2006 was the year that hype threatened to overshadow the music itself. Blogs babbled, publications preached and sometimes it was downright distracting. Despite the considerable pap, though, Top 40 had its moments – witness Timberlake’s triumphs or T.I.’s coronation. A handful of more underground artists emerged as true visionaries, releasing albums of both substance and ambition. From allegorical baroque epics (Joanna Newsom) to icy, doom-riddled electronica (The Knife) and radiant instrumental hip hop (J Dilla), 2006 was a year of exploration and growth shrouded by a cynical veil.

It turned out that this year was also extremely kind to reissues. Label owners and music consumers alike chose to dig through their crates of vinyl and revisit the classics, unearthing forgotten gems along the way. Wire, Talking Heads and The Cure all received the full reissue treatment, while albums by obscure folk luminaries like Sandy Bull and Fred Neil finally garnered the attention they deserved. 2006 was a year to rediscover and meditate on the achievements of our past.

MATT KIVEL

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