’s favorite albums of 2006

album cover Silversun Pickups

released July 26, 2006
free mp3 of ‘Lazy Eye’

I think the first time I saw these guys was back in November 11, 2005. They opened for Brendon Benson at Slim’s and we went to specifically to see them. Since then I’ve probably seen them another 4 times, at the Rickshaw Stop, Popscene, at the Fillmore opening for Wolfmother and at Cafe Du Nord with Amusement Parks On Fire (which I love) and Nine Black Alps. Fortunately they are out of LA so they make frequent trips to San Francisco. We spoke to them a little bit at Cafe Du Nord and the singer is a trip.

“If the idea of basement tapes made by Billy Corgan and Doug Martsch appeals to you, say hello to your new favorite band. Silversun Pickups are fairly early adopters of the 1990s revival, but they’re not grunge dorks or anything, and they’re from L.A. so they dress nice. Their music updates the anthemic but gauzy heavy rock sound that Veruca Salt and the Smashing Pumpkins had down pat. Thankfully, they strip it down and add plenty of finely distorted guitar leads to the whole thing. It’s nice. With a spacey, laid-back sound due in no small part to knob-twiddlers Tony Hoffer and Dave Cooley, repeated listens are mandatory. Just don’t pass out on the couch. –Mike McGonigal”

album cover French Kicks
Two Thousand

released July 18, 2006
free mp3 of ‘Keep It Amazed’

These guys are coming to Slim’s in San Francisco at the end of the month (February) for Noisepop…. can’t wait!

“Some might say the title of French Kicks’ third album, Two Thousand, is an unintentional reference to all the other New York bands that sound exactly like them. And, yes, while the group did at one point have a predisposition for scrappy punk guitars, off-kilter disco rhythms and strained vocals, this release actually sees it distinguishing itself from its neighbors with a more restrained sound and ambitious vision. There is a distinct ’80s influence in songs like “Also Ran,” “Cloche,” and “No Mean Time,” all shimmering guitars and motorized beats. On “Knee High,” the band even manages to successfully evoke the sound of early U2 jamming with New Order–a claim few others in their area code can make. –Aidin Vaziri”

album cover Black Angels

released April 11, 2006
free mp3 of ‘The First Vietnamese War
Every now and again a band capable of not just capturing the spirit of a bygone era but portraying it with uncanny authenticity and accuracy arrives, and in an era where music lovers seem increasingly ravenous for psychedelic-inflected rock, Austin’s the Black Angels are precisely that act. Following on the heels of their recent Turn On, Tune In, Drone Out EP, the quintet transports listeners to a land of napalm-bright LSD flashbacks with an elegantly unholy sound that proves both eerie and ethereal. "Young Men Dead" and "The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven" walk the line between celebratory dance and grief-filled dirge. These tracks unnerve the conscious mind with unsettling drones and vocals that seem to have emerged from some parallel universe where the struggle, strife, promise, and even the seedy underbelly of the Love Generation lives on in each primal drum beat and louder-than-loud bent note from a guitar that could not have been built anywhere on Earth, but has been drenched with the sweat and blood of a generation on the verge of either victory or collapse. If there is an act in American popular music with a future brighter and vaster than the cosmos, the Black Angels are it. –Jedd Beaudoin
album cover Band of Horses
Everything All The Time

released March 21, 2006
free mp3 of ‘The Funeral’
free mp3 of ‘Wicked Gil’
This Seattle-based band was formed from the ashes of the incredibly talented Carissa’s Wierd [sic], whose mopey and self-deprecating songs were like some magical and baroque combination of the Magnetic Fields, Cat Power, and Leonard Cohen. Longtime friends of Iron and Wine, few fans in their native Pacific Northwest could understand why Carissa’s weren’t huge. But they weren’t, and after three albums and few folks really caring, they naturally broke up. Band of Horses, led by ultra-charming CW bassist Ben Bridwell, is a remarkably different, though just as radically excellent, brand of indie-pop sulk. These songs are anthems to ambivalence, and Bridwell’s lovely high-pitched trill will please any fan of Built to Spill, the Shins, and Modest Mouse. It takes a few listens to sink in, but Everything is transcendent, shimmering, layered, and smartass emo-pop fully ready for stadium saturation. –James Conde
album cover Asobi Seksu

released May 30, 2006
free mp3 of ‘Thursday’
It’s hard to not like a good-looking, female-fronted, Brooklyn-based band whose name translates loosely as "playful sex." The obvious vocal comparisons are to shoegazers and goths of twelve to thirty years ago—Siouxsie, Spirea X, Lush, Kate Bush, and the Cocteauu Twins. Singing in Japanese and English, vocalist Yuki’s heavily reverbed voice is sensual and strong at the same time. But there’s more of a manic, vaguely garage band energy evident on Citrus, the group’s sophomore release (a vast improvement over their scattered debut). It’s clear now that they’re far closer to Blondie than My Bloody Valentine or Loop. The band has a woozy sound, but it’s also tightly controlled and highly melodic, propelled by Interpol-ish bass lines. It’s not "original" music, but it is very pleasant stuff, the ideal soundtrack to a hot affair in some futuristic hotel tucked away downtown, or out near the airport. –Mike McGonigal

album cover Cities

released April 18, 2006
listen at myspace
album cover Fleeting Joys
Despondent Transponder

released 2006
album cover I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness
Fear Is On Our Side

released March 7, 2006
free mp3 of ‘Last Ride Together’
The full-length debut of this Texas band follows their 2003 self-titled five-song EP; a much poppier affair produced by Spoon’s Britt Daniel, with a dose of thunder and lightning, pain and pleasure. Produced this time by Paul Barker (Ministry, Revolting Cocks), the record is more sadness than joy with lonely lyrics and hauntingly echoed guitar persuaded by chorused basslines. The sound is coaxing and familiar, then howling and anguished. Reminiscent of latter-era Talk Talk; with the introspection also comes passion. "Fear Is On Our Side" isn’t trivial or banal, trendy or futile. It’s a testament to our times, our revolutions, and our meaning. It’s timeless, maniacal, and resounding. Darkness and truth.
album cover Film School
Film School

released January 23, 2006

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