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Ten 2009 Albums Worthy of Your iTunes Gift Cards

12.08.2009

Top 10 of 2009

For some reason I haven't really done a top 10 music of the year list before. Maybe it's because I get too busy, or have a hard time narrowing it down to just 10, or whatever. This year I decided to start work on the list earlier and actually put one out.

For some general background information,I get to listen to music a lot. I have a job that lets me listen through headphones, and I also spent a lot of driving driving over the mountain pass. In these situations I'm easily able to listen to complete albums and not just random songs. In the age of the iTunes store and singles being more popular than ever, I'm still a hard core album person. I think it's an insult to only have a couple of good songs with the rest being filler.

So, for this last year, these are the cds that I think deserve some special recognition.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Certainly one of the most anticipated releases of 2009 (of those who are likely to listen to Animal Collective that is). That audience has grown considerable over the last few years as well, with this release even being promoted on David Letterman. Vocalists Noah Lennox and Dave Portner are in high form together. I have a hard time not placing Noah Lennox as one of the lost Beach Boys, yeah, he's that good. This is certainly Animal Collective's most accessible release as well. I played this on a car drive with The Teacher and she didn't bat an eye or say it was too weird for her (she did balk at The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds by the way), so maybe these guys are the current generations Beach Boys. 2009 was a good yeah for Animal Collective and they finished it on another high note with Fall Be Kind - EP as well. I just hope 2010 has more of their goodies in store.

Fever Ray - Fever Ray
Fever Ray is the output of Karin Dreijer Andersson, who's pitch shifted or octave filtered voice is usually heard on her primary work in The Knife, who's 2006 album Silent Shout was amazing. Fever Ray seems to pick up right where Silent Shout left off, and that's a good thing. I'm guessing that if the modified vocals aren't your thing, this release might be a little hard to love, but I will say this is a more straightforward release, and doesn't feel too experimental, rather a fine-tuning and getting the best of what's already worked in the past to work again. So, while it's new, it feels very familiar.

Dan Deacon - Bromst
Epic, odd, grand and fresh all at the same time. Easily one of my favorite releases of 2009. However, I wasn't sure how it would translate live, but Dan Deacon was the second concert that The Teacher and I attended. I think her favorite thing I said during the show was "I'm warping our unborn child". The show was good, but the record is amazing. This is something you have to listen to on a good pair of headphones to truly appreciate. The details amidst the grand sweeping ballads are mind-blowing.

Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer
I was honestly let down by Random Spirit Lover after the previous release Shut Up I am Dreaming, so I wasn't sure what to expect by Dragonslayer. The only thing this release didn't give me was a 2008 release where it would have been even more fitting for slaying some dragons of the jilted and bitter idiot hearts, black swans and scattered paper lace. Spencer Krug's cryptic wordplay and metaphors couldn't be any better. I do indeed hope you die in a decent pair of shoes.

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Back in 2006, I really liked It's Never Been Like That. Prior to that Phoenix had been around a while and finally put together a decent album, but I really didn't have them in my sights for the future. Sometimes I tend to know that magic only happens once, so I was happy to see the new release Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix but not expecting anything great. Could I have been more wrong. With the opening beat and lines from frontman Thomas Mars, this album picks up and never flops. Pitchfork couldn't have said it better: They're a bona fide "should be bigger" band. This one just gets better with each listen and the remixes from the album are also very good and keep it fresh.

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
This album came out with high expectations ahead of it. The previous Grizzly Bear album Yellow House was very good. It was hard not to expect something grand from Grizzly Bear give the other teases the band and individual members gave us prior to this release. What I love is that Grizzly Bear has been remixed by Girl Talk and covered by former Doobie Brother and Steely Dan member Michael McDonald, proving that there's a wide range of followers. This album really didn't take many listens for me to know it was going to end up on this list.

Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Here's another band finding perfection in fine tuning their skills. Pitchfork summed up this album beautifully: "The key is that, rather surprisingly, Bitte Orca is one of the more purely enjoyable indie-rock records in an awfully long time; remarkable by any means, but even moreso considering the source. It's breezy without a hint of slightness, tuneful but with its fair share of tumult, concise and inventive and replayable and plain old fun". Exactly.

Atlas Sound - Logos
It sort of feels like the Deerhunter frontman can do no wrong. For a side-project of Bradford Cox, Atlas Sound is the place for his experimentation. There are many hints of Deerhunter's Microcastle on this one, and that's not a bad thing. This album really starts out slow, but when the stand out track "Walkabout" starts, it picks up the pace and gets very interesting. It doesn't hurt that my favorite track on this album features Noah Lennox of Animal Collective, and the combination of them puts out something blissfully wonderful.

F**k Buttons - Tarot Sport
I certainly wasn't expecting this release from FB to blow me away like it did, but this is one epic release. It's all instrumental, and in the way Dan Deacon's album was amazing (and odd) this release is (epic but not odd), it's something that will not create too many odd looks from listeners not accustomed to music that's a little different from typical mainstream releases. This feels like the epic movie score for the unreleased movie I can't wait to watch.

Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth
This release grew on me fast. One of those albums that you play through and then when you reach the end you want to start over immediately. That could be due to the fact that it sounds familiar, yet new at the same time. Sort of like mixing the soundtrack to Twin Peaks, Animal Collective and Jane's Addiction together. Not exactly ground breaking in its sound, but with the way it's put together it's certainly a very impressive release. I'm liking this one more every time I play it.


Posted by monkeyinabox ::: |

Comments

Melissa said:

God, I'm so old and uncool. I've never heard of ANY of these groups.

Maybe it's you... steeped in obscurity...



monkeyinabox said:

The Bulletin named three of these in a recent gift guide list of theirs, so not that obscure.

Bend Bulletin: Our hand-picked favorites

http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091206/NEWS0107/912060355




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