Best of 2009

January 1, 2010

My list ended up changing tremendously by the last day of the year, but here it is!

Best Albums

1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
2. Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
3. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
4. Portugal. The Man – The Satanic Satanist
5. Telefon Tel Aviv – Immolate Yourself
6. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
7. The Antlers – Hospice
8. Jónsi & Alex – Rice Boy Sleeps
9. mewithoutYou – It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright
10. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love
11. Mew – 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
12. Umphrey’s McGee – Mantis
13. Mumford & Songs – Sigh No More
14. Atlas Sound – Logos
15. Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
16. Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs
17. Dan Deacon – Bromst
18. Rx Bandits – Mandala
19. Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing
20. M. Ward – Hold Time
21. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band – Outer South
22. Dredg – The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion
23. Passion Pit – Manners
24. Taken By Trees – East Of Eden
25. Monsters of Folk – Self-Titled
26. Arctic Monkeys – Humbug
27. The XX – XX
28. Boys Noize – Power
29. Cursive – Mama, I’m Swollen
30. Fanfarlo – Reservoir
31. Rodrigo y Gabriela – 11:11
32. Owen – New Leaves
33. Muse – The Resistance
34. Sonic Youth – The Eternal
35. Kevin Devine – Brother’s Blood
36. Person L – The Positives
37. St. Vincent – Actor
38. Volcano Choir – Unmap
39. Bowerbirds – Upper Air
40. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
41. Brand New – Daisy
42. The Mercury Program – Chez Viking
43. Noah and the Whale – The First Days of Spring
44. Regina Spektor – Far
45. Devendra Banhart – What Will We Be
46. Girls – Album
47. WHY? – Eskimo Snow
48. The Appleseed Cast – Sagarmatha
49. The Mountain Goats – The Life of the World to Come
50. Gomez – A New Tide

Best EPs

1. Animal Collective – Fall Be Kind [EP]
2. Andrew Bird – iTunes Session – EP
3. Good Old War/Cast Spells – Split EP
4. Bon Iver – Blood Bank EP
5. Modest Mouse – No One’s First, and You’re Next

Best Soundtracks

1. Where the Wild Things Are
2. Away We Go
3. (500) Days of Summer
4. New Moon
5. Taking Woodstock

Best Album Artwork

1. Portugal. The Man – The Satanic Satanist
2. The Mars Volta – Octahedron
3. Muse – The Resistance
4. Dan Deacon – Bromst
5. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Overall, it was a fantastic year for music. Hardly any let downs among the releases that I paid attention to. 2010’s looking pretty good, too.

lollapalooza!

August 11, 2009

Day One: Friday, 8/7.

It was a rainy, rainy, Friday, but I arrived at the festival with Dylan before noon and immediately went in the (larger than I expected) crowd for Manchester Orchestra.

12:15. They opened with Shake It Out, and proceeded to play mostly songs off of their new album. I love Mean Everything To Nothing, but I was still hoping to hear more songs off of I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child. They continued the set with Pride, In My Teeth, Now That You’re Home, My Friend Marcus, I’ve Got FriendsMean Everything to Nothing, and to my surprise, ended with The River. They were on a headlining stage, and handled the large audience well and played a great set; most people were definitely into it, though there wasn’t a lot of moving around (maybe due to the rain). It was the perfect way to start off day one of the three day event.

3:00. Headed over to BMI, the smallest stage and by far the most conveniently located, as it was towards the middle of the park, and provided the luxury of shade (though that particular day, shade was certainly not what people were looking for), as well as a little bit of shelter from the constant drizzling rain.

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Kevin Devine was playing, accompanied by the Goddamn Band, as usual. Yr Husband was first, followed by Carnival, Another Bag of Bones, No Time Flat, and I Could Be With Anyone.

There was so much energy on stage, even through the rain, that it was hard to make myself leave after only 25 minutes in order to catch the second half of Bon Iver’s set at the PlayStation Stage.

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3:30. The Bon Iver crowd was not at all what I expected it to be, since even in the 10th row, people were conversing as if there was no music being played. It was especially frustrating seeing as Bon Iver’s music is on the quieter side. Cutting straight through the crowd to the front, Dylan and I made it just in time for the end of Flume, and happened to end up right behind two of our friends from back home. Wolves, Re: Stacks, For Emma, and Creature Fear/Team brought an end to the set. I only wish the rest of the crowd had been more attentive; I imagine seeing Bon Iver in a more intimate setting would be much more enjoyable.

5:00. Ended up staying in the crowd after Bon Iver, since we were in the 4th row and Fleet Foxes were playing on that same stage in an hour (Being up front for them was an opportunity I was not willing to pass up, so STS9 and Thievery Corporation had to be skipped). The hour of waiting went by quickly, as we had a hilarious encounter with a drunk girl and her boyfriend, who ended up having to leave before Fleet Foxes even came on. Sun Giant was the first song, and their vocal harmonies were even more beautiful in person than on CD- something I did not think was possible. As the set continued, I became more and more mesmerized with each song; Sun It Rises, Drops in the River, English House, White Winter Hymnal, Ragged Wood, Your Protector, Tiger Mountain Peasant Song, He Doesn’t Know Why, Mykonos, and of course, Blue Ridge Mountains.

They made fun of the fact that they were one of the few bands at the festival who completely lacked a rock edge, and talked about the density of their beards. I was delighted to discover each of them had a great sense of humor as well as extraordinary musical ability. 

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6:00. Caught half of the Decemberists’ set across the way at the Budweiser stage. They decided to play all of The Hazards of Love, as they did when I saw them at Radio City in June. It wasn’t nearly as impressive without the lights show that usually makes the set more dramatic, but the vocals of Colin and the two female vocalists sounded flawless.

6:30. At this point, we were beginning to realize how cold we were; it hadn’t stopped drizzling all day. We headed over to Perry’s, the all day/all night electronica stage where it was always a party, to warm up in the A-Trak crowd. We only stayed for a few songs.

7:00. Returned to the PlayStation stage to see Andrew Bird, and made our way through the crowd toward the front with little difficulty. Fiery Crash was the first song, and I knew right away it was going to be a fantastic set. Masterswarm, Opposite Day, Fitz and the Dizzyspells, Oh No, Effigy, Not A Robot But A Ghost, Anonanimal, Imitosis, Scythian Empires, Tables and Chairs, and Fake Palindromes made up the rest of the set. Like the Decemberists, I was much more impressed by his performance at Radio City in June, but he still sounded wonderful.

Day one was sick, though I had no idea at the time what I was in store for the next day..

Andrew Bird – 6/18/09

June 22, 2009

I went to see Andrew Bird on Thursday night at Radio City, with Calexico opening, and for the first time actually had good seats in the venue. Calexico was fantastic, and were impressive enough to make me buy their latest CD in the lobby right after their performance. Andrew’s set, however, was what really blew me away. He began alone on stage, with just his violin in hand, took off his sequined shoes, and started to play the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard come out of the instrument that I myself have been playing for seven years. The sound was then blended with that of a clarinet, and the duet lasted for a few minutes, as the stage behind started to glow. Three objects that looked like phonographs were on stage, the one in the middle spinning quickly every time Andrew began his trademark whistling in an eerie manner. It was beautiful and bizarre at the same time.

The rest of the set included:
-Sweetbreads
-Fiery Crash
-Opposite Day
-Fitz and the Dizzyspells
-Masterswarm
-Oh No
-Effigy
-Anonanimal
-Imitosis
-Cataracts
-Skin Is, My (With Calexico)
-Scythian Empires (With Calexico)
-Tables and Chairs (With Calexico)
(Encore)
-Why
-Don’t Be Scared
-Fake Palindromes

Andrew’s looping ability was among the aspects of the performance that impressed me the most, along with how effortlessly he was able to switch from plucking to bowing to guitar playing, and go from singing a vast range of notes to whistling to talking to the audience; he also had a refreshing sense of humor. It was unbelievable to watch.