Bringing sexy back 

Our music reviewers share their 2006 faves

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Oh, 2006, you'll be missed.

We're still getting over what you took from us: Aaron Spelling, the Spears-Federline marriage, the sanctity of Ted Haggard and pretty much any hope of us watching "Seinfeld" re-runs again without thinking of YouTube.

Yeah, we're focusing on the negative. So what? That's how we do things here in the back of the book. It's a strict formula, really: If it's pop, it sucks; if it's indie, it's gold; and if it's Beck, it doesn't matter because you'll buy it anyway.


Well, most of the time. To be honest, we're so shocked about Lindsay Lohan's recent admissions about attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (thanks, New York Post!) that we've kinda forgotten about everything that happened prior. So we called up our top music critics and asked them to refresh our memories by sharing their favorite songs and albums of the past year.

Without further adieu ...

John Benson's top songs of 06:

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1. Mates of State's "Running Out" from Bring it Back

This indie pop duo takes off its shiny gloves for cathartic conflict that breaks into insidiously addictive dissonance. Easily the best song the twosome's ever recorded.

2. Pearl Jam's "World Wide Suicide" from Pearl Jam

It's 1991 all over again, as the Republican guard fuels Eddie Vedder's ire in this political ball-breaker. Here's a protest song worth repeating.

3. Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" from St. Elsewhere

Sorry, but there's no way this ubiquitous track is overrated. "Crazy" indeed describes this smooth/soulful/old school/new school/funky/crunchy delight. Ladies and gentlemen: Gnarls Barkley, the round mound of melodic sound.

Matt Martin's top songs of 06:

1. The Divine Comedy's "To Die a Virgin" from Victory for the Comic Muse

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It's the hilarious, irresistible paean to that worst of teenage woes. Giddy strings and clever lyrics make it the best and most overlooked pop song of the year.

2. Subtle's "The Mercury Craze" from For Hero: For Fool

Independent hip-hop for the ADD set, "The Mercury Craze" slams in so many ideas, it's more of a berserk carnival than a song.

3. TV on the Radio's "Wolf like Me" from Return to Cookie Mountain

This song, the finest summation of TV on the Radio's talents, has it all: huge fed-back riffs, driving drums and Tunde Adebimpe's best caterwauling.

Kara Luger's top songs of 06:

1: Man Man's "Van Helsing Boombox" from Six Demon Bag

It's a light and gorgeous ditty about loving someone despite its ultimate futility. Oh, and it's sung by a muy mustachioed man with a throat full of gravel.

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2. TV on the Radio's "Wolf like Me" from Return to Cookie Mountain

Kids love lycanthropy. This song may be TV on the Radio's most radio-friendly hit, but with plenty of fuzz and a rousing chorus, it's no less full of vim and vice.

3. Beirut's "Postcards from Italy" from The Gulag Orkestar

Imagine romantic gypsy music as interpreted by a swooning 19-year-old American fellow, fraught with mandolins and horns. The outcome: so, so lovely.

Bensons top albums of 06:

1. Film School's Film School

An alt-rock guitar lover's sound with the perfect smattering of New Wave influence, Film School's self-titled masterpiece is an underrated sonic, cinematic adventure you don't want to miss.

2. ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead's So Divided

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Past opinions aside, this Texas band employs a Sgt. Pepper's-like complexity to create an unmatched alt-rock experience on this disc. Don't miss "Stand in Silence" and "Naked Sun."

3. TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain

Truly original in a redundant world, this discordant mash-up of styles and sounds keeps your interest while simultaneously restoring your faith and blowing your mind.

Martins top albums of 06:

1. Nellie McKay's Pretty Little Head

It's an audacious romp that recalls the best of cabaret, jazz, pop, rock and even rap with each genre Midas-touched by Nellie's deft charm and prodigious talent.

2. Girl Talk's Night Ripper

With 150-plus songs smashed into 42 rambunctious minutes, Night Ripper is the mash-up nonpareil not only an amazing album, but a whole cultural phenomenon.

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3. The Knife's Silent Shout

There's nothing quite like Swedish brother-and-sister duo The Knife, whose music is best described as "vampire disco" filled with creeping bass lines, schizoid synth and shrill warbles.

Lugers top albums of "06

1. Man Man's Six Demon Bag

Man Man's second album, Six Demon Bag, continues the shenanigans, featuring organs, horns, toy instruments, tom-tom wildness and a singer who sounds like a drunk, wilder, younger Tom Waits.

2. Spank Rock's YoYoYoYoYo

Got a party that needs jump-starting? Need inspiration for some serious car-dancing? Look no further, friend, as Baltimore hip-hopsters Spank Rock will slap that ass into milkshake-makin' mode.

3. Jolie Holland's Springtime Can Kill You

Jolie Holland has the most interesting way of saying vowels. Channeling Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday, Holland still remains true to her own unique blend of Americana-folk. This third release fleshes out an already gorgeous vision.

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