You can't deny it: from the Arctic Monkeys' rapid domination of the UK and US airwaves to those sublime Balkan-esque ballads by Beirut, 2006 was a good year for music.
Klaxons - Golden Skans
we sailed from sense, bring all your young / set sail from where we once begun
I discovered Klaxons late in the year, although they first got big early on in the year. People call them "nu-rave," which is pretty much ridiculous. (Anything "nu" is ridiculous.) It was hard to choose just one of their songs, but Golden Skans just barely beat out Atlantis To Interzone and Hall of Records. The music video leaves much to be desired (but, uh, all of their music videos suck, so that really doesn't matter). What matters is that this song will make you want to get up and dance.
Beirut - Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)
see the shadows grow / see an ominous display
If you haven't heard of Beirut by now, you obviously haven't been visiting the indie-world within the last, oh, 10 months. Beirut is Zach Condon, a 20 year old from Albuquerque. He dropped out of college, backpacked through Europe, and came up with the content of his incredible album, Gulag Orkestar. He uses everything BUT guitars in every one of his songs, and the effect is a true experience. I've loved Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) since I first heard it, and it has remained one of my favorite songs ever since.
TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me
there's a curse comes with a kiss / the bite that binds the gift that gives
TV on the Radio's second album, Return to Cookie Mountain, is a true epic. The lyrics are incredible (they could be analyzed in a college-level literature exam), the music is phenomenal--this is rock and roll, people! Wolf Like Me is one of the most stunning songs that I have ever heard. Chills roll up and down my spine every single time I listen to it. It's one of the sexiest songs that you will EVER have the opportunity to hear. Plus, it's about werewolves. What more could you want?
Islands - Where There's a Will, There's a Whalebone
laying low in a tropical hideout / if anybody finds out, i'll turn their lights out
Once upon a time, there was a musical group called The Unicorns. They got popular, fast--and promptly disbanded. Then came Islands, a slightly different version of The Unicorns, consisting of most of the same people. But you know what? Here's the kicker: Islands is better. The vast majority of this song is next to incomprehensible, due to some incredibly fast, incredibly good rapping. If you want good indie, you've GOTTA check out Islands. If you don't like the idea of rap, check out Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby or Swans (Life After Death).
Junior Bloomsday ft. Cadence Weapon - Your Perfect Gene
the wolf it caught me on my home phone / said now i'm interested in your bones
To be honest, I have no idea if this song was released in 2006--but chances are it was. I don't know much about Junior Bloomsday, except for the fact that he totally kicks ass. I downloaded this song in March, listened to it once, and didn't touch it until August, at which point I fell in love. Cadence Weapon is featured in the last third of the track, so yes, there is rap, but you can Get Over It. This is one of those songs that you will kick yourself for not have found earlier.
P.O.S. - Stand Up (Let's Get Murdered)
hands up if you're broke but find a way to stand up / give it up if you're hopin' to never give it up
I hate it when people insult rap. I'm going to be honest here: the majority of the rap you've heard before is shit. This is a fact. What is also a fact is that rap can be good, it can make a political statement, it is not all shit. P.O.S. is one of the best rap groups I've ever heard, and this is a truly phenomenal song; it tackles politics ("we keep our hands warm with the damn patriot act"), racism ("i ain't white, there's laws for that"), apathy ("we still don't do shit but bruise and scream"), and the list could go on and on. If you listen to ANY of the songs that I am listing here today, I suggest that it be this one.
Wolfmother - White Unicorn
we've been drinking on the wine / that we drank from the serpent's vine / now we live in another time
Wolfmother is rock. Hard rock. Heavy rock. Let's just say they rock. They took the best of the '70s and somehow managed to make it all that much better. Every song is seriously psychedelic--this is stoner rock to the max, but fuck, does it ever rule. I had trouble choosing a song, but White Unicorn managed to keep me awake on some of those godawful 2-6am shifts, so there you go. If you haven't heard anything by Wolfmother yet, I suggest you get a hold of a song or two ASAP.
The Knife - We Share Our Mother's Health
you know what i fear, the end is always near
The Knife is a Swedish brother & sister duo, and good god, are they ever amazing. You've probably heard Jose Gonzalez's cover of Heartbeats in that one commercial--and yes, The Knife's version was better. This song is trippy Swedish electronica at its best. We Share Our Mother's Health is definitely my favorite song off the Silent Shout album, which isn't surprising; I first heard it sometime in 2005, and possibly earlier than that. I love this song. A lot.
Russian Circles - Death Rides A Horse
My first introduction to post-rock was Godspeed You Black Emperor! a few years ago--sometime before Lift Your Skinny Fists... was released. Later, I discovered Sigur Ros... Mogwai... Holyfuck... and, of course, Russian Circles. If any of you have been to my MySpace within the last 5 months or so, you've been hearing this song. It is strong instrumental music, flat out rock at times, and utterly amazing. If you haven't heard anything post-rock, I suggest that you start with this track.
Harvey Danger - Moral Centralia
the spins are setting in / i swear i'll never never feel like myself again
You've heard Flagpole Sitta. Don't deny it; it's nothing to be ashamed of. What you SHOULD be ashamed of is not listening to more Harvey Danger. Moral Centralia is when things aren't like they used to be. Someone has let you down and you just can't trust them anymore--the loss of friendship, the loss of a relationship, the loss of innocence. Sometimes you're weak, weak and helpless and without a friend in the world; and sometimes, just sometimes, you're strong--strong enough to survive, even though things seem so, so bleak.
Rihanna - SOS; Mesh - Room With A View; Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous; Wolfmother - Woman; Klaxons - Atlantis To Interzone; Klaxons - Hall of Records