Friday, December 01, 2006

Top Ten Albums of 2006

by Will "Shawn Kemp's Got Nuthin' on Me" Carroll

2006...a great year in music in my opinion. Bands and artists that I have enjoyed for over ten years released albums this year, and they did not disappoint. I spent a lot of time listening to older soul and crazy acid jazz and things that my dj friends just hand me, however these following albums are the albums that saw steady rotation this year:

1. Tool - 10,000 Days:

Two words: Tetrahydrocannabinol and Testosterone. This album features heavy doses of each. The intricacy of the band has always been amazing, but the drummer on this album flat out rips it. Ever since I heard "Prison Sex" on Undertow I became a huge fan. I used to think I had grown out of metal but who was I kidding, I love these weirdos. Something has to be said for a band that gets no radio play, no video play, yet every time they release an album they sit at the apex of the Billboard charts (Radiohead is the only other band I can think of that has such a loyal fan base) . If you need some music that makes you want to break something look no further.

2. T.I. - King:

Outkast and Goodie Mob are the only hip hop artists from the south and the ATL that I ever gave any mind to. However, when T.I. dropped this album it started getting tons of press, as well as solid reviews from all the critics. I decided I would drop my pretenses on the dirty dirty and give the south a shot. As soon as I did I realized I have missed out on some great stuff (David Banner, Lil' Wayne). What makes this album is the recruitment of many mainstay producers typically heard on Jay-Z, and other New Yorker albums. T.I.'s flow is tough to pick up and actually decipher, but his syrupy delivery over these beats in which he speaks of typical gangsta-isms makes for great listening. Never before has a southerner teamed up with yankee producers...solid equation. Hands down the biggest surprise of the year for me. Still gets lots of spins in the stereo. "Top Back" is the hottest fire of the year. On another note this would have been #1 but after seeing him live and being totally upstaged by Lil' Wayne I had to drop him.

3. Mogwai - Mr. Beast:

Best instrumental band in the world. Viva Scotland! Nothing else to say, but wear earplugs when you see them live.

4. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale:

I never thought any alum of the Wu-Tang Clan (asides from GZA) would ever make a new album that would see heavy rotation in my stereo. However, Mr. Killah has refined his flow and utilizes a bevy of high profile producers to finally drop a record that makes a stir. Beats from MF DOOM, Pete Rock, J Dilla, Just Blaze complement all the rhymes about dope dealing, coke dealing, beating misbehaved ghetto kids, supporting single moms in the hood, etc. "Be Easy" and "The Champ" are two tracks worth checking out. Its about time someone from the WTC put something out worthy of their early 90's albums. If you like hip hop buy this record.

5. Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam:

The Seattleite in me wouldn't let this album stray too far from the top. Best album P.J. has put out since No Code. The latter half of the album is downright scary good, they even throw a damn piano in on track 12. Eddie Vedder and Co. have gotten bad reviews for years, but as a lifelong fan this truly is their best record in some time. Mookie Blaylock!!!!!!!

6. Beck - The Information:

After Guero went down as one of the biggest disappointments of 2005 in my book, I had no interest in buying this album. Nevertheless, a friend told me I had to, and I'm glad he did, its a much more consistent record than Guero. The marketing geniuses threw in some stickers to maybe push a couple albums that won't be bought over iTunes, and a DVD which provides a video for every track. The drumming bear makes me laugh. Glad to see Beck regain some of his form.

7. The Roots - Game Theory:

When Jay-Z signed the Roots to Def Jam he supposedly told ?uestlove that he didn't want to hear any of that Clear Channel bullshit that was on their last record. Thank god, for Ahmir Thompson and Black Thought have made their best album. Very dark in places...they even sample Radiohead on "Atonement". ?uestlove is a musical genius and Black Thought is still one of the best to handle a microphone. If you like the Roots and was disappointed with there last album you will find this as a great return to their freewheelin' form.

8. J-Dilla - Donuts:

One of the most heralded and respected hip-hop producers to never toot his own horn made the majority of this album while dying from lupus in the hospital. Lupus? Are you kidding me. This record is for beat junkies...otherwise don't even bother. It consists of close to 30 tracks, none longer than two minutes. Not one featured MC. Listening to these beats you gain an appreciation for crate diggers, but for him to make this while laid up in bed is amazing. This narrowly edged out fellow Stone's Throw label mate Madlib's Beat Konducta which is a very similar record, beat heavy and lots of tracks. I probably listened to Madlib's album more often, but to sit and listen to the samples in Donuts and realize the guy made it in the hospital is so damn impressive. R.I.P.

9. TV On The Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain:

Never heard these guys before. A friend had told me about them, and after reading about El-P remixing track 2 for one of the bonus tracks I realized I had to buy this album. Glad I did...they freaking rawk! Their sound is different than anything out there.

10. Jay-Z - Kingdom Come:

Black Album it aint, Blueprint it aint, Blueprint 2 it aint, Reasonable Doubt it aint. However, being a fan of the HOVA since before I had a driver's license and being that he used to put out an album annually my withdrawal was taking severe hold over me. The critics flat out beat this disc to death. I understand their stance, but what the hell is a 37 year old CEO supposed to rap about? He isn't pushing crack to his moms anymore. Jigga still has his braggadocio swagger and even though his flow and rhymes may be a little off, his recruitment of Dr. Dre and Just Blaze to produce almost every track help bridge his time off from the studio. All in all I agree with the critics, its not nearly his best work, but I am a big enough fan that from the day I bought this it didn't leave my discman or stereo for 5 days. In my opinion the best tracks are "Do U Wanna Ride?" and "Trouble." The dood from Coldplay adds an interesting touch to the record...who ever would have thought Gwyneth's husband could produce for Jay-Z. In my opinion his use of the drums sounds a lot like ?uestlove (listen to the Roots track 5).

Honorable Mention:

Murs and 9th Wonder - Murray's Revenge: Great duo make another solid album together.

Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped: Not as good as their past two albums or else it'd be in the top ten.

Madlib - The Beat Konducta: Phenomenal beats.

Biggest Surprises of 2006:

The Coup - Pick A Bigger Weapon: Great Album...Bay Area Funk Militant Hip Hop

DJ Krush - Stepping Stones:Totally under the radar, had no clue he was remixing his own best tracks and throwing them back into the wind.

The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers: Never a huge White Stripes fan, but this album is sick.

Biggest Disappointments of 2006:

DJ Shadow - The Outsider: Always loved E-40 and bay area hip hop, but this album was a flop...however the song with David Banner might be the best of the year.

Cut Chemist - The Audience is Listening: Great cover art...that's about it. He left Jurassic 5 to a lot of hoopla, and this album doesn't measure up.

Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere: Don't get me wrong I love this album...I just really felt it was going to be off the hook and never leave my stereo. Danger Mouse is still the damn man.


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