Over it Already: Favorite LPs of 2009


I know it's the fourth day of 2010, but I'm just a bit slow with last year's retrospective. Anyway, because you can't not do it, here's my favorite albums on 2009. 

1. Wild Beasts – Two Dancers (Domino) | BUY
Slinky, sexy, understated and anchored by an incredible rhythm section, Wild Beasts move to the big leagues with their second album. I hear something new and amazing every time I listen to it.  
MP3: All the King's Men
MP3: We Still Got the Taste Dancing On Our Tongues

2. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glassnote) | BUY
Ten years into their career and no signs of peaking, Phoenix just get better with each album. Did any other record this year have this many killer cuts? It's all hits. Pop album of the year bar none. 
MP3: Lisztomania
MP3: 1901

3. Intelligence – Fake Surfers (In the Red) | BUY
Catchy, weird, occasionally disturbing, Lars Finberg's skewed genius is in full effect on Fake Surfers, a record that transcends any garage/lo-fi/surf pigeonhole in which you try to put it.
MP3: Moody Little Tower 

4. BOAT – Setting the Paces (Magic Marker) | BUY
Here's Seattle's little band that could, making good with LP3. Self-depricating indie rock of the mid-'90s variety where the song, not the attitude, is king. Giant hooks, lyrics that are funny without being novelty (and have just enough of the crying-on-the-inside clown thing going on too), and production that is neither slick nor low fi. What's not to like?
MP3: The Name Tossers
MP3: Lately

5. The Horrors – Primary Colours (Beggars Banquet) | BUY
Whether it was Geoff Barrow's influence as producer or a quality shift in the band itself, but the Horrors have gone from goth novelty to making seriously great psych rock — dark, shoegazy, killer basslines, speaker melting production… awesome. And still goth. 
MP3: Scarlet Fields

6. Cats on Fire - Our Temperance Movement (Matinee) | BUY
With great melodies, perfect arrangements, and a tongue-in-cheek mopey sense of humor, Finland's Cats on Fire have put their own fresh spin on the best of early-'80s jazzy jangle.
MP3: Horoscope
MP3: Letters from a Voyage to Sweden

7. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – S/T (Slumberland) | BUY
One of the great success stories of 2009, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart did what their influences couldn't — become genuinely popular. Deservedly too, their debut is one of the smartest, most-tuneful albums of the year. Just try not to sing along.
MP3: Come Saturday
MP3: Everything With You

8. The XX – xx (XL) | BUY
A lot of hype around this one, but justified. Though it might take you a while to come to that conclusion. The album's charms sink in slowly, and usually late, late at night. Get comfortable, turn it up, then turn off the lights.
MP3: Crystalized

9. Ty Segall – Lemons (Goner) | BUY
A one-man-garage wonderkind, Ty Segall has the lo-fi sound down — thick, dirty, and hot — but also has the songs and attitude to keep it on repeat. Out of the 500 records Ty released this year, Lemons is the one absolute must-own.
MP3: Lovely One

10. The Raveonettes - In and Out of Control (Vice) | BUY
The Raveonettes have never really strayed from their Phil Spector meets JAMC formula, but Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo began perfecting and elevating it with last year's Lust Lust Lust and, while they turn down the volume (or at least the distortion) for  In and Out of Control, it's easily their best batch of songs yet — the the production is perfect.
MP3: Breaking Into Cars

11. Think About Life – Family (Alien 8 Recordings) | BUY
Nothing matches the positive vibes that comes from seeing Montreal's Think About Life live, their second album come pretty close. Funky, fun, loaded with clever little touches and samples… this is feel good music with no saccharine aftertaste.
MP3: Johanna
Sweet Sixteen

12. Fresh & Onlys – S/T + Grey-Eyed Girls, etc (Castle Face, Woodsist, etc) | BUY
This time last year, few had heard of San Francisco's psychedelic friends The Fresh & Onlys hadn't released a single anything. Since then they've put out three albums and a slew of singles. Almost all of them are good. If they'd pulled the best songs from their records into one killer album, we'd be talking Top 5. Instead, their warts-and-all 2009 ouvre comes in at #12.
MP3: Peacock and Wing
MP3: Invisible Forces

13. Real Estate – S/T (Woodsist) | BUY
Leaders of the "beach" scene that seemed to take over certain parts of the Brooklyn blog community, NJ's Real Estate were no doubt the leaders, and the best of the bunch. Part '80s Flying Nun, part Greatful Dead, their magic hour sound captivates even in January.
MP3: Beach Comber 

14. Micachu & the Shapes - Jewellery (Rough Trade) | BUY
Given form by cut-and-paste maestro Matthew Herbert, Micachu's kitchen sink debut was like nothing else in 2009. And any time you started to figure out what it was doing, it went somewhere else. Can't wait to hear what they do next.
MP3: Golden Phone 

15. Fanfarlo – Resevoir (Atlantic) | BUY
If you listen to only one swoony, anthemic, orchestrated epic this year, make it this, Fanfarlo's debut was a long time coming but worth it.
MP3: Luna
MP3: I'm a Pilot

15 – 30 after the jump…

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2009, Ima let you finish — Some Year-End Mixes

 Woodsist/Captured Tracks Fest, if you're wondering
I did three year-end mixes in 2008 and I've now upped it to four for 2009 — and as I was uploading them I realized I still left some stuff off. (Sorry, Super Furry Animals, Grizzly Bear, Knight School and Let's Wrestle. Dirty Projectors, however, was not an oversight.) Anyway, I think these turned out pretty good and, despite the accidental omissions, still do a good job of what this year sounded like. To me at least. For those of you keeping score, this may also give a clue to what might be on my Favorite Albums of 2009 list, which will be up at some point soon.

They'll also do in a fix if you're having a New Year's Eve party and need four hours or so of uninterrupted songs. It's 99% upbeat, and in one case I even sort of successfully match some beats. To everyone, I say this — NO SHUFFLING. Enjoy, and see you in 2010.

2009mix1_small1. Phoenix – Lisztomania
2. The Wave Machines – Keep the Lights On
3. Ty Segall – In Your Car
4. Acrylics – Molly's Vertigo
5. Hospitality – Betty Wang
6. The Clientele – I Wonder Who We Are
7. The Sound of Arrows – M.A.G.I.C.
8. Florence & the Machine – You've Got the Love (Xx remix)
9. The Juan Maclean – One Day
10. The French Horn Rebellion – Up All Night
11. Crystal Stilts – Love is a Wave
12. Beach Fossils – Vacation
13. Papercuts – Future Primitive
14. Au Revoir Simone – Another Likely Story
15. Miike Snow – Animal
16. The Big Pink – Dominos
17. Zoos of Berlin – Electrical Way
18. Nodzzz – True to Life
19. Grass Widow – To Where
20. Casiokids – Fot I Hose
21. Magic Kids – Hey Boy

2009mix2_sm1. Bat for Lashes – Daniel
2. Micachu & the Shapes – Golden Phone
3. Phoenix – 1901
4. Golden Silvers – True Romance (True No. 9 Blues)
5. Free Energy – Free Energy
6. Your Twenties – Billionaires
7. Sic Alps – L Mansion
8. BOAT – The Name Tossers
9. The Drums – I Felt Stupid
10. Atlas Sound – Walkabout (w/ Panda Bear)
11. Washed Out – New Theory
12. The Beets – What Did I Do?
13. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Young Adult Friction
14. Cats on Fire – Borders of This Land
15. The Mary Onettes – Dare
16. The Cribs – We Share the Same Skies
17. Junior Boys – Parallel Lines
18. Think About Life – Sweet 16
19. CFCF – Big Love

2009mix3_Sm1. Crayon Fields – All the Pleasures of the World
2. Camera Obscura – French Navy
3. Real Estate – Beach Comber
4. Veronica Falls – Found Love in a Graveyard
5. Pete & the Pirates – Jennifer
6. My Teenage Stride – Creep Academy
7. The Legends – Always the Same
8. A Place to Bury Strangers – In Your Heart
9. Mew – Beach
10. The Depreciation Guild – Dream About Me
11. Wild Beasts -All the King's Men
12. Amazing Baby – Kankra
13. France Has the Bomb – Invisible Angle
14. Fergus & Geronimo – Harder Than It's Ever Been
15. The Mayfair Set – Desert Fun
16. The Raveonettes – Breaking Into Cars
17. La Roux – Bulletproof
18. Dizzie Rascal – Bonkers
19. Savoir Adore – Bodies

2009mix4_sm1. The Horrors – Scarlet Fields
2. Phantom Band – The Howling
3. Bear in Heaven – Lovesick Teenagers
4. Surfer Blood – Swim
5. Obits – Two Headed Coin
6. JEFF the Brotherhood – U Got the Look
7. The Fresh & Onlys – Peacock and Wing
8. Frankie Rose – Thee Only One
9. Mazes – Love to Lay
10. The Intelligence – Moody Little Tower
11. Woods – To Clean
12. Generationals – When They Fight, They Fight
13. Two Door Cinema Club – Something Good Can Work
14. Fanfarlo – Luna
15. Best Coast – Sun Was High (So Was I)
16. Here We Go Magic – Tunnelvision
17. Animal Collective – My Girls
18. Sleigh Bells – Ring Ring

2009 รท 64 = My Favorite Singles/Tracks of the Year

top five in covers  
It's always a better year for songs than albums, and here's my list of Favorite Songs of 2009. I've stopped using the word "best" as that implies some sort of higher standard. People can argue that "Lisztomania" is not the best single of 2009, but they have no grounds to say it's not my favorite. Anyway. Most of these were actual singles, and the rest could've been and when making this list I kept that in mind. Singles are ephemeral; it's ok if you don't end up listening to them a year from now. But I think a lot of this will hold up long beyond then. (OK, maybe not "Bonkers.") Next year I'm gonna keep the list smaller, but that's what I always say. It grows! Without further ado:

1. Phoenix – "Lisztomania" (MP3, video)
Phoenix are probably Band of 2009. When all is said and blogged, they'll have ended up pretty high on all my lists this year (single, album, live show) and this is the jewel in their crown — that works great in remixed form too (see the awesome Classixx Version). A perfect pop song, and they've got more where this came from. French bastards. 

2. Crystal Stilts – "Love is a Wave" (MP3, video)
This is the only recorded document from the Frankie-era line-up of Crystal Stilts, as 2008's Alight of Night was recorded before she joined the band and they had yet to set newer songs (like "Sycamore Seeds") to wax before she left the group and went solo. But what a document. Propulsive, jangly and catchy as hell — "Love is a Wave" has survived nearly a year of play with no signs of wear (to my ears at least).

3. The Sound of Arrows – "M.A.G.I.C." (MP3, video)
Controversial pick, this, as it's almost cloyingly positive like a '60s Disney movie starring Haley Mills… complete with "a world of endless possibilities" and children singing backup on the chorus. Let me tell you, children singing is usually a dealbreaker for me, but yet somehow it all works for one of the more infectious singles of the year.

4. Wild Beasts – "All the King's Men" (MP3, video)
Nice, friendly entry point into Wild Beasts' brilliant second album, Two Dancers, keeping Hayden Thorpe's unhinged falsetto somewhat at bay, giving other singer Tom Flemming the vocal spotlight. Really though it shows off the symbiosis that makes this band so good: the vocal and guitar interplay, and the subtle amazingness of the rhythm section. All in a super-catchy tune.

5. Your Twenties – "Billionaires" (MP3, video)
Gabriel Stebbing was a touring member of Metronomy who quit this year (boo!) but it's okay (yay!) as the split has led to him working on Your Twenties full time — definitely a good thing given the awesomeness of "Billionaires," one of the catchiest singles of the year, with an "ooh ooh ohh" hook that will stick with you for weeks. Now, Y20s, go make that album.

6. BOAT – "The Name Tossers" (MP3)
Not actually a single from BOAT's great new album, Setting the Paces, but to my ears it's the "hit" amongst an album of many, many would-be singles. And it doesn't even have a proper chorus, but it's jam-packed with catchy little moments, as well as a tremolo guitar that gives it a Built to Spill vibe. 

7. France Has the Bomb – "Invisible Angle" (MP3)
That thick bassline really drives this dancey, shouty, punky little number from Minneapolis' France Has the Bomb. Got nothing else to say about it other than I love this one, and envision girls go-go dancing to it

8. Pete & the Pirates – "Jennifer/Blood Gets Thin" (MP3, video)
Following hot on the heels of their ace debut album, this double A-side is another winner from what was probably my favorite live band of 2009. "Jennifer" in particular shows off what P&P do best, which I call "complicated jangle." It's not complicated to like, though.

9. Casiokids – "Fot I Hose/Verdens Stortseland" (MP3/MP3, video)
Another double A-side, this time from Norway's Casiokids and, honestly, it's pretty much the only thing you need to own from them at this point. "Fot I Hose" has the big fat synthbass hook; the flip more of a Hot Chip style pop song. Both are great.

10. My Teenage Stride "Creep Academy" (MP3, video)
Perhaps taking a cue from the Wedding Present's 1992 single-a-month project, Brooklyn's My Teenage Stride set out to release a single a month in 2009 exclusively through online service Emusic. They didn't quite make it, but their February single, "Creep Academy," might just be the best song they ever released. Effervescent, but the chorus of "too old to die young" shows it to be bittersweet.

11. Nodzzz – "True to Life" (MP3, video)
David Byrne asked "Why go to art school?" I agree, as Nodzzz tell you everything you need to know in 100 jangly seconds. Equal parts snot and nerd, all great.

12. Miike Snow – "Animal" (MP3, video)
There is a clinical perfection to these Swedes' tracks, but yet you can still feel the human pulse — or is that just the synth stabs of a vaguely reggae beat — on "Animal." 

13. French Horn Rebellion – "Up All Night" (MP3, video)
They make look like hipster dufuses, and it reeks of kind of '80s nostalgia that only people too young to have lived through it can have, but there's no denying the pop smarts (and hooks) all over this song. Ridiculously catchy.

14. The Juan Maclean – "One Day" (MP3, video)
This song is all build and almost no release — we don't get the disco hi hat until the song is nearly over. Sometimes waiting is worth it.  Like the whole of the The Future Will Come album, it's very Human League, but there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

15. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – "Young Adult Friction" (MP3, video)
From an album that was basically all singles, here's one of the actual 45s. Kip Berman knows his way around a hook almost as well as the Dewey Decimal System. Yes, I know they don't use that anymore. The lyrics are pretty dirty too, in a nerdy double entendre kind of way. 

16. Phoenix – "1901" (MP3, video)
Not quite as blissful as Lisztomania, but just about — which makes "1901" still better than almost anything released this year. French bastards.

17. Sleigh Bells – "Ring Ring" (MP3, video)
While I do not understand people falling all over themselves to praise the shrill "Crown on the Ground," you can hear Sleigh Bells appeal all over "Ring Ring." Sexy and sounding like it's coming from someone's boomin' system that's seen better days (and all the better for it).

18. The Raveonettes – "Breaking Into Cars" (MP3, video)
Not an official single from The Raveonettes' great new album, In and Out of Control but I think it should be as it's easily the most immediate song on it. Maybe "Last Dance" is more immediate, actually, but this one's the better song. Love the production on this one.

19. The Big Pink – "Dominos" (MP3, video)
One of the unavoidable singles of the second half of the year, once people grew tired of "My Girls" and "Lisztomania." Hard to resist the early-'90s vibe.

20. Free Energy – "Free Energy" (MP3, video)
This song is unabashedly nostalgic — not just musically but lyrically as well with its wistful, "make the most of the summer" vibe. But it's also a cowbell-driven fist-pumper. Whoa-oh!

21. Veronica Falls – "Found Love In A Graveyard" (MP3)
Not officially released anywhere, just sort of out there on the internet, but they've got records coming out on Slumberland and Captured tracks and totally fit in with those labels' vibe. A little bit of Pastels, a little bit early Cure. Flower dresses, it's raining, and that's ok.

22. Two Door Cinema Club – "Something Good Can Work" (MP3, video)
You'd be forgiven if the first time you heard this (maybe right now?) if you asked "Is this Phoenix?" Nope, this is Ireland's Two Door Cinema Club. It really only sounds like them a little bit, and really it's a compliment anyway.

23. The Horrors – "Scarlet Fields" (MP3)
In the most surprising move of the year, The Horrors prove to everyone they're no joke and this track typifies what they did so brilliantly on Primary Colours. It's still totally goth, yet transcends the genre.

24. Blank Dogs – "Setting Fire to Your House" (MP3, video)
More gothy fun, I swear I don't group this stuff together. Blank Dogs released so much stuff this year, it was hard to keep up but I think this was maybe the best single song from all of them. Sorta reminds me of Wall of Voodoo. Be sure to check the cool video.

25. Frankie Rose – "Thee Only One/Hollow Life" (MP3 / MP3)
After being drummer in Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts, Frankie Rose leaves the nest to start her own band, The Outs, and releases her debut single (with help from a few of the Crystal Stilts). The A-side is pretty much what you'd expect Frankie to sound like (awesome), where the b-side (blissed-out space psychedelia) is definitely something we haven't heard before. More please!

The rest of my list is after the jump… 

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