WTMD is listener-supported radio from the campus of Towson University.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Top 10 of 2006!

Well, without hestitation, the band & album of 2006 that continues to leave me speechless is the Long Winters "Putting the Days to Bed". I've heard these guys before...but none of their previous albums have captured me quite like "Putting the Days to Bed". Much like Colin Meloy of the Decemberists (who also make my Top 10 list), John Roderick's writing is so imaginative that you almost need to break it down line by line...and then put it back together again for anything to make sense. It's beautiful.

Van Hunt makes the list...he continues to be as true as an artist as there is out there. The Damnwells "Air Stereo" is a reminder that Alex Dezen is a seriously overlooked songwriter with "sky is the limit" potential. It was a breath of fresh air to have new music from Starsailor this year. A lot has been said about The Killers, but these guys kick ass! It's an easy way out of reviewing something to say "sophomore slump" - and "Sam's Town" is far from a slump.

Cold War Kids is the late addition to the list...it's scary to think that "Robbers & Cowards" is their debut!

The recent success that has found Regina Spektor is something that leaves all of us at the station - very, very proud. It is a true testament to artist development and stations like WTMD making a difference in the careers of artists like Regina Spektor. (and same could be said for Mat Kearney)

Without any more rambling...here's my Year End list (random order):

1. Long Winters "Putting the Days to Bed"
2. Damnwells "Air Stereo"
3. Killers "Sam's Town"
4. Van Hunt "On the Jungle Floor"
5. Starsailor "On the Outside"
6. Cold War Kids "Robbers & Cowards"
7. Gomez "How We Operate"
8. Regina Spektor "Begin to Hope"
9. Decemberists "The Crane Wife"
10.Gnarls Barkley "St. Elsewhere"

And earlier this year Dave Matthews Band released a 4 CD set from their show at Fenway Park in Boston (booo red sox!) Nevertheless, DMB covered "Sweet Caroline" - if you haven't heard it ... here it is to see!

1 comment:

B-Rad said...

Mike... here's my top 5 from my myspace page blog...
Thought I'd weigh in too...

"--Top 5 of 2006 from a TMD Alumnus--"

It is always a journey that begins for me on January 1st of any year. Due to my inasaciable hunger for new and great music, I buy too many records.

But there is a great side effect, I get to write a list of what I think are the great records of 2006 to all who may listen/read.

I started a list in the summer. And as I sat down to start this list I realized that there are so many great records this year that I would have to give my definites with some of the honorable mentions splattered in there... because dammit! my opinion counts! (Insert delusions here)

The first record that absolutely made it on my list comes from a pair of brothers from the Carolinas. The Avett Brothers started in a hard-alternative band called Oh What a Nightmare with guitars and screaming and stomping... some has changed... mainly just the form/style... Now they are in a sentimental bluegrass band. I liked their last record and then I saw them live. I cried twice. They scream and stomp and harmonize and pick like madmen. They are what the Archers of Loaf and Pavement would have been if they were in a bluegrass band. "Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions" blows my mind everytime I hear it. And I freakin' cry almost everytime I hear it. It's beautiful, rocking and uplifting. They are coming to the Recher in April. Go see them. I will definitely be there and I have seen them twice in the last year. You won't be able to get enough...
Notable tracks:
"Left on Laura, left on Lisa"
"Distraction #74"
"Talk on Indolence"

Canadian Dan Bejar is probably most known for his work with the New Pornographers. But working with such talented songwriters as Neko Case and A.C. Newman doesn't leave much room for having all of your songs made. Destroyer is the realization of Bejar's talent. This record is sprawling art rock and musical theatre. Many compare him to early Bowie. I don't hear that as much... but goddamn is Canada cool?
That made little to no sense.
It's ok. "Destroyer's Rubies" is equal parts Neil Young (another Canadian)and the drama of Meatloaf(American). Why nationalities play in, I don't know.
Hear this record. The songs travel on over minutes like soliloquies. But unlike a bad stage play, you never worry that the lines will be botched. The stage is owned by Bejar the entire record.
Notable Tracks:
"A Dangerous Woman To A Point Once Said"
"Sick Priest Learns to Last Forever"
"Looter's Follies"

Zach Condon is Beirut. "Gulag Orkestrar" has no guitar. But, God, does it have everything else. Think Neutral Milk Hotel meets Bartok meets Rufus Wainwright. Take a second to think about that and you will then immediately want to run out and buy this record. Maybe it had a lot of hype. Probably next year you'll be hearing about him like we now hear about Sufjan Stevens as an "indie darling." What a crock. Beirut, like Stevens' work, is solid musicianship that has great melodies and instrumentation. I don't have any idea what he's saying half of the time... but sing along no matter... There is new music being made that is exciting and that will make you break your mold of what music should be. Do yourself a favor and at least hear this record.
Notable Tracks:
"Postcards From Italy"
"The Gulag Orkestrar"
"Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)"

The Top 2. The excitement is palpable.

But first some of the notable mentions:
Thom Yorke- "The Eraser" It 's a great record and I had to keep listening to it to understand that it was actually moving forward and just wasn't a continuation of "Kid A", "Amnesiac" or "Hail to the Thief." Definitely the best "headphones album" of the year.

Magnolia Electric Company- "Fading Trails" It only didn't make it on the list because I put the record that Jason Molina made last year onto my top 5. Really it's his fault that he keeps putting out records that give me shivers.

OK Back to the list:

I fought with this 4th slot vehemently. Back and fourth (pun intended)... back and forth...

I haven't had this record for long. Dear God. Own this record.
Bonnie "Prince" Billy-- "The Letting Go" It is everything you have grown to expect from Will Oldham. But, if you can believe it, more tender and intimate. Strings and female backing vocals with a sparse acoustic guitar. Oldham's live record "Summer in the Southeast" was great last year as well. A little more electric versions of some of his amazing songs.
I raked my entire lawn listening to this record over and over this weekend and that's when I decided to give it it's due. I saw Death Cab for Cutie and when the show ended they put this record on. Drive around listening to it. Do yardwork to it... heck: you could probably do it to this record and it would give you as much punch as freakin' Barry White. It invokes Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" and traipses on like a Bjork record without the techno-ish-ness. I am still trying to figure out if there are some religious undertones. Just buy this record and decide for yourself...
Notable Tracks:
"The Seedling"
"Strange Form of Life"
"I Called you Back"

A few more honorable mentions:
M.Ward-- "Post-War" Matt Ward has always been great and this record is also. "Chinese Translation" is a new favorite song. The record sounds so great... It may even be a Mogis incarnation..
The Decemberists-- "The Crane Wife" Go ahead and think that Colin Melloy can't get any more brilliant. Based on a Chinese Folktale, "The Crane Wife" is a more rocking, Jon Anderson/Yes, version of what they used to be. Always growing, these Pacific N'or Westerners continue to make me want to be a better musician. Actually, sometimes they make me want to quit 'cause I will never be close to what they do. It didn't make it into the top 5 because "Picaresque" was in my list from last year.

Here I go. If you have read this far... You will get to know that

Midlake-- "The Trials of Van Occupanther" is my favorite record of 2006. I can't damn help it. I hate Stevie Nicks. Lindsey Buckingham is a ridiculous guitar player. Mick Fleetwood... a mastermind. But dammit. Fleetwood Mac circa "Rumors" lives!! Watch out Democratic National Convention of 2032! You will be clamoring to get Midlake to re-form and join with the USC marching band to play at your convention... except now you'll be using "Head Home" as your campaign song. This band grows on you so quickly that you hate them. And then you wake up in the middle of the night wishing you could be in this band. Or at least you were a roadie. They are not all Fleetwood Mac, though. I've heard their first record and it is nothing like Occupanther. The harmonies soar over tight 1970's style well-produced rock. Tim Smith's warble over this mixture of piano, guitar, bass, strings, flute and horns is so full and well... damn full-filling. This record was worth ever cent and continues to grow and expand before my ears.

If you were going to buy ONE RECORD this year. Buy this one. I assure you, I am not on their payroll.
Notable Tracks:
"Head Home"
"Chasing After Deer"

Thanks for letting me contribute. Listen to these records.