Thursday, 10 December 2009

Best of 2009…

After a rather hectic few weeks where the real world took priority over this imaginary world of internets and music I feel it’s just about time to roll out my end of year lists.

This year hasn’t been a classic, those predictions taken a few months ago seem to have been proven right, no earth shattering new album has been released in the past few weeks and I haven’t experienced some epiphanic reappraisal of an album from earlier in the year.

That said I don’t think it was a bad year and my top 10 albums weren’t particularly easy to choose, I had a quick count the other night and I think the total number of albums I heard this year comes to around 150, that includes EPs but not singles, individual tracks, remixes and compilations.

As with previous years I am a little anal over the choice of albums…no EPs allowed and I consciously try to appraise albums on their overall quality rather than being overwhelmed by a couple of stand out tracks.

Disclaimer over and now onto the albums (in reverse order, so as you scroll down you get that buzz), I’ve written at least a little about every band on here so I’ll just say a few words now:

10. The Phenomenal Handclap Band – The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Rather fantastic (the name says it all) retro band. They take that 70s sound and put some new energy into it. I recently saw them live and they were just as good on stage as on record.

9. Discovery - LP

If 2008 was the year of Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot and that whole preppy invasion sound then this was the album that screwed all that up and really made people dance. It gave the preppy look a grown up edge and I don't think there's a bad track on the album even if it does sound like it was made in someone's bedroom.

8. Uninhabitable Mansions – Nature Is A Taker

Speaking of bands who sound like they record in their bedrooms...This was something of a late arriver for me but it came around just at that time, at the end of summer, when I'd had just about enough of electronic music and wanted a return to guitars. Very good guitar indie from some usual indie suspects.

7. The Big Pink – A Brief History of Love

A new signing by 4AD (as close to a guarantee of quality as you'll get these days) this electro rock duo manage to produce some wonderful moments of noisy bliss.

6. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue

I've already said quite a bit about this album. Another great release on the Warp label from a guy manages to make every track sound a bit different and yet still produce an album that holds together. The album mixes sound collages with live instruments to produce tracks that are, at various times, funky, bouncy beautiful and wistful. Oh yeah and he's from Wolverhampton which is weird.

5. The Antlers – Hospice

A hauntingly beautiful album that really seeps into your head. I surprised myself because I think out of all the albums on this list this is probably the one I have listened to most. There is my album for when I'm feeling down or when it's been a hard day because the fragility of the vocals is totally compensated for by the powerful drums that each track builds towards.

4. Magic Arm – Make Lists Do Something

This is another album that I've listened to a hell of a lot and it could be argued that I have been desperately looking for some link back to Manchester for this past year. You could also argue that this is one of the best things to come out of Manchester in the past 5 or 6 years. I'm in the latter camp. It's an incredibly well constructed album that just when you think you've heard everything drops an amazing cover of Daft Punk's Playing At My House on you.

3. The Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

This is going to be the top of many a list this year (including S's) and deservedly so. For me though I felt that there was such a good track on the album (Stillness Is The Move) that it kind of overshadowed the rest. Still an amazing album though and everyone should check out Solange's cover of The Stillness Is The Move.

2. La Roux – La Roux

I's by lying to myself just to look 'cool' if I didn't put this album in. Not only was it one of the most overplayed album of the year (and I'm as responsible for this as anyone) but it was also one of the best with four or five tracks which are destined to be floor fillers and dance classics for years to come. Now hopefully they'll stop playing it in every shop in England.

1. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

I said when this album first came out that it would probably be my album of the year and, after careful consideration, I was right. Other Phoenix albums make plenty of lists of the decade but I don't think any of their work up to now hangs together quite like this. The album not only contained for me the track of the summer (although for the track of the year see below) but was a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end.

So that's the end of the year pretty much, from now until the 31st it will be Christmas carols all the way (speaking of which everyone needs to check out Lindstrom's 40 minute version of Little Drummer Boy, it will either get you through the festive period or send you mad before you get out the mince pies).

Here are the 'Honourable Mentions' for those artists/albums/tracks that didn't (or more likely couldn't) make it into the top 10.

Diamond Rings - All Yr Songs - Track of the year but only a single :(
Handsome Furs - Face Control - An early front runner and excellent live.
Delorian - Ayrton Senna EP - Can't have EPs but I love Delorean

Tomorrow I'll try and find the time to write about my hopes for 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment