Sorted alphabetically by artist name, as there is no order to these.
Truth is, it's a decent album. But c'mon, one of the highlights of his career? I don't see how any of the critics can sleep well at night comparing this album to his earlier masterpieces like Highway 61 revisited, Blonde on blonde and Blood on the tracks. There's simply no comparison. Even his two albums before this one, Time out of mind and Love & Theft were more interesting than this one.
My biggest gripe with this album is that so many songs follow generic blues structures, and the non-bluesy ones are just repetitive ballads. There are some exceptions, in particular Nettie Moore, Workingman's blues and When the deal goes down. But half of this album doesn't excite me, and that's disappointing.
This is one of those albums that sounds pretty good on the first listen. It's their most polished and accessible album to date. For some bands, this approach works. All it does for this album is make each subsequent spin less rewarding than the last.
The originality of Gomez was in their ability to fuse blues influences with modern production techniques. It was their shtick, and they did it so well. But they've lost it here. For those who are new to the music of Gomez, I highly recommend checking out their debut album Bring it on. Then you'll realise how boring they have become.
Below the branches is his major label debut, and it's a perfect example of where injecting more money doesn't always yield better results. My biggest issue with this album is that Kelley seems to have lost a fair chunk of his originality here -- just listen to Ever thought of coming back, which could easily be confused with a Beach Boys song circa Friends.
There's still some great songs on this album, in particular the great sequence from The rabbit hugged the hound to Prank calls. It's just missing some of the magic from the previous album.
There are several problems with this album. Firstly, it's way too long. At 52 minutes it's way too long to sustain my interest over the course of the album. Their first two albums combined added up to only 68 minutes, making their new one almost as long as the both of them. Secondly, it's too top heavy. If they had edited this album by removing some of the average tracks from the second half, they could have turned this into a lean album under the 40-minute mark. And they could have done this without losing some of the tracks which take them in interesting new directions like Juicebox and the bizarre Ask me anything. This would have allowed them to miraculously dodge another bullet, but unfortunately they became a bit too self-indulgent on this album.
Camera Obscura - Let's get out of this country
The Drones - Gala mill
TV on the Radio - Return to cookie mountain
And here's some 2006 albums by artists and bands who I like, but based on reviews and feedback from friends, I'm unlikely to purchase them:
Badly Drawn Boy - Born in the UK
Ben Harper - Both sides of the gun
The Flaming Lips - At war with the mystics
Muse - Black holes and revelations
The Sleepy Jackson - Personality
Sufjan Stevens - The avalanche
The Streets - The hardest way to make an easy living
The Whitlams - Little cloud
You Am I - Convicts
Coming next, my top 5 albums of 2006!