The Current | Best Of 2006

thecurrentThe Current is an MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) station from St. Paul, MN  that broadcasts to parts of Minnesota and is available via the Internet. Known for offering true alternative music, in-studio performances by many of music's most talented, and a music staff that truly knows its stuff, the Current offers us several of their year end lists. Check out all their staff picks HERE.





View The Current's Top 89 Albums for 2006 (PDF file)


Barb Abney, Host 9a-noon CST

I wouldn't want one of my favorites to be the last picked for kickball, so grouping by release date seemed fair…

We are Scientists – "With Love and Squalor"scientists
FINALLY… I met and interviewed these guys in early 2005 and was getting impatient for their full length! What a blast to see play live. Good banter and ALOT of energy!

Mates of State – "Bring It Back"
I've been crazy about this husband and wife duos harmonies since they released the "All Day" EP. Saw them play a festival gig this summer and they played off of each other so well on stage.

The Twilight Singers – "Powder Burns"
Okay, I'm biased, Greg Dulli is my favorite male vocalist EVER! I have seen him play with either Afghan Whigs or Twilight Singers (or the secret Gato Negro show) at least 20 times! I love that with each album you can expect more cameo appearances from a who's-who list of his musically inclined friends!

Radio 4 – "Enemies Like This"
When you think of this band you don't think of "acoustic sets" but they did just that when I interviewed them earlier this summer. It was awesome! They mentioned my son during the interview, so this would be his choice for #1 band of the year! You simply MUST see them live to appreciate the incredible percussion!

Apollo Up – "Chariots of Fire"
I've been following this band since the release of their debut back in 2003. All of that touring and playing has paid off. The new album is hard rocking and slickly produced without making them sound like a "studio band". They can deliver live as well! And no, there isnt a cover of the Vangelis tune on the album. But if you ask nicely theyll perform it!

Camera Obscura – "Lets Get Out Of This Country"
I'm a little late to the game on this band. I enjoyed "Underachievers Please Try Harder" from a couple of years ago. This album grabbed me at the first track. I can put it in the CD player and just hit play and go.

Heartless Bastards – "All this Time"
This band cannot be pigeonholed! When you see them, they are very courteous and relatively quiet people. Once they hit the stage it's all about rockin! Do they sound indie? Yes. Bluesy? Yes. Garage rock? Yes. And they've been doing quite a bit of touring, as well!

Birdmonster – "No Midnight"
A friend saw these guys at SXSW and couldn't say enough about them. I got the disk and have had it in my personal "Heavy Rotation" since. An impressive debut!

The Hourly Radio – "History Will Never Hold Me"
These guys are just starting to get some national attention and have recently begun filming their first video. Not bad for a group of guys who hit my radar late last year when they sent a CD into the station I used to work for as part of our unsigned show. These days they have been signed to Kirkland records and did some touring with CYHSY and Stellastarr* earlier this year.

Bound Stems – "Appreciation Night"
I'm betting that this band will be on many a top 10 list out in the blogoshpere this year. They're relatively new on the scene. The Chicago quintet has been getting A LOT of blog love since they released their "The Logic Of Building The Body Plan" EP last year, and people have been chomping at the bit for their full length!

Steve Seel, Host noon-3p CST

1. Neko Case – "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood"neko
Okay, many people suspected Neko might knock it out of the park with her proper follow-up to "Blacklisted," but I don't know how many folks thought she'd knock it clear into the next county. I think I may have been ready to proclaim this one "CD of the Year" the MOMENT it came out. "Margaret Vs. Pauline" is an instant classic, and her version of "John Saw That Number" is spellbinding. Peerless.

2. TV On the Radio – "Return to Cookie Mountain"
The sound of modern creative rock music for thinking people circa 2006. Genre-hopping, intra-ethnic, and just plain captivating … plus, a guest cameo from Bowie. Letterman summed it up after their performance on his show recently: "Well heck, that's all ya need right there."

3. P.O.S. – "Audition"
This local tour-de-force wont win over EVERY "hip-hop-curious-but-not-sure-where-to-start" listener, but it sure could get a lot of em, given the chance. Its got bracing rhymes and pitch-perfect vocal contributions (Slug? Sure. Craig Finn? Brilliant!), but for me, at least half of what made this one was P.O.S.'s beats and backing tracks — some of the most finely-crafted and musically appealing I've ever heard. Brooding but wonderful.

4. Band of Horses – "Everything All the Time"
Tony Lopez coined the term "yelp rock" this year to define the panicky, high-pitched sound of the likes of Arcade Fire vocalist Win Butler, and felt that Band Of Horses' Ben Bridwell could be the genres new standard-bearer (in a positive sense). Sure, he sounds like that guy from Supertramp at times — but his voice absolutely works, soaring above those chiming indie-rock guitars and drums. And the songs are super-melodic and even occasionally moving, especially in the case of "Funeral."

5. Tortoise & Bonnie Prince Billy – "The Brave and The Bold"
Here's one that caught us all by surprise. A totally weird and unlikely collaboration yielding a disc of correspondingly weird and unlikely covers. The groups version of Elton John's "Daniel" is easily worth the price.

6. J. Dilla – "J. Dillas Donuts"
From the confines of his hospital room, DJ and producer Jay Dee literally created a masterpiece on his deathbed with nothing but a laptop, LPs and tons of samples. One of the best instrumental hip-hop records ever? Maybe, maybe not. But certainly an achievement — odd, creative, and totally entertaining.

7. The Replacements – "Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? The Best of The Replacements"
That's correct, few of us actually need to hear many of these songs again. But on the odd chance that the jaded 15-year-olds of the world whove never heard 'em might hear 'em here first, it's a worthwhile collection. The Twin Tone and Sire stuff together for the first time. Frustration and exhaustion and beauty. Step right up.

8. The Flaming Lips – "At War With The Mystics"
Wayne Coyne and company get their mojo back after the comparative blandness (save for a couple of standout moments) of "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots." Watch their documentary, "The Fearless Freaks" and THEN listen to this CD and you just might cry from the beauty of it all. Plus! Continued proof that prog rock is alive and well and living inside indie quirk-rock.

9. Guillemots – "Through the Windowpane"
The bands EP "From the Cliffs" had a couple of us wondering if the implied promise would materialize, and it sure as hell did. Whoa, watch this band.

10. The Avett Brothers – "Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions"
Finally, a disc that few noticed (sadly) but which might go under the header "Charmer of the Year." A whoopin, hollerin, good-natured time from a seriously underrated band.

Honorable Mentions: Joseph Arthur, "Nuclear Daydream;" Destroyer, "Destroyers Rubies;" Tom Waits, "Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards;" Juana Molina, "Son;" Heartless Bastards, "All This Time;" Ali Farka Toure, "Savane;" Thom Yorke, "The Eraser;" M. Ward, "Post-War;" The Bird & The Bee, "The Bird & The Bee;" The Lemonheads, "The Lemonheads"

Mary Lucia, Host 3p-7p CST

First and foremost, I am not a top ten list type of person. I think they are pretentious and they generally bum me out.

1. M Ward – "Post War"mward
2. Belle and Sebastian – "The Life Pursuit"
3. The Lashes – "Get it"
4. The Flaming Lips – "At War With the Mystics"
5. Tim O'Reagan – "Tim O'Reagan"
6. Joseph Arthur – "Nuclear Daydream"
7. Michael Franti & Spearhead – "Yell Fire"
8. Ol' Yeller – "Good Luck"
9. Primal Scream – "Riot City Blues"
10. Prince – "3121"

Mark Wheat, Host 7p-11p CST

I love to make end-of-year lists but always have a very hard time ranking them in any order. Trying to compare music in terms of quality seems futile; the connection to music is too personal.

1. Hold Steady – "Boys and Girls in America"boysandgirls
The Hold Steady are #1 because I love the fact that they represent the local community and have such national success. The record rocks me harder than any other and the lyrics amaze me, pure poetry.

2. M.Ward – "Post-war"
M.Ward taking the next big step, finding his voice and lyrics to be as strong as his awesome guitar playing. It's a perfectly rounded release.

3. Bonnie Prince Billy – "The Letting Go"
Bonnie Prince Billy for writing some of my fave lyrics and for being an astounding in-studio guest. He's a song collector who made me feel like he could play anything as we sat there talking, a first.

4. Joanna Newsom – "Ys"
Joanna mesmerizes me, gorgeous lyrics and a miraculous musical endeavor.

5. Kimya Dawson – "Remember That I love You"
Kimya with wise yet simple lyrics; she has the ability to divide people between loving it and hating it. Thats a power I envy.

6. Califone – "Roots & Crowns"
Califone is the best example of a type of prog-folk that is the style of music that I have appreciated the most this year.

7. Skalpel – "Konfusion"
Skalpel is the groove that I want to relax to at home most, with a quality addition of the remixes of their debut on CD 2 showing a generous spirit.

8. The Decemberists – "The Crane Wife"
The Decemberists thankfully proved my prediction of 06 true, that prog rock would return …to reclaim the positive aspects of that genre; literate, symphonic conceptual pop songs presented with bravado…hurrah!

9. P.O.S. – "Audition"
P.O.S. for his open minded and inclusive community spirit, eye popping lyrics and deft production.

10. Flaming Lips – "At War With the Mystics"
As a long time fan, even though I like previous albums more, The Flaming Lips must be on there because they provided my #1 moment of the year; Wayne coming to our booth at the State Fair and then working so hard to get the show on that night after the heavy rain and providing magical live entertainment to a guy who doesn't get out as much as he used to because I have the best job in the world.


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