The Best of Post-Youth (Sam Hunt)
I don't think I've ever had as hard of a time assembling my year-end list as I have had this year. 2006, like every other year in my life, saw the release of an overwhelming amount of good music. However, unlike past years, there was no single record that leapt out as my obvious favorite. Perhaps this is a result of my taste having become dull and jaded, but I'd like to believe I have at least a few good years left before reaching that point. There are no hidden gems here; almost every record listed below was given due consideration by the general public. We're all online here, and accessibility is no longer a viable excuse. As a result the listener now, more than ever, is responsible for drawing his or her own conclusions. Otis and I are the editors of this site, and our year-end pieces run last, but hopefully the past week has helped express that we do not speak with one "Dusted" voice, nor do we ever intend to do so. You heard their versions, now here's how I saw it happen (in alphabetical order):
Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit (Matador)
It didn't even make my mid-year Top 10, but to my surprise this is a record that I'm always glad to have shuffled onto. The songs are as rich as any from their back catalog, and the over-the-top production grew on me far more than I thought would be possible after the first listen. And yeah, it's totally wussy. Sue me.
Archie Bronson Outfit - Derdang Derdang (Domino)
Buried beneath its rocking labelmates and their gargantuan records, the Archie Bronson Outfit can only be suffering from something that lacks proper terminology, but is something like the opposite of a sophomore slump. The trio’s first record was boring, flat, uninspired, etc., so in this day and age who really has time to give someone a second shot? The next big thing could be a click away, so why bother with someone who blew it the first time through? Derdang Derdang is one reason why that sort of logic sucks. Compact, raging, mega-catchy from start to finish (and not just from start to halfway through as Dusted's review would have you believe), this is as close to a No. 1 record as you'll find on this list.
The Concretes - In Colour (Astralwerks)
In spite of writing some of the most lush, beautiful songs of the year, this band was never really able to get off the ground, and broke up a few dates into the tour to support this record. Driving melodies, epic instrumentation, and just the right amount of cheesiness combined to make this record awesome. Here's keeping an eye out for Taken by Trees, lead singer Victoria Bergsman's new project.
Danielson - Ships (Secretly Canadian)
This one just made the cut, since it's probably not even my favorite Daniel Smith record. Even more zanier and off-the-wall than his last record, Ships screeches and sails from start to finish, stuttering and exploding oddly catchy songs structured more like those from a Broadway show than an indie rock record.
Howe Gelb - 'Sno Angel Like You (Thrill Jockey)
Nate Hogan hit the nail on the head about this one in his year-end piece. Years of comparing mailed-in Gelb records to the Chore of Enchantment bar have finally paid off. This record is as good or better than Chore! Here's to hoping I don't spend another seven years comparing Howe Gelb solo whistle records to 'Sno Angel.
Joanna Newsom - Ys (Drag City)
Another record that I couldn't possibly have much to say about that hasn't been said by every other writer in the world. The scale and amount of time spent thinking about, writing, and making this record still boggles my mind. I listen to it alongside countless bedroom pop records and imagine it as a school project in which most of the class copied one-page papers from Cliff's Notes, while Newsom turned in a 50-page groundbreaking thesis. A+.
Jack Rose - Jack Rose (Archived / Tequila Sunrise)
This record is not necessarily better than last year's jaw-dropping Kensington Blues, but since I totally missed the boat on hearing K.B. until 2006, I couldn’t live with myself if I let another year go by without some year-end representation by this finger-picking genius. Like Kensington Blues this self-titled delight is a collection of open tuned ditties and ragas that are among the only songs that, when they come on, consistently get me to stop typing/clicking and pause for brief hypnosis.
Susanna and the Magical Orchestra - Melody Mountain (Rune Grammofon)
Perhaps the least kitschy covers record of all time, Susanna Wallumrød and Morten Qvenild (with crucial production help from Deathprod) sucks the fun out of songs by AC/DC, Kiss, Depeche Mode, and a number of other ’70s and ’80s classics. The icy, haunting treatments are nearly transformed into heart-wrenchers and tearjerkers, all anchored by their minimal instrumental treatment, and Susanna's flawless vocals. Another contender for the never-to-be-defined top slot.
Vetiver - To Find Me Gone
By the time the first song is finished, Vetiver's Andy Cabic has already nearly shaken all of the 'freak folk' off of his good name and established himself as something in between a Jim O'Rourke worshipper and the next Wilco (with a dash of Dead). The song in question, "Been So Long," is the best song of 2006.
Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador)
How many other groups can claim that their best album was their 12th (or however many this makes). Top notch efforts from all three YLTs make for an album that never seems to get old.
By Sam Hunt