FAT KID WEDNESDAYS "THE ART OF CHERRY"
Co-led by Happy Apple saxophonist Michael Lewis, the former Clown Lounge house band isn't clowning on this appropriately adventurous tribute to jazz trumpeter Don Cherry. 42 voter points
CHRIS KOZA "EXIT PESCE"
Koza is officially the local songwriter to watch after releasing his earnest debut, which has the boyish tenderness of guys like Ron Sexsmith and Mason Jennings. 42 voter points
THE BIRTHDAY SUITS "CHERRY BLUE"
Two former members of the blasting punk band Sweet J.A.P. tear down the garage and rebuild it using raw, sharp materials. 38 voter points
Travis Bos, who also used to front Song of Zarathustra, screams like an out-of-control freight train on this debut. His band matches the sound of that train when it finally derails. Heavy, harrowing stuff. 38 voter points
19. THE HOLD STEADY "SEPARATION SUNDAY"
Only a couple of critics thought this New York-based outfit qualified as a Minnesota band. No one doubted that it's one of the most Minnesota-centric albums of all time. 38 voter points
ROBERT MCCREEDY "IT MIGHT KILL YOU"
A credentialed sideman and ex-Volebeats member, McCreedy lays down a smoky vibe and coolly poetic lyrics akin to recent Chuck Prophet and Joe Henry discs. 34 voter points
SOVIETTES "LP III"
A few more pop harmonies, but mostly the punk queens stick to the same 1-2-3 formula on their third winning album in a row. 34 voter points
BEST LIVE ACTS OF 2005