Thursday, December 24, 2009

top 10 2009 edition

Destroy-the-scene mentioned this in his top 10, but man, was this just not a great year for music or what?  There were a lot of albums that I'd call really solid and happily listen to again and again (Converge, Blues Control, Dirty Projectors, Antipop Consortium), but which were not exactly mind-blowing.  Every time I've sat down to make this list, I've just ended up feeling kinda down and uninspired.  Maybe it's because I listened to more music this year that wasn't new- or maybe I just did a poor job of seeking out the exciting and ground-breaking music that was made in 2009?  At any rate, there were definitely at least a few standouts this year.  One last note before we get started: the ordering of this list is fairly arbitrary, and based more on my passing whimsy than a intentional declaration of ranked superiority, so don't take the numbers too seriously.  Here's what I ended up liking best:

10.  Garage/Lo-fi
With apologies to Mr. DPW (who has a preference for logically-numbered lists) I couldn't find 10 proper records to round out this list and so I'm gonna fudge it on the first couple of these.  So yeah, "garage/lo-fi" isn't a band, but actually a wide swath of music I dug this year.  Apparently a lot of other people did too, given the ever-changing "hip/not hip" status of some of these bands.  There were great records this year from Blank Dogs, Thee Oh Sees, Ganglians, Vivian Girls, Wavves (ha ha man did this dude ever take in the nuts this year, critically speaking), Eat Skull, Dum Dum Girls and more.  I can't really talk about this type of music without mentioning what an incredible source id reverberations (RIP, kinda?) was on this front.

read the rest!

9. Dubstep
Another genre that I dug a whole hell of a lot this year was dubstep, not exactly a scene that produces a lot of full lengths- so I'll just say "uh....dubstep, in general".  In particular though, I'd say Joker definitely had the stand-out year- "Digidesign" and "Do It" got more play around my place than almost anything else.  I also really, really loved Zomby, Guido, Appleblim, Hudson Mohawke, the most recent Mary Anne Hobbs mix, and the free live concert series put on by a car company that doesn't need to be named.

8. Tonetta 777
I keep trying to get people to pay attention to this dude but feel like no one is listening.  Is there something about a middle-aged Canadian man, a total acid casualty of indeterminate sexuality, gyrating provocatively and lip-syncing to his own bizarro lo-fi jams that people find off putting?  Try "DRUGS DRUGS DRUGS", "A Beautiful Dream" and "$$ VIRAL $$" before you make up your mind.

7. Micachu & The Shapes - Jewellry
Destroy-the-scene did an excellent job of reviewing this album earlier in the year, plus this album made his list, so I don't have too much to add, other than this is one of the few truly original-sounding records I heard this year.

6. A Place to Bury Strangers - Exploding Head
I have a soft spot in my heart for APTBS' (as well as APTBS-related bands, Skywave and Ceremony) gothy take on shoegaze, and I feel like this album is definitely by far the most solid release from any of these groups.  You could make the case that this record is derivative and is standing on the shoulders of older, better artists; you'd probably be right.  Nevertheless I really enjoyed "Exploding Head" and found myself coming back to it again and again.

5. Ducktails - Ducktails
Looking at my playcounts, it would seem that I might've listened to this dude more than any other act this year.  This is, in part, because he already has a fairly sizable body of work (most of it really good!  some of it, not so much).  This release, though, is probably the best distillation of the relaxed, summer-time vibes that he does so well.  His live show, however, was kind of a weird one- loud, dissonant and punishing rather than chill and laid-back(??).

4. Om - God is Good
Look, basically any year an Om album comes out, it's gonna be in the top 10.  Even if every Om album sounds like the last Om album (save a new drummer, some extra instrumentation, a slightly varied vocal style, other subtle differences).  This band rules so hard and everyone should be listening to them.

3. Absu - Absu
I reviewed this earlier in the year, and I'm still way into it.  Really focused, memorable black/death metal- what this record might lack in intensity (particularly compared to my next pick...) it more than makes up in songwriting.  I maybe would not have ranked it so high if I had been familiar with this band's back catalogue prior to this year, but I wasn't, and this was a hell of an eye-opener.

2. Liturgy - Renihilation
I detailed the reasons I love this album last week, and I don't have too much to add to that.  But this was one of the few albums I listened to this year that really, really grabbed me.  The energy that this record possesses is immense, and it captivated me in a way that no other album this year did.  Just thinking about this record makes my head spin.

1. Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
I guess the whole "chill-wave" "glo-fi" "whatever" backlash is in effect now, which serves to remind me why I don't bother reading music reviews anymore.  I really dug this album, and it got a lot of play time around my apartment and on roadtrips.  While I think the record improves significantly in the second half, it's a really fun album throughout, catchy and breezy and light.  Neon Indian put on a great live performance when I saw them too, transforming a somewhat insubstantial bedroom pop project into a compelling, dancefloor-moving show.  I've reached the point where I'm pretty burned out on this album, and I think it'll definitely be a "2009" record that is more tied to this specific time, rather than something I'll return to frequently, but I'm OK with that.  I don't think there was any other album this year that was more present in my life.

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