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Kingblind.com Top 20 Albums of 2006 (#20 thru #16)

Well folks here it is… Our top 20 albums of 2006. From 43 writers in 10 countries we have tallied all the votes, crunched the numbers and POW… this is it… broken down into 4 groups (20 to 16. – 15 to 11 -10 to 6 then 5 to 1.) Let’s start things off with #20-#16 Every day we will show you another 5.. Enjoy

#16 Melvins:: (A) Senile Animal
The Melvins have long been considered one of hard rock/metal’s most powerful/monolithic-sounding bands, despite only consisting of three members. So, imagine what the group would sound like with two drummers. Well, imagine no more. The Melvins’ second release of 2006, A Senile Animal, sees longtime members — guitarist Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover — joined by both members of noise duo Big Business (bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis). Unlike some bands that have two drummers but do not sound that remarkably different than if they had a single one, the “new look” Melvins puts the extra pair of sticks to good use, as evidenced by the drum march breakdown of the album opening “The Talking Horse,” the onslaught of “You’ve Never Been Right,” and “Civilized Worm,” which ends in an absolute landslide of percussion. Although they started out primarily as a punk band that slowed down the riffs, the Melvins have also always mixed in prog rock-like bits, such as the tricky rhythms of “Blood Witch” and the King Crimson/Tool-ish “The Hawk.” The album also contains some of the group’s most straightforward compositions in some time, including the metallic/new wave-ish ditty “A History of Drunks.” The transfusion of new blood has made one of rock’s gnarliest beats even — gnarlier! This is the best Melvins release since Houdini.
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#17 Elf Power:: Back to the Web
Of the frontline bands associated with the mid-’90s Elephant 6 collective—a loose conglomeration of ’60s-leaning, experimental pop obsessives—Elf Power didn’t seem the most likely to stick around the longest. The Apples In Stereo had the hooks, Neutral Milk Hotel had the transcendent vision, and Olivia Tremor Control had the willingness to try anything. On the other hand, Elf Power had the ability to combine elements of each into cute little packages awash in Tolkien-esque imagery. And yet, a decade later, Elf Power is the band putting out album number eight, Back To The Web, while its peers have all entered dormant periods or disappeared.

Time hasn’t stood still for Elf Power, either. Holding the reins through several lineup shifts, leader Andrew Rieger has arrived at a sound that’s shed some of the outré touches without losing its edge. Tracks like “All The World Is Waiting” hearken back to the thrift-store psychedelic chug of A Dream In Sound, but the sweet, straightforward, slightly awestruck album-opener “Come Lie Down With Me (And Sing My Song)” best indicates where Elf Power’s heart is these days. Rieger surrounds images from nature and recalled dreams with compact, layered folk-pop songs that mingle joy and fear in equal measure. (Can an Iron & Wine collaboration be far behind?) It might not have been immediately obvious to anyone but Rieger that Elf Power could still be making relevant music a decade after its debut, but on Back To The Web, he proves the band’s ability to thrive with age.
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#18 James Hunter:: People Gonna Talk
Van Morrison calls James Hunter ‘the best voice and best-kept secret in British R&B and soul.’ And the Colchester native and former busker does, indeed, sound like a one-man blue-eyed revival on his US debut, People Gonna Talk. He navigates 14 self-penned ska (the title track), soul-blues (“Kick It Around”), and primal funk (“No Smoke Without Fire”) tunes with panache. Hunter’s voice unerringly carves out graceful melodies and soars into falsetto at whim over his horn-sparked band as he digs through his vast bag of traditional, stinging blues’n’soul licks on electric guitar.
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#19 Be your own pet:: S/T
Watch out, boys – soon your sisters’ll be doing it for themselves

Aside from the deaf or those in a level of denial up there with David Irving’s idiot pronouncements on the Holocaust, everyone’s aware that we live in great times for music. But while rock has been bursting forth with boys ready to put a foot on a monitor, the only woman of this decade to make waves has been Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Until now, that is.

Largely, it was Karen O who inspired the latest crop of great girl-rock bands (including The Like, The Long Blondes and Suffrajets) but it’s Be Your Own Pet who, with this debut, appear most fully formed, most ready to rule over the whole scene, not just some spurious media-invented girl-rock adjunct. And it’s their singer Jemina Pearl who’s set to inspire a whole host of new bands, like Karen O and Courtney Love before her.

Her band’s self-titled debut carries her stamp, with deep imprints of ass-kicking cool, while she’s the foghorn focus for their snotty rock’n’roll. She’s what anyone bored of boring, boring boys has long been waiting for. When she screams, “I’m an independent muthafucker!” on ‘Bunk Trunk Skunk’, you can almost hear the stampede of girls making a beeline for the rehearsal room. And, when she voices her adoration of hardcore gods Bad Brains on ‘Let’s Get Sandy (Big Problem)’ with a squeal and a snarl, you can almost see the blood and guts of those boys trampled underfoot. She personifies everything great rock’n’roll should be; sexy, riotous, and dangerous. And with more air in her lungs than an over-inflated Zeppelin.

See, much of the reason for bothering with BYOP lies in the absolute glory of hearing Pearl succeed in making every lyrical couplet she spews forth sound as if she’s been drinking cider since birth and is ready to hurl… anytime… now! Songs like ‘Bog’ might otherwise sound like kidnapped retards being given guitars and big fuck-off amps for the first time (and that’s no criticism – this is a record smeared with the memory of The Stooges’ sloppy soul after all), but it’s Pearl’s very being that makes them sound fun.

And, if there’s a reason for this record’s existence, it’s to showcase Be Your Own Pet’s relentless pursuit of fun. If it wasn’t enough that they’ve got a song entitled ‘Fuuuuuun’ (which sounds like all those ace Elastica singles squished together into a minute-and-a-bit-long blast of stroppy clatter-punk), then the likes of ‘Adventure’ (“We are adventuring/We are adventurers”) or the B-movie rumble of ‘Girls On TV’ (which sounds like a Cramps song doused in a bucket of costume blood) suggest this is a band with little time for musical evolution, the fourth chord, or any of those other boring, boring things boring, boring boys in bands talk about.

Of course, there are boys at work here too, and what fine labour they toil. You can hear Jonas Stein’s guitar snapping away in the background and Nathan Vasquez’s bass rumbling underfoot, while Jamin Orrall’s drums take Be Your Own Pet’s songs and beat and pound them ever, ever onward. Yet the bands that will spring up in the wake of Be Your Own Pet’s dazzling debut will do so because of Jemina Pearl’s burning-bright star. Here’s one chord, here’s another, and here’s the first inspiring rock’n’roll woman for a half-decade – now form a band. Let’s make way for the second wa
ve of boy / grrrl revolution… now!
Be your own pet:: Music Video
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#20 Cut Chemist:: The Audience’s Listening
When the term “turntablism” is used to describe an artist’s style, some automatically think whicky-whicky and nothing else. For longtime Jurassic 5 member Cut Chemist, his work is deeper than just tricky chops and fat beats – although those two elements are always present as well. The Chemist recently released his first proper solo effort, The Audience’s Listening, to polarized reviews, in part because he isn’t accompanied by a zillion MCs and in part because as a turntable act he doesn’t choose to take his listeners on a path that similar acts Mix Master Mike, DJ Q-Bert, or X-Ecutioners follow. Instead, Cut Chemist lays down some know-how and humor, and makes a better album than most of his contemporaries could.

The Audience’s Listening is a stockpile of great beats – both rare and danceable – ingenious quotes, and great hooks. Unlike some current DJs, Cut Chemist doesn’t just settle to lie on a hot riff and catchy beat; throughout each track there are tempo changes, layers of effects, time signature changes, drum fills, clever audio clips, and sung vocal elements.
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