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!earshot charts - top 200 for 2006

Pink Mountaintops
Axis of EvolPink Moutaintops - Axis of Evol
You might think that with several bands on the go Pink Mountaintops leader Steve McBean might be spreading himself a little thin. Is it not enough that is other band, Black Mountain, is at least as prominent, if not more so, than the Pink Mountaintops. But Axis of Evol, the second Pink Mountaintops release shows he has plenty to go around. A strange brew of sex, drugs and religion, Axis of Evol has cemented McBean as a major force on the Vancouver scene, the centre of a loose collective of musicians moving in an out of the various projects he has on the go. It is still an open question for McBeab whether the next release will be a  Pink Mountaintops or a Black Mountain record, but either way it will be worth waitng for.
Magnus Thyvold

Neko Case
Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
Neko Case revered for her haunting vocals and aching twang gave the world her fourth studio release Fox Confessor Brings The Flood release in March 2006. It’s not surprising this album plants itself in the number two year-end chart spot, as Case has deservedly solidified musical presence through the unassuming charm of her past albums. She even got a name drop in the Buck 65 album Secret House Against The World. This latest album marks a perfect development from The Tigers Have Spoken, the lyrics slightly more uncanny and her voice completely unrestrained. Case opens up completely through this album uninhibited by song-writing conventions and unleashing her free-form charm. She makes it work. Case has balanced her unorthodox content and composition with her unstoppable vocals. Resulting in a strange, yet unified, album that clearly that we just can’t stop listening to.
Bridget Arsenault

Return to the Sea Islands
From the bitter ashes left over from the split of lo-fi indie rockers The Unicorns, Nick “Diamonds” Thorburn (guitarist/vocalist) and Jamie “Tambeur” Thompson (drummer) created Islands.  No one really knew what to expect from this new project, but Diamonds suggested prior to its release that the album would take influence from Paul Simon’s Graceland.   Like Simon’s chef d'oeuvre, Return to the Sea is a beautifully crafted pop album, but is obviously informed by more than simply Simon’s Americanized Afropop.  A quirky pop album at its core, Return to the Sea’sinfluences are sprawling and range from country to calypso.  But the record is surprisingly coherent; given that all those disparate elements are tempered by the pop texture woven by the classical strings and synthesized melodies.  Even Diamonds’ vocals show mature moderation, abating the Coyne-esque vagaries that featured heavily in his past work.  Now, without Tambeur and with a constantly fluctuating lineup, Diamonds has chanted, “Islands are forever!” but in what form and in what direction, we’ll have to wait to see.
Andrew Lee

Chad VanGaalen
SkelliconnectionChad VanGaalen
(Flemish Eye/Sub Pop)
Skelliconnection sees Calgary’s Chad VanGaalen capitalizing on the strength of his previous album, Infiniheart, to move to the forefront of the Canadian music scene. More than anything, Skelliconnection is built on more of the solid songwriting VanGaalen has become known for. Part of his secret may be his prob. The tracks on the album were drawn from hundreds written since Infiniheart and in many cases work-shopped while busking on the streets of his hometown. Across the span of the album, VanGaalen mixes is up between rockers, psyche-electronica and more folk-flavoured tunes. It works both for and against him as sometimes the scattershot song ordering doesn’t allow the varying styles to flow so well together.Less known about VanGaalen is that he is a talented illustrator and among other things has done album covers for the fellow artists Shout Out Out Out Out! and the Cape May and has created videos for others. We’ll be seeing a lot more of Chad VanGaalen in the future.
Magnus Thyvold


Cat Power
The Greatest Cat Power
Ahh, the aching beauty of Cat Power. This album The Greatest breaks my heart, while simultaneously captivating it. The Greatest runs in a similar vein, although arguably slightly more upbeat, compared to past work we’ve seen by Chan Marshall. Her brooding, tumultuous yet incredibly sultry and utterly captivating songs come at you without mercy. According to Marshall, the album was recorded at her Memphis’ Ardent Studio in a mere five days. Although the album’s recording may have been brief, her music is built around layers emotion. It’s the intimate connection we get between Marshall and ourselves that drives the album. These twelve songs are captivating, but her delivery comes off effortless. As expected she comes at us with her raw stripped down glory that has been charming our ears for a lifetime. It comes down to the challenge of being masterful, gripping the listener, yet honest and unassuming, to this Cat Power unquestionable succeeds.
Bridget Arsenault


The Bicycles
The Good the Bad and the Cuddly
(Fuzzy Logic)
The Good the Bad and the Cuddly is widely regarded as a tooth achy sweet, bubblegum pop-rock album akin to the innocence of bands like The Monkees.  However, The Bicycles’ hand-made CD sleeves and raucous live shows with matching T-shirts help project a do-it-yourself aura that sets the band and their album apart from their 60s pop rock forebears.  The songs on The Good the Bad and the Cuddly are cutesy chamber pop tunes about puppy love and homework.  But the references to sunshiny crushes and inexplicably placed ‘yeah!’s are also sprinkled with a light coating of hipster irony, tainting even the most sincere trumpets and tambourines on the album.  With intricate arrangements, vocal harmonies and guest appearances from a host of Toronto indie pop acts, The Bicycles manage to create a delectable modern spin on classic bubblegum pop instead of an anemic clone of Nilsson’s Pandemonium Shadow Show.  
Andrew Lee


The Hidden Cameras
(Evil Evil)
Awoo didn’t land with quite the excitement or wonder that greeted the Hidden Cameras first releases. Never-the-less, the Hidden Cameras is still a band that demands attention. Head Camera Joel Gibb writes some of the most seductive and sublime pop songs to be found anywhere. Pop gems such as lead off track “Death of a Tune” or “Lollipop” showed that the magic is still there. This album is both less explicitly gay and sexual the previous efforts yet surrenders little of the orchestral lushness and richness that has been so characteristic of the band and that has been so enticing to listeners. Still some reviewers registered disappointment, expecting more of an artistic advance than a consolidation. With perhaps a wee stumble on this one, their next will determine whether the Hidden Cameras can continue to excite or are perhaps played out. We’re betting on the former.
Magnus Thyvold


Tokyo Police Club
A Lesson in Crime
(Paper Bag)
Fresh-faced and barely in their 20s, Tokyo Police Club’s breakneck rise in notoriety exemplifies the rapid force with which the recently dubbed Web2.0 can propel a band into the center of attention, fuelled by MySpace and blogger buzz.  However, these four Newmarketers’ ascent over the past year has also been enkindled by continuous road time, a growing reputation for a punchy energetic live show, and an almost ubiquitously lauded debut EP.  A Lesson in Crime is a smack-on-the-knee, get-up-and-rollick in the club kind of disc.  But in addition to their dancefloor-ready bass lines that get most of the attention, TPC’s catchy pop hooks and varied song arrangements clinch a listener’s attention and show a lot of promise for their future.  Whimsically absurd lyrics about robot masters and brain-embedded microchips abound in A Lesson in Crime, evoking vague memories of Battlestar Galactica plotlines.  The cheeky seven-song EP shows a youthful irreverence that will hopefully carry these high school pals to continued success when their full-length album is released next year.
Andrew Lee


Yo La Tengo
I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
After more than 20 years and who knows how many records Yo La Tengo still matter. Anticipation greets each new album and dedicated fans turn out for every tour. Part of what keeps fans coming back is the diversity and audacity of their work. They range widely, easily and expertly across disparate styles, even within a single album. I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass delivers again with wide ranging collection that draw upon their many influences while always sounding just like Yo La Tengo. Their live shows are energetic and exciting. Not many bands can, after so long together, can keep turning out the vital, interesting studio work and a touring show that is not to be missed. At 15 tracks and 77 minutes it is not all gold but a few silver-standard tracks do not detract from an overall excellent package.
Magnus Thyvold


Destroyer’s Rubies
For the past decade, Destroyer’s albums have winded in and out of electric folk and more classic rock.  However, Dan Bejar’s sometimes poetic, sometimes nonsensical lyrics are one element that strings these works together.  You can visit the Destroyer lyric dispenser (http://i-rock.wackiness.org/bejaromatic/) and the words will likely be as meaningful there, out of context, as they would in proper progression.  Writing for Destroyer, The New Pornographers, or even now for Swan Lake, Bejar has always made a conscious effort to pen inscrutable lyrics giving his listeners room to move when interpreting his songs.  Destroyer’s Rubies does not stray from this arcing principle.  It maintains Bejar’s self-referentiality and his use of 20th century pop rock vernacular while painting beautifully oblique stories with his fey Bowie-like delivery.  Destroyer’s Rubies sonically returns to classic rock but a noticeable difference for longtime Destroyer fans is the precision and focus in its production.  From the gorgeously grand opener to the bluesy rock closer, Destroyer’s Rubies builds impressive and impermeable imagery we’ve come to expect from Bejar.

Andrew Lee

top 200 >>next 50 >>101 to 150 >>151-200 | electronic | hip hop | loud | international | jazz | main charts page

Rank Artist Title Label
1 Pink Mountaintops * Axis Of Evol JagJaguwar/Scratch
2 Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings The Flood Mint
3 Islands * Return To The Sea Equator
4 Chad VanGaalen * Skelliconnection Flemish Eye/Sub Pop
5 Cat Power The Greatest Matador
6 The Bicycles * The Good The Bad And The Cuddly Fuzzy Logic
7 The Hidden Cameras * Awoo Evil Evil
8 Tokyo Police Club * A Lesson In Crime Paper Bag
9 Yo La Tengo I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass Matador
10 Destroyer * Destroyer's Rubies Merge
11 The Dears * Gang Of Losers Maple Music
12 Shout Out Out Out Out! * Not Saying Just Saying Nrmls Wlcm
13 Sonic Youth Rather Ripped Geffen
14 The Flaming Lips At War With The Mystics Warner
15 The Lovely Feathers * Hind Hind Legs Equator
16 Final Fantasy * He Poos Clouds Blocks Recording Club
17 Belle And Sebastian The Life Pursuit Matador
18 Les Georges Leningrad * Sangue Puro Dare To Care
19 Magneta Lane * Dancing With Daggers Paper Bag
20 Feist * Open Season Arts & Crafts
21 Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones Interscope
22 TV On The Radio Return To Cookie Mountain Interscope
23 Mstrkrft * The Looks Last Gang
24 Emily Haines And The Soft Skeleton* Knives Don't Have Your Back Last Gang
25 They Shoot Horses Don't They? * Boo Hoo Hoo Boo Kill Rock Stars
26 Young And Sexy * Panic When You Find It Mint
27 Run Chico Run * Slow Action Boompa
28 Camera Obscura Let's Get Out Of This Country Merge
29 Hylozoists * La Fin Du Monde Boompa
30 Sunset Rubdown * Shut Up I Am Dreaming Absolutely Kosher
31 Calexico Garden Ruin Quarterstick
32 Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not Domino
33 The Decemberists The Crane Wife Capitol
34 The Sadies * In Concert: Volume 1 Outside/Yep Roc
35 Beck The Information Interscope
36 Junior Boys * So This Is Goodbye Domino
37 Golden Dogs * Big Eye Little Eye True North
38 The Doers * Whatcha Doin' ? Red Cat
39 Peaches * Impeach My Bush XL
40 Thom Yorke The Eraser XL
41 Vancougar * Losin' It! Scratch
42 The Barmitzvah Brothers * The Century Of Invention Permafrost
43 The Buttless Chaps * Where Night Holds Light Mint
44 The Diableros * You Can't Break The Strings In Our Olympic Hearts Independent
45 Shotgun And Jaybird * Trying To Get Somewhere Sappy
46 Ladyhawk * Ladyhawk Jagjaguwar/Storyboard
47 Mogwai Mr Beast Matador
48 Built To Spill You In Reverse Warner
49 Shotgun And Jaybird * There Are Days And Then There Are Days Independent
50 Sufjan Stevens The Avalanche Asthmatic Kitty

top 200 >>next 50 >>101 to 150 >>151-200 | electronic | hip hop | loud | international | jazz | main charts page

Rank Artist Title Label
51 Cadence Weapon * Breaking Kayfabe Upper Class
52 Pony Up! * Make Love To The Judges With Your Eyes Dim Mak
53 Great Aunt Ida * How They Fly Northern Electric
54 Bell Orchestre * Recording A Tape The Colour Of The Light Rough Trade
55 The Meligrove Band * Planets Conspire V2
56 CSS Cansei De Ser Sexy Sub Pop
57 Amy Millan * Honey From The Tombs Arts & Crafts
58 Oneida Happy New Year Outside
59 Fiery Furnaces Bitter Tea Fat Possum
60 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Independent
61 The Gossip Standing In The Way Of Control Kill Rock Stars
62 Caribou * Marino Audio Domino
63 The Stills * Without Feathers Vice
64 Various * See You On The Moon! Songs For Kids Of All Ages Paper Bag
65 Various * CBC Radio 3 Sessions Mint
66 Ox * American Lo Fi Weewerk
67 Arab Strap The Last Romance Transdreamer
68 Sinewave * Unity Gain Vinyl Republik
69 M. Ward Post-War Merge
70 The Wailin' Jennys * Firecracker Jericho Beach
71 Danielson Ships Secretly Canadian
72 The Black Angels Passover Light In The Attic
73 Tom Waits Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards Anti
74 Neil Young * Living With War Reprise
75 P:ano * Ghost Pirates Without Heads Mint
76 B.A. Johnston * Call Me When Old And Fat Is The New Young And Sexy Just Friends
77 Death From Above 1979 * Romance Bloody Romance: Remixes Last Gang
78 Various * Jamaica To Toronto: Soul, Funk And Reggae 1967-1974 Light In The Attic
79 Raising The Fawn * The Maginot Line Sonic Unyon
80 Think About Life * Think About Life Alien 8
81 Sandro Perri * Plays Polmo Polpo Constellation
82 Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins Rabbit Fur Coat Team Love
83 Robert Pollard From A Compound Eye Merge
84 Beth Orton Comfort Of Strangers EMI
85 AA Soundsystem * Laissez Faire... Saved By Radio
86 Stereolab Fab Four Suture Too Pure
87 Broken Social Scene * Broken Social Scene + EP Arts & Crafts
88 Wolf Parade * Apologies To The Queen Mary Sub Pop
89 Cut Chemist The Audience's Listening Warner
90 Elliott Brood * Ambassador Six Shooter
91 Lullabye Arkestra * Ampgrave Constellation
92 The Paper Cranes * The Paper Cranes Unfamiliar
93 The Blow Paper Television K
94 Bonnie Prince Billy The Letting Go Drag City
95 The Cape May * Glass Mountain Roads Flemish Eye
96 Femme Generation * Brothers And Sisters, Alone We Explode Permafrost
97 Grizzly Bear Yellow House Warp
98 Paper Moon * Broken Hearts Break Faster Every Day Endearing
99 The Mountain Goats Get Lonely 4AD
100 The Black Keys Magic Potion Nonesuch

top 200 >>next 50 >>101 to 150 >>151-200 | electronic | hip hop | loud | international | jazz | main charts page

Rank Artist Title Label
101 The Stance * Shall Inherit The Earth Just Friends
102 The Stolen Minks * Family Boycott New Romance For Kids
103 Comets On Fire Avatar Sub Pop
104 The Hummers * Modern Entrance Sisyphus
105 Swan Lake * Beast Moans Scratch
106 Old Man Luedecke * Hinterland Black Hen
107 Ratatat Classics XL
108 Jon-Rae And The River* ...Knows What You Need Baudelaire
109 Brazilian Girls Talk To La Bomb Verve Forecast
110 Test Icicles For Screening Purposes Only Domino
111 Shapes And Sizes * Shapes And Sizes Asthmatic Kitty
112 Patrick Watson * Close To Paradise Secret City
113 Lily Frost * Cine-Magique Aporia
114 Moneen * The Red Tree Vagrant
115 SubHumans * New Dark Age Parade G7 Welcoming Committee
116 Les Breastfeeders * Les Matins De Grand Soirs Blow The Fuse
117 Junior Boys * In The Morning Domino
118 Holy Fuck * Holy Fuck Dependent Music
119 Leather Uppers * Bright Lights Goner
120 Nouvelle Vague Bande A Part Justin Time
121 Nomeansno * All Roads Lead To Ausfahrt Ant Acid Audio
122 Birdapres * Get It Done Peanuts & Corn
123 Aids Wolf * The Lovvers LP Lovepump United
124 Various Slaying Since 1996 Suicide Squeeze
125 The Be Good Tanyas * Hello Love Nettwerk
126 Grandaddy Just Like The Fambly Cat V2
127 Metric * Live It Out Last Gang
128 Bob Wiseman * Theme And Variations Blocks Recording Club
129 Feu Therese * Feu Therese Constellation
130 Afrodizz * Froots C4
131 Born Ruffians * Born Ruffians Warp
132 Mates Of State Bring It Back Barsuk
133 Sarah Harmer * I'm A Mountain Universal
134 The Just Barelys * Top Dead Bum
135 Tapes 'N Tapes The Loon Ibid/XL
136 Be Your Own Pet Be Your Own Pet Ecstatic Peace
137 Fake Cops * Thundertheft Reluctant
138 Blood Meridian * Kick Up The Dust Outside
139 Animal Collective Feels Fat Cat
140 The Album Leaf Into The Blue Again Sub Pop
141 Andre Ethier * Secondathallum Paper Bag
142 Delta 5 Singles And Sessions 1979-1981 Kill Rock Stars
143 Joanna Newsom Ys Drag City
144 Howe Gelb 'Sno Angel Like You Thrill Jockey
145 Ohbijou * Swift Feet For Troubling Times Independent
146 Woodpigeon * Songbook Rectangle
147 Hinterland * The Picture Plane Submerged
148 Mission Of Burma The Obliterati Matador
149 Classified * Hitch Hikin' Music Urbnet
150 The Awkward Stage * Heaven Is For Easy Girls Mint

top 200 >>next 50 >>101 to 150 >>151-200 | electronic | hip hop | loud | international | jazz | main charts page

Rank Artist Title Label
151 We Are Scientists With Love And Squalor Virgin
152 Jolie Holland Springtime Can Kill You Anti
153 Me First And The Gimme Gimmes Love Their Country Fat Wreck Chords
154 Magnolia Electric Co. Fading Trails Secretly Canadian
155 Matmos The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of The Beast Matador
156 Xiu Xiu The Air Force 5RC
157 Rae Spoon * White Hearse Comes Rolling Washboard
158 Cities In Dust * Night Creatures Paper Bag
159 Various * Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man Soundtrack Verve Forecast
160 NOFX Never Trust A Hippy Fat Wreck Chords
161 Liars Drum's Not Dead Mute
162 Michael Franti & Spearhead Yell Fire Anti
163 Gnarls Barkley St. Elsewhere Downtown/Atlantic
164 Califone Roots And Crowns Thrill Jockey
165 The Knife Silent Shout Mute
166 K-Os * Atlantis Hymns For Disco Virgin
167 Hot Chip The Warning EMI
168 The Black Heart Procession The Spell Touch & Go
169 Fucked Up * Hidden World Jade Tree
170 Justin Rutledge * The Devil On A Bench In Stanley Park Six Shooter
171 From Fiction * Bloodwork Last Gang
172 Four Tet Remixes Domino
173 Immaculate Machine * Les Uns Mais Pas Les Autres Mint
174 In-Flight Safety * The Coast Is Clear Dead Daisy
175 Controller.Controller * X-Amounts Paper Bag
176 Memphis * A Little Place In The Wilderness Good Fences
177 D. Rangers * The Paw Paw Patch Dollartone
178 DJ Shadow The Outsider Universal/Mowtown
179 Johnny Cash American V: A Hundred Highways American
180 OOIOO Taiga Thrill Jockey
181 Sueisfine * Sueisfine Independent
182 The Hold Steady Boys And Girls In America Vagrant
183 Tortoise And Bonnie Prince Billy The Brave And The Bold Overcoat
184 Barracuda Sunrise * Barracuda Sunrise Independent
185 Panurge * Walking In The Fog Last Gang
186 Elf Power Back To The Web Rykodisc
187 The Old Soul * The Old Soul Hand Of God
188 Sloan * Never Hear The End Of It Sony BMG
189 Carla Bozulich Evangelista Constellation
190 Mars Volta Amputechture Universal
191 The Rapture Pieces Of The People We Love Universal
192 Malajube * Trompe L'Oeil Dare To Care
193 The Futureheads News And Tributes 679/Warner
194 Their Majesties * Lands Where Tales Are Tall Just Friends
195 The Blood Brothers Young Machetes V2
196 Band Of Horses Everything All The Time Sub Pop
197 Twilight Hotel * Bethune Independent
198 The Creeping Nobodies * Sound Of Joy Blocks Recording Club
199 Wilco Kicking Television: Live In Chicago Nonesuch
200 Wordburglar * Burglaritis Hand Solo




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