Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Longlist Pt. 3 - Let's start wrapping this up.

Took a bit of time off from my 2009 rundown to head down to Minneapolis so that I could catch my Vikes lay a beating to the NY Giants and then get things sorted back at home, but we better get through the longlist so I can finally post my Top 20 of the year.

Rain Machine - Rain Machine (Epitaph)
Well this here TVOTR side-project is something I already wrote about on Ear To The Sound. I know it’s not for everyone, but it was most definitely for me.

Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care (Domino) Like Royksopp’s Junior, Begone Dull Care stood a good chance of being the top electro-pop record of the year had it been released some time other than 2009 (The answer to this particular riddle can be found in the upper reaches of my Top 20). More dreamy, gauzy stuff from these Hamiltonians on their third effort and some of it – like one of my favourite songs, “Hazel” – is pretty upbeat for them.

The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You (American) Their first for American after a string of releases on Ramseur, these real life brothers from Concord, NC manage to merge the rural idyll with some urban hipster elements (on the title-track most especially). Scott and Seth caught the ear of Rick Rubin with their mixture of bluegrass and rock and I and Love and You definitely caught my ear.

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band - S/T (Dead Oceans) I wasn’t terribly interested in this band based on their awkward name with its whiff of pretension, but Dead Oceans is a label I find to have a uniformly good roster so I gave this Seattle quintet a listen. I was impressed by how they marry some jangly pop songcraft with more muscular, lo-fi rock structures.

Aarktica - In Sea (Silber Records) I had no clue how prolific Jon DeRosa is before falling for In Sea, but in addition to his ambient project for the under-appreciated Silber Records, he also dabbles in chamber pop, acoustic folk and country in Flare, Dead Leaves Rising and Pale Horse and Rider respectively. And to top it off, he’s been recording as Aarktica for over a decade now. Slept on him in the past, but definitely made a 2010 resolution to do so no longer.

Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth (Hometapes)

Bear In Heaven’s another one I covered previously. If you haven’t checked it out by now, what are you waiting for?

Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms (Lefse Records) Neon Indian seems on the face of it like hipster-bait. Take one musician from Brooklyn and one visual artist from Austin, TX and have the pair create a ‘multimedia’ effort that includes film and music. Even the fractal/Rothko of their cover art begs to sit above a “Best New Music” tag on Pitchfork. But as contrived as the whole thing may (seem to) be, Psychic Chasms is a really catchy record with its crazy mixture of disco/synth-pop/electro/etc.

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport (ATP) Speaking of crazy mixtures, Bristol group Fuck Buttons blend post-rock, electronic elements and noise to great effect on Tarot Sport. I don’t know about calling it “noise-house” (as Allmusic did) since – like chillwave – this is a genre tag we could definitely do without.

Wild Beasts - Two Dancers (Domino) I’ll be honest, this UK quartet’s previous record – 2008’s Limbo, Panto – didn’t really do it for me. And while Two Dancers isn’t miles apart from the sound of their debut, for some reason this one resonated with me. Hayden Thorpe’s vocals are as crazy as ever, with his low croon and his yelping falsetto in full effect and the band has married that voice to some stand-out tracks including highlight “All the King’s Men.”

Jack PeƱate - Everything Is New (XL Recordings) XL has this terrible habit of sending out their play-copies with the most basic liner notes and no artwork, so it’s not the most appealing CD on the pile when I’m receiving new music at the station. But I try to give their stuff a listen considering the label has released some really solid records over the years. Thank goodness for their track record or I wouldn’t have heard Everything Is New, a slick little pop-soul record that seemingly only a Brit can make. My penchant for Rick Astley (no, really), had me predisposed to enjoy this record.

Amosoeurs - S/T (Profound Lore) I only discovered Amosoeurs thanks to their connection to another French black metal group, Alcest. Souvenirs d’Un Autre Monde, which could have been one of my top albums of 2007 had I not discovered it in early 2008. C’est la vie... but I did manage to hear Amosoeurs this year. Allmusic calls it a “failed sidetrack” for the members of Peste Noire, but while agree that the record is all over the map, I don’t see that as a negative.

Julie Doiron - I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day (Endearing) The uber-prolific Doiron (who has a new album out called Daniel, Fred & Julie) found her latest solo effort coming in at #3 on the Top 200 of 2009 for Earshot based on airplay on Canadian campus/community stations. Needless to say, she’s not just in my wheelhouse with her melancholy tales of love lost and sparse musical arrangements.

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