Mixes By Year: 2006 Most Recommended Albums

To my ears 2006 was one of the standout years of the decade- time will tell if revisionist history proves me right or wrong.  The year lacked any clear cut standout albums that other years in the 00’s had- there was no “Kid A”, “Funeral”, “Stankonia”, or “Merriweather Post Pavilion”- though stellar albums by TV On the Radio, Clipse & Ghostface Killah came close.  What 2006 lacked lacked in those standout albums it made up for in the sheer quality, diversity and depth of excellent albums and songs- my list of great songs from 2006 goes on for so long would take me 20 volumes of my mixes to cover everything.

High quality pop music was massively abundant in ’06- much more so than today (in 2010).  Great songs with an R&B/Hip Hop bent by artists like Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, Beyonce, Ciara and (even one great song from) Christina Aguilera as well as lesser names like Christina Millian, Cassie & Cherish were all over the airwaves.  Amy Winehouse was able to bring a fresh approach to old school soul to huge sales and popularity both in the U.S. and the U.K.- her native country.  Lily Allen, another young Brit, took her sassy, upfront reggae flavored pop to the top of the British charts as well- less successful but still notable in the U.S.  The U.K’s most successful new band in a long while were the Arctic Monkeys who set U.K. sales records with their debut album- a fresh take on Strokes influenced indie-rock told through the eyes of pub crawling, skirt chasing 18 and 19 year olds.

2006 was also the real start of the post-Katrina Bush malaise.  While many people were disillusioned throughout his administration the vast majority of the rest of the country seemed to catch up in ’06.  To me “Return to Cookie Mountain” perfectly captured the sound, the frustrations and the indignation of what it was like to be living in America in the middle of quite a nasty decade, under an administration you were hardly proud of.  The Thermals “The Body, the Blood, the Machine” took the right wing, especially the religious right, head on helping (along with people like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher) people like me feel more sane.  Other albums like “Silent Shout” by The Knife (though they come from Sweden) and “Blood Mountain” by Mastodon captured the eeriness (with the former) and the gloom, anger and escapism (with the latter) of the age.

“Hell Hath No Fury” by Clipse, my pick for album of the year, was also a signifier of the times.  While the entire lyrical content of the album was about drug pushing and the lifestyle that goes with it, there was an ominour tone throughout- consequences for the protagonists’ actions and a feeling that things would ultimately not end up well.  That’s a far cry from most of the celebratory rap of the previous 10 years- drug rap and otherwise.  The year saw some other great releases by The Roots, the aforementioned Ghostface Killah and J Dilla along with a top shelf mix-tape from the increasingly popular Lil Wayne.  Though high quality releases all there was not a blockbuster in the bunch.  T.I. was the only high quality rap release that year to achieve blockbuster status- this would be the beginning of rap’s waning dominance of the charts.

Every artist/band mentioned below is still making making music today with the exception of the sadly deceased Dilla, Amy Winehouse who is a big question mark due to her mental health and addictions and Be Your Own Pet who broke up.  Some of the artists like Phoenix and Grizzly Bear have made superior albums since.  All of the below music still carries influence today.  We’ll just have to see which ones end up emerging as the greats of their age.

Amy Winehouse- Back to Black

Buy Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

Buy Back to BlackAmazon

Beyonce- B’Day

Buy B’Day – Beyoncé

Buy B’DayAmazon

Phoenix- It’s Never Been Like That

Buy It’s Never Been Like That – Phoenix

Buy It’s Never Been Like ThatAmazon

The Thermals- The Body, the Blood, the Machine

Buy The Body, the Blood, the Machine – The Thermals

Buy Body the Blood the Machine Amazon

Neko Case- Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Buy Fox Confessor Brings the Flood – Neko Case

Buy Fox Confessor Brings the FloodAmazon

Peter Bjorn & John- Writer’s Block

Buy Writer’s Block – Peter Bjorn and John

Buy Writer’s Block Amazon

Grizzly Bear- Yellow House

Buy Yellow House – Grizzly Bear

Buy Yellow House Amazon

Belle & Sebastian- The Life Pursuit

Buy The Life Pursuit (Bonus Tracks) – Belle and Sebastian

Buy Life Pursuit Amazon

Mastodon- Blood Mountain

Buy Blood Mountain – Mastodon

Buy Blood MountainAmazon

The Knife- Silent Shout

Buy Silent Shout – The Knife

Buy Silent ShoutAmazon

Clipse- Hell Hath No Fury

Buy Hell Hath No Fury – Clipse

Buy Hell Hath No FuryAmazon

J Dilla- Donuts

Buy Donuts – J Dilla

Buy DonutsAmazon

Band of Horses- Everything All the Time

Buy Everything All the Time – Band of Horses

Buy Everything All the TimeAmazon

TV On the Radio- Return to Cookie Mountain

Buy Return to Cookie Mountain – TV On the Radio

Buy Return to Cookie Mountain (with Bonus Tracks)Amazon

Ghostface Killah- Fishscale

Buy Fishscale – Ghostface Killah

Buy FishscaleAmazon

Arctic Monkeys- Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Buy Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys

Buy Whatever People Say I Am Thats What I Am Not Amazon

The Hold Steady- Boys and Girls in America

Buy Boys and Girls In America – The Hold Steady

Buy Boys & Girls in AmericaAmazon

Be Your Own Pet- Be Your Own Pet

Buy Be Your Own Pet – Be Your Own Pet

Buy Be Your Own Pet (Dig) Amazon

Lily Allen- Alright, Still

Buy Alright, Still – Lily Allen

Buy Alright, StillAmazon

The Roots- Game Theory

Buy Game Theory (Bonus Track Version) – The Roots

Buy Game TheoryAmazon

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