Top 10 Songs Of 2006

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1 jan. 2007, 6h57m

Hot on the tail of my top 10 albums, here are my choices for top ten songs. I tried to limit it so artists could only appear once. Otherwise, most of this would be Sufjan Stevens, Islands, and Flaming Lips.

10. Beirut - "Rhineland (Hearland)"

Nobody can take you back to the old world quite like Beirut. The trumpet toting genius Zach Condon turned heads this year with an amazingly impressive debut, "Hulag Orkestar". The compositions all sounded like music straight from the mountaintops of the old world. Nothing brought this feeling accross better than "Rhineland (Heartland)". The ballad soars above your head, guided by an amazing harmonization of vocals and trumpet. Condon has an excellent voice, so hearing a trumpet blare out the same notes is a true feat. If any song this year literally took you to a different place and time, it was "Rhineland (Heartland)".

9. Beck - "We Dance Alone"

Beck's latest album "The Information" seemed to go under a lot of radars this year. It's a shame really. Sure, maybe his latest effort is more exhausting than previous albums, but it's still a damn great one. It's more the songs that make "The Information" great, so its no surprise that one made it here. "We Dance Alone" is one of Beck's most beat-tacular songs to date. In true Beck fashion, Hansen raps and sings over a complex dance track. His voice sounds better than ever as he sings the song's catchy chorus. The synth riff is also a force to be reckoned with when combined with some subtle whines and dance beats. The music itself is a club masterpiece; Beck's voice is the icing.

8. Sufjan Stevens - "The Henny Buggy Band"

Ok, Sufjan got side-tracked this year. We all know he'll probably never finish his 50 staes project. The reason is releases like The Avalanche and Songs For Christmas which were released in 2006 rather than a proper follow up to 2005's magnum opus "Illinoise". However, if he's putting quality songs on these releases, I don't mind. In fact, "The Avalanche", an album comprised of songs that didn't make Illinosie, sounded just as good, if not better, than some songs from that album. Case in point: "The Henney Buggy Band". All the Suf-staples are here; A full horn section, a small choir, and those classic breezy vocals. What sets it apart though is the arrangement. The melody is not only fantastic and infectious, but also varied. There's no vocal chorus, but Sufjan manages to keep the song moving into various melodies. The result is a short, fun track that should not have been left off of Illinoise. It's that good.

7. Whispertown2000 - "Intentions"

Most of the tracks so far made it on for their complex arrangements, beats, and melodies. However, Whispertown2000 show that simplicity can be just as amazing when used right. In "Intentions", it's just simple acoustic guitar, bass, and harmonica. Simple, but beautifully arranged. But how is that THIS good? It's the vocals and lyrics that take the cake here. Morgan belts out lines like "Lately words awkwardly / Fall out of me" with touching high notes. Unlike some singers, she sounds like a real person, singing a real song. You feel like you can relate. It touches you on a personal level. Sometimes we relate best to something common rather than sweeping and grand, and "Intentions" is perfect proof of that. One of the most touching tracks of 2006 for sure.

6. Thom Yorke - "The Eraser"

Well, it's Thom Yorke. You know what to expect out of him by now right? Well, not just quite. Just when you think he can't top himself, he does. His solo release this year proved to be a huge success. The secret? The album hooks you right away with its title track "The Eraser". At first, it comes off as a loungey, cafe song with some piano chords underneath Yorke's breathy voice. However, after about a minute and a half, something amazing happens. The chorus sinks in as Yorke croons "The more you try to erase me / The more, the more, / The more that I appear". The chord change is slight, but perfect, and the backing 'oooh's' are haunting. Yorke makes you feel heartbreak whether you want to or not. The song concludes with a slight change of pace as the beat and vocals drift into a heart-wrenching conclusion to the song. Everything is subtle, yet brilliantly placed.

5. Tapes 'n Tapes - "In Houston"

Tapes 'n Tapes are another band who debuted strong in 2006. "The Loon" was a completely unexpected, but very pleasant surprise. Each song on it has it's own unique quirk to it, but "In Houston" is a full packege deal. The ominous twinkly piano throughout, accompanied by a gentle guitar strum and vocals gives off a feeling of mystery and wonder. There seems to be some curtain that the music is circling with wonder. With a minute left in the song, Tapes 'n Tapes begin to lift that veil with a building wall of music. The vocals and drums get more intense to the point where your heart is racing with anticipation. What does it build to? Well, something that sounds more amazing than it is written. You'll have to hear it to judge for yourself, but such a small pay off struck me as huge.

4. Grizzly Bear - "Lullabye"

Grizzly Bear's "Yellow House" seems to make more sense if you put a full hour aside to listen to all 10 tracks. Each song is still great on it's own, but the comfort of the album shines when played through. "Lullabye" however is a ballad to be reckoned with. The scene unfolds with a light acoustic picking aside twinkling piano and breathy vocals. Simple start. But suddenly a build-up appears. An ascending guitar plays as Droste sings "Cheer up" repeatedly. The music continues up, and up, instilling more hope in you with each "Cheer up". You reach the summit with exploding cymbal strikes and vocals, only to find that the building is not done. Now a horn joins the ascending "Cheer up"'s even higher to a level of ultimate hope. The climax strikes and you feel it.

3. Islands - "Swans (Life After Death)"

Islands had very tough shoes to fill. The Unicorns had a massive cult following. If "Return To The Sea" didn't live up to the hype, riots would have surely erupted. It seems that Nick Diamonds and company understoof this though, as the first track they offer on the CD not only tops every other on the album, but possibly any song in the Unicorns' catolouge. The 9-minute epic opens with a poppy piano progression as Diamonds swoons "Swanns, Swans, Swans sing songs / All night long". This cute, poppy bliss continues forth past the four minute mark. So far, we've got a great pop song. Then, change number one hits. A bouncy guitar joins and changed the melody up. Still great and poppy at about six minutes when the main verse returns. It's not boring, but still just as fun and interesting. Then the music takes a different change of pace again with a more guitar and drum lead ballad. And suddenly, there it is. The blue skies turn into a storm. A huge guitar tears out fierce riffs onto the the pop, completely changing the happy feeling. By the time the nine minutes are up, your breath is away. The change is so unexpected that you are taken back. Agaain, it's something that is very hard to describe, but it is incredible. Trust me.

2. The Decembrists - "The Island: Come And See / The Landlord's Daughter / You'll Not Feel The Drowning"

So, "The Crane Wife" is my favorite album of the year. I adore the fact that it is such a comphrehensive, full album that feels like a large scale play. Because of that, choosing a best song from the album is tough. But, there is no denying that the album's 12 minute magnum-opus "The Island" is a musical tour de force. The song opens with "Come and See", which starts as a groovy jam and quickly turns into a classic Decemberists epic. There are pounding drums, sweeping electric organ, and booming guitars. Meloy sets the scene with his ever so narrartive lyrics. As soon as "Come and See" reaches its peak, electric piano sets in as "The Landlord's Daughter" begins. Here, Meloy tells the tale of a girl being assumedly kidnapped. The lyrics are haunting over the synthy piano. Again, this builds until it reaches one of the most intense moments in their catolouge. It is a spectacal. Again, as soon as that reaches it's peak, the song brings you back down with "You'll Not Feel The Drowning". Meloy and company wrap up the tale with hollow acoustic strumming and cello. From the first riff to the last strum, "The Island" is The Decemberists' most sweeping, intense story to date. And that IS saying something.

1. The Flaming Lips - "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion"

Sure, the last few positions may have been held by intense, epic soundscapes, but the number one spot goes to a ballad. And what an amazing ballad it is. If anyone can instill a sense of hope and passion, it's always been The Flaming Lips. Look at the entirity of "The Soft Bulletin". Right from track one, you are filled with an intense passion for everything. "Race For The Prize" has always been, and will probably always be, THE Flaming Lips song to me. While "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion" doesn't take that spot, it takes a sit right next to it on the Lips hall of fame. The song opens with a breezy piano, bird chirps and of course that famous Coyne-falsetto. To compliment the birds, Wayne begins with "They tell us autumn's a comin / And soon everything around us will die / Only a fool believes that he is / Different from the birds in the sky". He continues on with a bird metaphor that may be one of his best comparisons in history. Lyrically, it may be the best written Lips song ever.

As soon as the first chorus passes, the song takes a phenomenal turn. Drozd turns in the piano for his guitar as the song suddenly bursts alive with color. The drums pick up as Steven plays a memorable riff over the wave of beauty. Soon the music reaches an amazing height, until finally dropping back down to unveil Wayne Coyne again as he sings the refrain once again. The entire composition is beautiful, in both ways. For one, it's a fantastically arranged song. Every intruments is in its perfect place at a perfect volume. Then, beautiful in the fact that Coyne's lyrics are some of the most inspirational ever. He sings "So don't you believe them / They'll destroy you with their lies" and you feel like he is singing straight to you. You feel like you are the 'bird' in the song. You feel like you are in love. It's an amazing feeling that only the Lips can deliver.

Rhineland (Heartland)We Dance AloneThe Henney Buggy BandIntentionsThe EraserIn HoustonLullabyeSwans (Life After Death)The IslandMy Cosmic Autumn Rebellion

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