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2009 – The Records

December 23, 2009

My take on the records of 2009. It’s presented as a simple list of ten (plus honourable mentions) not ordered into any particular arrangement, as there was no objective procedure that went into determining the list. No point systems or play counts or anything like that, these were just the ten records I found most moving and important. Anyway, many of these were written about here on the site, so take a look, links to those reviews are provided.

Bat for Lashes – Two Suns (4.07 – Parlophone/Astralwerks)

The second album from Natasha Khan and co. expands her unique pop vision. Some real talents and ambitions lay behind this record, and the final product makes its case for itself.

• Video for “Pearl’s Dream.”

• Gunshy review.

Crystal Antlers – Tentacles (4.07 – Touch and Go/Quarterstick)

A band that caught their breakthrough in 2009 with this, their first LP. It has a great fusion of garage, psych, and R&B going on. Wailing stuff, lots of old sounds combined with a modern energy. There’s more going on here than seems to be on the surface, and with repeat listenings, the record’s character, and quality, really emerges.

• Video for “Andrew.”

Nadja – When I See The Sun Always Shines on TV (4.28 -The End)

Just one of the releases this prolific genre-blending/defying duo put out this year, but this one is perhaps the most remarkable of their recent lot. It’s a cover album featuring tunes that inspired the band’s aesthetics, all done in the Nadja style. Un-ironic versions of songs by A-Ha, The Cure, Codeine, Slayer, Kids In The Hall, and others, slowed down and set adrift in a sea of distortion and delay.

• Gunshy review.

Mos Def – The Ecstatic (7.09 – Downtown)

Mos Def and producers showed their tastes for adventure, internationalism, and musicality with this fine record. The rhymes and the production are both in great form, and the record has an exploratory sort of feel to it. It might not know exactly where it’s going, but that’s not the main concern.

• Video for “Casa Bey.”

Dog Day – Concentration (4.27 – Outside/Black Mountain)

The second LP from this Halifax combo saw them pushing their boundaries, hitting new heights, and getting a bit more recognition. It also marked the departure of drummer/songwriter KC Spidle. They did all the things they do well here, and opened up some doors for the future as well. Cool sound, artwork, and songs, it’s got it all going on.

• Video for “Happiness.”

• Gunshy review.

Mi Ami – Watersports (2.17 – Touch and Go/Quarterstick)

An out-of-nowhere release that really blew some heads off. A new group and a powerful, impressive first LP.

• Live performance of “Pressure.”

• Gunshy review.

Black Feelings – S/T (10.13 – Alien 8)

This promising Montréal group’s anticipated first LP, and it doesn’t disappoint. Freaky, exciting stuff.

• Gunshy review.

The Flaming Lips – Embryonic (10.13. Warner)

The Flaming Lips came with a record that nearly stunned people it’s so good. After a couple of releases that many thought didn’t quite cut it, they’ve given a reminder of just how amazing a group they can be, well surpassing the expectations.

• Live performance of “Convinced of the Hex.”

Tim Hecker – An Imaginary Country (3.10 – Kranky)

Hecker’s further venturing into denser ambient territory results in perhaps his best record to date. Enveloping, amazing stuff.

• Gunshy review.

Telefon Tel Aviv – Immolate Yourself (2.03 – BPitch Control)

This duo’s finest effort yet, and a totally superb record, but it seems absent from much year-end stuff so far. A real high point for the group, accompanied by a really tragic one. Beautiful, emotive electronic sounds.

• Video for “Helen of Troy.”

• Gunshy review.

Didn’t get into the top ten, but worthy of mention:

Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light (Secretly Canadian): Deep sadness and beauty.

The Clientele – Bonfires on the Heath (Merge): Another beautiful Clientele album, and perhaps the last. Gunshy review.

Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (4AD): Very possibly the band’s best to date.

Death – …For the Whole World to See (Drag City): This hasn’t made it onto many year-end lists, but does it count? Either way, the (re)discovery of this band was one of the best stories of the year. Gunshy review.

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca (Domino): It’s on every other year-end list out there, and rightfully so.

Fever Ray – S/T (Rabid): Unique stuff from former Knife singer Karin Andersson, gives fans something to ponder.

Polvo – In Prism (Merge): Another one for fans to ponder. After all the debating, maybe it’s not their best, but it is a good record. Gunshy review.

Wild Beasts – Two Dancers (Domino): This band has a sound all its own. Another good one that seems absent from much year-end stuff.

Think About Life – Family (Alien 8): A really enjoyable record full of hyper dance sounds. Gunshy review.

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