I read through a lot of music blogs, and a number of them have been going back on the year and finding the best songs that they've heard. I'm doing the same thing. I listen to a lot of music, and I figured, being in the holiday spirit, here's my top picks of 2006:
Fidelity, Regina Spektor - This is a light pop-ish song, but Spektor has very good command over her vocals, and it really stands out from much of the other pop music that I've heard. You can't hear this and not feel slightly uplifted.
Another Place To Fall, KT Tunstall - This has a great sound to it. Tunstall was one of the best breakthrough artists of the year, and her debut album, Eye to the Telescope was utterly fantastic. This song in particular has drive to it, it's tight, has fantastic lyrics and a great sound.
People Gonna Talk, James Hunter - I'm kicking myself for missing this guy while he was here in Vermont for a free concert. Hailing from the UK, Hunter has an old school soul sound, very easy going, with an outstanding voice to back up the lyrics.
I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor, Arctic Monkeys - These guys rock, hard. A Manchester group with no musical training and using the Internet to get their music out became a huge hit over in the UK - There was a lot of press for them when I was over there. They've got a fast sound, with something between ska and rock, and they sound like they're having fun.
Someday Baby, Bob Dylan - Dylan's got another album out this year, and it's the first thing that really got me to touch his music. I've never really liked Dylan's music, but he's starting to grow on me, slowly. I like the laid back sound here and musical style here.
Texas Stars, Carbon Leaf - These guys are my all time favorites. And this song just makes me stop every time I listen to it. It's got a slightly different sound from what they usually play, and the lyrics could fit the theme of a number of SciFi shows. I still get chills listening to this one.
Comfort, Carbon Leaf - Again with the Carbon Leaf music, I love this song just as much, for different reasons. One of the big things that I have with Carbon Leaf's music is the degree to which I can identify myself with many of their lyrics - this one just fits, exactly with everything. They've changed their sound since their last album, not a whole lot, but fuller, and richer. Their Last album, Love Loss Hope Repeat, just flat out rocked.
See the World, Gomez - If only I had this song going to London. It's a travel song, and the video is just fantastic for this one. The music and voices of these guys is something different, and it sounds fantastic. This is a laid back piece, smooth and makes me want to pack a bag and go somewhere.
Heartbeats, José González - González has been big in Europe for a little while, where I first heard his music, and he's starting to come over to the US now. This song is actually a cover that he did - and a huge improvement - of a Knife song. The acoustic guitar and his voice are just beautiful, and the rest of the album is simply an amazing sound.
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, KT Tunstall - Another of KT's songs, this one has the same drive and sound of the rest of her album, with a great beat and lyrics. It's nice to have a woman finally play rock, rather than pop music, as what seems to be the case with the radio these days - I think that Tunstall's the next Alanis Morrisett.
Typical, Mute Math - A friend of mine recommended this band to me, and these new guys have such a cool sound and energy to their music, and they'll amp up the sound and energy throughout the song, between the lyrics and chorus, and it works.
Be Here Now, Ray LaMontagne - This is LaMontagne's second album after his fantastic debut, Trouble. This song is quiet, beautiful, and is really touching. This entire album 'Til the Sun Turns Black, uses instruments more than his last one, but it really enhances some of the songs in there.
Set Fire to the Third Bar, Snow Patrol - Snow Patrol's followup to their last album, Final Straw, and it sounds amazing, this song in particular. They pair up with Martha Wainwright, and it's such a brilliant combination. The lyrics here are what hits me the most, and like Carbon Leaf's music, it fits perfectly.
Get Back, The Beatles - This isn't really new, but it's on the new Beatles album, Love. I ranted about it before, with a number of the remixes and remastering of the songs, and this one just sounds amazing. The energy soars here, and it's The Beatles. You can't get better then them.
Sons and Daughters, The Decemberists - The Decemberists broke through with their first major record this year, and the entire thing sounds brilliant. I really disliked these guys before, but like Dylan, they're really growing on me, starting with this album and some of their later stuff that came just before. Their lyrics are amazing and their sound is just unlike anything else we've got.
Shut Your Eyes, Snow Patrol - This is a good song to wake up to. From the beginning to the lyrics, it eases right in and builds up to a fantastic sound. Doesn't have as much of the emotional resonance that
Orange Sky, Alexi Murdoch - The orignal version of this song was on Murdoch's EP, Four Songs, and it's been returned here with some slight changes to Time Withough Consequence. It's been featured in a bunch of TV shows and movies, but despite that, the song is simply amazing. It's soft, moves and has some fantastic lyrics. It's one of my favorite songs ever, not just of 2006. And on top of that, it reminds me so much of London.
Supply and Demand, Amos Lee - Amos Lee's second album by the same title was a great followup to his self titled debut. He's the male equivelant of Norah Jones with the first, but takes his sound and changes it a little bit. These songs are a little more moody, lyrical and the pacing varies a little. This one is smooth and very, very good.
How We Operate, Gomez - From their fantastic album of the same name, this one brings in some really cool sounds and vocal work. The song feels like it stops and starts again at various points, with a really good feeling of movement to it.
Song for You, Alexi Murdoch - Murdoch's songs are very reminicent of Nick Drake's music, soft, acoustic, fantastic lyrics. This song is no exception, and it's got just a fantastic sound and feel to it.
Next year's shaping up to be good as well. Norah Jones has a new album, as does the Shins and Grace Potter and the Notcturnals. Here's a listen to what The Shins have been up to for the 20th song: Phantom Limb.
Just FYI - These are going to expire in 7 days. I recommend going out and purchasing the actual albums. They're worth it.