2006: Tiny Mix Tape for 2006
Individual songs stuck on repeat

Congratulations, you've won a free mix tape created by the TMT Staff! Here's what you need to do: (1) Buy a printer, scissors, and glue. (2) Print this mix tape on white printer paper. (3) Cut out the mix tape portion and trash the rest of it (TMT logo, beige sidebars, etc.). (4) Crumple the mix tape and wait for it to reform. (5) Do it again. (6) One more time. (7) Insert mix tape into your MP3 player. (8) Return the glue.

If you still have diarrhea, stop eating so much fruit.

----
SIDE A:

01. The Walkmen - "Louisiana" (A Hundred Miles Off)

Many tracks hits me over the head with their inventiveness throughout the year, but the song that stuck with me as the months crept by was the first single off of the disappointing Walkmen album, A Hundred Miles Off. A hint of the band's venture into Harry Nilsson territory, the festive horns and lazy ragtime of "Louisiana" always put me in a good mood. I'm not big on summer tunes or winter tunes, but if I ever had a summer song for a year, this was most definitely it. –Jspicer

02. Ghostface Killah - "The Champ" (Fishscale)

If Don King produced music instead of promoting fights, I have no doubt that he would end up with a track eerily similar to Ghostface Killah's "The Champ", a deliciously audacious spectacle of excess. Just Blaze has crafted a glitzy pyrotechnic bed of bombastic brass stabs, molten mercury guitar riffs and sleazy synths that is tailor-made for Ghostface's fiery braggadocio and sublime word play in which he does anything but keep it clean and above the belt. On an album full of solid right hand jabs, "The Champ" is a sly sucker punch that will leave you face down on the canvas wondering what the hell just hit you. –kern

03. Phoenix - "Second to None" (It's Never Been Like That)

How did this happen? How did a shitty French Daft Punk-wannabe has-been group of euro trash dance douches go ahead and create the single best song of 2006 on the single best record of 2006? Is this even possible? I mean, I guess so — it's just that the transformation is quite unbelievable. Listen to some of Phoenix's embarrassing Discovery knockoffs and you'll understand that this song's perfection is that much more remarkable. How could a group go from the painfully awful funk-infusions of a song like "On Fire" to the cleanest, tightest, most energetic and most catchy rock song in pretty much forever? How could they even think to have the pounding drums of the intro and the pre-chorus and basically every other part of the song? Or the monotone lead guitar that grounds the song throughout its thunderous rhythms and chord progressions? Or the simplicity/brilliance of a line like "I've changed, you've changed, it's not the same/ Tell me what's the difference if we go back to normal again?" followed by endless repetitions of "I thought I heard a lie/ I thought I heard a liar"? So many bands have tried — The Strokes, The Futureheads and Maximo Park, to name a few — to capitalize on this sort of retro-rock aesthetic, and most have come anywhere but close. But out of nowhere, from the most unlikely of backgrounds, we get the one song that sums up what the media-dubbed rock revolution of the '00s has been attempting to accomplish for so long. I hate to say it — it's stupid, it's obvious, it's lazy — but it's so true: This year, "Second to None" truly is, well, second to none. –Baron

04. The Flaming Lips - The Sound of Failure (At War With the Mystics)

It would be futile to argue that 2006 was the best year for Oklahoma psych-patriarchs The Flaming Lips. Their long-awaited At War With the Mystics was met with lukewarm reception from most critics, and they got all sweaty headlining Wakarusa. Be that as it may, I'd just like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that Wayne and co. have been kicking complete fucking ass for the past two decades previous to this, and giving up on them now is completely inexcusable. This third track from Mystics ironically succeeds most on the album, with a blissful disco beat that's just as easy to get lost in as anything from one of their previous albums. After all, how many other songs from 2006 were both perfect summertime picnic tunes and clever jabs at Clearchannel musicians? All I'm sayin' is don't write the Lips off altogether - who knows, maybe Christmas on Mars will pleasantly surprise us all. –Papaya

05. Stone Jack Jones – Smile (Bluefolk)

Recently, a friend of mine gleefully noted that Jack Jones, appropriately monikered ‘Stone Jack Jones,' looks like a character from a Tim Burton movie. The black-rimmed glasses, the dark clothing, and the foreboding black hat framing the man's gaunt face do little to dissuade this impression. His music, which combines traditional Appalachian folk influences with plugged-in guitar and electronica, is similarly dark and mysterious. “Smile,” the opening track on Jones' new record, Bluefolk, sets the mood for everything that follows it. A woman's dreamy hum over a faraway trumpet, minor-key piano eighth notes, and the sound of tinkling glasses precedes a melancholy duet by Jones and his more famous guest counterpart, Patty Griffin. Muted electronic percussion, shards of glitch and jagged electric guitar provide a desolate background for Jones' gruff tenor and Griffin's delicately feminine harmonies. Morosely beautiful and atmospheric, “Smile” is one of the most original and memorable tracks released this year. –Leah

06. Danielson - Did I Step On Your Trumpet? (Ships)

Like all of Daniel Smith's (and Famile collaborator Sufjan Stevens's) best efforts, this song brings to mind a high school musical gone improbably right. At first, the lyrics sound like nonsense, but after a few listens you start to understand Danielson's completely relatable rant about the stress and awkwardness of human interaction. What really elevates this track, though, are its constant vicissitudes. Marching band percussion swells and fades at just the right moments. The titular trumpet makes an appearance. An introductory "OH NO!" slides into simple call-and-response verses and the Danielson ladies' prim admonishments about social clues and goodwill gestures; sing-along choruses transition to Smith's voice straining towards freedom and transcendence. This is one musical that won't put you to sleep, and also won't, um... suck. –Judy Ain't No Punk

07. Pink Reason- “Throw it Away” (Throw it Away 7")

Kevin DeBroux probably didn't think about the bands he wanted to emulate when he sat down and wrote “Throw It Away.” The song may bring to mind the unpretentious nature of early-90s indie rock and even hint at the deconstructionist blues of Royal Trux [#2], but it is truly a work that stands on its own. Judging from the rotating cast of new songs on his myspace page (www.myspace.com/secondculture), DeBroux just writes the melodies to his songs based on the overall lyrical mood, not to conform to any specific genre. “Throw it Away” finds DeBroux incorporating a bit of gothic murk, a vacuum of a guitar/bass riff, allusions to indie rock heroes of yesteryears and all the charm that fits on four-tracks. In the course he exemplifies the spirit of “other” that gravitated many of us away from the bombast of mainstream rock in the early-90s and towards lo-fi bands like Pavement, Royal Trux and Guided by Voices. With one three-and-a-half minute rocker packaged in a Xeroxed sleeve, DeBroux breathed life into the “D.I.Y.” belief that magic happens in the garages and basements of American independent musicians. –S. Kobak

08. Fujiya & Miyagi - "Conductor 71" (Transparent Things (Deaf, Dumb and Blind)

Apparently Fujiya and Miyagi missed the memo that explicitly states that they are not German and this is not twenty-odd years ago, because this English duo have concocted one of the best Kraut-rock styled tunes to pop up in quite a while. "Conductor 71" is a Neu!-flavored groover with icily precise drums and sturdy bass lines tethering the warm, amorphous synths just enough to keep them from blossoming and billowing too far into the ether. Here's hoping that the pair's influences continue to manifest themselves throughout their future work, and that "Conductor 71" is more than just a one motorik pony. –kern

09. Venetian Snares – “pwntendo” (Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms)

Childish possessions that represent a tremendous amount of nostalgia litter my home. I have a plastic Optimus Prime that's missing a head and a right hand. I have a talking Batman coin bank that I found in the garbage that is now sitting on the mantel. Most importantly though, I have a Nintendo Entertainment System hooked up to my TV with a collection of nearly 90 games. I have more memories with that little grey box than most people have with their entire family. So when one my favorite artists not only dedicates an entire track to the 8-bit wonder, but also makes the BEST track dedicated to the NES, I get excited. There are elements of every game that kicked ass in this song, including Contra, Battletoads, Ninja Gaiden, Bionic Commando, Cobra Triangle and even fucking Ducktales. The unrelenting bleeps and bloops are like tiny sonic orgasms in my ears, and they escape the speakers faster than I can process, which is awesome. I had to listen to it again, and again, and again to hear it all, and just like some of the best video game music out there, it never got old. –munroe

10. Ladyhawk - "My Old Jacknife" (Ladyhawk)

This song is so damn catchy you wonder why they don't play this 24/7 on mainstream radio instead of "Fergalicious." You might say this track has a catchy hook reminiscent of Wolf Parade hype. Fortunately, Ladyhawk didn't get haunted by the hype ghost. Instead "My Old Jacknife" perforates into your skin with a mighty jab that helps balance a perfectly unbalanced album of teenage abnormalities to mature envisagement. With the line "No one cares about me," it is a perfect anti-anthem. If this was 1983, my favorite track of the year would be Katrina and the Waves "Walking on Sunshine." In 2006, it is "My Old Jacknife" that makes me insanely content, no matter what is going on in my life. It is just one of those songs that you could never murder someone to, exactly what I look for in a song. -Emceegreg

----

SIDE B:

01. Boozoo Bajou featuring Oh No - "Back Up" (Juke Joint II)

This was definitely the track of the summer for me; a little taste-testing teaser for Oh No's yet-to-be-released Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms LP. Let's face it; the producer/DJ/MC has got some serious talent, and it's not surprising. His father was a soul singer in the '70s, his uncle was an amazingly talented jazz trumpeter, and his brother is a musician often known as Madlib. "Back Up" is unsurprisingly the most intriguing cut on Boozoo Bajou's latest mix, Juke Joint II, with Oh No spitting unforgettable lyrics ("I am not here for your employment/ I am just here for your girl's enjoyment/ She gave me the job just to work the lube in/ I'm the reason for your home improvement") delivered perfectly over Boozoo Bajou's rolling stop/start funk beats. Excellent, unforgettable stuff. –Chris Gliddon

02. Nelly Furtado – “Promiscuous Girl” (Loose)

Last year, my friend and I were going to make shirts that had Timbaland's face on them and the slogan “Where'd Tim go?” The guy kind of fell of the face of the Earth after 2003; he didn't have any big hits for the next two years and produced a bunch of songs for artists no one really cares about. In 2005, he produced a total of 10 songs, and only one of those was a single; it wasn't even a good one (“Put You on the Game”). But then Tim came crashing into 2006, ruining all hopes for a t-shirt for my friend and I. “Promiscuous Girl” is easily one of my favorite songs of the past year. I played this thing probably five times a day for two months straight. You might think of it as Nelly Furtado's Gwen Stefani moment, and the lyrics are complete trash (Thomas Crown and Steve Nash references aside), but when those Tears for Fears-sounding synths drop by on the chorus, I forget about all that and all I can do is laugh at how ridiculously awesome the whole thing is. Tim's work on FutureSex/LoveSounds is better (maybe [probably]), but this is the song that marked the return of one of my favorite producers and one of the most exciting people, pop or otherwise, making music right now. Welcome back, Mr. Mosley. Stick around for a while. –Matty G

03. Beach House - "Master of None" (Beach House)

The older I've gotten, the more I've decided that big questions (Is life meaningless?) don't matter and replaced them with absurd questions such as: what would the music sound like in a Polynesian bar if I were drinking with Nico and Mazzy Star and they decided to serenade me after some smarty-pants slipped some Quaaludes into my Blue Hawaiian? As fate would have it, "Master of None" answers that very question with its combination of candied vocals languidly floating over a narcoleptic haze of leisurely drums and gooey pedal steel. Now about that meaning of life thing... –kern

04. CSS - "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above" (Cansei De Ser Sexy)

You probably get about half a million scene points for loving this song. There's not much trendier than a Brazilian electro-girl-pop group singing about a well-loved Canadian dance/noise duo. Despite the hipness, this song lives up to its hype. You'll find no deeper meanings here- it's three-and-a-half minutes of pure dance floor pleasure, featuring steamy synths and quips like, "Kiss me, I'm drunk/Don't worry, it's true." Death from Above 1979 may be gone for good, but at least the dearly departed band has been given a fitting tribute in the form of the best dance party hit of 2006. –Judy Ain't No Punk

05. Ekkehard Ehlers - "Ain't No Grave" (A Life Without Fear)

This is the song where a German experimental artist fidgets with the African-American blues tradition and stumbles upon its essence. Ehlers had dabbled in this kind of work before, but here's the first time it's felt less like a mangling and more like interplay. The guitar follows a rhythm but crackles, cuts off, rumbles. The voice (my god, the voice!) moans and wails but smothers itself in soupy layering and a haunting monotone. By the end it's all lapsed into abstraction, but for four minutes Ehlers captures that delicate period of discovery in songwriting: when the tones are still stuttering, the voice is still wavering, the emotion is still structureless. And always that low rumbling in the background. –Squeo

06. Headlights – “Hi-Ya!” (Kill Them with Kindness)

This song is irresistible. If you still have your clothes on by the end of the song, then you have got to be a Taurus or just a strong-willed person. It's a short song that will have you confused by the end as to why there's Cheese Whiz all over your chest. “Hi-Ya!” is about having a good time, and who doesn't have a good time with Cheese Whiz? This song is very different from the rest of the album, Kill Them With Kindness, but worth checking out. With bubbly-pop keyboard and guitar riffs that are on fire, it's a song you can clap to, and clapping is the new cowbell. Trust me. –Sonai

07. Joanna Newsom – “Sawdust and Diamonds” (Ys)

A couple weeks before Ys came out I saw Joanna live, excited about previewing the new material, I didn't download any of the tracks beforehand. As I'd hoped, she ran through the entire album from beginning to end, a rare opportunity to hear an album straight through for the first time live. The first two tracks left me impressed, but it was album centerpiece “Sawdust and Diamonds” that left me breathless. With just her harp and her voice (which has definitely matured, though the trademark squeak never left), Joanna expressed more pain and longing in those 10 minutes than most bands can convey in an entire album, and you could see that feeling in her face as her hands floated effortlessly over the strings. When the final notes rang out over auditorium, the entire audience let out the breath they'd been holding since the first note, and I was not the only one in the room wiping a few tears away. This song is heartbreaking, gorgeous, epic and undoubtedly the best work Joanna's produced yet. -NicoleMC99

08. Beirut - "The Gulag Orkestar" (Gulag Orkestar)

It is perhaps morbid to think of the music one might find appropriate to be played for a funeral, but after being immersed in the exquisite cocoon of melancholia that is "The Gulag Orkestar," I can say there would be few better choices. This modern dirge lumbers heavily along its path in a fitful rhythm, its hollow percussion crashing like the footfalls of a hundred pallbearers, its wavering, cracking trumpets crying a river of brassy tears, and Zac Condon's baleful moan vocalizing someone's festering grief. Unique, awkward, yet strangely life-affirming, this is truly music for the mourning after. –kern

09. Chin Up Chin Up - "This Harness Can't Ride Anything" (This Harness Can't Ride Anything)

Where the rest of This Harness is puffed-up with cottage-cheese-thigh vocals and hooks that are too soft to sink their barb into thine cheek, its title track succeeded in keeping our feet bouncing and bopping aerobically as if summer never sunk back into the clouds. The maddeningly insistent beat is the nucleus of this barn-burner, but seismic 'whoops' of guitar really tie the track together, conjuring the joyousness of a band that somehow eeks new, exciting gallops from elements we've all heard a ka-jillion times befo'. As awkward as the growing pains of This Harness are -- you can practically see the stretchmarks pocked across this uneven sophomore effort -- this caffeine-boosted pocket of warmth soothes aches and pains like the kiss of a longing lover and stimulates the soul like the hot-orange spark a shard of flint makes when it strikes cement. You can question their rep tally and rain on their pep rally, but "This Harness Can't Ride Anything" proves you can't count Chin Up Chin Up out until they've dropped from the high bar and folded up their pom-poms for good. -Grant Purdum