July 13, 2009

Top 10 Tracks of the Year So Far...

So far 2009 has proven to be an extremely exciting year in music. New albums from Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors (some possible foreshadowing here) proved their most accessible and in my humble opinion most exciting to date - brilliantly weaving their experimental sounds into a cohesive pop structure. The results were incredible. Phoenix, another band with an exciting past catalog, put out the pop album of the year - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - I am still spinning it non-stop. While other bands like Grizzly Bear and Bat for Lashes continued to tweak with their sound, providing songs with rich textures and layered instrumentation. Let's hope the second half of this year can prove to be half as exciting as this:

10. Discovery: Orange Shirt - Discovery combines the talents of two young and exciting bands, Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend and Wes Miles of Ra Ra Riot, in a completely different genre - electronic infused R&B. This song makes for the perfect summer jam. LINK

9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Skeletons - Another solid album by the Karen O fronted group, this time with distorted guitars replaced with 80s synths. The surprising change works brilliantly with Karen O's expressive voice, particularly on this track (like a more mature and developed "Maps")
Check out the album here: LINK

8. Handsome Furs: I'm Confused - Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade fame released his second album, Face Control under his Handsome Furs side project. He can croon like Springsteen and the minimalist electronic beats mixed with his guitar work has lead to some of the most exciting and fun music from the year so far. LINK

7. Passion Pit - Moth's Wings: What started off as a Valetine's Day gift EP to lead singer Michael Angelakos' girlfriend has become one of the prominent up and coming bands. Moth's Wings, off the bands first LP, is epic and grandiose. There is no attempt to hide this band's ambitions and if they keep writing songs this damn good there is no doubt they will continue to blow up. LINK

6. Bat for Lashes - Daniel: Natasha Khan (aka Bat For Lashes) has shown tremendous growth on her second album. She has the most hauntingly beautiful (and my favorite) voice in indie music today - like the second coming of Kate Bush. This song is absolutely brilliant and we are only at number 6...what a year. LINK

5. Phoenix - Lisztomania: Phoenix has always been a band in transformation from the electro pop of their debut with songs like "Too Young" to the Television and Johnny Marr influenced glossy guitar rock of It's Never Been Like That. Phoenix continues it progression and crystallizes it with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. This is the pop album of the year and Lisztomania is the best 80s song of 2009. LINK

4. Grizzly Bear - While You Wait For the Others: One of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year, Veckatimest, provides some of the most beautiful songs of the year. For me the album is a bit inconsistent, but when it peaks it does so in epic style. While You Wait For the Others is a breakup anthem and the vocal harmonies at the 3:00 mark are just pure sonic bliss. LINK

3. Phoenix - 1901: As I said this is the pop album of the year for me (and by far my most played). 1901 is its pinnacle, just an aural assault. I LOVE this song...can't believe it is only my number 3. This is better than anything to come out in 2008. LINK

2. Dirty Projectors: Stillness is the Move - This is what would have happened if Mariah Carey sang on a jazzy R&B indie tune back in the 90s. How did no one thing to mix that combination?? Probably because it sounds insane, but Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth is a musical prodigy already collaborating with the likes of David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Bjork so lets just say he pulls it off and then some. "Honey" doesn't have anything on this jam. LINK

1. Animal Collective: My Girls - I truly do not know how to articulate the genius of this song. This isn't just my favorite song of the past half year, but also my favorite of the past half decade. The simple and beautiful lyrics and message "Isn't much that I feel I need...just four walls and adobe slabs for my girls" allow for the complex sonic textures to bring that message to life. This song is proof of the power of music. Listen to this one at full volume, preferably while driving with the windows down. LINK

Honorable Mentions:
Drake - Best I Ever Had
Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Young Adult Friction
Bibio - Lover's Cravings, Fire Ant, Haikuesque (too brilliant of a whole album to choose just one) - see my earlier post on this album
Dead Prez vs. Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks of Hip Hop LINK
Bat For Lashes - Use Somebody (Kings of Leon cover) LINK

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