As I’ve done for many years now, I present you my top records for 2006. Since my days of buying massive amount of vinyl and other recorded music are gone, my lists tend toward “records that were important to me in the year gone by”, instead of trying to list the best music released that year. Most years there have been 10 on the list, this year there are only 9.

Therefore, most of the records in my list were not released in 2006, but instead this list is about what mattered to me this year. I hope you enjoy it.

Sara Groves – Add to the Beauty
This is probably the record I listened to the absolute most in 2006. I got a preview of it at the Sara Groves performance I attended in the summer of 2005, and for whatever reason didn’t pick it up when it was released in October 2005. I finally got a copy via LaLa, and it was pretty much a permanent resident in my CD player from that point on.

Procussions – 5 sparrows for 2 cents
“5 sparrows…” has its ups and downs, but when it’s up, it’s fantastic. The opener, “Shabach”, is probably my favorite hip-hop track of the year, seeing all 3 Procussions emcees trading verses off over a ridiculously good beat. Mr. J hits hard as always on the closer, “American Fado”.

Deadbeat – New World Observer and Wild Life Documentaries
Wild Life Documentaries was on my top 10 list the year it came out, and I returned to that material in a big way this year. I finally got New World Observer, and am also really enjoying that, though at this point I think Wild Life Documentaries is still my favorite of the Deadbeat full-lengths.

David Crowder*Band – A Collision [or, 3+4=7]
I got this in the last few days of 2005, so it got the vast majority of its play in 2006. It’s really all over the map stylistically, which I like, and has some great songs.

Sleeping at Last – Ghosts
I got to see Sleeping at Last live in the summer of 2005 and finally got “Ghosts” this year. It reminds me a lot of Hum, whose “You’d Prefer an Astronaut” record wowed me back when I first heard it. That’s not to slight Sleeping at Last, just to say that the influence runs strong. “Currents”, the second song from “Ghosts”, is phenomenal.

Denison Witmer – Philadelphia Songs
Such sad, sweet music. This record took a while to grow on me, but I went through a phase where I listened to it a ton over a few weeks in 2006, and have come back to it several time since.

Fognode – Porch Music EP
A free download offered by Fognode, this set of gorgeous ambient guitar pieces was a definite influence on my own “6 strings for a winter’s day” that I released at the end of January 06. I had these tracks going a lot during studying or reading this year.

Paul Simon – Surprise
A new Paul Simon record? With tons of help from Brian Eno? Sounds interesting, and it is. It seemed like Paul Simon jammed a few too many ideas into one song during the first half of the record, but the production is great, and there are some wonderful lyrical bits in there, too.