Can you believe we've already gone through a tenth of the new century? 2009 wrapped up the first decade of the 2000's with a pretty interesting batch of new music. It seemed even more bands followed the "Radiohead approach" with their releases (LOTS of freebies), and I only see that trend spreading more and more. A lot of bands took a step back from over the top production sounds and attempted the "Lo-Fi" approach trying to capture the "simple"/earlier sounds of "yesterdays Indie scene". A few new genres were "invented"; including Chill Wave & Glo-Fi, both interesting in their own way (although very close in sound). A few big releases by some of my favorite bands of all time, some of which disappointed me, and some of course exceeding all expectations. 2009 was definitely the year I acquired the most new music in my life, at times it was hard to keep up on all of it. 2009 was also the year I opened my ear buds a little more to hear even more of those small details we sometimes ignore when it comes to recordings. This was a tuff list for me to do (otherwise I may have done it earlier), even now looking at the list I wonder if maybe I'm forgetting an artist or two, or three? Either way I hope you had a good year, be it in music or life in general, and without any further ado here is EverythingIsChemical's..
100. Gliss - Devotion Implosion
..if you're into old school Smashing Pumpkins
99. Salem - Water EP
..if you're into Deadsy/"Lo-Fi" dark Indie Electronic music
98. Washed Out - Life Of Leisure
..if you're into laid back Indie Pop/Chill Wave
97. Devendra Banhart - What Will We Be
..if you're into Folk/Jazz/good Pop productions
96. Air - Love 2
..if you're into French Music/Psych Pop/catchy Pop
95. Kria Brekkan - Apotropaiosong Armor
..if you're into older Animal Collective/bizarre/cute atmospheres
94. Chromatic Flights - Sunset Bell
..if you're into catchy Electronic/Chill Indie/Summer vibes/Blindman's Colour Side Project
93. Es - Kesamaan Lapset
..if you're into unique/organic/Electronic/Campfire Music
92. Volcano Choir - Unmap
..if you're into Dream Pop/experimental/Indie/Side Project from Bon Iver
91. Telafonica - Love On The Second Stair
..if you're into Chamber Pop/Electronic/Pretty/Catchy Indie
90. Silk Flowers - Silk Flowers
..if you're into Goth/Industrial/Lo-Fi/Cheese
89. Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care
..if you're into sexy/laid back/futuristic/Electronic
88. Screen Vinyl Image - Interceptors
..if you're into LOUD Shoegaze/Electronic/APTBS
87. Phaseone - White Collar Crime
..BEST Mix Tape/Mash Up of 09/Dream Hop
86. Julianna Barwick - Florine
..if you're into Grouper/Ambient/Reverb/sleepy music/heavenly
85. Fight Bite - Emerald Eyes
..if you're into Ladytron/Electro Pop/Elevator music/laid back
84. Jon Hopkins - Insides
..if you're into dark/harsh/innovative/Classical/IDM/Piano
83. Duelectrum - Electrolandia
..if you're into old school Shoegaze/melancholy/dark/Rock
82. Massive Attack - Splitting The Atom
..if you're into Trip Hop/Dub/strong productions
81. Port Royal - Dying In Time
..if you're into IDM/Shoegaze/Experimental/Post Rock
80. Johann Johannsson - And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees
..if you're into Neo Classical/Post Apocalyptic/Ambient
79. Circlesquare - Songs For Dancing And Drugs
..if you're into Output Recordings/Chill/Dancey/Sexy/Catchy/Electronic
78. Telepathe - Dance Mother
..if you're into Indie Electronic/Pop/Experimental/Dreamy/catchy
77. James Blackshaw - The Glass Bead Game
..if you're into Folk/Acoustic/Ambient/Classical
76. Broadcast And The Focus Group - Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age
..if you're into Raymond Scott era electronics/weird/sample driven/Boards Of Canada
75. The Field - Yesterday And Today
..if you're into Dancey/Trance like/Synth/repetitive
74. No Age - Losing Feeling
..if you're into loud/somewhat Punk/somewhat Lo-Fi/catchy Rock
73. Olafur Arnalds - Found Songs
..if you're into concept albums/Piano/Neo Classical
72. Small Black - Small Black
..if you're into Chill Wave/Shoegaze/catchy/Indie Electronic
71. Sweet Trip - You Will Never Know Why
..if you're into Bossa Nova/Dream Pop/experimental/Indie Pop/catchy
70. Au Revoir Simone - Still Night Still Light
..if you're into c-a-t-c-h-y/Indie Pop/Electro/cutesy
69. Bachelorette - My Electric Family
..if you're into Broadcast/experimental/Indie Electronic
68. Nudge - As Good As Gone
..if you're into Psych/Dream Pop/lush/atmospheric/Kranky
67. Yacht - See Mystery Lights
..if you're into DFA/catchy/dance music
66. Fever Ray - Fever Ray
..if you're into The Knife Side Project/dark/weird/No-New Wave/Electronic Pop
65. Passion Pit - Manners
..if you're into catchy/peppy/Electro-Indie Pop
64. Luke Vibert - We Hear You
..if you're into fun/experimental/sample driven/IDM/Electronic
63. To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie - Marlone
..if you're into dark/harsh/melancholy/Industrial/experimental/Kranky
62. Portal - Options
..if you're into Dream Pop/Dancey/Electronic/catchy/the last Portal album
61. Pan American - White Bird Release
..if you're into Labradford/LAID BACK/atmospheric/Ambient/Kranky
60. Tim Exile - Listening Tree
..if you're into Depeche Mode/experimental/strong productions/Electronic/Clark
59. Dub Tractor - Sorry
..if you're into Epic45/Dream Pop/Electronic/laid back/catchy
58. Moby - Wait For Me
..if you're into the last half of Moby's "Play"/Dreamy/melancholy/Electronic
57. Brother/Ghost - Black Ice
..if you're into Cursive/Post Rock/atmospheric/dark
56. Ecovillage - Phoenix Asteroid
..if you're into Windy & Carl/Auburn Lull/Dream Pop/lush
55. Piano Magic - Ovations
..if you're into Goth/Dream Pop/early 4AD
54. Sparklehorse + Fennesz - In The Fishtank
..if you're into Ambient/Lush/Experimental/guitar fx
53. The Durutti Column - Love In The Time Of Recession
..if you're into Moby/Dream Pop/strong production
52. Olafur Arnalds - Dyad 1909
..if you're into violin/piano/crunchy IDM/Neo Classical
51. Nite Jewel - Good Evening
..if you're into Lo-Fi/Electronic/80's cheese/Electro/laid back
50. Little Dragon - Machine Dreams
..if you're into strong production/soothing vocals/Trip Pop
49. Castanets - Texas Rose, The Thaw, And The Beasts
..if you're into country/experimental/frigid atmospheres/dark
48. Small Color - In Light
..if you're into Miko/J-Pop/experimental/cutesy/Electronic/laid back
47. Our Brother The Native - Sacred Psalms
..if you're into Mum/Animal Collective/experimental/Electronic/Campfire music
46. We Fell To Earth - We Fell To Earth
..if you're into strong productions/dark/Psych/Shoegaze
45. King Midas Sound - Waiting For You
..if you're into Massive Attack/Trip Hop/Dub Step/The Bug Side Project
44. The Drums - "Summertime!"
..if you're into CATCHY/Indie Pop/Best song of 09 "Let's Go Surfing"
43. Doves - Kingdom Of Rust
..if you're into Brit Pop/Electronic/Alt-Rock/strong productions
42. The Horrors - Primary Colours
..if you're into dark Punk/Jesus & Mary Chain/Shoegaze/strong productions
41. Lemonade - Lemonade
..if you're into trance inducing dance music/!!!/catchy electronics/World music
40. Banjo Or Freakout - Upside Down
..if you're into Animal Collective/melancholy/Electronic/experimental/Indie Pop
39. This Immortal Coil - The Dark Age Of Love
..if you're into Coil (this is a cover album)/dark/Goth/experimental/Classical
38. Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport
..if you're into Mogwai/M83/experimental/Post Rock/Electronic
37. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
..if you're into Animal Collective (not my favorite of theirs)/strong productions
36. Animal Collective - Fall Be Kind
..if you're into older Animal Collective/catchy/yes, it's better than MPP
35. Mountains - Choral
..if you're into Eno/Electronic/lush/drone/Ambient
34. Grouper - Cover The Windows And The Walls
..if you're into amazing re-issue's/LUSH/sleep music/heavenly/one of my fav Grouper albums
33. Riceboy Sleeps - Riceboy Sleeps
..if you're into Sigur Ros/Ambient/Post Rock/Classical/melancholy
32. Ben Frost - By The Throat
..if you're into visual audio/scary/atmospheric/dark/IDM/Piano/harsh/drone
31. Lotus Plaza - The Floodlight Collective
..if you're into Atlas Sound/Dream Pop/Lo-Fi-ish/Indie Pop/melancholy
30. Bon Iver - Blood Bank
..if you're into singer/song writer/Folk/atmospheric/experimental/best use of auto tuner ever/relaxing
29. A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head
..if you're into L-O-U-D Rock/Shoegaze/experimental guitar fx
28. Moon - Original Soundtrack
..if you're into Sci-Fi soundtracks/Clint Mansell/bizarre/chill/Post Rock
27. Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
..if you're into Daft Punk/Lo-Fi/catchy/Synth driven
26. Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy
..if you're into Lo-Fi/Hi-Fi/Blues/Rock/Punk/experimental
25. Crocodiles - Summer Of Hate
..if you're into Jesus & Mary Chain/Shoegaze/Summer vibes/Lo-Fi-ish
24. Sinner DC - Crystallized
..if you're into Underworld/Depeche Mode/M83/laid back/futuristic/spacey/sexy/dancey
23. Felix - You Are The One I Pick
..if you're into Indie Pop/Regina Spektor/cutesy/Chamber Pop/the "least Kranky" Kranky band I know
22. Maps - Turning The Mind
..if you're into Electronic/epic/catchy/Shoegaze/better than his first album
21. Mi And L'au - Good Morning Jokers
..if you're into singer/song writer/folk/romantic/atmospheric/experimental/chill
20. Arve Henriksen - Cartography
..if you're into Jazz/experimental/Asian influenced Classical/Ambient/laid back/melancholy
19. Cranes - Cranes
..if you're into one of the originators of Dream Pop/catchy/strong productions/cutesy/atmospheric/pretty
18. Guitar - Friends
..if you're into Asian inspired Dream Pop/World/catchy/Dancey/Electronic
17. Mt. Eerie - Wind's Poem
..if you're into dark/Indie/Black Metal/atmospheric/gloomy/melancholy
16. Taken By Trees - East Of Eden
..if you're into World/strong productions/Indie Pop/strong female lead/pretty
15. Jj - No 2
..if you're into catchy/Electronic/laid back/Indie Pop/Summer vibes
14. Soap & Skin - Lovetune For Vacuum
..if you're into dark/piano/singer/song writer/electronic/atmospheric/Goth/pretty
13. A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Ashes Grammar
..if you're into experimental/Dream Pop/strong productions/cutesy/stronger than their first album
12. Atlas Sound - Logos
..if you're into Indie Pop/dreamy/experimental/catchy/Doo Wop vibes/get the version with the bonus disc
11. Telefon Tel Aviv - Immolate Yourself
..if you're into Shoegaze/Dream Pop/IDM/strong productions/lush/catchy/R.I.P.
10. Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue
Stephen Wilkinson (Bibio) was first noticed by Marcus Eoin of Boards Of Canada who then sent Mr. Wilkinson's early demos to Mush records where he went on to release his first 3 albums. "Ambivalence Avenue" (Stephen Wilkinson's 4th album) is his first for Warp Records, and, although this may be up for some debate, I believe "Ambivalence Avenue" to be Stephen's best/most accessible work to date. This is album is drenched in sun tinged happiness/free spirited euphoria, hints of the old scratch and pull days of Hip Hop sampling, and IDM glitch with a dash of "worldsy" influences.
"Eclectic" would definitely be the key term when describing Bibio's "Ambivalence..". Each song ebbs and flows to the next with ease whether it's "dreamy" Folk-Pop, late 60's to mid 70's Psychedelia and R & B, glitchy IDM , Hip Hop, or even gorgeous swells & drones, each song ties into the next wonderfully creating this layer of warmth only your "summertime ears" can truly appreciate. Sampling seems to be the main sound of choice with this release, although the laid back vocals and gorgeously drenched/reverberated guitar plucking's do keep the package very tight-knit. During the glitchy moments I am reminded of Prefuse 73 and Dabrye, during the "dreamy" Folk-Pop parts I am reminded of Christopher Willits meets Caribou meets Tunng mixed with a bit of Black Moth Super Rainbow. During the whole album I am reminded of how amazing an electronic producer can be sometimes when they dip there robot hands into something new, slightly experimental, and different while still giving the listener a decent sense of their own retrospective.
If you're looking for that next album to knock your headphone socks off please do yourself a favor and check out Bibio. He offers a bit of everything with his music as far as genre's go so it should interest most people, that is, if you like good music. "Ambivalence Avenue" is definitely the soundtrack to this summers laid-back aura, it's also one of 09's best releases. RECOMENDED.
9. Midaircondo - Curtain Call
A few years ago Midaircondo released their debut album "Shopping For Images" off of a little known (at the time) label named Type Records. It was, and still is my favorite album from that label as well as my favorite album of 2006, I described the album as Classical meets Jazz meets surreal ambience. It may have only been 3 years or so, but I feel like the wait for the follow up has been overwhelming/too long. Seriously, just get yourself acquainted with Midaircondo right NOW, once you have listened to these lovely ladies you will find out why it is so hard to let go.
The "bizarre/abstract" atmospheres that make Midaircondo so unique are still there. Lisa Nordström and Lisen Rylander Löve continue to seduce you with their hazy/unfeigned voices & soothing lullaby's. They do (sort of) continue where their debut album left off, but with a few changes/surprises. The "Indescribable" electronics that pulsate, blossom, and hug your brain are in top notch form and the Jazz style bass lines/piano melodies/trumpets and horns that decay and warble are just as strong. Industrial beats/clanky noises are more present, which kind of gives the album a "darker/more epic" feel. There are more vocal layers this time around, which was a great idea, Ebbot Lundberg (The Soundtrack Of Our Lives) even guest sings on a track. Although "Curtain Call" almost feels/sounds a lot like their debut, it is more tighter and more grand which would lead me to believe that their fan base will indefinitely grow bigger. This may sound like a strange pairing, but I think you might agree with me when you hear it, "Curtain Call = Bjork + Coil", if you like either of those artists consider this a must own.
DO NOT PASS THIS ALBUM UP. This is the sound of silver tinged clouds painted by Dali. H-H-H-H-IGHLY R-R-R-R-ECOMMENDED.
8. The Big Pink - A Brief History Of Love
It's been a while since I've fallen head-over-heels for an "Arena-Rock" sized band (The last one being Muse). Not to say that The Big Pink are your stereotypical kind of Rock band. On top of roaring guitar anthems, highly melodic vocals, and epic drumming, they offer a truly independent experience, experimental Shoegaze productions, and unique layers of sound that I am sure any audiophile could appreciate.
It's hard to live up to mass amounts of hype, but The Big Pink deliver. "A Brief History Of Love" is a shining example of what happens when you put enough talented people together in a studio and let them be in charge of the whole process. The end result being a masterful Rock/Pop record that challenges the average listener with layers of noise and unheard of fx. To me, when listening to The Big Pink, I am reminded of Oasis meets A Place To Bury Strangers. A bit of Brit-Rock/Pop mixed with absurd amounts of loud noises/instruments. Really, it's a shining example of how I prefer my Rock music. The first song I heard from this band was "Dominos", which by the way is one of the best songs of 09, needless to say it blew me way (no seriously, I played it back to back to back to back to back to back to etc.) and I was definitely excited to hear the rest of the album. Once I finally purchased my copy of "A Brief History Of Love" I can't say I was blown away as I was with that first song, but I stuck with it. I listened hard, I found those elements that I knew would knock me off of my chair. I found myself humming/whistling melodies from the album all day long. I wanted to listen to it more and more the more I though of it. The more I listened to it, the more addicted I became. I'm a happier man now, knowing I gave it a few listens before finally "getting it".
It's catchy, noisy, right for it's time, and surprising. It will grow on you more and more with each listen. I appreciate when bands have the ability to make my jaw drop.
7. Spc-Eco - 3D
Alright, I'll admit it, my favorite genre of music is definitely Shoegaze/Dream Pop. I am indeed a sucker for melodic guitar fx, chill electronic beats, soothing vocals, and all of the other great attributes that make up for an over the top Shoegaze magnum opus. Now that you know that about me, you will understand why Spc-Eco's "3D" made it so high up on my year end list for 2009. "3D" is the kind of Shoegaze album that could've easily existed during the golden era of said genre back in the 90's. Spc-Eco sound a lot like Jesus & Mary Chain only maybe not as mopey as they are loud and effect riddened/modern sounding. The kind of sounds you will find on this album are exactly what I am looking for when I am seeking out a louder, but still chill Shoegaze experience. Not to say that this album is "annoying" loud, it's just sooo thick and rich with it's wondrous layers of noise that your brain will find it hard to focus on all of the terrific things going on in one given sitting. The more you listen to this album, the harder you will find to put it down.
With the all-star cast of musicians involved with this project it confounds me as to how this isn't a bigger band by now. I never really heard too many blog sites, or even magazines talking about this release, but they should. Spc-Eco (pronounced Space Echo) consists of Dean Garcia (Curve), Rose Berlin, Joey Levenson, and Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, U2, Depeche Mode) who had a hand in the production of this monster. On top of that there is also a remix done by Tim Holmes (Death In Vegas) near the end of the album. Knowing all of that you should know the kind of quality you can come to expect form this massive release. Rose Berlins offers a beatific voice over Dean Garcia's amazingly thick and harsh production effects, be it guitar/drum/keys, and Joey Levenson piles on even more perceptible guitar fx in the mix. If tracks like "Shine On Down" or "Another Day" don't hook you in right off the bat, turn it up more (you'll get it). Dark, lush, rich, electronic, loud, heavenly, fuzzy, cathartic, and damn near perfect. With plenty of vocal layers, keyboard fx, electronic drum sounds, and complex guitar tones it's easy to see why any Gazer will become enamored/slammed to the ground from the very first listen.
Hand's down the best Shoegaze release of 2009, an essential to any collector of the genre. Fans of Jesus & Mary Chain, A Place To Bury Strangers, Pale Saints, Asobi Seksu take notice. I am more than sure, if the right P.R. people get behind this album, this band has an amazingly bright future ahead. ESSENTIAL FOR AUDIOPHILES.
6. Richard Hawley - Truelove's Gutter
I'm not going to lie to you, being a part of the "press" has it's perks. For example, you get put on label's lists, once on said lists you may (or may not) receive freebies. Sometimes you'll get amazing albums you may not have discovered on your own, sometimes the opposite. Free music is never a bad thing if you ask me. That being said, Richard Hawley's "Truelove's Gutter" is one of those freebies I received. I can't say I had ever heard of him before (does that make me lame?), but once I placed the album in my cd player I couldn't take it out.
Richard Hawley has been writing music for years now, he has more than a few solo albums under his belt (which I'm sure are equally as amazing) and, when he's not focusing on his own material, he plays guitar for Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) live. He's dipped his amazing guitar techniques into many a Brit-Pop stars albums, I guess he's really sought after (understandably so). On "Truelove's Gutter" one of the main guys behind Mute records asked Mr. Hawley to write an album that isn't so much focused on "Pop sensibility" as much as it is anomalous, dismal and romantic. Listen to the track "Don't Get Hung Up On Your Soul", you will get a clear idea of what kind of music to expect, as I believe it acts as the album's thesis; "don't worry about your mistakes, life will go on and people will always love you for you..". It's funny, every time I was listening to this album my wife said to me "..It sounds like something my grandmother would listen to.." The music is old fashioned (sometimes country infused, sometimes great slow dance material), the vocals are crooner style, and the production is "Phil Spector strong". To me, when listening to the album, I am reminded of the male equivalent to Hope Sandoval (a voice that just melts in your ears), with dreamy/twangy guitar sounds, strings/full on orchestra, and yes, an old fashioned sense of music writing that brings to mind Roy Orbison, Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen or maybe even Patsy Cline. Nothing abrasive here, just romantic with an irenic sense of tranquility.
Is "Truelove's Gutter" something your grandparents would have listened to? Maybe, but it's damn nice/soothing/romantic and it's exactly what you need after a long hectic day of work/stress. I recommend listening to "Truelove's Gutter" next to someone you love, as it will indeed make you feel all "warm" and "mushy". I can't tell you how many times a day I've listened to this album since I've had it. RECOMMENDED TO THE XTREME.
5. Pyramids with Nadja - Pyramids with Nadja
Earlier this year I discovered a "metal" band I actually loved (notice "metal" must be in quotes when talking about this band). More than just fat angry men with beer guts and beards, Pyramids are a smart talented bunch of guys with an ear for somber & unique. They mix blast beat drumming with tons upon TONS of reverb, and laid back vocals. As stated in my review for their debut album I felt as if I was attending a metal show underneath water. Their debut was amazing, one of my favorite "Shoegaze" releases of all time. I was definitely excited to hear about a split album between Pyramids and experimental Post-Metal band Nadja. Nadja is another one of those "metal" bands that can be hard to classify. Not only do the play heavy, but the play experimental and somewhat Jazzy. Now that you know the back story (a little bit) behind these two bands you should know what to expect from this release..(kind of)
Split albums are fun, I like the idea of two artists joining forces to release a few unreleased tracks that just didn't fit on their full length albums. Here's where this split gets interesting, never before have I heard a split and thought to myself, "Wow, this is REALLY amazing.." I usually only get it for one of the bands and then go on with my day. However, with this release I have witnessed a first in my life. This album is better (that's right better) than the Pyramids debut, and better than any other Nadja album released. Rather than sticking to the standard split album formula of "one band goes first, the other goes last", Pyramids and Nadja join forces on all tracks creating a cohesive package of lush/reverberrated/avant-garde/Post Rock/Metal dreary mayhem. Really, I'm not sure if Godspeed (the inventors of the genre) could have done a better job.
This release, although I was definitely hyping it up in my head, was THE surprise album of 2009 for me. I could've never guessed it (or any other album for that matter) being this good. Please (no seriously PLEASE) go get this if lush atmospheres, and somber/melancholy madness is your deal. I am now praying to the metal gods for another collaboration between these two artists sometime soon in the near future. Seriously, F*C*ING WOW.
4. Cold Cave - Love Comes Close
Whether you're ready for them or not Cold Cave are here. They've released over 3 albums worth of material on various hard to find 7" records as well as a cd that collected most of those tracks on one album, they've been a huge part of the "new" movement in New York's underground music scene for a few years and now their official "debut" release, which is on both Vinyl & CD is finally out. The question is, how good are they? Do they live up to all of the "hype" the press has created for them from various indie outlets online?
Ok (talking to myself), breathe in..
I've only been following Cold Cave for about a year now, which is about half of Cold Cave's time together, but through that short amount of time I have become thoroughly obsessive with finding all of their releases. It's taken me a bit of time, but I have all of them now, and not one song disappoints. Their first two official releases "The Trees Grew Emotions And Died" and "Painted Nails" blew me away with their incredibly "lo-fi-rrific" Industrial beats. And every other song since then has shown me how this band progresses it's sound almost every other day. So yes, Cold Cave DO live up to the hype AND they exceed it.
With "Love Comes Close" I wasn't sure what to expect, I figured I would be pretty happy with it and maybe just go on with my day. However since I've owned this album I have listened to it countless times now. So what is it that makes it good? Remember Crystal Castles (I'd hardly doubt you would forget them)? Cold Cave deliver that same form of catchy "Post-Electro-Pop" mixed with their original Industrial heritage and even "Eep!" -- solid production. That's right, instead of following the "Lo-Fi" path of many others Cold Cave have decided to push the production up a thousand (maybe a million) notches, producing songs that wouldn't hurt even the most sensitive of ears (maybe a few). The self-loathing/80's Goth inspired vocals are crystal clear, the synthesizers are in top-notch from busting out some of the catchiest rhythms you will hear the entire year, and the entire album can transcend you to time when mixing art with dance, pop, "the bizarre", and underground culture was once an unheard of trend. I'm ready for this EBM shit to end, I'm ready for the new Industrial revolution to begin. Friends! uhh Romans? Lend my your ears! Let us hold hands, raise a fist, wear a black t-shirt or something/whatever and march through the streets of deprived music worshippers and awaken there senses with the sounds of Cold Cave. Join me now! Please?
Ok, breathe out....
Yeaah.., I get particularly obsessed with at least one new band every year, this is the year of Cold Cave and "Love Comes Close" is EASILY one of my favorite albums of 09 and definitely one of my favorite Industrial-Art records ever. Sooooooo addictive. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
3. The Xx - The Xx
Every year UK magazine NME over hype a handful of artists. For example: Arctic Monkeys, they were selling out stadium sized arenas without even releasing a full length album yet. Pop stars seem to be more than just the new God over seas sometimes. Normally I disagree with their (NME's) picks, however, this year they have been right on the mark with The Xx and The Big Pink. I really wasn't sure, and definitely not optimistic with all of the hype surrounding these bands, usually hype kills sound, but millions of listens later it's safe to same I am indeed a fan, ..A really BIG fan.
The Xx are a group of brilliant/young southwest Londoners who will soon become a household name. The music they create is clear, precise, simple, captivating, and overall one of the most pleasing experiences my headphones have had all year long. Their sound could be described best as Indie R n' B mixed with minimal electronics, and an Art-Rock attitude. Some comparisons might be Junior Boys, Sade, Interpol, etc. Every melody is simple, but much like modern art, "It = something you could've done + but you didn't." Because of how tight the melodies are and on top of that enchanting vocals, toe tapping bass lines, lucid drumbeats, and impeccable production it's easy to see why I would assume them to be a household name in the future. Place this album in your media player of choice right now, if you're not impressed seek medical attention your ears are officially broken. The Xx have an amazing future ahead of them and I plan on watching their every step with much anticipation.
Go buy this now, I'll buy it from you if you don't like it. SO VERY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
2. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Through The Devil Softly
It's official, ok, it's been official for a while now, Hope Sandoval is by far my favorite vocalist out there. Every time she begins here seductive murmurs of heartache, wisdom, and everyday thoughts I feel an overwhelming since of going soft between my headphones and in my heart. Mazzy Star was great, the song "Fade Into You" will be played at many weddings from here until eternity, but I must say, her idea to branch off and write music without David Roback may be one of the best concepts since bread (yeah, that's waay better than sliced bread). The last Hope Sandoval album "Bavarian Fruit Bread" came out in 2001, and to put it simply it's one of the few albums I own that I feel comfortable enough giving a 10 out of 10 rating. My wife walked down the isle to "Feeling Of Gaze", which after you hear it, I think you'll understand why. So yeah, I'm obsessed, and yes this was one of the most excitable releases of the year for me. Nearly 8 years later (that's like Portishead long) Hope is back on top of her game, this time a stronger since of craftsmanship, woebegone, and ingenuity.
"Through The Devil Softly" starts off with a dreamy/somewhat psychedelic crooner song that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album. From there on the songs just get better and better. Songs like "For The Rest Of Your Life" set a standard as to what good melancholic-Psych music should be about. It's one of my favorite tracks of 2009 for it's simplicity, catchiness, and unique slide guitar sound. It is safe to assume you've heard of Hope Sandoval by now correct? Please, go get yourself acquainted if you haven't yet (you can thank me later). "Through The Devil Softly" is a perfect blend of Folk, Psychedelia, Shoegaze, Dream Pop, Crooner, and "experimental lounge Rock". You could relax on a porch somewhere with the sun setting just as easily as you could sleep to this album. You couldn't ask for a better since of complacency anywhere else.
I'm not sure if there were any negative reviews for this album (I highly doubt it) based off of the complex tones that her debut album offered, but I believe this album to be equally as entertaining, with just as many coma inducing/aphrodisiacal sounds. In no way is this a disappointing album, it's everything you could possibly want from a seductive & stoic genius. Hope Sandoval is the best female musician of all time, you can debate me all you want, but you will not convince me. GET THIS NOW NOW NOW (or don't, if you're lame).
...and the #1 Album of 2009 is...
1. Odawas - The Blue Depths
Picking a favorite album of the year (especially when it was such a hefty year for new great music) can be tricky.. Do you base it off of replay value? Do you base it off of the quality of music at hand? Do you base it off of comparison to older work? Or maybe the impact it had on the "scene"? Yes, all of those questions should come into the factor when plotting out "Best Music Of The Year", not only those questions, but also what kind of emotional value that album represents on a personal level. For all of those reasons everyone's year end lists are and always will be slightly different. Some music geeks, it seems, base their opinions off of others, some only pick "the obscure" bands because it's hip or whatever, and some actually put thought and detail into the process. Either way I'm sure you have your own opinions when it comes to all of the different year end lists you see, and your opinions may be/are justified. Sometimes you hate the choices, and sometimes you couldn't agree more. So why is my #1 pick for 09 Odawas "The Blue Depths"? Because it is a masterpiece, to me it sums up an entire year in about an hour. There were ups, there were definitely downs, something's didn't make sense, something's seemed like an obscure fantasy, and something's made you melt. And THAT, to me, is the reason "The Blue Depths" should be on everyone's list. "The Blue Depths" is a classic album with deep emotional context and rich layers of sound that will remain close to my heart for as long as I listen to music
At the beginning of this year Odawas third official release came out and for the album's review I stated "It's going to be extremely hard to top "The Blue Depths" in 2009". That really couldn't have been more of a true statement. I will say, it is rare that I pick an album released towards the beginning of the year, not because first quarter releases aren't any good, but because they tend to fade away as more amazing releases come out. However that is not the case here, quite opposite actually. Odawas really have outdone themselves, yet again. "The Blue Depths" truly is one of the most lush/gorgeous/warm albums I have ever heard. It has the ability to warm your heart, make you tear up, and to revive your imagination. Is it still Odawas? Yes!, but with tons upon TONS of dreamy/saturated synths, pleasing "80's Pop" inspired vintage drum machine loops, Michael Tapscott's Neil Young style vocals, harmonica/accordion effects, plucks of damp guitars, and of course that "weird" factor that, to me, still makes Odawas "unclassifiable".
Much like Odawas previous effort, "Raven And The White Night", this album is an overall gazey dream sequence drenched in acid. Best thing you could do while listening to this album is to watch the sunset on a clear day, at the most beautiful spot in your area. But don't just watch it, SOAK in the rays, feel the warmth. Any good emotions you get from the sun, focus on those. Find a good pair of headphones and soak in "The Blue Depths". Fans of Neil Young, M83, Shoegaze/Dream Pop music, "Experimental" Folk music, unique Indie atmospheric qualities, Odawas should already/really be a part of your lives.
This may be, scratch that, IS on my top albums of all time list (You don't like it = I don't like you. You get it?). Please, please, stop waiting around (if you are), Odawas are here for you. If "The Blue Depths" is any indication as to what this band can achieve there is no reason why they shouldn't top everyone's (including yours) "top music lists" in the near future. "The Blue Depths" delivers an experience you will not forget. Thank you Odawas, I am forever in your debt.