Monday, January 4, 2010

FOA's Favorite Music of 2009

I know it's 2010. But what better way to reflect on the year past than to wait until it's really over to look back? It seemed like 2009 offered more releases than I could wrap my head around, but what better problem to have? Though there were loads of albums and songs that enhanced our sonic landscape, these are the ones I'll remember for years to come.

FOA's Favorite Albums of 2009:

(These are ranked because I think it's more fun to read that way, not because I think rankings are anything but arbitrary and subjective and silly, by the way.)

10. Wavves - Wavvves
Read: Record Review: Wavves - Wavvves
Live Review: Wavves @ The EARL 10/4/09

9. Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy
Read: Record Review: Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy
Live Review: Kurt Vile and the Violators, Lovvers, Carnivores @ 529, November 3

8. Volcano Choir - Unmap
Read: Paste: Getting to Know... Volcano Choir

7. Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth
Read: Record Review: Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth

6. Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains
Go to:

5. The Antlers - Hospice
Read: Record Review: The Antlers - Hospice
Flagpole Feature: The Antlers: Finding the Hope in Hospice

4. Akron/Family - Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free
Read: Live Review: Akron/Family @ The EARL 8/13/09

3. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
Read: Flagpole: Record Reviews: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

2. Here We Go Magic - Here We Go Magic
You'd have to pick up the physical copy of September's Stomp and Stammer, but I got to interview Luke Temple. Instead, go here:

....and the FOA album of the year is:

1. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

Read: Record Review: Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

Honorable Mention:

Slaraffenland - We're On Your Side (Record Review)
Atlas Sound - Logos (Record Review, Live Review)
Circulatory System - Signal Morning (Record Review)
Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca (Live Review)
Nurses - Apple's Acre (Record Review, Live Review)
Bowerbirds - Upper Air (Record Review, Live Review)
Megafaun - Gather, Form and Fly (Record Review, Live Review)

FOA's Favorite Songs of 2009:

I posted an earlier version of this as a playlist back in September, but here's my updated list. Most of these are tracks from the year's best albums, but some are stand-alone songs from albums that were otherwise disappointing, and deserve to be recognized anyway. Really. This is some amazing music.

Volcano Choir - "Youlagy": Truly a modern spiritual.

Carnivores - "A Crime": About the most infectious thing I've ever heard. Ever. And it's from a local band, which makes me glow with pride. These guys are going somewhere, trust me.

Atlas Sound - "Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox)": The perfect summer jam, and the promising product of a collaboration between a couple of the most influential people in indie rock right now.

Here We Go Magic - "Fangela": Gauzy and woozy, holding some kind of mystical power I can't explain. Live, it was actually the least impressive of Here We Go Magic's selections, but on the record it envelops you whole.

Akron/Family - "River": Makes you feel like your stomach is soaring, like if you're going over hte top of a hill on a rollercoaster. The line "You are not glassy bay to me" is frequently misunderstood by my friends and me as "You are not classy babe..." which I like a lot. We're not classy babes.

Pontiak - "Wild Knife Night Fight": One of my rare forays into stoner-sludge. The good kind.
(Can't post, sorry.)

Pontiak - "Seminal Shining": The softest thing on Maker, "Seminal Shining" still proves appropriately dark and mysterious for Pontiak, the happiest sludge band I know.
(Can't post, sorry.)

Slaraffenland - "Away": Awesome all-male a cappella stuff with a great, brassy ending.

The Antlers - "Bear": Turns from a lament to an upbeat dance on a dime. It was beautiful from inside the packed 40 Watt. It's the saddest hopeful song I know.

Wavves - "To The Dregs": Kinetic and barreling and angry and joyful and noisy and pretty.

Bowerbirds - "Crooked Lust": Fun with syncopation meets the Bowerbirds' usual lyrical poignancy and beautifully naturalistic instrumentation.

The Fiery Furnaces - "Charmaine Champagne": Eleanor Friedberger's vocal delivery on this is as smoky as always, meeting Matt's this time more traditional instrumentals. Live, they played this twice as fast. I giggled through it.
(Can't post.)

Kurt Vile - "Blackberry Song": Achingly beautiful. Aching. BEAUTIFUL.

Kurt Vile - "Heart Attack": I love how his voice echos. My heart wants to explode when I crank this song all the way up. Vile didn't play this when we saw him live, despite our yelling for it. He heard us. He acknowledged it. Then decided not to play it anyway. At least we didn't yell "FREEBIRD!"

White Rabbits - "Percussion Gun": They made a really cool video to go with this song, which is all percussion and saloon piano. I was otherwise underwhelmed by this album, but "Percussion Gun" always makes me smile.

Lord Cut-Glass - "Holy Fuck!": So freakin' cute. Listen to it for the Scottish accent, if nothing else.

Harlem Shakes - "Strictly Game": The video for this also makes me giggle aloud. "Strictly Game" reminds me of something I can't put my finger

Megafaun - "Kaufman's Ballad": Megafaun is soooo much more than initially meats the ears. "Kaufman's Ballad" demonstrates the framework in which they operate, but it's really hearing the whole album that makes you understand what they're capable of.

The National - "So Far Around The Bend": In my opinion the best track off this year's Red Hot compilation Dark Was The Night, "So Far Around The Bend" is another gorgeous nostalgic nugget from these kings of sweet sorrow.

Deleted Scenes - "Get Your Shit Together For The Holidays": This song sounds like Third Eye Blind to me, and I mean that in the best way possible. Off Blue. I don't know if these guys ever listened to that, but they must at least have a common influence, because the phrases is, like, exactly the same. The end of the song is key!

Animal Collective - "My Girls": Overexposure to this song early in the year made me almost hate it by the middle, but after a few months' respite, I've come back around again. The perfect dance anthem from an often inaccessible band, "My Girls" marks AC's transition, once and for all, to a group dedicated to pop structure without sacrificing creativity. Listen to it loud and try not to dance.

Animal Collective - "Brother Sport": Telescopic and layered, I love the almost incongruous layers this song uses. There's always something new to hear.

Circulatory System - "Signal Morning": The final track to an album that's as varied as it is unified, this song sounds the most like '90s rock, and optimistically ends an art piece that's also sometimes topically dark. I could listen to it again and again.

Nurses - "Caterpillar Playground": WHISTLING! Like a mini-Animal Collective, these guys use tribal percussion and thundering beats to drive their compositions. But unlike AC, Nurses rely on winning keys and irresistible hooks to catch their audience. And knitted doilies. I love this song.

Bon Iver - "Brackett, WI": After the Blood Bank EP, I worried about the direction Bon Iver might take. It's a full band now, after all, and the next full-length won't be a bedroom record like For Emma, Forever Ago. It's not that I didn't like Blood Bank. It's just that it didn't speak to me like For Emma did. It did hold the same emotional impact, the same ocean of sound, of voices. For Dark Was The Night, though, the band recorded this. And it's perfect, and exactly where I want them to go. Though to be fair, I'll follow them anywhere.

Dirty Projectors - "No Intention": Absolutely my favorite song off the staggering Bitte Orca, Dave Longstreth's vocal line gives me chills every time.

Grizzly Bear - "While You Wait For The Others": Just the most beautiful second half of a song I can think of.
(Can't post.)

Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks": Posting this MP3 is why my FileDen account got suspended earlier this year. Needless to say, it's a popular song. Grizzly Bear's version of this at Bonnaroo, even without Victoria LeGrand, was absolutely incredible. Drummer Chris Bear just went to TOWN, playing double-time, putting in superfluous grooves, letting himself go crazy.
(Can't post.)

Bear In Heaven - "Ultimate Satisfaction": Retro and dark and barreling and glorious!

Bear In Heaven - "Beast In Peace": One of the two best opening tracks of an album I've heard in a long time, with a long B-section of nothing but percussion!

Cymbals Eat Guitars - "...And The Hazy Sea": The other best opening track of the year, it begins with a scream! This band is still constantly impressing me with its '90s rock throwback aesthetic combined with pop sensibility. There's another layer to hear each time. It just keeps delivering.

So that's it! 2009 was a great year. What did I miss? What did I get wrong? What did I get right?


bazookaluca said...

What? No "Best Guess As To What The Hell Happened To Eminem's Face In The Last Year Or So" category? You gotta keep up with the Joneses.

Seriously though, great list. I completely forgot about that Pontiak album that you were supposed to share with me. I'll trade you for the new Yeasayer. Oh, wait...

Juliar said...

Hmmm, well I'll still give you the Pontiak album...even though you don't have ANYTHING to offer me in return...