The Beacon staff picks its favorites of 2006

by Beacon Staff • December 13, 2006

staff

Rise Against; The Sufferer the Witness

Rise Against made just what America under the Bush regime needed: a hardcore album full of aggressive anthems about the downtrodden ("Drones"), the displaced ("Prayer of the Refugee") and the disillusioned ("Ready to Fall").,MUSIC

Richard Cherecwich

Beacon staff

Rise Against; The Sufferer the Witness

Rise Against made just what America under the Bush regime needed: a hardcore album full of aggressive anthems about the downtrodden ("Drones"), the displaced ("Prayer of the Refugee") and the disillusioned ("Ready to Fall"). The production isn't as slick as the band's major label breakthrough, Siren Song of the Counter Culture, but the hooks are bigger and the guitars meaner. The band hits a rut with the spoken-word experimentation of "The Approaching Curve," but when Rise Against is creating fist-pumping anti-Bush anthems-as it is on most of Sufferer-it's one of modern punk's frontrunners.

Lucero; Rebels, Rogues Sworn Brothers

Memphis's Lucero is known for its hard-partying southern ways, and Rebels Rogues Sworn Brothers is the perfect representation of that. Singer Ben Nichols laments over women, whiskey and broken hearts with a gravely voice that sounds like he's been ingesting Jack Daniels and Marlboro Reds since the age of 14. There's plenty of country twang all over Rebels, with a little piano sprinkled in for good measure, but Lucero proves that it's a straight up rock 'n' roll band. The woeful wrong-side-of-town ballad "I Can Get us Out of Here Tonight" may not be in the same league as Springsteen's "Born to Run," but it comes damn close.

Bryan O'Toole

Beacon staff

Editors; The Back Room

Go back north, Arctic Monkeys: anchored by flawless singles "Munich" and "All Sparks," The Back Room is the strongest debut album of the year. Taking cues from post-punk patriarchs like Joy Division and Echo The Bunnymen, Editors have crafted a lasting work that suits introspection as well as the dance floor.

Pet Shop Boys; Fundamental

Reuniting with synth-savvy producer Trevor Horn after 15 years, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe deliver one of the best albums in their career with Fundamental. They tackle weighty subjects like the strange relationship between Blair and Bush ("I'm With Stupid") and the controversy surrounding the British National Identity Cards ("Integral"), while still delivering tracks tailor-made for the club ("Minimal").

Caitlin Weaver

Beacon staff

Nelly Furtado; Loose

Some critics are quick to point out that Nelly Furtado deviated far from her folk roots with her third album Loose-and with good reason-but this hip-hop/pop- infused record is the most listenable album in her catalog. Featuring the club-hopping lead single, "Promiscuous," as well as the catchy beats of "Maneater," "Afraid," and the reggaeton-influenced "No Hay Igual," the album showcases all the sound experiments that Furtado and Timbaland (who produced more than half of the album) worked with and got right. Loose is, regrettably, another album on the Timbaland bandwagon-but it's a great club album.

The Killers; Sam's Town

While The Killers' 2004 album Hot Fuss was more glam and dance rock, its second album, Sam's Town (including the lead single "When You Were Young"), takes a more Springsteen-like approach to its lyrics. The Killers are trying out an arena-rock sound-a change from the group's usual '80s style that had the guys in velvet suits and black eyeliner. Lead vocalist and songwriter Brandon Flowers has revamped his look to correspond with the lyrics of Sam's Town: plaid, button-down shirts and a clean-cut hairstyle. Recorded in The Killers' hometown of Las Vegas, Sam's Town and "When You Were Young" sound more like hometown New Jersey than the neon flash that is Sin City.