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  • Best of 2006, Part Three: Old Familiar Faces
    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    Yesterday we featured excellent new artists making excellent new music, so today, we're featuring the best new records by well-established artists, veterans who have been around for many years, and who continue to make excellent records. It's always good to hear that people don't simply stop making music after years and years of record-making, and these records certainly show that.

    Tanya Donelly This Hungry Life: It's always nice to hear a Tanya song, and this record--recorded in a small club in front of a friendly, loving audience--highlights everything we like about her work. The warm, electric atmosphere created by the live stage really adds a nice element to her songs. It also features an excellent cover of George Harrison's "Long, Long, Long." (Eleven Thirty Records)
    Listen To: Various Tracks

    The Lemonheads The Lemonheads: After a decade of retirement, Evan Dando brings his band back, and boy, do they sound great! Of course, considering his fellow band members are former Descendents and that J Mascis through in an extra guitar solo here and there, this "reunion" record is actually harder and tougher than any previous Lemonheads LP. And ladies, he's still dreeeeammmmyyy. (Vagrant Records)
    Listen To: Various Tracks


    Robert Pollard: From a Compound Eye: Pollard's first post-GBV solo album was an excellent double-album filled with some of his best songwriting to date. (Well, the best until the Keene Brothers, but that's another story.) A new phase in Pollard's storied career started this year, and has proven to be, in one word, amazing. (Merge Records)

    Stuart Staples Leaving Songs: Tindersticks' lead singer takes a respite from his day job to release an album of sad, morose and impeccably arranged pop songs. The video he made for "That Sinking Feeling" featured him as a choo-choo train. Charming! Packaged with his first solo album only highlighted how excellent this album is. If ever you needed proof of Staples' genius, this album is it. (Beggars Banquet)
    Listen To: Various Tracks


    His Name is Alive Detrola: Warn Defever and company eschew the R&B slow-jams of their past two albums, and make a record that blends together the mellow elements of those two records with a style reminiscent of HNIA's late 90s output. But this isn't a throwback; this is an entirely new style, one that's richer and much more lush and mature in its scope. (Silver Mountain)
    Listen To: Various Tracks


    Stephen Brodsky's Octave Museum Stephen Brodsky's Octave Museum: Cave In front man's third solo album and first with his new band, and it's a keeper. It's not lo-fi like his previous releases, nor is it loud prog-metal like Cave In, either. This new direction, it's a great one, and it's not really all that surprising. Cave In may be on hiatus, but Brodsky's proven that life goes on, and this record proves that tears over Cave In's demise are unnecessary. (Hydrahead)
    Listen To: Various Tracks


    Eric Bachmann To the Races: Bachmann's first true, real, on-its-own solo album finds him treading straight into sadness and melancholy, in a way that's darker and deeper than anything Crooked Fingers ever did. Maybe it's because he's really by himself this time around, but this music is just too utterly sad and beautiful to be done any other way. (Saddle Creek)
    Listen To: Various Tracks


    Roddy Frame Western Skies: Twenty-five years in, Frame still has the knack for writing a lovely, engaging tune. Frame's smiling face on the cover says it all: he's a clever sort, as witnessed through this album of easy-going, unhurried, gentle, yet never too serious pop songs. The only thing about Western Skies that disappointed was the fact that most people didn't get the opportunity to hear it. Ah well, such is life, but if you heard it, then you know what you were getting. (Redemption Records)
    Listen To: Various Tracks


    Sparklehorse Dreamt For Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain: Mark Linkous rarely releases music, but when he does, it's always grand, and this is no exception. Sound-wise, it's not all that different from what you'd expect from the Sparklehorse name, except with lyrics that are a bit more positive and bright. Consistency like this might seem lazy, but if you know the source, then it really doesn't matter, does it?(Astralwerks)
    Listen To: Various Tracks


    New Radiant Storm King The Steady Hand: Who knew? Who knew that this minor alt.rock band from the early 1990s would return, and would return with their best record to date? I sure didn't; and though I always felt NRSK were OK, that they could produce a record as good as The Steady Hand really, really took me by surprise. In a good way, of course.(Darla Records)
    Listen To: Various Tracks

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 9:17 AM  
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