Archive for December, 2009

Best Of 2009: Reissues


1-KRAFTWERK-12345678 The Catalogue (EMI)

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Best Of 2009: Compilations-Anthologies & Live Albums


1-PIXIES-Minotaur (4ad)

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Best Of 2009: Compilations – Various Artists

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1-DARK WAS THE NIGHT (4ad)

Two various artists’ compilations stood up far above the rest: The veteran Red Hot organization – a charity that specialized in collecting funds for the fight against AIDS through the release of records- offered what’s probably its best effort since the beginning of the series with the Rober award winner “Red Hot & Blue”. Produced by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, the pair got together the cream of the contemporary crop (Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens…)curating an excellent collection of unreleased material for the cause. The year’s second heavyweight was the Hyperdub label’s fifth anniversary CD. The imprint that brought dubstep to the world, one of the few groundbreaking genre’s this decade has produced, called all the pioneers (Burial, Joker, etc.)and celebrated in style.

Many other label’s partied for their anniversary with noteworthy releases -Warp; Topic; Ze; Daptone; Luaka Bop and Warners among others-; The Numero Group kept on exploring the darkest corners of retro soul and tried and tested vault digging specialist such as Rhino, Soul Jazz and Ace kept on delivering the right goods. Full list after the jump Read the rest of this entry »

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Top 30 Albums 2009: 1-ANIMAL COLLECTIVE-Merriweather Post Pavilion

animal collective
Since the second week of January we all knew nobody could beat the unbelievable record Animal Collective had offered us. The Brooklyn Combo that began with the decade in the shadows of the freak-folk movement, after many inflection points in their career –Sung Tongs; Feels-, amazed both the converted and the unconvinced, even flirting with the charts thanks to that classic – halfway between the Beach and the Junior Boys – called “My Girl”. The exhilarating chants and loops of “Merriweather Post Pavilion” were dazzling from beginning to end. It multiplied the many achievements of a band that embodies most of the best things popular music has offered in the noughties. Deakin, the band’s guitar player, took a break and the remaining trio decided to record their new project without guitars, revisiting the electronic part of their former opus “Strawberry Jam” and mixing it with Panda Bear’s brand of luminous psychedelia from his acclaimed solo album . The fusion produced the only 10 out of 10 we’ve been able to give to a record for a long, long time.

Released on Domino. Available to listen in Spotify.

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2-GRIZZLY BEAR-Veckatimest

grizzly bear
With their third full album, Ed Droste’s original solo project turned four-member band has produced a near-perfect album full of pop gems. Grizzly Bear have become the masters of contention, perfecting their musicianship; attention to fine detail and superbly crafted songs without ever abandoning the boundaries of mid tempo. Their keenness for vocal harmonies and sonic landscapes has been complemented with a classicism that has ended with the fourtet playing alongside Symphonic Orchestras, furthering the beauty and complexity of their songs. The second biggest success story of the year in leftfield circles, they were the only artist capable to come close to our almighty number one.

Released on Warp. Listen to some samples here.

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3-RAEKWON-Only Built For Cuban Lynx Part II

raekwon
14 years after his classic first solo album, Raekwon released the long-awaited second part. Four years in the making; a multitude of producers –from Busta Rhymes to Dr. Dre; J. Dilla to RZA-; as many internal frictions and delays; nearly the whole Wu-Tang Clan and many other stars throwing their verses in; all of it shaping another epic album that survived any comparisons with the original, sharing most of its trademark elements –from kung fu excepts to crime-related subject. It also managed to inject a shot of much needed energy in today hip-hop’s veins, revitalizing the way of the Clan in the process. Saluted as the best solo effort from a Wu member since Ghostface Killah’s “Supreme Clientele”, Raekwon showed once again the reason why he’s called “The Chef”.

Released by ICEAL. Listen to some tracks at MySpace.

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4-PHOENIX-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

phoenix
Another huge surprise in 2009: French combo Phoenix finally producing an album worthy of the hype that has always surrounded them. Even the title’s ironic classical references indicated their confidence in the masterful final result. Since “1901” exploded in the waves before the summer, shortly followed by “Lisztomania”, no one could doubt the famous Gallic act had produced an irresistible collection of pop tunes. Closer to the jaunty new-wave infused rock of The Strokes than to their former forays into blue-eyed soul from the eighties, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” was the most easily enjoyable record of the last ten months.

Released on V2. Available To Listen in Spotify.

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5-DIRTY PROJECTORS-Bitte Orca

dirty projectors
From the heart of Brooklyn, in that hipster’s Mecca that is Williamsburg, Dave Longstreth’ collective recovered the finest art-rock spirit and offered an album that totally matched his ambitions, two years after hitting headlines with their peculiar reinterpretation of Black Flag´s hardcore classic “Rise Above”. Dissonant vocal harmonies; finely crafted songs with a wealth of unexpected embellishments, “Bitte Orca” was not easy to classify or describe; instead, it unveiled its many treasures with each listening. Dirty Projectors have been collecting superlatives reviews since it saw the light of day, with many comparing the band with early Talking Heads for its unique sense of innovation.

Released on Domino. Available to listen in Spotify.

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6-THE XX-xx

the xx
The most astonishing debut of the year was this four-piece –recently turned trio- formed in South London. Their perfect blend of unusual sonic references, taking the dust off some not particularly trendy ones, gave them an extremely personal style. Borrowing elements from the first batch of indie acts in the early 80´s such as Marine Girls or Young Marble Giants; Angelo Badalamenti´s atmospheric productions; current R&B; and stripping them down to a minimal dream-pop skeleton that underlined the vocal warmth of their singing members, The XX left everyone open mouthed.

Released on Young Turks. Available to listen in Spotify.

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7-ATLAS SOUND-Logos

atlas sound
Bradford Cox’s two main achievements have been establishing himself as the most influential figure among a new generation of shoegaze followers; and also, showing an hyperactivity deserving the virtual title of most prolific musician since Prince. But unlike Minneappolis’ funky royal, the also multitalented performer from Athens, Georgia hasn’t given signs of needing any quality control yet; all his work to date being of the highest standard. “Logos” was the second work under his Atlas Sound moniker -used when the rest of Deerhunter are on holiday- in which some of his ethereal compositions benefited from high-profile collaborations with the likes of Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier and Panda Bear.

Released on 4AD. Available to listen in Spotify.

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8-YEAH YEAH YEAHS-It’s Blitz

yeah yeah yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of the bands of the decade. The NY trio embodies the best and the worst of a period when style has prevailed over substance. The garage rock of their first EP raised our expectations, but debut “Fever To Tell” proved the rawness they gain plaudits for was more a well-studied pose than the trio’s real ethos, resulting in a disappointment. Karen O shortly became a fashion icon and since then the band’s ability to update their sound and bringing a couple of excellently catchy singles per album has kept them among the A-list. That’s why “It’s Blizt” came as such a surprise. YYY has partially left behind their rockier credentials and embraced a blend of electronic pop that perfectly suited their fashionista attitudes. Comparisons with Blondie and other new-wave greats followed and altogether it stands out as one of the most complete works of their career.

Released on Interscope. Available to listen in Spotify.

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9-THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART-The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

pains of being pure at heart
The C86 revival at his most accomplished. This new Yorkers made an impressive debut by revisiting the different British indie trends during the 80’s – shoegaze; twee boy-girl pop; etc. – showing such reverence that rather than just a tribute to the many seminal bands of the era –Jesus & Mary Chain; My Bloody Valentine; Heavenly, The House Of Love- they looked like a fully-fledged aesthetic rebirth. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart effortlessly appeared as the genre’s natural heirs two decades afterwards, up to drive it forward into the XXI century.

Released on Slumberland/Fortuna Pop. Available to listen in Spotify.

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10-JJ-jj Nº 2

jj
The romance between Scandinavian musicians and the Balearic revival kept on giving excellent fruits. Swedish duo Jj’s refreshing debut added up to The Tough Alliance, Studio or Air France’s findings. Since Pitchfork’s best new music section mentioned “Ecstasy”, the duo’s “appropriation” of Lil Wayne’s megahit “Lollipop” in hedonistic, chill-out key, interest for jj has not stopped growing. “Jj Nº 2” -jj Nº 1 was the first single “My Life,My swag”- with its summer breezy, travelling atmosphere –From Africa To Malaga- became a minor cult among searchers of pop pearls.

Released on Sincerely Yours. Available to listen on Spotify.

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11-WOODS-Songs Of Shame

woods
Already on their fourth album, Woods have been keeping a low profile until now, releasing their output in tiny labels through all sort of limited formats, including homemade tapes. With “Songs of Shame” they’ve enjoyed a small breakthrough, thanks to their most compact collection of songs to date. The band’s experimental; lo-fi nature collides with their keenness for the classic vocal harmonies of Americana to quite unique result. Their live shows were also among the best we’ve seen this year.

Released on Shrimper/Woodsist. Available to listen in Spotify.

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