Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dean Best - Top 10 Albums 2006

10. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers

Starts with one of this year’s highlights in ‘Steady As She Goes’ and maintains that standard throughout. What could have been Brendan Benson playing second fiddle to a dominant Jack White instead becomes a perfect partnership, visiting bands like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin but presenting what it finds on its own terms.

9. Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene

A frankly astonishing album from the Toronto collective that for many were this year’s Arcade Fire. Broken Social Scene, however, is something different. Neither as bleak nor uplifting as that from their fellow Canadians, this album still succeeds in taking us on a magical indie rock journey that stops in on The Cure and many lounge bars in between.

8. The Rifles - No Love Lost

First, a confession. I haven’t listened to this in its entirety (please Santa, I’ve been a good boy this year) but I can’t stop playing the bits I have. Leaning heavily on The Jam - and, like Weller, infused with lyrics about everyday life - this album is perfect for the Mods of the 21st century.

7. Boy Kill Boy - Civilian

Felt an initial twinge of embarrassment upon finding breakthrough single ‘Civil Sin’ was a firm favourite (were Boy Kill Boy yet more dross from the make-up-wearing, emo conveyor belt that this year spawned the likes of Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance?) However, Civilian offers so much more, from the throat-grabbing ‘Killer’ to the surprising tender closing ballad ‘Shoot Me Down’.

6. The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth

For some, a return to form after a disappointing second album. In truth, just another example of The Strokes’ brilliance. The New Yorkers are still thumbing their Velvet Underground/Television back catalogue but First Impressions… is somewhat of a departure from debut disc Is This It. Tracks like ‘Heart in a Cage’ prove there are some balls in those oh-so-skinny jeans.

5. The Kooks - Inside In/Inside Out

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they don’t pretend to be anything they’re not - and tunes like ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ were the indie sing-a-longs of the summer. Too commercial for some but never fails to put a smile on my face. Not sure about his ‘do, mind.

4. Kasabian - Empire

An album so grandly titled it had to deliver - and it did. From the call to arms of the title track to the glam stomping ‘Shoot The Runner’, it’s full of ambition, grandeur, swagger – and even some Kraftwerk. Okay, they come from Leicester, but let’s face it, where would rock be without a bit of swagger?

3. Morrissey - The Ringleader of The Tormentors

Moz returns with an even better follow-up to 2004 comeback You Are The Quarry. This gives us Morrissey’s most sexually charged lyrics - “explosive kegs” anyone? - but also showcases his trademark isolationism and despair - and no-one does that better. Some may frown at such a high spot in the list but Morrissey merits his position - if only for the buzz he gave us at Ally Pally in May. WHAT a gig.

2. Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah! - Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah!

Another album that seemed to reach a different plane after seeing the artist live. The opening bars of opener ‘Clap Your Hands!’ bring a wide grin to your face - and the smile won’t leave your face for the rest of the album.

1. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Had to be. For a band so young to produce such an extraordinary record out of the ordinary of everyday life is astounding. Never stops sounding so fresh, raw and full of energy. An absolute juggernaut of a record. They demand everything to be done their way - and why not? The world is at their feet.

The ‘It’s Not THAT Good’ Award

Razorlight - Razorlight

After Johnny Borrell launched a scathing attack on The Kooks in the music press this spring, he had to deliver something over and above the Brighton band’s effort. But he didn’t. For someone to deride a band for “wanting Radio 1 to f*ck them”, how he can release an album with the tripe that is ‘America’ is beyond me. Trying to break America are we? Good in places – utter bab in others. Next!

The ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ Award

The Killers – Sam’s Town

A double dose of disappointment. After the band’s solid debut, expectations about their follow up were relatively high. But, then, after The Killers released the majesterial ‘When You Were Young’ as the opening single from Sam’s Town, hopes were raised far too high. This is a let down, pure and simple.

Top 10 tracks of 2006

10. Justice vs Simian – We Are Your Friends

9. The Kooks – She Moves In Her Own Way

8. Dirty Pretty Things - Wondering

7. The View – Wasted Little DJs

6. Morrissey – Life Is A Pigsty

5. The Strokes – Heart In A Cage

4. Kasabian – Shoot The Runner

3. Arctic Monkeys – A Certain Romance

2. The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes

1. The Killers – When You Were Young

We thought it was a statement of intent from the US band - alas, we were wrong. But take this track on its own and savour it. Or is it so good because it sounds like U2…


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