telling minor stories to avoid a major one

Lists! 2009: Favorite Albums 10-1 by Barbecue Bros
December 30, 2009, 4:18 pm
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10. Future of the Left – Travels With Myself and Another (4AD) – Andy Falkous and company keep the momentum going post-Mclusky.

9. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Why There Are Mountains (Sister’s Den) – This year’s great indie guitar rock album.

8. The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules (Asound-Bubbles) – I always liked this album but it slipped my mind for my 1/2 year list. Not so for my year-end list. A great side project from one of the Kings of Convenience guys.

7. Bat for Lashes – Two Suns (Astralwerks) – A beautiful, out-of-this-world album from Natasha Khan.

6. St. Vincent – Actor (4AD) – What sets this album apart is the fractured Disney instrumentation.

5. Washed Out – Life of Leisure EP (Mexican Summer) – For me, “chillwave” was the sound of the year, and Washed Out along with his buddy Toro Y Moi were the leaders of the pack.

4. The xx – xx (XL) – A complete surprise from the previously unknown trip-hop, dub, and pop influenced trio from England.

3. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp) – Probably the prettiest, best sounding album this year.

2. Animal CollectiveMerriweather Post Pavilion (Domino) – I knew that this was going to be a monster of an album ever since I first heard “My Girls” in January of this year. A perfect balance between experimentation and pop.

1. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Glass Note) – Because I love every damn song on this album and want to see Phoenix again as soon as possible.


Lists! 2009: Favorite Albums 20-11 by Barbecue Bros
December 29, 2009, 1:26 pm
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20. Japandroids Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl) – A lo-fi, noise rock album with a punk energy.

19. Vetiver Tight Knit (Sub Pop) – Vetiver‘s move to Sub Pop Records produces an album more folky, less freaky.

18. Major LazerGuns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do (Sony Music) – Superstar producers Diplo and Switch work with Jamaican dancehall stars to make one of the most unique sounding albums this year.

17. Bon IverBlood Bank EP (Jagjaguwar) – If only for “Woods” alone.

16. Raekwon Only Built for Cuban Linx, Pt. II (Ice H2o) – In a year where I didn’t listen to much new rap, OBFCLPII was the best of the bunch for me, reuniting all living members of the Wu-Tang Clan.

15. Miike SnowMiike Snow (Downtown Records) – An indie-electro producer’s project of pure pop.

14. Dinosaur Jr.Farm (Jagjaguwar) – The second comeback album from Dinosaur Jr. is even better than 2007’s Beyond.

13. Girls Album (True Panther Sounds) – The druggy, ethereal lo-fi pop debut album has a few of the year’s best songs in “Hellhole Ratrace”, “Laura” and “Lust for Life.”

12. The Pains of Being Pure at HeartThe Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Slumberland) – Another lo-fi indie pop entry this year, albeit with a shoegaze bent.

11. Passion Pit Manners (Frenchkiss) – The irresistibly hooky, synth-filled and helium-vocaled album had several songs that made a ton of my playlists this year.

Lists! 2009: Favorite Albums 50-21 by Barbecue Bros
December 28, 2009, 11:48 am
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50. The Field – Yesterday and Today (Kompakt)
49. Telekinesis! – Telekinesis! (Merge)
48. Amazing Baby – Rewild (Shangri-La)
47. Julian Plenti – Julian Plenti…Is Skyscraper (Matador)
46. Cursive – Mama, I’m Swollen (Saddle Creek Records)
45. National Skyline – Bliss & Death (Adventure Broadcasting)
44. The Kingsbury Manx – Ascenseur Ouvert! (Odessa)
43. Here We Go Magic – Here We Go Magic (Western Vinyl Records)
42. Real Estate – Real Estate (Woodsist)
41. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue (Warp)

40. Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms (Lefse)
39. Atlas Sound – Logos (Kranky/4AD)
38. White Rabbits – It’s Frightening (TBD Records)
37. Megafaun – Gather, Form and Fly (Hometapes)
36. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz (Interscope)
35. Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young (RCA)
34. Lightning Bolt – Earthly Delights (Load)
33. Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3 (Roc Nation)
32. The Thermals – Now We Can See (Kill Rock Stars)
31. Matt & Kim – Grand (Artwerk Music)

30. Bowerbirds – Upper Air (Dead Oceans Records)
29. Volcano Choir – Unmap (Jagjaguwar)
28. Dan Deacon – Bromst (Carpark Records)
27. jj – jj n° 2 (Sincerely Yours)
26. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career (4AD)
25. Wilco – Wilco (the album) (Nonesuch)
24. Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, the Commuter (Anti-)
23. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca (Domino)
22. Animal Collective – Fall Be Kind EP (Domino)
21. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls (Fat Cat Records)

Favorite albums of 2009 & 1/2, part 2 by Barbecue Bros

5. St. Vincent – Actor (4AD) – I had heard on XMU that in composing the songs for Actor, Annie Clark had been watching a lot of Disney movies and that the music from those movies influenced her on this album. I can maybe hear that influence on the music, though perhaps through a filter of quirk and darkness. Don’t let the intricate, mostly pretty instrumentation fool you, there are some dark lyrical moments on this great album.

4. Bat for Lashes – Two Suns (Astralwerks) – This is really not my kind of music. But Natasha Khan on this album is just so damn seductive. Seriously, listen to the lyrics on “Daniel” (Daniel when I first saw you/ I knew you had a flame in your heart) and try not to swoon.

3. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp) – You get pulled in by the immediacy of “Two Weeks” but stick around for the immaculately produced pop songs the rest of the album has to offer. “While You Wait for the Others” may be even better than “Two Weeks” because of its haunting breakdown.

2. Animal Collective – Merriwether Post Pavilion (Domino) – A culmination of what the band has been building to ever since dropping straight up experimentation in favor of experimental pop on Sung Tongs: a beautiful, nearly flawless experimental pop album. And “My Girls” still kicks so much ass, 6 months later. Why oh why didn’t they have a night set at Bonnaroo?

1. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glassnote) – It’s one of those albums where you have a favorite song right off the bat (“1901”) and then you realize the first song they played on SNL (“Lisztomania”) also kicks ass before really listening to the second half of the album and realizing there’s gold there too (“Lasso,” “Rome,” “Big Sun,” “Armistice”). Then they drop the next single (“Fences”) and you realize just how good that song is too. And finally, the two largely instrumental songs you tended to skip at first (“Love Like a Sunset, Pts 1 and 2”) you really start digging. Then finally it hits you: you love the entire damn album.

Others receiving votes: Passion PitManners, Cymbals Eat GuitarsWhy There Are Mountains, The FieldYesterday and Today, Telekinesis! – s/t, JapandroidsPost-Nothing, VetiverTight Knight, The Kingsbury Manx – Ascenseur Overt

Favorite albums of 2009 & 1/2, part 1 by Barbecue Bros

Last year I did it too early (end of May, only 5/12 through the year) but not this year baby!

10. Miike Snow – s/t (Downtown) – Bloodshy and Avant, Swedish mega producers and members of the Miike Snow, are best known at this point for producing slick pop tracks for Madonna, Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue. However, while their self-titled debut is still very slickly produced, it is more a brand of downbeat, bedroom pop. “Animal,” “Silvia” and “A Horse is Not a Home” are all great.

9. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm (Jagjaguwar) – Their previous album (and first after reuniting) Beyond made a great initial impression on me but ultimately had no staying power. Farm still has the searing guitar solos, but they are evenly balanced by noise and melody. Check out the great video for “Over It.”

8. Wilco – Wilco (the album) (Nonesuch) – Ok, I’ll admit it: I was off the Wilco bandwagon after the disappointing Sky Blue Sky. Which is odd since Wilco was probably top 2 band for me in college. Wilco (the album) is a step in the right direction because it finds a nice balance between the MOR guitar-based rock (or “dad rock” if you are wont to call it that) and the noisy experimentation the band has been playing with since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Seeing them live at Bonnaroo certainly didn’t hurt since they are always great live.

7. Future of the Left – Travels with Myself and Another (4AD) – Noise rock trio Future of the Left don’t stray too far from the Mclusky blueprint on their follow up to Curses, but that will never be a bad thing to my ears. This time around they add a more playful vibe as well as a song about *gasp* love.

6. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – s/t (Slumberland)The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are a indie pop band from Brooklyn that play pop songs with a shoegaze sensibility. Look for “Young Adult Friction” on my forthcoming summer mix Seersucker Porn sometime next week.