I felt like I listened to as much music in 2006 as I ever do, but when it came time to making this list, it was tough! I just didn't seem to have as many album lusts this past year - the type where you fall hard for a new disc and listen to it in the office, on the portable, and at home for about six weeks straight until you know the inflection in every lyric. There were some of those - Arctic Monkeys, Regina Specktor and The Killers (disclaimer below) fit the bill - but regarding some singles that I really liked (i.e., People in Planes) I couldn't stomach another song's worth from the band.

That super-crescendo People in Planes song is worth mentioning because I caught them at the 2006 South by Southwest festival, which was a definite music highlight of the year. The quip is that the festival is spring break for the music industry and I enjoyed many drinks with old pals and new. But the utter overdose of bands playing 24/7 (interspersed with films too) made it a culture lover's dream. I was so chagrined I've always passed it up previously but I'm pledging to be a fixture there now for many years to come.

Perhaps my biggest 2006 musical memory was all the band I never really got to sample: Bloc Party, Art Brut, The Hold Steady, Hot Chip, Sufjan Stevens, Spoon, The Ponys, Hot Hot Heat, Clipse etc. I have a lot to catch up on in 2007! As always, this mix is posted at Apple's iTunes music store. as well as Rhapsody.

Idlewild Blue (Don'tchu Worry 'Bout Me) Outkast Idlewild
At least the soundtrack was a case of Outkast being too good...they make virtuosity sound so effortless I think many people ignored this stellar disc.
Fake Tales of San Francisco Arctic Monkeys Whatever They Say I Am, I'm Not
Finally a British band that lived up to the billing. So many great songs on this album but this was my clear fave, with the incredible left turn toward the end of the song that could have been another single itself (post Franz Ferdinand, two songs in one are all the rage.)
Better Regina Specktor Begin to Hope
This was a song I coudln't stop humming and it made me relisten to all of her old messy albums, which are a lot of fun...at first, this new one was too polished for me...but by year's end, I had grown to love it too.
For Reason's Unknown The Killers Sam's Town
OK, I did buy into the press and I am alarmed that there is strong possibility that I might not ever listen to this album again after 2006...it just has that strange quality about it. But this was my favorite record of 2006 so try it and let me know if you agree.
Wolf Like Me TV on the Radio Return to Cookie Mountain
These Brooklyn guys made my list in 2004...some of the novelty wore off for me but they were much more popular now...as an album, it doesn't cohere for me like the debut but the noises are always worthy.
Made Up Lovesong #43 Guillemots From the Cliffs
I had a brief London stop this year and I always check out the music papers there. This band's cool name (another word for seagulls) caught my eye. Singer a bit bombastic but I liked the record.
Run Ben Kweller Ben Kweller
Another exemplary effort; I'm a softie for melodies.
Answers & Questions Earlimart Answers & Questions
A bit of a cheat: these guys have been around for awhile, but I got turned on to them at South By Southwest; this was the only thing they released in 2006!
Ain't No Other Man Christina Aguilera Back to Basics
It's been said but what pipes! This was my pop fave this year.
Scratch To Void People in Planes As Far As The Eye Can See
Mentioned earlier.
Quiet Life The World Without Magic The World Without Magic
Even if I wasn't friends with Patrick Bower, I still think I would have loved this songcrafted record. Be there first - take a listen!
Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind Yo La Tengo I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
I'm breaking my anti-pretentious rule and including a 10 minute song on this mix; sorry, the song is too much fun.
Tip My Canoe Dengue Fever Escape From Dragon House
Another 2005 release that snuck on my radar late but I can only associate with 2006 since that's when I met John Pirozzi and heard about his upcoming film about Cambodia's lost rock and roll history. Watch for it in 2007! So now I too am hooked on this Cambodian new wave stuff.
Fistful of Love Antony and the Johnsons I Am A Bird Now
OK, a final late arrival (another 2005 release) and I was really torn between this song and "Hope There's Someone" as the closer. Maybe try the other song out here if you're not a satisfied listener? But while the songcraft on his debut album was inconsistent, Antony's voice is undeniably powerful. Really hoping to see him live in 2007 when his next album is released.