12 great indie albums from 2006 that you need to revisit
The #indieamnesty hashtag recently dredged up a stack of memories and bands that were probably best forgotten. But GARETH WARE proves that there are plenty of great indie albums celebrating their tenth anniversary this year that are worth still well worth a nostalgic spin (or hearing for the first time).
The Young Knives – Voices Of Animals And Men
While the mid-’00s were awash with bands taking blatant cues from the post-punk era, The Young Knives always seemed to have got to that point of their own volition – or at the very least were determined to make it their own. The meet-the-parents gone wrong of ‘She’s Attracted To’ sounds like the B-52s’ ‘Private Idaho’ with added an added sense of Kubrickian ultraviolence, while the deceptively pretty ‘Loughbrough Suicide’ builds until the titular act feels less like one of despair and instead one of spite and revenge against the world. With a bassist going by the moniker The House Of Lords and an inlay depicting quirky British customs they played up to a certain sense of English eccentricity, but beneath it lies a thrillingly spiky treasure trove.
Jen Cloher & The Endless Sea – Dead Wood Falls
Although she was dubbed a “resplendant, electric Judas” in a review of the recent Milk! Records East coast tour in support of their Good For You compilation, it hasn’t always been so for Jen Cloher. The anomalous, galloping urgency of ‘Peaks And Valleys’ excepted the measured and considered folk-rock of Dead Wood Falls is full of the kind of subtle, insidious theatre and captivating storytelling that would doubtless earn the admiration of her former NIDA mentors. A collection of mighty fine songwriting on its own merits, it would also act as a foundation for Cloher to build on for follow-ups Hidden Hands and In Blood Memory – two albums which to this day act as go-to examples of writing about major life events with a perfect mix of dignity, poignancy and grace.
Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country
After two albums of wistful, understated indiepop Glasgow’s Camera Obscura threw everything they had at their third, reinventing themselves as some sort of great lost peak Spector-era talent. Setting their stall out from the outset with ‘Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken’ – an infectious callback to the whipsmart king of jangle Lloyd Cole and his 1986 single ‘Are You Ready To Be Hartbroken’ – it’s an album which balances sumptuous balladeering. At its heart sits the dazzling title track, a gorgeous slice of time-warp pop which you can’t help but feel you could spend a day trying to find fault with and still come up empty handed.
The Concretes – In Colour
The third of The Concretes’ albums (and the last with lead vocalist Victoria Bergsman who’d go on to, amongst other things, offer guest vocals on another 2006 indie gem, ‘Young Folks’), In Colour saw them mine a rich seam of bittersweet Scandinavian songwriting which was as perfectly judged as it was beautifully produced. Over the chiming, faintly melancholic ‘On The Radio’, playful and idealistic ‘Chosen One’, brass-drenched ‘Fiction’ and joyous singalong of closer ‘For The Songs’ they succeed in capturing the aural equivalent of dappled light filtering through the trees. Perfectly encapsulating the last days and long shadows of summer as it transitions into autumn, it unashamedly presents itself as a record to bask in.
Peter, Bjorn And John – Writer’s Block
Yes, the one with ‘Young Folks’ on it. Gaining infamy from its ad campaign ubiquity, it was a track that probably would’ve become a running weekly joke had Mad Men been set in the 2000s. But separate it from its cultural over saturation and you realise what a killer song it is. Moreso, the strength of the album it’s taken from, be it the staccato melodrama of ‘Object Of My Affection’ and ‘Start To Melt’ or the the Arthur Russel-meets-Scandinavian minimalism of ‘Up Against The Wall’. Writer’s Block is an album which will forever be known for it’s one big hit, but yet offers so much so besides.
Jim Noir – Tower Of Love
Another to benefit from an ad tie-in, Adidas’ use of ‘Eanie Meanie’ in their marketing in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup offered Noir a turn in the spotlight (and a supply of free promotional footballs). A regrouping of his early EPs, Tower Of Love gelled with the kind of cohesion usually reserved for albums proper and afforded a perfect shopfront for his lo-fi virtuosity. Noir’s cleverly-arranged songwriting also offered a refreshing change from the slew of period guitar bands and with nods to The Kinks’ more pastoral output, it sits just the right side of kitsch to afford an oddly charming listen.