I don't know what releases were really "the best" albums of 2006. I just know the ones that I liked more than others and the ones I actually listened to more than a couple times. Five of these favorites follow below.
Ali Farka Toure -- Savane
Sad to say I never saw him play live. Here the late Malian musician makes the African link with the blues explicit. Maybe it's not an inexhaustible album, but it's close.
Arctic Monkeys -- Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
What can I say? I was attracted to punk when it came out because of the high snot factor. The Arctic Monkeys' music isn't all that original, but it is snotty. I still listen to a few cuts.
Gnarls Barkley -- St. Elsewhere
Well, "Crazy" is the best single pop track of the year hands down. I didn't really need to play it on my own system (more and more of time that means my computer) because it was actually on the radio. These guys could go their separate ways again and feel pretty good about putting together something this entertaining and imaginative.
TV On the Radio -- Return To Cookie Mountain
I listened to this album a lot when I first got it. I loved the soul, indie, prog, etc. mix. But soon following, every production trick and vocal flourish became too exhausting. It's a major achievement, but I don't think it's meant for casual iTunes playlists.
Bob Dylan -- Modern Times
The record was good. The Bob Dylan concert in Madison featuring songs from the record was better. The woman sitting next to me at the Kohl Center complained that Dylan never said anything to the audience -- other than introducing the members of his band. Didn't matter to me, though. I was enthralled the big sound he was making with his co-conspirators. I expected to like the show, but I ended up loving it.
That's five. My top ten picks from previous years can be found at the annual Pazz & Jop poll conducted at the Village Voice, including every year this decade. These follow below:
- My favorite album in 2000 was Lovers Rock by Sade.
- My favorite album in 2001 was Mahogany Soul by Angie Stone.
- My favorite album in 2002 was Sea Change by Beck.
- My favorite album in 2003 was Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by OutKast.
- My favorite album in 2004 was Tekitoi by Rachid Taha.
- My favorite album in 2005 was Arular by M.I.A.