Saturday, July 31, 2010

Best Music of 2009: #15-11

#15. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (listen to it here and buy it here)
This album had a lot of hype on its release and had several critics calling it 2009's best album before February even began.  That's just crazy.  I waited until March or April (of '09) to [legally] download it and I enjoyed it.  It's not my favorite album of the year, but it's good and "My Girls" was one of my favorites from the year (as I listened to it about 200 times):

#14. David Gray: Draw the Line (listen to it here and by it here)
I've been a big DG fan since White Ladder -- which isn't saying much since he had some great albums before that -- but Draw the Line was a Gray's first album since 2005 (Life in Slow Motion) and far better than 2002's New Day After Midnight.  I'm not sure if Gray will ever recapture the magic of Sell Sell Sell (my personal favorite), but DtL is a decent record and I hope Gray continues to make music like "Jackdaw":

#13. Dan Auerbach: Keep It Hid (listen to it here and buy it here)
I love me some Black Keys, so I was excited when I heard Dan was striking out on his own.  His solo stuff is different (rootsier?) than TBK and that's fine (why make a solo album that sounds like your other stuff?).  I still prefer TBK, but Dan's solo work on KIH is good and is worth a listen for any TBK fan, especially to stand-out tracks like "Heartbroken, in Disrepair" (which is one of the more TBK-esque tracks):

#12. Royal Bangs: Let It Beep (listen to most of it here or buy it here)
I didn't come across this until April of 2010, so I'm glad I waited to make this list.  Beep was produced by Patrick Carney, the drummer from TBK.  However, unlike Britt Daniels' influence on White Rabbits, the effort from Royal Bangs sounds nothing like TBK and that's absolutely fine.  They rock out, but there's an electronica aspect that's absent from TBK's sound, with some jam band tendencies to boot.  This album also had some songs that had to grow on me (mental note: catch these guys live!), but "War Bells" was love at first sound:

#11. Choir of Young Believers: This is for the White in Your Eyes (buy it here)
I've already written about this album, so I won't say much more.  I've grown a little tired of it since that post, but I still think these guys are way under the radar and I can't wait to see what tragically gorgeous tunes they produce next if they keep putting out songs like "Why Must it Always Be this Way":

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Best Music of 2009: #16-20

Why in the heck is this list being posted when 2010 is more than halfway over?  Well, I've been too lazy for the past 6 months.  I'm deep in the throes of dissertation composition, so I thought this was a good way to get my mind rolling in the write direction (har har, sorry).  And as the blog name indicates, I plan on writing weekly, and hopefully 2-5 times per week.

A few caveats: 2009 wasn't the best year for music -- especially entire albums -- in my eyes.  These albums (#16-20) wouldn't make the top 20 if they had been released this in 2010 (probably not even the top 30), but they are still worthwhile investments if you enjoy music.  Secondly, there are still a few albums from '09 that I haven't purchased yet (this list is only comprised of albums I own), so out of consideration are worthy efforts from Kasabian, Bad Veins, Telekinesis (five bucks!), Timber Timbre (five bucks!), and Telegraph Canyon.

#20. White Rabbits: It's Frightening (listen to it here or buy it here)
Basically, if you like Spoon, you'll like White Rabbits -- mainly because Britt Daniel (lead singer of Spoon) produced this album.  However, it's no substitute for the actual thing.  This is my favorite track and the video shows how their use of two drummers drives the song (and apparently Texas high school football?):

#19. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes: self-titled (listen to it here or buy it here for $6!)
This is a definite throwback to 60s- and 70s-style traveling gypsy bands.  I'm not sure this album would've made the top 20 if I hadn't seen them in concert (which might be a little unfair), but they put on a good-but-not-great live show (too short!), and it made their album better.  My favorite track, by far, is "40 Day Dream" and this video gives you a sense of what it's like to see them live:

#18Miike Snow: self-titled (listen to it here or buy it here for $6)
These dudes know how to pump a catchy electrono-beat.  Don't believe me?  Read this and then watch this:

#17. Julian Casablancas: Phrazes for the Young (listen to it here or buy it for $5 here)
This album was a bit of a disappointment, but The Strokes are one of my all-time faves and this hit a little bit of that craving (since they haven't put out an album in almost five years!).  It's admittedly different than most Strokes material -- and purposefully so -- but what keeps it from being higher on the list is the unevenness in several of the songs ... and due to the fact that "11th Dimension" was the advance single from the album and none of the other tracks could really match the expectations that song set; viz:

#16. DM Stith: Heavy Ghost (listen to a few tracks here or buy it here)
I initially resisted the tunes of David Stith because I thought it sounded too similar to Patrick Watson.  However, Mr. Stith is a personal friend of my sister and brother-in-law and they convinced me to give the entire album a few spins.  While I still tend to hear similarities between PW and DM, it doesn't make Heavy Ghost a poor effort; in fact, it's a fine album (which might be even better on shrooms given it's ethereal nature).  "Isaac's Song" is a bit more representative of Ghost, but "Braid of Voices" is my favorite tune on the album (it stands in contrast with the rest of the album -- placid throughout); check it out if you've had a rough day and it will put your soul at ease: