Marketed and distributed by Gallo Record Company

A collaboration between soul-singer Cee-Lo Green and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse, the guy responsible for producing Gorillaz’s brilliant Demon Days), Gnarls Barkley made pop history with their first single, Crazy, when it went straight to number as a download-only track. Yes, I might just be crazy but Crazy is probably one of the biggest and best songs to see the light in 2006 (they even play the remix in Senate of all places!). It doesn’t stop there though, as the rest of the album, St Elsewhere, is a masterpiece as well: brilliantly detailed production, clever sampling galore, and music that is timeless and forward-thinking at the same time. Go-Go Gadget Gospel is manic and brilliant; Gone Daddy Gone is a neo-soul interpretation of the Violent Femmes classic; The Boogie Monster is eerie and funky; Just A Thought is so old school that it’s actually cool; and Storm Coming is an absolute epic. Albums so profound in its brilliance do not come around everyday, and similar groups (like Outkast) had better watch out. St Elsewhere is worth all the hype it has generated and is the album to beat in 2006.


Marketed and distributed by Gallo Record Company

One of my favourite artists in the late nineties was Jewel Kilcher. Her debut album, Pieces Of You, contained memorable hits like You Were Meant For Me and Foolish Games; she stood out thanks to her remarkable songwriting skills and the almost indie-approach to her music – raw, emotional and honest. Subsequent albums unfortunately didn’t impress me much but her 2006 release, Goodbye Alice In Wonderland, has completely redeemed her in my books. In terms of her songwriting skills as well as musical style Jewel has turned into a formidable female artist; the indie-sound a thing of the past. Combined with Rob Cavallo’s legendary producing skills, Goodbye Alice In Wonderland is one of the best albums to reach my ears this year. Besides the brilliant title track, Again and Again, Long Slow Slide, the rock-tinged Only One Too, Words Get In The Way, the stunning Drive To You, and the tender, acoustic Where You Are stand out. It’s a mix of ballads, adult contemporary pop and even some rock; all expertly put together and highly enjoyable.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG

Chris Brown has been described as many things in his short but spectacular career. When the 16-year old scored a massive number one globally with the infectious Run It, comparisons to Usher were frequently uttered; Chris Brown is also good-looking and a mean dancer. The problem with a debut single being such a hit is that it’s often extremely difficult to follow up with something equally memorable, and unfortunately Chris Brown hasn’t managed to do that. Sure, second single Yo (Excuse Me Miss) is also a catchy song, but the rest of the album didn’t impress me much. It comes across as a collection of songs by a teenage boy who cannot differentiate between being in love and being horny, and besides the songs mentioned before, only two others are remotely worth listening to: Just Fine and Say Goodbye. Let’s hope that Chris Brown does better on the next attempt.


Marketed and distributed by Universal Music

A few months ago I was frantically trying to locate a copy of the new Sugababes album, Taller In More Ways. At one of the music retailers the extremely uninterested sales assistant told me that they were sold out. Hard to believe; but the fact of the matter is that the album has already sold in excess of 200 000 copies in South Africa alone. Fueled by the smash first single, Push The Button, Taller In More Ways has since spawned two more hit singles (Ugly and the fantastic Red Dress) and when listening to it in its entirety it’s completely understandable. With help from big names like Dallas Austin the Sugababes have created a very slick pop album with more than only three memorable singles on it – the melodic Bruised and funky It Ain’t Easy also deserves a mention, with Ace Reject being the best song on the album. The tracks on Taller In More Ways have a longer-lasting quality to them than many other pop hits and I believe that the Sugababes, sans another founder member, will continue to deliver fabulous pop tunes for a long time to come.


Marketed and distributed by Gallo Record Company

If you were born yesterday, haven’t seen Nicholas Cage as an angel in City Of Angels or never ever listen to the radio, the name Goo Goo Dolls might not ring a bell. While the group is not commercially as well known as say Coldplay, their work was forever immortalised with Iris, a song featured on the soundtrack of City Of Angels as well as their fantastic album, Dizzy Up The Girl. Now they’re back with a new album entitled Let Love In, a collection of 11 songs that are instantly recognisable as original Goo Goo Dolls. Don’t expect banging drums and slamming guitars because the songs revolve around strong melodies and contemplating lyrics, most evident on outstanding tracks like Stay With You, Let Love In, Better Days, and Without You Here. It’s rock of the MOR variety; well put together, non-obtrusive and easy on the ear. Unfortunately, it’s likely that Let Love In will pass by many without being noticed.


Marketed and distributed by Gallo Record Company

Punted as the most anticipated album of 2006, the Red Hot Chili Peppers do not disappoint on their latest release, Stadium Arcadium. Divided into two albums entitled Jupiter and Mars and featuring a total of 28 tracks, Stadium Arcadium is pure Chili Peppers in every sense of the word. As per usual the songs can be divided roughly into funky, up-beat tracks and slower, more relaxed songs. Current single, Dani California, falls into the former category and is joined by other tracks like Hump De Bump, C’mon Girl, Tell Me Baby, Animal Bar, Storm In A Teacup and 21st Century. On the slower side, the title-track stands out as does Slow Cheetah, Strip My Mind, Hey, Desecration Smile, Hard To Concentrate, Death Of A Martian and She Looks To Me. The wacky (and often homoerotic) Chili Peppers are legendary for good reason. They know how to make rock music, they have been and still are rather innovative, and they always look like they’re having fun; Stadium Arcadium is up there with Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californication.

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