5. The Flaming Lips: At War With the Mystics
Oklahoma weird-rock from Wayne Coyne and friends. Not as strong as "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" but sonically and lyrically more direct. I mean, who else is still using the 'talk-box' guitar effect? Good album, even if the "mystics" they're at war with are religioius folk. "What would you do with all your power?"
4.Josh Ritter: The Animal Years
Third album from perhaps the best folk songwriter of my generation. Putting into practice advice from Pete Seeger, he settles into his rural Idaho roots. Beautiful poetry grappling with the great questions. "The keys to the kingdom got locked inside the kingdom..."
3.Derek Webb: Mockingbird
Derek's most confrontational writing yet. Sparse guitar and piano behind words as hard as canon-balls aimed at breaking down the walls of Pharisaism and apathy growing up among us church folk. "Don't teach me about moderation and liberty, I prefer a shot of grape juice." "Peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication..."
2.Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Neko used to tour with the New Pornographers but has since taken her golden floodgate of a voice from their line-up to sing lovely, southern-gospel tinged, imagistic songs of love, loss and a madman with a dirty knife dug into his spine: "He sings nursery rhymes to paralyze the wolves that eddy 'round the corners of his eyes..."
1.Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere
Hip Hop producer DJ Dangermouse (of Gorillaz and the Beatles/JayZ mashup 'the grey album') and Rap/Soul vocalist Ceelo found a perfect match in one another for this collaboration. It's rare a pop album gets spun on my iPod but this is one of those rare pop albums that's sells becuase it's actually good music. Besides, this is also Eleanor's favorite album of 2006. If she even sees the album art on the screen she'll start smiling, bouncing and making the hi-hat sound from "Crazy": "Tsht tsh tsh tsh." Needless to say, we've heard it way too many times and I've yet to get tired of it; the true test of a great album. "Who do you, who do you, who do you whodyou think you are, ah hah hah, bless your soul, you really think you're in control?"
Honorable Mention The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers
After catching Jack White (the tall one) and Brandon Bensen (the skinny one) at Austic City Limits Music Fest, Jack is my guitar-hero. The man is a physical giant who seems to enjoy himself every time he picks up a guitar. This is a great disc to throw on, plug in the guitar, turn the amp to "ten" and jam along with Jack. The fun is contagious. "My baby's on the level, I try to read her mind, she's on the straight and narrow, I'm guessin' all the time..."