Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 : JPB's Best Of


I didn't write about as many discs from 2009 as I would have liked—I was busy traveling, and completing my work for the semester, and getting ill—but I thought I'd close out my writing for this blog with a quick top ten.

10. Jason Crumer, Walk With Me
Restrained minimalist compositions which periodically descend into shredding noise. Read more | Listen: "Luscious Voluptuous Pregnant"

9. Fuck Buttons, Tarot Sport
I prefer the less polished raw energy of their 2008 debut, Street Horsssing, but this follow-up is still an undeniably fine selection of anthemic psychedelic stomp.

8. Mountains, Choral
This outfit, made up of former Apestaartje personnel, has released three fine albums of pastoral drone this decade. This newest one stayed in heavy rotation for me this year.

7. Sunn O))), Dimensions and Monoliths
The boundaries of the Sunn O))) project have grown broader with each release, absorbing more and more material like some kind of black metal Katamari. This album finds them experimenting with keening choirs ("Big Church") and transcendent horn playing ("Alice"). It's not always successful, but when it works it expands their scope breathtakingly.

6. The Antlers, Hospice
A staggering song cycle about death, loss, and grief. Best way to hear it is by yourself, in a slowly darkening room.

5. Freelance Whales, Weathervanes
This album filled the slot that was filled last year by Natalie Portman's Shaved Head's Glistening Pleasure, and in 2005 by Architecture In Helsinki's In Case We Die: indie-pop music, made by young people, charming, charismatic, polished, and addictively sweet. A slightly shameful pleasure, but also a true and abiding one.

4. Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
This is the great indie-pop album of the year: upbeat, energetic, yet also somehow grandly sad. Read more | Listen: "Lisztomania"

3. Gregg Kowalsky, Tape Chants
The idea of creating music by playing recorded matter on 6-10 cassette tape players simultaneously may sound a bit like someone trying to update Philip Jeck's turntable installations and performances. But Kowalsky's project is really its own thing, with conceptual underpinnings that differ completely from Jeck's, and just one immersion into Kowalsky's invitingly smoggy low-fi drone makes it completely clear that this is a soundworld that must be appreciated on its own terms.

2. Dan Deacon, Bromst
The eleven pieces that compose Bromst mostly sound like the soundtrack an old-school videogame that you might have experienced in a dream: all velocity and candy color. But just when you're ready to dismiss them as whiz-kid geekery they open up into something lovely, possibly even holy. Listen: "Red F"

1. Jónsi and Alex, Riceboy Sleeps
Beautiful ambient tracks from this side-project of Sigur Ros vocalist Jón Birgisson. Each track arranges acoustic instruments, voices, crackle, loops and hum into a kind of billowing fog that permeates directly to my brain's pleasure pathways.

Jeremy Bushnell


Jamie Yates said...

This was an incredibly satisfying, enjoyable project.

Thank you for doing this. The set-up, the organizing, the layout, and keeping a schedule for this year. I'm sure you know this, but everything you did was not a thankless task.

Look forward to following your projects in 2010, whatever they may be.

jpb said...

Thanks, Jamie! And thanks for your participation!