Archive for December 23rd, 2009

My (Predictable) Favorite Music of 2009


Bat for Lashes, “Daniel”

It’s about Daniel-san , but I prefer to think it’s about Daniel Radcliffe. Every instrument (including vox) bleeds into the atmosphere, gently increasing in volume, inexorably pulling you into the pillow-soft chorus.

Boredoms, “Ant 10”

there’s no line at the amusement park, so you can ride the same rollercoaster over and over again.

Camera Obscura, “French Navy”

Spare girl-group parts are shined up, placed in a sparkling new chassis. The Neoclassical Stravinsky to Spector’s Mozart.

Destroyer, “Bay of Pigs”

The logical extension of Dan Bejar’s feathery, we’re-in-heaven vibe is a 13-minute, rambling, spacey, occasionally disco journey.

Dinosaur Jr., “Over It”

It’s gotten to the point that I actually prefer this version of the band to its earlier incarnation. A winning, joyous exhortation to grow up and settle differences that actually makes it sound like fun.

Dirty Projectors and David Byrne, “Knotty Pine”

A breezy distillation of the artistic impulse into pop song: see something, feel something, make something.

El Perro Del Mar, “Change of Heart”

An uncomfortably tender song about what it’s like to lose feeling and soldier on.

Handsome Furs, “I’m Confused”

A hard-boiled, red-eyed rock animal gets close to the end of its tether.

Japandroids, “Young Hearts Spark Fire”

Passion on the highway, two combustible gents going all out.

Mountains, “Choral”

As far as I’m concerned, the “Autobahn” of ambient.

Shakira, “Loba”

Still translating her songs via babelfish, now with a spine made of mutant disco, and an atonal chorus smeared across the sky.

Vampire Weekend, “Cousins”

The vaguely ethnic sound of childlike anticipation.

Yonlu, “I Know What It’s Like”

Elliott Smith comes back from the dead in Brazil, discovers people are the same, commits suicide again.


The Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca

9 tracks of synecdoche, refashioning the visual into the aural through chiming guitarwork and a panoply of skyward melisma.

Fever Ray, Fever Ray

The frontwoman for The Knife gives us a meditative album, with domestic settings, which still manages to frighten. The videos are great too.

Extra Golden, Thank You Very Quickly

Kenyan-American polyrhythmnists who honor both sides of the Afro-Pop coin.

Micachu & the Shapes, Jewellery

A rumpus-room, Mario-Kart album that doesn’t waste a melody or a sound effect.

Bibio, Ambivalence Avenue

The ultimate in Adult Swim bumper music. Reminds me of Dilla, reminds mom of The Moody Blues.

Gay Witch Abortion, Maverick

Half-speed Lightning Bolt with my favorite brand of adolescent humor: a damn-the-man bitter streak.

The Juan MacLean, The Future Will Come

DFA’s victory lap for the decade is a skilled mimic of ¬†early-80s dance sounds AKA THE GREATEST MUSIC EVER RECORDED. Also contains my favorite song of 08, “Happy House”

The Mountain Goats, The Life of the World to Come

Relive the bible in your everyday experiences, just like people in medieval times.

The Thermals, Now We Can See

Perfecting the mid-tempo rock song with truly elemental concerns: death, earth, maturity.

Sleigh Bells, Sleigh Bells

Snotty nursery rhymes recorded in a trash can.

Super Furry Animals, Dark Days/Light Years

SFA complete their transformation into ELO.

tUnE-yArDs, BiRdBrAiNs

Ward off evil spirits by howling songs of strength while banging on a guitar, pots and pans. The most self-affirming record since The Milk-Eyed Mender.

Dan Deacon, Bromst

The most taxing, annoying music imaginable goes on meds, clears a path to the sublime.

Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion

Tone poems from a lush world–just pretend the lyrics are in a language you don’t understand.

Vitalic, Flashmob

Also-ran french touch singles find a prosperous life together, conspire to sell Cadillacs in the future.

Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II

An undead army rises from hip-hop’s freshly dug grave.


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December 2009
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