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  • A look back at 2006, part two

    15 Dec 2006, 11:25 by plattopus

    This is part two of my year in review - view part one for a discussion of some of the albums that I listened to this year.

    And now for the top ten albums of 2006:

    1. Begin to Hope
    2. The Others
    3. I Thought I Turned The World, But It Turned On Me
    4. 10,000 Days
    5. In the Absence of Truth
    6. The Black Parade
    7. Free
    8. Imago
    9. Lover, The Lord Has Left Us...
    10. Amputechture

    Other albums I enjoyed that didn't make it into the top ten: (in alphabetical order)

    When Your Heart Stops Beating
    No Heroes
    Hollywood
    Black Holes & Revelations
    ...And the Battle Begun
    Saosin
    Define the Great Line

    Disappointments of the year: (in alphabetical order)

    Under the Iron Sea
    Sam's Town
    State of Emergency
    Operation: Mindcrime II
    Stadium Arcadium
    Eyes Open
    A Place In The Queue
    Show Your Bones
    Casino Twilight Dogs

    Tracks of the year:

    1. Lines
    2. The Heretic
    3. The Pot
    4. Six Years Ago
    5. Sure You Will
    6. On the Radio
    7. Tetragrammaton
    8. The Mile
    9. Tungsten Blues
    10. Stay

    Albums I really wanted to hear but never got around to: (in order of anticipation)

    Mr. Beast
    What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have
    Radio Swan Is Down
    Blood Mountain
    You Are There
    Dowsing Aenomone With Copper Tongue
    Push/Pull
    At War With The Mystics
    The Eraser

    Other albums I haven't heard: (in alphabetical order)

    Moo, You Bloody Choir
    Born In The UK
    The Anatomy Of
    This Binary Universe
    The Crane Wife
    Somewhere Along The Highway
    9
    Saturday Night Wrist
    Death By Sexy
    The Open Door
    The Sweet Escape
    Stars of CCTV
    Light Grenades
    New American Gospel
    Bat Out of Hell III
    Redeemer
    Ta-Dah
    First Impressions of Earth
    Little Cloud

    Top five EPs of the year:

    1. Mammal - Mammal
    2. Antistatic - Stand Up In Disguise
    3. Birds of Tokyo - One Way / Stay
    4. Trial Kennedy / Horsell Common - The Birds And The Bees
    5. Bushido - Mercina

    Best albums released prior to 2006 that I discovered this year:

    1. Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004)
    2. Juturna (2005)
    3. Relationship of Command (2000)
    4. The Loon (2005)
    5. Tiger and the Duke (2005)
    6. Mapping Your Dreams (2005)
    7. Soviet Kitsch (2004)
    8. Wiretap Scars (2002)
    9. Give Up (2003)
    10. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002)

    Honourable mentions: (in reverse chronological order)

    Cinder (2005)
    The Rescue (2005)
    Everyone Into Position (2005)
    The Fire in Our Throats (2005)
    We the Wintering Tree (2004)
    Panopticon (2004)
    Australasia (2003)
    Pelican (2003)

    Cover artwork of the year:

    1. The Third Ending
    2. 10,000 Days
    3. In the Absence of Truth
    4. Free
    5. Amputechture
  • A look back at 2006, part one

    15 Dec 2006, 11:23 by plattopus

    sim_maiden posted a "2006 in review" journal the other week, and I liked his format so I've decided to steal it for my own. You can check out his thoughts on the year here. My own top ten will be posted in a separate journal entry with a few other lists, so check that one out too!

    Unlike Simon, there are a handful of 2006 releases that I intended on hearing but haven't got around to yet, so this is not 100% definitive. And of course, it'll probably completely change next year after I've given each release a lot more time to sink in... but for now, here are the releases of 2006 that I feel warrant comment, in alphabetical order:

    Imago

    Imago is quite a massive departure from their earlier work, and I think it was a change for the best (although I love Begins Here). Gone is the stripped-back, no-fuss, riff-riff-riff approach, and in its place is an increased focus on atmosphere, mood and Clint's soaring vocals. It's a far deeper, more intricately layered and ultimately more rewarding album to listen to than their debut.

    Synchestra

    I actually got this album in 2005 as a reviewer's promo, but I'm going to count it as a 2006 release. It's a great album and has all the hallmarks of Devin Townsend's genius, but I don't feel it has enough setting it apart from Accelerated Evolution to be truly great. The songwriting is good, the melody is all there, but there seems to be a little something missing, something to grab you by the balls and say "hey stupid, this album rocks!"

    The Others

    Speaking of The Butterfly Effect, I discovered Dukes by pure accident when they opened for TBE at their most recent Melbourne concert. I was awe-struck by the band's almost complete ignorance of the audience in front of them, and instead of their lack of interaction annoying me I found it quite fascinating. Their brand of 80s-esque electronic pop rock is also some of the most original music I've heard from an Australian band. It's catchy, fun, groovy as all fuck, and most importantly is just a full of energy as their live show.

    In the Absence of Truth

    Prior to this year I was not into post-metal at all, in fact I didn't even know it existed. My first introduction to it was through my mate Rhys' attempts to expose me to bands like Arcturus and Agalloch, but it wasn't until I heard Isis (thanks Sisi) that I really "got" it. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what I like about this album, so I'll just leave it as "it rules".

    Eye to the Telescope

    If you haven't yet seen the video of KT performing "Black Horse And Cherry Tree" live as a one-woman band with her incredible use of a sampler, then you don't know what talent and creativity are. The rest of her album is perfect for summer days when you're lying around doing nothing, because it's simple enough to be background music, but its real worth is evident when you really listen to it and discover the complexity and idiosyncracies in her compositions. Her voice is also very charming and extremely pleasant to listen to.

    Amputechture

    I'm a huge, huge fan of De-Loused in the Comatorium, but never got into Frances the Mute nearly as much. I feel that Amputechture lies somewhere in the middle: it's good without being great, but suffers from some of the same negatives as Frances, like the altogether too long and over-extended ambient passages. I don't think they are completely unwelcome (the ambience on De-Loused was great), but it seemed almost as if they were included just for the hell of it. There's a lot to like about Amputechture, but too much to be indifferent about.

    Black Holes & Revelations

    I must admit I haven't listened to this nearly as much as I would have liked, but my first impression of it was that while it is certainly a good, fun record to listen to, it pales in comparison to Muse's previous work. I think the almost seismic shift in their sound was ambitious, but certainly needed to keep them fresh. I'm not 100% convinced that the new lighter, dance-inspired sound works for them, but I'm not willing to discount them just yet.

    The Black Parade

    Wow. That's all I could say upon first listen to this album. It was like listening to what Queen would sound like if they had continued through the grunge, punk and emo movements of the 90s and 00s. Coincidentally I had just started getting heavily into their previous album when The Black Parade came out, so I went through a bit of an MCR binge. I still think Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge is a better album overall; it has a bit of a heavier, darker sound and doesn't get lost in the theatrics of its concept as much as The Black Parade does. However, I was still quite impressed by The Black Parade and have named it in my end-of-year top ten.

    Free

    OSI's first album was, prior to Free's release, my favourite Dream Theater side-project album; but now that mantle has been overtaken. The combination of Kevin Moore's trip-hop-influenced electronic rock and Jim Mattheos' progressive metal songwriting ability is really a match made in heaven. With Free they experimented a bit more with the country-folk stuff that wasn't as prominent on the first release, which I think is an excellent addition. The only downside I can find with it is the fact that Stephen Wilson was not involved.

    Peeping Tom

    It was probably inevitable I would love Peeping Tom, if only because I enjoy listening to Mike Patton's voice so much that he could record himself singing Simple Plan songs and I'd still love it. But I actually really dug Dan the Automator's contributions to the album more than any of the vocals (although I still loved Mike's work on the album). I don't listen to a lot of electronic music, so I'm not really well-versed in any of that side of the musical spectrum, but I could listen to Peeping Tom all day.

    My Brother's Blood Machine

    This album got absolutely slammed by a lot of people, but I fell in love with it pretty much straight away. Acoustic music with electronic elements and great vocals really appeals to me (The Postal Service, for example), and who better to listen to than Claudio Sanchez?

    Begin to Hope

    Hands down the best album of 2006 by such a long way that I almost feel like leaving #2 as blank space just to illustrate how much I loved it. Regina has the most incredibly beautiful, quirky, playful voice that I fell in love with her pretty much the first time I listened to her; and the almost child-like playfulness to her music is so great to listen to. She jumped into my Last.fm top ten overall artist chart after only a couple of weeks, so that should demonstrate how quickly I became obsessed with her. I cannot thank Tammy enough for first informing me of Regina's existence!

    ... And The Battle Begun

    I don't really know how to describe Rx Bandits... Last.fm users call them "ska", but I think they're about as ska as a world-music-inspired band like The Police. In fact, The Police are a very good comparison to Rx Bandits, they have a lot of diverse influences and orchestral instrumentation, although Rx Bandits have a bit of alternative/post-punk in them also. Whatever they are, this album is pretty darn cool!

    Lover, The Lord Has Left Us...

    I was completely obsessed with "The Heretic" when I first heard it on their MySpace page, and while the rest of the album took a little while to get into (especially the rather strange spoken-word passages), it eventually grew on me to the point where I probably like it more than Tiger And The Duke.

    Threes

    While not a particularly bad album, whenever I want to listen to Sparta I find myself jumping straight for Wiretap Scars and leaving Threes alone. This tells me that it doesn't have enough setting it apart from the pack.

    I Thought I Turned The World, But It Turned On Me

    This will probably not get released until 2007, but I was given an advance copy of the album earlier in the year so I want to include it here just because it's such a good album. Template did away with a lot of the classic rock, Led Zeppelin/Black Sabbath influence in their music and replaced it with The Mars Volta and Muse, and while it's hard to compare this to their debut album, I find myself listening to it far more often than the debut. It amazes me that such world-class progressive metal music is coming from my own backyard!

    The Third Ending

    Another fantastic independant Australian progressive rock/metal release, this time with more in common with Dream Theater, Spock's Beard and Neal Morse's solo stuff than the "neo-prog" of The Mars Volta. "Eleven" has one of the rockingest riffs of the year, and "Tungsten Blues" is just an overall fantastic track, one of the best of 2006.

    10,000 Days

    My first impression of this was that "Vicarious" was such a "Schism" rip-off that I couldn't listen to it. I found the rest of the album quite mediocre as well, but after leaving it for a few months and coming back to it, I finally "got" it. I'm not sure how I think it compares with Tool's back catalogue, but "The Pot" is now probably my favourite Tool song.

    View my next journal for my top ten albums of the year and other related lists.