1. The Elms - The Chess Hotel
It's not that I ever wasn't a fan of The Elms per se, but it's just that I never really knew them until they shed the pristine look and sound of a band well-groomed for radio and youth rallies. The Chess Hotel was not only a reintroduction to The Elms, but a re-awakening of rock and roll in its rawest form -- classic ock given a new name and packaging. I kept revisiting it throughout the year.
2. Lightheaded - Wrong Way
This one released early in the year after being pushed back from late 2005, but really struck a chord early on and held the note the entire year. Solid production with beats and rhymes that stay fresh and never wear thin, the trio proves that they are a veritable juggernaut on the hip-hop scene. Plus, since Braille, Othello, and Ohmega Watts are all worth checking out as solo artists as well, that makes Lightheaded something of a super group, right?
3. Krystal Meyers - Dying for a Heart
It's hard to really explain why, but this album kept finding its way back into my speakers. It's very catchy and easily accessible, but certainly there's a part of me that puts this under the category of "Guilty Pleasure" as well. Nothing too fancy here - simple poppy melodies, positive lyrics and clean production. It's just plain pleasing to the ear and it's a great album to have on in the background of life. Plus my boys love dancing to "Only You Make Me Happy."
4. Mute Math - Mute Math
I've actually gone back and forth on this album throughout the year. More times than not, however, it's one of my favorite all-purpose albums. It's got some of the most creative and exciting recorded moments captured in a long time and it's an album that can facilitate and afternoon of relaxing. I saw them live a couple years ago and I will never get the image out of my head. If I play the album loud enough, I can almost recapture that moment in time. Easily one of the most impressive albums of the year and it's good to know that for once in your life, you can actually believe the hype.
5. Family Force 5 - Business Up Front Party in the Back
Another well-hyped band and a borderline guilty pleasure in many books I'm sure, but again. When I'm off the clock as a reviewer and I just want music that carries me away from the reality of life, this is another frequent choice. Crank up the Family Force 5 and forget about everything around you. This album is a clear reminder of when music was fun. I've also been told by a few people that I'm too old to like this album and that may have allowed me to enjoy this album all the more. The "crunk" rebel in me, I suppose.
So that's my top five Most Spun of 2006. Some really strong contenders included: Mars Ill, Sufjan Stevens, David Crowder*Band, Mat Kearney, Gnarls Barkley, Hawk Nelson, Mainstay, The Fray, Fair, Listener & EQ, Leeland and Edison Glass. Not a bad year for music overall.
For more information on this series, visit the Most Spun 2006 main page.