Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top 10 albums for 2009

I’m a formerly run-of-the-mill music consumer who still needs to get his pop fix via a physical album/cd/whatever. I tend to acquire 50+ albums a year from all sorts of sources and eras, so my annual highlights only reflect what I picked up that year, with a mix of old (but new-to-me) and new releases. I also lean more towards vinyl than CD or download releases, so my acquisitions tend to skew in that direction. Sound quality, especially in the mastering process, also is pretty important to me, and tends to lead me away from a lot of hyper-compressed indie releases (Flaming Lips and anything else touched by David Friddman, I’m looking at you.) That said, here’s my little list:

Voivod, Nothingface. I remember a tour ad for these Montreal metalers in the back of some mag back in the 80’s with Soundgarden and Faith No More supporting. I picked up some early, crappy quality, pre-greatness ‘albums’ on eMusic some 10 years ago but didn’t pay much attention to their generic thrash. This mid-period classic, however, is the shit- think Pink Floyd and Rush meet 80’s Metallica and some SciFi lyrics/mythology and this is just amazing metal. Easily my best find in 2009.

Killing Joke, Killing Joke. Strange as it may seem, this dumb hick farmboy from Orange County, VT (me) once was big into Industrial; the whole Wax Trax!/Chicago/Europe thump and clang ‘dance’ scene. While that stuff from the late 80’s-early 90’s has not aged gracefully, this groundbreaker from 1980 is simply stunning; think of it as post-punk proto-industrial metal with a solid, organic groove. Vinyl score from Burlington Records, certainly not expecting to see that.

Dinosaur Jr., Farm. Like many folks from my generation, DJ are considered a pretty solid act in my world, discounting of course their mid-late 90’s crap. After last year’s unexpected and solid reunion, this release proves the boys can still rock as well as they did in their late 80’s prime.Awesome album cover, btw.

Neko Case, Middle Cyclone. Call me a fanboy, but I just love NC. Sure, the new one has upped the pop quotient, but is that such a bad thing? And given the pile of poo nominated for Grammy’s this year (especially see the album of the year category), it’s great that someone of her talent is recognized by the powers-that-were.

Booker T, Potato Hole. Great set from the king of instrumental soul with solid backing from the do-no-wrong Drive-By Truckers. Side note- when the hell are DBT coming to this town?

Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes. Yeah, FF are so 2008, but I’m behind the curve on these cool indie-rock things nowadays. Besides, I wait until I see everyone else’s ‘best-of’ lists before getting too excited about the flavor of the week. Anyway, picked this LP up at PP and boy is it worth the hype. I guess I’ll have to write about Grizzly Bear in 2010??

Robyn Hitchcock, I Wanna Go Backwards Box Set. Another oldie (from 80’s, reissued in 2006?), but a killer set from this crown prince of pop psychedelia. I have a good number of RH and the Egyptians records which feature more fleshed out (i.e. electric) weirdo pop, often brilliant, so I have no need for the second set, Groovy Decay. This material from both pre- and post-Egyptians is essential. To hell with the Beatles remasters, this is what the music world needs more of. Yep Roc Records.

Tiger Trap, Tiger Trap. Slightly twee girly punky-pop from the mid-90’s. Vinyl copies are pretty hard to find and at times pricey, I’ve seen up to $50. Picked this off a random eBay auction for $15, sealed.

The Go-Betweens, Oceans Apart. Picked this LP up straight from Yep Roc Records when they were having a $5 vinyl sale. What little bit I’ve heard from these late Aussie indie-poppers is just great. I love the bouncy opening cut, “Here Comes a City.”

Pearl Jam. As a child of the 80’s-early 90’s, I’ll always have a spot for these guys in the rotation. Countless hours were spent bombed out and bombing around in the (Che)Vette with Ten cranked, but I recognize that they are certainly not cultural icons. They play rock and roll, nothing more nothing less, and continue to do a great job at it. So in 2009 I picked up the Ten LP rerelease with the new Brendan O’Brien remix that really does add a ‘sparkle’ to the record. Also got Backspacer on LP, and I give “The Fixer” a vote as pop single of the year. Finally saw VS. on cd and picked it up, only copy I’ve ever had is a Memorex tape dupe. I might say that they’ve never bettered that one.


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