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Wednesday, December 27, 2006
  Toaster's Year-End Top Five: Albums

photo cred.

ah, the Top 5. seeing as i grew up with High Fidelity ringing in my ears, i've decided to cut through the norm and shed the extras of the "Top 10," or the "Top 25," for that matter, and in their places i'm paying homage to Nick Hornby (and in some respects, John Cusack) by turning up the pressure and reducing all choices to just one: The Top Five. only, if you know hornby, he's much more unassuming about it. it's just the top five.

the decision-making process was much different than you may expect. all works were chosen almost entirely based on the resounding impact they had on me, and not by play count or overall blog popularity or anything else. music tends to pick at my emotions and cozy into the corners of my everyday, and if they manage to define a period of time and act as an umbrella over everything else i was listening to -- i essentially consider it for my top five. i'll have a sprinkling of different categories for you, but most applicable to this process are the albums and tracks, and that's what i'm starting with. might as well get right down to business, eh?

so here we are, "desert-island, all-time, top five":
[quick reference guide]

5. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
4. Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
3. Annuals - Be He Me
2. Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope

1. The Long Winters - Putting The Days To Bed

the release of this album marks a turning point in my ability to listen to music i didn't know. i knew all about Destroyer and from whence he came, but i hadn't given him a chance -- staying true to old favorites, being a general bore. but this album wrecked all of that hesitation. it's absolutely brilliant and complex, and it deserves the top five everywhere.

5. Destroyer
Destroyer's Rubies

this band instantly found itself on my list of all-time favorites during the opening notes of the first song that i ever heard. i'm not joking. and Ben Bridwell's voice? nothing short of hypnotizing. they single-handedly defined a time period of my life and irrevocably influenced my taste in music. all in 2006. incredible.

4. Band Of Horses
Everything All The Time

this new act came later in the year and still deserves -- yes -- the number three spot on my list. i am in love with their sound, with their unique arrangements and most of all the refreshing range they can pull off from track to track. there isn't a song i skip on this entire album. most impressive is their age and fresh-faced efforts, so that i cannot wait until their next release.

3. Annuals
Be He Me

this woman amazes me. besides being completely in love with her, she is so fucking talented. those lyrics, sung by that voice, make her an absolute powerhouse. and this album, though maybe not my favorite up against Soviet Kitsch (yes, really!) still makes it to the number two spot on my list, and certainly sent her through the indie roof on everyone else's. man, she deserves it all.

2. Regina Spektor
Begin To Hope

no one is more surprised than i am that this is my album of the year. kind of like The Decemberist's Picaresque (didn't like it at all) versus The Crane Wife (adore it), i was just never an enthusiast about Roderick's When I Pretend To Fall. i say Roderick because he was the variable between the albums which had that make-or-break effect, just as Meloy was -- his lyrics were always impressive, interesting, and mostly a riot, but his voice could be jarringly prominent, mixed too far forward for me to really get into. but Putting The Days To Bed floored me, and slowly. over time i was drawn to it, drawn back again, sucked in irreversibly and made to learn every word, and now it's important to me; legitimately important to me. it has managed not to define a few months or a single event, but the feeling of an entire year, and there was absolutely no question in my mind when i set out to do this top five which album would be number one.

1. The Long Winters
Putting The Days To Bed

stay tuned over the next week for several kinds of top fives, from the best to the worst to the silliest, and all very fun. let us know what you think and most importantly, share your top fives if you'd like.

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Top 5 is the way to go . . . the whole blogger, top-X list thing seems so silly, some sort of Pitchfork-wannabe thing.
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