Red Rocker’s Top 10 of 2006
With all due respect to Gnarls Barkley and Sir Bob Dylan, I did not hear your new albums this year. My bad, not yours, but neither will be making the final cut for my year-end favorites. 2006 was a decent new release year, though not stellar by any measure. It seems some of the brightest stars (Coldplay, the White Stripes, Ryan Adams, et al) are currently between albums, leaving hope that 2007 might see some real smokers. Having grown my family by 100% in the past 18 months, the concert calendar has been way too light as well, although Oasis and Pete Yorn are both worthy of their asking price and Bob Seger showed the Mick Jaggers of the world what 61 should sound like (and at a fraction of the price!).
A fistful of honorable “greatest hits” packages dropped this year, the highlights of which included Jane’s Addiction, Cracker, and the Replacements. Who knows, the ‘Mats may even keep the reunion rumor mill churning for another 12 months? Still, the most exciting part of any new release year is the unknown artists who break through. Never heard of Roman Candle or the Deadstring Brothers? Too bad. Their respective debuts are awesome, and whether they shrivel and die on the vine or keep chugging to dizzying new heights, one can’t ignore these entries.
So, order be damned, as usual. I offer my annual checklist of the 10 albums in my red collection that saw the most spins in 2006. Stay tuned after the Top 10 have been handed out, as I have a bit of additional ranting and raving to do…
Golden Smog: Another Fine Day (Lost Highway)
Hands down, the best supergroup out there today. The argument will rage (or maybe not) as to whether they really have any competition in the category.
The Damnwells: Air Stereo (Zoe)
These guys are off and running, now two very accomplished albums into a career. If only there was an ounce of justice in this cruel business, you’d hear their songs on your local alternative radio station.
Bob Seger: Face the Promise (Capitol)
Like Neil Diamond and Loretta Lynn before him, Bob Seger rose from the ashes and rendered possibly his most consistent and relevant album in 25 years. He easily runs away with the “Welcome Back, Kotter” award for 2006!
Audioslave: Revelations (Sony)
Wow. So very far removed from their prior bands, Audioslave forges on. “Somedays” is one of the best songs of the year, while “One and the Same” will satisfy even the most finicky Rage fan.
Dixie Chicks: Taking the Long Way (Sony)
Sure, their anti-everything grandstanding gets old. But a really cool So-Cal vibe and production credits to Rick Rubin, the biggest-selling female band in history nailed it with one of this year’s true surprises.
Buckcherry: 15 (Eleven Seven)
With a title no doubt paying homage to one’s remaining minutes of fame, a revamped Buckcherry went back to their roots and delivered a bombastic riff rock sucker punch from left field.
Dierks Bentley: Long Trip Alone (Capitol)
The only country album to make this year’s list (no, I don’t consider Dixie Chicks country anymore), Dierks Bentley gets bonus points for writing most of his own stuff…an often overlooked skill in Nashville.
Roman Candle: The Wee Hours Revue (V2)
This is the real perk of writing for Bullz-Eye: an editor sends me the first record of a complete unknown and scratches the note “I think you’ll like this” on it. The best thing to come out of North Carolina since Whiskeytown!
Deadstring Brothers: Starving Winter Report (Bloodshot)
The most deserving Exile on Main Street comparison I’ve heard in years, maybe ever. It’s mind-boggling that more wasn’t made of these guys (and gal). This record plays like it’s been in your collection for decades after the very first spin.
Dubious Honors and Other Random Awards
The album I wish I would’ve liked better: Shawn Mullins: 9th Ward Picking Parlor
The single I just can’t seem to shake: “Nth Degree,” Morningwood
The song I hate myself for liking: “Better Days,” Goo Goo Dolls
“What the hell is wrong with…” award: Rod Stewart
“This band’s fallen and they can’t get up” award: Train
The fascination I just don’t get: The Killers
The album that improved with age: The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers