Bob Dylan 'Nettie Moore' Dylan's new Modern Times went #1 and, in this dollar-downloads world, it's hard to pick any song over the other, but the seven-minute 'Nettie' sums up the album's gist -- 'I'm beginning to believe what the scriptures tell' -- and for basing the barebone verse on a unique take of 'four on the floor.' Lots of air and silence around the gruff voice. People forget how much Bob is doing to replay old blues in newly pertinent ways these recent years. And from a white guy without a goatee!
Deerhoof '81+' Perhaps it's a nod to the Rolling Stones' last great year -- or the life following MTV's inauguration -- but Deerhoof's little EP opener, out just a few days before Christmas, gets the now three-piece of spastic start-and-stop rock, with hilariously trumpets peppering various points and child-like vocals (sample lyrics: 'shopping shoppers,' 'joo joo joo joo, beep beep'), a slot in the best of '06.
Califone 'A Chinese Actor' If Today's Huck Finn made a Wilco tribute band, Califone might be what it'd sound like. Dreamy but crusted, Califone's little folk songs are made by guys a heck of a lot nicer and less self-absorbed than a certain Wilco member, guitars get fuzzy and lots of sounds fill the big space they allow each.
Cat Power 'Willie' Cat used to drink a lot, and the effects of last year's breakdown are still evident from unpredictable shows -- a few months ago I saw her sing 'I'm crazy, I'm crazy' a-cappella as the curtain closed on her at a NYC show -- but 'The Greatest' is her best album. Backed by Al Green's former band, it's less indie rock and more VH-1. A highlight amongst several is 'Willie.'
Yeah Yeah Yeahs 'Cheated Hearts' If Joey Ramone and Chrissie Hynde had a kid it'd be Karen O, lead singer and lead fashion-head of the tri-Ys. Somehow their guitar and drum sounds fuller than the White Stripes (overdubs help), and Karen's sense of Pretty Pinky 80s melodies, like this one, ensures unbashful swaying and head-bops at indie-rock concerts for years to come.
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness 'When You Go Out' Sure the FBO can be hip. The disco beat of ILBICD is forgiveable for the Edge/Robert Smith/Ultravox guitar parlay of this bouncy three-minute single. It'll be forgotten by late 2007, but -- hey -- 2006 was only yesterday.
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