Friday, January 22, 2010

Brain Buzzin' Best of, 2009 Edition


What a year 2009 proved to be. Looking back as I have -over the past five weeks, I'm consistently overwhelmed at the quality of records generated within this our favorite genre. As you'll soon see. I'm getting ahead of myself. Like last year I've assembled a team of fellow music-obsessives who I know treat music as oxygen, a "must-have" for life. I think you'll be well served by the breadth & depth of their choices as Best Of 2009 because they come from all over the planet and with a unique perspective on what constitutes inclusion.

Also, allow me a moment to state I'm baffled by how a Best of year-end list can come out in mid-December when the year's not over. How's that possible, or fair? Hell, I had enough trouble in a rush to judgement to fulfill an obligation to the radio station which broadcasts my show. They wanted a list by Jan. 1. I scoffed. But I donned the headphones and over the New Year's weekend listened to 60+ albums, again, to assess and reassess, ad inf., my list for submission. Since then, three weeks to be exact, I've constantly kept up my self-imposed pressure to properly sort out a definitive best of and believe my final list to be such a thing.

As the Idle Race famously said: "On with the show...."

( Editor's Note: submissions of our guests are posted in alphabetical order.)

#1 - Kenny Bloggins, The Decibel Tolls

(Editor's Note: Reprinted with kind permission from his website; originally posted Dec. 18th.)

Time again for the obligatory year end list. However, ours is a bit different than others you may have seen. For example, this list is not enumerated. Empirically ranking albums rather trivializes the music, yes? Nor is the list in any particular order, save for the fact that we assembled it based loosely on aesthetics – meaning, we encourage you to mash on the little javascript media player in the bottom left-hand corner and enjoy our best-of picks as a mixtape or an uninterrupted block of music. Not only is this a fine collection of altered states laments, but each and every one of these albums is better than the Grizzly Bear borecore collection. Believe it!

Broadcast & The Focus GroupInvestigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
Outside Trish Keenan’s traditional channeling of Margo Guryan and The United States of America and Julian House’s spooky samples, it’s hard to distinguish where Broadcast ends and The Focus Group begins. The collaboration is seamless and ornate, and is a strong addition to the flawless curriculum vitae for both Broadcast and The Focus Group.

White RainbowNew Clouds
Did you know ambient music can be funky? When White Rainbow drops the tablas on his bliss outs, it’s time to hit the floor.

Tickley FeatherHors D’oeuvres
A more optimistic and concise effort, yet still saturated with her signature melted synths, junky keyboards, cough syrup vocals, and general underwater timbre, Hors D’oeuvres finds Tickley Feather as the compromise between Movietone and Ariel Pink.

A Sunny Day in GlasgowAshes Grammar
Explosive dream pop with a slight electro edge, A Sunny Day in Glasgow burn the best sounds of Flying Saucer Attack and Cocteau Twins together in the same white-washed celestial head stew.

Nothing PeopleLate Nite
A west coast sludgy summoner of stoner rock, Nothing People’s Late Nite is a less spastic and noisy sophomore effort, straddling the median tremolo-saturated, syrupy acid rock and shoegaze – another definitive post-millennial primer for more ominous trips down the rabbit hole.

WoodsSongs of Shame
Songs of Shame is more extroverted and less antiquated than 08’s At Rear House, and is pushed out of the womb with such fervor that I can finally get behind the strained falsetto, Elliott Smith experiencing zipper-trouble vocals.

Amen DunesDia
More and more artists are paying homage to Thoreau lately and recording their music in the midst of a hermetic retreat. Many return with nothing more than a bruised ego and a full beard. Damon McMahon returned with Dia after his pilgrimage in 2006 to the Catskill Mountains. Both insular and cavernous, this debut LP is an uninhibited trek through McMahon’s psychedelic mindscapes.

Lotus PlazaThe Floodlight Collective
The aural equivalent of an Ektachrome dusk, Lockett Pundt proves himself as Deerhunter’s understated force and the the undeniable ying to Bradford Cox’s yang, pinpointing exactly where and how the band gets its balmy, sedated atmosphere. A gorgeous second-wave shoegaze statement.

DisappearsLive Over the Rainbo
Reverberated fuzzy guitars, punchy rhythm, a shoegaze aesthetic, totally damaging heaviness, and a touch of retro chic on acid – Chicago’s Disappears are everything that’s great about rock and roll. They lit a fire under my ass so severe that I still keep the Solarcaine stocked.

Phantom Family HaloMonoliths & These Flowers Never Die
Phantom Family Halo’s sprawling 2LP post-apocalyptic lament is evil and would make you think Louisville is a scary place or something. While the entire body of work can be classified as psych garage rock or acid rock, the record’s all over the place within the parameters of brain melting. A bit of Boards of Canada style ambient explorations here, a bit of krautrock motorik rhythms by way of Faust there… and then insanely reverberated crunchy guitars ascend from the primordial ooze scary enough to make Fever Ray poo her trou. These dudes are sonic warriors.

Real Estates/t
Phased surf guitar working and a dejected tropical attitude operate in tandem with autumnal acoustic overtones and gossamer melodies to produce something along the lines of a slacker Yo La Tengo.

City Centers/t
City Center was probably recorded underwater. I’m not sure how Fred Thomas did this without shorting out his gear, but this record’s precise aquatic timbre and dark reverb could’ve only been achieved submerged. Another gold star for the sampsycore camp.

Sun ArawHeavy Deeds
Ever since Scratch Perry lost his goddamn mind, we’ve needed someone to don the dub crown. We nominate Sun Araw.

BacheloretteMy Electric Family
New Zealander Annabelle Alpers’ debut for Drag City, and second proper album, has been described by a couple of writers as a sort of quirky “bedroom pop.” I wholeheartedly disagree. My Electric Family is expansive, radical, and ionospheric. Packed with reverb, sweeping moods, and surrealistic lyrical motifs, Bachelorette is way too large for any bedroom. It also has a hypnotic quality so acute and permeating that we can safely say that Alpers has invented “cult pop.”

Times New VikingBorn Again Revisited
The Columbus total damage trio makes Robert Pollard look like Phil Spector. Punk as fuck. And underneath all the shit – great pop songs.

Fungi GirlsSeafaring Pyramids
If there’s anyone that can remove the fashion-conscious aspect of noise-pop that creates filler and polarizes bands like Wavves, it would probably be a bunch of kids in their basement playing to no audience. Recently championed by Psychedelic Horseshit as “the greatest band in the country,” Fungi Girls are these kids, and they’re surprisingly more nihilistic and creeping than most of the recent shitgaze bands who paved the way for them.

ObliskWeather Patterns
True-to-cannon heavy shoegaze with a cavernous and dramatic eastern flair, all focused through the ominous looking-glass of their native Detroit.

Kurt VileChildish Prodigy
Gentle fingerpicking, bright tonal sprays of analog synths, and an impeccable ear for vocal melody holds every song on Childish Prodigy. A disciple of both Neil Young and R. Stevie Moore, Vile’s amalgamation of influences is arresting in both its musical scope and bravado. All the while, Vile’s signature, a bourbon-soaked Avey Tare croon with a shot of impenetrable confidence, steers and unites this eclectic, cohesive work.

Lightning BoltEarthly Delights
While the Bolt hasn’t exactly gone verse-chorus-verse on us just yet, the newfound tightness Earthly Delights is much more structured and, at times, almost hummable compositions. That is not to say that LB has lost any edge, but simply that Earthly Delights throws a little Occam’s Razor into the mix. The group’s opting to keep their disposition a bit simpler and less freeform.

Atlas SoundLogos
Dream folk like “Criminals” makes Logos a good album. Epic motorik anthems mixed in, a la Cox’s collaboration with Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier on “Quick Canal,” make Logos a great album.

NudgeAs Good As Gone
While the subterranean groove and minor key construction evoke a more haunting, nighttime-appropriate flavor, there’s also a visceral optimism that runs underneath the LP like groundwater. Perhaps it’s the playfulness between genres and moods, or the freewheeling construction of the songs… or perhaps not all noise/freak psych kids like to make nihilistic records. Not to be confused with The Nuge.

Tara Jane O’NeilA Ways Away
While some of her recent work has adopted a more intimate and traditional folk approach, A Ways Away is lush, weird, and engrossing. Psych folk is the closest reference point, yet TJO is also entirely something else. In a way, A Ways Away is a return to form and a maturation. The crafty utilization of space and syrupy slow tempo is reminiscent of the Louisville scene in which she came, while at the same time, TJO is fully owning her sound. The result is a beautiful and accessible work that relishes in desolate sounds and bucolic late night wandering.

CastanetsTexas Rose, The Thaw, and The Beasts
Strongest effort from this definitive freak folk collective since Cathedral, and certainly the most ominous of his career and a textbook example of brilliant use of sonic space. Sometimes it’s the notes you don’t play.

Fever Rays/t
Scary-ass Bjork releases a spacious and minimal analog electronic creeper that’s better than The Knife, and comes equipped with the best/funniest lyrics penned in quite some time. Still can’t listen to this shit at night without getting all paranoid in my head tech.

Black to CommAlphabet 1968
Closer in spirit to experimental figures of yesterday like Moondog and Bernard Herrmann than current artists, Marc Richter seems dead set on completely disorienting our frame of reference. Richter does manage to arrive at moments of extremely cinematic avant-garde music that’s unlike much we’ve ever heard before.

Eric CopelandAlien in a Garbage Dump
Even in an increasingly noise-tolerant music culture, this is an adventurous listen, and that alone should have your earbuds watering by now.

Ducktails masterfully crafted an album with a lulled but not quite hypnotizing quality, similar to the nature documentary sound that Boards of Canada achieve, with occasional lo-fi tape tinkering like on “Backyard,” with its phased bucket-toms and Robert Fripp inspired distortion shifting. Beautiful.

Tune YardsBird Brains
Bird-Brains is completely demented and angular, kinda like Xiu Xiu, but without treading the blurry line between “artistic vision” and “sonic bullshit” that Mr. Stewart always straddled firmly. Everything from dub to yoddeling finds itself on what I’d guess you could call a kitchen sink freak folk album. Whatever it is, this shit is gospel.

The Flaming LipsEmbryonic
We’re very pleased to hear that, seemingly, the band is taking acid again.
Worm Mountain

Psychic IllsEyes Closed

Mind altering modulating jungle boogie bogged down on purple drank and tribal bangin’ replete with sinister ragas and general skulduggery, Mirror Eye is one of the more pleasantly evil releases reared in ‘09.

Dragon TurtleAlmanac
Dragon Turtle’s debut, Almanac, is an expansive 45-minute trek that explores an alternating fear and awe of the natural world, and everything in between. They didn’t pack lightly either, hoarding a curious mix of folk, kraut rock, post rock, and small touches of calypso.

Black Moth Super RainbowEating Us
The massive arsenal of antique analog equipment that defined BMSR’s first three albums remains in tact – the vocoder-saturated vocals of Tobacco, the thick and swirling novatrons and mellotrons that cultivated a general feeling of sunshine and old 8mm films about nature, etc. However, Eating Us showcases a more organic band, incorporating more acoustic instrumentation and mellow moods without disregarding the group’s traditional glitchy, Technicolor timbre.

RojThe Transactional Dharma of Roj
The original keyboardist from Broadcast peaks out from his lair to release another fantastic testament for Ghost Box who, like Motown and Creation, created a whole new aesthetic in music. Roj has distinguished himself as the tinty, rhythmic, retro-futuristic sci fi voice in hauntology.

Peaking LightsImaginary Falcons
Super positive rural psychedelia best experienced with peace pipe in hand and vision quest in front. Made from warm tape excursions from them to you. Feels good to vibe this hard.

The girls’ new album Fraushaus! has one foot in the shit-gaze movement and another recalling the gleaming-amateur looseness of the Shaggs, complimented by unexpected touches of found sounds and flea-market synths.

( Editor's Note: Kenny has also listed a Top Ten EPs & Reissues/Compilations; please go HERE to see the lists, as well as take advantage of his embedded tracks within each album's comments.)

#2 - Garwood Pickjon, reviewer at Shindig! & former DJ

(Editor's Note: Most of you will-or should, be aware of Garwood via his spot-on reviews via Shindig! magazine. Ugly Things, too! As well as, Plus he hosted a great radio show in his native Serbia!)

Best ALBUMS in 2009 in alphabetical order (!) ... with the only exception being the first one, which occupies the No.1 spot anyway!

DAN AUERBACH - Keep it hid
Enough of the primal acid blooz wail to keep BK purists satisfied, but it’s the other stuff that make this an actual solo record ... and the best one this year for that matter!

THE AVETT BROTHERS - I and love and You
Stepping into the mainstream after teaming up with Rick Rubin. But losing none of the initial acoustic-driven lo-fi charm.

THE BLACK CROWES - Before the frost ... After the freeze
Never been too much of a fan, but this one’s like a greatest hits collection, not necessarily by the ‘Crowes, but Faces, Creedence Clearwater Revival, CSN and the like.

BRIAN OLIVE - Brian Olive
Stripped down no-production live vibe from ex-Soledad Brothers and Greenhornes multi-instrumentalist ... a good one to replace the missing Edgar Jones solo stuff from previous years

STEVE CRADOCK - The Kundalini target
Debut solo release by Ocean Colour Scene and Weller axeman, which I’d choose over most releases by both.

THE DUKE AND THE KING - Nothing gold can stay
The best Felice Brothers album so far ... it took one of them to actually leave the band and do his own thing.

THE EELS - Hombre Lobo: 12 songs of desire
Bare emotions transferred directly onto tape ... garage punk, acid folk, pop ... sometimes within a single song.

THE HEAVY - The house that dirt built
Raw, dirty, into-your-face, Muscle Shoals inspired soul music as we used to know it ... from England!

MARK & THE SPIES - Give me a look
Powered-up mid’60s Dutchbeat by way The Motions ... throwing in pretty much everything that used to swung the sixties

RADIO MOSCOW - Brain cycles
Acid blues trip by way of classic power-trio line ups, with the spirit of Peter Green hanging somewhere above it all. Sure to make your brain go cycling!

THEM BIRD THINGS - Fly Them Birds Things Fly
Previously unreleased songs by early ‘60s Plattsburgh rockers Mike & The Ravens, with the voice of Finnish vocalist Salla Day making the whole thing pretty much timeless

WILCO - The album
A band I’ve just gotten really into recently, in spite of knowning them for years. You probably know all about them yourself ... you should if you don’t.

During the past couple of years, I’ve come to realize there’s no sense in choosing favourite singles of the year anymore. However much I LOVE the actual format, singles as such hardly exist these days. Therefore, here’s the list of my favourite SONGS in 2009. Well, at least the ones I’ve managed to hear ...

Also, it’s fun to realize that some of my favourite songs of the year come from albums that aren’t even close to be on the favourite albums list!? Strange things are happening, eh?

Just like in case of albums, except for the No.1 spot, all the others are in alphabetical order.

DAN AUERBACH - Mean monsoon
Mixing latino rhythm with ancient blues and jazz ... kinda like Amy Winehouse with balls ... but better!

THE AVETT BROTHERS - And it spread
British invasion meets American roots for a fistfight and ending up with a pub singalong.

THE BLACK CROWES -Been a long time
Giving John Fogerty a serious run for his money ... through the jungle

BLAKROC - Ain’t nothing like you (Hoochie Coo)
I’m still trying to get used to The Black Keys backing hip hop artists, but this one got me hooked on instantly!

BRIAN OLIVE - Stealin'
Marching the streets of New Orleans to the sounds of Dr.John-like woodoo psych and horn-laden swampy acid-soul

The best example of the album’s overall Something Else/Village-Green-era-outtakes feel

THE CUBICAL - Like me (I'm a peacock)
Another proof that Liverpudlians are the biggest Captain Beefheart fans around ... spooky r’n’b

CONNETT - Madmoiselle
Unlike the above one, this one’s a pretty streightforward mod-flavoured piece of r’n’b, but it doesn’t get much better than this ... The Small Faces through Weller

RUSSEL CRAWFORD - Overachiever
During the past few years, if a power-pop tune is to appear on my annual list, it better be more than a classic ... something like this one from down under.

DEAD WEATHER - Rocking horse
Psychedelic surf if there ever was one ... wouldn’t suggest bothering with the rest of the album though

THE DUKE AND THE KING - If you ever get famous
Fragile by way of Neil Young, convincing by way of Bob Dylan, and great by any standard!

THE EELS - That look you gave that guy
The first of THE two love songs of the year ... the second is on the bottom of the list.

MAYER HAWTHORNE - Green eyed love
Moody slightlydelic soul from an otherwise lightweight Curtis Mayfield / Philly soul inspired album.

THE HEAVY - How you like me now
This “Heavy” must be for the way these Brits love their soul to sound like ... obviously inspired by the one coming from America’s deep south

Jon Spencer’s rootsy rockabilly outing, sounding nothing like it! This one’s all moody and psychedelic as proper! (Begins in video at 4-minute mark.)

HENRY'S FUNERAL SHOE - Henry's funeral shoe
Kinda like The Black Keys covering AC/DC

THE JAYBIRDS - Boy meets girl storyline
Austrian beatsters providing a full-on mod pop-art “creation”, like now! ... AND ... this one’s the first of only two actual vinyl SINGLES on the list!

KING AUTOMATIC - Le redresseur de torts
Stuck in the mud of deep down south of ... France!?

MARK & THE SPIES -You got it
Dutchbeat getting a good kick in the ass by Jimmy Campbell’s Rocking Horse

THE MOONS - Thorn between the two
Weller’s keyboard player picks up the guitar and releases a single that his boss would’ve been quite proud of ... on actual vinyl!

THE NEW YORK DOLLS - This is rediculous
“Smokestack lightning” guitar riff + David Johansen’s snarly attitude = mid’60s rhythm’n’blues at it’s best!

HOWIE PAYNE - Come down easy
Ex-frontman of Liverpool’s The Stands, replaces the electric jangle for the acoustic strum, and folk-rock for country ... still keeping the harmonies

THEM BIRD THINGS - I can see Russia from here
Kinda like like Eartha Kitt backed by Beefheart’s Magic Band ... The guitar solo sounds as if it’s from a completely different song, but it’s still the best one I heard last year!

John Paul Jones’ way of telling us that he’d rather play with Cream these days than youknowho

WILCO - One wing
The second one of THE two love songs from 2009 ... check the other one somewhere above

#3 - Randy Shone, Psychedelic Velveeta Radio Show DJ

(Editor's Note: Great friend, fellow DJ, and a gentleman's gentleman. His finger's always on the pulse of current psychedelia while firmly grounded in the historical antecedents.)

Top Ten, alphabetically:

1 - Acid Fascists - Are Sold (self-released)

This LP has definitely come from the post punk era only to be fuzed by psychedelics.
The songs on the album will cause the hair on your neck to stand on end(Corner Of The Room) or make your ears bleed at loud volumes(Ache Like F*ck). “Although, I will not list the ailments of what the character in the song is suffering from.”
The story telling is fun and horrifying at the same time(Cho Cho Head). At times the vocal and the band occasionally sing or play a phrase that sounds reminiscent of the late great Lux Interior 'The Cramps' almost like paying homage to Lux(Half Of Tomorrow).
The mix is crisp and crunchy. The performances are solid. And if your looking for a bit of angst(Knife Fight) to entertain your listening pleasure, then give this one a spin!

2 - Baby Woodrose - Baby Woodrose (Bad Afro)

Baby Woodrose fuses together hard edge pop(Laughing Stock) with some of the most haunting melodies(Open Up Your Heart) that will pull on your heart stings(Countdown To Breakdown), cause your toes to tap, bang your head, and will blow your mind with a wall of guitar fuzz.
This LP is a different tone and texture from the earlier Woodrose releases. At first listen you notice that it's stripped down in production, which gives the LP a real band feel. Lyrically it's poetic and story telling. The performance showcases musical flavors inspired from regions all over the globe and sounds of the last 40 years.
This pop zinger will have you humming these tunes for hours after listening.

3 - The Chemistry Set - Alchemy #101 (Skittlebrau Records)

This is the most inspiring album of work I have ever had the opportunity to listen too.
The songs on this LP are loaded with warm harmonics that feel like kisses from the warm sun(Look To The Sky) only to be layered with melodies that make them ooze like psychedelic honey(She's Taking Me Down).
The vocals are soft in approach, The instrumentation is numerous, but reflective of the music. The beat is uptempo and you can hear that the band is having a great time.
If your into ear candy, this LP has it. The mix is sweet and hits the center eye, but allows the minstrels to dance around you.

4 - Floorian - More Fiend (Drigh Records)

This LP is the most haunting psychedelic record I have ever heard, down right evil(Never Even). The musicians on this LP suck you in to a whirlwind of feed back that will pull your equal Librium a skew.
The razor-blade wah guitar on (How Far, How Fast), distant keys, pounding drums and slow, dark, vocals set a tone that makes your hair stand up on end(Missed).
This is a great deep listening headphone record with complex and interwoven lyrics.
The mix has a ton of head room and sounds like an infinity mirror for your ears. Yes, this is a concept piece And in my opinion should be etched on to wax.

5 - The New Mystikal Troubadours - The New Mystikal Troubadours (MT6)

Love at first feel(First Offering) Is the best way to explain the feeling I got after the first listen of this LP.
The mix is warm, vocals are melodic, and the instruments are layered with stunning harmonic overtones(Nova). The band isn't afraid to throw in some off the wall timbre, that muses the mind with a bit of psychedelic weirdness(Baccanalia).
A wide range of instruments are used, but doesn't stray away from it's psychedelic rock roots. The lyrics are poetic and mystikal.

6 - Radio Moscow - Brain Cycles (Alive Records)

Here is a record that best represents heavy psychedelic blues rock. This (in my opinion) is the best way to describe it. The bands performance on this LP is intense in energy(250 Miles) and the sweet treat is that each player gets a chance to show case themselves(No Good Woman).
This is a guitar heavy record! But what makes this record stand out from any other guitar records is that it's a band and it sounds like a band working together(Brain Cycles).
Lyrically? It's the blues man! Psychedelically? It will trip you out, with hints of Mary Jane's influence(No Jane).

7 - The Setting Son - Spring Of Hate (Bad Afro)

Bad Afro may not have the largest catalog “Yet” but, what they do have is quality!
Spring of hate is a uptempo, psych, garage, pop rocker(Spring Of Hate) with a different selection melodies and harmonies(Soulmate) that will make you think “that was different”.
The lyrics are love songs(Girl Of Sorrow), with huge amounts of energy(My Obsession) coming from the band.
The mix is thin but the band pack the necessary punch, that makes this LP rock.

8 - Sri Aurobindo - Sri Aurobindo (Self-released)

Here is a limited edition gem, that has some of the best Southwestern influence I have ever heard(Nobody's Child)
This LP is truly an intensive record with rocket ride builds ups, that will cause the listener to peak early and several times over. The songs are a colorful haze of vocals, organ, and guitars(Shape The Change Of Time) that at times cause disorientation with the changing rhythms, only to be fuzed back together by the strength of the the band.
The mix is warm and filled with psychoacoustics. The performance is energetic “this would be a great band to see live”. Lyrically there is some angst(Vertical Electric) which gives us things to ponder and take action

9 - Sula Bassana - The Night (Sulatron)

Ok Space Cadets, grab your flight gear, moon boots, decoder ring, and 3D glasses, because Sula Bassana aka Dave Schmidt just set the launch code for tonight's mind flight(The Night). This is Dave's best work, thus far, and that say's a lot about his previous works, which are dynamite.
The mix is well polished, subtle, and liquified. The stereo image is in constant movement as the cosmic timbre of instruments fly by(Lost In Space).
The guitar is expressive(Meteorritt) sometimes down right moody. Pulsating rhythms give you a sense of flight(Lost In Space) then as the song starts to end, your vehicle disintegrates into a cloud of vapor.
The vocals are calming and story telling. The drumming is complex. The keys are hypnotic. It's just a great record.

10 - The Warlocks - The Mirror Explodes (Tee Pee Records)

This LP deserves the official title “WALL OF SOUND”, and I'm not talking The Ronnets here. Visualize fuzzed out guitars that rain down on you like a wall cloud of shimmering sparks during a thunderstorm(Midnight Sun).
The LP sounds, as if, the Engineer wanted to hear this creation on Magneplanars at high volumes(Slowly Disappearing).
The performances are flawless. Vocals are distant, chilling and amazing. Lyrics are painful(Standing Between The Lovers Of Hell).

I would like to thank Valis for the opportunity to share these goodies with you and for all the hard work it takes to keep this happening each and every year. He is a good man, a great friend, and a true music lover.
Thank you Valis.

#4 - DJ Stodmeister, DJ Extraordinaire, Label Head, & International Bon Vivant

(Editor's Note: Honored to have our friend DJ Stod' involved! He's also head of The Psilocybin Sounds label. He knows a thing or two about psychedelia.)

The Gospel according to Stodmeister

Well there goes 2009, can’t remember one as bad for a while, hopefully 2010 will be better. At times during 2009 I felt all that was missing was the 3 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, everything seemed to be gloom and doom. On the music front 2009 won’t be remembered as vintage however, certainly nothing of biblical proportions but there are some chinks of light as the Psychedelic Apostles spread their word.

On the subject of Horsemen here’s my 3, with their chargers:

Wooden Shjips – Motorbike (Dos, Holy Mountain)

White Hills – Dead (Dead EP, Thrill Jockey)

Quest For Fire – Next To The Fire (Self Titled, Tee Pee Records)

As for the Apostles here’s my twelve with their gospels:

The Volta Sound – Nobody Knew (Floppy, Self Release)

Weird Owl – Skeletelepathetic (Ever The Silver Chord Be Loosed, Tee Pee Records)

The Warlocks – Frequency Meltdown (The Mirror Explodes, Tee Pee Records)

The Heavy Hills – Maya (Demo, Unsigned)

Moon Duo – Dead West (Killing Time EP, Sacred Bones)

Brian Jonestown Massacre - One (One EP, A Records)

Dead Mellotron – Ghost Light Constellation (Ghost Light Constellation EP, Unsigned)

Barn Owl – Procession of Golden Bones / Ancient of Days (The Conjurer, Roots Strata)

Lower Heaven – Lose It All At Once (Ashes, Unsigned)

The Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound – Two Stage Rocket (When Sweet Sleep Returned, Tee Pee Records)

Sleepy Sun – Snow Goddess (Embrace, ATP Recordings)

Helicon – The Point Between Heaven & Hell (EP, Unsigned)

Now I said nothing of Biblical proportionstands out, however this has got to be pretty close to it, a homage to those Warlords- Hawkwind; It may have been released in 2008 but it’s still worth a mention!

Acid Mothers Temple / White Hills - Sonic Attack ( 7” single, Trensmart)

Download The Gospel According To DJ Stodmeister, HERE !

Here’s to 2010, Keep The Faith!!!!

#5 - Damien Youth, Psychedelic Musician & Music-Obsessive

(Editor's Note: Should be no stranger to anyone who's read this blog for any length of time, as well as listeners to my radio show.)

1-Tyondai Braxton: Central Market
2-Kasabian: West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
3-OOIOO: Armonico Hewa
4-The Soundtrack Of Our Lives: Communion
5-Bitter Twins: Global Panic
6-White Denim: Fits
7-The Soundcarriers: Harmonium
8-TwinSisterMoon: The Hollow Mountain
9-Arctic Monkeys: Humbug
10-Mando Diao: Give Me Fire!
11-Portugal The Man: The Satanic Satanist
12-Jay Reatard: Watch Me Fall
13-The Postmarks: Memoirs At The End Of The World
14-The Starlight Mints: Change Remains
15-Fever Ray: Fever Ray
16-Wolfmother: Cosmic Egg
17-Reigning Sound: Love and Curses
18-The Dead Weather: Horehound
19-Astra: The Weirding
20-Crystal Antlers:Tentacles

With honorable hats off to The Fiery Furnaces, M. Ward & The Clientele.

So.., there you go. Five great guests & their own submissions representing a wide swath of music from 2009. Applause!

On to my own, shall we? As I'd said way back at the top of the post: I had to submit a list to KDHX on Jan. 4th. (See the Top Ten here. Scroll down to Trip Inside This House.)

In the interim things have changed. A jostling and jockeying for position in my Sennheisers. I'm confident now my own Top Ten would be the ones I'd be satisfied with as representating the best on offer if faced with the proverbial "Desert Island, only take ten" conundrum.

A few observations before I reveal the list: was 2009 the "Year of the EP"?! So many great EPs released like few years in the halls of memory. Tops among them-imho, the triumphant return of The Chemistry Set who've laid out a sound strategy for subsequent releases by opting for the EP over the LP vis-a-vis quality control. (Their term.)

Also noticed here was the strong return of the sonics of shoegazers unlike any prior year; this is evidenced in many of the bands in my list, as you'll see.

Finally, how about the releases by the many veteran bands on the scene: Outrageous Cherry; The Flaming Lips; Super Furry Animals; the Green Pajamas; and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Bravo!

On to the lists, here's the Best of 2009, EPs:

Top 10 EPs - 2009
Animal Collective - Fall Be Kind (Domino)
Anton Barbeau - Plastic (Gold Falling)
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Smoking Acid (A. Records)
Chemistry Set - Alchemy #101 (Skittlebrau)
Deerhunter - Rainwater Cassette Exchange (Kranky)
Helicon - Take The Ride (Self-rel.)
Inverness - Astral Slide (Bolinhas)
Isolation, The - The Isolation (All Heroes Are Dead)
Laughing Windows - EP1 (Battered Ornaments)
Strangers Family Band - Strangers Family Band (Self-rel.)

I've picked the Top 50 Albums of 2009, (from a pool three+ times as large.) Here are nos. 11-50, alphabetically:

A Place To Bury Strangers - Exploding Head (Mute)
A'dam Sykles - Out Of The Circle Game (Teensound Italy)
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
Baby Woodrose - ST (Bad Afro)
Bavarian Druglords - 205 (Kill Art Movement)
Black Hollies - Softly Towards The Light (Ernest Jenning)
Circulatory System - Signal Morning (Cloud)
Dead Mellotron - Ghost Light Consatellations (SVC Records)
Deleted Waveform Gatherings - Ghost, She Said (Rainbow Quartz)
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Up From Below (Vagrant)
Entrance Band - ST (Ecstatic Peace)
Flaming Lips - Embryonic (Warner)
Floorian - More Fiend (Drigh)
Fresh and Onlys - Grey-Eyed Girls (Woodsist)
Ganglians - Monster Head Room (Woodsist)
Gliss - Devotion Implosion (Cordless Rec.)
Green Pajamas - Poison In The Russian Room (Hidden Agenda)
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (Warp Rec.)
Harlem Shakes - Technicolor Health (Gigantic)
Hoa Hoa's, The - Pop/Drone/Pedals (Optical Sounds)
Hopewell - Good Good Desperation (TeePee)
Jacuzzi Boys - No Seasons (Florida's Dying)
Jail - There's No Sky (Oh My My) (Burger Rec.)
Kasabian - The West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum (RCA)
Lovetones, The - Dimensions (Planting Seeds)
Maribel - Aesthetics (Oslo Grammofon)
Nevermores, The - Nevereverafter (TIRC)
Only Joe Kane - Some Soon Time After (Desperate Umbrella)
Outrageous Cherry - Universal Malcontents (Alive Rec.)
Psychic Ills - Mirror Eye (The Social Registry)
School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms (Ghostly)
Sleepy Sun - Embrace (Atp Recordings)
Soundtrack of Our Lives - Communion (Yep Roc)
Sun Araw - Heavy Deeds (Not Not Fun)
Super Furry Animals - Dark Days-Light Years (Rough Trade)
Telepathic Butterflies - Wow and Flutter (Rainbow Quartz)
Thee Oh Sees - Help (In the Red)
Troubador Dali - ST (Euclid Records)
Vandelles - Del Black Aloha (Safranin)
Vera Violets - ST (Safranin Sound)

..and the Top Ten of 2009:

Amazing Baby - Rewild (Hostess)

From the instrumentation & enunciation on "Invisible Place" a la Pink Floyd, circa Wish You Were Here, to the full-spectrum sonics on "Headdress", to the haunting & simultaneously soaring "The Narwhal" (a Top 10 Track of 2009) to the ending track "Pump Yr Brakes" which takes one part Doves added to the cocksure swagger of Supergrass and sends it back to Madchester for a baggy romp, this album delights.

Assemble Head In Sunburst SoundWhen Sweet Sleep Returned (TeePee Rec.)

The second track, "Two Birds" is a blast straight to the mother-ship and lets us know were in for a ride; this continues with "The Slumbering Ones" thru' "Kolob Canyon" right on to the finale "End Under Down" with its treated vocals. An album made for an afternoon in the park, staring at the clouds and the phosphenes in your eyes.

Black Ryder - Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride (The Anti-Machine Machine-EMI.)

Fans of Kendra Smith & Mazzy Star take note: here's where the sounds went as espoused on tracks such as "The Greatest Fall" and "Burn And Fade.". "To Never Know You" hits like a Dandy Warhols-meets-Chapterhouse vibe, while "Gone Without Feeling" has the soaring rhythms made by Ride. I also know our fav' hired gunslinger-Ricky Rene Maymi was involved and I;d bet his hands are all over "All That We See" with its BJM-esque sound...

Capsula - Rising Mountains (BCore)

More swagger than should be allowed! Spain & South American amalgam Capsula deliver it all in spades here. Witness the tribal stomp n' shake of "Wild C" (a Top 10 Track of 2009) thru' the Italo-fuzz of "Girl Whip Up The Sound," to the motorik-powered drive of "Magnetic Brain," to what I can only imagine is an absolute live in concert monster- "Original Is Dead." Know their power on the psychedelic blizzard called "The Devil Is Waiting Like A Dog."

Dolly Rocker Movement - Our Days Mind The Tyme (Off The Hip)

A maturation of a sound we've come to have high expectations for. "A Sound For Two" is the psych-waltz you may need for that next mushroom tea party you'll be hosting; "Coffin Love" celebrates the spaghetti westernisms while "Borne With Gills" hustles us ever onward via a marshall stomp. "Enjoy A Paranoia" has a one-minute plus outro' that has to be heard and "Our Brave New World" closes things out with a sitar n' spaghetti sound. Oh yeah.., then there's "Memory Layne", our own #1 Psychedelic Track of 2009. Wicked, nasty, always lurking in the memory banks of the Sennheisers.

Morning After Girls - Alone (Self-rel.)

Taking a page from the Church's own playbook, ca. Starfish, it's best exemplified on "Part Of Your Nature," while "To Be Your Loss" solidifies the initial surmise. Then there's "You Need To Die", which shoulda' been all over discerning DJs playlists. "Alone" sounds like The Lovetones on steroids...

Oblisk - Weather Patterns (Candy Colored Dragon)

Good gods! This is a wire-to-wire knockout, as you'd expect from a Motor City crew; the "hits just keep on comin'!" The whole thing's a sinuous workout literally chock full of great tracks. (If I was inclined, or forced, to choose a Numer One of 2009, this would be as good a choice as any from this Top 10.) My notes are rendered unintelligible due to the drool and pineal juice leakage...does that suffice?

Screen Vinyl Image - Interceptors (Safranin Sound)

From the ashes of Alcian Blue comes this three-piece threat who seem-to these ears to take the wall of noise that marked Medicine's debut, Shot Forth Self Living, and grafts it to Lupine Howl's sense of cinematic scapes, circa The Carnivorous Lunar Adventures. Opening with an instrumental always makes me take notice as I don't immediately have to pay minute particular attention to lyrics and this one is a soundtrack for a mindflyte. "Cathode Ray" marries a krautrock groove thru a shoegazer blender to create a winner, while "Lost In Repeat" furthers my own Lupine Howl assessment. However, it's on "Death Defiance" where it all comes to a head. (No pun intended.) Damn I'd love to hear this one a hige club sound system! This is the "trainspotter's delight" of the bunch.

Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor - Self-titled (Self-released)

Sometimes fate smiles on a release by fortunate timing. This is such an album. I honestly think though-in my heart of hearts, it wouldn't have mattered one iota if I'd heard this back in February of 2009 or December. It just flat out wallops. Once again Detroit knows muscle. From the opening drum-led "Lord Is My Gun" on into the wobbly woo-oo woo-oo'd chorus of the propulsive "Victims Of Momentum" to the Black Angels-like "Slow Suicide" followed by the almost-Southern tropes of the whiskey-soaked "All You Lovers" followed by the as-advertised "Spaceman Blues" on into the efx-shower that is "Doom" to the deliciously snakecharmer call of "Two Thousand Nine" right up to the more straight-forward rock of "At The Gates" this one gives 'em all a run for their money and quite frankly makes me grin at the prospect of what these guys'll do next.

Wooden Shjips - Dos (Holy Mountain)

Seems like I've had this for a thousand years, and it never wears out the welcome mat. At times raw & visceral, like on opener "Motorbike", to the eerie throb and (muted) thump of the bassline propelling "For So Long" to the 10-minute+ epic of "Down By The Sea", to the work-it-for-all-its-worth jam of "Aquarian" concluding with the krautrock genre-exercise & workout that is "Fallin' " it's not only a headphone delight but one I regularly play on the big sound system, too. They have a formula, to be sure, but it's the right one-for them. We benefit.

So, there you have it readers. Hoping you've enjoyed the time spent as this all star panel provides fodder for future listening or debate. Consider thanking them. Consider it....

Oh, and as for 2010, I have one message for all the bands out there mining this beautiful genre:

Sincerely. -valis


hemizen said...

How you suffer valis! Forcing yourself to listen to all this music.
A great post. I have a lot of this but there is much more to explore.
Thank you

Richard Robert Sawoscinski The Third said...

Thanks for the review. We are glad you like the record.

Here is the best video ever taken of us.

Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor

Anonymous said...

Awesome list, valis. I can only hope to follow in the footsteps of the trail you've blazed and check out more of these.

-Ed a/k/a Mixxer

Rich Reese said...

That's a heck of a list valis - keep up the great work.

sr-71 said...

Here's my list:

Girls - Album; The xx - XX; Doves - Kingdom of Rust; Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum; Julian Plenti - Skyscraper; The Raveonettes - In + Out of Control; Iron & Wine - Around the Well; Heartless Bastards - The Mountain; Metric - Fantasies; Japandroids - Post Nothing; A.A. Bondy - When the Devil's Loose; Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand; The Flaming Lips - Embryonic; Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy; Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion; 1990s - Kicks; The Horrors - Primary Colours, Islands - Vapours; F*ck Buttons - Tarot Sport; Spiral Stairs - The Real Feel; Crocodiles - Summer of Hate.

Also, the Lips' remake of Dark Side of the Moon is tits.


Unknown said...

The wealth of info and music is almost too much for my mind...almost....
LOVE the passion that all the contributors have for music!

Unknown said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Cliff. said...

Better late than never eh, I read this submission the day you posted it, thought I'd commented? The Power of the carrot mon ami methinks???

I got lost in 2009 it would seem, folks are in general agreement that the year was pants but you've proven that there was still more than a smattering of great stuff released, I gotta work harder to keep up.

Many thanks for all the hard work you put in keeping us psych fans informed, I for one totally appreciate all that you do. Much love from across the pond directed your ways.