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Most Spun 2006: Mark Nicks

Submitted by Mark Nicks of Cool Hand Luke (current album: The Balancing Act (Feb. 20) - Floodgate Records)

1. Keane - Under the Iron Sea

Keane has become one of my favorite bands. I don't geek out about too many bands, but this is one of the few. I bought this record the day it came out, bought the singles, downloaded the podcast, and all the other dorky stuff you do when you really, really like a band. I loved their last record "Hopes and Fears", and I love this one just as much. It's haunting at times and almost always beautiful and emotive. I think Tom sings like an angel. These guys inspire me because there is no flashy musicianship (there isn't even guitar), but they just write great songs.

2. Aqualung - Strange and Beautiful

I bought this record on a whim, not really knowing what it was all about. I know it's not a new record, but I wore it out this year. It's so moving and just near perfect in my opinion. "Breaking My Heart" is so, um, heart-breaking. The melody is perfect and I love the way the song grows from a dark, stripped down opening verse to a huge, bittersweet ending. I was blown away to learn that it's all pretty much one guy. I can't wait to hear what he'll come up with next.

3. Thom Yorke - The Eraser

Radiohead is another band in the short list of "bands I geek out about." I think Thom Yorke is one of the greatest musicians of all time, and I don't just think that because I'm supposed to. I didn't like this the first time I heard it. As soon as I got over the fact that it's not the next Radiohead record, I loved it. It's just so smooth and grooving and tough in a not tough way at all. Thom has a knack for that sort of thing.

4. Anathallo - Floating World

I've always loved Anathallo, but I didn't love this record at first. It didn't hold the same appeal as their previous works. I was looking for something I could grab hold of immediately and feel good about. Floating World takes several listens to digest. Somewhere around the sixth or seventh listen, I started to get it and it was brilliant. Matt Joynt is one of my favorite lyricists and while this record is a departure from the content and style I'm used to from him, this was no less well written. This stayed in my car for a long, long time.

5. Radiohead - Hail to the Thief

This record isn't new, but it's so good. When I get bored with music, I go back to Radiohead because it never lets me down. It's always inspiring and always makes me nod my head. I think Radiohead is the best band in the world.

6. Sigur Ros - Takk...

Sigur Ros makes me feel like few other things make me feel. Their records and a a few film scores and classical compositions capture the essence of life through sound better than anything else I've ever heard. This record is gorgeous and grand and hopeful. It's always good to come back to this or ( ) when I start to get bummed out about the state of modern music.

7. Yes - Close To the Edge

This record rules, and I don't care how dorky you may think it is. I know prog rock is usually made fun of, but this record should be excluded from all of that. The vision of this record and the fact that they fulfilled it blows my mind. They cared nothing about conventional song structure or three and a half minute pop singles, and I wish that more people grasped what they did. Bill Bruford's drumming on this is so creative, and it has influenced my playing a lot--although not as much as I wish. Chris Squire is my favorite bass player, and the way he and Bruford interact is magical. By the way, I got my CD signed by Bill Bruford a few weeks ago because I'm dorky like that.

8. Muse - Black Holes and Revelations

I've liked Muse for a while, so I got this when it came out. I didn't love it at first and I still don't. It doesn't live up to Absolution in my opinion, but a lot of my friends disagree. I saw them twice this year, and it made me like this record more. I think I've listened to this more in hopes that I would start loving it rather than listening to it because I actually did. Overall, it's pretty good if you can sort through the cheese and the mediocre lyrics. There's no denying that these guys rock and they are really good musicians.

9. Johnny Cash - Life

Johnny Cash is someone that you're supposed to like. Like Bob Dylan and Elvis. It turns out that I really do like Johnny Cash a lot, and I found myself listening to this collection of songs a lot. I have a lot of his records, but I think this is my favorite. It's got some well known songs and some lesser known songs and they are all about real life. I think that's why everyone loved Johnny Cash--he just sang about real life even when it wasn't exactly pretty.

10. Mew - and The Glass Handed Kites

Mew doesn't sound like anything I've ever heard. They have signature melodies that are almost always doubled with some weird synth and the guitars and drums are usually trading quirky poly-rhythmic parts that keep things very interesting. This record rocks but it's very passionate at the same time. Go Denmark!

11. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones

I don't know if this lives up to Fever To Tell but there are enough really good songs that it doesn't matter. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs manage to write really weird songs that are very catchy even if you don't quite know what it's all about.

12. Beck - The Information

It's fun. Nigel Godrich produced it. It's weird. It grooves. Beck is smooth. The tones are priceless. This record is good and had it come out earlier it may have been higher on my list.

13. Blonde Redhead - Misery Is A Butterfly

This record sounds like a record instead of just a bunch of songs. The lyrics and music never stray from a very unified theme and vibe. It's sort of dark, but it's very smooth. It manages to groove even when it's in an odd meter. I think everyone hopes to write a record that is as unified as this one.

For more information on this series, visit the Most Spun 2006 main page.