Favorite music of 2006

i can’t remember which albums i purchased in the past 12 months, nevermind which ones were actually released in 2006. So here’s a list of the music that moved me from this past year, in no particular order. I won’t even pretend to be one of those fancy shmancy music writers who use words like ‘apoplectic’ and ‘sonicality’, so don’t expect anything other than the facts.

X&Y, Coldplay – This disc is first on the list because it was the one i couldnt take out of the CD changer the first few months of the year. Solid from front to back, it has become my favorite Coldplay album. Though i wasn’t able to get out and see Coldplay in concert this year (or ever), their performance on Austin City Limits was inspiring enough to make me put on black jeans and a black shirt with white sneakers. I fit right in with the amish teens that hang out at the local Getty station. Standouts on this album for me are “Talk”, “A Message” and the wonderfully anthemic “Fix You”.

Plans, Death Cab for Cutie – Not unlike it was with Coldplay, it was a performance on Austin City Limits by Death Cab that elevated their music to another level for me. Not that their live show is going to change anyone’s life or anything, it just breathed some extra life into the music for me. I can’t decide what i like most about this band, Ben’s voice or his writing. If forced to choose, I’d probably go with the latter; the pictures that he paints with his lyrics seem to resonate with me more than most. Who else could so brilliantly paint the scene of a troubled marriage with a line like “Still we say goodnight from our own separate sides, like brothers on a hotel bed”. Standout tracks for me are “Soul Meets Body”, “Crooked Teeth”, and “Your Heart is an Empty Room”.

How to Save a Life, The Fray – My favorite album to sing along to from 2006. Like most folks, i was reeled in by the catchiness of “Over my head”, but this was one bait and switch that paid off in spades. From start to finish this album is chock full of stuff that i like. Nothing that will blow your mind, or make you want to sell all of your possessions and be a Fray Groupie, it’s just enjoyable music. I’d compare this album to Hootie & the Blowfish’s “Cracked Rear View” from the mid-90’s, but to do that I’d have to admit how much i loved that album and i just don’t think i can do that online for the world to see. Standout tracks to me are “Over My Head” (despite being overplayed), “All at once”, and “Look after you”.

The Morning, Andrew Osenga – It’s always more fun when you know the guy who makes the art. Such is the case with Andy’s The Morning. I love pimping this disc because i consider him a friend, but honestly, even if i didn’t know him I’d still consider this album a favorite for 06. We already knew he could write a story-song with the best of them, but this offering proved that he can play his electric guitar with his amp set on “11” and still pluck on your heartstrings through the noise. Few are better at crafting a story, and by the time you get to the line “Let your love rage like a lion / and let your heart break like a lamb” you realize that you’re listening to something special. Standout tracks for me are “Santa Barbara”, “Early in the Morning”, and “White Dove”.

Who You Are (Live), The Desperation Band – I wondered if maybe I liked this album a little more than i should because I got a chance to see them live in November. But after Erica had a chance to listen to this disc a few times, she agreed that it was a keeper. The worship set they led was phenomenal, both sonically and spiritually (at least for me it was). Led by Glenn Packiam, Jon Egan, and Jared Anderson, this band is overflowing with talent and it shines through on this live recording. Though you might not hear these songs being sung at your local church, I’m not sure that i’ve heard better worship songs this year than “Ready Now”, “Endlessly”, and “Chasing” (we do actually do ‘Endlessly’ at FLCC). I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

Under the Iron Sea, Keane – I was torn between this disc and Snow Patrol’s “Eyes Open”, but in the end i had to give the nod to Tom Chapin’s vocals. I love this guy’s voice. The album has a seamless quality to it that i really like. It can go from upbeat pop song to melodic ballad without you even realizing that the song has changed. The track that convinced me to purchase the album was the catchy “Crystal Ball”, and in the end it’s not even one of my top 3 songs on the disc. Those would probably be “Leaving So Soon?”, “The Frog Prince”, and “A Bad Dream”.

Mockingbird, Derek Webb – Probably my favorite album of the year. I’ve been listening to Derek’s music for 10 years now and i personally don’t think he’s ever sounded this good. That’s a good thing too, because he has so much to say. This album hit me in places where i needed to be hit. Critics of this album wished that he would have eased the mood a bit with a few lighter tracks, but i like the fact that the album nevers lets up in getting in your face. I love the groove of “Mockingbird”, the message of “King and a Kingdom”, the beauty of “Rich Young Ruler”, and the closure provided by “Love is not Against the Law”. My favorite track, though, is definitely “A New Law”. It’s a call to Christians to think, act, and live the way we’re supposed to: according to the Spirit of God in us and not according to the religious rules we’ve created to make our lives “safer” and “easier”. When i look back over the year it’s probably the disc that influenced and inspired me the most, and for that reason it’s anchoring this list.

Honorable MentionsDenison Witmer’s “Are You a Dreamer”, Hillsong United’s “United We Stand”, Snow Patrol’s “Eyes Open, Sufjan Stevens’ “Illinois”, and Paul Baloche’s “A Greater Song”.