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Sunday, 20 December 2009

Greatest Albums of 2009. #5. - #1.

Continued from PART THREE.
5. Girls - Album (September 22, 2009)
(Surfer Pop/Indie Rock/Beach Punk)
"Girls (original post) are a set of 60s revivalist musicians, partly because it's the music they love, and partly because its all lead singer Christopher Owens was ever exposed to during his childhood and teenage years. He grew up in the American Christian cult Children of God, and despite leaving as a teenager, he was always restricted to old films and movies, and music created exclusively within its member circle. It makes the fact that his band, Girls, have pulled off such a brilliant debut album even better. The album is psychedelic shoegaze pop 40-50 years out of time. Its Buddy Holly and Beach Boys influenced surf music, with bubblegum pop melodies coated in loud reverbial, lo-fi strumming..."

read the original review on my blog / on indieshuffle

Album on Amazon

Girls - Summertime (MP3) (link removed by request)

4. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - S/T (February 3, 2009)
(Shoegaze/Indie Pop/Twee)
Pains of Being Pure at Heart (previous posts) are a shoegaze pop band formed in New York in 2007 . Their eponymous debut album came out on Slumberland records early this year and with it, they burst straight on to the musical radars of most of the blogosphere. They take elements of early 90s shoegaze and elements of twee and noise pop - with the boy/girl vocals of Kip Berman and Peggy Wang dubbed beneath heavy overdriven rock songs. The result is an adrenaline pumping hazy pop album, going along its way with all the naivety and energy of youth and the controlled aggression of Jesus & Mary Chain. Stay Alive is one of the slower tracks, but also one of the most mature - starting out with acoustics and developing into a euphoric outro, the track shows off Pains' versatility around what has always been a genre so tightly defined.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
- Stay Alive (MP3) (link removed by request)

Pains of Being Pure at Heart on Amazon

3. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More (October 5, 2009)

I first introduced Mumford & Sons on the blog back in January 2009, tipping them as a potential next big thing. They were probably my most accurate prediction for this year. They went on to release one of my favourite folk albums ever in the form of Sigh No More. It is ultimately a bluegrass album, in the sense that it is folk music, but folk music with particularly traditional roots. In London's growing folk scene, lead singer Marcus Mumford started out as the backing drummer for Laura Marling's travelling band - and by supporting her live show is how Mumford & Sons' popularity and following really took off. Incidentally, I came across them at a small cafe at Glastonbury Festival and the performance was stunning, they had cider splashing everywhere and people dancing on the tables. Again, in Southampton this Autumn, they repeated. The album captures the sense of personality and intimacy that Marcus Mumford projects so well from the live show. I frequently rave about Mumford & Sons on the blog, so for more music and more musings - check out my previous posts.

Mumford & Sons
- Awake My Soul (MP3) (link removed by request)

Sigh No More on Amazon

2. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca (June 9, 2009)
(Experimental/Indie Pop/Psychedelic)
I have to admit I hadn't actually heard of Dirty Projectors until their 'Dark Was The Night' charity collaboration with David Byrne rose to fame. What I thought was just a catchy and different track 'Knotty Pine' led me to discover what would later be one of my favourite albums of the year. Bitte Orca is remarkable in that most of the tracks on it use a notably simple set up - acoustic guitars, bass, drums, perhaps a synthesizer of some sort - but create music which is like nothing you've ever heard before. Parts sound like RnB, and others like Menomena-inspired erratic indie rock. There are electro-acoustic melodies flying off everywhere, and somewhat directionless vocals to match. Once more, all the members have mind-blowingly good voices. Nearly all members of the Dave Longstreth-headed folk collective sing, and, currently made up of 4 females and 2 males, the band create mathematically brilliant harmonies - all the time managing to keep the songs addictive and engaging. This album was remarkably close to becoming my album of the year - it was pipped at the post by what is to come. Pick up track Temecula Sunrise and hear Dave Longstreth conquer music theory with this manic, offbeat fingerpicked track.

Bitte Orca on Amazon

Dirty Projectors
- Temecula Sunrise (MP3) (link removed by request)

1. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (January 9, 2009)

I think from the second Animal Collective's fourth full-length played through on my itunes at the beginning of this year - i knew that if it didn't place very highly on my end of year list, then it would have been by some distance the best year for music the world had ever seen. Its a fairly unanimous album of the year for most - from a well-established band who, via one album release, have turned their attentions from pleasing their hardcore band of followers to challenging the listening habits of all of us with smaller attention spans. Using a combination of whirlwind synths, heavy stabbing bass beats and barely within time scatty electronic rhythms - graced with the emotionless vocals and psychedelic senseless lyrics, Animal Collective have made one of the most innovative musical steps of this year. My Girls is a runaway track of 2009 for me, and no matter how much Pitchfork stick I might get for this list I am in no way ashamed to let Animal Collective top it. They gave me one of the best gigs of my life at Glastonbury Festival, and a truly forward thinking album. I can't thank this band enough for Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Read my original posts on this band.

Animal Collective - My Girls (MP3) (link removed by request)

Merriweather Post Pavilion on Amazon


  1. Good stuff, Discovered a few new bands with this list :D

  2. Big thumbs up for The xx and The Antlers. You've set up several bands/artists for me to explore, thanks!

  3. Very, very nice list here.

  4. This is like identical to the pitchfork list. turd

  5. antlers should be way higher. also white lies is pretty good.

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  7. I’ve recently discovered your music blog while blog hopping and look forward to revisiting, I love best of the year lists like this one!
    I would appreciate it, if you, and others, would become a “follower” of my new movie + music blog, just to help get it going:


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