Top 10 Records Of 2009
1) Merriweather Post Pavilion - Animal Collective: This record came out in January and has been a staple the entire year. After getting completely into Merriweather, I went back into their catalog and also got deeply into Strawberry Jam, Feels, and Sung Tongs. And I also went to see them play live - an experience unlike anything else and not for everyone. Merriweather is probably their most accessible record to date and Animal Collective is making some of the most original and interesting music these days. It really wasn't even a contest for number one this year. Merriweather pretty much blew everything else away in my book.
2) Miike Snow - Miike Snow: Like the Shout Out Louds in 2005, Miike Snow came blasting out of Sweden this year with a record that got played non-stop in our home. Miike Snow is not a person and it is not a band, it is a group of three producers and writers who have worked with dozens of artists over the years. This is the first work they've put out under the Miike Snow name and I sure hope it is not the last. With Miike Snow, you get great beats, slick production, and indie pop perfection. That's a killer mix in my book.
3) Man On The Moon - Kid Cudi: I heard Kid Cudi's song Up, Up, and Away on the hype machine as this record leaked over the summer and I was hooked on Kid's mix of indie and hip hop (a theme for me this year). There are a half dozen great songs on this record that were all candidates for my top tracks of 2009. The whole record is a great listen end to end. I'm sure it is on many best of 2009 lists and may even be headed for a Grammy. I hope Kid Cudi gets one.
4) Humbug - Arctic Monkeys: In 2005, as the Arctic Monkeys were breaking big with their first record, they wrote "In five years time, will it be "Who the fuck's Arctic Monkeys?" Well it's almost five year's later, and they are still putting out great records. I've always liked Alex Turner's crooner side myself and we are getting more and more of it on each successive record. They still rock out, as Crying Lightning shows, but songs like Cornerstone and Secret Door are the tracks that really got me on this record. I saw them live twice this summer and they still have that hyperactive sonic soud.
5) Bitte Orca - Dirty Projectors: Man did I fall hard for this record. From early June to the middle of July, I listened to hardly anything else. I tried to get my friends and family into it but not many bit. The Dirty Projectors are an acquired taste it seems. I love the idiosyncratic nature of Dave Longstreth's music, the quirky guitar riffs, and the harmonies between him and Amber and Angel (pictured on the cover of the record). I hadn't listened to this record in a while as I moved on to other things, but in relistening as I was putting this post together, I was sucked right back into the magic of Bitte Orca. It's certainly one of the best records made this year.
6) XX - XX: Indie bands/records break in the blogs these days and this was the indie debut of the year in the music blogs. The signature sound is the back and forth male and female vocals with a heavy bass beat in the background. This is the kind of record you can put on and listen to it over and over. The XX's sound comes out of London's "dubstep" electronic dance scene but this is not a dance record. It is moody and reminiscent of bands like the Cure and the Smiths. It's the perfect record for a slow weekend morning.
7) Album - Girls: In the opening track, Lust For Life, singer/songwriter Christopher Owens sings "Oh I Wish I Had A Sun Tan. I Wish I Had A Pizza And A Bottle Of Wine, I Wish I Had A Beach House. Then We Could Make A Big Fire Every Night" And that's what this entire record sounds like. You want to go to a beach house, kick back with friends, and sing these songs. This record reminds me of the Rural Alberta Advantage's Hometowns record last year. It is a terrific record start to finish.
8) Middle Cyclone - Neko Case: I've been a fan of Neko's since seeing her sing with the New Pornographers a few years ago. Her voice and striking red hair leaves an indelible impression. But until this record, I'd never gotten into her solo work. Middle Cyclone is a very fine piece of work. I particularly like Magie To The Morning, People Got A Lot of Nerve, and I'm An Animal. When Neko really goes for it with her voice, it's a sound of beauty.
9) The Swelly Express - Chiddy Bang: I'm a sucker for concept records like The Street's A Grand Don't Come For Free and Green Day's American Idiot. Following the story is as much fun as listening to the songs. And that is what The Swelly Express is. If you click on that link, you'll see that The Swelly Express is not available as a commercial release yet. It's a free downloadable mixtape showcasing the talents of Chidera Anamege (Chiddy) who does the raps and Xaphoon Jones who does the beats. Watch out for these guys. I think they have got some serious talent.
10) Monsters Of Folk - Monsters of Folk: When I heard that three of my favorite musicians, Conor Oberst, M Ward, and Jim James were working on a record together, I was super excited. And the result lived up to my expectations. Monsters Of Folk is a collection of wonderful songs sung together by these amazing musicians (including Mike Mogis). The Gotham Gal and I saw them perform live recently at the Beacon Theater in NYC and the live show was just as strong as the record. If you like folk music, you have to get this record.
Hold Time - M Ward: Every record he has made has been excellent and this one is no exception.
Changing Horses - Ben Kweller: Not sure how this didn't make my top ten. It was a tough one.
Three Rounds And A Sound - Blind Pilot: This is an outstanding record.
A few more things:
The Gotham Gal's top ten list is a bit different than mine but since we listen to a lot of music together, it has a bunch of great stuff on it that I enjoyed very much this year.
Bijan's top ten list is also a bit different than mine, but I highly recommend everything on his list. He has the Rural Alberta Advantage record on his 2009 list. It was on my 2008 list so I did not put it on my list this year. It is a great record.
I am going to post my top 25 tracks of 2009 tomorrow (in a streamable playlist) and my top records of the decade on Monday (the list is about 40 long right now, I might cut it down to 25 or increase it to 50).
So lot's of music on AVC right now. I hope you enjoy it.