Music of 2009

I haven’t done a yearly summary of music the past couple of years, but for whatever reason I figured I’d get back into it for 2009.

Yet there are some hesitations whenever doing a list like this. For starters, I haven’t heard all the music from 2009 I wanted to hear yet. Plus, music released at the end of the year is at a disadvantage because I haven’t had as much time to let it grow.

So this isn’t so much a best of list. It’s just what I think is notable and what I enjoyed in 2009 with commentary where appropriate. And rather than get all verbose like some year-end lists I’ll just list some stuff out and put a sample in from Lala if I can (which you may need to actually go to my site to get).

Here goes.

A Strange Arrangement – Mayer Hawthorne

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I really liked this album. I don’t know if soul music is coming back in full swing, but if it is I hope this is leading the way.

If this list were about declaring album of the year this is probably where I would do it. But there’s no telling if I’d feel the same way six months from now.

Recommended tracks:

  • A Strange Arrangement
  • Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out
  • Maybe So, Maybe No.

Horror Disco – Bottin

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A dark electronic instrumental album with a beat. I think I read some reviews stating this could easily be the playlist of a zombie night club. I don’t know about that, but I’m not a zombie either.

Recommended tracks:

  • No Static
  • Slashdance

Act II: The Father of Death – The Protomen

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I hadn’t heard of the Protomen before this past fall, but I wish I did. The Protomen’s albums are basically rock-operas loosely based on the Mega Man games. Their second release, Act II: The Father of Death, takes place before the events of the game, telling the story of the early rivalry between Dr. Light and Dr. Wily.

Recommended tracks:

  • Keep Quiet
  • Breaking Out

Michael Jackson

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I bet everyone heard a bit more Michael Jackson in 2009 than they usually do.

Manners – Passion Pit

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This could be another contender for album of the year for me. After hearing Chunk of Change in late 2008 the countdown for Manners began. I think Passion Pit may be doing for synths what Ben Folds did for pianos back in the 90s. Or maybe Hot Chip did that first.

Still, Passion Pit may be hit or miss depending on how fast you can get over the lead vocals. I used to think the lead singer was a woman. Nowadays I try not to think about it.

Recommended tracks:

  • Eyes As Candles
  • The Reeling

Numbers Lucent – Squarepusher

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I liked this more than the full length Just A Souvenir. While Squarepusher has been adding a bit more bass guitar into releases, Numbers Lucent explores more of the earlier DnB style.

Recommended tracks:

  • Heliacal Torch
  • Star Time 1

Valerie and Friends – Various Artists

The Valerie collective is a group of artists based in Paris with a modern take on 80s electro.

Recommended tracks:

  • Daytona – Russ Chimes
  • Faces – Electric Youth
  • Starlighter – Jupiter

Mama Used To Say – Jupiter

Speaking of Jupiter, I couldn’t get enough of their cover of Junior’s Mama Used To Say.

Nightdrive With You – Anoraak

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Part of the Valerie collective. This was released in 2008, but I listened to this a lot in 2009.

Recommended tracks:

  • Nightdrive With You

Immolate Yourself – Telefon Tel Aviv

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The opening track, The Birds, may be the best album opener of 2009.

Recommended tracks:

  • The Birds
  • Stay Away From Being Maybe

Sexuality – Sébastien Tellier

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Another Frenchman. Produced with Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk, which should give you an idea of what to expect. This was a 2008 release, but I didn’t hear it until the summer of 2009.

Recommended tracks:

  • Kilometer
  • Look
  • Pomme

Infinity + 1 – A-Trak

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A-trak’s dance compilation, featuring a great remix of Sébastien Tellier’s Kilometer.

Recommended tracks:

  • Kilometer (A-track Remix) – Sébastien Tellier
  • Galactic Fun – Dam Funk

This Is My Shit – 80kidz

First heard of 80kidz on an EP by Danger. New rave from Japan, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to their album which is, thankfully, devoid of any sort of anime influence you may expect from the land of the rising sun. Sounds like a more polished Digitalism, maybe.

Recommended tracks:

  • She (Vocal:Autokratz)
  • Arab Hertz Club

Listening Tree – Tim Exile

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Listening Tree sounds a bit like Plaid and Depeche Mode had a baby.

That’s a good thing, because it sounds less like pop and more like electronic art songs to me, as pretentious as that seems. Just listen to the vocals of Family Galaxy – sounds like they’re being triggered from a sampler instead of sung on top of the instruments.

Recommended tracks:

  • Family Galaxy
  • Don’t Think We’re One
  • Carouselle

Avoiding the risk of going on and on and on, I think this is a good place to stop.

But there are more than a few honorable mentions.

  • Junior – Røyksopp
  • My Guilty Pleasure – Sally Shapiro
  • Totems Flare – Clark
  • You Can’t Take It With You – As Tall As Lions
  • Veckatimest – Grizzly Bear
  • Two Suns – Bat For Lashes
  • Things Are What They Used To Be – Zoot Woman
  • Take My Breath Away – Gui Boratto
  • Spirit Animal – Zombi
  • Rules – The Whitest Boy Alive
  • Ray Guns are Not Just The Future – The Bird and the Bee
  • No More Stories Are Told Today I’m Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories the World Is Grey I’m Tired Let’s Wash Away – Mew
  • Moderat – Moderat
  • Just Saying Is All – Mux Mool
  • Heaven’s Door – Plaid
  • Friends of Friends – Daedelus and Jogger
  • Begone Dull Care – Junior Boys