Picks 30 to 21




    Kode9 & the Spaceape

    Memories of the Future

    Hyperdub (October 24) 

    As dubstep moves into the long-playing format, this album will be the measure of artistic success. After releasing Burial’s strong self-titled debut on his Hyperdub label, Kode9 followed it up with an even stronger album, filled with paranoid soundscapes and electronic hiccups. Spaceape’s speak/rap may be off-putting at first, but with repeated listens the complexities of the music will reveal themselves and the lyrics will start to get under your skin. Late-night listens alone in the dark are essential: I’ve already had two dreams directly related to this album. ~Matthew Gasteier

    "Nine Samurais"


    Hot Chip

    The Warning

    Astralwerks (June 13)

    The Warning is a follow up to last year’s Coming on Strong and manages
    to top its predecessor in nearly every way with a healthy dose of goofiness underlying
    it all.  The Warning is the type of
    album that you can put on at a party, before you go to sleep, or any activity
    in between which kept it constantly within my listening distance all year.  Standout tracks include "Tchaparian", "No
    Fit State", and "Over and Over" ~Adrian Covert

    "Boy from School"





    Atlantic/WEA (March 28)

    The executives at Atlantic sure went all-in with T.I. earlier this year, and thanks to Tip they came out the chip leaders. Not only did he have a successful movie, but also came out with one of the better mainstream hip-hop albums of the year, fueled by ridiculous production and some catchy-ass hooks. Let’s just hope he doesn’t roller skate in his next film. ~Seth Berkman

    "Top Back"



    The Long Blondes

    Someone to Drive You Home

    Rough Trade (November 9)

    Yet to be released in the United States, this debut from England’s Long Blondes is the best album you haven’t heard of yet. Depressing yet danceable, empathic yet edgy, this collection of literate pop songs sounds the way you always wanted Yeah Yeah Yeahs to sound. Vocalist Kate Jackson is a star in the making, and "Giddy Stratospheres" looks like the odds-on favorite to become the indie dance-floor hit of 2007. Count me in. ~Brian Belardi

    "Giddy Stratospheres"



    The Hold Steady

    Boys and Girls in America

    Vagrant (October 3)

    If 2005’s Separation Sunday showed us the trouble the Hold Steady could drag us through in a Minneapolis midnight, what we got with Boys and Girls in America was the harsh light of the morning after. Hyper lyricist Craig Finn learned to sublimate his stream-of-near-consciousness delivery and Jesus jones and let the music do the prophesizing — check the background shouts on "Massive Nights." Want to hear the band take what’s if not necessarily a bold leap forward then at least a drunken lunge? Listen to "First Night": Rarely do reflection and repenting, religion and rehab, sound so refreshing. ~Matt Liebowitz

    "Massive Nights"





    Goodfellow (August 22)

    Every review I’ve read of Intronaut compares the L.A. metal band to Mastodon, but to my mind the band’s debut easily eclipses Blood Mountain and maybe even the rest of Mastadon’s catalog. Stunning riff collages that morph and develop in nigh-symphonic fashion, atmospherics that beckon and lap at your feet instead of being merely pretty, and one of the most crushing guitar tones in all of metaldom. These guys make death metal sexy. ~Etan Rosenbloom




    Yo La Tengo

    I’m Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

    Matador (September 12)

    Let’s hope the members of Yo La Tengo never lose their sprawling imagination and try to cut an album of, say, ten three-minute tracks. Because their best albums, like 1997’s I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One and 2000’s And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, have all been beyond-seventy-minute affairs. Add this one to create a trifecta of vastly creative greatness. ~John Zeiss

    "Beanbag Chair"




    I’m Still Livin’

    Rap-a-Lot (November 21) 

    Let the Truth Be Told was the most underrated hip-hop album of last year. Z-Ro’s profile and respect in the rap community has grown over the past twelve months, but I’m Still Livin’ hasn’t seen much more success — even though it might be even better than its predecessor. Smooth choruses and excellent lyrics from the Houston emcee propel the record forward. It’s solid from start to finish, from an emcee who deserves to be recognized as one of the strongest in the game. ~Matthew Gasteier

    "Let the Truth Be Told" featuring Lil’ Keke



    The Knife

    Silent Shout

    Mute (July 25)

    The enigmatic brother-sister duo rose out of the
    tundra toting an emotionally icy masterpiece. It was a far cry from the sensual
    pleasures of "Heartbeats," but one that cut to a certain life rhythm all the
    ~A.J. Wolosenko

    "Marble House"




    Bonnie "Prince" Billy
    The Letting Go
    Drag City
    (September 19)
    Muhly’s string arrangements and Dawn McCarthy’s ethereal harmonies serve as the
    perfect foils for Will Oldham�s weatherworn tales of love and dread. After
    years of inconsistency and questionable vanity projects, The Letting Go sees
    Oldham at his most focused since 1999’s I See A Darkness. ~Justin Sheppard

    "Strange Form of Life"




    Best of 2006  (Picks 50 to 41) / (Picks 40 to 31) / (Picks 20 to 11) / (Picks 10 to 1)


    Staff Picks Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5.
    Check out Prefix’s Best of 2005, 2004 and 2003.