France's Chica Chic always asks us for our favorite tracks of the year and we usually oblige for the sake of turning others on to these releases. I admit I wish I had perused a more diverse array of sounds this year, but DJing Pure Fire every week of this past year has kept my ears firmly planted in my record bag. Nonetheless, I have heard African rave, more and more gypsy punk, hyphy, Swedish pop (props to The Knife!) and enough international YouTube images to keep me smiling with discovery.
I spent most of my money on dubstep this year: Loefah, Boxcutter, Mala, Appleblim, Shackleton, Skream, Digital Mystiks and Kode 9. Finally music for us heads, something to smoke to... Reminds me of the way I felt after hearing jungle for the first time, all organic bass dread and techy cinematic flourishes, but for a mid-life body ready to dance a little slower. Dubstep also gave us vinyl heads reason to run to the record store - well-cut tracks on thick vinyl with clever concepts and sharp graphics.
It was a great year for hip hop with The Clipse, Ghostface, E-40 and J-Dilla all delivering stellar LPs alongside other great stuff from Lil Wayne, Nas, and a half million Southern acts, as well as outsider acts like CX Kidtronik and grime's JME and Wiley...
We were very focused on our own output this year and didn't hear enough breakcore we loved, but there were definite standout tracks from Filastine, Aaron Spectre, Timeblind, Istari Lasterfahrer, Rotator and Cycheouts-Ghost, among others. Many underground electronic acts tried to branch into group acts as the spectre of the laptop live act floundered amid the ease of Ableton live, Serrato and the like. Here's hoping underground electronic musicians pull some solid LPs out their ass in 2007, because 2006 didn't see enough.
I tried to branch out and listen to more indie rock, but wasn't as excited with it the way I was a year ago with Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective, Black Dice, etc., who all continued to release dope shit in 2006. Sorry, I'm not feeling The Decemberists, Tapes 'n' Tapes, The Destroyer, Califone, Calexico and dozens of other similar groups floating around Williamsburg iPods. Not that it's bad music or bad songs or badly produced. Most of it is really good music... and that's the problem: conservative expectations for conservative hipsters.
Where are the Broklyn Beats acts, you ask? Well, I have a separate, devoted list of my favorite tracks from our own roster. These will have to wait for our upcoming label sampler on our new sublabel Applecore. Until then, peruse the lists and good luck to all in 2007!!!
Criterion, Broklyn Beats Records
Top Ten Favorite LPs of 2006
DMZ imprint - Hard to pick favorites from the litter of 12"s that Mala, Coki and Loefah gave us this year, so let's pretend they're all on one CD which should happen anyway: "Root," "Anti-War Dub", "Left Leg Out" for starters...
Skull Disco imprint - Ditto here... Appleblim and Shackleton's hand-full of singles were full of tribal dread from the echo chamber percussion to the bass experiments to the cover illustrations.
Skream "Skream!" LP - Could do no wrong this year with his clean, bubbling dubstep sound.
The Clipse "Hell Hath No Fury" LP - Actually their "We Got it for Cheap" mixes were the true winners this year, but we'll take this for the inclusion of "Trill" and "Hello New World."
J-Dilla "Donuts" LP (Stone's Throw)
Wasteland - "All vs. All" CD (Transparent) The most overlooked record of the year. Scud and I-Sound hammer out their most industrial release yet, shimmering with unspeakable horrors and beauty, a sound pure and innovative.
Bad Brains "Live at CBGB's 1982" DVD - an undeniably powerful testament to one of the best live acts ever.
Ghostface Killah "Fishscales" CD
CX Kidtronik "Krak Attak" CD - Outsider rap incorporates everyone from downtown electronics to Harlem's Dipset while focusing on CX's wicked raw beats and innovative DJ ear.
E-40 "My Ghetto Report Card" LP - Not enough people making fun music in an ear-candy vein these days.
Top Ten Favorite Singles of 2006
Parts & Labor "Tiny Lightning"
The Clipse "Hello New World"
Lil Wayne "Fireman"
E-40 "Tell Me When to Go"
Rotator "Distorted Species"
Les Trolls "Ultrasonic Breakfast"