December 9, 2006 


It's hard to believe that another year has just about passed us, and with only a few weeks left in 2006, we're excited to bring you our Year End Recap. This annual list is a compilation of our picks for the notable releases of the year. Many of these reviews will be familiar to you, as some of the descriptions were culled from previous Other Music Updates; however, a few titles which might have been overlooked earlier in the year appear here for the first time. While a couple of the albums featured in this recap may be unavailable right now, we will announce any restocks in future issues of the Update and on our website. We hope that you have as much fun reading this list as we had compiling it.

Next week, we'll be sending out our final Update of the year and, soon after, our annual Staff Top Tens and the list of 2006's best sellers. In the meantime, please visit our Web site's homepage for any notable new release that may arrive before the New Year. Don't forget, we also offer Other Music Gift Certificates on our website. To order one, go to

Have a safe and happy holiday!



ANNUALS"Be He Me" (Ace Fu)
Real Audio: "Dry Clothes"
Annuals' lush indie rock sound blends swirling orchestration -- a la the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin -- with the pumping moodiness of the Arcade Fire, not to mention a little leftfield weirdness. And when you take into account that this is their first album, you can't help but be surprised by their seasoned musicianship. Out of all the baby bands blowing up, Annuals may have the best shot at career longevity. With both originality and accessibility to burn, I can almost guarantee that you will be hearing more from them in 2007.
Buy CD $11.99

ASI MINA "Have All! But Where?" (Mik.Musik.)
RealAudio: "Kiss Me Quick"
On her first solo album, Asi Mina uses many of the key ingredients that K Record stalwarts like Little Wings, Mirah and the Microphones have been toying around with for years: nylon stringed guitars, communal sing-a-longs, kitchen-ware percussion, completely ridiculous lyricism, and a general adherence to things which appear naïve and childlike on their surface. But there's also this transfixing age-old wisdom lurking below her music. Have All! But Where? is really one of the sweeter, more emotional and personal records that we had the pleasure of enjoying this past year.
Buy CD $16.99

ARCTIC MONKEYS "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" (Domino)

RealAudio: "Riot Van"
Despite all of the hype behind the Arctic Monkeys, the band pretty much lived up to all creative expectations. Whether or not that they achieved the same mainstream crossover success in the US as in their native England is irrelevant. The Monkeys' album was a great pop record and a great punk record, brimming with hooks, energy and memorable lyrics. Singer/guitarist Alex Turner has a sharp eye for compelling tales of pub life, street fights, chasing girls and pressure from the outside world -- kind of like a Jarvis Cocker for 19-year-old kids from the wrong side of the tracks.
Buy CD $13.99

BAND OF HORSES "Everything All the Time" (Sub Pop)
RealAudio: "The Funeral"
Band of Horses create beautiful reverb-drenched, country-tinged pop songs that are a perfect combination of the Shins, My Morning Jacket, and Flaming Lips. Produced by Phil Ek, who has worked with Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, and the aforementioned Shins, Everything All the Time instantly vaulted these newcomers into the same league with this indie royalty. Hands down, one of the finest debuts of the year.
Buy CD $13.99

BEIRUT "Gulag Orkestar" (Ba Da Bing)
RealAudio: "Postcards from Italy"
Though they might have been another of those instant-success blog-bands, Beirut stood out from the rest of the pack with their unique style and, more importantly, great songs. Nineteen-year-old multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon filtered his passion for Eastern-bloc folk and Middle-Eastern sounds through Neutral Milk Hotel's shambling indie-pop sound, and the results were often intoxicating.
Buy CD $13.99

BIRD SHOW "Lightning Ghost" (Kranky)
RealAudio: "Field on Water"
Though this home recorded album may draw from many of the same motifs as This Heat's Deceit -- world musics, electronic manipulations, tape collages, discordant vocals -- Bird Show (a/k/a Town and Country's Ben Vida) assembled a record that is nothing like This Heat's classic album. With the absence of almost all proper song structure, Lightning Ghost often goes in many directions all at once. It's a heady set that will certainly appeal to fans of boundary-pushing artists like Animal Collective, Jewelled Antler Collective and even Black Dice, while sounding like none of the aforementioned.
Buy CD $13.99

JAMES BLACKSHAW "O True Believers" (Important)
RealAudio: "O True Believers"
James Blackshaw's 12-string guitar conjures more vivid images than the words of most of today's songwriters. Devoid of almost all effects and only a hint of reverb, the London native delivered an organic and transcendental journey that has more in common with the renaissance-influenced works of Sandy Bull than those of Grandmaster Fahey. With the addition of tambura, harmonium and percussion, O True Believers, at its most effective, achieves a dreamlike, Popol Vuh-esque meditative state.
Buy CD $13.99

BORIS "Pink" (Southern Lord)
RealAudio: "Pink"
How many other bands can sound like a tank racing up Mt. Everest on one album (Absolutego), and then sound like a Japanese Blue Cheer meets Motorhead on another (Akuma No Uta), and then collaborate with Merzbow on a track filled with analog hiss and massive amplifier humming? And then there was Pink. The thing about this record was its cohesive variety and unfaltering energy. The album rewarded the faithful with heaping doses of thick, rumbling balls-out ROCK, and also won over newcomers with its absolutely pure, yet new rock spirit.
Buy CD $13.99

RealAudio: "All We Have Broken Shines"
Brightblack Morning Light's self-titled album was the kind of record that stood up to countless sonic references and actually succeeded in combining them so completely that it seemed simple and off-handed, like people had been making music like this for years. And, in ways, they have: early Royal Trux, Ry Cooder, Can, Opal, the Stones' quieter moments on Beggars Banquet. This was the kind of record that had been threatening to drop for years, but it took Brightblack to find the right threads and tie them together.
Buy CD $13.99

CALIFONE "Roots & Crowns" (Thrill Jockey)
RealAudio: "Pink & Sour"
After the somnambulant sprawl of King Heron Blues, we wondered where Califone might go next. Plunge into the shadow world entirely, drop off the edge of song-form into dark jams full-on? The story goes that what saved the day and turned the band back towards writing songs was hearing Psychic TV's "The Orchids." Califone covers it here, the centerpiece of their most accessible and most-layered album yet. While there are contingents out there who think that folk music and its acoustic instrumentation must be replicated to a tee, Califone embody the form while embracing samplers and digital loops, making what we would consider true Americana, the past and the future crunching together.
Buy CD $14.99

NEKO CASE "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" (Anti)
RealAudio: "A Widow's Toast"
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood would prove to be Neko Case's finest album to date. Sidestepping the usual country music tropes in favor of lyrical content that was more oblique and more intellectually engaging than your standard alt-country fare, her high lonesome voice had never sounded better. And her band killed; she had wonderful music support from Calexico, Sadies, Howe Gelb, Kelly Hogan, and Garth Hudson of THE BAND!
Buy CD $15.99

DESTROYER "Destroyer's Rubies" (Merge)
Real Audio: "European Oils"
Dan Bejar has always approached each Destroyer album without the typical preconceptions of what exactly Destroyer should be, and as such, you can never be 100% sure of what you'll be getting. Destroyer's Rubies brought together the best of all his experiments, rooted in his base as a singer-songwriter, while incorporating groove and power and swagger and restraint. A distinctly Canadian pop record that is nearly irresistible.
Buy CD $13.99

GRIZZLY BEAR "Yellow House" (Warp)
Real Audio: "Easier"
Soon after releasing their excellent, home-taper's masterpiece, Horn of Plenty, the duo of Edward Droste and Christopher Bear added two new members, thereby converting their bedroom project into a proper band. Now, two years and countless shows later, comes Yellow House, Grizzly Bear's first attempt at capturing their live sound as a quartet. The band's evolution between the two records is remarkable. Start with Animal Collective's Feels, add to it a broad acoustic dynamic that evokes someone like Van Dyke Parks' earliest works, and also some of the sonic subterfuge that This Heat was capable of (think of their slower, more dour moments), the results are thrilling.
Buy CD $14.99

THE HOLD STEADY "Boys & Girls in America" (Vagrant)
Real Audio: "Chips Ahoy!"
Easily one of the best rock albums this year, Boys and Girls in America tells pathetic tales of alcoholic aimlessness in the Midwestern malls of singer Craig Finn's youth. The record could have been weighed down by its classic rock/bar band clichés or Finn's characters' lack of redeeming qualities, but instead we got a triumphant, thrilling album that has way more fun than most indie bands would even allow.
Buy CD $14.99

HOWLIN RAIN "s/t" (Birdman)
Real Audio: "In Sand and Dirt"
Featuring Ethan Miller of Comets on Fire and John Moloney of Sunburned Hand of the Man, Howlin Rain draw heavily on a much-vilified era of American rock, circa 1969-1974. The group reeks of early Grateful Dead, Allman Bros, CCR and Crazy Horse, with Miller howling and lamenting his way through the album like Rod Stewart possessed. The totally overdriven guitar solos may distinguish Howlin Rain from their early-'70s counterparts, but they are a joyous celebration of classic rock music, as life affirming and unabashed as they come.
Buy CD $13.99

BERT JANSCH "The Black Swan" (Drag City)
Real Audio: "The Black Swan"
The Black Swan was trademark Bert Jansch -- brooding, rootsy, and smart with his trademark weighty guitar playing and round, gauzy vocal style. And even though it featured a who's who of the contemporary "freak folk" scene, as well as Beth Orton, nobody stole the show from the man himself. Next to Jackson C. Frank, no other folkie has mined the personal and made it universal quite like Jansch.
Buy CD $13.99

JESU "Silver" (Hydra Head)
Intensely emotive and viscerally powerful, Jesu's Silver improved upon the funeral march of the debut, and in the process increased the impact of the material. Imagine Codeine's cascading slowcore riffage pushed through the filter of post-Loveless shoegaze and bolstered with suitably thick processing and effects, and you have the most forceful and direct work Justin Broadrick's authored since Streetcleaner.
Buy CD $11.99

LAVENDER DIAMOND "Cavalry of Light" (LDR)
Real Audio: "You Broke My Heart"
The premise was simple: have the lovely voice of singer Becky Starck repeat the mantra "you broke my heart" for a full two-thirds of a song over a steadily rising battery of bells, piano, and acoustic guitars, and then have it break into a glorious crescendo followed by an emotionally engaging text about things like light and love. It was about 10 times better than we could've ever hoped and it practically restored our faith in the power of the single. The other three tunes were quite lovely as well, and made us very glad to be living in a Vashti Bunyan-influenced era.
CD-EP is unavailable at this time

LOVE IS ALL "Nine Times That Same Song" (What's Your Rupture?)
Real Audio: "Used Goods"
Following a slew of seven-inch singles, Sweden's Love Is All finally delivered their long-awaited album. Nine Times That Same Song was a lo-fi barrage of chaotic, yet instantly catchy guitars, funky bass and drums, and female yelps, with occasional bursts of sax and organ. All the urgency of your favorite riot grrrl band, the swagger of Blondie, and the perfect pop of those early Creation bands. Predictably, they went on to become huge.
Buy CDx2 $12.99

MAHOGANY "Connectivity!" (Darla)
Real Audio: "Tesselation, Formerly Plateau One"
Back in October, Mahogany stepped out with Connectivity!, their second proper full-length in five years' time. The album buzzes with strings, electronic pulses and crystalline guitar lines, and is leavened by clear, angelic boy-girl vocals. The Brooklyn octet's bracing, chilly, dream-pop is ethereal, motorik, and densely rhythmic. It's not surprising that Cocteau Twins Robin Guthrie would turn out to be a fan, and he even contributes a few remixes and re-recordings on the second disc. Could be a contender for pop record of the year.
Buy CDx2 $14.99

JOANNA NEWSOM "Ys" (Drag City)
Real Audio: "Emily"
We all read the tale of the tape: 5 songs, 55 minutes, each suite between 7 and 17 minutes, as well as the A-list of folks involved (Jim O'Rourke, Steve Albini, Van Dyke Parks). Even such names and numbers couldn't prepare us for the truly unique listening experience that was Ys. It's beyond what most everyday indie pop music listening entails and far beyond anyone's expectations. Newsom's harp remains at the center, with Parks swirling orchestration and dashes of Americana around her, but the songs themselves are immense in range and scope. No cursory listen even begins to unlock its manifold nuances and tics.
Buy CD $13.99

OM "Conference of the Birds" (Holy Mountain)
Real Audio: "At Giza"
"At Giza," the first of the album's two 15-plus minute tracks, is deeply rooted in psychedelia (and for some reason Voivod covering "Astronomy Domine" comes to mind) as opposed to the sludgy doom metal that Al Cisneros and Chris Haikus (both ex-Sleep) have come to be associated with. All in all, not your average stoner fare but instead some of the most intense minimal psychedelia we've heard in a long, long while.
Buy CD $14.99

PETER, BJORN & JOHN "Writer's Block" (Witchita)
Real Audio: "Young Folks"
This year, the Swedish pop revolution continued in full force with Peter, Bjorn and John leading the way. Writer's Block is a stylistically diverse record, not necessarily cohesive but all the better for it. The common denominator is classic indie pop, and we hear lots of influences, from the Soft Boys to Galaxie 500, but there are also traces of R&B, '60s, power pop and, of course, a little Velvet Underground. The more we listened (to the smash hit single "Young Folks" in particular), the more it didn't get old.
Buy CD $24.99

SONIC YOUTH "Rather Ripped" (Geffen)
Real Audio: "Reena"
Rather Ripped was the most straightforward Sonic Youth album since Goo. These 12 songs contained some of the band's most memorable material since the dreamscapes of A Thousand Leaves, but with the overall length cut down in half. Impeccably accomplished avant-pop frameworks that injected reminders into everyone's skulls of exactly why and how they got into Sonic Youth in the first place.
Buy CD $13.99

TAPE 'N TAPES "The Loon" (Ibid)
Real Audio: "Insistor"
Tapes 'n Tapes debut album is brimming with Pavement, Captain Beefheart, and Pixies influences, but the songs are so good that they aren't overshadowed by the obvious touchstones. The group has mastered the art of dynamics and the art of restraint, and both qualities abound in their simple, hooky tunes. Try as you might to poke holes in their obvious formula, it's undeniably a winning one.
Buy CD $12.99

TV ON THE RADIO "Return to Cookie Mountain" (4AD)
Real Audio: "I Was a Lover"
Return to Cookie Mountain is an immediately recognizable collection of what's become TV on the Radio's trademark sound (dual vocal interplay, shoegaze-inspired walls of guitar and the ability to turn a melody into a frenzy in five minutes), and more in line with their debut full-length as opposed to their first EP. Influences from Peter Gabriel, classic soul and doo-wop are still in the mix, along with some nice studio tricks and tribal percussion. Effortlessly solid.
Buy CD $11.99

VETIVER "To Find Me Gone" (DiCristina)
Real Audio: "I Know No Pardon"
To Find Me Gone is a luscious paean to string instruments and broken hearts, to the road, and to time too. Where the guitar and string arrangements on Vetiver's debut often felt tense and baroque, To Find Me Gone is free to wander. No '70s influence is left unturned -- the Velvet's infectious minimalism, the earthiness of the Band, the poignancy and playfulness of a Harry Nilsson. It's all there.
Buy CD $13.99

VOXTROT "Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives" (Cult Hero)
Real Audio: "Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives"
Voxtrot are primed for a world takeover, or at least a Fader cover story. With only one previous EP to their name, the Austin, TX pop band have managed to become one of the most blogged about and debate-inspiring success stories of the year. And when you can pen jangle-crazed, reverb-drenched X-chromosome rave-ups like these, you just let them all talk, and turn it up.
Buy CD-EP $7.99

SCOTT WALKER "The Drift" (4AD)
Real Audio: "Cossacks Are"
Scott Walker continued to challenge himself, and the listener, with his sonic and lyrical explorations. The Drift is a stunning epic, filled with swirls of electronics, vibrating strings, pounding percussion, and of course, that voice…the music surges and then disappears with a seeming randomness that only slowly reveals its logic. Despite the pain that The Drift wallows in, it's hard not to be inspired by the joy of the creative process.
Buy CD $14.99

TK WEBB "Phantom Parade" (Social Registry)
Real Audio: "The Spade"
Only a chump could like a Williamsburg, Brooklyn white-boy blues album circa 2006, right? Amazingly, this turns out to be dead wrong, and TK Webb's excellent album on The Social Registry is the proof. With a deep, swampy mid-'70s vibe, Phantom Parade draws on the likes of Dylan, Neil Young, and the Stones, with a batch of strong songs and a stronger sense of mood. Webb's tunes are built around his insidious, hypnotic guitar playing, lazy and loose and full of dissonance and melody. Add to this his raw, emotive late-night rasp and you have a surprisingly winning combination.
Buy CD $14.99

WHITE FLIGHT "s/t" (Range Life)
Real Audio: "Pastora Divine"
An ambitiously dense sonic song-collage that bears comparison to a group of artists as diverse as Animal Collective, TV on the Radio, Little Wings, and even Outkast (!), without really sounding like any of them. Like those artists, the experimentation is generally in service to the song, with layers of horns, old ethnic 78rpm samples, and outdoor field recordings making a frame for the introduction of cyclical beats and multi-tracked vocals.
Buy CD $11.99

WHITE MAGIC "Dat Rosa Mel Apibus" (Drag City)
Real Audio: "The Light"
If you've come into the store even semi-regularly over the past few months, you're sure to have caught us listening to White Magic's momentous debut album on the store stereo -- again and again. At times, Dat Rosa Mel Apibus trances out like an old Alice Coltrane record, while elsewhere the group delves into sea chanties and even a touch of reggae. Throughout, exotic percussion, stand-up bass, and sitar meld with Mira Billotte's piano playing, submerging the listener into a weird, suspended state.
Buy CD $13.99

THOM YORKE "The Eraser" (XL)
Real Audio: "The Eraser"
Though not a giant leap, Thom Yorke, the voice of Radiohead, took a forward step, and what was surprising here was the crisp, clean electronic backing that he surrounded himself with. The Eraser is a perfect representation of the current state of Euro-soul/electronica -- think Massive Attack, Erlend Oye, or the Morr Music label -- filled with light click-and-pop rhythms, synth washes, and only the subtlest traces of guitar.
Buy CD $14.99



ELLEN ALLIEN & APPARAT "Orchestra of Bubbles" (Bpitch)
Orchestra of Bubbles found Apparat's experimental pop sensibilities meshing perfectly with Ellen Allien's buzzing hive of ARP synthesis and monolithically chilly soundscapes. The front six tracks swell with summery electro hooks and propulsive rhythms, and successfully pull traditional instruments into the spheres of digital disco. As for the back half, Apparat approaches traditional pop, a la the Pet Shop Boys in the glorious "Leave Me Alone."
Buy CD $14.99

BIBIO "Hand Cranked" (Mush)
Real Audio: "Cherry Go Round"
Stephen Wilkinson's second album, Hand Cranked, picked up right where he left us with 2005's fi, but the serene melodies would turn out to be ever more direct and buoyant. A singer even appears during the brief "Abberwi," his halcyon voice beautifully bleared alongside the warbled guitar. As much as the word "psychedelic" is thrown around these days, it really is the perfect descriptor to Bibio's music. Not in the traditional sense per se, but Wilkinson blurs his songs with spacey, Technicolor production and the results are both organic and otherworldly.
Buy CD $14.99

BIOSPHERE "Dropsonde" (Touch)
Real Audio: "Birds Fly By Flapping Their Wings"
On Dropsonde, Geir Jenssen incorporated modal jazz structures into his minimal yet rich arrangements with amazing results. The loops build, shift, swirl, and then fade away, reminding us of Harold Budd, Cluster, and Jan Jelinek's work with Triosk. Crisp and stark, this is mood music for winter nights.
Buy CD $14.99

BURIAL "s/t" (Hyper Dub)

Though this gets our pick for top dubstep album of the year, Burial's debut existed on the fringe of the scene. There are hints of Massive Attack and the crackling dub of Pole, but this is a lot more dark and haunting. Muffled, rumbling bass, digital glitch, and pirate radio static dominates Burial's South London sound world, but underneath it all is a crisp and seductive pop sensibility.
Buy CD $16.99

CASSY "Panorama Bar 01" (Ostgutton)

Real Audio: "Sides of Space"
Cassy delivered the best minimal house mix of 2006 with this first installment of the Panorama Bar series. Classics like Dan Bell and Baby Ford share the stage with Villalobos, Monojunk, Mika Vainio, Rick Wade, and many more, and it's a deep and sometimes dark set for both mind and body. Truly killer.
Buy CD $15.99

FLYING LOTUS "1983" (Plug Research)
Real Audio: "Orbit Brazil"
Tapping into the same musical vein of influences as J Dilla (electrofunk, '90s boom-bap, Brazilian soul & jazz fusion), Flying Lotus injects an icily melodic quality to most of the tracks, a la Prefuse 73. But Lotus' production isn't as regimented and cut-up; he uses a minimalist approach that gives the music more space and lucidity. All of us fiending for some of that Slum Village Trinity-esque electro funk thump got exactly what we asked for, as these are some of the flyest beats that we've heard all year.
Buy CD $11.99

HERBERT "Scale" (Accidental)
Real Audio: "Harmonise"
On Scale, Matthew Herbert expanded his palette with the heavy influence of sunny Broadway show tunes and soundtrack scores, and the record also marked a welcome return to poppier song arrangements reminiscent of Bodily Functions. But this was not only Herbert's most accessible offering in several years, it was also his most detailed.
Buy CD $16.99

RYOJI IKEDA "dataplex" (Raster-Noton)
Real Audio: "data.reflex"
Ryoji Ikeda's dataplex surprisingly found the producer delving into some extremely musical territory. The middle part of the disc plays like a dance record, with equal parts minimal glitch, breakneck ragga, and sub-bass funk. But it then slows down and morphs into an oncoming avalanche of sound, and eventually settles back into its initial data patterns for the last five minutes. With Ikeda on the 0's and 1's, mathematics has never sounded so intriguing.
Buy CD $14.99

MARSEN JULES "Les Fleurs" (City Center)
Real Audio: "Coeur Saigant"
Les Fleurs was a slight departure from Herbstlaub, and one in which Marsen Jules swapped out some of the orchestral elements of the predecessor with sampled acoustic guitar and plucked harp. But it's every bit as stunning as his debut, and it is a must have record for those who have placed Wolfgang Voigt's Gas albums on a pedestal, or for anyone who waits with baited breath for each new Type Records release. Ambient album of the year? Quite possibly.
Buy CD $14.99

JUNIOR BOYS "So This Is Goodbye" (Domino)
Real Audio: "In the Morning"
Junior Boys' So This Is Goodbye contains some of the best pop songs that we've heard all year. Gone are the stuttering and distorted electronics that characterized their first album, Last Exit, now replaced by crystalline rhythms and spacious arrangements perfect for Jeremy's Greenspan's subtle vocal melodies. It proved to be the perfect step forward, with beautifully melancholic tracks like "In the Morning" getting lodged in our heads for days. Forget about the rest of the dance-rock and electro-pop hybrids that came out this year and get yourself into this.
Buy CD $13.99

Real Audio: "Cornered"
With his solo debut Be Still, Adrian Klumpes (Triosk) went it completely alone with an album composed entirely of prepared piano. The record is classically influenced, but he chops, splices and layers the notes on top of each other to stunning effect. A must have for any fans of Goldmund, Johan Johannsson, Max Richter, and the entire Type family.
Buy CD $14.99

THE KNIFE "Silent Shout" (Mute)
Real Audio: "Neverland"
Finally available domestically, the heavily processed boy-girl voices on the Knife's Silent Shout mixes with throbs and thuds to delirious effect. The album is poppy, but it's distended and contorted by banks of digital effects that verge on the psychedelic and vertiginous. Lest you get too dizzy, there's a massive dancefloor foundation to it to keep it all grounded. "We Share Our Mother's Health" pongs between the tundra and the funhouse, chilly but with a hot and claustrophobic atmosphere as well.
Buy CD $14.99

LINDSTROM "It's a Feedelity Affair" (Smalltown Supersound)
Real Audio: "Cane It for the Original Whities"
Taking cues from bass culture, high-gloss early '80s disco, Loft-borne experimentation, and a lush, freakified, maximal sense of arrangement, these collected 12-inches from Lindstrom ascend the walls with insane, rampant glee. Imagine Moroder collaborating with Zapp and inviting along a singing saw player, or Heaven 17 going to Jamaica to sequence on gold-plated computers. Actually, It's a Feedelity Affair comes across as less cheesed-out and more sincere than the Lindstrom & Prins Thomas record, and forces even the snob's hand at resistance to shaking it on the dance floor.
Buy CD $15.99

MICHAEL MAYER "Immer 2" (Kompakt)
Real Audio: "18 Years"
Those who expected a carbon copy of the first Immer CD might have been somewhat disappointed. But anyone who checked their expectations in at the door and simply trusted Mayer's well-developed taste probably found themselves very satisfied. The tracks on Immer 2 aren't as 'edgy' as the ones on the previous mix but Mayer's touch is all over this just the same -- imagine a Speicher mix with no trance, more depth, feel AND range.
Buy CD $14.99

MIKKEL METAL "Victimizer" (Kompakt)
Real Audio: "Dorant"
Mikkel Metal's mastery of the songwriting craft easily transfers over to the technology that brings it across, making for an unerring electronic pop stare that wouldn't be out of place with either Rhythm & Sound dubplates, or Depeche Mode's more introspective moments. The break-in "Lurlun" captured this perfectly, a pendulum swing between Harry Bertoia's sound sculptures and John Carpenter's menacing synth score simplicity. Mikkel Metal got to have it both ways on this stunning debut, a downtempo sigh of an album perfect for quiet times alone.
Buy CD $14.99

MOUNTAINS "Sewn" (Apestaartje)
Real Audio: "Sewn One"
Sewn, like Mountains' previous self-titled album, is full of slow-building, shifting textures of sound crafted from rich field recordings, acoustic instrumentation and electronics. Finger-picked guitar of noticeable power and melodic complexity takes turns under the spotlight with subtle layers of electronics and natural, organic sounds that move with quiet intent. One of 2006's most stellar electro-acoustic recordings.
Buy CD $12.99

KELLEY POLAR "Love Songs of the Hanging Gardens" (Environ)
Real Audio: "Black Hole"
Metro Area's secret weapon, the classically-trained Kelley Polar finally stepped out with his first full-length release, an opulent and richly textured piece of work. While your first reaction to having a string player make dance tracks is to lump him together with Arthur Russell, Polar's work hangs in a slightly different way. He focuses on sleek, aerodynamic surfaces and humming rhythms that swirl together with his violin to make like a lost disco track vertiginous with strings. A rare dance-not-dance record that worked both in headphones and on the discerning dancefloor.
Buy CD $15.99

RUB N TUG "Fabric 30" (Fabric)
An all-encompassing mix by New York-based DJ duo Rub n Tug, which has its feet firmly planted in electro but ventures into a multitude of other genres, including rock and disco. The tracklisting features Royksopp, Slok, Ame, Gary Martin, and remixes by Black Strobe and Ewan Pearson, and is guaranteed to keep the party going way beyond 4 A.M.
Buy CD $16.99

TRENTEMOLLER "The Last Resort" (Poker Flat)
Real Audio: "Vamp"
Using a smart mix of programming and live instrumentation, Trentemoller's anticipated Last Resort incorporates a multitude of electronic genres: ambient, techno, and minimal house. The bleeding and blending of the tracks on the CD is subtle and superb, and it gets you jacked right before pulling the rug out from underneath, yet cushions the blow with a Basic Channel-type dub track. More than a few of us here at OM swore by this album, and will still swear by it well into 2007.
Buy CD $15.99

TRIOSK "The Headlight Serenade" (Leaf)
Real Audio: "Visions IV"
The Headlight Serenade is a wealth of stark, shimmering, pastoral landscapes. Triosk's jazzier moments are downplayed here for an almost classical treatment, using piano to great effect, as well as Rhodes, electric and acoustic bass, drums, vibes, and samplers in the process. Think deconstructed Can or This Heat, Steve Reich, the Necks, Rachel's and, of course, Jan Jelinek. If you're looking for an expansive, engaging and easily enjoyable journey in minimalism, this is where it's at.
Buy CD $14.99

[V.A.] "Confuzed Disco" (Irma Casa Di Primord)
Real Audio: "Funky Is On"
Confuzed Disco is a great compilation of tracks from the legendary Italian label, one of the more interesting European imprints of the late-'70s and early-'80s. The most intriguing thing about these productions is that they weren't really inspired by "disco music" per se. Bologna is a large university town so the tunes that Italian released were inspired by what most of the cutting edge college kids were into during the time: post-punk, reggae, hip-hop, jazz-funk and new wave. The label's musical philosophy was closer to New York's Ze and 99 Records, than Casablanca. The CD also contains some remixes and re-edits by Morgan Geist, Munk, Lindstrom and others, who owe more than a little debt to the innovative producers and artists on this label.
Unavailable at this time

[V.A.] "Hacienda Classics" (EMI)
Real Audio: "Voodoo Ray"
The story of the Hacienda has been written and filmed a million times before but the music contained therein had never been compiled quite like this. Over three discs, Peter Hook mixes early-house and acid house cornerstones (Joe Smooth, 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald) with Manchester staples (Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, New Order) and electro classics (Shannon, Al Naayfish). File under religious.
Buy CD $23.99

VILLALOBOS "Fizheuer Zieheuer" (Playhouse)
Real Audio: "Fizbeast"
While it might stated every time, Ricardo Villalobos really outdid himself here. Built around an odd bit of Balkan horns that would be daunting and discordant to most producers out there (not to mention DJs), Villalobos offers up so many permutations and new juxtapositions on this fanfare theme, whipping up new patterns on the fly, each one knottier and more dubbed out than the preceding one.
Buy CD $16.99





SIBYLLE BAIER "Colour Green" (Orange Twin)
Real Audio: "Says Elliott"
Generally, we find it distasteful to bandy about comparisons to the likes of Vashti Bunyan or Nick Drake because you're almost inevitably setting the consumer and listener up for, at the very least, slight disappointment. However, if any album we've reviewed over the last five years deserved to rest in such rarified company, then Sibylle Baier's was surely the one. Filled with day to day observation and experience, these compact little gems are utterly timeless and instantly familiar. If the liner notes hadn't revealed that they were recorded between 1970 and '73, one could've easily been tricked into believing they were made last week. Timeless beauty.
Buy CD $14.99

ROBBIE BASHO "Venus in Cancer" (Tompkins Square)
Real Audio: "Venus in Cancer"
Venus in Cancer is "World Music," in the best possible meaning of the term. Raging gut-punching raga drones rub up against intricate Celtic folk melodies and howled operatic paeans, arctic tomes, and spiced Middle Eastern flourishes too; the album is bursting at the seams with inspired leftfield ideas, and ridiculously affecting playing. In the year of too many solo guitar records, this 1969 masterpiece shone like a beacon.
Buy CD $14.99

KAREN DALTON "It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best" (Megaphone)
Real Audio: "Little Bit of Rain"
KAREN DALTON "In My Own Time" (Light in the Attic)
Real Audio: "Katie Cruel"
Karen Dalton's It's So Hard to Tell is, and will always be, one of the most cherished collections of tunes to ever have been put to tape. It is timeless, universal music. Dark and bitter enough to satisfy fans of Tom Waits or Beth Gibbons, rootsy and folky enough for fans of Fred Neil or The Band, so mellow, blue and stoner-paced it's like a slacker's indie-rock wet dream, and yet at times, it's so brazen it could be a jazz record too. This reissue was pure charity work. Now as far as its follow-up goes, the official line about In My Own Time not being as solid as Dalton's debut has been changing. In the liners, Nick Cave says it's actually better than It's So Hard…, and over the last couple of years we've found ourselves returning to it again and again, as it just seems to get richer with each listen. For one, it's the only studio album she ever cut, recorded at Bearsville studios in Woodstock where the Band spent a lot of their time. The vibe they patented shows up here in spades, with Dalton even doing a brilliant version of Band member Richard Manuel's song "In a Station." We think you need both of these in your life.
Buy CD $21.99 - "It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going to Love You..."
Buy CD $13.99 - "In My Own Time"

DEAD MOON "Echoes of the Past" (Sub Pop)
Real Audio: "Poor Born"
Fred Cole's songs makes you want to run away from home, punch your boss, wreck your car, or simply live your life without compromise. This is simple-minded raw rock and roll, not groundbreaking or new, but far from "retro" or "classic," just honest, original and fierce. This Sub Pop collection, with 49 tracks selected by Cole spanning the band's career, is holy grail type stuff.
Buy CDx2 $15.99

Real Audio: "Laurel Canyon"
Maaaan, we played the heck outta Jackie DeShannon this past year. From the Jack Nitzsche-produced "Needles and Pins" to her track on the Folk Rock and Faithful compilation, she had us all spellbound with that raspy yet golden voice. Best of all though, was the feel-good Laurel Canyon, which basically sounds like DeShannon fronting the Band. Yep, that good.
Buy CD $16.99

DELTA 5 "Singles & Sessions 1979 to 1981" (Kill Rock Stars)
Real Audio: "Mind Your Own Business"
This KRS reissue compiled Delta 5's three Rough Trade singles (all major post-punk cornerstones), seven Peel session tracks, and three songs from a 1980 US radio show, which is ultimately all you need to own. This collection of short, sharp bursts of throbbing double bass, mutated dance beats, and highly personalized lyrics is a must-own for anyone who enjoyed the Kleenex and Essential Logic reissues, and those even mildly interested in post-punk, the history of pop music, and leftfield disco.
Buy CD $13.99

BRIAN ENO & DAVID BYRNE "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" (Nonesuch)
Real Audio: "Regiment"
This early-'80s classic of sample-heavy East-meets-West electro funk finally came back in print. Imagined as a fake documentary of a foreign culture, creating their own 'forged' tribal music, Eno and Byrne got to work out ideas aside from those that emerged on the Heads' Remain in Light. Eno's own work had abandoned vocals altogether by this point, so it's intriguing to hear their approach of using found vocals of religious zealots, talk radio evangelists, and whatnot, chopping them up and putting them back into a stew stirred by contributions from Bill Laswell, Chris Frantz, and others.
Buy CD $17.99

FRIENDS "Fragile" (Acme Gramophone)
Real Audio: "A Tale of Your Life"
The pop sensibility at play here is just too direct and charmingly infectious. It's like a less kitschy Free Design, or a Schoolhouse Rock song with an ambiguous moral authority. Peter Howell had been with the legendary BBC Radiophonic workshop since the mid-'70s, so we're assuming it is he that was responsible for the intriguing sonic palette that characterized Fragile, which manages to be both completely stripped down and lo-fi, yet weirdly expansive at the same time. This is the best pop reissue we've heard since the Action's Rolled Gold or the Millennium releases.
Buy CD $15.99

NICK GARRIE "The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas" (Rev-Ola)
Real Audio: "Can I Stay with You"
One of the finest psychedelic pop reissues of the year, Nick Garrie's The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas is a gorgeous and massively orchestrated late-'60s classic. Similar in its brilliance and sound to albums by Billy Nicholls and Duncan Browne, this was the cream of the seemingly endless crop of records Rev-Ola unearthed in 2006.
Buy CD $16.99

GLAXO BABIES "Dreams Interrupted" (Cherry Red)
Real Audio: "This Is Your Life"
Dreams Interrupted compiles 20 tracks from Glaxo Babies' two Heartbeat albums, 12-inches and singles (including both sides of the "Christine Keeler" seven-inch, perhaps their finest moment), and showcases the group's evolution from dissonant political punks to a more mature outfit, experimenting with funk, dub, and free jazz. All in all, a comprehensive collection documenting a band that were the forerunners of a scene that spawned other post-punk mainstays, including the Pop Group, Maximum Joy, and Rip, Rig & Panic.
Buy CD $17.99

HERMINE "The World on My Plates" (LTM)
Real Audio: "Happy Holidays"
Sounding like a French Nico, the music on Hermine's The World on My Plates begins with spare piano and horn balladry but it soon moves into complete Flying Lizards' everything-including-the-kitchen-sink madness. This stuff should definitely appeal to those who like the more playfully experimental side of late-'70s/early-'80s avant pop/rock, such as Family Fodder and the Homosexuals' side projects, and to those with a generally curious ear.
Buy CD $17.99

HONEYBUS "She Flies Like a Bird: the Honeybus Anthology" (Castle)
Real Audio: "Throw My Love Away"
Positively massive 2-CD set compiling the many treasures of Honeybus. Originally written off by many as a run of the mill sunshine pop band, this compilation is a testament to the versatility of the band, serving up baroque pop masterpieces, Ram-era McCartney style rockers, and a few sunny delicacies with equal ease. One of the best British pop combos of the late-'60s/early-'70s.
Buy CDx2 $26.99

HARUOMI HOSONO "Cochin Moon" (Avex 10 Import)
Real Audio: "Hum Ghar Sajan"
The world inside this record proves to be very special. It reminds us of Hosono's own Yellow Magic Orchestra, or Ryuichi Sakamoto's own dance-friendly exoticisma (yes, Sakamoto plays on the album) but it certainly also has got some unwitting ties to some of what Black Dice have accomplished over the last few years. Cochin Moon rattled the brains of every single person we played it for.
Buy CD $28.99

IKE YARD "1980-1982 Collected" (Acute)
Real Audio: "Night After Night"
It had been impossible to get hold of pretty much any Ike Yard material (spare the odd compilation track here and there) up until Acute's reissue. For many of us, this was the most interesting band of the no wave/NYC downtown scene. It's all here, the influence of German new wave, the throbbing electro pulse, and dubby Kraut-like passages, making for music that is wholly original and mindblowing. Now there's a rarity for you.
Buy CD $13.99

JOSEF K "Entomology" (Domino)
Real Audio: "Sorry for Laughing"
A nicely assembled compilation that documents the short-lived recording career of Scottish quartet Josef K, Entomology serves up 22 tracks in chronological sequence of one of the greatest, most consistent artists of the now salivatory post-punk era. Up there with Orange Juice and Fire Engines as the holy grail of Scottish pop, and essential listening for anyone claiming to be a fan of punk, post- or otherwise.
Buy CD $14.99

SACHIKO KANENOBU "Misora" (Chapter Music)
Real Audio: "Misora Track 2"
Unlike assumed Japanese folk stereotypes of the period, such as protest songs or pathetic male confessions from a tatami mat, Sachiko sounds crystalline and soothing when she sings about the sky, birds, etc., and occasionally seems to evoke some unknown force larger than herself. The similarity between her vocal style and Joni Mitchell's has often been pointed out, but it may also be palpable in the album's seemingly straightforwardness with an urbane sensibility. One of 2006's major reissue discoveries, Misora defies the too simple 'folk' categorization.
Buy CD $13.99

TERRY MANNING "Home Sweet Home" (Sunbeam)
Real Audio: "Savoy Truffle"
Terry Manning's Home Sweet Home is heavy, stewy rock & roll gumbo that predates both glam and punk in one fell swoop. Paying nods to Johnny Cash, the Yardbirds, the Music Machine, Booker T. and the MG's, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Fab Four (including a massive, 10-minute version of "Savoy Truffle," featuring synth played by Bob Moog himself), everything about Home Sweet Home wallops on you like a sack of doorknobs, from Manning's whiskey-marinated growl to the hard stereo panning that graces every song here. Oh yeah, it also marked the recording debut of some guy named Chris Bell...
Buy CD $15.99

VINCE MARTIN "If the Jasmine Don't Get You...The Bay Breeze Will"
Real Audio: "Snow Shadows"
Fred Neil collaborator and Greenwich Village legend Vince Martin's If the Jasmine album sounds off-the-cuff and was knocked out over the course of a few hours by members of Dylan's Blonde on Blonde band, no less. "Summerwind" levels all the love songs of the period and is still remarkably fresh today. Depravity and indignation are themes that seem to resurface, where Martin's tenor voice even sings,"…my shadow has gone lame." But make no mistake, this album is warm and sunny and may be responsible for ushering in "marina rock." Unbutton your shirt and take off your shoes.
Buy CD $16.99

MONOTON "Monotonprodukt 07 20y++" (Oral)
Real Audio: "Dancing&Singing"
MONOTON "Blau: Monotonprodukt 02 26y++" (Oral)
Real Audio: "Ein Wort"
One of Krautrock's unheralded cornerstones (never mind that the composer is Austrian), Konrad Becker's Monotonprodukt 07 throbs with Suicide-esque urgency but is more expansive and drifting. At other times, it reminds us of La Dusseldorf on a Basic Channel kick. Much more than just another obscure synth record, this is way ahead of its time and groundbreaking to the last drop. Monoton's Blau is the more melodic album of the two; its scope of ominous and pleasantly eerie atmosphere is beautifully done, the full range of the analog sounds controlled with masterful restraint.
Buy CD $16.99 - "Monotonprodukt 07"
Buy CD $16.99 - "Blau: Monotonprodukt"

GRAM PARSONS "The Complete Reprise Sessions" (Rhino)
Real Audio: "Sin City"
Some truly seminal recordings here, as Gram Parson was given the proper reissue treatment by Rhino. The Complete Reprise Sessions includes G.P. and Grievous Angel, and a third disc of unreleased outtakes as well as a 50-page booklet. From the wonderful duets with Emmylou Harris to spine-chilling, sublime ballads, this package showcases a man who truly changed the face of country music.
Buy CDx3 $34.99

JOHN PHILLIPS "John, the Wolfking of L.A." (Varese)
Real Audio: "April Anne"
One of the truly great records of the late 1960s, John, the Wolfking of L.A. was the only solo album John Phillips released before his death in 2001. It's clear from these songs that John was one of the greatest American songwriters of his generation, rivaling even Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Wolfking is easily his masterpiece; nothing else he did comes anywhere close to this utterly essential album.
Buy CD $14.99

ARTHUR RUSSELL"First Thought Best Thought" (Audika)
Real Audio: "Tower of Meaning, Track One"
Another brilliant piece of the Arthur Russell puzzle courtesy of Audika. You've heard Russell's music for dance clubs and for the Lower East Side, now hear his music for theater and small ensembles. Stringed instruments caress, pull, merge, and build into a fragile sandcastle of sound that's able to disappear at the slightest puff of wind. Stark but never cold, warm and rich much like his contemporaries of the time (e.g. Cage, Eno, and Chatham,) yet with a certain sense of wonder that none of them tapped into. Minimal beauty never shone so brightly.
Buy CD $21.99

BRIDGET ST. JOHN "Ask Me No Questions" (Cherry Red)
Real Audio: "Many Happy Returns"
BRIDGET ST. JOHN "Songs for the Gentle Man" (Cherry Red)
Real Audio: "If You'd Been There"
BRIDGET ST. JOHN "Thank You For..." (Cherry Red)
Real Audio: "Fly High"
BRIDGET ST. JOHN "Jumblequeen" (Hux)
Real Audio: "Curious and Woolly"
These long out-of-print albums by Bridget St. John rank right up there with Sandy Denny's and Nick Drake's best work, not to mention Vashti Bunyan's seminal Just Another Diamond Day. St. John's debut, Ask Me No Questions, from 1969 was recorded in only 10 hours, yet her beautifully understated guitar playing is perfect for the gentle spirit of these tracks. Her deep voice is reminiscent of Nico's, though Bridget's songs are much more reflective than dark, with detailed images of nature and cityscapes shaping her daydream stories. Songs for the Gentle Man, released in 1971, makes a lot more use of backing musicians and the recording studio. She sounds more confident, the tasteful orchestration adding a whole new dimension to her husky voice and lovely finger-picked guitar work. Thank You For… finds Bridget entering into the folk-rock world. More optimistic in tone than her previous two records, the album features prominent back up musicians like John Martyn and members of Fairport Convention. Jumblequeen, from 1974, was St. John's major label debut and also her most accessible record. It's laid back for sure -- all unraveling acoustic guitar notes, and hazy grooves. And as unlikely as it may seem, this freer, more playful and, dare we say, certifiably "American" influence fit her voice like a glove.
Buy CD $17.99 - "Ask Me No Questions"
Buy CD $17.99 - "Songs for the Gentle Man"
Buy CD $17.99 - "Thank You for..."
Buy CD $17.99 - "Jumblequeen"

TELESCOPES "Taste" (Rev-Ola)
Real Audio: "The Perfect Needle"
Admit it. You thought they were just some random shoegaze band. But if the Telescopes were a baby, it would have been conceived in the rafters at a Spacemen 3 show, blasted with the Stooges and JAMC while in the womb, and its birth would be reminiscent of the famous stomach-bursting one in Alien, violent and punk as uh…fawk. Taste has it all: face-melting riffs, droned-out tidal walls of sonic assault, and a lead vocal delivery that careens between a hypnotic dark croon and a spastic, throat-shredding growl.
Buy CD $16.99

THIS HEAT "Out of Cold Storage" (ReR)
Real Audio: "24 Track Loop"
If any group's output built a bridge between past and future, it was This Heat's. They created an early blueprint for electronic music, and were influenced by everything from punk to late-'60s/early-'70s German experimentalists like Can and Faust. Bending and transcending genres, they made some of the more wildly imaginative and unique music you will ever hear, most of which was sadly unavailable for several years until the arrival of this box set. Its six CDs contain their "blue and yellow" debut, the classic Deceit album, the incendiary Health and Efficiency EP, the posthumously released Repeat and Made Available-Peel Sessions (all newly re-mastered), as well as previously unreleased material on the last disc. Also included is one of the most authoritative sources to be found about This Heat, a 44-page book featuring interviews, articles, rare photographs and various historical facts. Needless to say, if you purchase one box set this year, let it be this one.
Buy CDx6 $89.99

[V.A.] "CD86: 48 Tracks from the Birth of Indie Pop" (Castle)
Real Audio: "Don't Slip Up"
The multitude and variety of short, sharp pop kicks on this mid- to late-'80s British indie pop compilation is staggering: Mary Chain-styled fuzz blowouts (Meat Whiplash and the Bachelor Pad), '60s and punk-inspired girl bands (Flatmates, Primitives, Shop Assistants), Byrds-ian jangle (Primal Scream, Sea Urchins, Razorcuts), and irreverent pop (Big Flame, Wolfhounds, McCarthy). Puts most of today's pop bands to shame.
Buy CDx2 $24.99

[V.A.] "The Lost Tapes: Minimal Wave from Europe 81-86" (Minimal Wave)
NY-based Minimal Wave put out a slew of great records in 2006, of which Lost Tapes was the best. This collection features early- to mid-'80s synth wave/new wave tracks that were originally released exclusively on cassette, so you know there was some major archeological work going into compiling this. Too many highlights to list, but the scrapey guitars of Neon Judgment and Portion Control's pop take on Cabaret Voltaire are a few of the many stand-outs. Vinyl only, this won't be around forever.
Buy LP $21.99

[V.A.] "New York Noise 3" (Soul Jazz)
Real Audio: "Holland Tunnel Drive"
The third installation in the New York Noise series, compiled by Stuart Argabright of Ike Yard, focuses on electronic post-punk mutations and a darker electro sound. And by doing so, it's probably the best volume. All this stuff (including Dark Day, Ike Yard, and Martin Rev) left an indelible mark on post-punk and electronic music as we know it today, and still sounds remarkably original and, especially in the case of impLOG, totally unhinged. Essential.
Buy CD $18.99



A.R. & MACHINES "Die Grune Reise/Erholung" (Melting Pot)
Real Audio: "Erholung"
Achim Reichel is right up there with Manuel Gottsching (Ash Ra) and Gunter Schickert as the premier Krautrock guitar player. Spanning the sublime and totally outrageous, Die Grune Reise, his debut, was bizarre post-psychedelia, with amazing layered echo-ey guitar playing and hippie-inspired vocal ramblings and chants, that predated Gottsching's Inventions for Electric Guitar by three years. Erholung was Reichel's last album from 1976, and he upped the ante even more here. It was a blistering live set that doubled the sublime factor, as he ran through four euphoria-inducing jams; the first, "Gute Reise," sounded like African highlife interpreted by a German space traveler. One of the last Kraut reissues you'll ever need. Yep, that good.
Buy CD $19.99

THE BLOPS "Box Set" (Shadoks)

Real Audio: "Manchufela"
Born in the same cultural milieu as Congreso and Congregacion, Blops came together as a band in 1970 and recorded three brilliant albums before the dissolution of democracy in Chile in 1973. Like Congreso, they were as heavily influenced by American and British rock and roll as they were by South American Nueva Cancion, practicing and learning songs at legendary Chilean folk-singer Violetta Parra's house by day and tripping to Jimi Hendrix records at night. The first two albums were our favorites, each equally brilliant folk/rock masterpieces that were exhilaratingly full of life and joy, and yet still often tinged with a palpable sense of sorrow. Easily one of the best reissues of the year.
Buy CDx3 $48.99

SANDY BULL"Still Valentine's Day, 1969: Live at the Matix San Francisco" (Water)
Real Audio: "Manha de Carnival"
An album of two smoky and enigmatic, mindf**ked live performances from Vanguard's thinking man, Sandy Bull. Along with the electric guitar, Sandy Bull played the oud and I swear at some moments he literally played the amplifiers too. A gloriously narcoleptic, lo-fi, and flat-out beautiful trip -- heaving, melodic drones, arrhythmical netherworld raga virtuosity, and one unforgettable night of music haunting the liminal spaces of baby booming lovebirds in the San Francisco area. Now only if someone had taped the conversations in the car rides home.
Buy CD $15.99

FAUST "Faust IV" (Virgin)
Real Audio: "Giggy Smile"
Compared to their earlier works, Faust IV was somewhat tempered, especially considering the cut-n-paste mayhem of its predecessor, Faust Tapes, but it's far from a straight-ahead record. The 12-minute instrumental opening track "Krautrock" is as sprawling as the title implies, while "Just a Second" unexpectedly turns a bluesy, stoner rock jam into a strange, musique concrète-influenced workout -- think Black Sabbath meets Ash Ra Tempel meets Luc Ferrari. Needless to say, Faust IV is an absolute touchstone in '70s German experimental rock and still, in the year 2006, sounds ahead of its time. And with an added bonus disc, this was beyond essential.
Buy CDx2 $22.99

ILOUS & DECUYPER "s/t" (Lion Productions)
Real Audio: "Cyclothymie"
Bernard Ilous and Patrice Decuyper were two Frenchmen with a penchant for the harmony drenched acoustic-pop sounds of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Beatles, and even Milton Nascimento. I & D was a gorgeously hazy, pastoral Parisian psych-pop trip packed to the gills with wandering acoustic guitar lines and overdubs of mad, dreamy vocal harmonies. Sure they covered "Eleanor Rigby," and made it sound like "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," but the original material here really stole the show -- it was pretty without being cloying, and jammy without ever overstaying its welcome. A really nice surprise from the French psych-rock reissue canon.
Buy CD $15.99

ERKIN KORAY "s/t" (World Pyschedelia)
Real Audio: "Istemem"
Often listed as Koray's first album, this was actually a compilation of singles spanning from 1967-1972 and displayed the variety of his many styles. From the more traditional Turkish folk sounds to R&B rave-ups and psych burners, Koray married Eastern and Western styles and came up with something entirely new. Koray is often championed as the Turkish Hendrix, which is accurate skill-wise but sells his legacy short as he is more of a musical trailblazer than Hendrix ever was. One of those rare "psychedelic classics" that actually lives up to the name.
Buy CD $16.99

KOUSOKUYA "First Live 1979 Kichijoji Minor" (PSF)
Real Audio: "Track One"
This is a recording of long-running Japanese avant-psych outfit Kousokuya's first ever live gig, captured to tape on October 14, 1979. At the time, the band was exploring a damaged, un-learned psychedelic garage sound, loose and detuned, but girded with singer Mick's third-eye-opening vocals, and Hiroshi Yokoyama's out of control analog synth skree, which powered past the rest of the band with both tones of coloration and more severe intent. A jangling and confounding, yet, engaging piece of free rock action from the Japanese under-underground, comparable to Red Crayolan free-form-freak-out or the repetitive churn of White Light/White Heat.
Buy CD $19.99

MAGICAL POWER MAKO "Super Record" (Radioactive)
Real Audio: "Track 7"
Comparisons to Faust and Amon Düül are hard to avoid, but where these groups forged kosmische outer space, Magical Power Mako turned the focus inward to a deeply felt personal space. Deep fuzz guitar is effortlessly wrought with traditional folk instrumentation, the occasional vocal refrain, and synthesized backdrops, and much of the material leaned pleasingly toward British folk and medieval music. This release is a pillar of Japanese psychedelia, a certain must-have.
Buy CD $16.99

EMMANUELLE PARRENIN "Maison Rose" (Lion Productions)
Real Audio: "Plume Blanceh, Plume Noire"
Straight away, the liner notes compare Parrenin to Vashti Bunyan, Linda Perhacs and Brigitte Fontaine. It's true, at some moments she practically out-hushes Vashti and at others, she is as engagingly original as the Fontaine of L'Incindie or Je Ne Connais Pas Cet Homme; particularly in her arrangements which allowed for plenty of modulated space and unique instrumentation such as a wah-wah pedal laden hurdy-gurdy. She had a restrained and delicate seriousness which proves utterly enchanting over the course of the album, always balancing her love of Breton folk music with a tendency toward the slyly avant-garde. We truly don't have enough platitudes to do such an original album justice.
Buy CD $15.99

CONRAD SCHNITZLER "Blau" (Captain Trip)
Real Audio: "Blau Track 2"
CONRAD SCHNITZLER "Schwarz" (Captain Trip)
CONRAD SCHNITZLER "Rot" (Captain Trip)
CONRAD SCHNITZLER "Gelb" (Captain Trip)
CONRAD SCHNITZLER "Grun" (Captain Trip)
Originally made in ludicrously small vinyl batches, with these five color records, Conrad Schnitzler (Tangerine Dream, Kluster) cemented his place at the forefront of experimental electronics. Documenting this early age for such spacious and kinetic explorations, these 20-plus-minute explorations anticipate everything from Voice Crack to NNCK, Marcus Schmickler to Ricardo Villalobos, always challenging ears and expectations. Carrying on through other colors of the spectrum, the series was capped off with Blau. One the most innovative and challenging albums of its era, Blau possessed both compositional complexity and an intricate rhythmic sophistication. Too aggressive in its way to be categorized as ambient, Blau visited that special juncture where psychedelics and electronics converge. Spaceman 1?
All five releases are unavailable at this time.

SELDA "s/t" (Finders Keepers)
Real Audio: "Ince Ince"
This Turkish folksinger's debut from 1975 was probably one of the most singular sounding psych-rock albums that we'd heard in a long while. Backed by Turkish rock legends Mogollar and Arif Sag, this album of amplified protest music boasts flanged guitar fuzz, fat drum breaks and intense, passionate singing from Selda, who sounds like Joan Baez performing a dancehall tune. Mind-blowing to say the least, this was our favorite release from one of the best reissue labels in the world!
Buy CD $13.99



HENSON CARGILL"A Very Well Travelled Man" (Omni)
A Very Well Travelled Man collected a heaping of the best social protest and love songs that pop-country singer and former lawman Henson Cargill cut for Monument records between 1967 and 1970. Cargill was drawn to message songs and he had a fairly liberal and philosophical outlook (the liner notes dub it Zen Country), and he was one of the few country artists, like Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson, who realized there was a tide turning and that he ought to respond to the times. Monument were superb at catching an incredible studio sound; his arrangements borrowed from both AM rock radio and slick Nashville sheen, and the drums even get positively funky more than once. If you've ever succumbed to the charms of Lee Hazlewood, Sanford Clark, or late-'60s Cash and Kristofferson, then you positively need this.
Buy CD $18.99

MARK FOSSON "Lost Takoma Sessions" (Drag City)
Real Audio: "Jubilaya"
These lost sessions, recorded some 30 years ago, would certainly have been one of Takoma's best, had it ever seen the light of day. Fosson's 12-string fingerpicking technique, passed on to him by a local musician in his home state of Kentucky, is impeccable. His songs, all instrumental, were truly beautiful and reflected his deep love of country, blues and folk music. One has to wonder why Fahey didn't track down Fosson and release this stuff on Revenant a decade ago, but at least it's finally out there.
Buy CD $13.99

SAM MOORE "Moooohieee" (Em)

Real Audio: "Annie Laurie"
Sam Moore specialized mostly in ragtime numbers, using unusual instruments like the hand saw and a rubber balloon. The high, haunting quiver of his saw can be heard on most of these songs, as well as an eight-stringed steel guitar, the octo-chorda, piano and banjo. Vocals make an appearance on the classic "Old Black Joe," while the saw provides a floating, siren-like accompaniment. Unfortunately, there are no balloon skronks (and no known recordings either), but the saw shines enough to put the twinkle in any collector's eye.
Buy CD $23.99

JOHN JACOB NILES "My Precarious Life in the Public Domain" (Rev-Ola)
Real Audio: "The Cherry Tree"
John Jacob Niles, who had some pretty high-profile exposure in Martin Scorsese's documentary No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, was honored with a retrospective from Rev-Ola, which compiled the Scottish and British ballads that were collected by Harvard literature professor Dr. Francis James Child in the late 19th century. He sounds something like a cultivated Roscoe Holcomb, his high-lonesome falsetto cleansed of all traces of backwoods twang. It's a very weird and unexpected sound, closer to Tiny Tim or Joanna Newsom than to Dylan. One of the seminal folk reissues of 2006.
Buy CD $16.99

[V.A.] "How Low Can You Go?" (Dust-to-Digital)
Real Audio: "Mama's Gone, Goodbye"
Dust-to-Digital's latest foray into early 20th century musical excavation follows the rise and fall of the string bass for 16 glorious, tumultuous years, 1925 through 1941. Starting with Ted Lewis and His Band's "Milenberg Joys," arguably the first recorded appearance of the instrument, the three discs in the set carry us through ballroom and back-porch jazz, Dixieland and race recordings, country swing, and dance orchestras. As always with Dust-to-Digital, the packaging is immaculate and this stands out as a worthy modern tribute to music and players otherwise lost to the annals of time.
Buy CDx3 $54.99

[V.A.] "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" (Yazoo)
Yazoo collected 45 ultra-rare and classic early blues and old-time country tracks, mostly culled from impossible-to-find 78s or never-issued masters (including two never released Son House tracks!). The set magnificently walks the line between obscurity and accessibility, with a trove of treats for collectors that will also thrill the casual listener. Great R. Crumb cover art to boot.
Buy CDx2 $26.99



RHYS CHATHAM "Die Donnergotter" (Table of the Elements)
Real Audio: "Die Donnergotter"
RHYS CHATHAM "An Angel Moves Too Fast to See" (Table of the Elements)
Real Audio: "Adagio"
RHYS CHATHAM "Two Gongs" (Table of the Elements)
Real Audio: "Two Gongs
Die Donnergötter compiles some of Rhys Chatham's greatest ensemble pieces from 1977-86. The soaring 22-minute title-track, recorded in 1985/86, is perhaps the most stunning. Written for six specially tuned guitars, bass, and drums, it combines the rhythmic energy of Krautrock (Neu! in particular) with gorgeous kaleidoscopic guitar lines, creating a massively euphoric, higher form of music. Scored for 100 electric guitars, bass, and drums, An Angel Moves Too Fast to See was developed with the aid of Jonathan Kane and Ernie Brooks (ex-Modern Lovers), who played drums and bass, respectively, on the recording. The pure enormity of the project was unprecedented (this is before Branca started curating similar works, mind you), and so are the sounds. The five-part piece is a thunderous choir of guitars, anchored by Kane's motorik beat, that shift from subtle drone to frenzied groove, and everything in-between. Two Gongs is a 60-minute piece of thundering, metallic drones, which at times sounds more like guitar feedback. Written in 1971, here performed in 1989 with Japanese composer Yoshimasa Wada, Two Gongs is at times overwhelmingly powerful, and at others, rapturously angelic.
Buy CD $15.99 - "Die Donnergotter"
"An Angel Moves Too Fast to See" is unavailable at this time
"Two Gongs" is unavailable at this time

COIL"Ape of Naples" (Threshold House)
Real Audio: "The Last Amethyst Deceiver"
Coil's final album, The Ape of Naples, marked the unfortunate passing of Coil co-founder, Jhonn Balance. It's a fitting eulogy in the way it explores somber reflection through gorgeously macabre songwriting and transcendent-searching rhythm-scapes. We didn't hear an album brimming with this much melancholic beauty all year, placing this right up there with the Coil classics.
Buy CD $24.99

LOREN CONNORS "Night Through: Singles and Collected Works 1976-2004" (Family Vineyard)
Real Audio: "Mother & Son"
There is no better introduction to Loren Connors than Night Through: Singles and Collected Works 1976-2004. Over the course of three CDs, it encompasses every brilliant aspect of his work, from his ability to totally subvert the blues and folk paradigm to his power to reinvent standards such as "I Love You Porgy." This is supremely moving music, infinitely subtle, and nearly always darkly mysterious. Essential.
Buy CDx3 $24.99

Real Audio: "Fili 1"
The recordings and film collected here are from what is arguably GINC's greatest and most innovative era, when the core group consisted of Franco Evangelisti, Ennio Morricone (yes, that Morricone), Roland Kayn, Mario Bertoncini, Ivan Vandor, and John Heineman. Usually mentioned in the same breath as another great electro-acoustic improvising ensemble, AMM, each member brought their own composing and improvising sensibility to bear on a collective effort that was never less than totally engaging. They performed a totally unique melange of free improvisation, with white noise, analog electronics, extended technique, and a knowledge of composition that encompassed centuries worth of developments, from the Renaissance on up to the latest innovations of Stockhausen, Cage, or Xenakis.
Buy CDx2 + DVD $59.99

KEIJI HAINO & SITAAR TAH! "Animamima" (Important)
Real Audio: "Disc 2"
A double CD made up of two 45-plus-minute pieces, Animamima is a massive meditative, yet very LOUD, drone that resembles the work of another Japanese master, Takehisa Kosugi of the Taj Mahal Travellers. As with the Travellers, and despite the large nature of the orchestra, the musicians lock in almost immediately and sound wholly at one with each other. It's a lot to take on, almost 100 minutes of otherworldly drone, but if anything, here's a testament to the fact that is all is well on the astral plane.
Unavailable at this time

LOU HARRISON "Chamber & Gamelan Works" (New World)
Staggeringly beautiful compositions from the enigmatic Lou Harrison, this is a near perfect introduction to his large body of work. Emphasis is on the gamelan-inspired chamber music and the medieval-influenced string pieces, the latter of which are more than ably performed by the Kronos Quartet. Impeccable.
Buy CD $15.99

HISATO HIGUCHI "Dialogue" (Family Vineyard)
Real Audio: "Guitar #5"
HISATO HIGUCHI "She" (Ghost Disc)
Real Audio: "Girl Sister"
HISATO HIGUCHI "2004 11 2005" (Ghost Disc)
Real Audio: "Manzashi No Sakie"
There is something about Hisato Higuchi's playing that seems wholly original. Though much of the critical commentary about the Japanese guitarist has thus far pointed to certain affinities with the work of Loren Mazzacane Connors, this is somewhat off base; there is a constant undercurrent of the blues in Connors' work that's nowhere to be found here. While Higuchi occasionally sings in a rather spectral and lovely manner, the main attraction is his restrained guitar work. Impossibly expressive with the barest of means and possessed of a tone completely bereft of superficiality, the few notes Higuchi play are each subtly modulated with feedback or graceful bends. We received three of his titles over the course of the year, and they are all equally beguiling.
Buy CD $14.99 - "Dialogue"
"She" and "2004 11 2005" are unavailable at this time

JONATHAN KANE "I Looked at the Sun" (Table of the Elements)
Real Audio: "I Looked at the Sun"
Initially, it bothered me that I couldn't pin down what I Looked at the Sun reminded me of, or that it reminded me of two things at once: a rock 'n' roll version of Neu!, and Son House jamming with Spacemen 3. After more than 20 listens, I realized that it sounded like both of the above, and therefore like neither. The massive walls of guitar and seemingly looped leads induce a trance mostly only achieved by Steve Reich and La Monte Young, yet Kane's workouts feel like proper "songs." A new kinda blues.
Buy CD-EP $11.99

MAURICIO KAGEL "Mauricio Kagel Edition" (Winter & Winter)
Best composer-centric release of the year, hands down, this limited and numbered (3000 copies) 2CD + DVD set of film & radio works by Argentinean composer/filmmaker Mauricio Kagel celebrates his 75th birthday, features one incredible solo work, and includes collaborations with artists such as Joseph Beuys and Peter Brotzmann. Fascinating listening and viewing for any fan of Kagel, and a tremendous (and accessible) introduction for newcomers to the oft-unwieldy worlds of modern composition and experimental filmmaking.
Buy CDx2 + DVD $62.99

ARIEL KALMA "Osmose" (Blur)
This disc of minimalist compositions from 1978 is one of our favorite Out discoveries of the year, as drones interplay perfectly with field recordings of natural sounds from the rain forest. Kalma (with help from Richard Tinti) created lush and melancholic soundscapes, which are reminiscent of Popol Vuh at times. Highly recommended for fans of contemporary electro-acoustic composers, ambient Krautrock (Cluster etc.), and minimalist masters such as William Basinski.
Buy CD $14.99

YOSHIO MACHIDA "Naada" (Amorfon)
Real Audio: "Bloom"
The performances on Naada are focused and melodic (no harsh klangtones here), the recordings crystal clear and warmer than seaside sunbeams, and nothing really overstays its welcome -- everything just ebbs and flows so naturally you'd think the Caribbean steel pans were playing themselves. Most pieces feature Machida overdubbing small melodic phrases which slowly evolve, giving the sonic illusion of a one-man pan band; one or two others go for a more textural approach, the sound blossoming outward in floralesque patterns.
Buy CD $13.99

Real Audio: "Wieder Das Erste Mal"
The music on EmbryoNNCK is wildly visual. Sounds come out like a hot spring burping up thermal rhythms. It is striking how unified the playing is given the large number of musicians involved. Both groups seemed to complement each other, sort of making a super version of their previous forms. No-Neck's feral drum jams are tamed by Embryo's well-heeled jazz improv. At times the recording evokes Don Cherry's Eternal Now-era explorations or even recent Gang Gang Dance.
Buy CD $14.99

PRIMA MATERIA "The Tail of the Tiger" (die Schachtel)
Real Audio: "LP Version"
Using a wide variety of vocal techniques inspired by the musics of Tibet, Mongolia, and India, the members of Prima Materia created dense polyphonic drone music of intense concentration with clear affinities to the concurrent work of folks like La Monte Young and Pauline Oliveros. The first 30-minute-long piece was originally issued by the Italian label Ananda, a short-lived artist run consortium headed by Roberto Laneri, American composer Alvin Curran, and the elusive Giacinto Scelsi. Nearly impossible to find upon its initial release, and ever after for that matter, The Tail of the Tiger has been coupled with a further 35-minutes worth of material recorded while Prima Materia were at the height of their power.
Buy CD $24.99

XELA "The Dead Sea" (Type)
Real Audio: "Wet Bones"
Xela's The Dead Sea is an extremely dark record that takes more of an influence from Morricone and Goblin than his previous releases. Filled with strings, marimbas, eerie organs, acoustic guitars, oscillating tones, field recordings and minimal percussion, the album remains gorgeous and ugly at the same time. Spine-chilling and spellbinding stuff from one of the more adventurous and consistent labels around.
Buy CD $14.99



Real Audio: "Ubachuva"
A fitting and fiery eulogy to Derek Bailey, who passed last year -- a blistering live set recorded in 2003 at NYC's Tonic, when he was joined by Brazilian virtuoso percussionist Cyro Baptista. They struck gold, with Bailey's freeform guitar genius really coming to life when backed by Baptista's madman percussion.
Buy CD $14.99

KHAN JAMAL CREATIVE ARTS ENSEMBLE "Drumdance to the Motherland" (Eremite)
Real Audio: "Cosmic Echoes"
An utterly unique and essential document from way left of center, Khan Jamal's Drumdance to the Motherland sounds like Sun Ra overseeing an Aggrovator's session! The cosmic black psychedelic jazz dreamed up by this Philly free jazz outfit explores outsider worlds that Actuel never even knew existed.
Buy CD $14.99

"Eclipse" (Iskra)
Real Audio: "First Session 1"
MASAYUKI "JOJO" "Action Direct" (Tiliqua)
Real Audio: "Loop Road"
There is an electric thrill that accompanies almost any reappearance of those hollowed documents cut by Japan's guitarist godfather Masayuki Takayanagi, so we're doubly lucky that 2006 witnessed the reappearance of two of his finest moments. 1975's Eclipse saw him working in full on group mode, with enough white hot plasma to appeal to fans of both Brotzmann and Wolf Eyes. Recorded a decade later sans group, Action Direct featured Takayanagi working with a prepared-guitar setup, brilliantly employing heavy effects processing and non- standard guitar playing materials -- like knives!
Buy CD $19.99 - "Eclipse"
"Action Direct" is unavailable at this time

MIKE WESTBROOK "Love Songs" (Vocalion)
Real Audio: "Original Peter"
Originally released in 1970, Mike Westbrook's Love Songs was the final, and greatest work in a series of albums he recorded for Deram records. A lost classic of innovative British jazz, and quite unlike any other album we can think of. Featuring the gorgeous wordless vocals of singer Norma Winstone, and the crack playing of Britain's most innovative instrumentalists, Love Songs has the slyly insinuating habit of burrowing into your brain with its propulsive grooviness. A perfect combination of challenging ambitiousness and populist abandon.
Buy CD $19.99

ELECTRIC MASADA "At the Mountains of Madness" (Tzadik)
Real Audio: "Kedem"
Perhaps the most rewarding John Zorn listening experience to date, At the Mountains of Madness could be the culmination of the man's life work. The pieces spread across the two impeccably packaged and produced CDs combine the brutal elements of Naked City with the lyrical finesse of Masada. And while the soloing of regular contributors like Jamie Saft and Marc Ribot is incredible, the full group contribution is simply staggering.
Buy CD $21.99



ESG "Keep On Moving" (Soul Jazz)

Real Audio: "Insane (Tambourine Mix)"
The Scroggins sisters and daughters proved once again what makes them one of the most influential, yet largely under-acknowledged bands in the post-modern musical landscape. Still sparse and skeletal, but with the subtle addition of an 808 drum machine, they took a stab at sassy disco-punk, instrumental percussive industrial rumbles, and any other "new" post-anything dance-rock trend you can think of.
Buy CD $18.99

THE GENTLE RAIN "Moody" (Sunbeam)
Real Audio: "Use Me"
Originally released in the UK as a budget audiophile album in 1973, the Gentle Rain's Moody has become a beat digger's holy grail that commands hundreds of dollars on eBay…and with good reason. Respected arranger Nick Ingman inadvertently made a brilliant jazz fusion record that could've easily have been sold alongside Bitches Brew and Deodato's Prelude. Thick bass lines, killer spacey Moog, and enough breaks to supply Madlib and Pete Rock with a year's worth of MPC food.
Buy CD $15.99

AL GREEN "The Belle Album" (HI/Capitol)
Real Audio: "(No No) You'll Never Hurt Me Again"
This self-produced gem from Al Green is a deeply personal lyrical account of the spiritual dilemmas that he was facing at the time. Musically, Green steers slightly away from the thick, sensual, blues funk sound of his former producer, Willie Mitchell. In its place is a languid, less gritty sound punctuated by Green's acoustic guitar. There is a timelessness to this recording that will touch anybody ready to listen.
Buy CD $17.99

HARLEM RIVER DRIVE "s/t" (Stateside)
Real Audio: "Harlem River Drive"
Led by the legendary Palmieri Brothers, this incredible one-off recording from 1971 was a vibrant fusion of soul and Latin pop that featured some of the best NYC session players of that time period (Bernard Purdie, Randy Brecker, Cornell Dupree). Harlem River Drive's self-titled album served as an early example of a certain strain of Latin funk that Kool & the Gang, War, and the Mizell Bros co-opted and spun into chart-topping gold soon after. This is cross-cultural Afro-Latin barrio music of the highest order.
Buy CD $15.99

EDDIE HAZEL "Game, Dames & Guitar Thangs" (Collectors Choice)
Real Audio: "So Goes the Story"
The brilliant yet troubled Funkadelic guitarist recorded this excellent album soon after serving a short stint in prison. Most of the Funkadelic elite were present for the session (Clinton co-producing and Bootsy, Bernie, and the Brides playing), and the mood here is noticeably murky, even by Funkadelic standards. The slow, swampy cover of "California Dreamin" is reminiscent of the pathos-tinged funk of Riot-era Sly Stone and the sick Bootsy Collins and Brides of Funkenstein showcase "Frantic Moment" has lived on as a well-known hip-hop sample.
Buy CD $12.99

Real Audio: "Apache"
Who would've predicted that two albums worth of novelty, studio tomfoolery from 1972 would contain the DNA for that virulent, mutating species of post-modern expression that we know as hip-hop? Yet here it is. Inside the lightning flash of thunderclap drums contained on "Apache" and "Bongo Rock" is where hip-hop as a music, culture and/or lifestyle began and, some 30 odd years later, these recordings still have the power to awe. Plus they are just plain fun to listen to!
Buy CD $17.99

KASHMERE STAGE BAND "Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974" (Now Again/Stones Throw)
Real Audio: "Do Your Thing"
The Kashmere Stage Band was exactly that: a competing high school jazz band from Houston comprised of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18. And at one point, they might have also been one of the tightest, funkiest brass bands in America. Compiled from rare vanity LP & 45 pressings, this collection boasts some amazing brass arrangements and enough funky drum breaks to make your bedridden grandpa get up and "do the James." These records have been coveted and revered by the likes of DJ Shadow and Keb Darge for ages, so props to Stones Throw's resident beatdigger/historian Egon for making this incredible music available to the funk enthusiast with a budget.
Buy CD $17.99

NINO MOSCHELLA "The Fix" (Ubiquity)
Real Audio: "Moved On"
A surprisingly ambitious and solid debut from Caucasian soul crooner Nino Moschella, that seemingly came from nowhere. This rickety, home-recorded psych-soul masterpiece eschews programmed beats for live kits and beat-boxed vocals, and features three-part harmonies all sung by Moschella. He is refreshingly devoid of pretension, all at once drawing comparisons to Shuggie Otis, Stevie Wonder and Jamie Lidell.
Buy CD $15.99

MARC MOULIN "Placebo Years 1971-1974" (Blue Note)
Real Audio: "Balek"
Not to be confused with the British neo-glam outfit, Placebo was the jazz funk brainchild of this brilliant Belgian keyboardist. Under this name, he released a slew of excellent albums that blended big band jazz fusion with a more pronounced bubbly electronic sensibility, paving the way for the pure electronic pop innovations of his early-'80s band, Telex. Madlib, Kirk Degorgio and Pete Rock have given their props over the years, and J Dilla covered a Placebo tune on The Shining. Unexpected and flawlessly funky to boot.
Buy CD $15.99

TOM MOULTON "A Tom Moulton Mix" (Soul Jazz)
Real Audio: "More, More, More"
Tom Moulton's '70s-era four-on-the-floor productions ruled the cutting edge discotheque culture of the underground and mainstream. In the process he also may have been responsible for creating the musical template of which all dance music past and present has evolved from. Whether extending the drum break intro or inadvertently inventing the 12-inch single on a quest for a bigger and phatter sound, Moulton's influence is indisputable. This collection compiles some of his tightest and rarest mixes.
Buy CD $20.99

ROTARY CONNECTION "Black Gold: The Very Best of" (Umvd Import)
Real Audio: "I Am the Black Gold of the Sun"
This multiracial seven-piece from Chicago is primarily known for introducing the world to Minnie Riperton's voice, but they also created some of the most breathtaking psychedelic music of the late-'60s and early-'70s. With legendary producer Charles Stephney at the helm, Rotary Connection effortlessly blended blues, orchestral pop, funk, choral music, concrete electronics, and guitar rock together to create a new kind of soul music that hasn't been matched since, though it still can be heard today via sampling by such heavy hip-hop luminaries as J Dilla, Pete Rock, Tribe Called Quest, and the Neptunes. This definitive collection was a much needed best-of overview of this band's incredible catalog.
Buy CDx2 $26.99

SISTERS LOVE "Give Me Your Love" (Soul Jazz)
Real Audio: "Give Me Your Love"
This woefully underappreciated but immensely talented female funk quartet got a deluxe treatment by the reissue label from the heavens, and we couldn't have been happier. Unknown by many, the Sisters Love released a number of blissed-out gospel-infused funk and sultry soul 45s throughout the early-'70s. Though the tracks would live on as floor fillers, spun by the likes of DJ legends Danny Krivit, Larry Levan and Nicky Siano, the music of Sisters Love surprisingly never got legitimately re-released until now.
Buy CD $18.99

SKULL SNAPS "s/t" (Aztec Music)
Real Audio: "Trespass"

This NYC-based band was discovered by legendary soul singer Lloyd Price, who also christened them with their name because he felt that their music "cracked people's skulls." Elegant proto-disco, lush, orchestral soul and hard gangster funk sit side by side, each tune a glorious example of classic sounding soul from the early-'70s. The album stalled upon initial release, but the hard drums of "It's a New Day" has lived on as the rhythmic backbone in many true school hip-hop records.
Buy CD $19.99

ALLEN TOUSSAINT "Life, Love and Faith" (Water)
Real Audio: "She Once Belonged to Me"
ALLEN TOUSSAINT "Southern Nights" (Water)
Real Audio: "Cruel Way to Go Down"
Two much-needed reissues from one of NOLA's favorite sons finally saw the legitimate light of day. Hallelujah! These two mid-'70s solo albums from the man who discovered the Meters are a perfect example of introspective Southern roots music and uptempo Louisiana boogie. The Meters provide the fat-bottom, but there are touches of hazy psychedelia, piano-led introspection and rustic country twang as well, especially on "Southern Nights." The funky disco-fueled masses didn't pay much attention but members of The Band, Dr. John, Rod Stewart, and even Aerosmith have spoken of these recordings as landmark releases. Any fan of gutsy, blues-enthused soul should get down with this one.
Buy CD $15.99 - "Life, Love and Faith
Buy CD $15.99 "Southern Nights"

[V.A.] "Mama's Gotta Bag of Her Own" (Stateside)
Real Audio: "Nobody but You"
Bright collection of "shoulda-been-hits" from some fine female singers of the '60s. Culled from the vaults of the EMI catalog, Mama's Got a Bag of Her Own contains deep cuts from OM faves like Dee Dee Warwick, Bettye Lavette, and Doris (Sweden's answer to Petula Clark). Mod organ movers, coquette-ish girl group pop, Northern soul stompers, steamy torch numbers…whatever your funky poison is, this comp has it! The collection served as a breezy, Summer 2006 soundtrack for many an OM customer and employee, but music this vibrant and fun is truly worth hearing anytime of the year.
Buy CD $14.99

[V.A.] "The New York Sound" (BGP)
Real Audio: "Money (Dollar Bill Y'all)
Diggin' on the neo-disco funk of Metro Area, Daft Punk, 33hz, Lindstrom and Hot Chip? Well, nothing is original and this collection of New York roller boogie and early-'80s electro takes us back to the source for many of those grooves. While the stripped down, post-disco electro funk may have been popular on the dancefloors, it was also disrespected by many critics of the time. Still, these tracks were highly-influential to the burgeoning hip-hop culture and, looking back in retrospect, probably some of the best dance music ever recorded.
Buy CD $17.99

[V.A.] "Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal" (Numero)
Real Audio: "Jesus Rhapsody Part 1"
[V.A.] "Eccentric Soul: Mighty Mike Lenaburg" (Numero)
Real Audio: "I'll Be on My Way"
[V.A.] "Eccentric Soul: The Big Mack Label" (Numero)
Real Audio: "Loaded to the Gills"
This year, Numero Group brought us these three hard-hitting soul/funk collections. Good God! is a fantastic set of heavy gospel funk from the late '60s and early '70s, and the tunes within are a lot harder than the ones on the Soul Gospel comps. For the most part, they're straight-up, lo-fi funk workouts with sanctified lyrics. But the most interesting moments are the ones that feature choirs, including a psychedelic funk tune about a demon blissfully reminiscing about the days when hell was a swinging place packed with party people, before everyone got sanctified and went to heaven. This year's Eccentric Soul installments are righteous collections as well. Featuring blistering '60s soul produced by Mike Lenaburg, the Mighty Mike CD runs the gamut, from psyched-out soul to hard-hitting funky jams and foot-stomping shakers. The Big Mack Label retrospective burns a little slower but with no shortage of Northern Soul classics and funky breaks. You'd do yourself a favor by not missing out on any of these.
Buy CD $17.99 "Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal"
Buy CD $18.99 "Eccentric Soul: Mighty Mike Lenaburg"
Buy CD $17.99 "Eccentric Soul: The Big Mack Label

[V.A.] "Soul Gospel 2" (Soul Jazz)
Real Audio: "Casanova"
Sound spiritual funk lovingly compiled by Soul Jazz. The grooves are a seamless, sanctified blend of faith, devotion and hope -- with a funky breakbeat. Artists include the Staple Singers, Loleatta Holloway, and Clara Ward. Play loud and raise your hands to the sky.
Buy CD $18.99

BILL WITHERS "Just As I Am" (Columbia)
Real Audio: "Ain't No Sunshine"
Bill Withers' debut album was a timeless, honest recording filled with poignant portrayals of the emotional trials and tribulations of the everyman. The sparse production from Booker T. and the spare, bluesy swing backing of the MG's provided a much needed alternative to the flashy production excess of early-'70s popular music. This re-mastered landmark album still sounds amazing, and the deluxe edition also contains a DVD featuring great live performances from the period.
Buy CD + DVD $17.99



LILY ALLEN "Alright Still" (Regal Import)
In a parallel universe, this album has just gone quadruple platinum and Lily Allen stickers, posters and screen savers are on the notebooks, walls and PCs of millions of young teenage girls. For us, she is a promising vocalist who released a near flawless album of hook-heavy reggae/dancehall-tinged pop that was heard by too few people. If MIA or Lady Sov could sing, they'd kill to sound like Lily. One of the sleepers of the year, and it shoulda been huge in these parts.
Buy CD $19.99

CLIPSE "Hell Hath No Fury" (Star Trak)
Real Audio: "Wamp Wamp"
No guest vocalists, interludes, or hooks even, Hell Hath No Fury is a razor sharp, minimalist hip-hop classic. With flawless production by the Neptunes and complex wordplay (with coke dealing being the dominant theme throughout) by Malice and Pusha T, this boundary-pushing album has owned the last few months of '06 and will no doubt own much of '07.
Buy CD $16.99

DABRYE "Two/Three" (Ghostly)
Real Audio: "The Stand"
Sharpening his production style with a shot of energy, Dabrye also seemed to absorb the snap and crack sound from some of his guests -- MF Doom, Platinum Pied Pipers, the Stones Throw crew -- and yeah, a little Prefuse 73. Dabrye has always been grouped in with all of the above, yet with the addition of vocals, he moved from the bedroom to the cipher and raised the stakes. Definitely one of our favorite hip-hop releases of the past 12 months.
Buy CD $14.99

LUPE FIASCO "Food & Liquor" (Atlantic)

Real Audio: "Kick Push"
With Food & Liquor, Lupe Fiasco combined the urban spiritually of Kanye West, the empowering stance of Mos Def, the flawless quirky floss of Pharrell, the excellent timing, humor and self-assured verbal skills of Jay-Z, and the clever, hungry storytelling of a young Nas. In doing so, he delivered one of the biggest surprise records of the year in mainstream hip-hop.
Buy CD $17.99

GHOSTFACE KLLAH "Fishscale" (Def Jam/Island)
Real Audio: "The Champ"
Ghostface's fifth solo release provided a much-needed remedy to the blinged-out commercial excess of mainstream hip-hop. By bucking certain trends and opting for a grimy, cinematic true school sound (with production courtesy of MF Doom, Just Blaze, Pete Rock and J Dilla), a rejuvenated Ghostface dropped some of the best music of his career. Fishscale reminded us that he's not only one of the greatest living MCs, but also a master storyteller.
Buy CD $14.99

GNARLS BARKLEY "St. Elsewhere" (Downtown)
Real Audio: "Just a Thought"
This leftfield slice of Technicolor oddball hip-pop was a bright light shining in the desolate landscape of top 40 music. Dangermouse and Cee-Lo beat the odds and succeeded in creating a new pop template by fusing the spit-shine sparkle and camp factor of mainstream Eurodance with DM's kitchen-sink, genre-splicing boom-bap production aesthetic. Add the exuberant gospel-like croon of Cee-Lo and dark lyrical themes of paranoia and suicide -- not to mention the best pop single of the year -- and you have one of the undisputed must-have albums of 2006.
Buy CD $17.99

J DILLA "Donuts" (Stones Throw)
Real Audio: "Glazed"
This fragile, lo-fi instrumental hip-hop masterpiece from J Dilla defied categorization. But any excitement that we felt upon the day of its release quickly turned to heartbreak when we learned that the producer had passed away, just hours after his amazing opus had reached our stereos. But his music truly lives on. Armed with one MPC and a slew of soul records, Dilla's parting gift was this dense, psychedelic treasure trove of deep listening nuggets. Tracks barely hit the two-minute mark but the music is impeccably crafted and sequenced. From the moody croons and lush string beds to the head-cracking snares, sounds float in, out and around each other and create a world that one can get lost in. Consider Donuts the hip-hop equivalent to Loveless. This record proves that J Dilla was one of the best hip-hop producers, ever.
Buy CD $14.99

GEORIGA ANNE MULDROW "Olesi: Fragments of an Earth" (Stones Throw) Real Audio: "New Orleans"
This past summer, Stones Throw introduced us to a promising new soul vocalist named Georgia Anne Muldrow, by way of her wholly original debut album. The self-produced beats could have been a soft, feminine take on Madlib's otherworldly blunted space funk, while her voice brought to mind a hip-hop June Tyson harmonizing with Lauryn Hill. The deep, introspective and slightly world-weary tone of Muldrow's self-penned lyrics reflected a soul many lifetimes older than her 20-years.
Buy CD $14.99

DUDLEY PERKINS "Expressions" (Stones Throw)
Real Audio: "Come Here My Dear"
The outsider soul of Dudley Perkins might be an acquired taste for many, but Expressions made it clear that the former rapper should be taken seriously as an actual presence in the bigger world of American R&B. Boasting chunky, funked-up, low-end production from Madlib, Perkins delivered a conceptual record that was built upon an introspective foundation of Sly Stone's West Coast soul, George Clinton and Here My Dear-era Marvin Gaye. Yeah, he was as leftfield as ever, but Perkins had never sounded this comfortable and secure, and what resulted was one of the best and most unusual soul records that we'd come across in a long, long time.
Buy CD $14.99

[V.A.] "Big Apple Rappin" (Soul Jazz)
Real Audio: "Spoonin' Rap"
An excellent and much-needed compilation of some really great tracks that were created when hip-hop was in its infancy. Most of the rap records released during this time were unscrupulous novelty cash-ins, but Big Apple Rappin' wades through all of the kitsch and provides a nice, solid overview of early rap songs that truly represented the culture. Also included is a 64-page booklet featuring photos and an extensive interview with legends like Kool Herc, Grandmaster Caz, and others.
Buy CDx2 $21.99



BLACKBEARD "Strictly Dub Wize" (Front Line)
Real Audio: "Cut After Cut"
A classic slice of UK dub from Dennis Bovell, his debut recording as Blackbeard. Bovell was a stellar producer and arranger, but he was also a bit of an anomaly in that he was a trained musician who would often play all the instruments himself. This gave him an edge over many other mixers and producers, and lent this dub session from 1978 a more melodic and musical slant.
Buy CD $17.99

NOEL ELLIS "s/t" (Light in the Attic)
Real Audio: "To Hail Salassie"
The rockers style is there, the extended dubs are tight, but something about the combination of percussion, echo, synth and Noel Ellis' (son of Alton) voice lends this self-titled 1983 album a unique feel -- we can't exactly put a collective finger on it, but it's refreshing to hear a different take on the genre. One of the best and freshest reggae reissues in a while.
Buy CD $12.99

PABLO GAD "Hard Times" (Soul Village)
Real Audio: "Sad Mistake"
Self-produced in 1980 for the Reggae on Top label, this reissue seems to be the bulk of Pablo Gad's output; it's small but by no means less significant, as heavy riddims abound. With no shortage of killer tracks, great vocalizing, and crispy production, Hard Times perfectly reflects the sound of England during the late-'70s and early-'80s. Think of Dennis Bovell or Bunny Wailer at their best.
Buy CD $16.99

INI KAMOZE "s/t" (Taxi)
Real Audio: "World a Music"
Released in 1984, when Sly & Robbie's Taxi-era production had reached its height, Ini Kamoze's toasting sounds magnificently confident atop the Channel One-recorded digital beats, synths and creeping bass-lines; and each track gets an extended dub too! Hands down, Kamoze's eponymous album is one of our favorite dancehall discoveries of the year.
Buy CD $15.99

LEE PERRY PRESENTS "African Roots Featuring Seke Molenga & Kalo Kawongold" (Trojan/Sanctuary)
Real Audio: "Bad Food"
Africa Roots was cut right after the Congos' legendary Heart of the Congos, so you may notice some slight sonic similarities, but this is a singular album in Lee Perry's oeuvre. Seke Molenga and Kalo Kawongold chant in their native Zimbabwean tongue and also blow horns, giving the music a heavy brass presence that occasionally dips into free jazz territory. Imagine soukous' golden slink plunked down some cavernous and gritty echo and you're halfway there. A truly devastating document that fills both the need for heavy African music and roots reggae.
Buy CD $13.99

[V.A.] "Serious Times" (XL/Ghetto Arc)
Real Audio: "Notorious"
Serious Times showcases the current, cutting edge dancehall scene, and does it with conviction. Every track on disc one is a serious banger, while the second disc ventures into smokier territories with a dub plate mix by Federation Sound. Mainstays like Sizzla and Morgan Heritage rub shoulders with newcomers such as Turbulence, i-Wayne and 10-year-old QQ . Serious jams indeed.
Buy CDx2 $14.99

WHITE MICE "s/t" (Basic Replay)
Real Audio: "It's a Shame"
Another winner from Basic Channel. Recorded before the influx of gun talk and slackness, White Mice's debut was pure conscience roots dancehall reggae in the finest tradition. Dubby drum fills and bleepy effects merge with some well-placed horn stabs, and it all gets diced and tossed into a chunky sonic stew. For those interested in the dawn of modern digital reggae, we simply can't recommend this enough.
Buy CD $18.99

TAPPA ZUCKIE "Escape from Hell" (Trojan)
Real Audio: "Massacara Dub"
This Trojan-released collection of work by vocalist turned producer Tappa Zukie is a wildly bouncing set of deep dub cuts. Recorded at Channel One and mixed by Prince Jammy, Zukie is backed by the Sly & Robbie-led Revolutionaries (who were at their peak), the musicians providing a tight and magnetic rhythmic foundation.
Buy CD $19.99



Real Audio: "Sport Malet"
Some truly magical music from legendary Eritrean singer Tsehaytu Beraki, her songs are free to meander and unfold, and often linger well past 10-minutes. Over the course of these 17 tracks, we hear hauntingly beautiful Eritrean spirituals, Beraki performing solo for some selections, and then backed by Dutch musicians (which include members of the Ex and jazz drummer and improviser Han Bennink) on others. A huge star in Ethiopia, Tsehaytu Beraki deserves such status all over the world.
Buy CDx2 $29.99

[V.A.] "Congotronics 2" (Crammed Discs)
Real Audio: "Le Laboureur"
Congotronics 2 features Konono N°1 of last year's massively successful predecessor, as well as six other incredible groups who perform traditional African music using makeshift amplification devices that give their instruments an awesomely fuzzy tone. It's amazingly vibrant and energetic party music with no real equivalent in the Western world. The bonus DVD, which features thrilling live performance footage, makes this an even more essential package.
Buy CD + DVD $16.99

ETHIOPIQUES 21 "Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou - Piano Solo" (Buda Musique) Real Audio: "The Homeless Wanderer"
Unlike much of the Ethiopiques series, the music featured on the 21st installment has very little to do with the R&B and soul-fueled music of Alemayehu Eshete or Ethiopian popular music, nor is it neo-classical piano in the European tradition. Instead, the music contained herein is distinctly Ethiopian. Pianist Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou's playing is delicate, sweet and intricate, conjuring images of a more innocent time. What it lacks in tension is more than made up through simple beauty.
Buy CD $15.99

GREEN ARROWS "4-Track Recording Session" (Alula)
Real Audio: "Infaliilbe Chisoni"
Rooted in the brotherly sound of singer-bassist Zexie Manatsa and guitarist Stanley, the unheralded and unstoppable Green Arrows were known to jam until dawn at their various residencies. Zexie may have been the frontman but it was Stanley's great affection for a rare wah-wah fuzz pedal that was the basis of the Green Arrows' sound. Surprising in comparison to most recent African comps, the band jammed concise pop songs, with only a few tunes going past the three-minute mark. As the set continues, the group gets more subversive, performing songs of liberation filled with social commentary.
Buy CD $15.99

ALAN LOMAX "Gaelic Songs of Scotland: Women at Work in the Western Isles" (Rounder)
Real Audio: "Chrodh Chailein"
Certainly one of the more fascinating Lomax collections we'd heard in a while, Gaelic Songs of Scotland: Women at Work in the Western Isles is comprised of recordings Alan Lomax made in the Scottish Hebrides and Highlands in 1951. The rhythms and intonations of the Gaelic have an extraordinary and other-worldly quality; one can't help but be reminded of the beautiful melodies of songbirds as these women's singing transport them beyond the physical realities of their daily toil.
Buy CD $14.99

Age Vol. 2" (Asphalt-Tango)
Real Audio: "Sa Te Ajunga Dorul Meu"
DONA DUMITRU SIMINICA "Sounds from a Bygone
Age Vol. 3" (Asphalt-Tango)
Real Audio: "Dau Pe Acasa"
There's been a burgeoning interest in Gypsy music of late, what with the success of the faux Balkan-pop of Beirut and the tireless efforts and proselytizing of Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hutz. Romica Puceanu (whose stunning and ethereal voice so beautifully embodied the soul and tribulations of her people that it is no wonder she was dubbed the Billie Holiday of the East) and Dona Dumitru Siminica (his airy falsetto was mesmerizing, bizarre even, in the way it simply floated mellifluously over an accompaniment of cymbalom, violin, accordion, and bass) represent but one small strain in a vast and complicated musical heritage. But for those looking for a lovingly compiled introduction into the world of the Roma, these two late-'60s/early-'70s titles would be hard to beat.
Buy CD $18.99 - Romica Puceanu & the Gore Brothers
Buy CD $18.99 - Dona Dumitru Siminica

[V.A.] "Colonial Dance Bands: 1950 & 1952" (SWP)
Real Audio: "Chaupele Mpenzi"
[V.A.] "Bulawayo Jazz: 1950, '51 & '52" (SWP)
Real Audio: "Mafambir e Wai"
[V.A.] "Kenyan Songs & Strings: 1950 & 1952" (SWP)
Real Audio: "Kang'et Chorwet"
Considering the limited technology that Hugh Tracey had to work with, it's truly a marvel at how impressive the quality of these recordings are. The discs in this series are consistently excellent and accompanied by outstanding liner notes sure to delight all, from ethnomusicologists to newcomers to the vast world of African music. The songs on Colonial Dance Bands: 1950 & 1952 are very rhythmic and convey a profound sense of nostalgia. These bands decidedly broke from traditional music in favor of the more hip "town music" which they were commissioned to play to Europeans in hotels and cafes. There's a fascinating marriage of sound present throughout this disc, representative of African Swahili music with a strong Arab influence. Bulawayo Jazz: 1950, '51 & '52 documents the little-known development of a style of jazz music in early-1950s Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), something rarely seen outside of the USA at that point. Kenyan Songs and Strings: 1950 & 1952 is a selection of recordings from eight peoples of the Kenyan region. The songs are traditional, comprised of various vocal styles and a variety of string instruments like lyres, oud and guitar.
Buy CD $17.99 "Colonial Dance Bands: 1950 & 1952"
Buy CD $17.99 "Bulawayo Jazz: 1950, '51 & '52"
Buy CD $17.99 "Kenyan Songs & Strings: 1950 & 1952"

[V.A.] "Blowers from the Balkans" (Topic)
A stunning collection of historical recordings from virtuoso players of clarinets, bagpipe, flutes, panpies, and other wind instruments. Spanning the early 1900s to the '40s, these little known, border-encompassing sounds (including everything from Klezmer to traditional Romanian music) finally received the proper reissue treatment by Topic.
Buy CD $18.99

[V.A.] "Ethnic Minority Music From Northeast Cambodia" (Sublime Frequencies)
Real Audio: "Ayin/Ayon"
The top pick of this year's Sublime Frequencies titles. Four small tribal populations are featured here (the Tampoans, Krungs, Braos, and Jarai), their music verging on the brink of extinction as they further integrate into urban populations. These intimate recordings capture a vanishing tradition heavy on gongs and voice. One stunning selection was about the most heart-rending love song we'd heard in a while, despite our not understanding a word of it.
Buy CD $14.99

[V.A.] "International Sad Hits Volume 1" (20|20|20 / Ba Da Bing)
Real Audio: "Just as Long"
A brilliant collection of songs from around the globe, showcasing modern folk artists from Japan, Korea, and Turkey. From Fikret Kizilok's beautiful Nick Drake-style ballads to the incredibly intense and mournful works by Kan Mikami, this compilation is an excellent introduction to these foreign sounds of woeful despair.
Buy CD $14.99

[V.A.] "Jarana's Four Aces - Vocal Duets From the Streets Of Lima" (Topic/British Library Sound Archive)
Real Audio: Permita San Canturino"
Jarana was a form of dance music that originated in the ghettos of Lima, Peru during the late 19th century and continued to rise in popularity through the mid-20th century. In a vastly overpopulated city, multiple families often occupied single rooms and it was through these extremely cramped living conditions that jarana evolved. Handclapping and guitars are prominent in these intimate recordings from 1958, but violins and percussion can also be heard, and if you listen closely, even the non-Spanish speaker can pick up on the unique interplay and dexterity of the singers and players.
Buy CD $18.99

[V.A.] "Panama! Latin Funk and Calypso on the Isthmus 1965-75" (Soundway)
Real Audio: "Panama Esta Bueno Y...Ma"
Situated between the two Americas, the musicians on Panama! draw from both sides. There's a battery of fine Afro-Cuban poly-rhythms on display, but also a heavy debt to American funk, with a few tracks shouted out in English. The compilation shows Panamanians having a great deal of respect for, in particular, Soul Brother Number One, James Brown. A mighty fine culture clash.
Buy CD $15.99

[V.A.] "Tibetan and Bhutanese Instrumental and Folk Music" (Sub Rosa)
Real Audio: "The Palaces of Gesar's Family"
An excellent introduction to a little known form of music on this side of the world. These recordings were made in 1971 and reflect a broad range of traditional musics from Tibet and Bhutan. From rural folk songs to royal court music, the music centers around a six- (Tibet) and seven- (Bhutan) stringed lute called the dramnyen. Delivered in a solemn tone, the vocals oscillate in stretched-out phrasings that give the music a stark meditative feeling. Just as beguiling as it is calming.
Buy CD $13.99



POPI ASTERIADI WITH LAKIS PAPPAS "Another Sunday Gone" (World Psychedelia)
Real Audio: "Wild Bird"
Charming work from a Greek performing duo who made a name for themselves at the height of Greece's Neo Kyma (new wave) movement. Neo Kyma took cues from both the hashish smoke-filled dins where one could listen to the sounds of rembettika, as well as the work of continental European ballad singers like Georges Brassens and Françoise Hardy. If you're as taken with melancholic music as we are, you'll find much to love here.
Buy CD $16.99

Real Audio: "Grinfa Louca"
Within this diverse set of songs from 1974, you'll detect the influences of Latin and American funk, Afro-beat, rock and samba, with an even heavier emphasis on percussive elements than what was already prevalent in Brazilian music. The recording feels raw and edgy, symbiotic with the urgency of the lyrics, with Paulo Bagunca's singing being somewhat reminiscent of Jorge Ben. Actually, Ben's classic Africa Brazil record from a couple of years later pays a debt to this long-lost gem.
Buy CD $15.99

LUCIO BATTISTI "Amore Non E Amore" (Water)
LUCIO BATTISTI "Umanamente Uomo: Il Sogno" (Water)
Real Audio: "Comunque Bella"
Lucio Battisti, one of Italy's most famous singer-songwriters and the poster boy for that country's tumble into '70s rock maturity, is his homeland's equivalent to Scott Walker or Harry Nilsson, but as he sang exclusively in Italian his name is largely unknown outside of that country. The Water label tried to rectify that this past year with two top-notch reissues of a couple of Battisti's finest works. On Amore e Non Amore, his third album, Battisti touches all the bases; there are organ-fueled rave-ups, plush orchestral beds, moodier meditations, and cracked-voice straight rockers. Melodic throughout, this is an excellent introduction to a man and a scene that rarely gets the accolades it deserves. His fourth album, Umanamente Uomo: Il Sogno, from 1972, also jumps across a range of popular artists' styles -- all well within his depth -- but with a startling knack for well-timed string swells, moody melodies, melancholy passages, even abstract instrumentals that would have been at home on a Krautrock record. Two excellent releases that should be in heavy rotation with fans of British and American 1970s singer-songwriters, French pop fans, or really anyone with a taste for honest, emotional songwriting.
Buy CD $15.99 - "Amore Non E Amore"
Buy CD $15.99 - "Umanamente Uomo: II Sogno"

GIOVANI FUSCO "Music for Michelangelo Antonioni " (Water)
Real Audio: "Titoli"
This anthology collects the instrumental highlights from three of the four Michelangelo Antonio films -- L'Avventura (1959), L'Eclisse (1962), and Deserto Rosso (1964) -- that Giovanni Fusco created scores for. Antonioni's films of this period were a perfect form of anti-cinema, full of internalized action and disjointed or unresolved narratives, for which Fusco responded in kind by delivering anti-soundtracks, shorn of the superfluous instrumentation and overt sentimentality that has characterized so much film music since the advent of the sound era.
Buy CD $15.99

HYLDON "Na Rua, Na Chuva, Na Fazenda" (Polydor Brazil)
Real Audio: "O Balanco Do Violao"
Hyldon may not be a recognizable name outside of Rio and Sao Paulo, but his album Na Rua, Na Chuva, Na Fazenda is an essential piece in the history of Brazilian soul. Mostly a laidback collection, the songs are rich with electric piano and finger-picked guitar, with string arrangements by Roberto Bertrami complementing Hyldon's expressive voice, which often brings to mind the yearning croon of Caetano Veloso. Slow-grooved ballads like the title track and "Na Sombra de uma Árvore" both feature a lush chorus of backing singers and seem as equally indebted, if not more, to soft rock and soul as much as Brazilian music.
Buy CD $19.99

EDU LOBO "Sergio Mendes Presents Lobo" (Rev-Ola)
Real Audio: "Zanzibar"
While it's true that we enjoy the challenging, trailblazing edge of Brazilian music from the late-'60s, a great song steeped in Southern sea and sun is simply irresistible, especially at the hands of a master singer-songwriter like Edu Lobo. This session, recorded in 1969 at the behest of advocate Sergio Mendes in California, is stunning, and as sunny and bright as any on the A&M imprint from this era. In-the-pocket playing from jazzmen like Hermeto Pascoal and Airto Moreira seal the deal on this subtle masterpiece.
Buy CD $16.99

TIM MAIA "Racional Vol 1" (Universal Brazil)
Real Audio: "Bom Senso"
In his homeland, Tim Maia was a hugely influential, best-selling artist who, along with the likes of Banda Black Rio and Jorge Ben, brought American soul music and its burgeoning political consciousness into the mix of Brazilian popular music. In 1975, he made a sudden U-turn in his life, walking away from a lucrative record deal and a massive cocaine habit, and embracing the somewhat unusual teachings of a complicated sci-fi philosophy based on the theorem that human beings are parasites and the arrival of an extraterrestrial race was imminent. Suffice it to say that this resulting album of deep funk and soul is one of the trippiest Brazilian offerings we've heard, yet remarkably subtle and thrilling.
Buy CD $22.99

BADEN POWELL & VINICIUS DE MORAES "Os Afro Sambas de Baden e Vinicius" (Forma)
Real Audio: "Canto de Ossanha"
Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes' 1966 masterpiece is undeniably one of the most important records from that exceptionally fertile decade of Brazilian artistry. During a six month travel in Bahia in the 1960s, Powell explored the Candomble and Umbanda rituals found in the region, studying closely the highly rhythmic, percussive musical traditions involved. Thus inspired, Powell and de Moraes went on to compose this collection of true classics, beautifully sung by de Moraes and female choral group Quarteto Em Cy.
Unavailable at this time

DILIP ROY "Namaskaar" (Cloud Forest)
Real Audio: "Yayman"
How we miss the days of airlines selling records on their flights, especially when it comes to an album like this one by Dilip Roy, as pressed for Air India flights as an aural souvenir of said country. Dilip Roy, for the astute out there, once worked with Bollywood progenitor Ananda Shankar, though his sound here is far more classical (meaning less psychedelic and weird) though no less silken, moody, and exotic, with Indian instrumentation coupling with synthesizers, organs, and electric guitars. One for the friendly skies.
Buy CD $15.99

TAKESHI TERAUCHI "Let's Go Eleki Bushi" (King)
Real Audio: "Takeshi Terauchi - Track 1"
Amazing Japanese surf music from the sixties! Takeshi Terauchi is virtuosic on his guitar as he and his Blue Jeans band tear through a set that puts a distinctly exotic, eastern-flavored twist on sounds inspired by the Ventures, Dick Dale, and the Surfaris.
Buy CD $24.99

IKE REIKO "Kokotsu No Sekai" (Tiliqua)
Real Audio: "Ike Reiko - Track 6"
KUWABARA YUKIKO "Kuwabara Yukiko to Anata" (Tiliqua)
Real Audio: "Kuwabara Yukiko - Track 3"
TAGUCHI KUMI "Tokyo Emmanuelle Fujin - Amai Yoru no Tameiki"
Real Audio: "Taguchi Kumi - Track 3"
TANI NAOMI "Modae no Heya" (Tiliqua)
Real Audio: "Tani Naomi - Track 6"
PETITE M'AMIE "Girlfriend Baby Doll" (Tiliqua)
Real Audio: "Baby Doll"
Here's a bit of swinging pink violence for you all -- five CDs of late-'60s/early-'70s sex-pop by five stars of the Japanese S/M-bondage porn scene. While most of these records consist of a sexed-up starlet cooing and breathily reciting erotic prose overtop easy-listening/pops orchestra arrangements, there's actually more of an eclectic, "hands-on" approach with two of these reissues. Ike Reiko's Kokotsu No Sekai has a bit of a psychedelic ye-ye pop feel, with Ike singing and kicking up a fuss over arrangements that mix something of Gainsbourg's Initials BB with the coked-up sleaze of Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby, while To Anata, by Kuwabara Yukiko, takes more of a noirish crime jazz/back-alley tango approach, with Yukiko vocalizing over heavily reverbed, nicotine-stained saxophones and knife-edged accordion runs. All in all, these albums are quite a bit of fun and have "guilty pleasure" written all over them.
Ike Reiko's "Kokotsu No Sekai" is unavailable at this time
Buy CD $21.99 - Kuwabara Yukiko
Buy CD $21.99 - Taguchi Kumi
Buy CD $21.99 - Tani Naomi
Buy CD $24.99 - Petite M'amie




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