….here are the songs I can’t and won’t be separated from, dug up and gilded in 2009.
The only Ngoni (sort of an African banjo) player on the list, this Malian captures the spirit of his country with a little help from Toumani Diabate and his kin Kasse Mady.
(From I Speak Fula via Sub Pop Records)
I shame myself by leaving Wilco so far down the list, when in fact they are a favorite. They just weren’t on my radar much this year. “One Wing” gives a tour of all Wilco is capable of…..and then some.
(From Wilco the Album via Nonesuch Records)
Usually Ohio is just some other state you drive through to a bigger, better place. These guys make it a lovely destination. Come on by, you can stay on my couch.
(From Oh my God, Charlie Darwin via Nonesuch Records)
(From Camino via Big Dog)
(From Warship self-released)
I have no idea how to describe this song. This is a good thing.
(From Love Comes Close via Matador)
This blind couple from Bamako makes some of the most experimental music coming out of Africa right now. This is best illustrated by “Batoma”, which starts off with a synthy groove and continues with sweet, sweet guitar melodies.
(From Welcome to Mali via Because Music)
“I’m a Pilot” gives me both my Beirut and Arcade Fire fixes, conveniently in one package. March down a road to this proudly.
(From Reservoir via Atlantic Recordings)
I can’t resist a good British crooner. Richard Hawley is perfect in this song; deep and alone.
(From Truelove’s Gutter via Mute Records)
With some of the most epic battle cries I’ve ever heard in a song, AU brings the full force of it’s wrath upon Ida; who walked away. Pity her.
(From Versions via Aagoo Records)
This song is good old fashioned boot-stompin’ music. What makes it special is the backing vocals and the guitar place front and center.
(From Welcome Joy via Matador)
This is as good as Camera Obscura gets; string-filled and finger-pointing. “French Navy” tells of a happy woman who failed in love.
(From My Maudlin Career via 4AD)
There are no instruments in this song. In this live, untitled track from Daytrotter Julianna Barwick uses a looping machine to layer her voice until she brings you to bursting.
(Unreleased track, via Daytrotter.com)
The Gossip’s “Heavy Cross” brought out my inner lesbian. Ok, so a lot of songs bring out my inner lesbian, but this was the only one this year.
(From Music for Men via Sony)
Tempered trance music for a controlled blur of your senses. Slow and steady makes an unforgiving beat. Perfect.
(From Machine Dreams via Peacefrog Holdings Ltd.)
Bat for Lashes writes her songs while dreaming. No joke. In “Moon and Moon” she communes with two spirits of the night that take her flying.
(From Two Suns via EMI Records)
Layers and layers of chocolate guitars; smooth and satisfying. Kurt Vile is new on the block, but has managed to make some of the most dynamic fuzz-rock to date. Is this song about fruit or technology? You decide.
(From Childish Prodigy via Matador)
Songs just don’t do this. A torrent of static threatens to drown Laura Gibson’s voice at any moment. It’s entrancing.
(From Beasts of Seasons via HUSH Records)
(From her Fresh from the Garden tour EP, self-released)
The credit goes to Small Black for the frame, but applause goes to Ernest Greene of Washed Out for the plumage. An amazing song of understanding awaits you.
(From Small Black EP via Cass Club)
To me, this song represents a friend of mine; soft, decisive, but with a hidden edge. You’ll walk to your doom with a smile while this song plays in your heart.
(From You Are the One I Pick via Kranky Records)
A wonderfully unique song from a very unique U.K band. Falsetto repeatedly meets baritone in this swinger. MMmmm! So good.
(From Two Dancers via Domino Recording Co.)
Three ladies called Mountain Man straddle the wilderness, shouting with harmonies straight from the best Appalachian family bands of the 1920’s.
(From Mountain Man, self-released)
Australian Annabel Alpers bombards you with stratospheric chorals and sweet electronic arpeggios in mirrored forms. You’ll think the next dimension is only steps away. Go for a walk.
(From My Electric Family via Drag City)
An amazing group of kids from Cincinnati, they evoke the vocals of The Format while professing the guitars of The Strokes. This song begs you to come play and ride roller-coasters with it. Pomegranates are making the most joy-inducing music.
(From Everybody, Come Outside! via Lujo Records)
She was a faith buy for me in Ireland. Which makes her music all the more epic due to it’s quality. “Cosmic Love” boasts too much of something most songs don’t even have; passion. And harps. Even if you wanted to, you can’t contain this track, and you won’t want to.
(From Lungs via Universal Island Records)
Ernest Greene made this music in his bedroom. And according to iTunes, I’ve played this song 89 times. There is no reason you shouldn’t have this song. As this list goes on, I’ll be resorting more to grunts and sighs. Washed Out and his 6 song EP warbles you to acquiescence. Sigggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
(From Life of Leisure via Mexican Summer)
Uttered not a word did I all year for fear of ruining a blessed thing. Le Loup‘s sophomore album bathes in harmonies and camp fire sing-a-longs. “A Celebration” and it’s 8 minute opus brings you to bursting, and then lets you fall. This a band/song you need to hear, for your future children’s sake, because it’s proven to increase fertility each time you listen to it.
(From Family via Hardly Art Records)
“Anna” by Taken by Trees starts with Pakistani children singing, brings a Panda Bear into the mix, and then plucks you to ecstasy. Victoria Bergsman, formerly of The Concretes, has always had a hidden voice. But she leads and conquers here.
(From East of Eden via Rough Trade)
There are some moments in life where spoken words won’t express what you want. Purely one of the most lovely and insidiously catchy songs I’ve ever heard is sung by a woman named Merrill Garbus a.k.a Tune-Yards.
A girl feeling ugly sings about an ugly feeling put there by another. She peels your ears and reveals a thought you’ve had about yourself.
(From Bird-Brains via Marriage Records)
Happy New Year!