Favorite Music of 2006: Craig Ness

This year, I was more apt to be fond of individual songs from artists rather than entire releases. I can only name two albums from this year that shine from end to end. But there was no shortage of single songs that kept me hopeful about the state of rock music. So, here are a couple albums and a bunch of songs that made my year.

Album of the Year: Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, “Rabbit Fur Coat”
How does today’s modern blogger decide which album reigned supreme in 2006? The science of my method
simply comes down this this: far and away, this is the album that I
listened to the most this year. It’s airtight in theme and style. Although there’s a formula of simple
arrangements, acoustic guitars and harmonies in every song, it never
gets boring. It’s filled with gorgeous vocals, americana guitar
licks, and sharp lyrics from a narrator questioning modern morality.
MP3: Rise Up (With Fists!)

Album of the Year (runner up): Sparklehorse, “Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain”
The mysterious man who records music on a mountaintop in North Carolina has pulled off another beauty. As usual, Mark Linkous creates a surreal audio landscape through a steady diet of vintage distortion from obsolete instruments and staticky fuzz from wire recordings.

Songs of the Year

1. Beirut, “Postcards from Italy”
As we continue to mourn the death of Neutral Milk Hotel and get teased by the sporadic appearances of Jeff Mangum, we have this to keep us company.
MP3: Postcards from Italy

2. Thom Yorke, “The Clock”
I’m a sucker for Radiohead, Nigel Godrich production, and synthesized beeps. But after seeing a solo, live, stripped down acoustic performance like this one, I gotta believe this guy could make an interesting song by hitting a spoon against his teeth.
VIDEO: The Clock

3. Cat Power, “The Greatest”
The most haunting, beautiful, moody song of the year.
MP3: The Greatest

4. Joanna Newsom, “Sawdust and Diamonds”
The extra arrangements on “Ys” distract me from her stunning voice and soothing harp. But this song goes back to those basic elements that made her first album so engaging.
VIDEO: Sawdust and Diamonds

5. Silversun Pickups, “Lazy Eye”
These guys know exactly how to build up guitars and vocals into a frenzy.
VIDEO: Lazy Eye

6. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, “Cold White Christmas”
A prime example of how an ex-film major turns character studies into songs.

7. Belle and Sebastian, “The Blues Are Still Blue”
The sing-a-long song of the year.

8. Serena Maneesh, “Drain Cosmetics”
This is what The Dandy Warhols have been trying to sound like.

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