Apr 4 2011, 18:46Reviewed Burial's Street Halo on my blog, check it out :)
Dic 13 2009, 5:082009 was an awesome year for music, so I have made a more extensive list than I usually make. Comment and let me know what your top 5/10/20 or whatever you want to do are! If anyone would like any of these albums I can upload them and give a link to download, so let me know!
20. Tonikom – The Sniper’s Veil
The genre of this album is hard to pin down. It is clearly Electronic, although it has hints of IDM, drum and bass, and industrial. What makes her stick out in my mind is her ability to write extremely catchy drum beats with vocal samples over the top of it. Very good and very underrated.
19. Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle
The easiest thing to call this would be alt-country/folk, but its a little to weird to pigeonhole into any single category. The simplicity of his musical backing and the strangeness of his voice and cadence is what makes this a memorable album. Each time I listen to it I notice something different, even though at first glance everything would appear to be on the surface.
18. Cicada– Roulette
Straight up electropop. Sounds like what Ladytron might sound like if they decided to just play synths the entire time with catchy pop hooks over the top. The entire album kind of blends together into one song, which could be a complaint as well as a compliment.
17. The Field – Yesterday and Today
This was somewhat of a disappointment for me. The three tracks in the middle are amazing, but tracks 1,2 and 6 are forgettable. If those tracks had been as good as the three in the middle then this would hands down be my favorite album of the year. Even though the album as a whole was a disappointment, the song Leave It is my favorite song of the year, and one of my favorite songs of the decade easily.
16. The Twilight Sad – Forget the Night Ahead
I wasn't really sold on this band until I saw them live with Frightened Rabbit in L.A. After seeing them I gave this album a second chance and noticed a lot of things that I hadn't upon first listen. This is a perfect album to listen to when Fall is turning into winter, as the entire album deals with changing into something that you don't necessarily want to.
15. Jeremy Enigk – OK Bear
Although it doesn't have the orchestration of World Waits, it still has the brilliant songwriting of Sunny Day Real Eastate frontman Jeremy Enigk. In some ways I prefer the stripped down nature of this album as compared to his previous work, as it lets the songs themselves shine.
14. Plastik Joy – 3:03
Totally out of left field for me, I just randomly downloaded this off of a blog I frequent because I thought the name was interesting. It basically sounds like Dntel's best album, Life is Full of Possibilities, but it is a bit more straightforward in its vocal and melodic hooks. Incredibly enough the album itself conveys a sense of analogue warmth even though the entire thing is electronic. I look forward to hearing what these guys put out next.
13. The Wooden Birds – Magnolia
Sometimes simple is good, in that too much polish and fanfare can drown out the core of a song, which is its melody. The Wooden Birds strip songs down to their cores, usually only using male and female voice, guitar, and minimal rhythmic accompaniment. The product is a very solid album with no filler.
12. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart– The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Although this is basically just Jesus and the Mary Chain/My Bloody Valentine worship, it is very good worship. Sometimes you don't need to be incredibly unique to release a very good album. The album itself is buried in a layer of fuzzy guitars and guy/girl vocals, and never overstays its welcome. Sometimes the shortness of an album is something to be appreciated.
11. Why? – Eskimo Snow
Although Alopecia is a better album, Eskimo Snow has very good moments as well. For those not familiar with the band they are pseudo hip-hop/spoken word/indie rock, which sounds like a terrible combination but is something that you have to hear and make up your own mind about. I saw Why? Live about a month ago, and it was as good of a show that anyone could ask for.
10. Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport
While their first album focuses on walls of noise and harsh vocals, Tarot Sport cuts out the abrasiveness and ramps up the melody. The end result is an album that in its repetition offers a number of earworms that are hard to get out of your head, as well as high amounts of repetition that become mesmerizing. I used the word repetition three times in this review.
9. Mount Eerie – Wind’s Poem
Although I saw this album performed in its entirety, and it was absolutley awful, the recording remains a high point of 2009. This is what happens when Lo Fi folk mixes with Lo Fi black metal. I am surprised that no one has though of doing this before now, because as odd as it may seem at first glance the styles are quite complimentary.
8. Delorean – Ayrton Senna
Although this is only a 5 song EP, it really makes an impression. It conveys an infectious joyful exuberance, and in my opinion is nearly impossible for anyone to not enjoy. Sounds like what might happen if you mixed Air France with Cut Copy.
7. Martyn – Great Lengths
I downloaded this album on a whim, and it resulted in my downloading dozens of dubstep comps and albums. My roommates can attest to the fact that Dubstep was about 30% of what I listened to all year. While some are familiar with dubstep through Burial, who's shuffle beat and weepy vocal samples make you feel like you are driving through the rain, Martyn conveys an opposite feeling. The songs themselves are upbeat, and very memorable. I recommend listening to this, and any dubstep really, loud and with the bass cranked.
6. God Help the Girl – God Help The Girl
I have always liked Belle and Sebastian, but always felt for every great song they had 2 to 3 that were easily forgettable. This album is a side project of Stuart Murdock from Belle and Sebastian, who held open auditions for female singers when forming the group. What we get here is his great songwriting through the voice of 3 very capable singers. Ironically enough they Belle and Sebastian covers on this album outshine the originals by far.
5. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
At First listen I wasn't to sure about this album. "Stillness is the Move" stuck out to me with its amazing melody, but it took me a couple of listens to appreciate the complex yet catchy pop sensibility of the rest of the album. This is definately a grower, and I would recommmend if you don't like it upon first listen, keep it around for a while and see if you warm up to it after a couple of listens.
4. The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules
This group was formed with a very basic concept in mind. What they set out to do was to play dance music in its simplest form, with drums, bass, guitar, and some synth here and there. What some people would call boring I would call fantastic. What the group manages to do is take the core of dance music, 4/4 beat and the bassline, and morph it into very simple yet effective songs. The simplicity is what makes this stand apart from any other dance act.
3. Mew – No More Stories are Told Today, I’m Sorry, They Washed Away
Kind of hard to describe, but very very good. Sounds like what would happen if Passion Pit stopped playing electropop and started playing indie rock. I'm havinga hard time coming up with a description for this one, just listen to it!
2. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
In Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Phoenix has created the perfect pop album. Each song follows a stringent structure and format, which might lead one to believe that they album would convey a sense of sameness throughout. That couldn't be further from the truth. Phoenix, by telling themselves that they were going to only write 3:00-4:30 minute pop songs, have flourished rather than blundered. One only needs to listen to the rise ans fall of the chorus in "1901" to know what I am talking about. Even the seemingly filler song in the middle of the album has an amazing payoff in the end.
1. Fever Ray– Fever Ray
An incredibly dark and mysterious album, which should come as no surprise since its coming from The Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson. She takes the enigma of The Knife and covers it in blackness. Forget Black Metal, this is the darkest album that I have ever heard. It is incredibly rewarding on multiple listens, in that it always has something new. And while it conveys all these dark emotional reactions, it also manages to be subtle and never beats you over the head with it.
Some of my favorite releases this year were Mixes/Compilations, and since they aren't albums they don't really belong on the list. That being said, I really loved them so I am going to mention them here.
5. Hercules and Love Affair - Sidetracked
A very good complilation album, blending some disco with classic house music.
4. 5: Five Years of Hyperdub
For anyone who is interested in dubstep, this complilation is absolutely essential. It surveys the 5 year history of the quintessential dubstep label, Hyperdub, and puts together a comp that flows incredibly well. From the wobble of Burial to the technicality of 2562, every sub genre of dub is represented on the comp. Highly recommended.
3. ADA - Adaptations Mixtape #1
Ada is one of my absolute favorite Electronic musicians/DJs, and this comp is her first release in 5 years save for a couple singles released here and there. It remixes a lot of tracks from her astounding album Blondie and mixes it with various other microhouse tracks.
2. Dark Was The Night
I'm pretty sure everyone knows what this is. Basically a who's who in indie rock. Usually when so many musicians of this calebver work together you get a lot of throwaway tracks that didn't make the album or half assed covers, but on this compilation the groups involved submitted some of their best material. Very very good stuff.
1. Kompakt Total 10
Kompakt is my favorite electronic label by far, and this comp is a good introduction to them for anyone who might be interested. Every year they release a comp, and this is their 10th anniversery, so the tracks on this are of the highest quality. This is something that I could listen to every week and it would never get old, because of the variation of styles represented.
As far as metal goes not much really caught my ear this year. Probably due to the fact that I am getting more and more into electronic music so I find myself downloading less and less metal. However there were a couple albums that caught my attention.
5. Behemoth – Evangilion
They have really redeemed themselves after the rotten shitfest that was their previous album, The Apostasy. The punch that the first three tracks delivered is their best material since demigod, but it kind of wanes after that.
4. Ensiferum – From Afar
Similar to Behemoth, I wasn't impressed with Ensiferum's previous album, Victory Songs. This one however, is way better. Since we will probably never see another Wintersun album, this will have to do.
3. Gorgoroth –Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt
A step back towards their raw black roots, this album is harsh and full of hate, exactly what anyone would want from a Gorgoroth album. While I'm not one for purposely making your recordings sound terrible in order to get some black metal cred, I think the stripped down approach really serves Gorgoroth well.
2. Glorior Belli– Meet Us at the Southern Sign
This isa hard one to place. It sounds similar to Enslaved, but only if enslaved were from Oklahoma. It has a grim blackness about it, but also a melodic undercurrent that keeps it from being too dark. This is what I imagine Earth would sound like if they decided to play black metal.
1.Katatonia – Night is the New Day
Katatonia is more rock then metal anymore, but that has only allowed them to write more memorable songs. this is a very depressing album, which is what they are best at. I wish more bands would make music like this.
This year I spent a lot of time getting music that came out before 2009, so it is interesting to look at my most listened to artists on last.fm for the year. Here is a quickplaycount of my top 10 most listened to artists in 2009.
1. Autechre - 375
I have Liked Autechre for a long time, But this year I really got into the stuff in between their major albums. Basically Autechre from 1993 - 1999 is some of my favorite music ever made. Its insance because basically every track they made in that time period is good if not great. After 1999 they went from being an ambient electronic group into more abstract territory, doing experiments with time signuratures and pushing the boundaries of what people call music. While I enjoy the exploratory nature of their more recent works, nothing beats the clash of complexity and simple melodies that made their early work so memorable.
2. Frightened Rabbit - 361
Even though they didn't release anything in 2009, I still find myself listening to both of their albums at least once a month. While Midnite Organ Fight is an awesome album, nothing beats the grittiness of Sings the Greys. There is a quality to it that makes it seem organic and human, where as Midnight Organ Fight can come off sounding a bit too polished. Also Sings the Greys is an unforgetable album from start to finish, where Midnight Organ Fight kind of veers off towards the end for me.
3. Meshuggah - 333
Even though my metal listening habits have waned a bit in the past year, I still listen to a lot of meshuggah. This should come to no surprise for anyone that knows me. About once every 2 months I find myself listening to the entire discography besides their terrible first demo and album.
4. Public Enemy - 289
I have always liked Public Enemy, but for some reason never got any of their material for this year. The sample heavy textures of the music itself make it interesting even upon multiple listens. Their 3 albums in the late 80's early 90's are definately my favorite and their best in my opinion. I have to admit though that I always skip the Flava Flav songs, because all they are is him going "ITS THE FLAVA FLAV MY NAMES FLAV I GOT FLAV FLAVAAA".
5. Mount Eerie - 244
This guy releases a ton of material, and I am a sucker for discographies on artists that I really enjoy. Even though he does release an insane amount of songs every year, the quality of them never seems to suffer. However seeing him live in California was probably the biggest letdown I have ever had when seeing someone play live. It was a terrible terrible show, but I haven't let it tarnish my appreciation for the recordings.
6. Boards of Canada - 243
This is a group that will probably be in my top 20 most listened to artists every year. The ambient nature of the music lets you listen and block it out, but its not so simple that its not interesting when you are actually listening.
7. Fever Ray - 223
After listening to her amazing debut album for a couple of months I tracked down all of the singles and remixes, which accounts for a lot of the 223 plays. Sometimes remixes are terrible, but Fever Ray has chosen very good people to work with and 90% of them are really really good.
8. The National - 218
I got tired of waiting for a followup to my favorite album of 2007, Boxer, so I listened to a lot of their earlier material/eps/singles this year. While non of them are as a whole as good as Boxer, There are a lot of songs that are on par with those on the album proper.
9. Nine Inch Nails - 208
I was thinking about how Nine Inch Nails is the band I have listened to regularly for the longest. I got The Downward Spiral when I was 12, so I have been listening to them for 14 years. That is insane. While a lot of the time I listen to them for nostalgic purposes, I have to admit I still really like them/him.
10. Aphex Twin - 199
Most of these plays is do to the fact that for about 2 months i Listened to Selected Ambient Works 85-92 about oncea week. While I enjoy most of his discography, nothing beats his early material.
Set 4 2009, 2:21My favorite year of the decade as far as music goes.
ADA - Blondie
Annie - Anniemal
Arcade Fire - Funeral
Behemoth - Demigod
Codeseven - Dancing Echoes/Dead Sounds
Enslaved - Isa
Blonde Redhead - Misery Is a Butterfly
Decapitated - The Negation
Ensiferum - Iron
Isis - Panopticon
The Walkmen - Bows + Arrows
Wintersun - Wintersun
Ago 28 2009, 4:50Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
This is a near perfect album. It has a flow that makes it feel like a mixtape, varying in genres and styles, whilst maintaining a strong theme that holds the whole thing together. Its unlike anything I've ever heard in that the list of contributors is large, yet it never varies so much as to come off like it is reaching for something it can't obtain.
The Books - The Lemon of Pink
Strange and very unique stuff, mixing strings with found sound and samples gathered from who knows where. Listening to this album is uncomfortable at first, because it makes you feel like you are eavesdropping on a very personal conversation; yet as the album moves on it brings the listener into the fold.
M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
I maintain that this is the best m83 album by far. m83 was a two man band with this album, and was whittled down to one member after its release, which is why I think they are so different now. On this album, there is a sense of restraint, which makes the big moments that much bigger. The only thing that could be considered a lead vocal is during "Run Into Flowers", where a line is mumbled over and over under a wash of synthesizers and cymbals. Subsequent albums ditched the restraint and build ups and traded them for a more cliche pop 80's sound, which is good in some cases but overall leaves me feeling somewhat empty. m83 struck the perfect balance between nostalgia and yearning on this album.
Stars - Heart
An album that is unique because every single song is good on its own, yet when you listen to it as a whole it becomes an entirely different picture. The lyrical themes are cliche, but it never comes off as fake or insincere. A hard balance to strike yet Stars have found that balance on this album. They seemed to have suffered the same fate as m83 did after this album, in that subsequent albums, while having good songs, never could live up to this piece as a whole.
The Postal Service - Give Up
I almost didn't put this album on here, mainly because of the backlash after everyone had heard this album 1000 times. To be honest I don't listen to this all that much anymore, but there is no denying its place in my own personal musical progression. Its easy to point at this album as the cause for the endless amounts of dance pop that has emerged sense, but that doesn't take away what the album managed to accomplish. When in a room full of people with differing musical and personal tastes, this is a safe album to put on to get everyone in a good mood.
Echo & the Bunnymen - Porcupine (reissue)
Ok this album came out 20 years before 2003 but this reissue was the first time I actually sat down and seriously listened to this band. Listening to porcupine its hard to imagine it coming out in 1983, as it manages to sound contemporary even in the 2000's. I have explored most of the bands other albums, and while they are good, they don't live up to the completeness that is achieved on this album.
Outkast - The Love Below / Speakerboxxx
At the time of release, I preferred the Love Below disc highly over the Speakerboxxx disc, where as now I find myself listening to the Speakerboxxx half much more. Where as The Love Below may be more ambitious, it it scattershot in comparison to its counterpart. My only complaint is the excess of skits and dialogues that is found on most hip-hop albums, but they can easily be deleted.
Mogwai - Happy Songs for Happy People
While most people would not say that this is their best disc, it has a special place for me as it was the first that I heard from the band. A lot of people avoid this band because of the whole "pretentious as fuck" thing, but on this album they seem to be as down to earth as ever. Kids Will be Skeletons still evokes strange things from me every time I hear it.
Ephel Duath - The Painter's Palette
A fusion of Jazz and Metal that surprisingly doesn't come off as a complete fucking mess. It captures a point in the bands career where they had struck the perfect balance between the two, where their other albums seemed to get it all wrong. An album that can be appreciated by people who don't like metal per say, but enjoy new and interesting music none the less.
Ago 28 2009, 4:43Beck - Sea Change
Hands down my favorite beck album. Its hard to go back and listen to the "silly Beck" after listening to this. Very Nick Drake'ish.
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
An awesome release from my favorite ambient electronic band. I remember ordering this from Amazon along with Dntel's "Life is Full of Possibilities" and being awestruck by the entire genre.
Interpol-Turn on the Bright Lights
On the surface it just sounds like another Indie rock band, but they end up being more than the sum of their parts.
The Notwist - Neon Golden
A lot of people point as this album as being the seminal "lap-pop" album. Even though it spawned hundreds of imitators it manages to be much much better than them. This is also an album that would be in my Top 20 of all time.
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Source Tags & Codes
As dumb as it sounds this really takes you on a journey. From start to finish it tells a story, explicitly in the lyrics as well as in the music itself. Its a shame thatt hey could never live up to this album with subsequent releases, even though their latest album is decent.
Sleater-Kinney - One Beat
The vocals of this band make a lot of people w ant to kill themselves, but I really enjoy them. Among the fans of the band many would point to "The Woods" as their crowning achievement, but I prefer the straight laced pop sensibilities and attitude of this album to the progressiveness of The Woods.
Crionics - Human Error: Ways to Selfdestruction
Even though this is basically just an imitation of the first two Emperor albums I still find myself listening to it on a regular basis, sometimes more than Emperor themselves.
Neko Case - Blacklisted
This is my favorite Neko Case album. All of her releases sound similar to me, but this one has the strongest songs and a rawness that lacks in her recent work.
Nile -In Their Darkened Shrines
Dark as fuck. Nile's best.
Gåte - Gåte EP
Sounds similar to Bjork but with more folk instruments and a little bit of heaviness thrown in. The first track on this EP is unbelievable.
Ago 28 2009, 4:38The year I graduated high school :)
Björk - Vespertine
For a long time I really couldn't get into this album, as it is not as immediately accessible as Post and Homogenic. Eventually I warmed up to it though, and now it is hands down my favorite Bjork album. The second half is where it gets really interesting.
Aesop Rock - Labor Days
I typically can't stand the whole "so fucking indie" hip-hop thing, this being the exception. All of his albums after this one seemed tired. Unlike Atmosphere he doesn't bawwww about his girlfriend the entire time.
Dntel- Life Is Full of Possibilities
The album that got me into ambiance in general. The instrumental tracks are the strongest. And yeah, I didn't get this until after I heard the postal service -10000 cr00sh points.
Kylie Minogue - Fever
This album is fucking awesome and I won't let anyone tell me otherwise.
The Microphones - The Glow, Pt. 2
I know I say "best thing ever" all the time, but honestly this would be in my top 20 favorite albums of all time if I were to make such a list. Completely organic and engulfing in a very serene way. Best to be listened to in one sitting for full effect. Awesome album art as well.
Opeth - Blackwater Park
This was my favorite band for a longgg time. I don't listen to them so much anymore though. Opeth is the band that got out of butt metal though for what its worth. This along with Still Life are their best albums.
Telefon Tel Aviv - Fahrenheit Fair Enough
Essential Ambient electronic / IDM. One of the two members died recently.
Ago 28 2009, 4:29Deftones - White Pony
As far as I am concerned this is the only good product of the whole "nu-metal" thing of the late 90's early 2000's. The deftones were the only band of that mold to break out into something completely different, and one of the only bands from that crop that has managed to stay relevant.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to The Heavens
This album along with Mogwai's Happy Songs for Happy People were what got me into the whole "post-rock" thing. Luckily it still holds up even among the now hundreds if not thousands of post-rock bands flooding the market today. I think the reason that it can still stand up is because there has yet to come another band that brings all the elements together than gy!be manage to.
The Hope Conspiracy - Cold Blue
The Hope Conspiracy are one of the very few hardcore bands that I can still stand, and one of the very few bands in general that have managed to stay genuine throughout their career.
Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica
The pinnacle of their career. Forged the main theme, isolation, that continues throughout their music even today. Even though their later output is pretty good, in comparison it is just a rehash of this album.
Radiohead - Kid A
An obvious choice I know, and I'm sure everyone already knows why. If you only listen to one Radiohead album listen to this one
Sigur Rós - Ágætis byrjun
A lot of peoples introduction to this band was Svefn-g-englar, which was in vanilla sky. The album that it is contained on features all the emotional impact of their later works without the pompous fanfare.
At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command
Fantastic album from start to finish. Preceded, predicted, and is more satisfying than the waves of post-hardcore bands that came in the following years.