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Five Essential Albums of 2006

by RJO Taduran

Damien Rice - 99 - Damien Rice

Heffa / Vector Records - November 14, 2006

What do we get when we add Damien Rice's five-star musical genius to the time of four years since the release of his debut album O ? The answer is 9 , the Shortlist Award winner's sophomore release. The album doesn't really depart from the sound of its predecessor but the intensity has been augmented 99.9 percent. Rice has employed nine constants in this collection: 1) passion (especially in "Elephant," the song also known as "The Blower's Daughter Part 2"; 2) poetry (" Waking up without you is like drinking from an empty cup ," he sings in "Animals Were Gone"); 3) Lisa Hannigan's frail back-up vocals (" If you don't shoot it how am I supposed to hold it? " she tantalizingly emotes in the carrier single "9 Crimes"); 4) Vyvienne Long's dolorous cello (especially in "Sleep Don't Weep"); 5) the well-measured rhythm section; 6) the poignant Essex boys choir; 7) extraordinary artworks in the CD sleeve created by Rice himself; 8) raw emotions ("Rootless Tree" and "Me, My Yoke and I"); and 9) haunting beauty (especially in the ninth track "Accidental Babies"). The album is outstanding, to the ninth power!

Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSoundsFutureSex/LoveSounds - Justin Timberlake

Jive Records - September 12, 2006

This concept album explores love and lust in the digital age, which is why it is entitled very curiously as FutureSex/LoveSounds . Timberlake collaborates with producer Timbaland and sings about carnal knowledge with all the composure, self-confidence and dignity any guy would need to get into any girl's pants. He is Justin Timberlake, and every guy would like to be like him when he sings "SexyBack," "My Love," "Summer Love" and "Love Stoned" in full futuristic texture. His album should come with a free condom, along with the warning of too much playing of the CD could lead to pregnancy. He is Justin Timberlake, and in this album he shows the world that he is one horny bastard and dethrones Michael Jackson as the King of Pop at the same.

Nelly Furtado - LooseLoose - Nelly Furtado

Geffen Records - June 20, 2006

If Justin Timberlake is the promiscuous boy, then Nelly Furtado is the promiscuous girl. Loose is the female counterpart of FutureSex/LoveSounds and both albums are produced by Timbaland himself. This album has produced perhaps the least annoying ubiquitous song of 2006 and made the word "Promiscuous" the rad term to describe the horny boys and girls. In this album, Furtado presents a different image-one who openly enjoys her creativity and sexuality-and we all love her for it. It is a pleasant surprise after all, since Furtado does not look too slutty like Christina Aguilera, and she knows how to carry herself unlike Britney Spears. In "No Hay Igual," Furtado becomes sexier and more exotic when she moans, " Huele mi cuerpo, tú me encantas, el tiempo pasa no quiero otro, no hay igual ." Whoa Nelly!

The Crane Wife - The Decemberists The Crane Wife - The Decemberists

Capitol Records - October 3, 2006

The Decemberists have been the darling of Indie Rock with the release of Picaresque in 2005. This year, the quintet from Portland , Oregon return with their major label debut entitled The Crane Wife . The album tells a story of rape and murder based on a Japanese folk tale of the same title. The mournful fable is opened with "The Crane Wife 3," which is actually the conclusion of the story itself. Vocalist Colin Meloy affectively and effectively evokes emotions when he sings in the persona of the murdered, and even the murderers. The album also highlights two epic songs-the 12 minute "The

Island: Come and See - The Landlord's Daughter - You'll Not Feel The Drowning" and the 11 minute "The Crane Wife 1 and 2"-where the musicians explore their musicality by mixing genres like pop, rock, indie, folk and classical. This album is very spectacular that it pushes further the artistic envelope in the music industry. It is a must in every collection.

Continuum - John Mayer Continuum - John Mayer

Sony Music - September 12, 2006

In 2002, Mayer's sophomore outing Room for Squares gained massive radio airplay and produced guitar hits such as "No Such Thing" and the very silly "Your Body is a Wonderland." He was then tagged as the geeky clone of Dave Matthews. After a year, the bluesy follow-up Heavier Things was released and started his music evolution, which is continued by his latest effort Continuum . In this album, gone are the days of sappiness and sugar-coated acoustic songs, as Mayer redefines himself by taking more inspiration from soul, blues and adult alternative. The carrier single "Waiting for the World to Change" also redefines Mayer as a more serious songwriter as he ponders on political and social issues the world is facing at present. "Now we see everything that's going wrong with the world and those who lead it ," he contemplates. This earnest tone is carried through the rest of the album that one would wonder if Mayer is really a contemporary of Norah Jones and Dido, or is it Sting and Eric Clapton.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Whatever People Say I Am, that's What I'm Not
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Domino Records
  • Duets: an American Classic
  • Tony Bennett
  • Sony Music
  • Food & Liquor
  • Lupe Fiasco
  • Atlantic Records
  • Modern Times
  • Bob Dylan
  • Sony Music