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Home > Magazine > Article Archive > News

Editor Picks: Best of 2006 - Top 25 Indie CDs
Posted on Saturday, December 02, 2006 @ 12:18:45 UTC
Topic: Editor's Picks

Indie-Music's review staff has poured over this year's CD reviews and selected our first annual Top 25 CDs for 2006. No, we're not going to try to rank them. We had a hard enough time keeping the list down to 25, because Indie-Music readers really rock and the quality of CD submissions we receive continues to blow us away. If the CDs you bought this year have failed to ignite your senses, try some of the artists that sizzled for us in 2006. Also check out our Top 25 MP3s.



Compiled By Jennifer Layton

What is INDIE? A Documentary Film by Dave Cool

Dave Cool: What is Indie? (Documentary Film)
All independent musicians, especially those wondering if they should be pursuing a major label deal, need to watch this documentary. What makes this project breathe and buzz goes beyond the discussion of one simple question. So much is going on behind the scenes. I strongly recommend that people in the Indie music community get together in groups to watch, because they will want to discuss it. They will also want to celebrate together the excitement evoked by one of the messages of the film - that this is a great time in music history to be an independent artist. The film may focus on a specific question, but the effect on the viewer is like a rallying cry. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review

Michael Lloyd Band: Highwaters

Michael Lloyd Band: Highwaters
Unpretentious creative fusion between funk, jazz, and rock, all centered on Lloyd's rhythmic keyboard work. If mainstream radio was playing this kind of music, I'd tune in. (Reviewed by Jamie Anderson) Read this review

Viva la Venus: Forget the Fairy Tale

Viva la Venus: Forget the Fairy Tale
This female fronted band burns through breakup land with refreshing melodies, great musicianship, and hooky riffs that don't sound like every indie band on the planet. No dreamy girlie sentiments here, just great crunchy rock. (Reviewed by Jamie Anderson) Read this review

Beat Kaestli: Happy, Sad and Satisfied Beat Kaestli: Happy, Sad and Satisfied
Gloriously dreamy and romantic. Take American jazz standards, give them to a Swiss artist whose crooning could seduce the coldest heart, and feel the magic start to swirl. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Sean Wiggins: Everyday Life Sean Wiggins: Everyday Life
There's a little bit of quantum strangeness surrounding this album. Every time I play it, it gets louder. Her music's rough edges and down-home sensibilities give her work the feel of a close friend just kicking back, having fun, and letting it rip without any self consciousness. (Reviewed by A.J. Van Beest) Read this review
Possum Holler: Substantially Blue Possum Holler: Substantially Blue
From the first note to the last, this band, and most certainly lead singer Tori Anderson, take nary a musical misstep. Where too many bands all try to pile on with everything in the arsenal, Possum Holler wisely lay low with generally restrained arrangements, all the better to let Anderson shine like the talented diamond she is. (Reviewed by Todd Beemis) Read this review
Zach Broocke: Be Somebody Zach Broocke: Be Somebody
This is one of those records where, upon first listen, you scratch your head and think to yourself, "Why the hell isn't this guy famous?" This album is that good... and I guess the world is that unfair. Skating expertly among several clear influences - Phoenix, Del Amitri, U2, Elvis Costello, and Robbie Williams (in the best sense of that one!) - but making every song his own, this CD is bursting with talented goodness. (Reviewed by Todd Beemis) Read this review
Repeat Offenders: By Example Repeat Offenders: By Example
Loaded with positive vibes and lyrics that don't require a Parental Advisory label, Repeat Offenders make throwback music for throwback folks. DIY hip-hop may just be making its mark, but Repeat Offenders are well on the way to becoming innovators of a still completely unformed genre and possibly becoming forefathers of a new breed of music-making. (Reviewed by Derek Blackmon) Read this review
Carolyn Hudson: Living in My Skin Carolyn Hudson: Living in My Skin
Hudson does the mystic crooning thing so well. Imagine a Sade song being produced by Steely Dan. Hudson sings with the bewildered joy of a caged bird suddenly freed and flying across the ocean. There's a smile in her voice. There's jazz and soul and satin sheets in her music. If there isn't a small part of you that desperately wants to live more passionately after hearing this CD, you aren't really listening. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Jenn Lindsay: Uphill Both Ways Jenn Lindsay: Uphill Both Ways
Lindsay's sweet but strong vocals and her acoustic folk-pop (as well as her lyrics) are reminiscent of early Rilo Kiley mixed with melodic pop of the 60s and 70s. This is simply an amazing album by an amazing songwriter. (Reviewed by Tiffany Razzano) Read this review
Craig Bartock: The Finer Points of Instinct Craig Bartock: The Finer Points of Instinct
Bartock's songs are a mix of the pure and the predatory, the struggle to see what's beautiful in a world that isn't. Lyrics from the last two tracks mention "parables and cannibals" and "lilacs and thorns." Based on the swirling Beatles-esque music, I think Bartock is searching out the beauty instead of wallowing in the pain, but he's also a realist. From beginning to end, the CD feels like wandering through a seductive dream with psychedelic danger around every corner, rushing from shadow to shadow on dark wings. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Ahab Rex: The Queen of Softcore (EP Ahab Rex: The Queen of Softcore (EP)
Ahab Rex is a tease. This EP is meant to be an appetizer. It's actually more of a lap dance; it's titillating, exciting, and it definitely leaves you wanting more. It's throbby, it has its share of hooks, and the good captain has a talented sense of how to use contrast; Ahab's own harsh, broken-larynx vocals are beautifully balanced by featured partner Brooke Cassell's dreamy 1-900 purrrrr. Consider it a little flirtation after work out at that place near the airport. Soon, when Blood on Blonde is released, we can take the girl home. Meanwhile, I'm hitting the ATM for more Champagne Room money. (Reviewed by Robb Loving) Read this review
Fred Gillen, Jr.: Gone, Gone, Gone Fred Gillen, Jr.: Gone, Gone, Gone
Filmmakers should pay special attention: You'll want to use one of Fred Gillen, Jr.'s soulful songs to punctuate a poignant moment in your movie now, before he gets super-huge. This CD is cinematic and emotionally evocative, the subtle strains of a landscape born of sound, in the way only a true folk artist can create. Like Guthrie, Gillen has the uncanny ability to take you places, take you on a tour of a long-awaited escape, and all the bittersweetness that comes along with that weighted word called leaving. (Reviewed by Liza Monroy) Read this review
Amy Speace: Songs for Bright Street Amy Speace: Songs for Bright Street
If Shakespeare wrote country music and drank beer, he'd be Amy Speace. And boy, would things be different. Ophelia would have kicked Hamlet to the curb the minute he started acting strange and cranked up the run-down jeep for a week in North Carolina with her old college friends. Speace is a sweet, spunky, highly literate twangirl tomboy. She writes and sings with spirit and a sense of fun. She can croon desert moon lovelorn ballads until your heart breaks. She can be uplifting and joyously optimistic. She can smolder and purr and fog up your contact lenses. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Rebecca Worthley: Myths and Elegies Rebecca Worthley: Myths and Elegies
If Dido and Enya had a love child, and Tori Amos became the godmother in a ceremony on her English countryside estate surrounded by wood nymphs and fairies, chances are this amazing new being would be British singer-songwriter Rebecca Worthley. Worthley's soprano-esque, wispy voice is almost haunting over her poetic lyrics, which take on subjects from love and dreams to the plasticity of consumerism and seeing those dreams destroyed. Beneath the lyrics, soundscapes in piano, cello, string arrangements and soft, artful drumbeats inspire visions in the listener's imagination of lolling on the grounds of an English chateau on a quiet summer afternoon. (Reviewed by Liza Monroy) Read this review
Midnight Peacocks: It's a Brutal Machine Midnight Peacocks: It's a Brutal Machine
It's like GWAR went to Gaza. What I truly loved about this album - and there's a lot to love, from its wacky lyrics to its pounding rock, to its electronic effects euphoria - is the madcap creativity of every track. Every song surprises and ultimately satisfies. Ozzy can have Black Sabbath - these kids are from the land of the real sabbath and their music in no way souks (oh that pun hurt even me...). In the mood for something completely different? Spread your musical tailfeathers and bring on the Midnight Peacocks. (Reviewed by Todd Beemis) Read this review
Josh Zuckerman: Out From Under Josh Zuckerman: Out From Under
Always one of my indie faves. Josh is country, he's edgy, he's sophisticated, and he's playful. He brings everything to the table - his spiritual nature, his love of rock and roll, his string-scorching violin playing, and his brazenly honest lyrics. Both the CD and Zuckerman's web site are stamped with the words "BE REAL." I get the feeling this artist wouldn't know how to be anything else. Good thing for us. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
The Death of Jason Brody: The Death of Jason Brody The Death of Jason Brody: The Death of Jason Brody
A lush, seductive sound that can best be described as a martini on a dark, full-moon evening. It's also a bit of high-energy rock - the first track, "Call off Your Dogs," is pretty upbeat for a dead guy. No matter where this band roams, they envelop the sound with mystery and those gorgeous harmonies. This new band hasn't really killed off the solo star. They've just absorbed his essence and created something more daring out of it. You'll leave the funeral with a mellow vibe, a smile, and a Tarot card in your pocket. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Sandra Grace: Do You Have a Lover? Sandra Grace: Do You Have a Lover?
As pure instrumental electronica, these songs are hard to beat; on a recent drive back from Buffalo, I played this CD start to finish and not only was I not bored, I think I actually lost five pounds. (Reviewed by Robb Loving) Read this review
Racetrack Babies: Summer Salt Santiago Racetrack Babies: Summer Salt Santiago
Leave it to another country to truly understand the spirit of raw, punk-era rock and roll the way it used to be in the States. When the first wild, hungry, vocally distorted notes emerged from my speakers, my spine tingled and my ears perked up. Every cell in my body woke up... This is what rock and roll has desperately needed for years. I would beg Racetrack Babies to move here, but I don't want them to get tainted by whatever is dumbing down music in this country. So I mean this in the best possible way: Stay the hell over there in Denmark. And keep sending us music. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
One Silver Astronaut: Scientific American One Silver Astronaut: Scientific American
The band makes power pop with a human face and just a hint of a nod to heritage... the group's obvious mastery of contemporary production values, songwriting conventions, and power-pop musicianship doesn't come across as calculated. The listener gets the sense that this is an ensemble with a range of artistic insights to express and a desire to do so with eloquence and professionalism. It's a package of motivations that ought to serve them well in the musical marketplace. (Reviewed by Barney Quick) Read this review
Nicole Russo: Nicole Russo Nicole Russo: Nicole Russo
By the time one is a few bars into any of the songs on this self-titled outing, it's clear she's blazing her own trail and doing so in a superbly musical way... There may have been a time when Nicole Russo tentatively walked onstage at open-mic nights and workshops, hoping someone would resonate with what she was offering musically, but that was clearly a while ago. She is now supremely ready to maneuver in the world of mature artists. Any fans of anybody she cites as an influence would readily go for what she's putting on disc. (Reviewed by Barney Quick) Read this review
The Majestic Twelve: Schitzophrenology The Majestic Twelve: Schitzophrenology
It's better than great; catchy hooks, drop-ins from early sixties educational reels, and driving beats blend with tight musicianship and terrific lyrics to form an extremely listenable album (don't even get me started on that piano playing - heartbreaking; have Kleenex ready)... At times sounding like the best of The Bosstones, and at other times sounding like the best of the B-52's, overall this release just sounds like "the best" I've heard in weeks. (Reviewed by Robb Loving) Read this review
The Addictions: The Addictions The Addictions: The Addictions
This is gritty, hard-driving, amps-on-11 rock-n-roll with a punk attitude and not a ballad in the bunch. You get the feeling that if they had to play one, they'd self-destruct - or die of boredom, like a biker on a moped. They have too much energy to slow things down enough to get sweet. Picture yourself in a super-stock dragster with this CD in your player cranked all the way up popping the clutch just as the tach hits the red line, and you've got the feel of the opening track, "Candy," my pick hit. (Reviewed by Kenny Hart) Read this review
Gabrielle Roth + The Mirrors: Still Chillin Gabrielle Roth + The Mirrors: Still Chillin
A profound, transcendent listening experience steeped in today's chill scene. Blending tribal rhythms, chant, and percussion with cutting edge synth, samples and loops, Roth creates a spiritually stimulating yet physically relaxing ambiance... Through the roughly 44 minutes of recorded sound, there isn't a single note or beat out of place. The production, recording, and mixing could scarcely be improved. Still Chillin' is going into heavy rotation on my Ambient/Atmospheric music playlist, and if you're hip to the chill scene, you'll definitely want to add it to your collection. (Reviewed by Kenny Hart) Read this review











 
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