Monday, December 11, 2006

Jeff Tweedy - Sunken Treasure

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy released a DVD compiled of solo performances throughout the Pacific Northwest this year. The DVD is shot really well and features some excellent Tweedy banter in addition to the performances. Wilco members Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline make appearances on a few songs throughout the DVD as well. With the purchase of the DVD came a digital download of the DVD audio, so please sample a few tracks below and go pick up the DVD.

  • Jeff Tweedy - Heavy Metal Drummer

  • Jeff Tweedy - Acuff Rose

  • Jeff Tweedy - California Stars
  • The Sadies - In Concert vol. 1

    The Sadies are my generation's The Band, and this year they released the modern equivilent of The Last Waltz. With guests such as Gary Louris, Neko Case, John Spencer, Garth Hudson, Waco Brothers and so on, this was one of those forever memorable concert events. The Sadies really are the best backing band in the world, and a pretty great band in their own right. So enjoy some tracks from The Sadies - In Concert Volume 1.

  • The Sadies - Hold On, Hold On

  • The Sadies - Tailspin

  • The Sadies - Food, Water etc.
  • I forgot to submit a few albums..

    I did my #11-20 albums in quite a bit of a hurry since i have a deadline to meet, so I didnt really put a whole lot of thought into them and looking back I left off some very worthy albums this year, so I'd like to give a nod to the following:

    m. ward - post war
    sparklehorse - dreamt for light years in the belly of a mountain
    pop levi - blue honey ep
    shearwater - palo santo
    handsome family - last days of wonder
    heartless bastards - all this time
    clipse - hell hath no fury
    swan lake - beast moans
    ..among others

    favorite live releases of the year coming up.


    So there you have my top albums of 2006. Music is all objective, so in now way am I trying to say that these were the BEST albums released this year, simply the ones that I enjoyed listening to the most and received the most spins from me. I hope you dicovered some things that you liked.

    Tomorrow I'll probably post some of my favorite live releases of the year, so be on the lookout for that.

    #1 Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country

    Here it is folks, my album of the year, Camera Obscura's "Let's Get Out of This Country." Once again, this is a band that I only just discovered this year, but they hit me in a big way and further added to my ne love of female vocals. Tracyanne Campbell wrote some truly heartbreaking lyrics on this '06 release, but it's all very endearing. Pop gems such as "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken," "Tears For Affairs," and "If Looks Could Kill," coupled with melancholy country-esque tracks like "Dory Previn," and "Country Mile" make this album nearly perfect, not to mention Campbell's voice is about as addicting as heroin. The album's only flaw being the easily forgettable "The False Contender."

    I think what I love most about this album is that it reminds me of my time as a child listening to the "Oldies" station in the car with my parents and hearing classic female lead tracks like "Be My Baby" or "My Boyfriend's Back" and so on. This album is very easily accessible and offers somethine for everyone.

    Once again, the upload of the entire album just wouldn't happen, so here are a few standout tracks from Let's Get Out of This Country. Enjoy.

  • Camera Obscura - Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken

  • Camera Obscura - Dory Previn

  • Camera Obscura - If Looks Could Kill
  • Sunday, December 10, 2006

    #2 Howlin' Rain - Howlin' Rain

    Howlin' Rain features Comets on Fire(who are awesome themselves) guitarist Ethan Miller, drummer John Moloney, and bassist Ian Gradek. Their self-titled debut album is a lot of things, but what it isn't is anything short of awesome. In it's most basic form, it's a really good country rock album, but you add in all of the psychedelia, and absurd guitar explosions and you've found yourself having an acid flashback to the original Woodstock festival. To steal a quote from our good friend at life and how to live it, "this album is about three bowls and a bad idea away from being heady." Just as an example of this album's absurdly awesome nature, take the track "Calling Lightning With a Scythe" which for it's first three minutes or so seems like a nice rolling country tune; until the wall of guitar sqwauks rains down on you and you don't know whether to fear for your life or belt out a demonic laugh and just enjoy it.

    A lot of these tracks would be great sing alongs if you could understand half of Miller's vocals, but one very audible line on the album's closing track, "The Firing of the Midnight Rain" sum up perfectly how to enjoy this album: "Drinking cans of beer all afternoon" is the best way i could possibly imagine rocking out to this ridiculously epic(for Benn, again) endeavor, which is why it's my favorite rock album of the year, and damn near my overall favorite.

    I know I've been throwing up full albums for the top 10 thus far, but for whatever reason my uploads kept crapping out on me, so please enjoy a few tracks I've selected to represent this album

  • Howlin' Rain - Calling Lightning With a Scythe

  • Howlin' Rain - In Sand and Dirt

  • Howlin' Rain - The Firing of the Midnight Rain
  • #3 Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

    Neko Case continues her reign as the Queen of the alt-country castle with her 2006 album "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood," and once again proves my long relationship with the genre and newfound love for female vocals. Just listen to this album and you too will agree that it's one of the years best. Songs like "Star Witness," "Hold On, Hold On," "That Teenage Feeling," "John Saw That Number," and "Dirty Knife" stand out on the album, though each song holds it's own. Download Fox Confessor... below.

  • Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
  • #4 Califone - Roots & Crowns

    2006's "Roots & Crowns" was my first exposure, but their unique blend of folk and blues combined with noise and electronica make for a truely interesting and enjoyable combination. That sounds keeps Califone's albums very interesting throughout and allow for their music to still sound very fresh no matter how many times you go back to it. Some standout tracks on this album include: "Pink & Sour," "Spider's House," and "A Chinese Actor," although the entire album is fantastic. So please, check out Califone's "Roots & Crowns" below.

  • Califone - Roots & Crowns
  • #5 Human Television - Look at Who You're Talking To

    Everyone loves jangle pop right? Well regardless, you'll love "Look at Who You're Talking To," the 2006 release by pop group Human Television. This album was immediately accessible for me, as I knew it would make this list after only a couple of attentive listens. The album is just extremely catchy thoughout, particularly "Such a Trip" which has by far the most indectious guitar riff. So catchy and playful. So please, come get your jangle pop and enjoy some Human Television.

  • Human Television - Look at Who You're Talking To
  • #6 Drive-By Truckers - A Blessing and A Curse

    With their 2006 release, "A Blessing and A Curse," the Drive-By Truckers continue to make a push as the band to be the face of modern southern rock. The three-headed monster of songwriters Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and Jason Isbell take turns on this album singing and playing lead guitar on their own songs. Highlights from each include Hood's "Gravity's Gone," Isbell's "Daylight," and Cooley's "Space City." The album finds the Truckers showing a number of styles, all while staying within the broader realm of alt. country and southern rock. So please, enjoy A Blessing and A Curse below.

  • Drive-By Truckers - A Blessing and A Curse
  • #7 The Thermals - The Body The Blood The Machine

    Normally, I'd avoid this whole punk-pop thing like the plague, but The Thermals latest was just too much fun to listen to. The album is consistently strong with catchy riffs and memorable lyrics throughout. The album's opening track, "Here's Your Future," got as many plays by me as any other song released this year. The entire album is worthy of air guitaring to. So enjoy.

  • The Thermals - The Body The Blood The Machine
  • #8 Hem - Funnel Cloud

    If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a big fan of country, alt-country, and folk music. This year has also found me enjoying far more female vocals than in the past. Fortunately, there is Hem which happen to be a folk/country band with female vocals. As the saying goes, a match made in heaven. "Funnel Cloud" was my first exposure to Hem and one of my biggest surprises of the year as this album is just unbelievably pleasent. So have a listen to Hem's 2006 release, Funnel Cloud and become a fan as I did.

  • Hem - Funnel Cloud
  • #9 The Black Keys - Magic Potion

    The Black Keys are a two-piece rock group from Akron, OH. They draw comparisons to The White Stripes in that their only instrumentation is the guitar of Dan Auerbach and the drums of Patrick Carney. With their third album, 2004's Rubber Factory finally putting the band on the map, the duo hold true to their bluesy-rock vibe with their 2006 release, Magic Potion.

    The album is extremely raw, and Aurbach's voice immediately reminds you of the blues, albeit a nasty blues. But the Keys strength is in its infectiously gritty guitar riffs, to which it's nearly impossible not to play your air axe along with. Album highlights include "Your Touch" and "Just a Little Heat" along with "Strange Desire", "Modern Times" and "Goodbye Babylon." But quite honestly, there isn't a single bad song on this album. With the Black Keys, you know you're consistently going to get a purely fun, foot-tapping, head-banging, air-guitaring blues-rock album. Please enjoy "Magic Potion" below.

  • The Black Keys - Magic Potion
  • #10a. Brightblack Morning Light - Self Titled

    The cardboard paper, rainbow-lensed, marijuana leaf printed glasses that come with Brightblack Morning Lights self titled album pretty much tell you all you need to know about the laid-back duo of Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes. While their first album, ala.cali.tucky, under the shortened name of "Brightblack" was as equally heavy on the pedal steel as it was on the "cave music"(credit to Hunter T.), 2006's release is all about the drugs, man.

    This album is probably best enjoyed sitting in the dark, after mutiple bong rips, or something a bit more psychedelic if that's your thing. Rainbow lensed-pot leaf glasses optional. While I can't vouch for this album being any better under the influence, I can attest that it's really awesome late at night, in complete darkness. The music conjures up mental images of nature, or space, or some other unknown dimension of complete relaxation. So turn the lights off, smoke a bowl if you feel so inclined, and enjoy 2006's self-titled release from Brightblack Morning Light.

    Since this album flows together all the way through, I decided to post the entire album, because single tracks would just sort of end abruptly where they would flow nicely into the next song on the album. Enjoy

  • Brightblack Morning Light - Self Titled
  • 10b. Roger Hoover & The Whiskeyhounds - Jukebox Manifesto

    Roger Hoover & The Whiskeyhounds are a small time country band out of the Cleveland, OH area. With their third release, "Jukebox Manifesto" they put out one of the best country albums of the year. They show excellent use of your stereotypical country music instruments and the songs range from uptempo drum-driven country tunes, to ballads, and your drunken pedal steal heavy songs. Please sample a few tracks from Jukebox Manifesto below.

  • Roger Hoover & The Whiskeyhounds - Cobblestone Road

  • Roger Hoover & The Whiskeyhounds - Anna Lee

  • Roger Hoover & The Whiskeyhounds - Inamorato
  • #11 Grizzly Bear - Yellow House

    Grizzly Bear's 2006 release on Warp, "Yellow House," is a very intimate album. Allmusic guide(link on side of blog) suggest enjoying this album in the dark, with a slight buzz, and no other miscellaneous noise. I'm inclined to agree since I often find myself winding down the night with this album. So please enjoy a couple of tracks from this very dark, quiet, and intimate album.

  • Grizzly Bear - Knife

  • Grizzly Bear - Colorado
  • #12 Bonnie "Prince" Billy - The Letting Go

    Taking one look at Will Oldham of Bonnie "Prince" Billy, possibly the creepiest looking dude in the music business, and you'd never think he could churn out such peaceful music. But 2006's "The Letting Go" is just that. Oldham has been consistently great throughout his career, and this album is no different. The album is full of really great folk tunes, with beautiful female harmonies, and some occasional string arrangements.

    Sample "Cursed Sleep," "Cold & Wet," and "The Seedling" from The Letting Go below.

  • Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Cursed Sleep

  • Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Cold & Wet

  • Bonnie "Prince" Billy - The Seedling
  • #13 Bobby Bare Jr's Young Criminals Starvation League - The Longest Meow

    With help from memebers of My Morning Jacket, Lambchop, and Clem Snide, Bobby Bare Jr's Young Criminals Starvation League recorded The Longest Meow in just 11 hours. This album combines an array of styles, and some completely ridiculous lyrics, but features some excellent steel guitar work on a number of tracks. All in all, its a pretty damn good alt-country album. Check out a couple of tracks below.

  • Bobby Bare Jr - Gun Show

  • Bobby Bare Jr - Demon Valley
  • #14 The Minus 5 - Self Titled

    The Minus 5's 2006, nicknamed "The Gun Album" finds frontman Scott McCaughey exploring an array of genres. The songs range from straight up pop, to brit-pop, to punk, and alt-country. The album never gets boring as it meanders through all of these genres and the final product, while far from perfect, is a very enjoyable album. Please enjoy some tracks from The Minus 5 below.

  • The Minus 5 - Aw Shit Man

  • The Minus 5 - Cigarettes Coffee and Booze
  • Friday, December 08, 2006

    #15 The Wreckers - Stand Still, Look Pretty

    Yeah that's right. I like a popular country album. Keyword there being "country." This is the closest thing to true country music that the mainstream has seen in some time. While Trace Adkins is winning awards for bullshit like "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," The Wrekcers are getting back to the roots of country music. And guess what? They were even nominated for a Grammy(not that they have any credibility these days). But it just goes to prove that people really do like country music that sounds like country music, rather than country music that should really be played on top 40 pop stations. So please, check out The Wreckers' "Stand Still, Look Pretty" and realize that you too can enjoy a popular country album.

  • The Wreckers - Leave the Pieces

  • The Wreckers - Tennessee

  • The Wreckers - My, Oh My
  • #16 The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America

    I'll be the first to admit, I just can't get into The Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn's voice. More or less it's like he's reciting poetry or something over this pretty rocking music. It's very awkward and I don't know if there will ever come a time where I can accept that. That said, the Hold Steady is still really fun to listen to. Lyrics about sex, drugs, and drinking make for great party music. But they aren't a one trick rock and roll pony. Even the couple of ballads on the album were remarkable. So please, sample a couple of tracks from The Hold Steady's 2006 release "Boys and Girls in America."

  • The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations

  • The Hold Steady - First Night
  • #17 Oakley Hall - Gypsum Strings

    I first discovered Oakley Hall when I saw them opening for Calexico a few months back. They were an alt-country band in their truest form, but could get pretty loud and psychadelic up there on stage too. I picked up their album, "Gypsum Strings, " their second 2006 release and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed seeing them live. Word is that this album is a bit louder and more riff heavy than their previous work, which is straight forward alt. country. Regardless, this album gets a nod from me as one of my favorites of the year. Sample a couple of tracks below.

  • Oakly Hall - Living In Sin In The USA

  • Oakley Hall - Spanish Fandango
  • Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    #18 Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I WIll Beat Your Ass

    Admittedly, I don't know a whole lot about Yo La Tengo aside from owning two of their albums and that they've been making music for 20 years or so. The three-piece group's '06 release, "I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass" left something to be desired for the hardcore YLT fans. For me, the albums wasn't anything great, but it's opening track was one of my favorite song's all year. A rock epic(for Benn) to kick off the album, and then for me it was pretty much downhill from there. Regardless, you should download said track, "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind," turn your stereo up to 11 and air guitar your heart out.

  • Yo La Tengo - Pass the Hatchet
  • #19 Band of Horses - Everything All The Time

    Band of Horses' debut album, "Everything All the Time" has drawn them comparisons to My Morning Jacket, among others. While this album isn't anything spectacular, there are some good songs on here and overall the album has held up pretty well over the year. Please check out a couple of tracks from the album below.

  • Band of Horses - The First Song

  • Band of Horses - Weed Party
  • Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    #20 Albert Hammond Jr. - Yours to Keep

    Most of you may know Albert Hammond Jr. as the guy who plays rhythm and occasional lead guitar for The Strokes, but in the fall of 2006 he released his debut solo album titled "Yours To Keep" on Rough Trade. I'll admit, I know absolutely nothing of the Strokes aside from whatever singles from their albums received assloads of air play, but none of those songs ever piqued my interest enough for me to care what more they had to offer. I would have to say the complete opposite for Hammond Jr.

    While he didn't break any ground with Yours To Keep, what he did do was release a really good rock/pop album. As I mentioned before, I'm not familiar with the Strokes' catalogue, but I'm told that a few of these tracks here sound very Strokes-esque, particularly "In Transit" and "Holiday," among others. The album is a nice blend of somber love songs and catchy guitar riffs and melodies, so there's something here for everyone. With a core backing band of bassist Josh Lattanzie and drummer Matt Romano, guests for the album include Strokes' frontman Julian Casablancas, Sean Lennon, Ben Kweller, and even Strokes' manager, Ryan Gentles.

    Surely this little endeavor of Hammond Jr.'s doesn't mean that this days in the Strokes are behind him, but I do hope it means that he will feel inclined to continue extending his solo catalogue with more albums in the future. Unfortunately this album is an import only for us American folk, but if you enjoy the tracks posted then you'll surely enjoy the album in it's entirety. I've included below a few favorites from the album.

  • Albert Hammond Jr. - In Transit

  • Albert Hammond Jr. - Blue Skies
  • Top 20 disclaimer

    Ok, just a little disclaimer about the top 20 before we get started here. Albums 20 through 10 won't be in any order, if for no other reason than i haven't really thought about exactly where they'd fall outside the top 10.

    Also, in no way am i saying these albums are the 20 best albums released in 2006, I'm simply saying these are the 20 that i enjoyed the most, and listened to accordingly. And with that, let the countdown begin.

    Top 20

    Ok, I've decided I'm going to do a top 20 albums this year instead of 10. I have to go to class here shortly and work on my student web page but I'll start the posting of albums later this evening. clear your schedules.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    2006-2007 Bowl Championship Series

    This year's Bowl Championship Series(BCS) will pit it's standard four games, and new this year is a completely separate game for the National Championship.

    Rose Bowl - Jan. 1, 2007 - Michigan vs. USC - After Michigan got screwed(give me a break) out of playing a rematch against Ohio State in the NC game, they will head west to face the USC Trojans in the "Granddaddy of Them All." USC, after being upset by UCLA in the final game of the season to squash their own NC hopes, will host Michigan in what is virtually a home game for them. I have no idea what to predict here; USC's speed could give the big slow UM defense some problems, and Dwayne Jarrett is arguably the best WR in the game. But UM has a lot of weapons of their own on offense and a pretty stout defense. Likely the best matchup of all of the BCS games.

    Fiesta Bowl - Jan. 1, 2007 -Oklahoma vs. Boise State - Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a pretty big Boise State fan, so much that I even claim to be from Idaho at times just to mess with people. They are the only non-major conference team to appear in a BCS game this year, but they deserve it. Oklahoma comes into the game fresh off of beating Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship game, and were one blown call against Oregon away from having their own chance to play for the National Championship. Word is that RB Adrian Peterson could be back for this game, which would be bad news for Boise State. Either way, I look forward to this game and it should be pretty exciting.

    Orange Bowl - Jan. 2, 2007 - Louisville vs. Wake Forest - Yes that says Wake Forest. Um yeah, Louisville wins I guess. Who Cares?

    Sugar Bowl - Jan. 3, 2007 - Notre Dame vs. LSU - In a virtual home game for LSU, the Sugar Bowl returns to New Orleans. This one should be pretty funny. LSU should have a field day against Notre Dame's defense on the turf in the Superdome. On the other side of the ball, LSU features a top 5 pass defense, and I really don't see Darius Walker getting much going against their run defense. Final prediction: LSU wins 34-14. Geaux Tigers

    BCS Championship Game - Jan. 8, 2007 - Florida vs. Ohio State - Face it, Florida deserves to be there. Michigan had their shot at tOSU, they lost, get over it. I think tOSU is clearly the best team in the country, but don't count out Florida. Much like OSU in 2002, Florida struggled to win a number of games, but find themselves playing for the National Title in the end. Florida's defense is pretty stout, and their stupid spread offense could give OSU some problems. That said, OSU has a pretty great offense of their own, and just as good of a defense. My mind tells me that this could be another USC vs. Oklahoma in 2004, but my SEC heart wants to think that Florida does have a chance here, so I'll be pulling for them as much as it may pain me to do so. Go Gators!

    2006 Chick-fil-a "Peach Bowl"

    Formerly known as the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl, the now fully corporate titled Chick-fil-a Bowl will feature my University of Georgia Bulldogs versuse the Virginia Tech(VPI) Hokies. As a long time "follower" of Virginia Tech, I'm very excited to have UGA be playing against them in the "Peach" Bowl.

    After Georgia started out the year strong, they struggled through the middle portion of their schedule losing four games, including inexcusable losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. They rebounded in their final two games of the year to blowout rival Auburn, and squeak by rival Georgia Tech. Freshman QB Matt Stafford made some huge improvements in those games and is finally starting to look like the guy all us UGA fans were so excited about.

    VPI had a down year in terms of not winning their division and playing for the SEC title in a pretty huge down year for the conference. Regardless, they are still a very good team and finished the regular season ranked in the top 15.

    This should be a great game, and a big test to see if UGA has finally turned the corner from their own very down year. My pretty biased prediction says that UGA wins a close game in what is virtually a home game for them. Afterall, they've traded wins and loses over the past few years at the Georgia Dome, with their last appearance being a loss to Wes Virginia in last year's Sugar Bowl. Go Dawgs!

    College Football Weekend Recap

    This past weekend marked the final regular season weekend in NCAA college football. A weekend that featured several conference championship games, and some shake up in the BCS standings.

    First of all, Wake Forest, that's right, Wake Forset are your 2006 ACC Champions after beating Georgia Tech 9-6 in one of the worst games I've ever watched. I couldn't stop laughing after it was over, but Wake Forest wins the worst BCS conference in the entire country and will represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl.

    UCLA upsets USC at home to squash any hopes that USC had of facing Ohio State in the BCS title game.

    Florida knocks of Arkansas in the SEC title game in Atlanta 38-28 in a game that featured some timely turnovers and a ton of trick plays. Florida winning gives them a strong case to now jump Michigan to play OSU for the National Championship.

    Navy beats Army. My dad served in the Navy so I was happy to see that.

    Finally, West Virginia ends my life by beating Rutgers. Rutgers needed to win to be Big East champions and represent the conference in the Orange Bowl. But no, with Pat White out, West Virginia inserts the ghost of Rohan Davey and beats Rutgers in triple overtime. Thanks a lot. However, West Virginia will now go on to absolutely destroy Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl.

    More to come on the BCS and UGA bowls games.