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12.04.2006 

My Top Albums of 2006 (pt 1 of 3)

My take on the whole "Top Albums" concept is a little different than what you'll see on most blogs. I guess I'm emphasizing the "my" part. Not all of these albums were released in the past year--actually most of them weren't. Essentially what I did was go into iTunes, set up a playlist to include all the music I've added since 12/31/05 and then chose those albums which I've really enjoyed over the last year, since discovering them. In other words, they're my top music purchases (or downloads) of the past year. These are the albums that I've found in the last twelve months that have shaped my soundtrack for the year as I've played them in the car, at home and in the library--basically anywhere I use my iPod, which is just about everywhere. It's fun for me to look back and remember all this great music I've been able to find--music gives me a great deal of pleasure and is one of the non-chemical substances I rely on to make it through the pressures of the day-to-day. All of these bands are great--maybe you'll find one of your top albums of 2007 here.

I'll post the albums in three groups, saving my top four albums for the last post. Beyond that, there's not really any sense in ranking them, so I'll just list them in alphabetical order.

Antony and the Johnsons-I Am a Bird Now



I found Antony on Emusic off of a "best of" list for 2005 and quickly fell in love with his passionate and well crafted songs. Most of his music is piano based, though he does use a band as well for a lot of his songs. Antony, who is a great, poetic songwriter, sings in a high falsetto voice that I'm sure is off putting for a lot people, but I think it's really beautiful. If you've heard Rufus Wainwright, you have a pretty good sense of the kind of music Antony performs. Like Wainwright, Antony is also a homosexual. Fine singer and songwriter, though. You can sample his music here, and read his wikipedia article here.

Bob Dylan-Modern Times



Bob. What can I say. Dylan's been my favorite musician for about eight years (Blonde on Blonde-greatest album of the 20th century), so I obviously had to get Modern Times the day it came out. I have to say that so far I don't like it as much as either Time Out of Mind or Love and Theft, though it does continue to grow on me. "Spirit on the Water" is a great track. If you haven't heard Bob Dylan, I can't really explain him to you in a blog post. I'm also not sure where you can go to hear free tracks of his music. Sorry.


Gillian Welch-Time (The Revelator)



I first heard Gillian on A Prairie Home Companion, singing sad songs with an acoustic guitar in a low, somber, understated voice that got under my skin. I finally got around to downloading some (well, all) of her albums this year and am now kicking myself for waiting so long. Until this year, Emmylou Harris was my unquestioned favorite female vocalist. It's neck and neck now. If you like good country music at all, you need to hear this voice. Unbelievable. You can hear (and buy) some of her music at her website. You can also read a New Yorker article on Gillian.

Great Lake Swimmers-Bodies & Minds



Another find off of that Emusic "best of" 2005 list. Amazingly haunting folk-rock. Kind of like the Cowboy Junkies but with a male lead singer (Tony Dekker, like Margot Timmons, also has a beautiful voice). Dekker is also a very solid writer who manages deep emotion without pretension. One reviewer said this about the album: "Tony Dekker's reliable, vaguely liturgical tenor still dominates the vast, barren landscapes of their sound, a fine, if sometimes frosty setting for his intimations about mundane tragedies and transcendental yearnings." Yeah. That sounds about right. You can hear the Great Lake Swimmers here.

One other thing--Antony, Gillian and Great Lake Swimmers can all be downloaded legally off of Emusic for a fraction of the cost of iTunes. If you're interested in a fifty song free trial, just leave a comment or email me and I can send you an invitation.

I'm definitley interested in that free trial offer. Also, if you like Gillian Welch and you haven't already found her you might check out Kasey Chambers. She's different from Gillian for sure, a little more Amy Mann like, but somewhat similar and she has an amazing, unique voice.

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