Not every year can be a great year for music, and 2006 was just okay. It didn't help that this year was sandwiched between 2005—which gave us great albums by Kanye West, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Sufjan Stevens—and 2007, which promises new releases from Wilco, Arcade Fire, and Timbaland. While choosing my Top 10 for the year was a cinch, coming up with the bottom 10 was tough.
Thankfully, I managed to scour enough fo the year's music to bring you this four-part series, BuzzSugar's Top 20 Albums of 2006. Now for Part I: albums 16 to 20.
20. The Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury
In recent musical memory, every year ushers in at least one critically acclaimed and commercially successful hip-hop album that helps redefine its genre. This year, the closest thing to an album of that ilk is Hell Hath No Fury, the sophomore album from hip-hop duo The Clipse. Comprised of brothers Malice and Pusha T, The Clipse, alongside production duo the Neptunes, relies on dark lyrics and eerie beats that explore the fallout from champagne, cocaine, and "dirty money." Namely, "Pyrex stirrers turned into Cavalli furs," as Pharrell raps on the album's swaying highlight, "Mr. Me Too."
19. Band of Horses, Everything All the Time
It is somewhat reluctantly that I put Band of Horses on this list because, to me, the band's album breaks very little new ground with its lush, sweeping rock songs that sound alternately like My Morning Jacket, REM, and a handful of other bands. But for the first month or so that I owned Everything All the Time, I was hooked on its lethargically lovely arrangements, and after revisiting it this week, it holds up as a highly entertaining and remarkably consistent album. There's a lot to be said for that.
To see the rest, read more
18. Howe Gelb, 'Sno Angel Like You
On first listen, it's easy to size up ‘Sno Angel like You as standard alt-country fare. But after some quality time, I'm beginning to think that this solo album from the Giant Sand frontman is actually forging a new kind of song—call it the hipster spiritual. Much the way Paul Simon incorporated African singers into his pop music, Gelb leans heavily on the Voices Of Praise gospel choir to create songs that aren’t gospel songs at all but have a surplus of spirituality tumbling alongside the slide guitars and Gelb's gravely vocals. It's enough to move even the most secular fan.
17. Magnolia Electric Co., Fading Trails
Though not quite as bowl-you-over beautiful as last year’s What Comes After the Blues, this third album from Jason Molina's Magnolia outfit is admirable for the way it alternates between quiet simplicity and bold outbursts of melodrama. Introspective reveries are interrupted by explosions of brass, and Molina's grasping vocals can throw a woeful ballad like "Don't Fade On Me" into a pleading panic. Recommended for fans who want dusty country with plenty of rock and quiet moments of clarity.
16. Johnny Cash, American V: A Hundred Highways
Johnny Cash essentially recorded this album—the last of his collaborations with Rick Rubin—on the way out. The tracks were laid down between 2002 and 2003, and Cash passed away in September of '03. American V isn’t necessarily one of Cash’s best, but thanks to the pure talent and raw emotion contained within, it manages to blow many greener acts out of the water. It hooks you with startlingly sparse, traditional arrangements, like Cash's aching cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind.”