Best of 2006 in music

Here’s my yearly list of the best albums I’ve found this year. It would be more accurate to call this my a list of my favorites, I don’t really claim these are the “best”, rather these are the albums/tracks that I played the most throughout the year. [If you’re into Top Ten+ lists, has an interesting and extensive list of ratings.]

  1. Ray Davies, Other People’s Lives
  2. Robert Pollard, Normal Happiness
  3. Los Lobos, The Town and The City
  4. Bob Dylan, Modern Times
  5. Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror
  6. My Morning Jacket, Okonokos
  7. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
  8. Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped
  9. M. Ward, Post-War
  10. Solomon Burke, Nashville

The Liner Notes

Since I can’t restrain myself, I’ve put together two CDs of favorites. Volume 1 includes my favorites of the new studio recorded music. Volume 2 includes covers, reissues, live tracks released in 2006 (plus some studio tracks I couldn’t squeeze onto the first CD).

As usual my listening is pretty eclectic, but leaning toward blues, roots, and R&B. There’s a strong New Orleans theme to be found in this year’s line up, from funky second-line drummer Stanton Moore to the legendary Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint and even Ray Davies (who was shot while chasing down a couple of muggers when he was in NOLA writing songs for his first solo album ever).

Wayne’s Favs of 2006—Volume 1—Best of New Studio Music

Stanton Moore, III, “Poison Pushy”
The funky drummer from Galactic, along with Robert Walter on the Hammond B3.

Tony Joe White, Uncovered, “Not One Bad Thought” (with Mark Knopfler)
King of Swamp Rock is back.

Roman Candle, The Wee Hours Review, “You Don’t Belong To This World”
Alt-country and indie rock from Chapel Hill

Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror, “Arizona”
All Music Guides says: On The Boxing Mirror, Escovedo and producer John Cale erase the line: rock, pop, country, Tejano, and other folk forms are woven into a rich, colorful fabric without regard for classification.

Rosanne Cash, Black Cadillac, “Black Cadillac”
Documents loss, grief, acceptances of the passing John R. Cash, Vivian Liberto Cash Distin, and June Carter Cash.

The Handsome Family, Last Days of Wonder, “All The Time In Airports”

The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers, “Steady As She Goes”
Detroit’s Jack White and Brendan Benson hook up with the rhythm section of and Cincinnati’s Greenhornes.

Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam, “World Wide Suicide”
Seattle’s grunge kings get political with one of their best since Ten.

Beck, The Information, “Strange Apparition”
Quirky white-boy funk-rock and rap, with hints of psychedelia and folk-rock.

Robert Pollard, Normal Happiness, “Rhoda Rhoda”
God of the sublime two-minute power pop record.

Don Dixon, The Entire Combustible World In One Small Room, “Sunlit Room”
Producer of great ’80s jangle power pop (see R.E.M., Marshall Crenshaw, Matthew Sweet, etc.), former member of Chapel Hill legends Arrogance, creates concept album everyday life plays out in various rooms.

Yo la Tengo
, I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, “Song For Mahila”
Best album title of the year.

Ray Davies, Other People’s Lives, “Run Away From Time”
Best songwriter of the rock era? I think so.

Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped, “Reena”
Less-jam, tighter playing, rounds out the triple play with Sonic Nurse, Murray Street…Kim Gordon rocks!

Destroyer, Destroyers’ Rubies, “European Oils”
Vancouver’s indie=pop craftsman Dan Bejar (also a member of The New Pornographers) masterminds a cerebral pop gem.

Neko Case
, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, “Margaret vs. Pauline”
Members of the Sadies and Calexico as well as Garth Hudson of the Band, Howe Gelb from Giant Sand, and Kelly Hogan join westcoast indie-pop/alt-country chanteuse (and New Pornographer) Case on songs of the heart.

Los Lonely Boys, Sacred, “Roses”
Took the Garza’s three years to get this one out, but no sophomore slump after “Heaven” smash.

Los Lobos, The Town and The City, “The Town”
Powerful exploration of the Mexican-American experience, rates up there with 1992’s Kiko.

Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint, The River in Reverse, “The River In Reverse”
Unlikely paring revive Toussaint’s New Orleans R&B classics on one half of the record and collaborate on new tunes for the other half. Katrina serves backdrop.

The Flaming Lips, At War With the Mystics, “Goin’ On”
Wayne Coyne and his OK City buddies produce album of anti-Bush psychedelia (they’ve been listening to Pink Floyd and smoking something too).

Wayne’s Favs of 2006—Volume 2—Best of the Covers, Live, Reissued Tracks, Two from 2005, Plus the Stuff That Wouldn’t Fit on Volume 1

Matthew Sweet, Girlfriend [Deluxe Edition], “Girlfriend”
Best Album of the 90s, with bonus tracks, demos and rare Goodfriend bonus disc.

Dave Alvin, West of the West, “Redneck Friend”
California troubador covers other Golden State songwriters including, Merle Haggard, Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, John Fogerty, Brian Wilson, Kate Wolf, Los Lobos. Check out the do-wop version of “Surfer Girl”.

Los Super Seven, I Heard it On the X, “Heard It On The X”
Celebration of border radio by producer Dan Goodman’s collective, including LSS vets Joe Ely, Rick Trevino, Freddy Fender, and Ruben Ramos who are joined by John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett, Rodney Crowell and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. This is a 2005 release, but who cares.

The Black Keys, Chulahoma, “Meet Me In The City”
Two white boys from Akron channel the late, great, north Mississippi bluesman Junior Kimbrough on Chulahoma and do their own thing on Magic Potion

Buddy Guy, Can’t Quit the Blues, “I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled & Crazy”
Ole Buddy rips it up on this great box set that covers his career from the 1950s to 2006.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band
, What’s Goin’ On?, “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”
DDBB asks the question on everyone’s mind following Katrina as they re-make Marvin Gaye’s classic, New Orleans style.

Chris Whitley & The Bastard Club, Reiter In, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”
Posthumous release by one of the great postmodern bluesmen of the late 20th/early 21st centuries.

Sir Douglas Quintet, The Complete Mercury Recordings, “Mendocino”
Limited edition box of Doug Sahm and the most influential Tex-Mex group of all time—mash-up of country, blues, jazz, R&B, Mexican conjunto/norteño music, Cajun dance, British Invasion rock & roll, garage rock, and psychedelia from the Lone Star State.

Ridely Bent
, Blam, “David Harley’s Son”
A 2005 release, but I didn’t discover this one until Paul O. passed it my way. Hick Hop from Vancouver, BC.

Todd Snider
, The Devil You Know, “The Devil You Know”
Snider blends blues, rock, folk and country on sharply written tunes about life in pre-apocalyptic America.

Antony, Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man [Soundtrack], “If It Be Your Will”
While Rufus Wainwright hogs the camera and Nick Cave does the most authentic Cohen, Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) steals the show with his version of “If It Be Your Will.” AMG says: “Antony’s white-hot vocal expressionism and humility tear the surface off every emotion and word in the song for the purpose of finding what they’re really made of. If this one doesn’t just blow you away, you have sawdust instead of blood running in your veins. It almost feels like the voice of God coming through the grain of his own.”

M. Ward, Post-War, “Poison Cup”
Westcoast singer/songwriter makes dusty, retro-folk-pop-rock that sounds brand new and old at the same time.

Golden Smog, Another Fine Day, “Another Fine Day”
Alt-country supergroup (members of Jayhawks, plus Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and Soul Asylum’s Dan Murphy) makes well-crafted jangle-pop.

My Morning Jacket
, Okonokos, “Dancefloors”
Louisville’s MMJ harken’s back to the good old days with their fourth release, a live double album (recorded at San Francisco’s Filmore no less).

Solomon Burke, Nashville, “That’s How I Got To Memphis”
Buddy Miller produced album of country/soul tunes by the King of Rock & Soul, includes duets with Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, and Gillian Welch. (Remember King Solomon did a killer version of “Detroit City” back in 1968).

R.E.M., And I Feel Fine: The Best Of The I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 , “Begin The Begin”
R.E.M. at their very best (before that “Shiny Happy People” shit).

Bob Dylan, Modern Times, “Workingman’s Blues #2”
Bob does down and dirty blues.

Gram Parsons, The Complete Reprise Sessions, “Hickory Wind (Alternate Take)”
Three disc box collects GP, Grievous Angel, and the reason to buy this set, a disc of alternate takes from both albums. Emmylou looms large here.

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