Here they are, my favorite albums of 2006.
- American Myth by Jackie Greene
The back of the American Myth album cover pictures Jackie Greene sitting in a bedroom smoking a cigarette. Behind him are three concert posters. The headliners for those concerts are Rolling Stones, Hank Williams and Muddy Waters. These obvious influences are what make Greene so prolific. Its not that he’s doing something entirely new, its that he does it so well. This year, no one brought rock, folk and blues together better. Welcome Jackie Greene to the coronation, the new king of American music. There’s no myth here.
- Too Crowed on the Losing End by Patty Hurst Shifter
Sometimes you can play an album over and over so many times that it no longer sounds good. This is nowhere near the case with Raleigh-based Patty Hurst Shifter’s second album. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played Too Crowded on the Losing End, and I still think its amazing. In my mind, this was the best Alt-Country album of 2006 even though it was more rock n’ roll than alt-country. Look for 3 new EP’s from PHS in ’07. The first is due out in late January and is likely to be titled “The Shrewdness of Apes”.
Key Tracks: “Shine”, “Never Know”, “When You Lie”
- Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers by Lucero
This album is very similar in style and arrangement to the previously mentioned album by Patty Hurst Shifter. Chances are that if you like one, you’ll like the other. PHS edges out the Lucero album mostly because it came out earlier in the year which means that I’ve liked it longer. Its twanged up southern rock from Memphis, Tennessee. Bands like Lucero are what Twangville is all about.
Key Tracks: “I Can Get Us Out of Here”, “She’s Just That Kinda Girl”, “I Don’t Wanna Be the One”
- Colorblind by Robert Randolph and The Family Band
Colorblind is very different from the other albums in my top ten. Many have referred to Robert Randolph’s band as genre busters. I think thats an apt label. They’re not really R&B, nor Gospel. They find themselves closest to Rock N’ Roll but seem to pull influences from all over the place. At the core of the band is Randolph busting loose on his steel pedal guitar. He and the band, wail with an energy and pure love of music thats difficult to find. If you’ve got an ounce of soul in your bag of bones, you’ll love this album. Its truly one of my favorites of the year.
Key Tracks: “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That”, “Jesus is Just Alright (w/ Eric Clapton)”, “Thrill of It”
- A Blessing and A Curse by Drive-by Truckers
While the famed “three axe attack” remains my favorite band, A Blessing and A Curse didn’t effect me quite the way that their previous album The Dirty South did. Regardless, its still a great album and one thing I really love about it is that it really highlights all of the members of the band not just lead singer Patterson Hood.
Key Tracks: “Gravity’s Gone”, “Easy On Yourself”, “Aftermath USA”
- Jubilee Dive by The Drams
This may have been the biggest surprise album for me this year. I didn’t expect to like it but bought the album after reading a few positive reviews. The band was formed from a few ex-Slobberbone fellas and remains Denton, TX based. Energetic rock n’ roll through and through.
Key Tracks: “Unhinged”, “Hummalong”, “The Truth Lies Low”
- Enough Rope by Chris Knight
Unquestionably the album with the most twang in this top 10 list. I wasn’t a Chris Knight fan before I heard this album but will now forever be. Never becoming too country nor too rock there’s not a dud on Enough Rope. This is pure folk-based southern rock and quintessential Americana.
Key Tracks: “Jack Blue”, “Too Close to Home”, “Enough Rope”
- Ben Kweller by Ben Kweller
We can no longer refer to Kweller as a young genius. He’s now solidly in his 20’s and this past year became a father. That doesn’t mean we can’t quit calling him brilliant. He seems to carry the wisdom of a young Bob Dylan and the pop mastery of a Billy Joel. Every single song is well written and composed. Each new album Kweller puts out is a notch more amazing. This self-titled album is probably his best yet.
Key Tracks: “Sundress”, “Penny on the Train Track”, “This is War”
- Air Stereo by The Damnwells
A damn fine release from the Brooklyn-based pop rock outfit. Another album I couldn’t get enough of. Similar to the previously mentioned Kweller, the Damnwells could write a book on hooks even the Beatles would be interested in. Absolutely delicious.
Key Tracks: “Golden Days”, “You Don’t Have to Like Me to Love Me”, “I Am A Leaver”
- The Man Who Killed Love by Will Hoge
Extreme talent is an understatement when it comes to Will Hoge. He’s a soulful fella that sings every song with the utmost passion. How this record didn’t get more recognition this year, I will never know. If you’ve never heard of Will Hoge and you like gutbusting rock n’ soul, do yourself a favor and go listen to this now.
Key Tracks: “Pocket Full of Change”, “Love From a Scar”, “Woman Be Strong”
Rhett Miller, Roman Candle, Sonic Youth, Todd Snider, Will Kimbrough, Neko Case, Keb’ Mo’, KT Tunstall, Bruce Springsteen, Shawn Mullins, Ray Lamontagne, Josh Ritter, Old Crow Medicine Show, Rosanne Cash
About the author: Washington, D.C. area web designer by day. Music is my muse. I host Twangville‘s weekly Readers‘ Pick.