I know this is the list everyone is totally waiting for. Ha. Anyway, criteria for inclusion (inspired by Frank's disclaimers): I felt it somehow added to Jewish music, or made an impact on Jewish music or Jewish listeners - even if it wasn't overtly Jewish. An album in 2005 that I listened to mostly in 2006 qualified - as did a single that didn't get wide-release (Myspace babies). Otherwise, it's what I want - and since it's one of the few of its kind, you'll take it and like it. I kid! Oh, and because it's Jewish music, it's a list of everything - singles mixed with albums mixed with artists. Deal with it! (Plus, except for the first choice - which is far and above the best thing released this year in Jewish music, in no particular order.)
1. Ayelet Rose Gottlieb - Tapuah
2. Golem - Warsaw is Khelm
3. Socalled - You Are Never Alone
4. Rashanim - Shalosh
5. Jeffrey Lewis - Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror
6. Y-Love (DJ Handler Mix)
7. John Zorn
8. Bob Dylan - Modern Times
9. Say Anything - Alive With the Glory of Love
10. The Klezmatics - Wonder Wheel (Songs of Woodie Guthrie)
11. Matisyahu - Cut 'Em Down
12. Nehadar - Signs
Ayelet Rose Gottlieb is the most amazing person in Jewish music today. Her show with Basya Shechter (Pharoah's Daughter) and Jewlia Eisenberg (who I adore), was the Nirvana-Soundgarden-Pearl Jam show of Avant Jewish Women music. Nirvana = Jewlia, Pearl Jam = Ayelet, Soundgarden = Basya. Tapuah is the greatest song off an amazing album.
Golem's 'Warsaw is Khelm' isn't punk, but I'm not sure it's klezmer either - it certainly is the freshest and most debatable entry into the genre (whatever genre that might be), and it's more cohesive than Beirut. Socalled's hiphopkhasene was disappointing, but 'You are Never Alone' sounds like an artist actually coming into his own - figuring out what his music is trying to say, as opposed to just mixing and matching genres. It's the Girl Talk Jewish song.
Jeffrey Lewis and Bob Dylan are tricky choices, and I don't want to justify them here. Modern Times is probably Dylan's least Jewish album - and the Root's cover of Master of War is probably a more interesting "Jewish" song than anything on Master of War. But anything from Dylan redefines previous assumptions about him, and by now his status as a Jewish artist is a given. Possibly I should've put Jamie Saft's Trouble on the list instead, but it isn't as good on its own as Modern Times is. And I'd rather give the spot to a great arguably Jewish album than an okay definitely Jewish album.
Say Anything came out in 2003, I think, but I didn't hear it until now - and it's frankly incredible. It's the greatest Holocaust love song ever written.
I'm loathe to include Matisyahu, but I can't really debate his influence - and Chop 'Em Down is the only song of his that I can stand (or even enjoy). And it's current, even though it was released before, because it just got a rerelease on his new EP.