The XLR8R staff has polled our favorite labels, producers, graphic designers, clothing companies, and friends to find out which albums were hottest in 2006 and which ones flopped.

Best Albums

The KnifeSilent Shout (Mute)
For all that it contained–traces of music as disparate as Stina Nordenstam, Cyndi Lauper, Plastikman, and trance–Silent Shout nevertheless sounded as if conceived in isolation, as if born from a bunker mentality. Silent Shout (and “Forest Families,” in particular) was so good I began to feel vaguely obsessed by it.
David Hemingway,
XLR8R writer

Dark, sexy pop music that makes you wonder why the charts are full of such shit. Pop music can be deep and rich and still accessible.
Bryan Black, Motor

My brother and sister are cool and all, but they certainly don’t make emotional techno pop that will be revered for years to come. Listening to this album for the first time was reminiscent of my first encounter with Björk’s Post. It’s like welcoming a ghost under your skin–in a good way.
Susan Langan, iTunes

J Dilla Donuts (Stones Throw)
and The Shining were amazing, especially considering the circumstances they were made under. But his untimely passing and continued canonization by the biggest names in hip-hop made this the year when people really took time to discover (or revisit) this great producer’s work.
Patrick Sisson, XLR8R writer

There are beat records around: Madlib (who comes a close second with the Beat Konducta records), Alchemist, etc. Dilla was able to take someone else’s work and make it his own, and make one-and-a-half-minute songs that turned heads and made diggers run to the store. It’s almost a shame that folks had to spit over the songs… I said almost.
Geoffrey Wilson, Consumer’s Research & Development label

Burial Burial (Hyperdub)
Kind of a weak year. Thankfully, this one came and gave the bloggers much to rave about and the rest of us a tranquil soundtrack for those hazy moments just before sunrise and just after sunset…
Deadbeat, ~scape

I’m really feeling this album. One of the rare albums that I can listen [to] from the beginning until the end and after, press repeat.
Ghislain Poirier, Bounce le Gros/Chocolate

Grizzly Bear Yellow House (Warp)
Defying category (and unfair Animal Collective comparisons), Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House set the benchmark for modern pop music, and added another timeless record to the Warp canon.
Josiah Hughes, XLR8R writer

Owusu & Hanibal Living With Owusu & Hannibal(Ubiquity)
If you stuck Simon & Garfunkel, J Dilla, Donald Fagen, and Matthew Herbert in studio at the same time this is how it would sound. A perfect blend of black music and white music.
Mats Karlsson, Raw Fusion

Worst Albums

DJ Shadow The Outsider (Universal)
Based on the first single, “3 Freaks,” this could have been an album of the year contender, just like his last two were. Instead we got a palimpsest of guitar wankery, limp beats, and weak raps (“DJ Shadow in this bitch”). Not even E-40 could save it.
Kid Kameleon, XLR8R writer

Zero 7 The Garden (Atlantic)
Gosh, they used to be the genre-defining heroes of chill, didn’t they? Dear, dear, this time ’round they just did a big, boring commercial poo instead of an album. C’mon boys, at least give me some hooks.
Nick Philip, Imaginary Foundation

Lupe Fiasco Food & Liquor (Atlantic)
If only for all Lupe fanboys who act like no one else has made good music in years. Open your ears to other forms of “conscious rap” and loosen the straps on your backpack.
Ross Hogg, XLR8R writer

Mobb Deep Blood Money (Interscope)
First off, I love these cats, but damn was I disappointed! The production was not good by any means!
Amir, Kon & Amir

More of XLR8R’s Best of 2006:
Justice’s Best of 2006

Best Artists

Best Record Labels

Best Visual Artists