Big Ell's Top Ten 2006 II
Here are my top 10 albums of the year. A bleak and dark theme for 2006. Not the much different than 2005 and I am predicting more of the same in 2007. But that's the great thing about music it is always changing and you never know what's coming.
Big Ell's Top 10
10. Converge- No Heroes
Converge is a band that have been around for over 12 years However, No Heroes is the first album I have heard from these guys. I was impressed with their blend of heavy metal and hardcore punk. They almost veer into black metal territory but the speed is a constant. I am not really sure where they fit but it was a nice change to hear such melodic aggression. Now is definetly the time to fill up on the extensive Converge back catalog.
9. Vitalic- OK Cowboy
Vitalic is Pascal Arbez's invented back story of being a Ukrainian trubcka player and occasional gigolo from a family of sea otter fur traders. That just about says it all. Electronic music seems to be getting worse as I get older. Or it is because I am consuming far less drugs. Anyway OK Cowboy bucks the trends in DJ music with some wicked guitar samples over funky hard beats. He seems to have captrued that old Daft Punk like creativity. It even has the best album cover of the year. It sure makes me want to do a mitt full of hard drugs again and again.
8. Pearl Jam- Pearl Jam
Like Sinatra and Sid, Pearl Jam always did it 'My Way.' This is Pearl Jam’s best album in a long time. The first three tracks are killer and represent catchy rock and roll at its finest. This is easily their best album since Ten. They start off fast and angry and then settle down at the half way point. There are also some outstanding stripped down rock tracks for the second half. As always the band plays first rate music. Eddie Veddar's emotional lyrics cap off a great album.
7. The Roots- Game Theory
The Roots are always critical faves and commercial disappointments. Despite moving to Def Jam, Game Theory, is another outstanding album that has failed to deliver commerically. But who really cares anyway that the masses are missing out on. the Roots. The Roots deliver a solid dark album exploring themes of violence, anxiety and despair. Black Thought is at his lyrical best attacking and persuading. Yet they keep it up beat with bouncy with Funkadelic-like beats and energy. Game Theory will take a few listens to grab your attention. Easily one if the best of the year.
6. Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere
Producer Danger Mouse had another big year critically and commerically. Danger Mouse surpassed his successes with the Gorillas with St. Elsehwere. But to be honest Gnarls Barkley would be know where without singer Cee-Lo Brown. Brown took the music world by storm with the best Neo-Soul sound around. St. Elsewhere is one of the most popular albums of the year and easily the catchiest album of the year. It was probably the most remixed album of the year. Crazy was easily the biggest single of the year as well. A huge album that didn’t disappoint.
5. Ghostface Killah- Fishscale
Ghostafce Killah delivered in 2006 with Fishscale. Ghostface Killah is one of the original members of the influential Wu Tang Clan. He apppeared to be losing it with a few sub standard albums. Hip hop is littered with many artists who are one or two hit wonders. It seems that once the downward fall begins it is difficult or impossible to reverse. Well Fishscale reversed this trend in a big way with tons of great tracks. Ghostface loves rapping over fairly obscure 70s soul samples and has some great songs like Shakey Dog and Be Eazy. When Ghostface is on his game very few MCs can compete.
4. Slayer- Christ Illusion
2006 was defintely the year of Slayer with the National Day of Slayer in July and a kick ass comeback album. Slayer hasn’t doesn’t this well since Seasons in The Abyss. The album rarely relents and keeps coming. It is no coincidence that Slayer’s return to the metal elite coincides with the return of drummer Dave Lombardi. They never really replaced him and it is hard to find drummer to match the intensity of Arraya, King and Hanneman. Slayer is one of the few acts that haven't slowed down or sold out. Who else is singing about Terrorism/Islam/Christianity/Iraq. My goal this year is to see them on tour again.
3. The Hold Steady- Girls and Boys in America
Minneapolis rockers, the Hold Steady were a major find for Big Ell in 2006. Again, I blame Taiwan for the fact that it took me three albums to find these guys. They are a kind of mix of the E Street Band, Thin Lizzy, and Husker Du if that is possible. So many top shelf tunes with Massive Nights and Hot Soft Light being Big Ell Faves. They sing mainly about doing drugs and getting drunk, which is fine by me. Better drinking tunes I haven’t heard in awhile. The lyrics remind me a lot of my younger days when I would wake up with my shoelaces on fire on the floor of a bathroom. Then stupidly drive home.
2. Mastodon- Blood Mountain
I blame Taiwan for missing out on Mastodon. I would never have missed Leviathan (their 2004 realease) which is even better than Blood Mountain. Leviathan is a very loud trip. However, Blood Mountain is a slightly different trip with different speeds and tempos but the same intensity. I have been waiting for a band like this for years. Screaming fucking guitars and guttural vocals were the theme in 2006 for Big Ell. I can’t believe how much I liked this album and found myself downloading behind the scenes specials on Youtube. Mastodon is a truly talented group of musicians who rock fucking hard. Hopefully this young band can keep it coming.
1. Clipse- Hell Hath No Fury
This is genius gangsta rap from Virginia produced by the Neptunes. A match mad in hip hop heaven. The cleverest tales of slangin’ crack and pimpin whores since Eazy E. The Thornton brothers and The Neptunes go way back to create remarkable soundscapes over dire lyrics. The Neptunes bare little resemblance to their normal selves. Putting out great beats rather than the rest of the crap they get rich off on top 40 radio. The Clipse has the whole package. But the real strength of this album are the poetic tales that rise and roll throughout. Hell Hath No Fury starts off a bit slowly but really starts moving a 1/3 of the way through. Not one dud song which is unheard of in hop hop these days. Dirty Money, Wamp Wamp, Ain’t Cha, and Trill would all be album defining songs on most discs.