Best of 2006

It was a good year here at Raven. It was difficult to make the list as short as it is, and impossible to pick a number one. So, in no particular order, here are our favorite albums of 2006.

Vetiver - To Find Me Gone

Andy Cabic takes his sweet country folk stylings on a trip through the best touches of 70's am radio. Dark Brooding folk songs with the kind of delicate production that made records become classics. Sweet tinges of lap steel poke through the haze, laying the record back and bringing some sweetness to counter balance the moments that seethe with cinder and smoke. Cabic turns out an honest record full of musty bars and sunlit streets; gentle riverbeds and endless stretches of lonesome highway.
[MP3] Vetiver - I Know No Pardon

Beach House - Beach House

The Beach House debut is an album that gets better with every listen. It’s haunting and mesmerizing, drugged out and eloquently striking; an invitation to the warm heart of the home where tales are spun in swirls of smoke and lilting breaths of crisp air; the songs so subtle they don’t sink in on first listen but you'll be aching for more once they hit the bloodstream. Beach House mystify and manage to glorify ennui, giving warmth to the most languorous spirit. If this were on vinyl I’d have worn through my third copy by now.
[MP3] Beach House - Master Of None

Shearwater - Palo Santo

Jonathan Meiburg finally brings his Okkervil "side project" into its own. His songs clamber from a cold darkness to bask in the frayed ends of emotional frailty. Every word he whispers, sings and strains to yell rings with such incredible conviction that you can't help listening for fear he'll collapse otherwise. Each song is a torrent that rips your heart to shreds and then slowly sews it back together.
[MP3] Shearwater - Hail Mary

Wooden wand & The Skyhigh Band - Second Attention

James Jackson Toth teams up on this one with members of The Skygreen Leopards and some from the Vanishing Voice to flesh out his loner country anthems into full revival swingers. This album is a dusted country ramble through salt of the earth folk and back porch sing-a-longs; full of muggy backroad dirges sung by roadside troubadours cleaned up so that they can sit at the dinner table. Quite possibly Toth's best work to date, which considering his catalog is saying something.
[MP3] Wooden Wand & The Skyhigh Band - The Bleeder

The Skygreen Leopards - Disciples Of California

One of our all time favorite bands with their best release to date. Expanding their overall sound, evoking swells of California sunshine. This is an album you can daydream to year round.
[MP3] The Skygreen Leopards - Disciples of California

Woods - How to Survive in/ In The Woods

Jeremy and Christian from Meneguar quietly dropped this release on Dutch label, Release the Bats. Shying away from their 90's rock leanings they instead create an indie folk classic. The scratch and stutter of home tapes create an intimate feeling of a thrift shop demo tape find. Underneath this gritty exterior the two have written nothing short of a pure pop gem; effortless and unpolished in the best ways.
[MP3] Woods - Holes

Flying canyon - Flying Canyon

Self described as California Doom Folk, that description's not that far off. Flying Canyon is basically the best synthesis of Neil Young's subtle craft into a modern setting. Cayce Lindner has to be one of the best unknown songwriters of the past ten years. His songs writhe against their own humanity, both lamenting the ravages of life and content to bask in the sunlight at the same time. The weary voice California incarnate.
[MP3] Flying Canyon - Crossing By Your Star

Horse Feathers - Words Are Dead

This Portland duo’s album is a ’06 essential. Full to brim with banjo, mandolin, cello, guitars, a little saw, and haunting vocals; Horse Feathers craft one of the most well worn, poignant and love-stained albums we've heard.
[MP3] Horse Feathers - Blood On Snow

Kahoots - Fourteen Ghost

This Martha's Vineyard band wrote one of the best indie rock records you probably didn't hear this year. The band crafts world weary blue collar songs that carry a collective heart on its sleeve. The band rarely travels outside of their hometown but managed to get such luminaries as Bob Weston and Chris Brokaw involved with the recording process. Their tight catchy songs are the kind people look back on as classics in hindsight.
[MP3] Kahoots - Your Blood

Benoit Pioulard - Precis

Precis was a pleasant surprise at the end of the year. Benoit Pioulard crafts some of the most delightfully disjointed chamber pop I’ve heard this year. At times, recalling greats like Elliott Smith and Mark Linkous, Pioulard combines the creativity and abstract nature of noise, tape loops, and fuzz with the practicality and timelessness of simple folk and rock progressions. A truly beautiful record.
[MP3] Benoit Pioulard - Palimend

Nina Nastasia - On Leaving

Nina Nastasia's voice is completely disarming; equally able to stop you in your tracks and make you walk lighter. Try as you like but after a few minutes of listening to her bittersweet proclamations you feel as if you've known her for years. Her lyrics capture the taste of melancholy that comes with growing older but they don't get trapped in it completely. She finds the happiness in every day's small moments while at the same time thinking about the inevitable loss of what you've grown accustomed to.
[MP3] Nina Nastasia - Our Day Trip

Howlin' Rain - Howlin' Rain

Ethan Miller lets his classic rock ties hang full out on his Comets side project. Letting his voice ring free of the Echoplex, he comes across as one part Terry Reid and one part Faces era Rod Stewart backed by the best amalgamation of back country roots rock since Fogerty left Creedence. Sweet country rock with the occasional bombast of fire that's not afraid to torture your speakers.
[MP3] Howlin' Rain - Death Prayer In Heavens Orchard

King Tuff - Mindblow

Early recordings from King Tuff recorded a few years ago but finally released as a taster to the band's full length that's just now seeing light. These songs are the essence of power pop; bursting with energy, a huge sense of fun and enough swagger to set your feet dancing. It's hard to believe this band has kept this quiet, this long. This record could have easily stormed a few scenes if it had been released in a run of more than 100.
[MP3] King Tuff - Staircase of Diamonds

The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely

John Darnielle may well have made the greatest break-up record of all time. A perfect mix of melancholy, utter loneliness and bittersweet redemption, 'Get Lonely' is a personal testament to his lyrical talents. The album synthesizes the complete comforting suffocation and paralyzing freedom of the dissolution of two people's intertwined lives.
[MP3] The Mountain Goats - Woke Up New

Tim Hecker - Harmony in Ultra Violet

Harmony in Ultra Violet was another surprise favorite on the closing of the year. Veteran soundescapist creates his most stunning album to date. An intense adventure of intently crafted and emotive strings and fuzz. Down darkened sloping hills, through the creaking mansions of a lost time in Hollywood, and back into the warming neon of a strange and beautiful city, we follow Hecker on a diffident journey which gains momentum and poise with each track. The quietest and most self assured explosion you’ll hear this year.
[MP3] Tim Hecker - Chimeras

Sinoia Caves - The Enchanter Persuaded

Jeremy Schmidt is most well known for his involvement with Black Mountain but his side project leaves their tense acid washed rock sounding like a watered down trip. Schmidt leaves all physicality behind creating the kind of music that you can get lost in for hours discovering the aural colors inherent in his drones folded in layers of echo.
[MP3] Sinoia Caves - Naro Way

The Black Angels - Passover

Droning psych rock from Austin, Texas. The Black Angels are making some of the best revival music out there. Deeply distoring influences like The Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, and even a little Grace Slick and the Great Society, the Black Angels are definately one of the best under the radar rock bands out there.
[MP3] The Black Angels - Bloodhounds on my Trail

Band of Horses - Everything All The Time

Band of Horse's debut album is an unassuming, easy going album without a drop of pretention. A pleasant surprise coming from an indie major. Former members of Carissa's Wierd, these guys recapture a simpler time in modern rock music, sealing images of muddy chucks, frisbee in the park, and back yard partying. Without a dull moment, this album truly captures the sensations of joy an purpose, meloncholy and elation.
[MP3] Band of Horses - St. Augustine

Indian Jewelry - Invasive Exotics

A noisy, narcotic journey into the depths of the darkest rock and roll sounds. Opening track “Lesser Snake” is one of my favorite songs of the year. At times these guys remind of the noisier side or Black Mountain, but they've really got their own thing going. The rythmns are deep and sludgy punching relentlessly to the beat of some fogotten drum.
[MP3] Indian Jewelry - Lesser Snake

M. Ward - Post War

Matt Ward has been a favorite for a long time. From Rodriguez to Duet for Guitars, this guys voice and skilled songcraft will wilt any worry or saddness into oblivion. His latest release, Post War, only further secures his "current classic" status.
[MP3] M. Ward - To Go Home

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posted by pitchblack at 9:48:00 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't want to come off sounding like a snob because this is a great list, but have you heard Svarte Greiner, Clark, Espers, Orval Carlos Sibelius, and Belong? I think you'd like them...

2:07 PM  
Blogger dissensous said...

Thanks Sean. There were a lot of records that were on or near the list at one time. There are two of ust that write for the site and we tried to find a balance between the records that we both had listened to the most this year. Records like Espers and Svarte Greiner were great and I enjoyed them, but we didn't want to quantify quality or complexity over how much we had actually listened to something over the year. So be what it may these are what the two of us agreed on. The list is by no means definitive.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankyou for all the swwet tunes !

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent list! The Vetiver, Wooden Wand, Skygreen Leopards, Flying Canyon records go great together. Very strong selection. Never heard of Howlin' Rain though, strangely enough, because Comets on Fire's Avatar was one of my 2006 favorites.

One small correction about the Woods piece; Release the Bats is actually a Swedish record label, not Dutch.

Also thanks for the current mixtape, some very fine and interesting choices among them.

7:04 AM  

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