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Our Writers' Picks of 2006

Top two:

MuteMath - s/t
Underoath - Define The Great Line

The rest (in no particular order)

Norma Jean - Redeemer
Jars of Clay - Good Monsters
Stavesacre - How To Live With A Curse (flawed, but has grown on me 
since my review)
Riley Armstrong - La Loop (great overlooked album)
Plumb - Chaotic Resolve

And that's it.  There were a handful of stellar discs for me this year but I enjoyed more "older" purchases than I did new stuff.  I'd nominate Thrice's - Vheissu which I did not discover until this fall  but it was released last october.

Happy new year all
Ryan Ro

Best of 2006

1) Scott Walker - the Drift

Walker's musical portraits of nightmares and terror remained for me the most staggering and stunning record I've heard this year.  It takes effort to appreciate, but there is nothing else I've ever heard like the Drift.
2) Danielson - Ships
 In many ways an opposite of my number one pick; this is bright and uplifting folk-pop that never failed to put a smile on my face, no matter my mood or the time of day.  Cast your cares to the setting sun...
3) His Name Is Alive - Detrola
I'm amazed at how strongly these eccentric blues/jazz/indie/pop songs grip me.  The lyrics are often delivered in a whispered/deadpan manner, yet it doesn't lessen their impact; it makes them starker, heavier.  An original and deep record.
4) Joanna Newsom - Ys
5) The Knife - Silent Shout
6) Serena-Maneesh - Serena-Maneesh
7) TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
8) mewithoutYou - brother, sister
9) The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
10) Jars of Clay - Good Monsters

11) Viva Voce - Get Yr Blood Sucked Out
12) Starflyer 59 - My Island
13) Arab Strap - The Last Romance

Most disappointing of 2006:
Skillet - Comatose

Worst of 2006:
Kutless - Hearts of the Innocent

I feel a little mean giving a record I merely think is "dull" the "worst" tag, but it's also because I truly think Kutless can do more than this, yet they keep settling for typicality.  Please guys...just a little originality won't hurt...

Worst...album cover and record title of 2006:
Switchfoot - Oh! Gravity

Can't wait for:
The Brothers Martin - The Brothers Martin
Joy Electric - The Otherly Opus
Kevin Max - The Blood

STILL Can't Wait For:
Matt Death and the New Intellectuals - Death on Pacific

Jonathan Avants

My top 10 CDs of 2006 (in no particular order): 

Shawn Mullins - 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor (Contains my favorite song of the year, Cold Black Heart) 
Bruce Cockburn - Life Short, Call Now (Not his best, but very good) 
Weird Al Yankovic - Straight Outta Lynwood (Yes, I am serious - my daughter & I rock out to Al) 
Solas - Reunion (Especially because it also has a well-done DVD) 
Mute Math - Mute Math (Flawed & Inconsistent, But some of it is awesome) 
Mews 2: An Asthmatic Kitty Compilation (A Label Comp better than most albums) 
Proto-Kaw - The Wait of Glory (Kerry Livgren is awesome, & a good mix of simple and progressive) 
OSI - Free (Challenging & intereszting to me as a keyboard player) 
Bob Dylan - Modern Times (see B Cockburn comments) 
Lost Dogs - "The Lost Cabin and the Mystery Trees" (T Taylor is one of my favorite songwriters & the other guys contribute here, too) 

My "+1" is my favorite Christmas Disc of the Year: 

Various - Christmas Treasures, A McPherson Guitars Instrumental Collection (see my Phantom Tollbooth review at 

Biggest Dissapointment of '06: 

Third Day - Christmas Offerings (This band usually plays simple music with some 
flair & creativity.  This time they played simple Christmas Carols with NO flair 
or creativity) 

Jonathan Nelson

I hope people do not disregard two of the best of 2007 that has been absent so far:

1- Jars of Clay Good Monsters
2- Johnny Lang- Turn Around
3- Derek Webb- Mockingbird (Not only is it free it is a work of art lyrically and musically.)
4- Robert Randolph and The Family Band- Colorblind (Best of the Christian Secular Artists)
5- Mute Math
6- The Elms- Chess Hotel
7- Edison Glass- A Burn or a Shiver
8- Downhere- Wide eyed and mystified
9- Skillet
10- Andrew Osenga- The Morning

Robert Blake

Albums in no particular order:
"The Wait Of Glory" /Proto-Kaw
"The Circling Hour" /Iona
"Whatever Befall" /Maeve
"Bronx In Blue" /Dion
"Behind Every Word" /Steve Lawson
"The Lost Cabin And The Mystery Trees" /Lost Dogs
"Jonas Is Back" /The Khrusty Brothers
"Raisng Your Voice...Trying To Stop An Echo" /Hammock
"Clinical Indifference" /Infradig
"Cover To Cover" /Morse, Portnoy, George

So says Chris MacIntosh aka Grandfather Rock

My Top CDs of 2006 (no particular order except Muse which is #1)

-Muse - Black Holes and Revelations - Incredible.  This band is so good it is scary. 

-Passion - Everthing Glorious - The Passion CD series has become the showcase for the best in modern worship.  Great stuff.  Crowder's racous live version of "You Are My Joy" is my fave song of the year.

-Demon Hunter - The Tryptych (Special Edition) - Metal mayhem mixed with melody; these guys have it all. The Special Edition is aptly titled, with some great acoustic songs and a DVD featuring videos, and a fantastic concert

-My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade - My boys got me into this band.  Wow.  Pretty intense and powerful stuff.

-Neal Morse - Cover To Cover - The most fun CD of the year.

-The Frost - Milliontown - An engaging prog-rock epic by one of the UK's top pop(!) writer/producers

-The Listening - 2006 started out with one of the best albums of the year.  I miss the RRWC, but The Listening is a great place to pick up where they left off.

- Showbread - Age of Reptiles - Best CD title of the year, hands down.  Big fun.  They mention throwing up too much, but other than that this CD is weird, loud, in-your-face, and it features keytars.  Which is just cool.

- Cheap Trick - Rockford - The boys are back in town.

- David Crowder*Band - B Collision - Crowder and the boys are creating some magical music and expanding the boundaries of worship music in wonderful ways.  Road tested - this CD passed the rigourous youth group test as we went to Florida and sang "I Saw The Light" along with this album MANY times.

- Delirous? - Now Is The Time - An essential live audio/video worship experience.

- Mutemath - Great is spots and "eh" in a few spots.  But one of the years most exciting releases.  The live EP is a must.

- Jars of Clay - Good Monsters - Just what JOC needed to do - put out a good rock album.

Favorite Live/Concert DVDs

- Passion - Everything Glorious
- Muse (included w/the Black Holes & Revelations SE)
- Delirous (Included w/the Now Is The Time SE)
- Demon Hunter (included w/The Tryptych SE)

Fave Movie 
-Casino Royale

Best DVD Special Edition:
- Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, The Wardrobe

Best CD Reissues:
- ELO - A New World's Record, On The Third Day, Face The Music

Best Podcasts

-Ravi Zacharias

Best iTunes Single

Relient K - "I Must Have Done Something Right" - Matt T & company are mastering a wonderful amalgam of rock with tasty pop touches.  This single mixes punk with The Turtles and The Beach Boys

Favorite Songs

- Muse - "Supermassive Black Hole"
- David Crowder*Band "You Are My Joy" Live
- needtobreath "Shine On"
- Demon Hunter "Undying" 
- Relient K - "I Must Have Done Something Right"
- Neal Morse - "Pleasant Valley Sunday"

Best Video Game

- Guitar Hero 2

Best Books (non-fiction)

- Stephen Arterburn - The Secrets Men Keep
- David Crowder & Mike Hogan - Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven (But Nobody Wants To Die)

DJ Barry

BTW, "honorable mention" goes to Matt Redman for Beautiful News and Chris Tomlin for See the Morning.  Great stuff from today's top worship leaders

1. Derek Webb - Mockingbird.  Album of the Year.  Webb continues to challenge me lyrically with each output, and the music ain't too bad either.  The singing equivalent to Donald Miller's writing.

2. Bill Mallonee - Permafrost.  Yeah, the man has issues.  We all know that.  But this is his best in several years, and no one opens a vein like he does.

3. Riviera - Capital.  Mix George Harrison, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Wilco, and Ryan Adams up, filter out the crap, and you have Riviera.  An indie Chicago band that should rule the world.

4. Neil Young - Living with War.  On target with its message, and Neil edges just a wee bit closer to God with each record.

5. The Elms - Chess Hotel.  Doing their best to get away from their Christian label past.  At times, this is like a more melodic BMRC.

6. David Wolfenberger - Portrait of Narcissus.  Acoustic based stuff out of Cincy.  One of my favorite indies going back at least fifteen years.

7. Justin McRoberts - Grace Must Wound...  Another indie Christian artist in the mode of Webb.  Great stuff that almost no one is hearing.

8. Nickel Creek - Reasons Why: The Very Best.  Good cross section of one of the most talented bands out there.  Praying their hiatus is just that, and not a permanent breakup.

9. Lust Control -  We Are Not Ashamed: Getting it Right the Second Time.  A band that started as a punk rock joke turns out to have a serious message.  Hilarious, disturbing, brutally honest.  This is a re-issue with bonus live tracks, karaoke, and a commentary. 

10. Colin Hay - Going Somewhere.  My favorite re-issue of 2006. Former Men at Work singer gets wistful with a tongue in cheek look at getting older.  Surely Zach Braff and I aren't his only fans?

Honorable mentions:

Glen Phillips - Mr. Lemons
Chris Thile - How to Grow a Woman From the Ground
Kim Taylor - I Feel Like a Fading Light
Richard Cheese - Silent Nightclub
Peter Bradley Adams - Gather Up
Kids in the Way - Apparitions of Melody

2006 was a difficult year.  I missed a lot of music I normally would have reviewed due to personal issues, and just couldn't make the time.  I bought less music this year than any year since the early 80's.  Looking forward to better things in '07, starting with the new Crowded House on January 16th. 

Best Album: Frost - "Milliontown"

Best New Artist: Jambi's Revenge

Best Record: Jambi's Revenge - "Invasion"

1. Frost - Milliontown

2. Jambi's Revenge - s/t 
3. Proto-Kaw - The Wait of Glory 
4. Cloudscape - Crimson Skies 
5. Xenuphobe - 1.0
6. Dave Beegle - Acoustic Mayhem
7. Ascension Theory - Answers 
8. OSI - Free
9. Ty Tabor - Rock Garden
10. Audioslave - Revelations

Honorable Mention: Eyal Maoz - Edom (released in late '05 but not acquired until '06)

Best movies

1. The Prestige
2. The Departed
3. Borat*
4. V for Vendetta
5. Jet Li's Fearless
6. Talladega Nights
7. Apocalypto
8. The Devil and Daniel Johnston
9. Lucky Number Sleven
10. Lady in the Water

*my advice = wait for the "edited for TV" version

Dan Singleton

Mute Math - Mute Math 
Bob Dylan - Modern Times
The Decemberist - The Crane's Wife 
Woven Hand - Mosaic
Iona - The Circling Hour
Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome 
Bruce Cockburn - Life Short Call Now 
Lost Dogs - The Lost Cabin & the Mystery Trees 
Ashley Cleveland- Before the Daylight's Shot
Kris Kristofferson - This Old Road

Honorable Mention
T Bone Burnett    - The True False Indentity 
Emmylou Harris & Mark Knopfler- All the Roadrunning 
Solomon Burke - Nashville
Robert Randoplh and the Family Band - Colorblind 
Anathallo - Floating World 
Flatfoot 56 - Knuckles Up 
Jars of Clay - Good Monsters
Cold War Kids - Robbers & Cowards
Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning - King Raven

Best Movie
Casino Royale

MuteMath - s/t
Dave Beegle - Acoustic Mayhem
Danielson - Ships
Jars of Clay - Good Monsters
Flatfoot 56 - Knuckles Up 
Ashley Cleveland- Before the Daylight's Shot

Linda Lafianza

Best albums of 2006:

1. The Violet Burning  - drop-dead
2. Enter the Worship Circle - Chair and Microphone vol. 2
3. Showbread - Age of Reptiles
4. Jack Johnson and Friends - Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the film Curious George
5. Chris Koza - Patterns
6. Children 18:3 - Songs of Desperation
7. Wilderness of Tekoa  - The Skies Pale in Comparison
8. The Beatles - Love
9. Fair  - The Best Worst-Case Scenario
10. Ester Drang - Rocinate

Honorable Mentions:
* Gabriel Wilson - Lovely Is Death (on order at time list was sent)
* The Blackstones EP
* David Bazan - Fewer Moving Parts EP
* Other Desert Cities - On the verge of collapsing

Greg Adams

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