So yeah, it's that time again. The stressful undertaking that is compiling a 'Best Of' list for music released in 2009. I'm not sure how I feel about my list this year. Pretty good I guess, like Ario
, I spent a lot of time listening to old stuff this year (a lot of italo disco, early japanese electro-pop, and just stuff from 2008 that I hadn't processed by the end of last year). Anyway, here it all is. I didn't do descriptions for the singles + remixes because it would just take too long. If you want to hear the originals for the remixes it they shouldn't be too hard to track down, but let me know if you need help. And that goes for anything, if you want me to send you guys anything, let me know. You might want to grab a pot of coffee, this should
take a while ;)
(oh and when I say 'best' I of course mean 'my favorite'. I'm no taste-maker, hehe.)NOTE: ALBUM ART LINKS TO YOUTUBE CLIPSBest Albums Of 20091) Kettel - Myam James Part 2
Well It was inevitable that this album was going to be on my list, after the first installment made my list last year. This album is more than a stone's throw from the previous one though. It's pretty diverse, and there's a heavier dose of piano and strings here, bringing it a little closer to his 2007 album 'Whisper Me Wishes'. The album opens with what I think is the strongest track, "Kingscourt Imp" which builds nicely from stuttering percussion and his trademark acidy sound until a harpsichord breaks into the mix and takes over. The melody is beautiful, and I think it's easily one of the best tracks he's ever produced. There's a nice ratio of softer tracks to bouncy ones. "Song From Toverpeeks" sounds like it's a reworking of "I Was Fine" from 2005's 'Through Friendly Waters', and "Verkens In Londen" is one of the most uplifting tracks I've ever heard, and has a -PERFECT- ending. I really can't say enough good things about this album :)2) Gui Borrato - Take My Breath Away
I'm just going to borrow The Silent Ballet's review here: It’s relatively rare that a sophomore album lives up to the expectations set up by a great first effort, and yet, there’s cases like Gui Boratto’s, in which development can finally be logically defined as progressive, resulting in the simple formula of “getting better with time.” Of course, this applies to the music itself too, with its techno-driven beats altered by small - but important - details that make Take My Breath Away a quite varied sort of electronica, full of smooth inklings of crossover acid-jazz, electro pop, and even rock. This way, the ‘replay value’ of the album is exponentially increased when put in the right setting: in the most suitable context of the club and the dance floor, amidst flashing lights and moving bodies. Even then, there are enough non-evident sounds to please the headphone crowd, which will be aurally delighted with clean production and awesome, heart-pumping bass. (David Murrieta)
This really is a great album. standout tracks for me are 'No Turning Back', and 'Colors', but I didn't care much for the title track.3) Clark - Totems Flare
This dude is insane. 3 full length albums, and a handful of EPs in just 4 years. I thought 'Body Riddle' was going to end up the defining moment for Chris Clark, and in some ways I still feel that way, but this album really gives 'BR' a run for it's money. While I found 'Turning Dragon' to be a little brutal and inaccessible, Totem's flare is, in a way more
brutal, but somehow more accessible as well. I guess you could say it's more danceable, although I think you'd be punishing yourself for trying. The first track on the album feels a little uninspired, but it sort of serves to introduce you to all the sounds you'll be hearing on the coming tracks. Then we have "Growl's Garden", def a nice track, but no surprise since we heard it on the EP of the same name. "Rainbow Voodoo" is a little unexpected, but it the best way possible, with a smattering of proper vocals. The standout track for me though is "Future Daniel" which may be my favorite track he's produced yet. The album art above links to this track, so didn't miss it (and make sure to listen through because that shit explodes around the 2 minute mark). From there to the end the album is just amazing, moving more into the harsh digital textures clark is know for, and ending with a truly beautiful piece.4) Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream
So this one barely made it, since it came out in Australia in 2008, but didn't make it here until 2009. I've seen some reviews call this album silly, or eccentric, which it is to some extent, but that doesn't make the music any less legitimate. The imagery (album art, the 4 or 5 music videos they've made, stage costumes) together with the music on this album, create an astounding presence. The duo is really trying to tell a sort of story with the entire thing. As for the songs themselves, the first half of the album is really strong, while the second half takes a little time to get into. The whole album is really carried by Luke's vocals. He's got a great falsetto, and his style really changes from song to song. The highlight of the album for me, is probably the last song, "Without You". It's a moody track, a ballad almost, carried along at a slow pace by wobbly synths, and Luke's almost stark vocals. Lucky for me then, that they chose this track to re-edit for their latest music video (linked to from the album art).5) Fear Of Tigers - Cossus Snufsigalonica
So this album only came out like a month ago, but man, I've been playing it constantly since then. It was a completely free release too, which is awesome. This album is absolute gold from start to finish. It's 90s spacey synth disco dance revival on every track, with vocal samples chosen for maximum emotional power. If this album fails to pump you up, it's not the album's fault, there's something fundamentally wrong with you ;P6) Susumu Hirasawa - Tenko Suru Wakusei
I feel like Susumu Hirasawa is overlooked too often. He was right there with Sakamoto and YMO, pioneering electro-pop in Japan with his group P-Model. Since 1989, he's released 13 full length albums, which is pretty impressive (i have most of these, though I haven't listened to quite all of them yet). His music draws a lot of inspiration from Thailand. I think what is most striking about his music, is the incredibly variety of vocal styles he employs. He's got a really powerful voice, and often sings in an almost operatic way. This album isn't doing anything incredibly new in terms of style for him. But that's not exactly a slight, considering the exhaustive range of music he's made during his career. He's sort of carved out this niche of soaring new-age honky-tonk electropop. It's hard to describe, but this is truly unique music. I couldn't find a clip of my favorite song from the album, so i've uploaded it here: Susumu Hirasawa - Jintai Yakou7) Bike For Three! - More Heart Than Brains
Bike For Three! is a long-distance collaboration between hip-hop artist Rich Terfry (solo as Buck 65), and Belgian producer Joëlle Phuong Minh Lê (solo as Greetings From Tuskan). What a refreshing album. I don't listen to a lot of hip-hop, but that's probably because I don't find enough albums like this one, that meld styles so well. It's a pretty dark sounding album, thanks to the soundscapes created by Joëlle, but somehow it works remarkably well with Rich's almost colloquial vocal delivery. The lyrics are fairly clever, and strangely appealing ("I got a crush on a girl with a boy's name..."). If you feel like you're hard-pressed to find a hip-hop album you can really get into beyond mild appreciation, pick this album up immediately.8) Port Royal - Dying In Time
It's probably not that surprising seeing this on here. Their 2007 album "Afraid To Dance" while maybe not my favorite overall that year, was probably my most listened to album. The same doesn't quite hold true for this one, but it's quite close! 'Dying In Time' really continues where 'Afraid To Dance' left off in terms of sounds/style. There are some vocals here and there on this album, and actually the tracks with vocals are probably my favorites ("I Used To Be Sad" + "The Photoshopped Prince"). When they released their 2005 album "Flares" they were being touted as a post-rock group, and I suppose it did almost fall into that genre. I'm really happy with the direction they've taken their music. I read an interview with the group a while back, that revealed the source of their 2007 album title (essentially they were all a little shy, and were shy/embarrassed about dancing in public)... well I'm really glad they seem to have overcome that fear. This is a prefect autumn album, for rainy grey days...
(You may notice that the top 10 albums stops at 8... It was feeling a little forced, deciding on the last two, so I opted to leave them out. This year wasn't as much about full length albums for me...)Best EPs Of 20091) Depreciation Guild - Dream About Me
I haven't stopped listening to these guys since I found them a couple years ago. Their last full length 'In Her Gentle Jaws' is still a staple in my music rotation. They play a mixture of indie rock/shoegaze set to a chip music backing (done with a famicom). For a first album, IHGG was an amazing accomplishment.. but after hearing this EP (and seeing a preview of some new tracks live), it looks as if their next album could be even better. The title track is a shimmering lazy throwback to classic shoegaze. you can hear influences from some of the big players of the early 90s like Ride, as well as the Cocteau Twins. I feel like Kurt's chip tracking skills have gotten stronger as well.. it sneaks in there and you almost don't notice it at times, and then a pure tone shines through the space between the guitars. The second track 'Listless' is less dense, and actually more upbeat, despite it's name. Kurt's breathy vocals really shine on this track. Their second album is dropping sometime this winter, and i CAN'T. WAIT.2) The Drums - Summertime!
So I'm cheating a bit here by posting a song that's not actually on this EP. But it's probably my favorite of theirs, so.. so.. whatever! These guys really blew up. They're catching comparisons to New Order, and The Smiths, and everyone thinks they're indie pop's big new thing. And... I kind of agree. I may have listened to these songs more than almost anything else this year, despite it being released late in the year. Actually most of my fav songs of theirs aren't on this EP, but whatever. You can really hear influences like the Tough Alliance in their sound, which is like a 50s california beach take on post-punk. They stated in an interview that they just want to create something which sounds a little timeless, and I think they really accomplished that. These songs are deviously catchy...3) Washed Out - Life Of Leisure
So these guys have been blogged to death, and labeled with the now nearly-reviled genre 'chillwave', both for good reason. This year was really huge for lo fi music, but i think Washed Out really stood out from the pack. Yeah they've caught a bit of criticism since probably their biggest song, "Feel It All Around" is basically a karaoke over a sample from Gary Low's "I Want You". I don't much care, I think the track is great, and the rest of their work is just as strong. 4) Trash80 - Icarus
Trash80... some of the best chip music out there. I believe he used primarily (or exclusively?) a modded NES using midiNES to make this album. It's pretty hard hitting dance music from start to finish, with really catchy melodies. I think what set's his music apart is the production. I believe Tim has worked as a sound engineer, and as such, his mastering on this album is impeccable. The sound is incredibly dense by chip music's standards, and no sound is out of place. I've had the pleasure of seeing him perform a few times, and he's really a showstopper, people really go nuts. 5) Pinkshinyultrablast - Happy Songs For Happy Zombies
I feel like I should mention I know absolutely nothing about this group. They're russian i think... Anyway, I stumbled across this EP and was really pleasantly surprised. Really strong wall-of-fuzzy-noise shoegaze. As is typical, the vocals are a bit buried, becoming just another instrument in a way. 4 really solid tracks here, give it a listen...Best Singles Of 20091) The Sound Of Arrows - Into The Clouds 2) Tesla Boy - Spirit Of The Night3) The Hasbeens - You & Me4) GusGus - Add This Song5) Group_Inou - RIP6) Classixx - I'll Get You (Feat. Jeppe)7) Baxter - Proof8) Mille - Crysteena9) Bat For Lashes - Daniel10) Girls' Generation - GeeBest Remixes Of 2009 (i did 15 here cause there are just too many remixes) 1) Coeur De Pirate - Comme Des Enfants (Le Matos Andy Carmichael Remix)2) Marina And The Diamonds - Mowgli's Road (Mille Remix)3) Cinnamon Chasers - I Like Watching You (Diamond Cut Remix)4) Maximo Park - Let's Get Clinical (Clark Remix)5) Nightwaves - Fascination (Keenhouse Remix)6) Ladyhawke - Back Of The Van (Beaumont's Zirconium Throne reMix)7) Passion Pit - The Reeling (Yasutaka Nakata Capsule Remix)8) Bag Raiders - Shooting Stars (Kris Menace Remix)9) Death Metal Disco Scene - 21 (John Bourke Remix)10) Phoenix - Lisztomania (Classixx Version)11) Bat For Lashes - Daniel (Edwin Van Cleef Remix)12) The Outrunners - These Girls Are Dressed To Kill (Russ Chimes Remix)13) Frankmusik - Confusion Girl (Russ Chimes Remix)14) Dukes Of Windsor - Runaway (Hundreds and Thousands Remix)15) Stevie Nicks - Stand Back (Eli Escobar Disco Mix)My Favorite Music Videos Of 2009
(i'm probably forgetting a lot...)Flairs - Trucker's DelightEmpire Of The Sun - Without YouThe Sound Of Arrows - Into The Clouds (Fear Of Tigers Remix)
they made an official video for the remix, awweesooommmmeeeThe Sound Of Arrows - Into The CloudsCinnamon Chasers - Luv DeluxeGirls' Generation - GeeBag Raiders - Shooting StarsMarina And The Diamonds - Mowgli's Road
I won't get into the stuff I missed this year, because there's just too much...