Dusted Features

Dusted's 2006 Editorial Mid-Year Roundup

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Features

Dusted's co-editors, Otis Hart and Sam Hunt pool brainpower to narrow down ten of their favorite records to come out in the first half of 2006.

Dusted's 2006 Editorial Mid-Year Roundup

Steffen Basho-Junghans - In The Morning Twilight (Kning Disc)

Steffen Basho-Junghans apparently doesn’t think this concert is one of his best. We’re going to have to agree to disagree on that one. This is a mesmerizing solo acoustic performance from Göteborg, Sweden, last year, and unfortunately, it’s limited to 265 copies. On top of Basho-Junghans’ paranormal dexterity, the quality of the recording is gorgeous. I’m blown away that this is one man and one guitar with no overdubs. It might be hard to track down now, but my money’s on someone over here reissuing this very soon. Bliss transmogrified. (Otis)

Colossal Yes - Acapulco Roughs (Ba Da Bing!)

Ben Goldberg’s Ba Da Bing! label has gotten a lot of attention this year, thanks to the blog success of Neutral Milk, er, Beirut’s Gulag Orkestar. This album kicks its ass, softly but soundly. Yes man Utrillo Kushner spends his nights diametrically drumming for Comets on Fire and dreaming about Keep The Fire, then wakes up in the morning and spins AM gold on the ivories. This is modern-day Yacht Rock, miraculously without the cheese or the irony. One of the things I love about this record is Kushner’s perplexing choruses that beg for a Bic. He bestows ”Severe attraction, the wealthy appetite / They’re jumping off the golden gates tonight” with the weight of the world, then carries it home. As he sings on “O’Crocus Shall Be Raised,” “Yes is the answer!” (Otis)

The Concretes - In Colour (Astralwerks)

Though not as clear a breakout as we’ve had in years past (Death Vessel, Newsom, Stevens, Black Dice), as usual there is one record that stands out to both Otis and me, and as usual we don’t realize it until a few months into our heavy listening. This year’s top pick is the criminally glazed-over release by the Swedish n-tet The Concretes. Their songs are delicate, polished, and completely lovely, but never overly so. This is as perfect a record a band could make without tipping over the edge to become TOO perfect. Not an easy thing to do! (Sam)

Danielson - Ships (Secretly Canadian)

The Outsider’s insider, Daniel Smith has changed his name (a bit), but not his tune, and this record is his most epic, coherent, and captivating to date. Though not likely to convert anyone who has already taken an anti-Danielson position, to those already in favor, it forever seals the deal. His arrangements are wacky and original, but never pretentious or overbearing – unlike those of his protégé, Sufjan Stevens – and his songs would be as appropriate to hear in a smoky club as they would in an Andrew Lloyd Webber production. Take or leave the bizarre lyrics and marine theme (oh, and the all-star guest appearances are nice), this is a great record. (Sam)

Ekkehard Ehlers - A Life Without Fear (Staubgold)

A blues record made by an electro-acoustic musician from Frankfurt, Germany. Ehlers has been down this road before in a sense, when he created the “Plays Robert Johnson” 7”, but that was strictly blues in theory, blues as a reference tool. A Life Without Fear is the real thing – granted, with free-jazz excursions and deconstructed guitar. The avant-garde would seem to be the yang to the blues’ yin, but Ehlers bridges the gap without ever sounding affected. A bizarre but pleasant experience full of surprises. (Otis)

Howe Gelb - 'Sno Angel Like You (Thrill Jockey)

Just as I had reached the breaking point of taking an interest in post-Chore of Enchantment releases from Giant Sand main grain Gelb, here arrives his best record since the aforementioned 2000 masterpiece. While Chore received much of its heft from Gelb’s struggle to cope with the death of a friend, ’Sno Angel Like You (as you could maybe tell from the title), is a more whimsical affair. What sets it apart from the other dozen or so releases that have come out since is the severe and uncharacteristic focus that Gelb kindly lends to these songs. It stands to reason that the gospel choir hired on to assist with this record was not as keen to screw around as the porch-sitters that Gelb has held in his employ lately, but credit must be given to Gelb for leading the way on such a powerful and powerfully catchy record. (Sam)

Ghostface - Fishscale (Def Jam)

Beyond your Dres and Jays (Z and Dilla), there are few names in the hip hop world to whom you can set your watch more than that of the Ghostface Killa (Dennis Coles to his mom…I would think). Last year’s Pretty Toney Album was a breakout for sure, but Fishscale is the masterpiece. Everything – right down the skits – is tight, tough, and totally off-the-wall, without ever reverting to dopeyness. From start to finish, it’s as good a hip hop record as I’ve heard in years. (Sam)

J Dilla - Donuts (Stones Throw)

This one broke a lot of rules, both theoretical (a hip hop album bereft of vocals where the longest song is under three minutes) and legal (loads of uncleared samples from 10cc, Eddie Kendricks, Raymond Scott, etc.). James Yancey slaved over these while dying from lupus, and how he conjured such joy banging on death’s door is a mystery destined to be discussed for ages to come. Separating the music on Donuts from its context is impossible and makes for one of the most bittersweet records I’ve ever heard. Ill ease. (Otis)

Vetiver - To Find Me Gone (DiCristina)

Unfairly pigeonholed as merely a Devendra Banhart band-member/sidekick, on his second album, Andy Cabic made a musical statement that I don’t think anybody expected. Calling upon influences from the entire modern history of folk music – as much from the English countryside as Southern California – To Find Me Gone is a modern classic. It hasn’t become the year’s breakout soft-rock hit, but any fan of Wilco or Joanna Newsom could fall in love with this one in a heartbeat. (Sam)

Scott Walker - The Drift (4AD)

The Drift offers no easy answers or apologies. Almost painfully intense, it demands your complete attention for 68 minutes and 52 seconds, and don’t even think about listening to it via mp3. Anything less, and you’re missing the point. Walker literally perfects his records for years on end, and the production here exceeds even Radiohead standards. The bass drum on “Clara” makes me think I know how the narrator felt in “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Combine that with enough lyrical ambiguity to spawn a senior thesis and you have an album immune to hyperbole. (Otis)

By Dusted Magazine

Read More

View all articles by Dusted Magazine

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.