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Bitter Bastard: Worst of 2006

1. Ponderous band names Where once there were "The" bands (The Strokes, The Hives, etc.), 2006 was the year of seeing how many nonsensical words could be crammed into one band title. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Skeletons and the Girl-Faced Boys, Architecture in Helsinki... We blame And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead for making this whole thing okay.

2. Nature motifs Dang. Deer, feathers, wings, dreamcatchers, owls, wolves, and moccasins were big this year. It was like being on a bad trip at Altamont with a bunch of people who wouldn't ever dream of even going camping.
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New York's Blip Invasion

If hearing the Castlevania theme song remixed in the style of MegaMan is enough to get your joystick jumping, then hightail it to New York City's Blip Festival (December 1-3, 2006). Nerds and n00bs alike will find something to appreciate at this three-day event, where a cast of international 8-bit artists will rip the guts out of old game consoles in the name of creative expression. Read more » 

Lutan Fyah: Rasta Ambassador

Jamaican singer Lutan Fyah has a reputation for succinct, spiritually charged language, which lifts the artist (born Anthony Martin) above the pack of just-arrived cultural reggae singers. His third album, Phantom War (Greensleeves), is populated by rich, memorable songs, all imbued with forthright Rasta ethics.

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Getting Restless: London's Snappers

You may not know what to call the hybrid house sounds being made by Jesse Rose, Solid Groove, and company, but there's no mistaking its potent mix of mind-numbingly crisp techno/house beats, gritty, sample-riddled melodies, and bassbin-blowing sub-sonics–or its effectiveness on a dancefloor. UK Magazine DJ came close earlier this year when they dubbed the genre "fidget house," but even this catchy turn-of-phrase fails to encapsulate the whole essence of the sound.

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Ice Cold: Trentemøller Steps Out

"Making The Last Resort (Poker Flat) was a very personal thing for me," asserts Anders Trentemøller of his debut long-player. "It was like therapy. The music on the album reflects my life, my thoughts, my needs, my insecurities, my longings. It was a very lonely process."

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