Our top 20 albums that made 2006 a most awesome year in music. Downloads of our favorite songs are our holiday gift to you. By Jonathan Forgang
Here at Refinery29, we take our independent fashion seriously. And perhaps running a distant second to always being kind to strangers, great, great music informs everything we do, especially when the nights are late (which they almost always are). As our holiday gift to you, we've compiled the ultimate ode to 2006 in our top 20 Albums of the Year. If you're a devoted Refinery29 music follower, you've seen many of these albums make an appearance on our site at some point this year. And each of these albums, along with some of their best singles, succinctly confirms why every artist is a keeper. Download a song from each album on our list, and then forward it on to all those folks who have been good to you this year. Best of all, you don't have to wrap a thing.
grizzly_toptwenty 01. Grizzly Bear--Yellow House
"On a Neck, On a Spit" [MP3]
This topped our list because it's an album that's been haunting us since we first heard it. The soulful harmonies, impeccable songwriting, and overall warmth of the record are sure to stay with you for some time to come. Buy this album
hotchip_toptwenty 02. Hot Chip--The Warning
"Boy From School" [MP3]
The beauty of this album is its infinite playability. It's one of the most innovative and enjoyable straight-forward pop albums of the year, and, like their hit single, you can play this one "Over and Over." Buy this album
tvotr_toptwentyjpg 03. TV on the Radio--Return to Cookie Mountain
"Wolf Like Me" [MP3]
Almost indescribably good, we love this band's harmonies and the way the addition of the rhythm section has made an already good band into a great one. Buy this album
theknife_toptwenty 04. The Knife--Silent Shout
"Like a Pen" [MP3]
Brother-Sister Swedish duo The Knife have turned up gold on their third album, which is brimming with unstoppable beats and pitch-shifted hooks that sound like an angry drag queen (in the best possible way ever). Buy this album
califone_toptwenty 05. Califone--Roots & Crowns
"The Orchids" [MP3]
We came to this album for the rootsy blues we've come to love Califone for, but then we found their cover of the Psychic TV song "The Orchids," and its a contender for the most hypnotic three minutes we've been privy to all year. Buy this album
Jdilla_toptwenty 06. J Dilla--Donuts
"Two Can Win" [MP3]
A final masterpiece from Dilla, one of the most influential hip hop producers of all time. At times it gets sloppy and meanders in a million different directions. But at its heart, it's a deeply soulful record. Buy this album
elpero_toptwentyjpg 07. El Perro Del Mar--El Perro Del Mar
"Party" [MP3]
She's sort of twee, but when push comes to shove her songs have an almost insulting simplicity to them. It's not the structure here, but the voice and melancholy beneath, making it distractingly addictive, as all great things should be. Buy this album
peterbjornjohn_toptwenty 08. Peter Bjorn and John--Writer's Block
"Amsterdam" [MP3]
At first we were worried this album was going to be all about the hit of the year "Young Folks," but the other songs hold up on their own, too. Once again, Sweden makes great pop. Buy this album
clipse_toptwenty 09. Clipse--Hell Hath No Fury
"Wamp Wamp" [MP3]
A hardcore hip hop album like we haven't heard since the mid-90s, and some of the Neptunes best production in the past few years. Buy this album
whitestboyalive_toptwenty 10. The Whitest Boy Alive--Dreams
"Fireworks" [MP3]
Yeah, we're sort of a sucker for all things Erlend Oye, but putting him at #10 isn't just us being fanboys/girls. It's really a fantastic album of indie pop songs--really. Buy this album
camerca_obscura 11. Camera Obscura--Let's Get Out of This Country
"False Contender" [MP3]
In the past, we've found Camera Obscura to have a limited appeal, something that goes in, and one week later comes out of your CD player. This time around, the Scots provide a much more meaningful, substantial album with melodies both to remember and sing along to. Buy this album
jtimberlake_toptwenty 12. Justin Timberlake--FutureSex/LoveSounds
"My Love" [MP3]
JT is a genius for getting Timbaland to produce most of this album and Timbaland is a genius just for being himself. Buy this album
beirut_toptwenty 13. Beirut--Gulag Orkestar
"Mount Wroclai" [MP3]
Yeah yeah, you've all heard about this guy and his buzzy, out-of-nowhere rise to blogger stardom, but he's not only about aping the musical stylings of the Balkans. He's also got an amazing voice and the uncanny ability to write memorable odes to various far-off lands he's never even been to. Buy this album
finalfantasy_toptwenty 14. Final Fantasy--He Poos Clouds
"Arctic Circle" [MP3]
A boy, his violin, and dozens of accolades later, Final Fantasy's sophomore full-length is not only sweeping Canada by storm but making a run for it stateside. Give thanks to his unique compositions and penchant for Dungeons and Dragons, for we have another winner. Buy this album
villalobos_toptwenty 15. Ricardo Villalobos--Achso
"Ichso" [MP3]
Thoughtful and transcendent ambient house music that subtly shapeshifts and surprises. We love. Buy this album
jnewson_toptwenty 16. Joanna Newsom--Y's
"Monkey & Bear" [MP3]
Creating an album of 15-minute songs with no rock instrumentation and succeeding is one of the most impressive things we've witnessed this year. Buy this album
boris_toptwenty 17. Boris--Pink
"Pink" [MP3]
Dreamy metal or metallic dream pop, either way this is the year's best rock-n-roll record. Buy this album
snowden_toptwenty 18. Snowden--Anti-Anti
"Anti Anti" [MP3]
Atlanta boys Snowden give us the dark power-rock anthems we've been craving in today's over-Sufjaned universe. A criminally overlooked record and one of the year's best. Buy this album
phoenix_topwenty 19. Phoenix--It's Never Been Like That
"Lost and Found" [MP3]
Sofia Coppola is one lucky lady, bagging the lead singer of France's hottest musical export since Air. A band with consistently catchy yet semi brainless foot tappers. Who said there's something wrong with mindless pop? Buy this album
girltalk_toptwenty20. Girl Talk--Night Ripper
"Bounce That" [MP3]
Mash me up Greg Gillis because you are both cute and insanely talented and making me shake my booty. Yes, it's a bit spastic and frenetic, but that's how I like to move on the dancefloor while playing guessing games of the 100s of pop samples used in your classic "Night Ripper." Call Me. Buy this album
All MP3s are for sampling purposes only. Please go out and buy the artists' records. If anyone would like for us to remove a track, please email us at feedback@refinery29.com.
Our top 20 albums that made 2006 a most awesome year in music. Downloads of our favorite songs are our holiday gift to you.

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