Albums Of The Year 2009

Compiling this year’s best of was the usual gargantuan task. I had to whittle the 152 albums I bought this year down to a top forty. In the process, I’ve had to get rid of *loads* of albums that I thought were wonderful. So, just to be on here is to be a winner. The competition is heinous!

(EDIT! Lovely Robbie has made a Spotify playlist of available tracks. It’s not everything but it’s a fair chunk! Thanks, Robbie!)

This year, every band name is a link that goes to their Last.fm page so you should be able to hear clips for free. A couple of the links don’t do that because the band was too obscure for Last.fm. However, this list isn’t me being hipper than thou: there are artists in it that have a few hundred listeners, some that have hundreds of thousands. I likes what I likes! 🙂

Also, my chart is not linked to adverts, who bought me what or who my mates are. That being said, I wish I was mates with every artist in there as they’ve all produced wonderful music which has sustained me through a very difficult year. Thank you for making my year brighter!

Ladies and gentlemen, the best albums of 2009!

40. The Lonely Forest – We Sing The Body Electric!


Singalong pop, reminds me of Sebadoh!

39. Kettel – Myam James 2


Part one was in last year’s best of and part two continues the hypermelodic electronic vibe. Soo poppy!

38. White Rabbits – It’s Frightening


Ahh, some great tunes and a bit of Burundi drumming too!

37. Settle – At Home We Are Tourists


Anthemic, singalong punkiness. Played it in my car loooads!

36. The Fresh & Onlys – The Fresh & Onlys


Psych/garage stupidness in the best way possible. NANANANANANANANANAAAAAH!

35. K-Os – Yes!


Lovely rhymes, funny as shit. Beautiful hip hop. We all love Natalie Portman, innit?

34. Nosaj Thing – Drift


When you need a bit of a glitch and perhaps to robot round your room, stick this on.

33. Taking Back Sunday – New Again


I’ve listened to ‘Sink Into Me’ so many times, it’s ridiculous. And the album is equally good.

32. Anti-Pop Consortium – Fluorescent Black


There’s a kind of SF vibe going on with a lot of hip hop now and this album has shitloads. Spooky, dancey fun!

31. Voks – Astra & Knyst


This is what probably got the most complaints when I DJed it this year. Because it sounds like mental mice playing out-of-tune egg slicers. Which is why I love it.

30. The Crayon Fields – All The Pleasures Of The World


Great sixties-ish pop songs coupled with an extensive over-use of spring reverbs – what’s not to like!?

29. Lusine – A Certain Distance


Flowing, dreamy but also slyly unsettling electronica. Lusine is ace.

28. Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing


A mixed album, from chugging rock anthems like ‘Tony The Tiger’ to tiny, reflective pieces. All good.

27. Tiga – Ciao!


What’s that sound? I like that sound! It’s the sound of Tiga. Batshit electro.

26. Austrian Death Machine – Double Brutal


And *another* entry for ADM. There’s a certain mood of metal stupid that only they can satisfy in me. COHAAGEN!

25. War From A Harlots Mouth – In Shoals


In places, this goes beyond progness into mad fucking jazz metal. I should therefore hate it but I love it!

24. The Gift of Gab – Escape 2 Mars


More SF hip hop, that’s SF as in sci-fi not San Fran. This album is a marvellous journey, let it take you there.

23. A Place to Bury Strangers – Exploding Head


Easily the best neo-shoegaze album this year. But not just MBV-cloning, APTBS have their own, dark edge.

22. Ochre – Like Dust of the Balance


Intricate and beautiful, electronic ticks, clicks and laments.

21. The Decemberists – The Hazards Of Love


As prog as you like but saved by popness!

20. Canadian Invasion – Three Cheers For The Invisible Hand


Elements of Teenage Fanclub, Buffalo Springfield and other singalong (indie)rock class. Supremely catchy and with great lyrics!

19. The Hidden Cameras – Origin:Orphan


More drum machiney, adds to the intimacy of this flowing, cinematic album. Great indiepop.

18. Freeland – Cope


Thrumming, scintillating electro pop.

17. Swollen Members – Armed to the Teeth


SM deliver a comeback to the form they displayed on Balance. Solid hip hop.

16. The Bear Quartet – 89


Twenty years after forming, still nasty, still making disturbing, catchy pop. Sweet beef?

15. Endwell – Consequences


This album makes me want to punch walls and head-butt tigers. Piledriving heaviness.

14. Metric – Fantasies


Metric continue to come up with startling, catchy indierock that’s actually about something. Lovely.

13. The Bloody Beetroots – Romborama


DJing TBB always makes me smile. It’s great to watch peeps just start jigging along. Undeniable booty shakingness.

12. Arise Horror – Sleeping Waters


My fave heavy album of the year, a great mix of anger, horror and Lovecraftian weird. A wonderful, unique album.

11. The Elephants – Take It!


Oh my god – such a super-poppy album! Instant hooks.

10. People Under The Stairs – Carried Away


I’ve loved these buggers for years and they just seem to get better and better! Surely ‘DQMOT’ is one of the top hip hop tunes of ’09? Fab album!

9. Moss – Never Be Scared / Don’t Be A Hero


Again, classic sixties-ish poppiness combined with more meandering bits. Reminds me of XTC!

8. Zombie Nation – Zombielicious


Pure fun. I defy you not to dance!

7. Mr. Lif – I Heard it Today


Sad there’s no new Perceptionists but HAPPY there’s a new Mr. Lif. Brilliant rapping, insightful, painful lyrics. What hip hop is all about.

6. Butcher Boy – React or Die


I was converted to BB after seeing them play a storming set at this year’s Indietracks. I went and got the album off Emusic and fell in love!

5. Recordkingz – Heavyweight


So many solid cuts off this one album. Apart from being a who’s-who of hip hop, it’s simply sublime.

4. Cats On Fire – Our Temperance Movement


Standard bias declaration: I was a guest keyboardist for Cats On Fire for one gig in the UK. And Ville (Cats’ guitarist) has helped me out when I’ve played in Scandinavia. But let me elaborate and say that I don’t tickle the ivories for just anyone. It was this way around: I got to know Cats On Fire because I love their music – I don’t love their music because they’re showbiz mates.

Phew…

This album from CoF shows them maturing and progressing, I feel it’s deeper lyrically than their debut. ‘Borders Of This Land’ is a stunning song I’d be proud to have written. They can go from a Beatlesy crowd-pleaser like ‘Tears In Your Cup’ to the quietly vicious ‘Fabric’ without effort, there’s an enormous range here. It would have been my top indie album of ’09 but it was just pipped at the post by…

3. Burning Hearts – Aboa Sleeping


… Burning Hearts, which is Jessika and Henry (Cats On Fire’s drummer). What edges this album ahead for me is the soundscapes: listening, I feel like I’m on a train, watching the scenery go by. Which, incidentally, makes it a great train album. The mix of indiepop, synthpop and Scandi pop sensibility is perfect. And the lyrical imagery… oh my! ‘Iris’ never fails to remind me of the time I was a tiny Swedish girl, running to my parents’ lake house. 🙂

2. Wienzeile – Gestalten Gestalten


I am ashamed to say that I don’t own this album legally as I can’t seem to find it anywhere. It’s not on Amazon, iTunes or Emusic. Wienzeile, if you’re reading this – I want to give you money for making may fave hip hop album of 2009! Help me!

Now, my German isn’t great but I can follow the gist of what Austria’s Wienzeile are on about. And even if I couldn’t, how could I ignore the electric synergy between the beats and the rhymes? From the first second of the first track I heard, I knew I would love this record. ‘Geisterbahn’ is fucking relentless – trying to rap along with that one track has taught me more German than five years doing it at school! Please, please check this album out if you’ve ever liked any hip hop. And send them your money, if you can!

1. Vitalic – Flashmob


This is what I said about Vitalic when I made him my top track at Bzangy a while back:

I’m guessing it’s not inspired by Larry Niven but even so, it’s my fave electronic record of 2009 (so far!). It’s dancey, demented, dissonant deliciousness. The track ‘Flashmob’ itself sounds like Louis and Bebe Barron discovered the funk in a Krell basement somewhere, humping some fat Idmonsters. It’s such a good album, a perfect antidote to the reams of generic electrodancewhatnot out there.

‘Flashmob’ is my top album of 2009 because it’s connected with me at a cellular level. Walking to and from Uni, round town, wherever, I’ve listened to each and every track so many times that I know every second. I don’t need to skip any because they’re all that good. As a synthesist myself, the sound design makes me jizz with happiness. You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear electronic music and not be able to name every preset and every Garageband break.

Throughout this genre-corrupting classic, there is an organic, fleshy slithering of filters and oscillators, tortured into an S&M come-fest. Every time I listen to it, I hear new details, tiny grace-squawks and passing-howls. This record is *alive!* Buy it now and listen to it on infinite loop forever!

Thank you, Vitalic, for being a mad enough bastard to produce a work of art this powerful and seductive.

Bzangy Groink Playlist 16/12/09

Woo! The last Bzangy of ’09 and a chance to play loads of fave tracks from this year! 🙂

Tonight’s best new track was ‘Carve A Pattern’ by Butcher Boy. A right, romping, stomping pop song that reminds me sometimes of Al Stewart, sometimes of Nick Drake and loads of being a kid and watching Peanuts specials on telly. 🙂

The best old track was ‘Six Months In A Leaky Boat’ by Split Enz. I’ve been addicted to this song lately. Basically, it’s perfect.

This is what you heard:

Flying Lotus – Parisian Goldfish (Take Remix)
Canadian Invasion – The Carcass Of John Mayer
Ben Folds Five – Army
Butcher Boy – Carve A Pattern
J. Scrilla & Royalty – Wut Up
Bury Tomorrow – You & I
Benny Page & Zero G – pan pipes
The Elephants – Take it!
System of a Down – Suite-Pee
I Hate This Place – Morse Ft. Supa
My Little Pony – the sun turns
August Burns Red – Rationalist
Lean Tales – Money Smile
Wale – Mirrors Ft. Bun B (Produced By Mark Ronson)
Fucked Up – Magic Word
Jeans Team – Baby 3=1+2
Your Twenties – Caught Wheel
We Came As Romans – Intentions
Factor Feat Ceschi – Pray
MSTRKRFT – Vuvuvu
Leaving Mornington Crescent – seventeen
William Cooper – Bring It Back Feat. 9th Prince & Nature
Four Tet – She Moves She
It Dies Today – This Ghost
Scorcher – We Don’t Care (Ft. Terminator) (Prod. By Rapid)
Akira Kiteshi – pinball
Mascot Fight – Trawler
Split Enz – Six month in a leaky boat
Vitalic – Flashmob
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – 103
Oc & Ag – Think About It
Metric – Satellite Mind
Tes La Rok – Darkness Falls Upon Us
Glass Candy – Etheric Device
Dananananaykroyd – Watch This!
Endwell – Living Through Losses: 02/30/01
Ghettosocks – Role Models
Suburban Kids With Biblical Na – 1999
Manchester Orchestra – Tony The Tiger
Cut Copy – Future
Souls of Mischief – You Got It
Say Hi to Your Mom – Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh O
Maybeshewill – How to Have Sex With a Ghost
Moss – The comfort
Mistabishi – Printer Jam
U-God – Stomp Da Roach
Pelican – An Inch Above Sand
Tender Trap – Oh Katrina
[ingenting] – Tack.
Neil Landstrumm – Dead Neighbours (Neil Landstrumm Vs Ebola)
Loney, Dear – Airport Surroundings
Wienzeile – deine party
The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song
Bryan Scary & the Shredding Tears – Imitation of the Sky
Burning Hearts – I Walked Among The Trees
Shyheim – The Bottom
Luke Envoy – M.U.G.E.N
Kill Your Idols – Still Pist (Pist Cover)
The Hidden Cameras – Kingdom Come
Cats on Fire – The Borders of This Land
Girl Talk – No Pause
MF DOOM – Paper Planes (Freestyle)
Felix Darcy – pictures from the pavement
Coehn&Foehrb – Ende vom Anfang
xx – Islands
The Dorktones – Three’s A Crowd
The Clientele – Share The Night
The Bloody Beetroots – Awesome
Robert Mellin & Gian Pieri Reverberi – Main Theme
Magnetic Fields – I Don’t Want to Get Over You

Oakwood Crimbo Day Sunshine

25/12/2009 15:26

To be honest, I’m not a great fan of Christmas. This year has been even less cheery than normal. But I looked out today and it was so beautiful, I had to brave the cold and the sheets of ice on the pavements to go and take some snaps. If you’d like to see them, click the pic above.

Walking round in the freezing weather, listening to Butcher Boy and Cats On Fire on my iPhone, I felt a kind of peace descend. I walked over the park and the tufts of mud and grass were hard and crackly under my trainers. My nose was running and I’m sure I looked more than a little demented to the passing jovial dog-walkers and fellow weirdoes. I felt a little bit like I was in an indiepop video, though they generally don’t feature too many middle-aged, portly Indian men. This is where they’re going wrong, of course.

Anyway, if you’re reading this and you’re on your own for Christmas too, remember, there’s a lot of us out there. Have a hug and a virtual roast chestnut from me. 🙂

(Oh, and maybe you’re interested in this free pressie too?)

Bubblegum Winter, 12/12/09

Alison & Joel

Sooo… eleven days ago I travelled up to Glasgow on the train to see The Hidden Cameras headline the Bubblegum Winter shindig. Sadly, even though Joel was there (as you can see in the pic above), he couldn’t play due to visa issues. 🙁

Well, dammit – I wasn’t going to let that ruin my trip! After six hours on a train, I’m going to get my money/time’s worth! Plus, the Bubblegum Records crew had put on such a treat (food, free CD, decorations!) that I couldn’t be grumpy. Amazing people.

So, instead of having a mard, I went and watched the other bands who were all lovely in different ways.

Lean Tales were quite jumpy and Smithsy but with female vocals. I felt they came the most alive when the violinist joined them on stage.

Leaving Mornington Crescent - 1

Leaving Mornington Crescent make music as charming and effervescent as they are in person (we had some food together in the bar bit of Stereo, where the gig was). Very fast and poppy and, one thing I always love: short songs. No prog!

Pale Man Made - 3

The last band were my fave of the night. Pale Man Made came on and just blew me away. One of those gigs where, okay, I was a bit down at not getting to see The Hidden Cameras but they turned that frown upside down. Literally. I was grinning like a loony by about three songs into their set. Lovely!

Alison - 2

Also lovely was the lady above, Alison Butcher Boy who very charitably put me up at hers. She made me tea and listened to me spouting all manner of shite till the small hours of the morning. Bless her!

What could have been a decidedly damp squib was the funnest night I’ve had in ages. Thank you Bubblegum Records and thank you Glasgow! 🙂

(Click any of the pics to see a little gallery!)

US Implodes Through Hypocrisy

Nullen

America’s top military officer has voiced concern about an incursion by Iran into Iraq that ended with Iranian soldiers seizing an Iraqi oil well.

“All of us are concerned about the influence of Iran,” Adm Mullen told a news conference in Baghdad.

“I worry a great deal about Iran’s view of destabilising this region as well and specifically… focusing on an oil field.”
(Source: BBC News)

Because, of course, only ONE illegal invasion at a time, guys! The US and UK have got dibs on Iraq’s oil, no fair! Stop pushing at the back!

Still, the Iranians haven’t done a thorough job of it, they haven’t murdered 1.2 million Iraqis in their bloodlust for oil like the US and its allies have done.

Amateurs!

Bzangy Groink Playlist 2/12/09

Bryan Scary

The best new track tonight was a newie by Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears, ‘Imitation Of The Sky.’ Taken from one of the maddest albums I’ve heard in a long time, I’d suggest you check this out if you’ve ever liked Of Montreal, The New Pornographers or any late psych/early prog. Sooo catchy!

Primal Scream

The best oldie was an old indiepop classic, ‘Velocity Girl’ by Primal Scream. Come on, it’s tiny and perfect. A flawless gem!

This is what you heard:

King Cannibal – Flower Of Flesh And Blood
The Insecurities – Run Run Baby
Kam Moye – Stars (Feat. John Robinson)
Voks – Kinak
The Mary Onettes – Symmetry
Fruit Bats – The Ruminant Band
Matmos – Lipostudio …. and so on
Rehasher – Turn Around
Masta Ace & Edo G – Reminds Me (Prod. By DJ Supreme One)
C-Mon & Kypski – China
GusGus – Hateful
William Cooper – Bring It Back Feat. 9th Prince & Nature
Surrogate – A Constitution
Luke Envoy – M.U.G.E.N
Raised Fist – They Can’t Keep Us Down
Sivert Hoyem – What You Doiní With Him
Apathy – Shoot First
The Bloody Beetroots – Awesome
Moss – The comfort
Pelican – An Inch Above Sand
Cambatta – Black Boy Lost
Say Hi to Your Mom – Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh
Clark – New Year Storm
Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline)
Oc & Ag – Think About It
Middle Distance Runner – The Fury
Loser Life – Idiot
2562 – like a dream
The Paper Merchants – The Kids At The Club
Felt – I Will Die With My Head In Flames
Converge – Cutter
Vitalic – Flashmob
Souls of Mischief – You Got It
Tes La Rok – Darkness Falls Upon Us
Maybeshewill – How to Have Sex With a Ghost
The Dorktones – Three’s A Crowd
Wale – Mirrors Ft. Bun B
Fugazi – Full Disclosure
Neil Landstrumm – Dead Neighbours (Neil Landstrumm Vs Ebola)
Coehn&Foehrb – Ende vom Anfang
Your Twenties – Caught Wheel
ghosts on tape – Straight From Cassette
Ghettosocks – Role Models
[ingenting] – Tack.
Paul White – Wait For Me
unquiet – wir sind angepisst
Suburban Kids With Biblical Names – 1999
Noah D & No Thing – unknown suspect
Swollen Members – Red Dragon
Comanechi – Naked
Music Go Music – Thousand Crazy Nights
Primal Scream – Velocity Girl
McCarthy – Write To Your Mp Today
Vitalic – Terminateur Benelux
Shyheim – The Bottom
Distance – Twilight
We Came As Romans – Intentions
Arise Horror – The Descent
Bryan Scary & the Shredding Tears – Imitation of the Sky
Scorcher – London Boy (Prod. By Danny Weed)
The Radio Dept. – The Worst Taste in Music
Altered Images – Happy Birthday
The Answering Machine – Obviously Cold
The Magnetic Fields – Famous
xx – Islands
Rufus Wainwright – Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk

Bzangy Groink Playlist 18/11/09

Moss

Ahh, the best new song tonight was easy – ‘The Comfort’ by Moss. Just a perfect, singalong indiepop song. If you’ve ever sung along with The Shins, The Format, Phoenix, The Pursuit Of Happiness or Sex Clark Five, I suggest you go and buy their new album. It’s ace!

Sonic Youth

The best old song was ‘Sunday’ by Sonic Youth. I’ve probably had it as a best old tune before, I’ve certainly played it many times DJing. The reason I keep returning to it is that it’s a flawless piece of music. I’m immediately hooked by the intro guitar riff. And I remain hooked all the way through, up to and then breaking out of the cathartic noise-out at the end. Magical.

This is what I played:

Surrogate – A Constitution
Brainpower – Even Stil
The Promise Ring – Happy Hour
Samiyam – Roller Skates
Exlovers – you forget so easily
OC – Mush One
Husker Du – Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely
Bane – Some Came Running
Apathy – Shoot First
Don Diablo & Example – Hooligans (Spor Remix)
Saves the Day – Certain Tragedy
Far – Bury White
Shyheim – The Bottom (Ft. Leo Baez, Vic Po, Bomb Official, Boomp, Hacksaw)
Maybeshewill – How to Have Sex With a Ghost
Say Hi to Your Mom – Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh O
Luke Envoy – M.U.G.E.N
Your Twenties – Caught Wheel
Coehn & Foehrb – Alles Coehn Und Gut
Pelican – Ephemeral
Joy Division – She’s Lost Control
The Bloody Beetroots – Awesome
Moss – The comfort
Kam Moye – Stars (Feat. John Robinson)
Distance – Twilight
The Answering Machine – Oh, Christina
In Defence – Don’t Call Me A Moshist
Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again
Pete and The Pirates – Mr Understanding
Converge – Cutter
Vitalic – Flashmob
D.I.T.C. – Internationally Known
Good Clean Fun – Good Clean Fun
Bryan Scary & the Shredding Tears – Imitation of the Sky
Juno – Non-Equivalents
Show & AG and Diamond D – Put It In Your System
Half Hearted Hero – Colder Weather
Bury Tomorrow – You & I
Gift Of Gab – Escape 2 Mars
The Narrator – SurfJew
2562 – like a dream
The Elephants – Take it!
Blacks – 5,4,3,2,1
We Came As Romans – Intentions
David Bazan – Bless This Mess
C-Mon & Kypski – China
Benny Page & Zero G – pan pipes
Dananananaykroyd – Watch This!
Freestyle Professors – Confuse A Few Feat. Lord Fines
The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song
Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – God Loves You, Michael Chang
anti-pop consortium – Shine
The Dorktones – Three’s A Crowd
xx – Islands
Seekae – Void
The Clientele – Share The Night
Wienzeile – deine party
Swollen Members – Concerto
Die Fantastischen Vier – Sie Ist Weg
Jap Adaptors – I Am An Ant
The Hidden Cameras – Kingdom Come
Middle Distance Runner – Joyful Noise
Sonic Youth – Sunday