Best Albums of 2009

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Jan 13 2010, 23h57

#7 – Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms

This album was as much of a surprise to me as it was fun. I found myself wading through the pretentious reviews of Pitchfork and read about this album after noticing both its high score and wild cover art. Review scores don’t mean a whole lot to me, especially coming from a website that seems to pride itself on looking down on anything that uses a familiar structure and placing goofy, avant garde tripe on a pedestal. A new feature I noticed on their website however was a built-in “lala” application that allows you to listen to each and every song on the album in its entirety for free. With nothing to lose I picked a couple tracks and discovered something that while unique sounding, isn’t full of itself. The catch of the lala app is that you can only ‘spin’ the tracks once, any subsequent listens will only yield a 30-second sample to refresh your memory akin to Amazon or iTunes. But the ability to listen to a song in its entirety is a god-send, especially for music such as Neon Indian. It’s electronica at its heart, using layered beats and various effects, but finds itself at the opposite end of the spectrum from something like Owl City. The tracks have a very fuzzed out sound and the production screams shoe-gaze. I had a lot of fun listening to this album, because a lot of the synth elements feel like they were ripped straight from the sound processors of Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo consoles. The beautiful, spacey opening of “Mind, Drips” sounds like it could have come from any RPG of that era. A real stand-out track, a heavy beat comes in along with the drunken sounding lyrics. Another shoe-gaze styling, main man Alan Palomo could be giving me the secrets to life or reading pro-Nazi propaganda. I haven’t a clue what he is singing in any of the tracks but the voice represents just another melodic layer and I’m completely fine with that. One of the ways this music works is that the songs really evoke emotional responses. “Deadbeat Summer” is a great track because it really does have a “summer-y” feel to it. It reminds me of the 70’s, or at least my impression of the 70’s having never actually lived during the decade. I feel like I could have roller skated down a sidewalk listening to this song during some July day in a city somewhere. “Terminally Chill” and “Should Have Taken Acid With You” both have a fun sensibility about them. Both are very dreamy and while I wouldn’t say they were definable dance tracks, they contain a very solid groove. Much of the rest of the album is equally funky and worth checking out. If you’re ready for something new and little trippy give Psychic Chasms a listen.

- Highlights -
"Mind, Drips"
"Psychic Chasms"
"Deadbeat Summer"
"6669 (I Don't Know If You Know)"

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