Thursday, December 31, 2009

Music of the Year, 2009 ed., or, I'm Still Cool, I think. I hope. Maybe?

I went to another sing-in of Handel’s Messiah this year. It was very pleasant, and very amateur, but it reminded me of how much I really do love that oratorio. That, in turn, made me think about all of the other amazing music I’ve listened to this year. Which, in turn, made me think that I needed to blog about said music. So, without further delay, here are some of my favorite albums of 2009.

1. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible. Oh. My. Gosh.

2. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend. Weak, I know. This is a 2008 album. I don’t care, because this album hit me with a vengeance this year. I mean, this entire album just rocks. I’ve witnessed it make a 23 yo female have a near-epileptic attack from the compulsion to dance and I’ve also seen it keep a car full of three typically-noisy kids quietly occupied for a 20 minute car ride to the fish store. Unbelievable. And not to mention the sweet tunes. I really can’t wait for Contra, the sophomore album to come out on 01/11/10.

3. Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoneix. I heard about this band first on NPR’s All Songs Considered. A French band that sings only in English, hearing their interview I was very unenthused. Then they started playing, and I stopped caring that they were Frogs. These guys rock. I saw them live this month, too. Really, just great, fun sounds. Listen close to their drummer. And that vibrating tone at the end of “Rome” was honestly the coolest noise I’ve ever heard at a live show.

They opened with “Lisztomania” in the C-bus, too.

4. The National, Boxer. Wait, this one is a 2007 album. See #2. Except I hadn’t heard of them at all until this year. I freaking love this guy’s baritone. I mean, really, really, love his voice. And yes, since you asked, I would marry it.

5. Animal Collective, Merriwether Post Pavillion. This feels like a cop-out to me, to choose Animal Collective as one of my year’s best. Everyone else is doing it. But they’re doing it for a reason. This album was not an instant winner – I had to listen to it a couple of times before it grew on me – but then it was like cancer, except the fun kind that led to more and more enjoyment, not the other sad depressing kind. By the way, what is it about writing about music that makes people use horrible imagery? I mean, that wasn't the worst thing I've ever written, but it's up there.

6. Various, Dark Was The Night. This is another total cop-out. But an awesome one. Besides being such a great title, this is a 2-disc compilation put together as an AIDS benefit. That should be enough reason in some of your heads - with my liberal bleeding-heart, how could I not put something like that in my “Best of 2009” list? You’re right, I had to.

7. Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night. Some silly lyrics. Great guitar work. It works. Americana through and through.

8. We Are Scientists, Brain Trust Mastery. Yes, made famous by the Nick & Norah show, but this is a great album in its own right.

9. Oren Lavie, The Opposite Side of the Sea. I don’t usually like music videos, and I don’t usually consider them art. This video is definitely the exception to the rule. I link to the youtube videos just because I’m lazy and don’t want to hassle with uploading mp3 files and then linking just them. This video of Her Morning Elegance, co-directed by Lavie, is definitely the exception, and you should watch it for sure.

10. Blind Pilot, 3 Rounds and A Sound. I heard about these guys while driving to church at 6:45 one morning. I was so excited about them I had to pull out my phone, call myself, and leave the band name on my voicemail so I would remember the name. And then I missed their show in Salt Lake the weekend after Thanksgiving because I had to give a stupid talk on stupid Sunday about keeping the stupid Sabbath day holy. Stupid Karma.

Honorable Mentions:

a. The Sounds, Crossing the Rubicon. Unashamed pop.

b. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, It’s Blitz. One of my friend’s favorite bands, I missed out on their show this year because of a stupid rotation. Super-pop at its best. While I didn’t listen to it enough for it to qualify as one of my favorites, it really is a great album.

c. The Mountain Goats, The Life of the World to Come. Probably one of the most interesting albums, as each song is based off a biblical passage. I think this didn’t make my favorites list simply because I had such high expectations after last year’s Heretic Pride. Still, though, this is a great album, and it’s all Biblically based. Sunday approved!

d. Built to Spill, There is no Enemy. I have liked this band for a while, but they had fallen off my radar until this year. I went up to Boise, ID for an interview for work. My flight got in early, and I didn’t know anyone in town. So I looked up concerts in Boise. Built to Spill was playing for $10 later that night. I hitched a ride over there, bought a ticket, walked to Beto’s, and then listened to the weirdest set of opening bands ever. A Hank Williams solo act followed by a speed metal band followed by an indie-rock band and finally the band I wanted to see. I quickly remembered why I’d liked them so much. The album is solid, but I particularly like the song “Hindsight.”

e. Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca. Similar enough to Animal Collective that they got bumped down here, but still a very good record.

So, there’s my (latest) attempts at being a hipster; too bad I'm not more comfortable in skinny jeans. This is some of the stuff I loved in 2009. What about you?


REIJA said...

I don't know how you wrote that whole list and didn't put in the obvious tie for first place:

Bob Dylan's Christmas Album vs. David Archuleta's Christmas Album

Obviously they were both the pinnacle of musical accomplishment this year!

Shame on you BKP for missing out on recognizing these two amazingly amazing artists.

peetie said...

I'm going to chalk your comment -- and judgement -- up to your currently being madly in love, Reija. With the emphasis on the mad part, as in crazy, as in insane. I would also recommend you avoid letting the future DH know about those feelings regarding Christmas music. Dealbreaker.

peetie said...

Though, this could be an interesting project. The best christmas albums ever produced. Hmm... Challenge accepted. But you'll have to wait at least a year!