The List Torch Burns on! Scott Sahl's Favorite Albums of 2006Scott asked me to post this for him, as he is not a member here. I hope I spelled your name last name right, Scott.
Loud Guitars! Breakdowns! Fist-pumping anthems! Lyrics you can actually relate to! A few albums that will bludgeon you! (And no Sufjan…hallelujah!)So yes, I know that ALL of these albums won’t be considered straightforward punk. But a punk root lies in there somewhere…at least I say it does, lol. I admit to being out of touch with the indie/obscure scene for a few years. But I noticed that it seems like no one on any of the previous lists would be considered punk…or metal. (Though I’m probably wrong cause I just don’t know all the artists, so don’t beat me up). But hey, I thought I would give this a try.
1. Lucero – Rebels, Rogues, and Sworn Brothers – I didn’t actually start listening to Lucero until this year. They had fallen in that “heard plenty of good about them, but never actually heard anything by them” category for a few years. My mistake. I still remain partial to their 3rd album, “That Much Further West”, but I have yet to hear anything that I don’t like. Lucero does have a definite Replacements influence…as well as some Springsteen…so hey will no doubt be someone’s new favorite personal discovery in 2007.
2. Strike Anywhere – Dead FM – Tom Barnett and co. have yet to let me down yet. Though a tour with labelhead Fat Mike and NOFX is a bad move for someone who can actually intelligently talk about social issues, this album still kicks ass. And as far as “Instinct” goes…for someone who was directly affected indirectly (if that makes sense) by physical abuse…this is as close as I come to offering forgiveness to the perpetrator.
3. Bouncing Souls – The Gold Record – The Souls are by far my favorite band on the planet. No, they are not complex. No one will ever accuse Greg Attonito of writing “deep” lyrics. No one will ever accuse them of being incredible musicians. But that’s irrelevant. There is no other band in the world (at least for me) that has songs that are so directly relateable to life. Whether it’s about friendship, struggling through the hard times, or simply the love for music and what it means to people, the Souls encompass it perfectly. It’s not their best effort, but its still better than most of what is calling itself punk today.
4. Rise Against – The Sufferer and the Witness – This was nice to see (and hear). A band that actually had less accessible songs for their second major label release after scoring big with the acoustic “Swing Life Away” last time around. I’m never really quite sure how to describe RA as there are elements of punk, metal and hardcore throughout. Regardless, these are all pretty good…with the exception of “Roadside” which reminds me to much of “It’s been a while” from Stained.
5. Head Automatica – Popaganda – Didn’t hear much of the debut from these guys. Though I do seem to remember it being less poppy and more dancy. So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard about the latest effort from the Glassjaw frontman…Especially after “Dan the Automater” was no longer producing. No shortage of updated power-pop here. I know that I shouldn’t like this and normally wouldn’t, but for some reason I do. Maybe I was thinking this might have been what Brandtson’s latest effort might have sounded like…if it wasn’t such a huge stinking turd.
6. Mastadon – Blood Mountain – I think Brian had said something to the effect of this just making him want to roll a big fat one and well…you know. Damn that made me laugh…but somehow its true. I’m not sure how Mastadon pulls off bludgeoning you while making you want to smoke out at the same time, but they do.
7. The Draft – In A Million Pieces – Unfortunately Hot Water Music called it quits (officially) at the early part of the year. However ¾ of them were already working on this album under a new moniker. It’s still everything you loved about Hot Water Music…and since Chris Wollard and Chuck Ragan always did sound kinda similar, it works as a new HWM album for me…which is never a bad thing.
8. Copeland – Eat, Sleep, Repeat – Just kidding.
9. The Loved Ones – Keep Your Heart – I thoroughly enjoyed their self-titled EP the previous year. And while Dave…certainly has been known to enjoy a few beverages, he obviously left those behind for the studio. Solid, fast-paced punk rock with no filler.
10. Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood – Don’t get me wrong, I really like The New Pornographers. But I must confess that I love Neko Case! And I can’t exactly put a finger on what it is. Maybe it’s that she used to play in punk bands…or the voice, or…there’s just something about the songs…that just stay with you after you listen to them.
11. Vaux – Beyond Virtue, Beyond Vice – For those of you who don’t know the story of Vaux…they were pegged as one of the next big-things a few years ago, signed by Atlantic’s Lava imprint and then well…left for dead in major-label limbo. Finally, well over a year after it was originally scheduled, Vaux released this on their own. And somehow, I don’t see many major-labels enjoying much of it, but I certainly did.
12. Against Me! – Searching for A Former Clarity – I know this was released in the last ½ of 2005, but I didn’t actually get to listen to it until this spring. Long story. It was a bit of a downer, not in quality, just content. But there is still nothing better than listening to an ongoing chorus of “Condoleeza!” during “From Her Lips to God’s Ears (The Engergizer).
13. Drams – Jubilee Dive – I came into contact with the Drams after happening upon a cd by their frontman’s old band, Slobberbone, at the library. I liked it so much, that I looked for current whereabouts, only to find that he was now fronting the Drams. Alt-country at its finest.
14. Latterman – We Are Still Alive! – This so should not be coming out on Deep Elm. Yeah, remember Deep Elm…of Brandtson and Cross Your Heart fame? Not the label you would be expecting to release something like this. Good, solid, uplifting punk. Like a warm blanket without ever descending into lyrical or musical cheese.
15. Converge – No Heroes – Yep, they’re still here. And they are still going to kick your ass into next week. You either really like Converge, or you hate them and say that they are nothing more than a bunch of loud, obnoxious noise. Obviously, I fall into the former category. I won’t exactly say that they are breaking much new ground here, but when you are already the best at what you do, change isn’t always necessary.