2009: My Top #25


17 Dic 2009, 14:54

#1 Sleepy Sun - Embrace
Guess I gotta thank The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound for putting me onto this marvelous group. When I found out vocalists Rachael Williams and Bret Constantino were to record with Assemble Head on their own latest outing I thought I'd better check them out to keep me busy while i patiently waited for "When Sweet Sleep Returned". As it turned out "Embrace" caught me totally off guard, and blew me the fuck away. Better than anything i could have expected. I've been keeping tabs on them all year, checking out videos of all their performances and i gotta admit I'm a total sucker for everything they do. Ridiculously awesome riffs, lovely spacey jams. They've another new album just around the corner, and from what I've heard so far it's going to slaughter!

#2 Sholi - Sholi
If it weren't for the now-defunct indiepassion blog i'd have never discovered this wonderful and totally unique gem. It was the first album to blow me away this year, way back in early February. Some would carelessly tag this as indie garbage but that simply isn't the case. The musicianship and songwriting is very unique, with each song comes a lovely melody as well as an excellent aggressive drive. Their style is balanced, emotive, hypnotic, intelligently composed and all the while incredibly technical. Oh, and i didn't even mention the drumming on this record. Good lord, just get it and listen to the dude tear it up! - P.S. "Spy In The House of Memories" totally sounds like some modern indie/King Crimson hybrid, really fucking cool.

#3 The Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound - When Sweet Sleep Returned
I've mentioned it a dozen times prior, but god damn it do love Tee Pee Records. Everything they put out is golden, and this was no exception. I was completely obsessed with Assemble Head last year when i discovered their previous record "Ekranoplan". There's just something about their sound that i can come back to again and again. Not to harp on the meaningless, but i'd unkowingly rack up 50+ spins of their albums and have them jump up into my most played here on last.fm without even knowing it (and certainly without getting sick of them). While they might not have changed it up much from album to album, it's certainly no less enjoyable. Can't wait to see what they do next. If it's more of the same i won't mind at all.

#4 Ancestors - Of Sound Mind
Ancestors' 2008 debut was one of my favourites so naturally i was keeping tabs on this baby! What we have here is essentially 4 fucking huge pieces, each clocking in at around 15 minutes - and a series of short and contrasting interludes. They've added so much to their already-scorching sound here and almost sound like a completely different band. The production is truly something to behold. I absolutely love the keys spread all over this album, the bluesy guitar solo's are very tasty as well. Running in at just over an hour usually pushes it for me, but i still didn't want this one to end. It smacked me right from the get-go. Keep an ear out for these heavy motherfuckers!

#5 The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
The Decemberists' earlier work never really clicked with me, but to be fair i don't think i ever really gave them a chance. It was because of this i was completely blown away with "Hazards", a beautiful collection of songs and recurring themes all arranged to perfection. That break down in "A Bower Scene" is one of the coolest things i've heard in a long time! Gotta give their earlier stuff a second chance asap.

#6 Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Up From Below
The buzz on this crazy bunch has been steadily picking up momentum ever since the Letterman performance earlier in the year. It seems as if everyone who caught them that night instantly fell in love with them. I managed to pick a copy up from Amazon for pocket change and now it's become one of my favourites of the year. It's big and wild, easy to sing along with, completely over the top and most importantly, it's just a really entertaining listening experience.

#7 Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue
I really didn't know what to expect with this. It's good enough to hold up to the band's legacy, and at this point in time i guess that's all we can ask of it. I still don't really like "Lessons Learned" and "Take Her Out", they both seem like filler in my opinion, but everything else holds up. "When The Sun Rose Again" is excellent. The highlight has to be the haunting "Private Hell", which one could guess narrates Layne's final days, as well as the closing title track which ends too quickly, further serving it's purpose. A fitting tribute to Layne, and a fitting swan song for the band should they choose not to continue.

#8 Greater California - All the Colors
This here's another gem i stumbled upon while browsing the aforementioned indiepassion blog. They're from Long Beach, L.A. Road trips, cookouts, sunny days and beaches, Pet Sounds and nostalgia. All that good cheesy stuff comes to mind. Produced by Ikey Owens of TMV but don't let that give you the wrong impression. This is totally melancholic and chilled. My favourite "midnight album" of the year.

#9 Imaad Wasif - The Voidist
Given Tee Pee Records' reputation as one helluva heavy label i gotta admit i was a little hesitant while reading about this Canadian fella, who is primarily known as the touring guitarist for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I decided to check out all three of his solo albums, including this, his latest. The debut was very dark and mellow which brang to mind Elliott Smith at first. In contrast, his second album "Strange Hexes" with his current backing band Two Part Beast (a modern Crazy Horse in the making) is fucking loud, and it fucking rocks! His latest "The Voidist" mixes the two elements into one great and unique record. Clearly his best so far.

#10 Balmorhea - All Is Wild, All Is Silent
Gotta be honest, I didn't think much of this after my first few listens. A few months after release i returned to it and it slowly infected my psyche. Every time i listen i imagine some wonderful film in which this would comfortably suit as a score. The landscapes of No Country & There Will Be Blood come to mind. Hell I've never even visited the US, but i sure do love Balmorhea's latest Americana-tinged release.

#11 Stardeath and White Dwarfs - The Birth
Hot damn, this caught me by suprise! Absolutely love the Floyd influence. But there is really so much more going on here, hell i was half expecting Coyne No. 2 to rap along with that wicked digi-happy beat from "I Can't Get Away". The best Coyne-family release of the year! Bring on that family gathering-dsotm cover already.

#12 A.A. Bondy - When The Devil's Loose
A.A. Bondy has been one of my favourite folk discoveries of the last few years. He obviously takes his cue from the greats, and it shows. However it's this sophomore release of his where he's really fleshed out his own familiar sound. "A Slow Parade" & "Oh The Vampyre" are two of my favourite songs of the year.

#13 Truckfighters - Mania
These guys have been steadily chugging along as the new Kyuss over in their native Sweden for a few years now. From release to release they have tightened up a little but this here, their latest, is the real deal. They really stretched out here and it's payed off as one of the best rock albums of the year, for me anyway. It's straight up classic desert rock with a little 90's grunge thrown in for good measure. Tell me the vocal harmonies on the closer "Blackness" don't sound a hell of a lot like Cantrell and Staley! Awesome.

#14 Kings of Convenience - Declaration of Dependence
This is wonderful late night listening. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's just as excellent at all times of the day and night. I probably won't listen to it a whole lot but when those nights come this is what I'll be reaching for. I'm liking it better than their previous so far.

#15 Hopewell - Good Good Desperation
Leave science behind and imagine for a moment if you will, a mass orgy the likes nobody has ever seen before, in which Perry Farrell and his original band of addicts somehow, someway, impregnate Jason Simon and his band, Dead Meadow. Stay with me.. ok so these four or five little messed up children grow up and form a band of their own, yeah you know it, Hopewell. The science works!

#16 Mouse on the Keys - An Anxious Object
Discovered this fantastic Japanese jazz band from TheSirensSound blog last year. The drumming especially is excellent. The second half of the album in particular is mind blowing. The funky 'Double Bind' has one of my favourite beats in a long long time. The next track 'Soil' cruises along at a nice pace before unleashing an absolutely incredible extended sax solo, the definitive highlight of the album for me. Good funky jazz fusion/post-rock with nice beats, a fun listen.

#17 Black Math Horseman - Wyllt
Progsychedoomic-Metal? Nah, fuck tags. But this is a welcomed fresh breath among those genres mentioned. The whole album is solid but i have to mention the closing track. Boy oh boy is it heavy. One of my favourites of the year. Lead singer Sera Timms has one hell of a possessed, demonic-like howl to her. Yes, her.

#18 Blakroc - Blakroc
I didn't even see this one coming. I'm not the biggest fan of The Black Keys but i like what they did here and in turn i guess I gotta check out more of their work. A few of the MC's annoy me but for the most part i enjoy it all. I love the first Mos Def track, as well as the RZA & Pharoahe track the most. I enjoyed the studio videos, seeing how everyone interacted and how the project came about through it's stages. I read they are compiling all that into some kind of documentary soon, should be cool.

#19 Quest for Fire - Quest For Fire
Why is it that when i first seen this creepy artwork of a seemingly drug-fucked human being slobbering all over his/her/it's own breasts (???) I was instantly set on obtaining the album? What does that say about me? At any rate, i did notice this was on the wonderful Tee Pee Records label and knew right away of the quality waiting to be discovered. Fortunately for me, this was but one of the many awesome psych releases of '09.

#20 Shrinebuilder - Shrinebuilder
How could this ever possibly live up to the huge expectations of most fans? I mean let's face it, to have these four influential giantlemen of all things heavy in the same room is fucking big. Having said that, if you can put all that bullshit to the side and just let this one slowly burn through, you WILL see the light! If you dig this, check out the latest Ancestors' record posted up top. Trust me on that.

#21 The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
Strange, strange, strange. I gotta give 'em credit for changing it up, but good lord! All i know is after 5-10 listens of the latest Lips album i still can't quite get my head around it. Like i said, strange. One can only wonder what other kinds of strange Uncle Coyne & co will unearth to us come decade number four! I can't wait to find out.

#22 Mastodon - Crack the Skye
For one reason or another this was my introduction to the mighty Mastodon. Gotta admit this is pretty kick-ass, i don't much care for the vocals though. I see this moving up the list in time. It's been a pretty fucking heavy year though...

#23 Black Bonzo - Guillotine Drama
This was probably my most anticipated album of the year and while it certainly isn't bad, i figure i might have hyped it up too much. Nothing was going to live up to what i was expecting. Hell, i don't even know what i was expecting. I can't really fault the album.. the songs are great and the band is continually adding new and interesting dimensions to their already awesome brand of "retro" prog-rock. Gotta admit that's one god-awful cover design though. I'm just glad this band exists, to be honest.

#24 Serpent Throne - The Battle Of Old Crow
Sabbath worship at it's finest. You could probably con someone into thinking this is a lost Iommi, Geezer & Billy Ward jam record. It really is spot on.. although completely instrumental. Bottom line is while I'm listening to this album it fucking rocks. But when i'm not i tend to completely forget about it. In a way that kind of sums it up. It'd be interesting to hear these guys lay down some vocals on top, but i guess that's not what it's about.

#25 Arctic Monkeys - Humbug
Sure i knew of them and a few of their earlier hits, but until "Humbug" i had never given a shit about the Arctic Monkeys. Decided to check this out after learning of Homme's involvement. Yep, "his" sound is definitely present. This is pretty cool.

Honourable Mentions:
Radio Moscow - Brain Cycles
Mono - Hymn To The Immortal Wind
Pearl Jam - Backspacer
Gösta Berlings Saga - Detta har hänt
Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
Astra - The Weirding
Bowerbirds - Upper Air
Grizzly Bear - Vecktamist
Latitudes - Agonist
John Zorn - O'o
Whitetree - cloudland
Long Distance Calling - Avoid The Light
Hanne Hukkelberg - Blood From a Stone
Dinosaur Jr. - Farm
Zu - Carboniferous
Crystal Antlers - Tentacles
Vetiver - Tight Knit
Foreign Born - Person to Person
Isis - Wavering Radiant
Lisa O Piu - When this was the future

So what do ya think folks? Feel free to comment on any shared tastes or anything else. Come on, let me have it for not ranking "Merriweather Post Pavilion" - you know you want to.

Anyway, that will do for now. Cheers.

Marcus :]


  • OhmyStrogg

    assemble head in s. is very cool indeed i discovered it some weeks ago as of now i just discovered Black Math Horseman very interesting.. enchanting voice good riffs.. i'm gonna check serpent throne out

    29 Dic 2009, 12:34
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