closing psychedelia of â€šÃ„ÃºVagabond.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Every fan of well-played, well-made rock should have this album.
– Desiree Guzzetta
6. The Roots – Game Theory
No surprise: Game Theory is the Roots album best portraying them as phenomenal musicians. Its funk and soul licks cry for the heyday of Prince. Its percussion, courtesy of social butterfly ?uestlove, at times sounds fit for a TV on the Radio b-side. It uses throaty R&B divas, it samples actual vinyl, it invokes Chuck D. Big honkin’ surprise: Bittersweet lyrical pride of place from Black Thought and guests like Peedi Crakk — a love for Philadelphia tempered by fear, rage, loss. Game Theory transcends the Dirty South, the hyphy West, and the jetsetting Jigga, giving such artists a sudden sameness in the face of the Roots’ complex look at the black American musical (and life) experience.
– Adam Blyweiss