2009 Year In Review: Addendum
Back in November I posted my 2009 Year In Review for XPN, a list of what I felt at the time were the top 10 songs and top 10 albums of the year. While making mix CDs for friends this holiday season, I predictably ended up expanding and changing that list. Now that it's 2010, no more changes can be made. C'est la fin! Here's the final, official list of my favorite songs from 2009.
1901 - PhoenixGo forth and listen, oh my fellow music lovers!
Phoenix is from France. They've been making good music for years, but had yet to really break into the USA. Finally, the album they released in 2009, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, was too fantastic to be ignored state-side. This song is the single they released in advance of the album as a free teaser download. It made me dance so hard that I immediately pre-ordered.
At The Bottom - Brand New
Brand New has such a bad rep as just another early 2000s, Long Island, pop punk band, even though they moved on from that years ago. If you've been ignoring this band since high school, get over it. Listening to the progression of their albums is like watching Jesse Lacey descend into artistic madness. They are constantly trying new things, which I greatly admire in musicians. This song is the best introduction to their 2009 release, Daisy.
Fables - The Dodos
In 2009, The Dodos released their second full-length album, Time To Die, on Frenchkiss Records (one of my absolute fav labels). After their earthshaking 2008 release, it was undeniably a sophomore effort, but don't dismiss it. There are some really good songs on here, like this one. Because it was produced by Phil Ek, it's the songs with ethereal harmonies that shine. I am still pretty excited to see what this band does next.
I'll See You When I Look At You - Luke Winslow-King
I came across Luke Winslow-King playing in the middle of the street when I was wandering around the French Quarter of New Orleans. His music is filled with a lighthearted personality that makes me grin every time I hear it. His 2009 release, Old/New Baby, is aptly titled. With the backing of rollicking band, he creates NOLA-style jazz for a new generation. And, I especially love the nonchalant lyrics of this song.
Raindrops - Basement Jaxx
Basement Jaxx have been around for over a decade now (remember the awesome music video for Where's Your Head At?), but they still know how to turn the party out. Zephyr was my make-Friday-night-bounce album of 2009. In the great tradition of club music, it has already been remixed into an infinity of beats to incite bodies to movement. The original version of this song is my favorite for the whizzing lazer noises in the chorus.
The Rat (Part One) - Tempo No Tempo
My friend put Waking Heat, Tempo No Tempo's 2009 release, on the record player one late night when we were none too sober. I was stunned with rapture. Thankfully, a clear-headed listen the next day resulted in similar revelations. Wherever syncopated, African drumming styled rhythms meet DIY, post punk inspired aesthetic, you are sure to find me musically geeking out. This song is frantic, like a rat, and I think it's excellent.
Young Hearts Spark Fire - Japandroids
I feel like I've know a lot of hometown bands that just burned with lustful dreams and a raucous restlessness that they tried to express in their music, but could never quite capture, perhaps for lack of skill. Somehow Japandroids have achieved this great feat without sounding overly immature or pandering to angst. Post-Nothing is a biting, fast-paced tour de force of an album. Moreover, this song is an anthem of youth, late nights, bad decisions, big desires, and screaming into the void.
I'm Broke - Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
It used to kind of get me down that I wasn't around when soul first hit the airwaves. Luckily in 2009, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears released Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!, an album to slap some soul on this new century. When Black Joe Lewis shouts "I'm broke!" with unapologetic honesty at the opening of this song it sends a thrill down my spine, and puts some strut in my step. If you want to dance just as good as you walk, get in on this.
Home - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
I like to daydream about getting a bunch of my friends together to build tree forts, romp about the woods, and sing songs at the top of our lungs. These fantasies are usually set with this song as a soundtrack. On their 2009 album, Up From Below, Jade Castrinos' vocals, and the audible camaraderie of the musicians is simply delightful. I really want to see Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros make this magic live.
11th Dimension - Julian Casablancas
It isn't often I find a song that makes me want to party, and also makes me think, but this song does just that. The lyrics are insightful, and the beat makes me want to shake it. Phrazes For The Young is a strong showing for his first solo album. As much as I have loved The Strokes, I am in full support. Bonus, I recently got a peek at his tour rider, and it is mad witty.
When My Time Comes - Dawes
In 2009, Dawes released their debut album, North Hills. It is folk revival at it's simplest best. The lyrics and tones speak to my soul, and comfort my deepest troubles. In particular, this song has really been telling me what I need to hear right about now. It's like a good and wise friend even though I only made it's acquaintance recently. Thank you, Dawes.
The Ruminant Band - Fruit Bats
The Ruminant Band is the most fully-realized release from Fruit Bats yet. It brims with finely crafted sounds that come to complete fruition, but stop just short of being overwhelming. My ears get a pleasantly sated feeling after listening this album. This song also had the best music video I saw in 2009 (watch: The Ruminant Band).
Shelia - Atlas Sound
Logos, the 2009 release from Atlas Sound, is a dreamy album composed of reverberating soundscapes that seem to effortlessly flow from Bradford Cox. He sounds so plaintive in this song that it's hard not to empathize with him. For some reason it conjures images of abandoned houses and unrequited love in my mind. They haunt me, but I kind of like it.
Summertime Clothes - Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion was probably the most anticipated album from the start of 2009, and Animal Collective did not disappoint. This is my favorite song from this stellar release. It buzzes with brilliance, and vibrates in the marrow of my bones like a summertime heat wave. Just listening to it makes me feel like it's too hot to sleep.
Sleepyhead - Passion Pit
I listened to their album, Manners, a bunch of times before I really came round to Passion Pit. There was something about the vocals in their first single that didn't quite sit with me no matter how much I liked the rest of the song. Finally, I fell for this song, and then other tracks followed. Now, they've really grown on me, and I think I like them all the better for it.
I And Love And You - The Avett Brothers
Serendipitously, the first time I heard this song I was driving to Brooklyn to visit my best friend after a difficult breakup. When the chorus came in, tears started rolling down my face with absolutely no preamble. The album, I And Love And You, is full of golden songs that just make you marvel at the talent of The Avett Brothers.
Wind Phoenix (Proper Name) - Cymbals Eat Guitars
Why There Are Mountains by Cymbals Eat Guitars just might be the best self-released album of 2009. The composition and production are jaw-dropping impressive, particularly when you consider that these guys were in high school only a couple of years ago. I first heard this song on Pitchfork, and proceeded to listen to it nonstop for a month.
People Got A Lotta Nerve - Neko Case
In 2009, Neko Case once again hit it out of the park with her album, Middle Cyclone. Whether on her own, or as part of The New Pornographers, she just never fails to deliver. As a fellow sassy lady, I greatly appreciate this song. It just lays out human nature as it is, and invariably makes me sing along.
Little Lovin' - Lissie
The pipes on this woman, goodness! If you like Joni Mitchelle, Janis Joplin, Lucinda Williams, or Neko Case, you need to be familiar with Lissie, and her new EP, Why You Runnin'. This song brings back old school folk traditions, like call and response vocals, and matches it with a some electric guitar by way of Nashville. HELL YES!