John Richards' Top 10 CDs of 2006

John Richards, morning DJ for NPR station KEXP in Seattle, shares his picks for the year's best albums. Richards recently appeared as a guest on NPR's live online, call-in edition of All Songs Considered to help count down listener picks for the top ten CDs of 2006.

10. Pablo

pablo

Pablo: Half the Time hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Talk
Album
Half the Time
Artist
Pablo
Label
Curb Appeal
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

New York band Pablo's release is one of the most honest and personal albums of 2006. Led by Paul Schalda, this album is an auto-biographical view of the world that could be just about anyone's experience dealing with every-day worries and routines. Schalda's distinct and heart aching voice bring out the kind of emotion you immediately identify with and can't ignore.

09. Beck

beck

Beck: The Information hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Think I'm in Love
Album
Information
Artist
Beck
Label
Interscope
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Beck continues to sound fresh, relevant and extremely eclectic after all these years. His 2006 effort is a bit of a darker lyrical look at the world and reflects the state of the union but done in a mix of hip hop, folk and electronica that is both playful and inventive. Beck has never sounded better.

08. Silversun Pickups

silversun

Silversun Pickups: Carnavas hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Lazy Eye
Album
Carnavas
Artist
Silversun Pickups
Label
Dangerbird
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

The best record the Smashing Pumpkins never made, this Southern California band follows up last year's breathtaking Pikul EP with an even better effort of brooding, indie rock that could have been the follow-up to Gish, but instead marks the start of what could be a very successful career ahead of them.

07. Beirut

beirut

Beirut: Gulag Orkestar hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Postcards from Italy
Album
Gulag Orkestar
Artist
Beirut
Label
4AD
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Zach Condon is the man behind Beirut and at 20 defines "prodigy." After dropping out of countless schools in New Mexico, Zach traveled abroad and soaked up exotic music throughout Europe. He came home and put that experience down on Gulag Orkestar. Based heavily in Balkan music, but totally his original take on the sound, Zach doesn't even finish many of his lyrics or even try to make sense on his songs. He lets the melody do the talking.

06. The Roots

the roots

The Roots: Game Theory hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Long Time
Album
Game Theory
Artist
The Roots
Label
Def Jam
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Game Theory is the best hip hop album of the year and the first in years to bring the intensity, creativity and social consciousness of their predecessors, Public Enemy. Everything from the war in Iraq to the social and political disarray at home, this Philadelphia hip hop group tackles with a skillful set of beats and stellar guest MC'ing that nears perfection.

05. The Long Winters

long winters

The Long Winters: Putting the Days to Bed hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Seven
Album
Putting the Days to Bed
Artist
The Long Winters
Label
Control Group / TCG
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Roderick proves again that he is one of the smartest and most creative song writers making music today. This is yet another excellent set of indie pop-rock.

04. TV on the Radio

tv on the radio

TV On the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Wolf Like Me
Album
Return to Cookie Mountain
Artist
TV on the Radio
Label
4AD
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

This is one of the most original and inventive albums of 2006. The Brooklyn band's 2nd full-length is a set of psychedelic prog-rock, doo wop and soul with thick production and crazy arrangements. TV on the Radio is the most unique band of 2006.

03. The Decemberists

decemberists

The Decemberists: The Crane Wife hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Sons & Daughters
Album
The Crane Wife
Artist
The Decemberists
Label
Capitol
Released
2008

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

This Portland band led by Colin Meloy returns (for the first time on a major label) with another ambitious concept album, this one inspired by an ancient Japanese folk tale. This release finds Meloy and company at their best. Epic story tracks mixed with short, punch rock songs that make for a full, rich listening experience.

02. Band of Horses

band of horses

Band of Horses: Everything All The Time hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
Funeral
Album
Everything All the Time
Artist
Band of Horses
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Debut released from this Seattle band founded by former Carissa's Wierd members Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. An excellent album of psych-pop dipped in emotional roots rock.

01. The Black Angels

black angels

The Black Angels: Passover hide caption

itoggle caption

Purchase Featured Music

Song
First Vietnamese War
Album
Passover
Artist
The Black Angels
Label
Light In The Attic
Released
2006

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

This most powerful album of the year comes from this Austin band. Protest music for the Iraq generation. This set of dark, droning psychedelic rock is a time warp to the underground anti-establishment songs of the late 60s. It's not only a modern take on that era's sound but also a bridge between the two decades comparing the struggles of the country then to the similar problems now.

Featured Artist

Purchase Featured Music

Passover

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Passover
Artist
The Black Angels

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Everything All the Time

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Everything All the Time
Artist
Band of Horses

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

The Crane Wife

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
The Crane Wife
Artist
The Decemberists

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Return to Cookie Mountain

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Return to Cookie Mountain
Artist
TV On the Radio

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Putting the Days to Bed

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Putting the Days to Bed
Artist
The Long Winters

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Game Theory

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Game Theory
Artist
The Roots

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Gulag Orkestar

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Gulag Orkestar
Artist
Beirut

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Carnavas

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Carnavas
Artist
Silversun Pickups

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

The Information

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
The Information
Artist
Beck

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Half the Time

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Half the Time
Artist
Pablo

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.