Jazzy Cabbages!

Nov 15 2006

The Top 40 Bands in America - 2006 Edition

List makers and list haters rejoice, we're back for round four!

Mr. Pink Will Be Your DJ For The Evening

If it's mid-November, then it's time to start thinking about those year-end lists, which means it's time for the fourth annual, often imitated, never duplicated Top 40 Bands In America list. Yes, some people think of this little exercise as The Top 40 Bands In America As Voted On By A Bunch Of Effing Music Bloggers That Only Listen To Cooler Than You Guitar Based Indie Rock And Not Much Else, but that's way too long of a title and not very catchy, don't ya think? I've addressed this all before. There may not be enough hip-hop or dance music on here for your liking, but there's not much I can do about it. Most bloggers follow and write about indie rock. I've emailed dance bloggers and hip-hop guys in years past and never get a response, so I didn't even bother this year. Get over it.

In case you're not familiar with the process, each year I email a bunch of bloggers and ask them for their Top 10 artists of the year. I changed up the criteria this year and asked the participants to simply give me the 10 artists they covered the most throughout 2006. I felt that in years past, people were voting for artists they felt like they had to vote for, not the artists they wanted to vote for, so hopefully that changed this year. The entries are then scored, sorted and double-checked and viola , the list is born. Anyone making music is eligible for the list, as long as they are American. NO FOREIGN BANDS. Please read that last sentence again before you go crying that Broken Social Scene or whatever band from Montreal is hot right now isn't listed below.

Just because you're favorite band isn't listed here, don't freak out. It's likely they were nominated but didn't get enough love to make the Final 40. A total of 129 bands were nominated, so most of them didn't make the cut. I'll post the names of all the nominated bands tomorrow. I will go ahead and tell you not one fucking person voted for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and I couldn't be happier about that.

In addition to the Top 40 and the list of all 129 bands, this year I'll also have a list of local bands worth keeping an eye on, as voted on by our esteemed panel. Look for this list Friday or Monday.

The Participants:

Coolfer, Jason and Rajeev from Onelouder, Product Shop NYC, Catherine's Pita, Chromewaves, Fifty Five Hundred, Bradley's Almanac, Central Village, The Big Ticket, Earfarm, Muzzle of Bees, Gorilla vs. Bear, My Old Kentucky Blog, largehearted boy, Aquarium Drunkard, DCeiver, Seeking Irony, Catbirdseat, marathonpacks, Passion of the Weiss, I Guess I'm Floating, Soviet Panda, Yeti Don't Dance and yours truly. That's 25 ballots from 24 blogs, our biggest turnout yet. Not everyone that sent in a Top 10 list handed in the accompanying blurbs to go with their selections, which is why not everyone is represented below.


And without further ado, here is this year's list. Numbers in parenthesis indicate a band's ranking on last year's list:

1) TV On The Radio
- TVOTR are something special in the realm of indie rock soundalikes because they're constantly pushing themselves, their sound, and their audience forward towards something new. Thank goodness for them. - Earfarm
- Brooklyn's TV on the Radio continues to wow in the studio and on the road, topping themselves yet again. While the delayed US release was annoying (a reaction to the really early leak?), I dug their online promo campaign vids. - The Big Ticket
- Like nobody else, TV On The Radio find a way to tap in to that which is elemental. During a time where too much of the world feels like it's on the brink of something apocalyptic, TVOTR shows the uncanny ability to take it all in and let you feel it at full measure. Yet, at the same time, the incendiary effect of their skyrocketing gospel-soul vibrations fill the heart with such courage. These guys know how deep the abyss is, but they've found a way out. - DCeiver

2) The Hold Steady (6)
- Boys and Girls in America made me fall in love with this band, and their previous records all over again. - Muzzle of Bees
- Buzz buzz buzz...the American album of the year? Well, it does have "America" in the title. - The Big Ticket
- There's a moment at every Hold Steady show when you look around to examine the crowd. And you see nothing but euphoric smiles and blurred bodies, moving in rhythm to the pulverizing crush of guitars and keyboards and hot soft lights exploding out from the stage, where a small inconspicuous balding man named Craig Finn carries the audience through the closest thing that many of them will ever come to the feeling of pure rapture. In 2006, Craig Finn and the gang dropped their third straight masterpiece, each one every bit as good as the live set. If The Hold Steady aren't the best band in the
world, they're close. - Passion of the Weiss
- This isn't rock "for" the scene, it's rock "on" the scene. And what's great about their new record, Boys and Girls in America, is that the band has found a way to acknowledge their newly energized fanbase by giving them a song cycle that contains as many valentines as the previous one had cautionary tale. Envy everybody growing up with this band: they're going to matter for a long time to a lot of people. - DCeiver
[MP3] - Stuck Between Stations (Live on The Current)

3) The Decemberists (9)
decemberists 002 - Frankly, I wasn't expecting good things after Picaresque, and learning that they'd signed to Capitol, but The Crane Wife proved that The Decemberists are easily one of the top bands in America today. - Earfarm
- The Crane Wife may be Colin Meloy's big, bold major label debut, but it's still pure Decemberists. Tragic storytelling abounds as per usual, and Meloy delivers yet again with his uncanny knack for visual lyricism & loving delivery. - The Big Ticket
- Showcasing a more varied and mature sound, Meloy took all that Capitol Money and turned in one of the best albums of 2006. The album sounds like what would happen if after Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd, they replaced him with Herman Melville. - Passion of the Weiss
- As a queer English major, I'm pretty much required to love the Decemberists. That they're now selling out 2500-person venues is either a historical accident or a testament to how good they've become. Possibly both. - Fifty Five Hundred

4) Ghostface Killah
- In terms of prolificacy, charisma, consistency of output, and “American-ness,” there’s no current musician that comes anywhere close to rivaling Ghost. His highly personalized, idiosyncratic and nuanced lyrics on Fishscale draw drug stories with as much care and attention to detail as the one about getting spanked by his mom when he was a child. - marathonpacks
- In 2006, Ghostface finally completed his claim to the title of the Wu's greatest solo artist. Fishscale's tracks are filled with complex wordplay, vivid story-telling and lean backbreaking beats. With Rocky samples, the Wally Champ definitely does sound as hungry as he's been since Supreme Clientele. - Passion of the Weiss
- It's now officially safe to stop giving a shit about crap like hyphy. Ghostface reaches back in time to save hiphop's future from all the laffy taffy ass clowns and the five-minute fads that illuminate too many inferior MC's. Among the Wu-Tangers, 'Face was already head of the class, but Fishscale leaves him untouchable. - DCeiver

5) My Morning Jacket (12)
- Best live show I saw all year (maybe ever?) at Bonnaroo. - Central Village
- Building on the success of last year's instant classic Z, My Morning Jacket greatly expanded their fanbase at festivals across the nation, including a Coachella performance that converted any and all non-believers in the audience. With the release of this year's Okonokos, they finally delivered a definitive live statement that perfectly captured this band's brilliance. - Passion of the Weiss

6) Bob Dylan
- My favorite American-made music from this year seems to be composed either by old guys (Mr. Dylan) or dead guys (Mr. Cash). Here, the old guy, the bard of Hibbing, still keeps me thinking and listening. Modern Times was an easier music pill to swallow than Love and Theft, but it still contained some lovable bitterness and endearing side effects. Namely, obsessive repeat listenings. - Jason Onelouder
- With Modern Times, Dylan again proved that he is not only a living legend, but one of the most vital artists currently recording music. The fact that a new album from him can hold its own to his back catalog is unreal. I doubt that 98 percent of the bands on this list will be making such excellent music more than forty-years into their career. - Product Shop NYC

7) The Mountain Goats (11)
- John Darnielle crafts a sad and beautiful break-up record that those who aren't able to connect with should count themselves as lucky. - Chromewaves
- Honestly, Get Lonely didn't do too much for me, but that troika of prior discs are some of my favorite albums of the double-aughts. - Catbirdseat

8) Silversun Pickups
- Great album, unrelenting live. Loved watching their rise to relevance between CMJs. - Central Village
- The rest of you music bloggers and your darling, pointyheaded folk princes and twee-pop bullshittery bore the fucking hell out of me. So: here's a rock band, bringing actual rock. Listen to them. - DCeiver

9) The Thermals
- Hutch Harris & Kathy Foster follow the sadly lackluster Fuckin' A with the ballsy/concept-y The Body, The Blood, The Machine and earn back my respect & adoration in a big way. - The Big Ticket
- The Body, The Blood, The Machine is one of the best records of the year. They were a highlight of the CMJ Marathon. - Product Shop NYC

10) Cat Power
- The Greatest. The title says it all. - Product Shop NYC
- Even if she hadn't released an amazing album like The Greatest, her battle (and triumph) over alcohol and her personal demons would have been worth talking about. But she did and that makes her year even more remarkable. - Chromewaves
[MP3] The Greatest

11) Grizzly Bear
- As good as Yellow House is, I was only fully sold on this band when I saw them in concert. While the melodies on the record are certainly beautiful, the electronic beeps and squiggles interesting, the tone tranquilizing, it can seem ice-cold and dispassionate. Live, the sounds burst with color, the band brims with energy, each song pregnant with emotion and subtle textures often unnoticeable on the album. I haven't stopped listening to it since. - Passion of the Weiss

12) My Chemical Romance
- Biggest band in the world, etc,etc. I also actually like them. A lot. - Central Village

13) Wilco (36)
- No new recorded material, but tons of tour dates this year where they did play new material. Their new record comes out next year, get ready. - Muzzle of Bees
- No new album but constant touring kept them on the radar. The current lineup sounds better and tighter with every passing day but for pity's sake, give us a new album already. - Chromewaves

14) Joanna Newson
- There are times I can't stand Joanna Newsom, but every time I put on Ys, I am immediately drawn into her songs by her wonderful musicianship and unique voice. - Product Shop NYC

15) Sleater-Kinney (5)
Carrie Brownstein, photo by Matthew Peck
- Going out they way a great band should--Sleater-Kinney hit Washington, DC and delivered a show that rocked with primal energy--as if they were band feeling the kind of force they can wield for the first time. Their farewell pass was the only "be there or die trying" rock event of 2006 for me. - DCeiver
[MP3] - Entertain

16) Okkervil River (24)
- Yes, their only releases this year were an Australia-only EP and a 12" single, but if the lead song on both - "The President's Dead" - is any sign of where Will Sheff's mind and pen are at, then they deserve mention if only as a warning that 2007 will be the year of Okkervil. - Chromewaves
[MP3] - No Key, No Plan

17) Eric Bachmann
- Putting Crooked Fingers on the shelf and striking out under his own name, Bachmann found inspiration through minimalism and living in a van. His set at SxSW was one of the absolute highlights of the festival. - Chromewaves
- Former Archers of Loaf and current Crooked Fingers frontman goes it alone and comes up with some of the most moving material of his career. Not only that, he pulled together a touring trio that moved me even more. - Bradley's Almanac

18) Beruit
- Blending pianos, accordians, mandolins, xylophones, melodicas and haunting, spectral trumpets, Gulag Orkestrar sounds like few albums ever made in America. Appropriating the gypsy sounds of Balkan Brass bands, Zach Condon created an album that makes you feel as though you should be listening to it while sipping tea in a Sarajevo cafe, overlooking a large body of water, watching accordian notes and cigarette smoke crash through the clean air. Oh and did I forget to mention that he's 19 years old? - Passion of the Weiss

19) The National (2)
- Last year's Alligator destroyed. Can't wait to see what comes out in 2007. - Aquarium Drunkard
- Living in D.C., I didn't get to see The National tour behind Alligator until this year. They were so good, it was almost worth the wait. Almost. - information leafblower

20) Voxtrot
- In 2006 frontman Ramesh Srinastava seemed incapable of writing anything less than 3 minute shimmering pop gems. The live set still needs work but there is no denying this band's prodigious knack for melody and Srinastava's wistful poems. - Passion of the Weiss
[MP3] The Start Of Something
[MP3] Trouble

21) Bishop Allen
- Their unique EP-a-month gambit got my attention--the high-level of songwriting and graceful, simple melodies kept it. More than glib songwriters, Bishop Allen construct a world I'd love to live in--even at its most scarring. Through a year of writing and releasing music, these guys maintained such a constant and consistent level of excellence that it makes a lot of bands look like dilettantes. More to the point: it makes the way major labels farm bands for salable tracks look incredibly uninspired circa 2006. - DCeiver
[MP3] Click Click Click Click
[MP3] The Same Fire

22) Tom Waits
- Imagine Tom Waits headlining Coachella 2007. Tell me you wouldn't travel across the country to see that. - Product Shop NYC

23) Sufjan Stevens (1)
- You know a guy is prolific when, in what was supposed to be an off-year, he puts out a 21-track "extras" album and a 5-disc Christmas comp. I saw Sufjan and his Butterfly Brigade play 4 shows this year, and he was without question my "most posted about" artist. - Gorilla vs. Bear
[MP3] That Was The Worst Christmas Ever

24) Aberdeen City
Aberdeen City
- The fact that Steve Lillywhite sought them out to work with them, and not the other way around, speaks volumes. Few bands rock with such intelligence and intensity. - information leafblower
[MP3] God Is Going To Get Sick Of Me

25) Fiery Furnaces (8)
- There’s no American group with more unabashed artistic ambition. Gallowsbird’s Bark is one of the best debut records of this century, and the first five songs on EP are a stunning display of pop genre manipulation. Their live shows are divisive, but I’m on the side that wants even more manipulation. - marathonpacks
- Though their sheer volume of output is starting to get ridiculous, and though they've made missteps along the way (next time, keep Grandma out of the studio), the Fiery Furnaces remain the single most exciting, inventive, and interesting band making records today. - Catbirdseat

26) Ryan Adams (19)
- Crazy man can't stop! He kicked out jams with Willie Nelson, tours like a fiend and raps about Kevin Costner. He's the new Prince, only crazier. - Product Shop NYC

27) M. Ward
- Post-War is a record every human should have in their collection, it's that good. - Muzzle of Bees

28) Midlake
- I've posted on these guys probably 10 times, had them guest host my SIRIUS show, and I still don't feel like it's enough to articulate how much I love their new album, The Trials of Van Occupanther. Along with Joanna Newsom's Ys, my favorite release by an American artist in 2006. - Gorilla vs. Bear
- Taking all the good yet none of the bad aspects of 'easy listening', serving up smooth, seventies-era songs with style. Nostalgic, maybe, but played with a professionalism that's impossible to ignore. - Bradley's Almanac
[MP3] Roscoe

29) Sonic Youth
- Aside from NYC Ghosts and Flowers, they’ve never released a bum record, and Rather Ripped is a surprisingly calm and introspective punk-retirement home record. - marathonpacks

30) Man Man
- I've seen them so many times in the past year it's silly. A fantastic fun band gaining more fans by the minute and one of my votes for best lyrics of the year: "wanna sleep for weeks like a dog at her feet even though I know it won't work out in the long run" - Earfarm
[MP3] Van Helsing Boombox

31) Lavender Diamond
- Their first LP is due next spring and, from how the songs sound live, I suspect it'll be fantastic. I've now dragged five people to their shows and not once was a person was disappointed. Becky Stark's voice is almost enough on its own. I haven't been this excited about a new band in ages. - Rajeev Onelouder
[MP3] - You Broke My Heart

32) Timbaland
- If you can make room for Sufjan Stevens on this list, but not Timbaland, you are certifiably insane. He's been on top of his game for years, and it seems like 2006 might have been his best year yet with amazing singles from Nelly Furtado and an incredible record from Justin Timberlake. Definitely the best music coming out of the states, pop or hip-hop, is from Timbo. - Soviet Panda

33) Lucero
- Live shows so intense that you never want them to end. These boys tour and tour and continue to put out some of the most underrated records. Their latest record should be the one to make them indie-household names. - Muzzle of Bees

34) DangerMouse
- After a phenomenal 2005 producing Gorillaz & Danger Doom, he more than topped himself in 2006 with the unstoppable killing machine that is Gnarls Barkley. For crying out loud, St. Elsewhere was the pop album of the summer, with "Crazy" the most covered song in recent memory. However, what put the DJ over the top for me was hearing "Crazy" performed last month in person - by the Emerald City Band in Dallas TX. When a song hits the wedding band circuit, it's reached a whole other level. - The Big Ticket

35) Car Stereo (Wars)
- Their "Ghostface Observatory" mashup, which combines Ghostface with Ghostland Observatory, is easily the greatest mashup I've ever heard. It breathes new life into a genre that was steadily growing stale. - information leafblower
[MP3] Ghostface Observatory

36) Girl Talk
- Probably the hottest record of the year. Everyone who heard it was instantly in love and, oddly, singing along. - Central Village
- The excitement might not last beyond 2006 -- hard to say. Still, seeing Gregg Gillis play his computer made for one of my favorite nights out this year. - Fifty Five Hundred
[MP3] Hold Up
[MP3] Bounce That

37) LCD Soundsystem (4)
- 45'33: I may take up jogging just to hear this song in its intended context. But "Jams" Murphy's workout tape works just fine as a standing still piece of disco joy. Speaking of pieces, I'm contemplating cutting my favorite section of45'33, minutes 10:00 - 20:00 into a separate song just so I can enjoy Murphy's clicks and loops over and over and over. - Jason Onelouder
- My favorite band. The idea that 45'33 is just something to keep us busy while we wait for the next full-length is a bit ridiculous to think about, considering that it's better than pretty much any other band's records. - Soviet Panda
- Only LCD could make a list like this on the strength of a single song. 45'33 is just that good. - Rajeev Onelouder

38) Tapes N Tapes
- You'll get no knee-jerk backlash from me. Tapes is still as vibrant and catchy as ever and, even though The Loon came out last year, let's be honest - they're one of the big indie successes of 2006. Regardless of what your hipster advisor cool meter says, it's okay to still like Tapes 'n Tapes. I mean, come on - you used to think The Strokes were the best band in America. - Earfarm
[MP3] 50's Parking
[MP3] Insistor

39) Shearwater
- Jonathan Meiburg takes over the creative reins and shakes the "Okkervil River side-project" tag once and for all with an epic and emotional folk-rock masterpiece. - Chromewaves
[MP3] White Waves

40) Margot & the Nuclear So and So's
- I hadn't heard a note of Margot & the Nuclear So and So's until the nine members squeezed onto a small stage in front of me earlier this year, and they pulled off that special rarity: impressing me more than a headliner I was already excited to see. There's a folk element to their smartly-constructed pop songs that in theory should scare me, but they do it just right. - Bradley's Almanac
[MP3] Holy Cow (demo)
[MP3] As Tall As Cliffs (demo)
[MP3] Skeleton Key

Posted by Kyle in Top 40 List | Permalink


you know, looking at this list I realize that I left a lot of deserving bands off my list.

Oh well.

Posted by: frank at November 15, 2006 12:55 PM

FWIW, I only voted for three bands, because I just couldn't get behind any more than that. Only two of them made the list (the Wrens didn't make it(?))

These are some very, very interesting results this year. Very interesting indeed.

Posted by: Ryan Catbird at November 15, 2006 1:06 PM

I feel the same, Frank, though I keep reminding myself that it really was about "who you covered" and not "who you think deserves it". My list may have been far different otherwise.

Posted by: Brad at November 15, 2006 1:20 PM

I'm in the same boat, Frank...

Posted by: david at November 15, 2006 1:24 PM

well I ignored Kyle's stated criteria and just wrote down the bands I liked and listened to the most in 2006 (keeping in mind that they had to have been active this year).

Next year I will base my list solely on their fashion sense.

Posted by: frank at November 15, 2006 1:33 PM

I love you, Leaf, but this list makes me hate life.

Posted by: Grizz at November 15, 2006 1:47 PM

re: frank's first comment, i agree entirely.

as for dance artists, i'd have included a bunch of them on my list but they're almost all from countries other than the US...

Posted by: rajeev at November 15, 2006 1:51 PM

i was hoping that that Poison/Cinderella 2006 joint tour would get one, or both, of them on this list. bloggers please, you didn't play by the rules. i know that tour is what most of this panel was ACTUALLY posting about this year.

Posted by: EF Matt at November 15, 2006 1:57 PM

Ok, one hour in and we've only got a single bonafide hater. Come on, music snobs, you can do better than that!

Posted by: brad at November 15, 2006 2:09 PM

Okay, I'll bite . . .

Lavender Freaking Diamond? SERIOUSLY?? A band with little more than an annoyingly wifty stage presence, a 3-4 song EP, and an opening slot on the Decemberists' tour ranks as one of the 40 Best Bands in the country? Please. I'm also pretty amazed that ILB didn't manage to get Nethers on to the list.

I get that we're not supposed to criticize the list for genre-specificity, but it seems pretty ridiculous to call it a "Best Bands" list when your own stated criteria have literally nothing to do with quality. "Most Buzzed About" perhaps, but even there it's a little bit suspect. After all, based on sheer posting volume I think that Kevin Federline should definitely be on this list

Posted by: Nate at November 15, 2006 2:23 PM

I saved Nethers for my local band.

I thought about changing the title, but "Most Buzzed About" sounds like an MTV marketing angle. I couldn't think of anything better, so I kept the name.

Posted by: leafblower at November 15, 2006 2:33 PM

interesting list! not necessarily what i expected, but it doesn't make me hate life. on the contrary, i will re-listen, re-evaluate some based on the notes.

Posted by: jillian at November 15, 2006 2:50 PM

10% Austin. Not a bad showing.

Posted by: Dan at November 15, 2006 3:17 PM

the strokes put out a great record in jan. 06, as well as played great live shows throughout the year......they have a million times more talent than a band like the hold steady, makes me sick as a musician to see how little attention people pay to a band just because they aren't the "newest" thing. tapes n' tapes should be higher, good thing #1 was right on

Posted by: ryan at November 15, 2006 4:11 PM

I hate the hold steady as well, but come on the strokes?

jesus ryan.

Really excited to see grizzly bear place so highly

Posted by: eric at November 15, 2006 4:36 PM

The whole cooler-than-thou Pitchforkization of music is the worst thing to happen since Tiananmen Square. What irks me most about the whole thing is how fickle all the indie kids are. So much so that Gnarls Barkley (who would've been #1 on this list had it been compiled back in May) somehow got left off the list entirely. Not that I even like Gnarls, but STILL.

Posted by: Uncle Grambo at November 15, 2006 4:38 PM

cold war kids

Posted by: amanda at November 15, 2006 4:52 PM

dammit. i promise i'll get my list in earlier next year :)

as for the comment by ryan about "talent" and him being a musician. that's all fine and dandy, but as a musician of 18 years myself, Tad from the Hold Steady is just as good of guitarist as Albert, if not better. Neither bands are exactly pushing the envelope in terms of originality or musical prowess however, so i found the point sorta silly.

and fwiw, the Hold Steady are hardly the "newest" thing, especially to us Midwesterners who have been listening to Craig for 10+ years now.

Posted by: solace at November 15, 2006 4:55 PM

Gotta agree with Grambo here...

Right around the time the blogosphere starting getting credited for (or crediting itself for) blowing up bands like Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is when the whole operation started to turn a little sour.

The pace of adopting, promoting and then discarding bands is so fast it makes me wonder just how wide the divide is between what bloggers cover and what they listen to? I'm guessing it grows wider each day.

Posted by: Jimmy Floyd at November 15, 2006 5:03 PM

boy, looks like i've got my work (illegal downloading) cut out for me if i want to cut it in the cool school. And, isn't this list a little cock-heavy?

Posted by: spencer at November 15, 2006 5:21 PM

No Yo La Tengo? No Animal Collective? No Built To Spill? That's just a few. C'mon.

Posted by: jim at November 15, 2006 5:29 PM

I agree on the Lavendar Diamond comment... what a trainwreck live too.. Hold STeady and TV on the Radio are right on. My Chemical Romance??? wha?? That was a joke.. right? What about Deer Tick? most underrated stuff I've heard all year

Posted by: logan at November 15, 2006 5:45 PM

good points there about Cold War Kids and Gnarls - I definitely saw lots and lots of posts about those guys on blogs in 2006. and for Built to Spill, Yo La Tengo, The Walkmen (etc)...I think these bands simply failed to excite with their most recent records. IN one day and OUT the next. but hey, the music world has always been fickle like that. just ask, um, Poison and Cinderella! sure it's wicked accelerated fickleness these days, but isn't everything wicked mo quick than it used to be?

a few more I kind of expected: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Band Of Horses, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Annuals

and was hoping to see on there: Ratatat, Danielson, The Silver Jews, Mastodon

Posted by: EF Matt at November 15, 2006 5:50 PM

This list is depressing.

I didn't know MMJ had any fans.

Posted by: Pregnant Pause at November 15, 2006 5:59 PM

I was surprised at how enervating and meh this year's releases from YLT and Built To Spill were. No surprise at Animal Collective, though--Christ, they are AWFUL.

Posted by: DCeiver at November 15, 2006 6:00 PM

the moment it all went south for gnarls was when the world heard the rest of their songs.

Posted by: eric bachmann?!? at November 15, 2006 6:03 PM

i like the list. it's definitely more interesting that what you'll see in Rolling Stone or Spin for a year end list

Posted by: sal at November 15, 2006 8:42 PM

Gnarls has a great, timeless song, but that's sort of it. I doubt many of the voters thought any more of them, even in May. The Gnarlskake was really just all over Crazy, and then the following semi-ironic covers. Besides, Danger Mouse got his spot, which credits them to a point.

I am actually impressed how many of the bands aren't of the last three months buzz machine. Many don't even have a release out this year. I agree with Grambo wholeheartedly with his sentiment, but I think this list actually comes out pretty respectable.

Posted by: Jeff at November 16, 2006 12:20 AM

I, too, am anticipating more great things from the National.

But may I be the first to say, "What? No Ted Leo?!"

Posted by: another Jeff at November 16, 2006 12:29 AM

spell beirut right.

Posted by: arya at November 16, 2006 2:07 AM

CI agree- Craig Finn has been around for a millenia already; I hardly count the Hold Steady as "new." Lifter Puller much?

Posted by: the g at November 16, 2006 9:23 AM

One glaring omission that I just thought of. Scissor Sisters. Not a single person voted for them.

Posted by: leafblower at November 16, 2006 9:41 AM

wow...there are some TERRIBLE bands on this list...

Posted by: pants at November 16, 2006 9:47 AM

This may be off-topic, but that may be one of the cutest cat pictures I've ever seen... and I see a LOT of pictures of cats.

Posted by: Janine at November 16, 2006 9:50 AM

Good call on the Scissor Sisters. I'm also surprised The Rapture didn't place. I'm not a big fan of their new record, but I figured I was in the minority.

Posted by: Jason at November 16, 2006 9:59 AM

C'mon, no love for Built to Spill? Also, it's amazing how quickly Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have fallen out of blogger attention.

Also, I know Interpol didn't have a 2006 release, but I would still rank them among the top 40 bands.

Posted by: Dan at November 16, 2006 10:13 AM

oh please... can this be retitled "The Top 40 Bands as Selected by I'm-More-Underground-and-Indie-Than-You-Are Bloggers"??

Seriously, who gets the award for outdoing everyone else in their list submission?

Posted by: Jay at November 16, 2006 10:31 AM

I never understand half the comments and anger that comes from this list...

It's all averages...when it averages out, it's always disappointing...

Here was my list. It's probably regionally skewed, and as many have said, doing these things a little too fast leads to forgetting about lots of great bands...

1. My Morning Jacket
2. Margot & The Nuclear So & Sos
3. Silversun Pickups
4. M.Ward
5. Matt & Kim
6. The Black Keys
7. Bishop Allen
8. Cold War Kids
9. DeVotchKa
10. Tapes n Tapes

Posted by: Dodge at November 16, 2006 11:19 AM

Oh dear doge, your list is rather mehhh if I do say so myself. I'll take this one's top 20 thank you

down with tapes n tapes and cold war kids

and god please kill silversun pickups. absolute garbage

Posted by: meh at November 16, 2006 11:31 AM

Centro-matic should be on this list. So should Calexico, IMHO. And Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

Posted by: streak at November 16, 2006 11:58 AM

this list is sad.

Posted by: nick at November 16, 2006 12:36 PM

sts9 is the best live touring band out right now. a really unique show that is truly captivating. three nearly sold-out tours per year all over the states. a brand new concert dvd with amazing crane work and editing.

this is an independent music organization in full bloom, with a strong fan community. give it a shot!


Posted by: griffin at November 16, 2006 12:45 PM

girl talk? not a band.


Posted by: wah! at November 16, 2006 12:58 PM

Wow. What a bunch of goddamn predictable garbage. Is this what happens when too many music bloggers stump for eMusic (so they themselves can get free mp3s whenever someone signs up)? Not a whole lot of variety. You'd almost think that the entire music community is made up of douchebags who somewhere in the back of their heads think they're Bob Dylan. That includes Dylan. Modern Times was just total friggin' rubbish. This all shit you listen to in between yoga class and baking some fucking cookies. It's like the only thing on people's iPods are meticulously organized files and not music. BAAAAARRRRRRFFFFF!

Posted by: bryce at November 16, 2006 1:05 PM

Yeah, my list is kinda mehh after looking at some of the bands I omitted.

I might go with...

1. MMJ
2. Girl Talk (if Gillis counts)
3. Margot
4. The Decemberists
6. Silversun Pickups
7. M.Ward
8. Ghostface
9. DeVotchKa
10. Matt & Kim

I don't know I could rewrite it ten times and not be satisfied. That's how these lists are. Someone sends out an email asking for your Top Ten "American" bands, active in 2006 and you write out a quick list and regret it later. You guys need to all relax and if you're gonna judge and be so smart, go ahead and put your list out there and let us all tear it apart. Eh? eh? Not so brave now are you?

The Rapture wouldn't count, btw, they're Italian...but I like that record too.

Posted by: Dodge at November 16, 2006 1:10 PM

I'm one of those that thinks that blogs are too homongenized when it comes to hyping the NBT.

But I'll put myself out there in accordance with Dodge's challenge.

Best Bands in America Today:

1. Steely Dan
2. Beck (if he counts as a "band").

I had this discussion with some friends earlier this year, and none of us could come up with an American act that we really HAD to see live this year (other than the two I listed above).

Oasis and SFA, on the other hand, I was all over them like ProActiv on zits when they toured semi-recently. But they ain't 'merican.

I'm probably getting old.

Posted by: Justin Case at November 16, 2006 1:37 PM

For the hell of it......

1. TV on the Radio
2. The Walkmen
3. The Strokes
4. Wilco
5. Bound Stems
6. The Decemberists
7. Grizzly Bear
8. Tapes n Tapes
9. Beck
10.Modest Mouse (touring now, it's still 06, does that count?)
* Interpol if they were more active this year.

Posted by: ryan at November 16, 2006 1:52 PM

I'm surprised Califone doesn't get more love from the blogs, they're last 2 albums are quite incredible.

Posted by: Paul Antonson at November 16, 2006 1:54 PM

uh, what about...

Neko Case??
Belle and Sebastian??
Band of Horses?
Camera Obscura?
Asobi Seksu?
Mates of State?

Posted by: tim at November 16, 2006 2:20 PM

uh, what about... ok, American bands... i get it now...

Band of Horses?
Asobi Seksu?
Mates of State?

Posted by: tim at November 16, 2006 2:23 PM

Heartless Bastards
Danko Jones

Posted by: Sue at November 16, 2006 2:23 PM

I can say without a doubt that if we were doing the best SCOTTISH bands in SCOTLAND then B&S and Camera Obscura would be high on the list. But we're not.

Reading comprehension is your friend. Embrace it.

Posted by: leafblower at November 16, 2006 2:25 PM

Damn, Neko Case, Band Of Horses & Heartless Bastards are great choices too. See, it's impossible.

It's been a great music year despite the naysayers.

Posted by: Dodge at November 16, 2006 2:32 PM

Having just spent the last few days listening to The Information, I agree that Beck really needs to be on this list. I'm also sort of surprised that the Drive-By Truckers didn't make the list on the continuing power of their live shows, buttheir 2006 album definitely wasn't up to the standard set by the last few, so maybe that did them in.

Also, no Death Cab? Didn't they play every city in the country three or four times last year like they did DC?

Posted by: Nate at November 16, 2006 2:50 PM

haha. cracking up leaf.

I hope the rapture is italian comment was a joke.
Ok dodge, tear me apart.

1. Dead Meadow (this band needs more love)
3. Grizzly Bear
4. Band of Horses
5. Midlake
6. The Gossip
7. Deerhoof
8. Califone
9. Cat Power
10. Will Oldham

Posted by: nilly nally at November 16, 2006 2:52 PM

I will echo the previous Nate.

Lavender Fucking Diamond?

Built to Spill should be in the top 10, especially since they had a good album this year.

Also Spoon, Ted Leo, John Vanderslice, the Magnetic Fields/Stephen Merritt, Magnolia Electric Co.

Posted by: Nate at November 16, 2006 2:57 PM

I'm putting in my two cents for the Benevento/Russo Duo. If you've never heard them or heard of them, look 'em up.

Not a better drummer on the planet than Joe Russo...

Posted by: Ace Cowboy at November 16, 2006 2:59 PM


I was just talking about Death Cab with someone and we were wondering why no one was upset they were left off. Especially since they've toured their ass off this year. They hit D.C. three or four times. I'm not a huge fan, but still surprising.

Same for Beck. I like him, but I don't even have a copy of The Information yet. But his secret show at the Black Cat was one of the best shows I've seen all year, if only for the intimacy of the room.

Posted by: leafblower at November 16, 2006 3:04 PM

So now the Rapture is Italian, and Neko Case is American?

Posted by: Durrr at November 16, 2006 3:15 PM

We could use a ruling on Neko Case. She's most often claimed by Canada, but she lives in Chicago now.

Posted by: DCeiver at November 16, 2006 3:50 PM

I, too, am surprised by no Yo La Tengo...

Posted by: Paulski at November 16, 2006 3:51 PM

Angry much? Generalize much? What's your taste in music?

Posted by: Wow is Right at November 16, 2006 3:53 PM

neko moved to canada later in life - i thought she was originally from virginia, but raised in washington state.

Posted by: jillian at November 16, 2006 3:57 PM

we would love to say Neko is ours, but she's definitely American. Born Virginia, raised Tacoma, lives Chicago. But hangs out up here a lot.

Posted by: frank at November 16, 2006 4:13 PM

Silversun Pickups..yes. I'd add Traindodge

Posted by: judson at November 16, 2006 4:33 PM

i'm always surprised by the volume of people who choose to comment on posts like this when all they have to say is how "snobby" or "indier than thou" that blogs are...

if you don't like them, you could maybe ignore them?... things that depend on readership go away if that happens.

i don't like Entertainment Tonight, but i don't go to Mary Hart's house to yell at her.

Posted by: Quinn at November 16, 2006 4:36 PM

Wasn't it only 6 months ago when bloggers were falling all over themselves to praise Danielson. And now nothing?

I'm also suprised Jason Molina, Will Oldham, Neil Young (Living with War, released May 9th) didn't make the list.

Posted by: Pregnant Pause at November 16, 2006 4:49 PM

Yeah, Beck could easily be inserted.

Man, really? I actually thought The Rapture was from Italy or somewhere like that. *sticks head in sand* In my defense, I was never a fan until I heard their latest album.

Leaf, was the person you were talking about Death Cab with 13 and female?

Posted by: Dodge at November 16, 2006 4:57 PM

I saw Margot back in the spring and the were one of the worst openers I've ever seen. The lead singer spent most of the time bitching to the audience about how he couldn't hear his guitar on the monitor and their sound was grating when they were playing (which was minimal because most of the time was bitching). The only really interesting thing was just how many of them (and how many instruments) there were and the crazy dude dancing around hitting the gong (I wasn't a fan of the sound just his craziness).

Have they radically changed in the past months or what?

(Seriously... one of the worst openers ever...)

Posted by: Nick V at November 16, 2006 5:07 PM

Shut up shut up shut up shut up!

Posted by: Todd at November 16, 2006 5:12 PM

Danielson, yeah I dig that new record a bunch but wasn't surprised to see people forget about it a bit. Again though, with Beck, Built To Spill, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Walkmen, Strokes, etc etc I think they just didn't live up to expectations (or hopes) with their most recent efforts. Better luck next year. One thing I do agree with is that there's too many male artists here.

And, if we're going to have Dylan on here I think we should've had Bruce Springsteen too. I love that Seeger Sessions album.

Posted by: EF Matt at November 16, 2006 5:37 PM

where is scott walker ? THE DRIFT is definitely the album of the decade for me

Posted by: david at November 16, 2006 5:49 PM

Wow, a lot of pedestrian stuff, but a typical list for a hipster blogger. I gotta say Joanna Newsom has some of the worst lyrics ever put to "tape." It is almost like a Berkeley student wrote an algorithm for cutesy folk.
if not x = guitar
then x = harp!!!
then == (horrible:pretentious:cuteness) ;

Posted by: pussieee at November 16, 2006 8:01 PM

I have to admit I don't follow the scene that closely & haven't heard of some of the bands on the list but I too think the Drive by Truckers deserve some love and the Flaming Lips too even if the latest album was a weak grab bag.

Posted by: Brian at November 16, 2006 10:12 PM

While we're on the subject:

1. Band of Horses

2. My Morning Jacket

3. Lily Allen

4. Shank Bone Mystic Project

5. Will Oldham

6. Joanna Newsom

7. Ghostface Killah

8. Circle

9. Bobby Bare Jr.


Posted by: BK-yumgood at November 16, 2006 11:10 PM

who ARE 70% of these bands?

please insert "hipster" after the number 40

Posted by: chris at November 16, 2006 11:32 PM

the list is certainly "indier than thou" but who's blaming? it's a pretty impossible task to choose from *so* many bands...genre-specific might make it a little easier, but i don't envy anyone the chore

good work, even if a few of the winners are questionable ;-)

Posted by: court at November 16, 2006 11:45 PM

Neko Case. Ted Leo. Spoon. Calexico. C'mon!!!!

Posted by: ag at November 17, 2006 1:19 AM

i agree with dodge, why the hatred, its not a list of best artists, but who blogs covered the most, its nearly impossible to fit every band in.
i love spoon too but they were hardly busy in 2006, as for the scissor sisters, i think they are seriously bad, but again thats just my opinion.
all in all i think its a great list, except for my chemical romance. blogs dont discard bands, wouldnt it be just silly to write about the same band everyday. oh yeah i wish aloha had made the list, but you can't have everything, hey? quinn had the best comment i think

Posted by: wayne at November 17, 2006 9:41 AM

I can't believe Calexico are not in this list. Not hip enough I guess?
*shakes head in amazement*

Posted by: DutchKid at November 17, 2006 9:56 AM

sorry but calexico are boring. nothing to do with being hip, they just make really run of the mill, NPR ready bland-rock

Posted by: sorry at November 17, 2006 12:01 PM

Why don't you just put up Spin's top 100?
You need to see more live shows and get out more. Every city in this country has great bands that have never played Brooklyn.
Please, check your research again

Posted by: mark at November 17, 2006 12:39 PM

It's damn goo to see Lucero getting some love. Hardest working band in America, most intense live show.

Will Oldham needs to be on here too and maybe Matt Sweeney (he's american right?).

Posted by: ryan at November 17, 2006 12:45 PM

Man, people really seem not to be too thrilled with Blessing and a Curse, I liked it a lot, either way DBT really should be on this list. I also love everything Mac and Portastatic have been doing lately - best straight rock/pop around.

Posted by: RichK at November 17, 2006 12:52 PM

This may be a paralle argument with 'buzz bands' vs. not buzz bands, but I don't think so...
One great record does not make a great band. One great record makes a great record with the promise of a great band. Same goes for EPs of course. Bands and artists like Wilco, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, M.Ward (gaining) have a catalog of great music to stand behind. Clearly there isn't an interest to standardize this poll with any paramenters, (that's fine, I don't vote, and don't view this with any more investment than curiosity), but a great band is a great band even if they've taken the year off the road or haven't released a record in the last 12 months. Activity does not by default make Decemberists a better band than Modest Mouse. In my mind if you're going to make the attempt to do a grand poll of Best American Artists- than this list should include people you were as excited about two years ago as you are now, and as you might be in another 2 years. Bands that sustain beyond press or blog hype, beyond flavor of the month, and next big thing status... And I'm sorry, I'll throw this in maybe just to be divisive, but if you're talking best American bands- Los Lobos would hand the majority of bands on this list a serious ass whipping in terms of experimentation, song-writing, playing ability, and live show.

Posted by: mat at November 17, 2006 12:57 PM

explosions in the sky

really? how are they not on this list?

Posted by: jon at November 17, 2006 2:58 PM

Yo La Tengo is the hardest working rock band in America. They should be on here for their highly amusing website alone. For shame!

Posted by: Susannah at November 17, 2006 3:26 PM

no yeah yeah yeahs?

Posted by: yyy at November 17, 2006 4:03 PM

wow this is more boring than a pitchfork top 40...
there's a world of far more interesting music being made in america now

the decemberists? are you kidding?

"25) Fiery Furnaces (8)
- There’s no American group with more unabashed artistic ambition. "
This is the most uninformed statement i've read in a year.....uhm,
black dice, excepter, gang ganag dance, ....

Posted by: zebeck at November 17, 2006 5:29 PM

Jeebus, as disappointing as this list is to some of you, what's more disappointing is your lack of reading and/or reading comprehension...

As was described, this is a list of bands that these music bloggers covered most this year. Los Lobos won't make that list. Modest Mouse is sure to next year as they have a new album coming out next year. Yo La Tengo, well, it's probably a bit generational there.

Calexico and DBT are both good bands, but no, they aren't really "blog favorites" and they are somewhat regional I think. Bobby Bare Jr.'s latest is really good, but he'll fall into the same group as these two.

Posted by: Dodge at November 17, 2006 10:19 PM

Where about PEARL JAM?!?

Posted by: Eric Mollerstuen at November 18, 2006 2:31 AM

No Grandaddy?!?

Posted by: craig at November 18, 2006 11:03 AM

The post title is "Top 40 Bands in America"-the post says it's the most covered bands by these bloggers. Which is it? Those are the same thing? Lavender Diamond was covered more in '06 than Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or the Strokes? Huh? We could come up with 25,000 bands covered more than Lavender Diamond. By those rules, Voxtrot should be Number 1 based solely on gorilla vs. bear.

C'mon. This list gets shittier and shittier each year. I'm amazed some of these bloggers even respond to the fucking email.

Posted by: Mudd at November 18, 2006 8:21 PM

This list is absolute bogus. If it is based on 2006, how is Cat Power and the Mountain Goats not just on this list, but in the top 10? It makes no sense whatsoever.

No Yo La Tengo? No Mission of Burma? Come on....

Posted by: bsd987 at November 18, 2006 10:56 PM

Really, why are The Hold Steady and Silversun Pickups making all these lists? Are we that that desperate for an indie band that actually "rocks out" that we need to anoint the first anti-innovators that come along?

Posted by: Larry at November 19, 2006 10:58 AM


You just made my day!

Car Stereo (Wars)

Posted by: Chris at November 20, 2006 12:35 AM

I second AceCowboy on the Benevento Russo Duo. No way any list with more than five bands on it is complete without them.

And an "indie rock soundalike" comes in at #1. Ugh.

Posted by: Nicholas at November 20, 2006 1:12 PM

Oh, and why didn't anyone vote for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah? Because no one was really sure if they and TV on the Radio were different bands. :)

Posted by: Nicholas at November 20, 2006 1:16 PM

Lavender Diamond is really, really, painfully awful. I mean, wow. Awful.

Carry on.

Posted by: Shaun at November 20, 2006 9:10 PM

Love how you have wilco, mmj, dangermouse...surprised that gomez didn't make your list.

Posted by: mish at November 21, 2006 12:54 PM

Oh man...good list, but what about Tilly And The Wall?

Posted by: ampersand2001 at November 21, 2006 5:33 PM

mish, since when is Gomez an American band? Good grief. See where it says "NO FOREIGN BANDS" in bold text at the top?

Posted by: Rich at November 30, 2006 2:59 PM

blah blah blah

zeppelin, bitches!

the greatest UK export since the astrolabe.

Posted by: pbdotc at December 6, 2006 9:33 AM

My Chemical Romance is to rock music as AIDS is to life. Why not just include Linkin Park and Hoobastank while you're at it.

Other than that good list.

Posted by: Chip at December 6, 2006 12:49 PM

So many of these bands are awesome, i swear i thought half of them were Canadian (now seemingly not the home of all my fav north american music, just some of it)

Posted by: Alistair at December 11, 2006 8:41 PM

Damnit - that was my stupid sig...what I was trying to say was - what about Bloc Party - no love for them in the list?

Posted by: Danny Smith at July 22, 2007 2:07 PM

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