Monday, December 11, 2006


Well, as it's fast approaching the New Year, and by now, pretty much anything good that should come out already has, making space on the shelves for numerous pop starlets and fading rap-rockers to release best-ofs that successfully compile the cream of careers that span 2 (maybe 3) records. As a result, I feel confident enough to release my top ten records for 2006, figuring that anything that comes out now that might make the list, I probably won't have time to listen to.

So, straight into it:

10. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
Pure soulful, intelligent, verbose and genuinely touching ROCK. The Hold Steady confirm their reputation of being the hardest drinking, hardest rocking rhodes scholars on the rock scene today. Have I said Rock enough? This record is rock as rock should be. Rock.

9. Yo La Tengo - I am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
Would have made this list on the strength of the title alone, thankfully Yo La Tengo have backed up such wonderful inventiveness on the cover with THE record for musical eclectics everywhere. Equal parts bouncing pop ('Beanbag Chair', 'Mr Tough', 'The Weakest Part') psychadelia ('Pass the hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind', 'The Race is On Again', 'Daphnia') and swirling beauty ('I Feel Like Going Home'), IANAOYAIWBYA has something for everyone. And it's all great.

8. Peeping Tom - Peeping Tom
God Bless Mike Patton. The man who can keep pop music fun, interesting and still very, very good! While few songs this year have come out that are better than lead single 'Mojo', Peeping Tom truly comes into its own when Patton's now famous collaborations kick in. Be it Dan the Automator, Danger Mouse, or a kick-arse Norah Jones, there is always a surprise around the corner.

7. Ground Components - An Eye for a Brow, a Tooth for a Pick
Fun, individual and with two of the year's best covers, along with the years best hip-hop/rock crossover, Melbourne's Ground Components have rewarded the patience shown by local fans in taking several years to launch a debut by putting out such a wonderfully inventive and totally cool record. We will see more of them.

6. Thom Yorke - The Eraser
Let's face it. We were all terrified that, left to his own devices and without the O'Briens and Selways of the world to say 'No Thom, that just sounds weird', Yorke would make music that sounded, well, weird. How wonderful it was to be surprised with a record that, while including the now-trademark skitters, glitches and scratches, also had some of the most glorious melodies, soaring harmonies, and one of the world's sweetest voicest at the peak of its powers. We can only hope next year's return to Radiohead will be as rewarding.

5. Muse - Black Holes and Revelations
Wow. The bigger, louder and more apocalyptic Muse get, the better they seem to be. While perhaps not topping the insane magnificence of 2000s Origin of Symmetry, BH&R displayed Messrs Bellamy, Wolstenholme and Howard showing almost every other band in the world that whatever they did, Muse probably did it better. From the ultra-sexified 'Supermassive Black Hole' to the thrash-metal-with-melody 'Assassin', the flamenco styled 'City of Delusion' and everything in between, Muse continue to conquer the world, one cataclysm at a time.

4. Augie March - Moo, You Bloody Choir.
Bugger me, it's been a great year for album titles, hasn't it. While The Augs have begun to flirt with commercial success to match the almost orgasmic rapture of the critical set, this hasn't resulted in any dilution in quality. While not as wilfully absurd and brilliant as 2002s Strange Bird, Moo, led by (one of the songs of the year) 'One Crowded Hour' continued to pave the way for Aussie bands to make smart, adult music that has no shame wearing its intellectual heredity on its sleeve.

3. The Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
While it would be so easy to take the uber-cool, NME option and turn on these lads from Sheffield, the beneficiaries of a hype-machine never before witnessed - anywhere - (and hopefully nowhere else ever again), another listen to their debut record confirms that it is, in fact, a dead set corker. Witty, punchy and with great melody and attitude, The Arctic Monkeys have, irrespective of the hype and the inevitable backlash, made one of the best albums of 2006.

2. The Drones - Gala Mill
You either love or hate Melbourne's The Drones. (Speaking of which, 3 Melbourne bands in the top ten! I'm not particularly parochial...actually yes I am, this is AWESOME!) And I love them. Steeped in Australiana, soaked in booze and misery, and buried under a pile of bush poetry and murder ballads, Gala Mill is utterly unfashionable and amazingly potent. 'Sixteen Straws', the tale of murder and survival in Australian convict settlements, is one of the most bloody, savage and heart-rending portraits of Australian history ever recorded. Imaginative, alive, dramatic and powerful, Gala Mill is one of the best Australian records in years.

1. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain.
I still don't know what the title means, but who cares. Return to Cookie Mountain is so full of amazing, mid-blowingly good music that it hardly matters, and there's no point trying to list highlights. Ditching the drum machines, picking up a rhythm section and bucketloads of pathos, emotion and groove, TVOTR have made a record for the ages. Art Rock as it should be. Brilliant.

Honourable Mentions:
Sarah Blasko - What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have, The Presets - Beams, Joanna Newsom - Ys, The Grates - Gravity Won't Get You High, Bob Dylan - Modern Times, Camille - Le Fil, Beck - The Information, Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done Mr Butler.

Anyone who can appreciate the brilliance of Peeping Tom and still look past the hype over Arctic Monkeys deserves our respect. I cannot profess to have an intimate knowledge of all the albums you have included in this list but based soley on your recommendation I intend to rectify this.

Keep up the good work, I look forward to your future updates...


Post a Comment

<< Home