Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chasing The Siren's Best Albums of 2009 (#25-11)

Seriously now people, are we really approaching the close of 2009? Where has this year gone? One thing is sure, 2009 has been a phenomenal year for indie music. From the rise of the chillwave genre (Washed Out, Neon Indian) in the summer to the return of surf rock (Real Estate, The Drums), we will not soon forget this year. Let's move on to my list of the best albums of 2009.

To say the indie scene has changed this year would be a drastic understatement. In 2008, it was all about the mix of indie folk (Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper) and various other spatterings of genres (The Hold Steady, Bon Iver, TVOTR). For me personally, I have dipped deeper into the vast blogiverse and come away with more obscure bands taking on genres both brand new (Chillwave) and re-popularized (lo-fi surf rock). If you have been reading my blog, you will have noticed this shift. All in all, and in my opinion, the indie world circa 2009 was epic and as always, vastly under-appreciated. So here is my top 25 (songs for your listening pleasure included):

25. The Dutchess & The Duke /// Sunset/Sunrise


Funny that I mention a shift away from indie folk and my first album listed is indie folk. Oh well, too bad. These two (Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison) make great 60's style pysch, folk, pop with great melodies
on their second lp. Worth a listen or ten.

mp3: The Dutchess & The Duke - Let It Die

24. David Bazan /// Curse Your Branches

This former frontman and songwriter for Pedro The Lion had a crisis of faith and wrote an album about it. Some really honest lyrics here regarding his beliefs. Oh yeah, the songs are catchy too. I enjoyed his openness and hope he continues on his search. We all have doubts and David is not afraid to express them.

mp3: David Bazan - Hard To Be

23. LAKE /// Let's Build A Roof

A late-in-the-year discovery for this band which released their second album in October. Another great Portland band who generate laid-back lo-fi grooves, and are somewhat reminiscent of Baltimore band Beach House. These songs will sink their teeth into you with repeated listens.

mp3: LAKE - Madagascar

22. Why? /// Eskimo Snow

Lead singer Yoni Wolf shifts the focus of this album more towards indie rock and away from the indie rap. Why?'s last album received much critical acclaim. However, this album was largely ignored. Not sure why. Maybe his stream of consciousness lyrics are wearing thin. I enjoy this band, especially when I am looking for something outside the typical.

mp3: Why? - This Blackest Purse

21. Woods /// Songs of Shame

One of my first favorite albums of 2009. An excellent campfire folk, lo-fi band who created a slightly less experimental and a bit more accessible 3rd record with Songs of Shame. Look for even greater stuff from this band in the future.

mp3: Woods - Rain On

20. Neon Indian /// Psychic Chasms

The first of the Chillwave bands to crack my list. As with the others, Neon Indian construct nostalgia-inducing, 80's-sounding, electronic ear candy. Expect emerging artists as this fast-rising, unique and brand new genre continues to gain momentum.

mp3: Neon Indian - 6699 (I don't know if you know)

19. A.A. Bondy /// When The Devil's Loose

This singer-songwriter and former frontman for grunge band Verbena, delivers another solid album with this his second LP. Reminds a lot of early (and much better) Ryan Adams. The songs certainly are growers as repeated listens reveal more and more.

mp3: A.A. Bondy - A Slow Parade

18. The Mantles /// The Mantles

Here is one of my more obscure finds (via the always excellent Gorilla vs Bear blog). Just love the distorted lo-fi guitar sounds on this album. The Mantles' garage band sound is in your face from beginning to end. Highly recommend checking it out. Look forward to more recognition of these guys in years to come in the scene.

mp3: The Mantles - Don't Lie

17. Jj /// Jj n° 2

I find it very difficult to classify the sound of this new Swedish Artist. Often, unclassifiable means originality, and that is always a good thing. All I can say is listen to this artist on a nice set of cans and you will be transported to a different place. Almost like an indie version of Enya. Here is the first cut from their debut album.

mp3: Jj - Things Will Never Be The Same

16. Kurt Vile /// Childish Prodigy

After signing with Matador Records, Kurt Vile provides another superb album. The pure quality of all of Kurt's lo-fi music is amazing. Taking him for granted, this album probably deserves to be higher on my list. As is the case with most on this list, vastly under-appreciated. Did I mention yet that he is an absolute wizard on the guitar? Kurt actually released another album this year too, God Is Saying This To You?, on his former label, Mexican Summer.

mp3: Kurt Vile - Blackberry Song

15. Atlas Sound /// Logos

What more can be said about Bradford Cox? Not only has this guy put out some outstanding albums with Deerhunter, but the same can be said for his side project Atlas Sound. This their second LP, is a bit more straightforward.With that being said, this album is a definite listen-repeat-listen as more and more details make themselves evident by doing such. What's more? Logos features arguably the best song of 2009, "Walkabout", which features Noah Lennox (Panda Bear/Animal Collective). Search my blog for "Walkabout". In the meantime, here is another great song from the album.

mp3: Atlas Sound - Criminals

14. Mountain Man /// Mountain Man (ep)

This Vermont group, comprised of three women, really came out of nowhere this year.  Singing in harmony, sometimes with little or no instrumentation, the sounds emitted are nothing short of beautiful and mesmerizing. Simply amazing to me is the fact that these three just started singing together in early 2009. Look for a full length album in 2010. I anxiously await more from Mountain Man.

mp3: Mountain Man - Animal Tracks

13. Port O'Brien /// Threadbare

Going back to the indie folk thing, here is some great campfire music. Van Pierszalowski and Cambria Goodwin, both of California, met and formed this folk music group. Van's father is actually a commercial fisherman on Kodiak Island in Alaska. Van spends about 3 1/2 months each year working on one of his dad's ships looking for Salmon. Port O'Briens' second LP, Threadbare, is a fantastic journey of acoustic majesty. The combination of Van and Cambria's voice is something that truly separates this folk band from the others. Here is one of the best songs from Threadbare and easily one of my favorite songs of 2009.

mp3: Port O'Brien - Oslo Campfire

12. Phoenix /// Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

This French band continues to churn out phenomenal record after phenomenal record. Their music is so good that I almost take it for granted. With their 4th album, Phoenix once again spin sweet hooks combined with precise production. In an equal world, Phoenix would be much more popular (Coldplay-ish). Even though they will get a lot of 'album of the year' votes for 2009, I am happy that they still remain somewhat under the radar. Get this album if you don't have it already!

mp3: Phoenix - Lisztomania

11. Bibio /// Ambivalence Avenue

 You most likely will not find Bibio on too many year end lists. But for me, Ambivalence Avenue, really stands out as one of the most original albums of 2009. As mentioned in previous posts, Bibio (aka Stephen Wilkinson) creates almost a hybrid genre of folk and electronic music. Combining field recordings and found sounds with electronic instruments and sounds, the ride is a thrill from start to finish. I realize that when you make music that is far off the beaten path, even a little recognition is appreciated.

mp3: Bibio - Jealous of Roses

Thanks for checking out my blog this year and be sure to check back next week for my top 10 albums of 2009!