Madison-based rockers, rappers and blues players were busy in '06. Here's a list of my top 10 local albums, including work by Awesome Car Funmaker, Clear Blue Betty and the Dorothy Heralds. Every local essential follows below, in alphabetical order.
Awesome Car Funmaker -- Of Lovers and Monsters
Ryan Corcoran's high-energy power pop has been a highlight of the Madison music scene for the past several years. Of Lovers and Monsters is the band's best recording yet. (Essential track: "Juice")
Clear Blue Betty -- Write Your Name in the Sky
Beth Kille remains our local diva, and her performance dominates Write Your Name in the Sky. The album includes some of the most upbeat Midwestern rock you'll ever hear. (Essential track: "December 31st")
The Dorothy Heralds -- 100 Unnamed Things
This follow-up to 2003's Projections continues to find the Dorothy Heralds wedged between electronic and pop influences. (Essential track: "Nora" featuring Rob Dz)
Lucha Libre -- Plantando Bandera
Josue Guadalupe, a.k.a. Da Ricanstruckta, won the hip-hop producer competition at November's Feel the Beat conference at UW-Madison. His work on Plantando Bandera makes it easy to see why. (Essential track: "Levanta")
MaeRae -- more please?
With more please?, Lisa Hinzman continues to emerge from a supporting role in Charlemagne to an accomplished lead role in the roots rock band MaeRae. (Essential track: "Match")
OX -- The Day Before Tomorrow
Stepping into a local hip-hop scene defined by the positive messages of artists like Rob Dz and dumate, OX broke ground with a rap mix of unfiltered emotion, disillusionment and anger. (Essential track: "Get Thru My Day")
Stochastic Theory -- Opposite Extremes
This emotional, lyrically intense CD from Chuck Spencer sounded like Coldplay meets Depeche Mode and was my favorite local electronic recording of 2006. (Essential track: "Conditional")
Squarewave -- Dullhead
Two former members of the legendary Madison '90s band Ivory Library team up for the first time in a decade. The result? A feast of ambient psychedelica worthy of national attention. (Essential track: "Walk Through the Walls")
Jimmy Voegeli -- "F" Is For Blues
This recently released blues stunner from the keyboardist of the Westside Andy/Mel Ford band is sure to be one of the most talked-about local discs in the months ahead. (Essential track: "Papa's Waltz")
Youngblood Brass Band -- Is That a Riot?
The world-class hip-hop/funk/brass band that originated in Oregon, Wisc., offers up a Madison masterpiece. (Essential track: "Nuclear Summer")