Because the best time to make a list of your favorite albums of the year is less than three hours after you’ve had two teeth yanked from your lower jaw, with the dentist breaking one in the process and having to poke around in the hole to tweeze out all the root fragments—right?
10. Mission of Burma, The Obliterati, 2006
It has its flaws, like the too-sludgy sound throughout and the fact that they let their drummer, Peter Prescott, write a few of the songs when they shouldn’t. But I’ve been missing guitar breaks for a while, and there’s an amazing one in Roger Miller’s “Careening with Conviction.” Plus they’re haunted by the freakish size of Nancy Reagan’s head. I can get behind that.
9. Sons and Daughters, Love the Cup EP, 2004
I already had The Repulsion Box, so I knew what to expect: punk set to a Scottish-folk beat. (Or Scottish folk with punk vocals.) Nonetheless, “Broken Bones” has some of the most restrained guitar I’ve heard this year, and “Johnny Cash” rumbles along quite nicely.
8. Michael Gordon (composer), Decasia, 2002
Decasia the movie is a compilation of decaying filmstrips that flicker in and out of resolution for an hour. Decasia the symphony is the best haunted-house music I’ve heard since Mocket’s Pro Forma. The even-numbered movements are the spookiest—think Sonic Youth with a full orchestra.
7. Gorillaz, Demon Days, 2005
A party album about the apocalypse. “November Has Come” is my favorite song.
6. Wilderness, Vessel States, 2006
I think every review of this album that I read compared Wilderness to Public Image, Ltd. Fortunately, I’ve never heard Public Image, Ltd. Whichever guy is the vocalist, he doesn’t sing so much as declaim, and the guitars sound pretty piddly to my PJ-Harvey-trained ears, but not in a bad way.
5. The Timeout Drawer, Nowonmai, 2005
In the same post-rock (so: instrumental-rock) vein as Sigur Ros and Mono, but without the adscititious sense of grandeur. They wield keyboards, flutes, and cellos when necessary, but the whole album still sounds like it was recorded in a garage. That’s the charm.
4. Maximo Park, A Certain Trigger, 2005
I probably listened to this more than any other album I bought this year. I finally figured out where they got their guitar sound: Tommy Tutone. “The Coast Is Always Changing” has the best chorus I’ve heard in a while. Pure radio pop, or at least it would be if Clear Channel had any sense.
3. Carla Bozulich, Evangelista, 2006
Carla Bozulich could fart on tape and I’d buy it and praise it. The Geraldine Fibbers were just that good. Evangelista is a little disappointing, though, mainly because I was hoping for an album that would sound like “Blue Boys” from the Kill Rock Stars compilation Fields and Streams: all children’s instruments and toys, shaped into song. Instead, she borrows Godspeed You! Black Emperor to make an album that sounds a lot like ‘30s blues, only with more screaming. The cover of Low’s “Pissing” is too faithful, but “Evangelista I”…dude.
2. Thomas Stronen, Pohlitz, 2006
Basically, he pulled out all his pots and pans, plinked away on them for half an hour, and added some keyboard squiggles to flesh out the sound. But it works. With its weird triangle pings, “Dispatches” is my favorite track.
1. P.O.S., Audition, 2006
Local. Genius. At first I thought P.O.S. wasn’t as good as Atmosphere. Then I noticed that I listed to this album every day, whereas I listened to Atmosphere about twice a month. It’s like the crapitization of mainstream hip-hop never happened—there’s cello on “De La Souls,” punk screaming on “Half-Cocked Concepts,” self-deprecation on “Living Slightly Larger,” and P.O.S. acts like it all belongs there. Best line is the first one.