Top 20 Records of 2009

Continuing on from what started last year, 2009 has mostly been about beats and electronic music. I have to honestly say I have completely lost touch with new indie bands. Put it this way – I am more interested in new artists I read about on XLR8R than on Pitchfork nowadays. I did enjoy Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and bought the new A Sunny Day In Glasgow. I was also tempted to include Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion but aside from the hallucination-inducing album cover I can’t remember anything from it really. The one band I had on constant repeat this year was for some reason R.E.M. Peter Buck noted that Automatic For The People dealt with themes of loss and mourning inspired by “that sense of turning thirty”. Maybe that’s why?

Anyway, here for your reading pleasure are the top twenty records that I’ve heard this year in alphabetical order.

1. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue (Warp / 2009)

Bibio’s previous releases were basically him, some lo-fi recording equipment and his guitar. So I wasn’t keen on more of the same until Boomkat.com used the words ‘DJ Premier’ to describe a song off the album. The track in question, ‘Fire Ant’, is far from anything Premo has ever done but I get the point of reference. The lo-fi guitar’s still there, now with added chunky, cut-up beats.

2. Build An Ark – Love Part 1 (Kindred Spirits / 2009)

Love Part 1 features the kind of cosmic spiritual jazz you would have to trawl through the back catalogs of labels like Strata-East and Impulse! to enjoy. Build An Ark was apparently formed by Carlos Nino as ‘a peace action in response to the grief and rage following September 11′. Sounds mighty hippieish (Carlos Nino himself looks the part) but hey, the music’s great and their enthusiasm is genuine, so more power to them.

3. Carlos Nino & Friends – High With A Little Help From (Kindred Spirits / 2009)

More goodness from Carlos Nino. This is essentially ambient music, infused with liberal doses of field recordings, found sounds, jazz and folk elements. It’s like a collage of different moments and ideas with no discernible structure. Trippy stuff. Just look at the album cover.

4. Dak – Standthis (Leaving / 2009)

I only heard this a couple of weeks back but I had to include it in this list. I have no idea who Dak is and there’s very little information about him. But I like that aspect of mysteriousness and the music reflects the same. There are 21 tracks but there is easily double that amount of fragmented beat motifs throughout the album. The Madlib influence is apparent, from the sudden cut-offs to the lack of care if the snare hits in time with the horn sample or not. Call this stream-of-consciousness instrumental hip-hop.

5.  Dam-Funk – Toeachizown (Stones Throw / 2009)

‘Throwback’ and ‘old school’ are words that are frequently used to describe Dam-Funk’s music. Which is fitting but he’s not doing it as a tribute to a bygone style. It’s simply the kind of music he’s been involved with all his life. Dude was also instrumental in crafting the 90’s G-funk style, having worked as a session musician for people like Warren G and Nate Dogg. Toeachizown conjures up the mental image of early 80’s Prince, tight leather pants and neon colours. My only complaint is that a lot of the tracks noodle on for far too long.

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2 Responses to “Top 20 Records of 2009”

  1. Michelle Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 11:22 am

    As always, an interesting and distinctive list! I’ll check lots of this out. Not sure if I’ll have time to do one myself but honestly even if I do, it won’t be as interesting as yours has been.

  2. shtikman Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Aww come on, do one! I haven’t read much music-related stuff from you in a while, other than the Michael Jackson ones.

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