Best of 2006 - (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2006 (2006)

staff picks

This list is a summary of all the individual staff lists, we hope if gives you a picture of which records were mutually enjoyed this year. Often this is a tough task, and this year the diversity of opinions among individual staffers was more obvious than last.

For the individual lists we've got columns from the editors Aubin, Adam, Brian, Justin, Meg and Chris, our alumni editor Scott, and staff reviewers Anchors, Jesse, Greg0rb, Matt Whelihan and Ben_Conoley.'s Top 2(2) Albums of 2006
Tie - 19. Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
Even though the band hops through genres with reckless abandon, the most easy comparison I could make is to They Might be Giant's, another band with an expansive musical vocabulary and the tenacity to try and the ability to succeed in each attempt. Some of the songs are a tad long, but the resulting compilation is nonetheless fun, quirky and cool. (Aubin)
Tie - 19. Moneen - The Red Tree
April 11 on Vagrant
Very rarely does a record hit me so hard in the heart that I get moved just by listening to it. The Red Tree is one of those elusive few that tugs on heartstrings as often as it makes you throw your fist in the air. Massively underappreciated in North America's largely trend-driven musical culture (they're slightly bigger in their homeland of Canada but still don't come close to the popularity of inferior acts like Alexisonfire or Silverstein up north), Moneen are emo's perpetual underdogs -- and if that sort of drive lets them make challenging, moody, explosive rock records like this, then here's to never getting your just due. (Scott)
Tie - 19. Dead to Me - Cuban Ballerina
July 11 on Fat Wreck
Not just the stories on the album, but I feel like in general this album is a sign of punk rock recovering from the depths of style over substance. As a huge fan of One Man Army, I'm glad to see Jack's harmonic warble tempered with Chicken's gruffer snort and darker lyrical subject matter. The duality on this album makes it work, combining the personal with the political all while framing it in a classic punk sound. (Justin)
Tie - 19. Be Your Own Pet - Be Your Own Pet
June 6 on Ecstatic Peace
This is the punk record of the year for me. Aubin and I chat quite a bit about the New Bomb Turks, a band we both revere, and we've brought them up quite a bit while discussing this record. BYOP share in that band's sense of speed, attitude and reckless abandon. There was plenty of decent punk rock released this year, but little of it urgent or alive as this. (Adam)
18. The Falcon - Unicornography
September 26 on Red Scare
Providing the feel-good album of the year was merely a side-project for the Falcon. This punk rock supergroup carved this incredible collection of tunes in their spare time, and this laidback approach is what makes this record one of the year's must haves. (Chris)
17. Cursive - Happy Hollow
August 22 on Saddle Creek
Thank your lucky stars Cursive was resurrected, even though it's minus a cello player. I was disappointed but then I realized that if there's an instrument family I like even more than strings, it's brass, baby! They fit perfectly into this biting jab at small-town living where Christianity tends to have a stranglehold, an album that could very well have been set in the small southern Indiana town I teach in. (Greg)
16. The Evens - Get Evens
November 6 on Dischord
It's hard to look at Ian MacKaye's work from an objective standpoint, especially since he's been more or less beatified by the scene and held up as this caricature of punk morality. It's nice then that the Evens is such a low-key group and a bit of a fresh start. As someone who adored Fugazi's quiet moments (loved The Argument) this is a terrific extension on those. The Evens maintain a really interesting political dynamic: looking at Washington from both a local hometown perspective and as the symbol it is to the rest of the world. A unique wartime record. (Adam)
15. Latterman - …We Are Still Alive
August 22 on Deep Elm
After bursting into the national consciousness last year, ...We Are Still Alive shows Latterman brimming with even more potential, some realized and some not. Taking on a much more somber, less "super posi" tone than previous efforts, the band sounds far more sure of itself and is writing from a more realistic and heartfelt point of view. (Justin)
14. The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine
August 22 on Sub Pop
The Thermals have always been known for their simplicity. They've made basic melodies, terse lyrics, fuzzy tones, three chords, and frills free drumming their hallmarks. So it may come as a surprise that the band's third album is a concept record about a fascist Christian state that employs organ, a variety of rhythms and tempos, and even (gasp!) guitar solos. Still, despite these changes the band's other staples -- an endless supply of energy and extreme catchiness -- are also present making the record just as easily memorable and as difficult to sit still during. Turn it up, shout along, and watch as your hands, feet, and head move to the beat, cause honestly, simple never sounded so good. (Matt Whelihan)
13. The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
The Blood Brothers are, plain and simply, one of the most creative and outright daring bands working in hardcore today. They work without the net of hardcore convention and as a result, capably define and foretell the genre. As always, their albums are clever, subversive, frustrating and brilliant. (Aubin)
12. This Is Hell - Sundowning
May 16 on Trustkill Records
In 2006, This is Hell easily became one of my favourite hardcore acts, both live and recorded and Sundowning is a major part of why. (Meg)
11. Set Your Goals - Mutiny!
July 11 on Eulogy Recordings
Mutiny! could be the only Eulogy release I've liked since...well, whatever A New Found Glory put out through them, funny enough. But tell me: How many fast, unabashedly poppy melodic hardcore songs did ANFG actually write? Few and far between. How many provoked intelligent discussion, like the questioning of one's own religious upbringing? Zip. How many fucking awesome post-Gorilla Biscuits projects did they get me into because of their existence? Fuhgettaboutit. (Brian)
10. The Draft - In a Million Pieces
September 12 on Epitaph Records
I had lofty expectations for this album, and the Draft only exceeded them. Hot Water Music is probably the most important band in my days of listening to punk. The Draft aren't just a continuation of Hot Water Music despite at many times seeming to be a natural progression from the band of these dudes used to be in. The Draft sounds like four guys who are doing what they love to do and aren't the least bit concerned with what anyone else is doing. Chris Wollard's lyrics are as strong as ever and the rhythm section that made HWM so great is still holding up. (Ben_Conoley)
9. Ignite - Our Darkest Days
May 16 on Abacus Recordings
Welcome back Ignite. Vocalist Zoli Telgas is undoubtedly the most talented frontman in hardcore, and from the U2 cover to the blistering speed of "Know Your History," he does nothing but prove it time and time again. His incredible range and the skill of the men behind him make this an absolute must have for anyone remotely interested in hardcore. (Anchors)
8. No Trigger - Canyoneer
March 21 on Nitro
One of the newest faces of melodic punk/hardcore happens to have keen eyes, a canine-like sense of smell, a sharp tongue and chiseled jawline. Weird metaphors aside, Canyoneer could be the genre's most consistent and assertive debut since Kid Dynamite...seriously. (Brian)
7. Saves the Day - Sound the Alarm
April 11 on Vagrant Records
This album reminded me of why I love Saves the Day, especially with the melodic and aggressive "The End." (Meg)
6. Maritime - We, The Vehicles
April 18 on Flameshovel Records
Glass Floor had its moments, but here von Bohlen and company nail it. Dancey but not in a pound-you-over-the-head kind of way, it maintains a light groove through the majority of the record with memorable melodies laid on top. I just hope that Axelson's replacement on bass can fill the void. (Greg)
5. The Loved Ones - Keep Your Heart
February 21 on Fat Wreck Chords
Who would have thought that combining members of some of the best hardcore bands of the past 10 years would have created the best record of 2006, with absolutely no elements of hardcore? The Loved Ones built a load of hype with a stellar EP in 2005, and a schedule of non-stop touring in support of some of the best acts in punk today. But the final piece of the puzzle was fit into place with their debut full-length, with a stripped down style of early pop-punk, combined with the strong vocals of Dave Hause and song structures that build from obvious influences, rather than replicate. The Loved Ones are the type of band that you can imagine heading straight to the top. I can display my thoughts only in a way used to measure the greatness of any record: by playing it for that friend with the absolute worst taste in music and getting that head nod and smile from them, followed by the question "Hey, this is pretty good, who are these guys?" (Chris)
4. Strike Anywhere - Dead FM
September 5 on Fat Wreck Chords
With their jump to Fat's roster, this politically charged band took the chance to spit-shine not only their production values but their lyrical content. While the production left a bit to be desired at some points the shift in lyrics from raging against the machine to the more personal politics gave Thomas the chance to shine. (Justin)
3. The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!
March 7 on Fat Wreck Chords
Oh! Calcutta! is the sum of every great song the Lawrence Arms have ever written. The reasons I love this album so much are nothing new. They've been one of my favorite bands for some time, in part because I always loved the differences between Brendan Kelly's and Chris McCaughan's vocals. After hearing Oh! Calcutta! for the first time I couldn't help but think, "But of course! Why weren't they doing that the whole time?" While the band's back catalogue still holds some of my favorite records, Oh! Calcutta! ushered in an era of the Lawrence Arms that is simply undeniably excellent. (Ben_Conoley)
2. The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
October 3 on Vagrant
I don't drink, but if I did, I would get shitfaced to this band. It's pure Midwestern bar-rock for the blue-collar crowd, with enough of a wink-and-a-nudge attitude to capture the hipsters and intelligent enough for NPR fans. It's deceptively simple rock'n'roll played by guys who take being fun as seriously as a heart attack, and I love them for it. (Scott)
1. Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
November 21 on Universal Records / Tiny Evil
Brand New's latest album is a trojan horse; a burst of 90s-era alternative rock masquerading as an emo watershed. I had high hopes for this band, but they managed to both confound my expectations and raise them once again. (Aubin)
Honorable Mentions
Sinking Ships - Disconnecting (Revelation), Aloha - Some Echoes (Polyvinyl), Ryan's Hope - Apocalypse in Increments (Punknews), Bad Astronaut - Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment (Fat Wreck), Crime in Stereo - The Troubled Stateside (Nitro), Bouncing Souls - The Gold Record (Epitaph), Street Dogs - Fading American Dream (DRT), Tim Barry - Rivanna Junction (Suburban Home)

Top 3 EPs
3. Agent - I Wouldn‘t Trade That for Anything
November 28 on Iron Pier
Without a doubt, had there not been a separate spot for EPs, Agent's debut effort would have made my top 15. The latest band flying the flag of melodic hardcore out of Long Island, Agent have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. If you like Braid, Lifetime, and Save the Day but haven't heard this yet, you're sleeping on a winner. (Ben_Conoley)
2. Polar Bear Club - The Redder, The Better
June 13 on Triple Attack / Luchador
Jesus fucking Christ. It's amazing enough Polar Bear Club sound like nothing else blowing up out of upstate New York's punk/hardcore scene, but it's even more special that they write some of the most tensely emotional, masterfully dynamic, enthralling tunes around. Webzine editors/reviewers everywhere are currently frothing for LP no. 1, and I'm no exception. (Brian)
1. Off with Their Heads - Hospitals
June 13 on Recess
This is the album that everyone should have been listening to instead of shitty bands like the Lawrence Arms. Fast, melodic, bleak, snarky. Go get it, and realize that your taste in music sucks. (Jesse) 2006 Mixtape
    Side A
  1. Bouncing Souls - So Jersey
  2. Brand New - Jesus Christ
  3. Cursive - Opening the Hymnal / Babies
  4. The Decemberists – O Valencia!
  5. Have Heart - The Machinist
  6. The Lawrence Arms - Are You There Margaret? It's Me, God
    Side B
  1. Moneen – Don't Ever Tell Locke What He Can't Do
  2. RX Bandits - Only For The Night
  3. Saves the Day - The End
  4. Set Your Goals – Mutiny!
  5. Shook Ones - So Grown Up [7" version]
  6. Sinking Ships - Wait