My Favorite 10 Albums of 1996

Although there were a lot of great albums this year, I really didn't feel like putting them in any kind of order. Instead, what lies below are my 10 favorite discs of the year, based on what I listened to the most over the course of the year.

Red House Painters-Songs For A Blue Guitar (Supreme/Island)
It's not quite folk, it's not quite rock, and it's not country. So what is it, you ask. It is damn fine music from one of the lesser-known (but gaining ground) groups out there. Mark Kozelek has once again created a memorable album full of beautiful original songs, as well as re-makes of The Cars "All Mixed Up" and McCartney's "Silly Love Songs." full review

Land Of The Loops-Bundle Of Joy (UP)
If you haven't heard this album, then you're really missing out. It's packed full of goofy samples, big beats and other assorted fun and wackiness. Its not really dancy, but it will still have you shaking your groove thing. full review

Tool-Aenima (Zoo)
Spin magazine gave these guys the shaft on their new review. I beg to differ. One of the harder albums of the year, Tool kept doing their thing while other groups went soft (see Metallica). Once again delving into dark psychosis and angst, this album is even better to listen to while mad.

Beck-Odelay (Geffen)
Yes, everyone is raving about this album, so I guess I'm just a sucker. This is one of those albums that lives up to all the hype, though. The music and the lyrics fly around like a surrealist wet dream, but Beck manages to keep it all together somehow.

Yum Yum-Dan Loves Patti(TAG/Atlantic)
Everything about this album screams, "Nice!" It's 12 sappy loves songs backed by a guitars, drums, a string section, and an organ. The disc includes a play-along songbook with chords and lyrics. As if that weren't bad enough, everyone in the band is even cute. If Frente' is your forte', you would probably eat up Yum Yum.

DJ Shadow-Entroducing....(Mo Wax)
Technically, this album probably falls into a hip-hop category, but it's so much more than that. No real vocals on the album, but smooth beats all the way through. Obscure samples and flawless scratching and mixing make this one rippin' debut album. full review

Orbital-InSides (FFRR)
After four full lengths and several singles, these two electro-nerds have yet to release a clunker. This album is no exception. Technically, there are only 6 songs on the album, but it seems like much more since none of them clock in under 8 minutes. Check out the epic 28 remix of "The Box" on the bonus disc. Keen. full review

Wilco-Being There (Reprise)
Although they could have probably fit everything onto one disc, Wilco released this 2CD, 19 song effort. Sounding a little less country (and a little more indie-rock) than before, the group covers a lot of territory and shows why they're one of the better bands out there.

The Orb-Auntie Aubrey's Excursions Beyond The Call Of Duty (Deviant)
Technically, there really isn't any 'new' material on this 18-song 2CD set. Previously, though, you would have had to buy 18 seperate records containing the songs. This is classic Orb, some songs meander into nothingness, and others break into big beats and are barely recognizable as the originals. You can't go wrong with almost 160 minutes of music in a continuous mix. full review

Future Sound Of London-Dead Cities (Astralwerks)
A completely non-linear trip through the more interesting side of electronic music. The album goes from harsh ("We Have Explosives") to mellow ("Antique Toy") and back again several times in its 70-minute span. Probably won't find it on the dancefloor, but it will still move you. full review

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