Hip Hop is Dead by Nas -- My favorite CD of 2005 was Kanye West's Late Registration. I wondered if it represented a return of great hip hop CDs. The answer is no. Hip Hop is Dead is a very good CD, but it's pretty much the only really good hip hop CD this year. I kind of like Snoop's new one, too, but it's nothing too special.
The Crane Wife by The Decemberists -- I really liked last year's Picaresque, but The Crane Wife is even better. Much better actually. If it wasn't for the Peppers' opus, this probably would have been my favorite of the year.
St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley -- Yeah there are other songs on here besides "Crazy." None as good, but several very enjoyable ones.
Pearl Jam by Pearl Jam -- Maybe I was biased on this one. This is a very good CD, but I probably like it more just because it's by Pearl Jam and it's their first good CD in awhile. Still, you could make a good case for this being the soundtrack of the political changes in America in 2006.
Taking the Long Way Home by The Dixie Chicks -- What is this, country music on my list? This CD is fun and relaxing at the same time, with several memorable songs. The popular "I'm Not Ready To Make Nice" is a great anthem, but I really love "Lullaby." It makes me think of my two sons. What can I say, I'm getting old.
Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady -- This CD rocks. It's great to listen to driving or running. I love the singer's voice.