Not all of the best music we heard this year was restricted to the long-player format. These are our favorite EPs + singles of '09, released in various vinyl/tape/digital formats.
01 Memory Cassette | Call & Response 7" (Acephale)
02 Animal Collective | Fall Be Kind (Domino)
03 Washed Out | Life of Leisure 12" (Mexican Summer)
04 Dum Dum Girls | Dum Dum Girls 12" (Captured Tracks)
05 The Bitters | Wooden Glove 12" (Captured Tracks)
06 Pearl Harbor | Something About the Chaparrals (Mexican Summer)
07 Bullion | Young Heartache (One Handed Music)
08 Julianna Barwick | Florine (Florid)
09 Best Coast | Where the Boys Are cassette (Blackest Rainbow)
10 Nite Jewel | You F O
11 No Age | Losing Feeling (Sub Pop)
12 Eternal Summers | Eternal Summers
13 Alela Diane | Alela & Alina 10" (Rough Trade)
01 Best Coast | When I'm With You 7" (Black Iris)
02 Burial + Four Tet | Moth/Wolf Cub 12" (Text)
03 Trailer Trash Tracys | Candy Girl 7" (No Pain in Pop)
04 Girls | Laura b/w Oh Boy 7" (Fantasy Trashcan/True Panther)
05 Toro Y Moi | Blessa b/w 109 7" (Carpark)
06 Best Coast | Sun Was High 7" (Art Fag)
07 Smith Westerns | Be My Girl b/w Girl in Love 7" (Transparent)
08 The Mantles | Trust (aka Don't Lie) 7" (Mt. St. Mt...
01 Animal Collective | My Girls
03 White Denim | Regina Holding Hands
04 Cass McCombs | You Saved My Life
08 Animal Collective | What Would I Want? Sky
09 Grizzly Bear | Ready, Able
11 Major Lazer | Keep It Goin Louder
12 Phoenix | Lisztomania
13 Raekwon | 10 Bricks
17 jj | Ecstasy
19 Burial | Fostercare
22 The Sandwitches | Kiss Your Feet
23 Four Tet | Love Cry (Joy Orbison remix)
24 Dum Dum Girls | Rest of Our Lives (live)
28 Fever Ray | Keep the Streets Empty for Me
30 Taken by Trees | Anna
31 Memory Cassette | Asleep at a Party
33 Burial + Four Tet | Moth
34 Pearl Harbor | Lost @ Sea
36 Neon Indian | Mind, Drips
38 Bat For Lashes | Daniel
44 DOOM | That's That
46 Wavves | No Hope Kids
47 Grouper | Hold the Way
49 Vivian Girls | Tension
Check out David's list after the jump...
Our favorites from an exceptional year:
25 pisces | a lovely sight
24 ganglians | monster head room
23 the mantles | the mantles
22 st. vincent | actor
21 cass mccombs | catacombs
20 atlas sound | logos
19 washed out | high times
18 night control | death control
17 phoenix | wolfgang amadeus phoenix
16 nirvana | live at reading
15 the mayfair set | young one
The Mayfair Set is the collaborative effort between Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls and Mike Sniper of Blank Dogs, which, as we said back in February, combines "Blank Dogs' dark, Joy Division-like baritone with DDG's bright, shimmering, '60s informed vocal melodies" to create something haunting and warm. Not technically an LP, but label-of-the-year contenders Captured Tracks + Woodsist compiled the group's stellar debut 7" single and 12" Young One EP onto one beautifully packaged cd, so here it is.
14 mountain man | mountain man
Stunning folk from Vermont trio Mountain Man. At times almost unnervingly stark, fragile, and intimate, with unreal vocal harmonies that are both soaring and devastating at once. Look for a 10" in early 2010 on Underwater Peoples.
13 nite jewel | good evening
Ghostly bedroom disco from L.A.'s Ramona Gonzalez. Like a lot of this "hypnagogic pop" steez, it may feel a bit slight to some upon first listen, but melted cassette-deck aesthetics aside, Nite Jewel's infectious pop songs are pretty undeniable. Also of note: Dâm-Funk is a fan, and has promised something called NITE-FUNK in the near future.
12 memory tapes | seek magic
Gorgeous melancholy pop from the inhumanly prolific and consistent Dayve Hawk, and Seek Magic is arguably only the second best thing he released this year. The record plays like a hazy, recurring lucid dream, eliciting all of the familiar warmth and sadness of a very tangible but impossible-to-place nostalgia.
11 neon indian | psychic chasms
A record that spawned a competition among major pubs, blogs, and "people" to coin a genre title that, in the end, largely seemed to overshadow the music itself, and what this record really was -- a thoroughly mature, detailed and crafty dance pop gem that graced us with a handful of the year's most memorable jams. Look for a release from Palomo's other project early next year.
10 fever ray | fever ray
The solo debut from Karin Dreijer Andersson feels both icier and more claustrophobic than Silent Shout, yet somehow manages to remain considerably more accessible than the Knife's 2006 masterpiece. Chalk it up to Dreijer's ability to create brooding, hauntingly creepy soundscapes that are still entirely entrancing and infectious (inviting, even). The videos helped, too.
09 jj | no. 2
Sunny, blissed-out Swedish pop that borders on new age/easy-listening/adult contemporary (they even crib the lyrics and melody from a Taylor Dayne jam on album standout "Me & Dean") from enigmatic Swedes JJ, but with a playfully subversive spirit not unlike their bros in the Tough Alliance. Unless jj is TTA with a female lead, which seems plausible. Also, they managed to one-up Weezy, and made a classic corny '70s sitcom theme sound super dreamy.
08 girls | album
We've been more or less obsessed with this band for nearly the past two years, since first hearing the lovelorn but wearily hopeful instant classic "Hellhole Ratrace" well before the backstory of Christopher Owens became a thing of legend. The long-awaited full-length delivers on all the promise of that first single and then some: perfect '50s pop melodies, heart-wrenching storytelling, and a rarefied heart-on-sleeve romanticism that very few can pull off.
07 smith westerns | smith westerns
The first of two bands of teenagers to appear in our top 10, Chicago's Smith Westerns' make earnest, irresistibly catchy pop songs (about girls), but with a legit, beyond-their-years glam-psych soul that sets them apart from the rest of their "garage"-y peers. And their best song isn't even on the record, so we're obviously psyched to see where these kids go next.
06 the sandwitches | how to make ambient sadcake
The Sandwitches' stylistically diverse debut full-length has earned the group comparisons to the Carter Family, Stevie Nicks, Loretta Lynn, and assorted '60s girl groups. Or as one commenter put it, "1960s Detroit meets 1909 Tennessee hill country." Anyway, yeah, the record feels at times like a jukebox full of dusty long-forgotten 45s, but as we mentioned in our initial appraisal, the band maintains an easy, totally natural cohesiveness throughout that makes How To Make Ambient Sadcake an endlessly enjoyable listen. The best album of the year that no one seems to be talking about.
05 the xx | xx
Pitchfork took their version of a thinly veiled shot at us (and bloggers in general) for being into London youngsters the xx early on, only to turn around and bestow their coveted Best New Music tag upon the record less than a month later. Moving on, the moral of that story is this: if you think you don't like the xx, listen again. The band displays an uncanny ability to seamlessly and tastefully incorporate their influences -- namely, dubstep, R&B, Young Marble Giants-esque minimalism, and um, Chris Isaak -- but it's their astoundingly mature songcraft matched with a precocious sense of space and restraint that make this a special debut.
04 animal collective | merriweather post pavilion
I'm not sure there's much left to be said about this one. With the feverishly anticipated/debated/praised/hated Merriweather Post Pavilion, Animal Collective set the tone for the year by crafting a near flawless avant-pop record that transcended itself and paved the road for countless imitators, as great records tend to do.
03 grizzly bear | veckatimest
Grizzly Bear's follow-up to the universally beloved Yellow House is such a staggering and dense leap forward, it's not hard to get lost in the textures and effortless nuances that ultimately make this such an essential work. It's easy to take this for granted in a year when it seemed like pretentious art-school noodling was often lauded as some kind of groundbreaking genius, but, let's face it, Veckatimest made its mark naturally and gracefully, with songs that will inevitably endure the test of time.
02 white denim | fits
No need to belabor our devotion to this band and record any further. You might not feel White Denim and what they do, and that's ok. But on the incredibly eclectic Fits, WD drew from a deep well of influences -- from Funkadelic to vintage psych to Stevie Wonder and beyond -- and in the process blew our minds with their effortless, perpetual shape-shifting and masterful songwriting. For me, not only one of the best of the year, but one of the decade's finest.
01 raekwon | only built 4 cuban linx pt. II
Check David's list after the jump...
Our favorite albums of the first half of '09:
01. grizzly bear | veckatimest
01. white denim | fits
03. smith westerns | smith westerns
04. phoenix | wolfgang amadeus phoenix
05. animal collective | merriweather post pavilion
06. fever ray | fever ray
07. night control | death control
08. jj | n° 2
09. pisces | a lovely sight
10. st. vincent | actor
11. cass mccombs | catacombs
12. various | underwater peoples records showcase
A selection of our favorite 7"/12", EPs, and otherwise unrepresented songs of the first half of 2009 after the jump...
For today's special edition of Blog Radio, Sirius asked us to count down the top 5 artists that we think are most likely to succeed in 2009. Of course, success is a relative term, so my list is essentially just the artists I look forward to hearing new material from/want to see live/expect breakout years from in '09. The Hipster Runoff radio program kicks things off at 5 PM EST on Sirius XMU, and you can hear my show shortly after that (shows will also be rebroadcast on Saturday and Sunday). There are obviously tons of artists that didn't make the list because of time constraints, but you can see my top 5 and a few honorable mentions after the jump...