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The Best Music of 2006

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All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen counts down listener picks for the 10 best CDs of 2006, with reviewers Robert Christgau, Will Hermes, Meredith Ochs and John Richards. They also share some of their own favorites from the year and take comments from listeners. This program originally webcast live on NPR.org Dec. 5, 2006.

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The Best Music of 2006

Begin to Hope

1

  • Artist: Regina Spektor
  • From: Begin to Hope

#10

"Regina sounds like Regina. Her voice is unmistakable - gorgeous, lithe, far from timid. Her songs are richly textured with unexpected yet accessible arrangements, and the variety of moods begs for many repeat listens. Her playful and sometimes theatrical way of addressing the human condition is the best melding of sugar and medicine I've been served up since Nellie McKay." -- Barbara

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1
Album
Begin to Hope
Artist
Regina Spektor
Label
Sire

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Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards

1

  • Artist: Tom Waits
  • From: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards

#9

"Way back in 1972 The Rolling Stones released Exile on Main St. That album was a tour through various styles and genres: blues, country, gospel, etc., but with all of them filtered through the Stones' musical identity. Well, it's taken 34 years, but someone has finally created another record of equal breadth, stylistic adventurousness and power. There's something here for everyone, and yet it's unmistakably Tom Waits. Only real artists can pull something like this off, and Waits not only pulls it off, he makes it seem easy." -- Steve

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1
Album
Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
Artist
Tom Waits
Label
Anti

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Rabbit Fur Coat

1

  • Artist: Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins
  • From: Rabbit Fur Coat

#8

"It touches the soul. It is both irreverent and uplifting. Her version of 'Handle Me With Care' gives me goose bumps. And I can just listen to Jenny Lewis sing forever." -- Randal

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1
Album
Rabbit Fur Coat
Artist
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
Label
Team Love

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The Greatest

1

  • Artist: Cat Power
  • From: The Greatest

#7

"Chan Marshall follows through on the promise of earlier albums You Are Free and Moon Pix, which - no pun intended - only flirted with greatness. Her latest album, recorded in Memphis with a host of veteran soul and R&B musicians, is a giant leap forward for this ever-intriguing songwriter. Sad, hopeful, lovelorn, romantic, regretful, sweet - Marshall's voice and lyrics convey emotions and feelings that most songwriters only pay lip service to. Quietly but confidently - and I mean that figuratively and literally - Marshall indeed delivered the greatest album of 2006." -- Jake

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1
Album
The Greatest
Artist
Cat Power

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Ys

1

  • Artist: Joanna Newsom
  • From: Ys

#6

"Joanna Newsom is definitely an acquired taste. But once you settle into her world, you become addicted. She may caterwaul and screech her schwas, but for my money she has the most emotive voice going in music… a voice you can fall into like a well worn chair. Ys makes me feel as if I'm being physically lifted into the air - the first album in a long while to evoke 'real world' sensations." -- Chris

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Ys
Artist
Joanna Newsom

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Return to Cookie Mountain

1

  • Artist: TV On the Radio
  • From: Return to Cookie Mountain

#5

"Simply put, there is no independent rock/pop band emerging anywhere on the scene pushing the boundaries of sound in such an imaginable, intelligent and stylish way. They embody all that is good about popular music: uncompromising standards and a radical sound that neither overwhelms the listener, nor underestimates them." -- Nathan

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Return to Cookie Mountain
Artist
TV On the Radio

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Post War

1

  • Artist: M. Ward
  • From: Post War

#4

"M. Ward's Post War has a mysterious and seductive quality that never grow tiring. The songs are never too long, always a little elusive, yet insistent and memorable. Not only are the songs little gems in their own right, they are set perfectly against each other. The record has that rare quality that makes you feel as though you are in a conversation in which everything said came at just the right moment." -- Mark

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1
Album
Post War
Artist
M. Ward

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Modern Times

1

  • Artist: Bob Dylan
  • From: Modern Times

#3

"This is a high point for an artist whose high points redefined modern music. There is no irony in this album's title if you view history in a panoramic sense as Dylan seems to do. Dylan takes literary modernism to its next level, interspersing the lyrics of a confederate poet among blues forms that are rooted in African American tradition. His voice is worn but dances through this album. The album begins with the voice of God on the mountain and ends with a proclamation that Dylan 'ain't talking.' Brilliant. This is a no brainer." -- Chuck

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1
Album
Modern Times
Artist
Bob Dylan

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Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

1

  • Artist:
  • From:

#2

"Neko Case has made another album shrouded in dark beauty. Fox Confessor's music sounds the way old black and white celebrity stills look. Confessional lyrics like, 'The most tender place in my heart is for strangers / I know it's unkind, but my own blood is much too dangerous,' make Case perfect for late night listening. She restrains herself from the melodrama that her popular country counterparts can't seem to avoid. She's content with making music that is truly entrancing. This is what modern country should sound like: thoughtful, evocative, all wrapped in a package that sounds oddly like home." -- Bertha

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Album
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Artist
Neko Case

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The Crane Wife

1

  • Artist: The Decemberists
  • From: The Crane Wife

#1

"The Decemberists manage to do something completely new from their previous album while retaining all the wonderful thigns that make them unique: Colin Meloy's fantastic storytelling, the ability to be incredibly creepy and yet entirely beautiful at the same time, not to mention the use of fun words. I'm torn between 'dirigible' and 'parallax' as my favorites, though I'm not sure either competes with 'palanquin' from their last album. Even if you put all that aside, this is just wonderful music, that makes me laugh, cry, join arm in arm with my fellow man." -- Felicity

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1
Album
The Crane Wife
Artist
The Decemberists
Label
Capitol

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