December 30, 2009

Best Albums of 2009 Round-Up

Well the year and decade are just about at their end - and both were fantastic for music. I can only hope the coming year and decade continues to bring us exciting, innovative and groundbreaking music from those we are hoping and expecting it from (see my most anticipated albums of 2010 post HERE) and, sometimes even better, from those just getting started (the future xx's). Before the new year, I want to leave you with 3 things: (1) my top 10 albums of the year (below), (2) links to some of the best music blog & magazine end of year lists and (3) the most exciting music news for 2010 already: Radiohead back in the studio THIS January (we can only hope for that In Rainbows follow-up to kick off the decade Kid-A style).

Happy New Year Everyone!

DYB's Top Albums of 2009
10. Passion Pit - Manners
9. Fanfarlo - Reservoir
8. Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
7. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
6. Handsome Furs - Face Control
5. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
4. Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue
3. The xx - The xx
2. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
1. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Pitchfork's List: HERE
Stereogum's Reader Poll: HERE
Metacritic's Compilation of Year-End Top Ten Lists: HERE


December 16, 2009

Best Albums Of The Decade Round-up

(THE Defining Album of the 2000s)
There have been a lot (and I mean a lot) of articles and discussions over the best albums of the last ten years. Pitchfork and Gorilla vs. Bear got the conversation started months ago clearly confident that no "best of the decade" album would be released over the last quarter of this year (I guess they ended up being correct). Since then we have heard from the old guard (Rolling Stone) who actually came out with a shockingly relevant list to newer guard outposts (like Paste) to indie blog readers via Stereogum's Gummy Awards. I have compiled the links to many of these lists for you to peruse. I have also put together my list of the top ten albums of the decade below with no additional commentary - because really everything has been said about these albums and then some. The one thing I do want to say is that while these lists can vary widely in the position of certain albums and sometimes on the inclusion of certain albums completely, one album stands alone as very clearly the best and most iconic of the decade. Released just ten months into the new decade in October 2000, Kid A saw the best band in the world coming off of releasing one of the greatest rock albums of all-time (OK Computer), throw out their playbook and completely re-write the rules to staggering effect. All of the list below have Kid A in their top 5 and 3 as their number 1 album. If you are unfamiliar with the genius of this album and some of the best songs of this decade including "Everything In Its Right Place", "How To Disappear Completely" and "Idioteque", please do yourself a favor and go buy this album.

DYB's Top Albums of the Decade
10. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
9. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
8. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
7. Outkast - Stankonia
6. Arcade Fire - Funeral
5. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
4. Radiohead - In Rainbows
3. The White Stripes - Elephant
2. The Strokes - Is This It
1. Radiohead - Kid A

Pitchfork's Best of the Decade Round-up: HERE
Stereogum's Gummy Award (Reader's Poll): HERE
Gorilla vs. Bear Best of the Decade: HERE
Rolling Stone's List: HERE
Paste Magazine's List: HERE
Also, check out Metacritic's Best of the Decade in Music: HERE


December 14, 2009

Quickie: Spanish Lost Season 6 Promo featuring Radiohead

This is awesome (and completely hilarious) in all the best ways possible!

In this Spanish language promo for one of TV's best shows, Lost, entering its final season (sad, but exciting), possibly my favorite song of the decade, Radiohead's "Everything in its Right Place" (off Kid A) plays over this hilariously stereotypical and overdramatic ad that would work perfectly for any Telemundo soap opera.

Should help make the Monday work just a little more bearable:


December 7, 2009

DYB's Top Songs of 2009

2009 has been a fantastic year in music - an excellent way to bring the 00s to a close. It has seen two of the decade's best and defining bands (Animal Collective and Phoenix) put out their most exciting and, at the same time, most accessible albums to date. Other younger bands have positioned themselves to be the defining members of the 10s with excellent debut offerings (The xx, Delorean, The Big Pink, Washed Out, Passion Pit). Two of the decade's defining lead singers, Thom Yorke and Julian Casabalancas embarked on exciting solo tours - now it seems both are looking to be making new music with their bands for release next year (can't wait!).

On the cusp of the new decade, the divide between the mainstream and the great music out there in the ever expanding landscape that is "indie" music has never felt smaller. Mainstream heavyweights Jay-Z and Beyonce were digging Grizzly Bear, Beyonce's sister Solange covered Dirty Projectors (excellently), Thom Yorke wrote a song for New Moon and the mash-up of Notorious B.I.G. and Miley Cyrus is (gulp) one of my favorite songs of the year (and if I am being honest my most played). And having said that, I could not be more excited about the future of music. Never before has it been easier for a band with a great new and exciting sound to find an audience. I hope to continue to bring many of these new sounds to your ears in the coming years.

Look for my top albums of the year coming soon.

Now here are my top 25 songs of the year (ALL SONGS ARE ON THE LALA PLAYLIST IN THE UPPER RIGHT including the notables):

24. Spoon - "Got Nuffin'"

23. Washed Out - "Feel It All Around"

22. Discovery - "Orange Shirt"

21. Big Boi (featuring Gucci Mane) - "Shine Blockas"

20. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Skeletons"

19. Volcano Choir - "Islands, IS"

18. Handsome Furs - "I'm Confused"

17. Japandroids - "Young Hearts Spark Fire"

16. Yeasayer - "Ampling Arp"

15. Julian Casablancas - "Glass":

Julian Casablancas is THE brain child behind The Strokes (unlike most lead singers he wrote ALL of their music) so expectations were high for his solo endeavour. With "Glass", Julian pens an electro ballad equal to his best Strokes output. The chorus soars with crescendoing guitar and blaring vocals. This is an all out anthem - Casablancas always had a way of making the dreariness of life seem so fresh and exciting.

14. Passion Pit - "Moth's Wings"
Passion Pit have had one hell of a year - from starting off as a Valentine's Day gift EP to lead singer Michael Angelako's girlfriend to ending it as one of the most recognizable names in indie music today. And why? Because even though Michael sings like a Eunuch on crack their music is pop candy - the absolute best kind. Moth's Wings is epic - it builds like a classical piece, drives like an Arcade Fire anthem and in this one Michael sings NOT in falsetto (please less falsetto) and they absolutely kill it.

13. The xx - "Basic Space"
The xx put out the best debut album of the year hands down. What makes it that much more spectacular is just how minimalist it is. No band this early in their career (the band members are all 20!) has ever had this much conviction in their arrangements. They use empty space as if it is an instrument. And on this absolute highlight from the debut LP, the band weaves the theme of space in relationships with their spatial music arrangement to just brilliant effect.

12. Bat For Lashes - "Daniel":
Natasha Khan (aka Bat For Lashes) has my favorite voice in indie music today. It is haunting, vulnerable and tremendously effecting. On this gorgeous ballad, the main instrument is her voice. She is the force that drives this song with her unique mix of fragility, confidence and uncertainty. She is one of the most exciting artists in music today. And this is her at her best.

11. Altas Sound - "Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox)":

Bradford Cox (of Atlas Sound and Deerhunter) and Noah Lennox (of Animal Collective and Panda Bear) are two of the biggest forces in indie music right now. When they get together for a collaboration people listen. This one would have fit right in on Panda Bear' Person Pitch. With its looping organ, nostalgic ,yet of today feel, and feel good vibe, it was the perfect summer jam (or the perfect longing for summer jam now.)

10. Sleigh Bells - "Crown On The Ground":
This song is not for the weak. It is an all out aural assault. As I wrote previously, "If Jack White and Timbaland produced a club anthem for M.I.A." it would sound like this - but first you would have to push every dial into the red. Alexis Krauss' delivery sweetens it up just perfectly. I love this song (and look for this band to make a lot of noise in 2010). This is the club anthem for the hipster set.

9. Notorious B.I.G. vs. Miley Cyrus - "Party and Bullshit in the USA" :
On second glance this may be one of the least surprising mashup ideas. Look for similar song titles of hip hop star and pop star - cut and paste. Here is where it became completely shocking: the combination is the absolute best mash-up outside of Girl Talk and Danger Mouse. If you want to start a party, put this on.

8. Thom Yorke - "All For The Best":
With Radiohead mostly taking the year off, Thom Yorke seized his own moment. Putting on the best show I saw all year (twice) with new band members in tow (including Flea), Thom Yorke brought The Eraser album to life. "All For The Best" is a cover of a Miracle Legion song to benefit lead singer Mark Mulcahy's family after the tragic death of his wife - it comes off like The Eraser to the next level. With its added pulsating drum beats and his haunting delivery of Mulcahy's lyrics, Yorke still manages to blow my mind in an "off" year.

7. The Big Pink - "Dominos":
The Big Pink are well on their way to making a big impact on the 10s. Their debut album, A Brief History of Love, is very strong and as the title may imply all about love and relationships. "Dominos" is a break-up / single guy's anthem, but it is so damn catchy everyone gets caught up singing it.

6. Phoenix - "Lisztomania":
Phoenix have had their coming out party this year and it is about time. This is one of the best bands out there in music today. This song is such a perfect embodiment of 80s nostalgia that no write up could quite do it justice. Really only this video does:

Vecktimest was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year. For me, it is a bit inconsistent, but at their best, Grizzly Bear delivers staggeringly beautiful songs. "While You Wait For The Others" is one of the best breakup songs ever written. When the vocal harmonies kick in at the 3:00 mark the song becomes other worldly. Or maybe that was when Michael McDonald covered it. Trust me just stick with this gorgeous original.

4. Jay-Z - "Empire State of Mind":
While Jay-Z's Blueprint 3 isn't Blueprint, it has some very strong efforts. None better than the now ubiquitous, but still just as great, "Empire State of Mind". This is not just the best song on a good, but not great Jay-Z album. It is one of his best songs ever. As catchy and anthemic as "Izzo" and as central to his New York City rhyming peak as "Heart of the City" - Jay-Z still got it and then some.

3. Phoenix - "1901":
I have been raving all year (and already a lot in this one post) about Phoenix. Not much more to say other than for me "1901" is their pinnacle. This song is everything that is exciting about this band - 3 minutes and 18 seconds of musical perfection. Phoenix is all about "moments" and seeing this song performed in the pouring rain as the encore for their Central Park show cemented its place as one of my all-time favorite songs.
2. Dirty Projectors - "Stillness Is The Move":
Dirty Projectors are a band having a breakout year. Their album Bitte Orca is already and will continue to top year end lists. The album has a number of standouts but nothing as audacious as this. Part R&B, part afropop, part indie, part Mariah Carey in her prime. This song always sounded like it was made to be an R&B hit and Solange (Beyonce's sister) covered it well enough to make it one. But once again it is the original that shines brightest. This is one of the most original, fun and musically adventurous songs it is easy to overlook its brilliant lyrics and message. It is a love song about settling down not having to stanch growth (personal and relationship wise). Stillness is the move...

1. Animal Collective - "My Girls":
"My Girls" is not just the best song of the year, but one of the best songs of my lifetime. It is perfect in its simplicity: a constantly looping light electronic texture, harmonized vocals layered on harmonized vocals, a tribal drum beat. And its message the simplest of all: "Isn't much that I feel I need...just four walls and adobe slabs for my girls". Animal Collective has been one of the defining bands of this decade with its only consistency in its commitment to change. In this year, Animal Collective found their sweet spot with an album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, that takes all of their individual ideas from the past and patches them together in a cohesive, brilliant and accessible to all masterpiece. "My Girls" is their "God Only Knows", "Like A Rolling Stone", their "Fake Plastic Trees".
Check out some other notables in my LALA Playlist!

December 4, 2009

Quickie: More New Vampire Weekend and Introducing Toro Y Moi

(Vampire Weekend)

NOW I am VERY excited about this new Vampire Weekend CD! (There goes the CAPS lock again) First they drop an all-out punk song, "Cousins", as their first single and now they take a page out of Animal Collective's playbook for the b-side to the "Cousins" single on "California English, Pt. 2". Keep in mind, this is just a b-side and more of a musical idea than a fully constructed song - but if this is any hint of the willingness of VW to push the limits of their sound, January 12th can't come fast enough (or at least the next leaked song off Contra). And Pt. 2 does seem to imply a Pt.1 that may be on the album...and just a bit more fully formed perhaps? Let's hope. In the meantime check it out on Youtube:

(Chaz Bundick aka Toro Y Moi)

So here's the second music video shot in Paris posted here for the week - why not? Especially when the song "Talamak" by Toro y Moi is made for driving and the video takes us on a trip at dawn on a nearly traffic-less tour of the French capital. Toro y Moi is one-man show from South Carolina, Chaz Bundick who's lo-fi loop-driven dreamy electronic sounds play like a marriage of Washed Up (also from SC and raved about HERE) and Bibio (who put out one of the absolute best albums of the year and is also the man responsible for DYB's first ever music post HERE). Toro Y Moi is great on its own right - check video out below and get the song HERE:


December 3, 2009

Phoenix Perform "1901" and "Lisztomania" for The Take Away Shows

For those unfamiliar with the Take Away Shows directed by Vincent Moon, it is time to get acquainted (All the shows are available for viewing HERE). The concept is simple: take a great artist and bring their music outside - to a park, field, square, even an elevator - in an atypical setting and just let it play out. No editing just letting the music and the environment interact and see what happens. The National, Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, you name it have done some fantastic shows in the past. Now it is Phoenix's turn. They play "1901" in front of a couple about to be married and a small crowd in Trocadero square right next to the Eiffel Tower and then take over a double decker tour bus to play "Lisztomania" riding right by that famous Paris landmark. Check out the whole series (including "Long Distance Call" and some detail on the event HERE).


"Lisztomania / One Time Too Many":


December 1, 2009

Ten Most Anticipated Albums of 2010 (and some other rumored hopefuls)

Before we fully wind down 2009 and I discuss my favorite music of the year and the decade (both to come in the next few weeks), I thought I would start with the future. I have already posted singles from some of the most anticipated and exciting albums of 2010 with Yeasayer's "Ambling Arp" and Vampire Weekend's "Cousins" so I thought I would go one step further. These are my top 10 most anticipated albums of the upcoming year in no particular order (other than release date for those with them). I have also include a few albums that have been rumored to drop in the coming year because it is always fun to dream. To prep everyone for these exciting releases, I have put together a lala playlist in the upper right corner with a couple of the best tracks from these bands to keep you occupied until the release dates.

Vampire Weekend - Contra (January 12): Only two weeks into the new year and Vampire Weekend is following up their nearly universally acclaimed self-titled debut with Contra. I have already raved about their first single, "Cousins", below HERE and word from those who have heard it all (unfortunately I am not one of those people) is that it is just the beginning. "Cousins" has me very hopeful that there won't be a sophomore slump from these Columbia alums.

Spoon - Transference (January 26th) - Another band that I won't shut up about HERE. From "Mystery Zone" which leaked a few weeks ago to their single, "Written in Reverse" which came out today on iTunes, their follow-up to Ga Ga Ga Ga looks to be another excellent effort from the band that just can't seem to put anything out that isn't strong to quite strong.

Hot Chip - One Life Stand (February 9) - Hot Chip is one of those bands that is so consistently great you sometimes forget about them. Made in the Dark was one of the most tragically underrated albums of 2008 with excellent singles at nearly every turn from "Ready For The Floor" to "Out At The Pictures". Their blend of R&B with electronica is taken to the next level with lead singer Alexis Taylor's subtle yet intoxicating vocal delivery (It has always struck me as similar to The Notwist's Markus Acher in that way - another favorite band for another posting). The One Life Stand tracks to hit the web so far are no less stunning. "Take It In" starts off like an 80s New Order influenced dance jam and slowly seems to mellow and build at once - loving this HERE. The title track is great too HERE.

Yeasayer - Odd Blood (February 9): I have already raved about single, "Ampling Amp" HERE. They seem even more sonically adventure on the new single than the previous album's best work, including "Sunrise" on the lala player playlist. Look for this one to be heavily blogged about in the new year. Yeasayer is the 2010 MGMT (until MGMT comes out with their own debut follow-up Congratulations in Spring 2010)

LCD Soundsystem - TBD (March): Another band I absolutely LOVE (as evidenced HERE). James Murphy is one of the most talented musicians and producers in the game PERIOD. When I talk about him or LCD Soundsystem I have trouble with my CAPS Lock like Kanye. Pat Mahoney, co-founder with James Murphy of DFA and the drummer in LCD had this to say on the new album: "different than Sound Of Silver and certainly different than the first one ... It still sounds very much like us, like James. It's maybe slower and it has kind of got some more rock stuff back in it. It also has a bunch of disco influences." It could be a country record and I would still give it a whirl.

Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (TBD): Big Boi is one half of the best hip-hop group of my lifetime, Outkast. So anything by these guys (the other half is Andre 3000) is going to be highly anticipated. Many expected this to drop in 2009, but there have been issues with its release. We have seen two excellent tracks already hit the web from it though with "Shine Blockas" HERE (one of the best hip-hop jams of the year) and "Fo Yo Sorrows" (just the type of fun as hell track you would expect off an Outkast record). This record should be sick - more details in this interview with Pitchfork HERE. (In it he gives us hope for a new Outkast record in 2010 too!)

The National - TBD: The National's last two albums Alligator and Boxer are two of my absolute favorites of the past decade. Easily one of the bands I have spun the most in that time period. Listen to the anthemic and totally awesome "All The Wine" off Alligator and "Apartment Story" off Boxer in the lala playist. Lead singer Matt Berninger has a way with phrasing - it is simple, understated at times jarring but always spot on. With instrumentation by the Dessner brothers, two of the most talented musicians in indie rock today, this new album is going to be great.

Interpol - TBD (Early 2010): Interpol's first album, Turn Of The Bright Lights, is perfect or it was when it came out in 2002. In the aftermath of September 11th, these New Yorkers painted the perfect desolate landscape of the city yet there music was still so hopeful and so damn cool. Their second album was strong and the third unfortunately weak, but Interpol has been talking a lot about getting back to where they started. Drummer Sam Fogarino told PASTE, "The new record falls back towards the first ... That big wash of reverb? It's back." Thank God. Check out old favorites "Untitled" and "NYC" in the playlist.

Panda Bear - TBD: Panda Bear aka Noah Lennox is one of the masterminds behind Animal Collective and his solo album Person Pitch will most definitely be on my best of the decade list. He is one of the most innovative and constantly changing forces in music. He talks about it being "darker" and more "raw" than his previous effort and "totally different" than Animal Collective's brilliant Merriweather Post Pavillion. I can't wait - in the meantime I will have to listen to "Comfy in Nautica" and "Bros" on repeat (lala playlist on the upper right - hint hint). They are pure sonic bliss.

Arcade Fire - TBD: When your previous two albums are all over everyone's best of the decade list, Funeral in particular, there is going to be a lot of anticipation around this one. Arcade Fire's "Rebellion (Lies)" is one of my favorite songs of all-time (to hell with just of this decade) and "No Cars Go" off Neon Bible is great too. Usually the third album is where things really start to blossom (a la OK Computer) - no pressure.

Other Potential Releases To Wet Your Appetite:

Radiohead: They have talked about never doing an LP again with Thom Yorke telling The Believer, "None of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again." (That day was the saddest of my life). But in a recent interview with NME, Ed O-Brien stated, ""We were misquoted. We will be making an album!" (The best day of my life). Who knows but even a hypothetical Radiohead album is better than most albums.

Justice: The follow-up to t should be dancey electro heaven.

The Shins w/ Danger Mouse: After James Mercer announced he fired his current band, he announced he would be making an album with Danger Mouse. This has my attention.