The best albums of 2006

Sunday, December 13th, 2009, 2:42 pm by Ben Salmon

(This post is part of Frequency’s coverage of the best music of the past decade. You can see all of that coverage in one place by clicking here. And be sure to tune in Dec. 18, when I’ll post “Near/Far,” our annual, downloadable MP3 compilation of the best music of 2009, to go along with our year-in-review package in that day’s GO! Magazine.)

2006 makes my head swim. It’s hard to gauge a year when some of the best music came out on EPs (Little Ones, Voxtrot, Get Him Eat Him) and pop music produced a mind-boggling number of singles that were not only mega-hits, but also … really good.

How do you balance an album — by, say, A.F.I. or Justin Timberlake or T.I. — that you know contains several great singles, but also its share of so-so stuff? I mean, it’s not like some of the best lesser-known albums of 2006 don’t have weak spots. I think The Decemberists’ “The Crane Wife” is one of the best albums of the decade, but it has a song or two I usually skip. When I evaluate it in my mind, however, its grand vision and ambition more than make up for those skippable songs.

Does Justin Timberlake’s achievement of scoring a huge hit with an awesome song like “What Goes Around” or “My Love” deserve the same consideration? Does the quality and success of “What Goes Around” equal the epic scale of “The Crane Wife”?

I’m over-thinking this, I know. But I love this kind of stuff.

I told you way back in the 2001 post that I had moved that year to the mountains of Idaho, unable to receive any radio stations, MTV or VH1. In 2006, I took my current job and moved to Bend, and suddenly mainstream music was much more accessible to me. That’s evident on the list below, where arena-ready acts sit next to artists like Clogs and Pink Nasty, who couldn’t fill the The Annex.

I don’t know how the lists for 2007 and 2008 will play out yet, but I can tell you that my favorites of 2009 (coming Friday!) include more big-name artists than any other year of the decade. I can’t see how that’s anything but a positive development. Better acts are hitting it big.

A Fire Inside, “Decemberunderground”
Band of Horses, “Everything All The Time”
The Black Angels, “Passover”
Neko Case, “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood”
The Changes, “Today Is Tonight”
Clogs, “Lantern”
Darker My Love, “Darker My Love”
The Decemberists, “The Crane Wife”
Girl Talk, “Night Ripper”
The Long Winters, “Putting the Days to Bed”
Los Lobos, “The Town and the City”
Midlake, “The Trials of Van Occupanther”
Bebo Norman, “Between the Dreaming and the Coming True”
Pink Nasty, “Mold the Gold”
Josh Ritter, “The Animal Years”
The Scourge of the Sea, “Make Me Armored”
Justin Timberlake, “Futuresex / Lovesounds”
Various Artists, “The Sound The Hare Heard”

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2 Responses to “The best albums of 2006”

  1. Empty Space Orchestra says:

    Tool – 10,000 Days…… One of the best albums of all time.

    Tool @ The Gorge August 2006…… Best concert ever.

  2. Scott says:

    I am a Camera Obscura honk, so I’d have Let’s Get Out Of This Country at the top of my list.

    Some other stuff you didn’t list that I like:

    Ghostface Killah – Fishscale
    Laura Gibson – If You Come To Greet Me
    Sunset Rubdown – Shut Up I Am Dreaming
    The Thermals – The Blood The Body The Machine
    TVOTR – Return to Cookie Mountain
    T.I. – King

    That Midlake album is amazing. And I think Night Ripper is way more enjoyable than Feed The Animals.

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