Archive for January, 2010

My favorite music of 2009

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

2009 Cover Art Collage

This is the 5th year in a row that I’ve assembled an official “best of” the year, though only the previous two years made it onto the blog.  2008 is available here, and 2007 is available here.  Two different circles of my friends exchanges “best of” lists, and I think everyone approaches the task differently.  My perspective probably changes each year, but my current thinking is that this “mix” should simply contain the music that I want to remember when I think back on this year.

That guiding principle simplifies some things, like the fact that I don’t care whether or not a song was released in 2009, I just need to have discovers it in 2009.  There a few more subtle considerations though.  I know this will be evaluated by my music-loving friends, and so I need to 1) make sure my list doesn’t overlap too much with theirs, and 2) make an effort to introduce them to some songs they might otherwise not have heard.  I also like to make sure to include some uncool songs in my mix – it’s dangerous to take your music too seriously.

OK, enough preamble.  Here’s the list:

  1. Hysteric  (Acoustic Version) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz! (Deluxe Edition) I have a love/hate relationship with this band.  I have never loved an entire one of their albums, but I usually find a few tracks on each album that I think are great.  I’m glad they chose to do acoustic versions of a couple tunes on It’s Blitz! because I like them much more than their electric counterparts.
  2. When My Time Comes – Dawes – Dawes I saw Dawes open for The Delta Spirit in February at the Drunken Unicorn.  This song caught my ear then and has only grown on me since then.  It’s a fantastic bass grove and a fantastic fat harmony on the choruses.
  3. Doomsday – Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Elvis Perkins in Dearland – I saw EP at least 3 times in 2009, and the shows ranged from good to great.  I remember this one as being a particularly lively jam live – the drummer walked into the crowd with a big bass drum strapped to his chest, and the horns are always great.  It’s fun on the album version too.
  4. Two Weeks – Grizzly Bear – Veckatimeist Great soaring ambient harmonies and a very cool drum beat.
  5. Magpie To The Morning – Neko Case – Middle Cyclone Before this album Neko didn’t do much for me.  I liked her work in the New Pornographers better than her solo stuff.  This album, however, is great.  She put on a great show in support of this album too.
  6. Beautiful – Dan Reeder – Sweetheart Don’t know much about Dan Reeder, but Pandora served this song up and I just thought it was cute and charming.  I felt it was worth sharing, see if you agree.
  7. Can You Tell – Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line A friend of mine is a great photographer for bands, and I was looking through some of his work here.  I asked him who the cellist was, and he said she was from this band who was opening for Vampire Weekend at the time and sounded kind of like them, but different enough.  That’s a pretty good description, and this is a pretty catchy song.
  8. Single Ladies – Pomplamoose – (the internet) As you may remember, I put the original version of this song on last year’s mix.  It’s not that I’m completely obsessed with this song, I just think this is a really creative cover by a kind of cute white girl.  To get the full effect, you should definitely watch the video on youtube.
  9. Folding Chair – Regina Spektor – Far I really like Regina Spektor, and this whole album is really good.  I wanted to include one of the upbeat songs and I had a hard time choosing between this and “The Calculation.”  This one won out because I love the second verse where it sounds like there’s a desk bell throughout the verse.  I don’t love the dolphin sounds later in the song, but Regina is a little weird and I like that so I’ll cut her some slack.
  10. Bully of New York – Ana Egge – Road to my Love This one came to me on a Paste Magazine sampler, and this song just jumped out as a beautiful swooning melody over a fat upright bass line.
  11. No Intention – Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca This band has a really unique sound and does a lot of cool stuff with harmonies.  I had a hard time choosing one track, but think this is one of the most approachable.  I do think it’s funny, however, that the guitar solo in this song almost sounds like one of the XYZ Shreds video parodies on youtube (example here).
  12. For Beginners – M. Ward – Hold Time I saw M in Athens in 2009 and loved the show (I had seen him once before and didn’t love it).  I like this new album, and this track stood out as the “keeper” for this list.
  13. Party In the U.S.A. – Miley Cyrus – Party In the U.S.A.  – Single One day I was looking at iTunes and I got curious about what was popular.  I looked at their “top downloads” chart, and this song was #1.  I had heard of Miley Cyrus, but didn’t think I had ever heard one of her songs.  What can I say, as pop goes this one deserved to be #1.  It didn’t turn me into a Miley fan in general, but this song is great.
  14. Parachute – Shugo Tokumaru – Exit This is another tune from a Paste sampler that just sounded unique.  Plus the band name sounds Japanese, and that immediately gives them a leg up in my book.
  15. Take Courage – Andrew Bird – Noble Beast I like Andrew Bird, but I don’t love him.  I tend to like his albums more than his live shows.  This track highlights some of his likable qualities.
  16. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz – We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things Let’s be perfectly clear here: I hate Jason Mraz.  I think he’s pretty douchey.  Still, this song has a great melody, a great hook, and nice backup vocals.  It’s almost a perfect pop song (until he drops the lyric “scootch,” like a turd in the punchbowl – he can’t help but show his true colors).  Still, just like most guys hate to admit there’s one or two romantic comedies out there that they actually kind of like, I hate to admit it but I like this song.
  17. When The Devil’s Loose – A.A. Bondy – When The Devil’s Loose Great song that captures a very unique old-timey sound on the recording.  Clearly my favorite track on the album.
  18. My Only Swerving – El Ten Eleven – El Ten Eleven This album was released a long time ago, but Pandora only introduced me to this band this year, and I think this track does a great job of capturing what there is to like about this band.  It’s amazing that it’s only two people (and they can pull it off flawlessly live).  Check out a video here.  I now have an entire instrumental station on Pandora based on these guys.
  19. The Summer – Coconut Records – Davy Coconut Records is the name for Actor/Entertainer Jason Schwartzman’s music project, and this is his second album under that name.  A friend introduced me to the album, which contains a lot of great pop songs with nice harmonies and a good use of backup vocals.  I chose this track because my wife and I actually met and hung out with Jason and his wife on our honeymoon.   His wife is from Alabama, and so this song is obviously about her.  I like the song on it’s own, but it’s more fun to know that I’ve met not only the songwriter, but also the inspiration for the song.  They’re genuinely great people, BTW, but the song deserves to be included on its own merit.

Whether you patiently read all that jibba jabba or not, here’s the payoff – you can download a zip file with all of these tracks using the link below.  And as always, if you find something you like, please support the artist by buying something by them or (better yet) going to see a show.

Zip File with my Favorite Music of 2009

hope you enjoy!