2009 Year-End Omnibus Thread [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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12-22-2009, 10:20 PM
Let's get this into one place.

Already posted:
Mid-Fi's Year End List (http://forums.audioreview.com/showthread.php?t=32600)
dinosaur rock (http://forums.audioreview.com/showthread.php?t=32519)
comps: tentoze (http://forums.audioreview.com/showthread.php?t=32465) - noddin0ff (http://forums.audioreview.com/showthread.php?t=32459) - Slosh (http://forums.audioreview.com/showthread.php?t=32421)

I bought very few records this year (well, new releases anyway) but a couple of them were very transcendent. Tops by some distance was Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest. I gave a lot of spins last year to a tape compilation of some of their earlier work that I put together but this surpasses anything I expected. I know 3LB felt the same way but I don't know how many other folks heard this one. It's got some achingly beautiful moments... delicate vocal harmonies, dense arrangements, but it also rocks. "Two Weeks" is pure bubble-gum bliss, while deeper cuts like "While You Wait For the Others" and "Foreground" have a structure that's complex in a way that's rewarding both immediately and upon many repeat listens. Between these guys and Animal Collective, Brian Wilson should be proud of his acolytes.

Let's see, what other 2009 releases did I pick up?

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - maybe this year's record for all peoples.
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion - I like it, but not as much as last year's Panda Bear solo record
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - s/t - best rock record of 1989
Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
The Swell Season - Strict Joy
Jonathan Richman - żA Que Venimos Sino a Caer?
Brother Ali - Us
Mos Def - The Ecstatic
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Part II
Ghostface - Ghostdini The Wizard of Poetry In Emerald City
Lightning Bolt - Earthly Delights
Brute Heart - Brass Beads
Nellie McKay - Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day

Maybe that's it?


12-23-2009, 05:36 AM
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - s/t - best rock record of 1989

I picked this one up and I have to say its been very enjoyable. Of course, your '1989' comment pretty much explains what it sounds like. A few other titles that have come out this year which ply the same vibe are Super700-Lovebites and The Whip-X Marks The Destination. Another band that went out and made an fullblown tribute to New Order were prog darlings from 2006, Pure Reason Revolution with Amor Vincit Omnia.

Neko Case's last one, Middle Cyclone, while good, wasn't her best.

12-23-2009, 06:21 AM
Tops by some distance was Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest. I gave a lot of spins last year to a tape compilation of some of their earlier work that I put together but this surpasses anything I expected. I know 3LB felt the same way but I don't know how many other folks heard this one.

I needed one more item to get free shipping from Amazon so I added this to my shopping cart, totally blind, just based on recommendation from people here and a couple reviews that I read.

I want to like it, but it's just not clicking with me. There are moments, but not enough so far. To be fair, I've only had it a couple of days and have only listened to it in my car. I need to put it on the main system at home. But so far it's boring me in the car. I'd rather listen to Augie March or Fleet Foxes to get this sound.


12-23-2009, 10:18 AM
Here's a few of my favorites this year. Haven't heard all that much new, stayed mostly with the artists I've known, so kind of predictable if you know me very well :).

Circulatory System - Signal Morning
If you have any history with Olivia Tremor Control and some of the other psychedelic Elephant 6 bands, you know what I mean when I say that this has a much denser production than most records, though some great songs at heart. It usually takes a few listens before the songs get a chance to work their magic. There's a lot going on, and there's often a dark undercurrent, but the music is so colorful, it never stays in one place for very long before morphing into something else, usually unexpected, even after many listens. I've been a big fan for many years, so this one just fits me, and it is the one I've listened to most this year. Some very magical moments, and this is the one that puts the images in my head the best. Some pretty cool effects come out when listening in the car, almost like multi-channel surround sound. Note that the actual CD sounds quite a bit better than the earlier leak.

Califone - All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
Califone has always been unique and special to me, adventurous and fun, filled with a passion for the music, the words, the sounds. Seems like this is one of their best yet, easily one of their most diverse records so far. It's got some great inventive pop music, some of that fractured old timeless folk music, some of the Tom Waits-like junkyard percussion driven aural sound collages, the usual visit to the Stone's Main Street for a song or two, which I think they pull off well, especially on the fantastic "Buńuel". If you get a chance, give that one a listen, a real guitar rockin' dirty country blues thing about the influential Spanish filmmaker.

All in all, this record really ties together all of their past explorations, both the Red Red Meat records like Bunny Gets Paid, and the Califone records like Roomsound, into one very cohesive, interesting, and most importantly, enjoyable package. As usual, Brian Deck does a great job on the recording. Some of it explores a more atmospheric sound than they've done before, after all it is supposedly a soundtrack, but Deck provides a nice atmospheric shimmer throughout most of the songs, even when it goes almost unnoticed. Cool cover artwork too. After living this one for a couple months, think I may still like Roots and Crowns better, along with the classic Roomsound that is one of my favorites of the decade, but this is still very good, just not as transcendent as those favorites. Maybe too diverse sounding, or maybe it just doesn't take enough risks? A couple of the songs maybe aren't that memorable, but kinda cool that they have chosen to open their last two records with a couple of the least accessible tunes in "Giving Away the Bride" and "Pink & Sour". Actually, who am I kidding, I do really love this record, cover to cover.

Engineers - Three Fact Fader
Really nice, if you like that early 90s shimmering shoegaze, with a storm of guitars always swirling in the background, they are probably the best at it nowadays. Don't know if he's a fan or just on the same label, but there's a pretty cool remix around of the second song, "Sometimes I Realise", by Steven Wilson. Think it's a bonus track on the 2-disc version. Some of it does sound a bit like Porcupine Tree, though more guitar effects, of course. Maybe a bit front-loaded, but opens up and gets more cohesive with time, and has that intoxicating pull throughout that some of us get from this type of densely layered and intricately constructed music.

Richmond Fontaine - We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River
Nice record, these guys are something special, especially Willy Vlautin. Right now it feels like this one is their best yet. Has that same "lived in and seen too much" travelogue feel they've been exploring the last few records, except this broken down cast of characters is encountered while travelling throughout the Pacific Northwest. Mostly that downbeat alt-country sound, the life is in the lyrics, but they kick it on a couple times too. Give a listen to "43" if you get the chance... http://killrockmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/richmond-fontaine-43.mp3

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
I do like this one a lot, though to be honest, over the course of the CD I sometimes get the feel it has started over on repeat. Some of the songs tend to run together in my mind. Maybe I just haven't spent enough time with it for them to all show their own personality. But this is very high quality music, no denying that. I like it the most when rhythmically complex, reminding me a little of what I like so much about that Dodos record from last year. Forever Autumn is right about the Augie March comparison, though at this point in time, Sunset Studies is one of my top ten favorites of the decade, even though it is overly long and a bit unkempt around the edges, while this one isn't quite in that region.

12-23-2009, 10:57 AM
Rea and Davey posting for the first time in quite a while, and in the same thread no less. Wonders never cease.

2009 wasn't a great year for me, in music or otherwise. Well, it wasn't terrible, but it sure wasn't great. I haven't been listening enough to be honest, and as I prepare to move yet again, I'm figuring it will be at least another 6 weeks or so until I can really start enjoying life again (sigh). This move will be much easier than the last since we didn't bother to unpack many of our 'non-essentials', and no last-minute painting/cleaning/repairing since we're in a short-term rental.

I am looking forward to getting the new home set up and painted/decorated properly, and then getting a new HT room set up in the already finished basement. I'm looking to do the projector/screen deal rather than an HDTV, so this should be fun to design and put in place. I'll be checking out the HT forums for advice and ideas so maybe of few of my RR buds will have some input.


12-23-2009, 02:07 PM
My favorites this year, like dbi (who? :confused:), are all from bands I already liked.

Some new stuff I tried:
Cymbals Eat Guitars - meh
Grizzly Bear (new to me) - snooze
We Were Promised Jetpacks - another meh

So I guess my list goes like this:

Wilco - (The Album) Not only is this my favorite album of 2009, but IMO it's their best album to date.

Dangermouse & Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul There are a handful of clunkers here but the good stuff is really good. Hopefully this thing will get an official release someday soon.

Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light Years A return to form after a couple of not-quite-up-to-par-but-still-worthwhile albums.

Califone - All My Friends Are Funeral Singers Read what Davey said above.

Slayer - World Painted Blood My brother wrote me, "I'll feel a little strange being 40 and listening to an album titled World Painted Blood". :) Yeah, but it's a great metal album nevertheless. 1988 all over again (in a good way).

The Black Heart Procession - Six Like mash up of their earlier numbered albums with their newer, more upbeat 'named' ones. It works and may just be their best album to date (Three Mile Pilot included)

Andrew Bird - Noble Beast Not as good as the last one but then not much is.

Jason Lytle - Yours Truly, The Commuter Grandaddy's new album as far as I'm concerned.

John Vanderslice - Romanian Names This guy just doesn't make bad albums. Maybe the Elliott Smith of the '00s, except more eclectic.

Cosmos - Jar Of Jam Ton Of Bricks You know, I always wondered what GBV would sound like if Richard Davies joined them. Now I know.

12-25-2009, 09:16 AM
My favorites this year, like dbi (who? :confused:), are all from bands I already liked...

Happy Christmas!

I haven't even heard the latest from Wilco, but never really grew to appreciate the last one much so didn't think I would bother. Really, number one? Hmm, don't think I've seen anyone go that far, though guess our own MidFi Man took it pretty high. There's a guy on NPR that has pretty similar taste to me... actually his list is very similar to yours this year, maybe with a nod to mine (no Califone though, so hard to take it too seriously http://forums.audioreview.com/images/icons/icon6.gif). I'm tempted to sample the ones I haven't heard. That Antlers record has been showing up all over the place, did you listen to it?


Robin Hilton - December 15, 2009 - Back in February, I wrote on the All Songs Considered blog that the new music of 2009, at that point, was already better than all of 2008. Some listeners charged me with heresy. It's not that 2008 didn't have memorable records (I'm thinking of Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago and Deerhunter's Microcastle). But, early on, 2009 seemed like it was going to be an unusually strong year. As the months passed, it just kept getting better, with new releases from St. Vincent, Wilco, Metric, The Dirty Projectors and many more.

For that blog post in February, I made an early Top 10 list, knowing full well that it would change and evolve as the year wore on. Now that we're at the end of 2009, I've looked back at that early list and found that four albums held on to the end (The Antlers, The Decemberists, Jason Lytle and Laura Gibson), while the other six (Animal Collective, M. Ward, Andrew Bird, Dan Deacon, U2 and Mirah) dropped off my personal list.

We all have our own system for making a list of favorite albums. All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen gives songs star ratings in iTunes, then looks to see which he rated highest during the course of a year. NPR Music producer Lars Gotrich reorders slips of paper with album titles on them, searching for the right mix. I go entirely by memory. When December rolls around, which albums stand out? Which ones are strong enough that I remember them and still listen to them at the end of the year? I had a hard time picking just 10 this year. But the ones listed below are a good place to start.

1. The Antlers
Album: Hospice
Song: Kettering

The Antlers self-released this stirring concept album in January and toured the country, playing for tiny clusters of curious listeners in noisy bars. By August, Frenchkiss Records had picked up Hospice and given it a proper release, while the band booked sold-out shows at the Bowery Ballroom in New York and other venues usually reserved for more established acts. Hospice, frontman Peter Silberman's elegy to a dying friend, rattles the heart. At times, it's full of so much grief and longing, it's admittedly a little hard to take. But instead of evoking despair, Silberman's poetry, his soaring orchestrations and delicate falsetto leave you in awe at how fragile and beautifully mysterious life can be on spaceship earth.

2. Jason Lytle
Album: Yours Truly, The Commuter
Song: Brand New Sun

Jason Lytle, the former frontman for the Modesto, Calif., band Grandaddy, is first and foremost a storyteller. His neo-psychedelic pop songs tell sometimes wrenching but always compelling tales of destitute drunks, shattered suburban dreams and at least one robot that died from loneliness. They're songs that unfold with the plainspoken elegance of a Raymond Carver short story, striking an utterly affecting balance between the cosmic and the comic. As I noted on the Year In Review episode of All Songs Considered, I don't normally fall in love with songs specifically for the lyrics, but Lytle's perfectly paced narratives grab hold and pull me in more than anything.

3. St. Vincent
Album: Actor
Song: Save Me from What I Want

When Annie Clark emerged in 2007 with her debut album under the name St. Vincent, it was clear that she was an exceptionally talented artist. Marry Me won over fans and music critics with its off-kilter rhythms, unconventional mix of strings and electronics, and Clark's cryptic lyrics. But there was little to indicate that St. Vincent would take the sort of sonic leap the band takes on this year's breathtaking follow-up, Actor. The arrangements are more sophisticated, the songs more evolved and expansive, with cascading walls of noise and scorching guitars that crash and fade into moments of delicate beauty. Clark likes to play around with form, and the results are always beguiling.

Album: Fever Ray
Song: If I Had a Heart

A lot of times, when an artist breaks from his or her band to go solo, the results are underwhelming. But when Karin Dreijer-Andersson went on hiatus from The Knife to release this collection of songs under the name Fever Ray, the music actually got better. Andersson's world of sound is just as atmospheric as The Knife's, but a little less icy. Her songs are hypnotic, deep, dark and richly layered. Fever Ray is just a creepy, strange and beautiful album that will haunt me for years. Be sure to check out the mind-blowing video Fever Ray did for the song "Seven."

5. Laura Gibson
Album: Beasts of Seasons
Song: Shadows on Parade

Beasts of Seasons opens with a creeping, slow bloom of feedback and static. If it's the sonic equivalent of darkness and what may be lurking there, then Laura Gibson's fragile voice and plaintively strummed guitar soon emerge as a flicker of light. It's a mesmerizing contrast, as the curtain rises for Gibson's arresting meditations on life and death. Producer Tucker Martine flawlessly executes this balancing act, pairing the beautiful with the gloomy to create a mysterious world of curiosities.

6. Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous)
Album: Dark Night Of The Soul
Song: Revenge (Flaming Lips)

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous kept Dark Night of the Soul shrouded in secrecy for weeks before its scheduled release. In the end, the album never came out at all, because of a dispute with EMI Records. But thanks to leaks on the Web (and NPR's Exclusive First Listen) eager fans were able to hear what was a remarkable collection of songs, featuring guest singers such as James Mercer of The Shins, The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt and many others. Filmmaker David Lynch also produced a book of photos inspired by the music, and even sang on a couple tracks.

7. Mt. Eerie
Album: Wind's Poem
Song: Between Two Mysteries

Listen to the explosive jolt of monstrous guitar noise that kicks off this album and you may wonder what you've gotten yourself into. Phil Elverum, Mt. Eerie's only permanent member, found inspiration in dark heavy metal for this ear-shocking collection of songs. But it's not at all the scream-fest you might expect. Sitting gently at the center of the noise is Elverum's delicate voice and beautiful melodies. Few albums demand or capture your attention as much as this one does. It's impossible not to listen. I came to this album really late this year -- just in the last few days, in fact -- and think, given a few more months to gestate, it could move to the top of my list.

8. Circulatory System
Album: Signal Morning
Song: Round Again

It took nearly eight years to make, but Circulatory System's breathtakingly inventive new album, Signal Morning, justifies the wait. The 17 new tracks, culled from hours of recorded material and meticulously pieced together in more than half a dozen different studios, are sonic wonders. Obliterated guitars rumble over strange, fluttering textures. Vintage synth lines and quirky found sounds tumble together amid psychedelic melodies and harmonies. It's a mysterious and mesmerizing world of orchestrated chaos that offers new discoveries with each listen.

9. Fanfarlo
Album: Reservoir
Song: I'm A Pilot

I've got a short attention span and way too much music to listen to. So I'm always looking and listening for songs that are immediately catchy, or ones that make me stop whatever I'm doing to tune in. When I put on Reservoir, I was in love within the first five seconds. The six members in this London-based group are really young, but don't suffer from a lack of inspiration. Melodic and full of life, their songs are just enchanting, bringing to mind the best of other bands like Beirut, Arcade Fire or Neutral Milk Hotel. I'm really looking forward to hearing what Fanfarlo comes up with next.

10. The Decemberists
Album: Hazards of Love
Song: The Wanting Comes in Waves

When it first came out in March, I predicted NPR listeners would pick this as the No. 1 album of the year. While that didn't happen (it came in at No. 6), it's still a remarkable work of art -- epic, sprawling and evolving. Early on in the band's career, The Decemberists got a well-earned reputation for quirky, earnest little songs that drew as much from sea shanties as from British folk and pop. For this album, frontman Colin Melloy wisely turns part of the lead-vocal duties over to guest singers Becky Stark (Lavender Diamond), Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) and Jim James (My Morning Jacket), and takes the band deep into progressive rock territory. If The Decemberists stay on this trajectory, in another five to ten years no one will even recognize this band.

12-25-2009, 10:14 AM
A lot of times, when an artist breaks from his or her band to go solo, the results are underwhelming. But when Karin Dreijer-Andersson went on hiatus from The Knife to release this collection of songs under the name Fever Ray, the music actually got better. Andersson's world of sound is just as atmospheric as The Knife's, but a little less icy. Her songs are hypnotic, deep, dark and richly layered. Fever Ray is just a creepy, strange and beautiful album that will haunt me for years. Be sure to check out the mind-blowing video Fever Ray did for the song "Seven."

Hmm... I haven't heard that Fever Ray record yet but maybe I should. The best moments of The Knife's Deep Cuts and Silent Shout ("Heartbeats", "Like a Pen", "We Share Our Mother's Health") deserve mention in that best of the 00s thread. Have any of you guys checked out the Fever Ray LP?


Let's see if this works-- I'm going off Stone's advice:

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12-26-2009, 06:22 AM
That Antlers record has been showing up all over the place, did you listen to it?Listening to it right now for the first time. Sounds like Destroyer to me. I think I'm gonna like it :)

12-26-2009, 06:30 AM
Have any of you guys checked out the Fever Ray LP?
noddin0ff put "Triangle Walks" on his YEC. Sounds a lot like Peter Gabriel to me (but, you know, with femme vocals).