Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Year-End

Sorry, it's taken me longer than planned to get this stuff up here. I blame it on the holidays, general laziness, and genuine technical difficulties (notice the lack of pretty pictures). Hopefully, this is still fun and relevant.

It was a great year, all in all. Globalization, for all its downsides, gave us a nice blend of genre-bending music to savor in 2009 (and I do encourage savoring in this Internet age of micro-snacking). Let's review:

We saw new wave/no-wave wedded to soul/pop with records by the xx, Little Dragon, and remixers of the year by a long-shot, Classixx; lushly layered masterpieces in two of the year's most universally lauded albums - Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion and Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest; some highly original, balls-out rock by the likes of Franz Ferdinand and White Denim; only a couple (no sarcasm) good, solid hip-hop recordings - DOOM's Born Like This and Mos Def's the Ecstatic; latin-tinged output from some of the world-scene's brightest underground stars - Quantic (and his Combo Barbaro) and Ocote Soul Sounds (Adrien Quesada, Martin Perna, Chico Mann); and more electro goodies from more artistes than one could begin to reasonably list. Plenty of good indie/lo-fi/garage crap too, but many of those acts seem more like flavors of the week, in retrospect.

You've heard most of my favorite songs from the year in prior posts and I've listed some of the year's highlights in albums above, but here's a more exhaustive run-down, including the blog-requisite "Best Albums of the Decade" list. It's important to remind ourselves now, as always, that music, like all art, is subjective. So, please point out what I missed/failed to connect with and which favorites of mine flat-out suck. Happy Holidays and a blessed New Year.

10 Best Albums of 2009
1)Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
2) Franz Ferdinand - Tonight
3) White Denim - Fits (w/ bonus Exposion disc)
4) Chin Chin - The Flashing, the Fancing
5) Quantic and His Combo Barbaro - Tradition in Transition
6) Little Dragon - Machine Dreams
7) Ocote Soul Sounds and Adrian Quesada - Coconut Rock
8) NOMO - Invisible Cities
9) Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
10) Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

15(ish) Best Albums of the Past Decade (in no order, except #1, which is indeed my favorite)

1) My Morning Jacket - Z
~Cat Power - The Greatest
~Blur - Think Tank
~Wilco - A Ghost is Born
~Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
~Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
~Arcade Fire - Funeral
~The Libertines - self/titled
~Whiskeytown - Pneumonia
~Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
~Radiohead - Kid A
~The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium
~Kanye West - College Dropout
~The Shins - Oh Inverted World
~Dr. Dog - Fate
~Ryan Adams - Gold

15 Best Songs of 2009 (in no order except that which sounds good as a playlist)

1) Camera Obscura - French Navy
2) Royksopp - Vision One
3) Passion Pit - Sleepyhead
4) Major Lazer - Cash Flow (Classixx remix)
5) Quantic and His Combo Barbaro - Undelivered Letter
6) Dent May - Meet Me In The Garden
7) Peter, Bjorn & John - It Don't Move Me
8) Little Dragon - Feather
9) Animal Collective - My Girls
10) Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Home
11) Levon Helm - When I Go Away
12) Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
13) Phoenix - Fences
14) Phoenix - Lisztomania (Classixx remix)
15) Girls - Lust For Life

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 2009

I wrote something a couple weeks ago to put up here, but it no longer seems relevant. It was something about listening to too many types of music and feeling unfocused and restless as a result. I've since contented myself with a lot of downbeat, electro, and jazz. A guy who epitomizes this sleepy cross-section of musical realms is electro composer Lusine, whose new full-length, A Certain Distance is a breath of fresh air for lounge fans. The album is at once glitchy and airy. Most hear the descriptor "glitchy" and think of dark, wacked-out shit. But there is a peaceful, night-time mellowness that coats this Lusine stuff. You can tell he finds beauty and possibility in the chirping away of technology, not paranoia like some of his contemporaries. If you like the idea of an ambient electro album, this is a great one to pick up.

With the end of the year approaching we've seen Best of 2009 lists popping up all over the place (don't worry, I'll have one next month). But where's the love for 2008?? Oh, right... they got the love last year. But what's held up since then? That is, what are we still listening to that was the hot 'ish last year? Or maybe it wasn't even the hotness last year, somehow slipping our radar.

Dr. Dog's 2008 LP, Fate, dominated
my iPod this year. Equal parts Grateful Dead, the Band, and the Beatles (and my Dad says Supertramp), the Philadelphia fivesome perfected their craft on this their third full-length. With comparisons to all the aforementioned classic bands, it's easy to think Dr. Dog's sound would probably be quite derivative - it's not. The songs and the band are original - blue collar, but immensely thoughtful and caring. Some big themes seem to be life, history, and family. They went with a more polished sound on this release, over the lo-fi aesthetic of their previous recordings, but the grainy authenticity remains. Here's Fate's final two, "The Beach" and "My Friend."

Fleet Foxes' self-titled album from last year is, like Dr. Dog's, a modern classic. It's unadulterated, pristine, backwoods bliss. If you've been wondering where all the extremely smart, tasteful, and talented folk musicians have been hiding out for the past couple years, the answer is the state of Washington. These boys call Seattle home, but you get the feeling this music was created deeper in the recesses of a Pacific Northwest forest. With production value that rivals the Beach Boys and vocal harmonies that do the same, this is an album that keeps on giving. Here's a link to one of the "Take Away Shows" Fleet Foxes did for the French blog, La Blogotheque... pretty amazing.

the magic starts around 2:30... http://www.blogotheque.net/Fleet-Foxes,4532

I also planned to write here about the fantastic funkfest that is Chin Chin's
The Flashi
ng, The Fancing, but in doing some checking I realized the album came out this year, and not last. So, more on that next month. So, what 2008 albums have continued to keep you interested and entertained in 2009?

With no further ado, this month's listening selections...

Track List
1) Atlas Sound - Quick Canal (featuring Laetitia Sadier)
2) Grooms - Acid King of Hell (Guitar Feelings)
3) Lindstrom & Christabelle - Baby Can't Stop (Aeroplane remix)
4) Yo La Tengo - Periodically Double or Triple
5) Javelin - Tell Me, What Will It Be?
6) Monsters of Folk - Dear God (Sincerely, M.O.F.)
7) Grant Green - Go Down Moses
8) Warpaint - Billie Holiday
9) Neil Young - Winterlong
10) Future Islands - Little Dreamer (Jones remix)
11) Beach House - Norway
12) Wilco - Magazine Called Sunset