Best Indie Artist and CD for 2006

The editors of Blogcritics have asked me for a 200-word description of my Best-Of (artist and/or CD) for 2006. Here they are, freshly minted.

Indie Round-Up‘s Artist of the Year for 2006 is Mofro, who, conveniently for my critical credibility, was just signed to the prestigious blues label Alligator Records. Lead vocalist JJ Grey and his band evoke all at once the gritty funk of James Brown, the blue-eyed soul of Beck or Leon Russell, the bayou twinkle of Dr. John, and the shamanistic stage presence of Jim Morrison. The latest CD is a good one, but in-concert is the only way to fully appreciate the spell woven by Grey, guitarist Daryl Hance, and whoever else happens to be on their stage at the moment.

Album of the year goes to Gregg Swann‘s sparkling Everybody’s Got To Be Somewhere, a spot-on power-pop set without an ounce of filler. The artist himself seems to be somewhat reclusive – the gigs page at his minimalist website is empty as of this writing, and his Myspace page – where you can hear three full tracks (go there now) – has been little visited. Swann emailed me a thank-you note when I published my review, so, fortunately for fans of exceptional songwriting, it appears that he does exist.

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