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8. Brightblack Morning Light

Brightblack Morning Light

(Matador)

Brightblack Morning Light is the product of Nathan Shineywater and Rachael Hughes, a couple of nomadic tree-huggers from Alabama, who left their homes to live in tents somewhere in Northern California. Psychedelic doesn't begin to describe the contents of the disc. Judging from the rambling, reverb-drenched vocals that drift aimlessly above the smoldering haze of organs and drowsy guitars before evaporating, these freaky folkers obviously smoked some of those trees or something, man.

9. Arctic Monkeys

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

(Domino)

This past spring, the Arctic Monkeys were on the tongues of tastemakers and (ack!) hipsters everywhere. The hype machine was stuck in overdrive, and I swore that I wouldn't fuel it. In the end, though, I finally succumbed and bought in to the quartet's spunky, tangled, three-chord rock and roll swindle. I was drawn in by the messy, frenetic bedlam of "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "Dancing Shoes," and now I can't get the monkey off my back. Sucker? Guilty as charged.

10. She Wants Revenge

She Wants Revenge

(Geffen)

There's plenty of reasons I shouldn't dig She Wants Revenge. For starters, the act's sound is completely derivative. (Obviously so. I mean, really, a song titled "Tear You Apart"?) And the skuzzy, minimalistic electro come-ons seem just a little too calculated in a Hot Topic Goth sort of way. In spite of all that, though, there's something oddly riveting to me about a band that can deliver lines like, "She's in the Bathroom/She pleasures herself," with a straight face. — Dave Herrera

Roll Over Paul Oakenfold, And Tell DJ Tiesto The News: Top 10 DJ Mixes of 2006

Recordings of DJ mixes have been multiplying like email spam over the last decade. The sheer volume of said releases is overwhelming, and it makes one wonder: Who the hell is buying them? There must be a demand if labels keep issuing the things as if the music industry has a future (such quixotic earnestness warms the heart as 2006 limps to its dismal conclusion). Whoever you are, bless you for keeping this art form financially solvent. For your efforts, you deserve a top-10 guide — in alphabetical order, even — to the year's most excellent DJ mixes. Happy holidays, lovers of intelligent track selection and ingenious segues!

1. Audion

Fabric 27

(Fabric Records)

2. Marco Carola

Fabric 31

(Fabric Records)

Fabric is a London-based club and record label that issues two mixes per month with phenomenal quality control — a novel concept. It's tough to choose the imprint's finest releases, but after much internal debate, we're going with Audion's and Marco Carola's, which edge out Carl Craig's and Tiefschwarz's contributions. Audion (Detroit's Matthew Dear) and the Italian Carola are masters of experimental yet pumping techno. They spin the brainy anthems to which you can swing your shirt around your head and shout yourself hoarse while still respecting yourself in the morning. Both jocks favor the intricately designed minimalism that's gained momentum in forward-thinking clubs, but their aural menu will still seem damned exotic to 99.8 percent of the population. Roll over Paul Oakenfold, and tell DJ Tiesto the news.

3. Cassy

Panorama Bar 01

(Ostgut)

In Germany and other enlightened European nations, hundreds of people will pack a venue and dance from midnight till 10 a.m. to weird, slant-grooved techno. These dynamos are lucky to have DJs like Cassy to provide their bizarrely hedonistic soundtracks. A resident at Berlin's Panorama Bar, Cassy recreates on this 24-track disc a portion of a typically sublime night at said emporium of elite electronic music, as cuts by Melchior Productions, Ricardo Villalobos, DBX, Ø, Mathias Kaden, V/A, NSI, and many more worthies prove. Her mix elegantly combines scrupulous tonal science with near-peak-time euphoria — a difficult balance to attain.

4. Four Tet

DJ-Kicks

(!K7)

Four Tet (Englishman Kieran Hebden) makes eclecticism sound like the best idea ever on this 20-track mix. He's one of those DJs with voracious curiosity, fantastic taste, and a knack for connecting unlikely tracks into revelatory segues, as demonstrated on DJ-Kicks. Avant-dronesmithery (David Behrman), electro (Syclops), funky soul (Curtis Mayfield), menacing proto-synth rock (Heldon), UK garage (So Solid Crew), microhouse (Akufen), tribal indie rock (Animal Collective), jazz fusion (Julian Priester), African mbira jams (Shona people of Zimbabwe), underground hip-hop (Madvillain, Group Home), fruity prog rock (Gong), techno (Model 500), IDM (Autechre), and more jostle among themselves and revel in their diversity like long-lost sonic kin. Surprise is Hebden's S.O.P. His transitions aren't the smoothest, but with aesthetics this advanced, it hardly matters. DJ-Kicks is like the weirdest party soundtrack you've never had the pleasure to hear in real life.

5. Girl Talk

Night Ripper

(Illegal Art)

The sensational reaction to Night Ripper has rocketed Girl Talk (Pittsburgh's Gregg Gillis) to Rustbelt Diplo status. Dude's received tons of hype and consequently has performed before loads of celebs and shallow trend-sniffers in 2006, but don't hate on Girl Talk. He's earned his It DJ prestige by splicing together the most enjoyable mashup document to date. Night Ripper is an ADDled, bacchanalian mixtape of supreme cleverness and boasts more fun per minute than any release this year. The disc is like a remix of almost 40 years' worth of top 40 charts, expertly edited — Gillis surgically implants over 150 sample sources — for maximum party-rockin' and ironic, iconoclastic belly laughs. This is your obsessive music geek mind on random shuffle. Unlikely juxtapositions somehow cohere into zesty new sonic flavors. Who knew yacht rock and mainstream rap worked so well together? Who ever thought George Benson, Boston, and Boredoms could harmoniously share disc space? Girl Talk, that's who.

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