Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best of '09 Part 2/4 (#15 - #11)

Every year, I like to put together a list of my favourite albums from the year. So often, music literally carries me through my day and there's seldom a tea session without it. So, here's part two of my 'Best Albums of 09.' Enjoy!

#15 - I Heart Hiroshima - The Rip

Agitated vocals with twinging guitars, the familiar call and response between male and female vocals, witty lyrics, and very on point drumming. Perhaps this is a guilty pleasure album for me, but that familiar UK post punk grunge sound comes through here. This album has a higher level of production than I would usually expect from this kind of music, but it's driving and catchy, so it works.

#14 Spider + Octopus - La Arana Esta Susurrando

Another throwback album, Spider + Octopus is a folk act from Pensacola. They sound like a pretty small act and I wasn't really able to find out much else about them, other than the fact that their album is available online for $5 USD. Very subtle use of electronics fill out the sound a bit, but this is a very refined, acoustic album. Uneven production makes me think this wasn't all recorded or mastered at the same location. Soulful lyrics, almost raspy at times. The harmonies are well-executed, and there isn't anything that feels rushed about this album. I wasn't expecting it at all when it landed in my hands. Very good storytelling makes this a collection of lovely porch songs.

#13 - Fun. - Aim and Ignite

This album captivated me in a most unusual way. It's very produced, and extremely commercially accessible, yet somehow, it drew me in. I think it has a lot to do with Nate Ruess' vocals. So many of the songs were littered with awkward pauses, cadence changes, time signature changes, and tempo changes, but all done in a fashion to follow the vocals, giving much of this album a sense of diction, similar to the way a musical would jump in and out of song. The theatrical aspect of so much of the music reminds me of a variation of some of what Silverchair was going for with their two most recent albums, but in a more lighthearted fashion.

#12 Cowboy Indian Bear - Cowboy Indian Bear EP

Again, another EP that found it's way into regular rotation this past year. An intriguing group, consisting of drums that feel somewhat off when they're right where they ought to be, harmonies that remind me of chant, and an electric orgran that makes the hair on my neck stand on end, this is a band that I see having some absolute promise. The first track, Saline, opens slow and mellow, with the drums beating in the background like a pulsing heart, until about halfway through the song when everything comes together, distortion pedals click into the on postition, drums pick up and suddenly the band says "just kidding, here's what we're really all about." Very intricate drumming at points, but never to the point where it takes away from the music, but instead directs it in and out of the beat as tempo and back-beat bop back and forth flawlessly. Can't wait until they finish their album, but until then, this has to suffice.

#11 Owen - New Leaves

This is a band that continues to deliver fantastic music at every turn. Mike Kinsella got married, had a kid, and somehow put together arguably one of, if not, the best albums of his career. From a technical stance, this is more put together than prior albums and the production is top notch. Lyrically, you might think becoming a family man would help him sort things out, but that's not always the case. It's full of confusion and questions. It's intelligently dark, and somehow reminds us that nobody has it all. Thanks Mike, now go spend some time with your kid.

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