It's impossible to listen to every album that comes by our desk in the span of a year, but we did manage to come up with 10 musical efforts in 2006 that will be taking up critical iTunes space well into 2007.
(Of course, lists like this are not a science, so please don't send us hate emails -- and please -- no wagering.)
10. SONIC YOUTH
The alt vets turn down the amps and focus on stripped down melodies and straight-ahead rock tunes.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "Incinerate," "Sleepin' Around," "Reena."
FURTHER LISTENING: www.sonicyouth.com
9. THE TRAGICALLY HIP
After spinning their wheels with the last few albums, Gord Downie and co. decide to take a different approach by hiring mega-producer Bob Rock (Aerosmith) to man the switches. Which, of course, had every Hip fan from Halifax to Victoria gasping for air.
The result is their best album since 1998's "Phantom Power" -- one which keeps the essential elements of the band in tact, but lets them wear their influences on their sleeve.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "The Lonely End of the Rink," "Fly," "Family Band."
FURTHER LISTENING: thehip.com
8. DIRTY PRETTY THINGS
Waterloo To Anywhere
While Pete Doherty was in a drug-induced haze in '06, his former bandmates in the Libertines got together and banged out a stellar debut disc - one that Pete only hoped to do if he only had his head on straight.
Of course, Doherty is the main subject of the entire album -- a scathing and musically powerful response to his embarrasing self-implosion.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "Deadwood," "Doctors and Dealers," "Bang Bang You're Dead."
FURTHER LISTENING: www.dirtyprettythingsband.com
7. CHARLATANS UK
The Charlatans UK seem to be getting better with age.
On their 10th release, the Manchester foursome get more adventurious, incorporating some reggae grooves with their classic organ sound.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "NYC (There's No Need To Stop)," "Road To Paradise," Muddy Ground."
FURTHER LISTENING: thecharlatans.net
6. GOLDEN DOGS
Big Eye Little Eye
The Golden Dogs make no bones about the fact that one of their biggest influences is Brian Wilson -- and by just one listen, you can tell.
The Toronto fivesome churn out twelve beautifully crafted and energetic pop songs on their second record -- easily our best Canadian album of '06.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "Dynamo," "Never Meant Any Harm," "Run Outta Luck."
FURTHER LISTENING: thegoldendogs.com
5. WE ARE SCIENTISTS
With Love and Squalor
Sure, these Scientists are a little on the nerdy side, but the Brooklyn trio sure packs a punch. No ballads here, just fast-paced hits and catchy riffs a la Franz Ferdinand and The Strokes.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "The Scene Is Dead," "It's A Hit," "Cash Cow."
FURTHER LISTENING: wearescientists.com
These hard rockin' Aussie stoners prove that you can get by with big hair and even bigger tunes.
In addition to the placement here, they also get our vote for loudest band of the year.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "Dimension," "Woman," "Witchcraft."
FURTHER LISTENING: wolfmother.com
3. YEAH YEAH YEAHS
Show Your Bones
With "Show Your Bones," Karen O continues her journey through the dirty alleys of the Big Apple, but this time she seems to be directing her scornful lyrics at a lover that left her high and dry.
The result is a ferocious album that easily holds up to their breakthrough debut disc, "Fever To Tell."
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "The Sweets," " Turn Into," "Warrior."
FURTHER LISTENING: yeahyeahyeahs.com
2. THE RACONTEURS
Broken Boy Soldiers
What turned out to be a side project for Jack White has turned into a full-time gig for the White Stripes frontman -- and with reason -- the disc has been nominated for two Grammys.
Looks like Meg will be waiting a little bit longer for the phone call from Jack for the next Stripes disc.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "Steady As She Goes," "Level," "Yellow Sun."
FURTHER LISTENING: theraconteurs.com
1. ARCTIC MONKEYS
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Yes folks, it was the Year of the Monkeys.
No other band made a bigger impact on the music scene this year than these young punks from Sheffield.
Britain's fastest selling debut of all time? Check. Mercury Music Prize? Got it. Grammy nominations? Nabbed those too.
Oh yes, and the tunes? The Monkeys fire up 12 of the most honest, infectious and energetic rock songs of the year -- and win our vote as album of the year in a landslide.
This will no doubt go down as one of the best debut rock records since The Strokes' "Is This It" in 2001.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "A Certain Romance," " I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor," " When The Sun Goes Down."
FURTHER LISTENING: arcticmonkeys.com
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Yo La Tengo -- "I'm Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass," Red Hot Chili Peppers -- "Stadium Arcadium," Beck -- "The Information," Belle & Sebastian -- "The Life Pursuit," +44 -- "When Your Heart Stops Beating," Amy Winehouse -- "Back To Black," The Editors -- "The Back Room," Cat Power -- "The Greatest," Rosanne Cash -- "Black Cadillac."