(i wrote this under the influence of antibiotics and sudafed. all spelling errors blame on the sinus infection!)
16 favorite albums of 2009
16.) beach house: teen dream
this is cheating. it hasn't come out yet, so i should really save this for 2010 because it will be on that list because this is a great record. "take care" is an amazing song. i was not really a fan of the last two records (sorry). i didn't dislike them, i just didn't love them. the songwriting on this makes me gush.
15.) atlas sound: logos
i was a big fan of deerhunter's last record microcastle, but was rather unmoved by the atlas sound debut. but logos changes all that. yes, the panda collab is like a lost gem from the person pitch sessions, but the rest of the album is lyrically moving and sonically interesting. even if there is still that touch of "i've heard this before," there is a enough of a tweak to make it feel all new again. "sheila" definitely brings a smile to my face each time iTunes shuffles to it.
14.) conelrad: sure is the risk made
i could say something snarky like, well Boards of Canada didn't put anything out this year so we have this album instead. but that's not accurate. yes BoC is definitely an influence on this home recording project by a grad student, but the tint of danger is erased and in its place is a cinematic projection of flying above the earth. reminds me of this allergy medicine i used to abuse in college that would make me feel really really spacey. and that's a good thing.
13.) the drums: the drums EP and summertime EP
this is the year i rediscovered my love of '80s synth pop and apparently i am not alone. it's like a record of just pure pop. "i felt stupid" makes me want to dance like a fool and i dig the crowd sample at the end. every time it comes on, m comes in and says what's that noise?!?
12.) former ghosts: fleurs
no xiu xiu record this year but we do have this side project with jamie stewart and freddy from this song is a mess but so am i. i saw TSIAMBSAI open for xiu xiu back in 2003 (4?) and i wasn't that into it. but this is a winning combo. depression rules!
11.) the twilight sad: forget the night ahead
speaking of depression. i always think i'm over the trade indie rock guitar and then i hear a record like this and i think i really like indie guitar rock. the first six songs work great in succession. and that voice. it's not that expressive, yet says a lot. i dig it.
10.) ben frost: by the throat
a lot of people throw around the word "cinematic" (see #14) but this album doesn't sound like a movie, it is a movie. a really fucking scary movie. i love the sample skipping track "untitled transient" which takes the opening of "strange day" by the cure from their best album pornography and turns it into a transition music for a scene where you know something bad is about to happen. the gut punch of "studies for michael gira." etc etc. listen to this loud on the headphone and you will see stuff even without any chemical enhancements.
9.) animal hospital: memory
yeah i got some MA pride. this local one-man band really knocked it out of the park with this record. post-rock awesomeness.
8.) the antlers: hospice
sometimes it sounds like queen, other times like 90s indie pop, and yet always manages to make me love it. the story of the record -- about a sick young friend -- stirs up memories and i love how the record is specific yet open enough that you can project yourself into it. i try to write songs like that. but this dude can really do it.
7.) leyland kirby: sadly the future is no longer what it was
this three disc set of ambient music shouldn't be so compelling but it is. while the other caretaker material i appreciated rather than enjoyed, by switching from samples to live instrumentation (albeit heavily treated) kirby somehow made the sounds connect. it is a massive commitment to work your way through the nearly 4 hours of music. but it is totally worth it.
6.) memory tapes: seek magic
again with the perfect '80s perfect. these songs teeter on the brink of cheesiness and yet somehow pull back and create something great. if i was mathematically inclined:
Naked Eyes - sax solos + more androgyny = Memory Tapes
5.) grizzly bear: veckatimest
the album of the summer. what else can be said about it? it's a great record full of great songs. oddly i can't listen to it much now but that's what happens when you get over-saturated. but one day, in a couple of months, the iTunes shuffle will play "While You Wait For the Others" or "Two Weeks" and a big smile will come across my face.
4.) the xx: xx
the record is barely there in a strange way. everything is so skeletal but it gnaws its way into your head and you realize the complexity and nuance of the production, of the sounds, and you fall in love. "night time" remains a favorite esp. now that's it's dark by 4pm.
3.) black to comma: alphabet 1968
what a weird record. it's like fennesz if he decided to write pop songs but instead of fuzzy guitar textures he used odd samples. I know that makes no sense. but listen to this album. while a lot of sample and loop based music tends toward sonic wallpaper (not a bad thing), this album requires you to listen because the structure is more akin to a pop song. "hotel freund" really gets to me.
2.) the dirty projectors: bitte orca
i tried to get into this band before i couldn't. that don henely concept record left me cold but this record actually overtook grizzly bear as my summer favorite. the expressive voices, the intricate guitar, the great drumming, i couldn't get enough. and "two doves" is one of the sweetest songs ever written.
1.) animal collective: merriweather post pavilion and fall be kind ep
2009 belongs to the AC. again i liked past records but no record took my attention like MPP this year. opener "in the flowers" still makes the hair on my arms stand up when the drums come pounding in half way through and "brother sport" makes me wanna yell. the recent ep only ups the ante with the gorgeous "what would i want? sky." who knew someone could make me like something remotely connected to the grateful dead?
the 8 best songs of 2009 not from the best albums of 2009
8.) Already Home by Jay-Z
Yeah I know Blueprint 3 was no masterpiece but this song makes this white boy wanna do embarrassing things!
7.) Love Cry by Four Tet
When that drum loop comes in, I wanna shake my ass.
6.) Little Tiger by tUne-YarDs
What a voice. When she belts out near the later half of the song, I feel spiritual healing.
5.) Quiet Dog by Mos Def
According to iTunes, I have listened to this song 34 times. That's because it is awesome. Watching Mos Def play the drum line on a tympani on Letterman didn't hurt either.
4.) Love Comes Close by Cold Cave
This song reminds of the embarrassing time of my life in high school when I'd go to this lame goth club in Philadelphia and dance. I love it.
3.) New Wife New Life by Truman Peyote
Another local band. Very AC sounding but very very good. Great guitar line.
2.) Velvet by The Big Pink
This band was a guilty pleasure of '09. I feel like I will look back at them with the disdain I now hold for EMF or Jesus Jones. And yet I love this song. I am a contradiction, people.
1.) Snowbank Treatment by Dragging an Ox Through Water
Sounds like a Califone demo recorded on cassette that has been covered in muck and then unearthed. Love the keyboard sounds. Is that a guitar pedal? Casio? It rules.