Madison musicians created another bucketload of great recorded music this year. They put out more than 100 long and extended play albums during the last twelve months, cutting across all genres.
It's become a habit of mine to indulge in the songs of our city because I honestly believe they're as good as any made anywhere else. I carry Madison CDs with me in my car. My computer is almost always streaming the sounds of a local artist.
It's also become an annual habit of mine to list what I think are the 10 best Madison songs of the year. It's not that there aren't a whole lot of other great songs out there to be discovered. It's just that, well, making a list is fun.
Plus, now that the Internet lets me share my 10 favorite tracks, I've come to hope this feature will showcase the astonishing diversity and quality of Madison music.
So let the countdown begin. Here's hoping these tracks will inspire you to experience more Madison music in 2012.
10. Whitney Mann: "Home"
Mann is the Americana songwriter who's become the opening act of choice when George Jones and Loretta Lynn come to the Upper Midwest. Here's the downhome sound that's earning her all that attention.
9. Dead Luke: "Paranoia is a Flower of the Mind"
In the mood for some mellow stoner rock to help you fend off the trials and tribulations of daily living? Dead Luke has come to town, and he can help.
8. Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo: "10:49"
The title track from the blues album that's been making waves beyond Madison recalls the emotional moment when Williams lost his father and musical mentor, Cadillac Joe.
7. Stephanie Rearick: "Who Are You?"
Rearick's bold compositions make her a one-of-a-kind force in our local music scene. The best song from her 2011 album, Up the Wall, shows why.
6. Kyle & Keem: "Amazing!"
The underage scene is alive and well in Madison. Kyle & Keem were seniors at Verona Area High School when they recorded this track, which got played all summer long on 93.1 FM Jamz.
5. Anna Vogelzang: "Undertow"
A lot of Madison musicians eventually move on to bigger markets, but sometimes they come here from bigger cities, too. Vogelzang is from Boston, but now she's writing songs about life on the isthmus. "Undertow" is my favorite song from her recent album, Canary in a Coalmine.
4. Icarus Himself: "On Your Side"
This isn't the first time Nick Whetro and crew have made my year-end list of favorites. Without a doubt, they are one of Madison's most consistent and best rock bands.
3. Paul Otteson: "The Boy and the Nettles"
Otteson is a Stoughton elementary school music teacher who added to the depth of Madison's formidable folk-rock scene this year. Here's my favorite track from his debut album, February Fables.
2. Nama Rupa: "War Crimes"
Here's one of those songs that keeps playing in your brain long after it ends. I spent more than a few minutes of 2011 quietly humming along to this memorable chorus.
1. Daniel and the Lion: "Seeds"
Jimmie Linville's songwriting powered my favorite Madison album of 2011, Sweet Teeth. "Seeds" is my pick for Madison's Song of the Year. Wow -- it really is a great one.