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The Best Albums of 2006 That No One Told You About
by Steve Circeo
Well, okay, maybe the title is a bit misleading, because I have seen some of these mentioned in Texas music magazines throughout the year, but they certainly didn't get the exposure that accompanied new releases by Mike McClure, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Randy Rogers, Reckless Kelly, Micky and the Motorcars, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Jason Boland, all of which are good.

But if you'd care to take a walk with me on the road less travelled, please read on. I've also added a few special albums for this web article that didn't fit into the print version for one reason or another. Check 'em out below.

Here are my favorites of 2006, in reverse alphabetical order by band name.

Tyler McCumber Band - Catch MeTyler McCumber Band - Catch Me
The battle for George West, Texas, is on between the Tyler McCumber Band and The Pear Ratz. Who will emerge victorious? Music fans all across Texas! This album rocks, lays back, and just plain delivers some superb Texas tunage.

Texas Sapphires - Valley So SteepThe Texas Sapphires - Valley So Steep
Austin’s Best New Band of the Year, the Texas Sapphires, features fierce guitarman Billy Brent Malkus as its frontman and former punker Rebecca Lucille Cannon as its frontwoman. This is Texas country music at its finest.

10 City Run - Somethin' Else10 City Run - Somethin' Else
Despite the controversy surrounding this San Antonio band, there’s no denying the talent that went into making this album. It’s smooth Texas country from start to finish.

Scott H. Biram - Graveyard ShiftScott H. Biram - Graveyard Shift
Austin’s self-proclaimed “dirty old one-man band” goes mainstream! Just kidding. Scott H. Biram is most comfortable exploring life’s underbelly, and he continues his studies with this superb collection of Texas country punk tunes.

Rich O'Toole - SeventeenRich O'Toole Band – Seventeen
This is my favorite record of the year, bar none. It may be too early to slap the “genius” label on College Station’s young Mr. O’Toole, but his songwriting is engaging, his vocal style is captivating, and all I can say is I can’t wait for more.

The Pear Ratz - Rat NowThe Pear Ratz - Rat Now
These guys know how to rock! With a sound so raw you skin your knees just listening to it, The Pear Ratz’ original songs are superb and they do a cover of “Imagine” that gets this Lennon worshipper’s stamp of approval.

McKay Brothers - Cold Beer & Hot TamalesMcKay Brothers - Cold Beer & Hot Tamales
The long-awaited sophomore release from Bandera’s McKay Brothers showcases their many talents. From country whiners to Spanish ballads to winebar jazz, Noel and Hollin show they have the talent to endure.

Keith Davis - Sideman BluesKeith Davis - Sideman Blues
The former sideman goes solo. After lead guitar stints with several high profile musicians, most recently Brandon Rhyder, Austin’s Keith Davis turns to the blues with a great first album that fully exposes his soul.

Eric Hanke - Autumn BluesEric Hanke - Autumn Blues
Dallas native Eric Hanke has taken his musical and literary influences and created something all his own with Autumn Blues. The songs are at times soothing, at times thought-provoking, but always musically satisfying.

Brandon Jenkins - XVIIBrandon Jenkins – VII
Tulsa transplant Brandon Jenkins has always been a great songwriter and live performer, and this album finally captures in the studio what his fans have been seeing on stage for fifteen years.

Sadly, I did not hear all the 2006 releases, so there are probably omissions in this list. If you’d like to help remedy the situation for 2007, please send your new releases to:

TMT Album Reviews
c/o Steve Circeo
PO Box 690031
San Antonio, TX 78269

SPECIAL WEBSITE SUPPLEMENT

These records deserve special mention, but they didn't make it into the article in the print edition.

Plumtucker - Lightning WheelsPlumtucker - Lightning Wheels
This sound is a bit outside our usual TXRD focus, but if you appreciate poetry set to music, you'll dig this folk-jazz album. David Lutes' voice is phenomenal, his lyrics are inspired, the instrumention is superb, and the production brings it all together.

Chip Taylor - Unglorious HallelujahChip Taylor - Unglorious Hallelujah
This double album is about a half-record too long, but the first CD of the set is definitely one of the best things I heard all last year. Chip's an official honorary Texan, and his songwriting and delivery show why.

blacktopGYPSYblacktopGYPSY - blacktopGYPSY
This record starts really slowly with what I guess are supposed to be the "hit" songs, but if you get beyond those, you will find a well written, produced, and performed album, with one standout, "This Time," that can only be described as brilliant.

Mike Sanford - Travelin' Soles Mike Sanford - Travelin' Soles
I really like the instrumentation on this album, but Mike's voice is too loud and, quite honestly, not to my taste. However, the man has presented us with some of the smartest and most interesting Texas country songs of 2006, so give it a listen!

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