Definitive BEST OF 2009


Jan 9 2010, 17h03

So, like every year, I make a 'Best Of' without ranking - listed in the order I heard them. They're simply what I feel are the very best albums of the year; more likely than not, they were listened to more than anything else.

Following that I've shared a list of albums entirely worthy of anyone's time, that didn't quite merit a "best of" designation.

And finally, a new segment: music I discovered in 2009 which was released prior, whether it's last year or 40 years ago. Listen to everything on this list to enrich your life.

BEST OF 2009:

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

I don't ascribe to revisionist history. You probably went apeshit for this album in January but talk shit now that your kid brother likes 'em. This is a great psychedelic pop album.

Bullion - Young Heartache

Incredible 'instrumental hiphop' although that term is sorely lacking here. This is the first dj-based music I've heard since The Avalanches seminal Since I Left You to give me even a remotely similar feeling. Pair it with his Get Familiar + Rude Effort single and you've got the sweetest half hour of 2009 music.

The Field - Yesterday and Today

Minimal techno blossoming into something altogether more wide-reaching and accessible, expanding the definition of what Kompakt records invokes. Touches of the Boredoms' tribal transcendence, trance-like trippiness, and unabashed pop music ooze out of this album's pores.

Fox Bat Strategy - Fox Bat Strategy

A decade+ old recording by the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me house band, curated and released by David Lynch himself. Think everything Lynchian: 50's pop, piles of reverb, spooky atmospherics, sweet / menacing lyrics, and a creaky, lived in demeanor that helps define this as utterly timeless. 1959, 2009, or 2059, these songs live in your dreams.

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport

Tribal noise drone dance trance whatever you want to call it. This is deeply affecting, gravitationally heavy dance music for a caveman rave or an asteroid collision. The most tangible elements of the past locked into a technicolor display of modern virtuosity. Hypnotizing.

Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band - Between My Head and the Sky

A longtime hero of the art world returns with one of, if not the best album in her career, with a little help from her friends. Think John Lennon's post-Beatles experiments, psyched out kraut grooves straight out of Cologne in the 70s, New York post-punk, no-wave, disco-not-disco, and the most singular and influencial voice in recent history rolled into an adventurous lifetime-spanning collection of music with an energy that puts folks half, even a quarter of her age, to shame.

The Flaming Lips - Embryonic

Don't call it a return or comeback: this may be the Lips reclaiming their raucous early days as far as shaggy noise goes, but the album is both more experimental and more mature and accomplished than anything they've yet unleashed. Harkening back to the ragged psychedelic roots of their sound, using that as a base to jump through everything from their mid-90's carnival extravaganzas to the string-laden height of their musical growth (Zaireeka / Soft Bulletin), they've managed to round up every loose end possible while leaving a whole raft of new threads hanging, ready to pull out towards the future. Nothing in years has sounded this HUGE.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Ashes Grammar

Leapfrogging over their 2007 debut by miles, this Philly group synthesizes everything interesting they were known for (shoegaze sheen, noisey feedback twisting, wobbly synth lines and dreampop vocals) and spills forth this continuous dream of blasted pop tunes bubbling from post rock structures (or lack thereof) into the most hypnotically unified, dizzying rollercoaster of an album this year.

White Rainbow - New Clouds

Everything you know about dream music is taken into consideration, multiplied together, and promptly disregarded by this masterpiece. More than perhaps any LP in 2009, this one defines the year for me. So-called hypnagogic pop has nothing on the truly woozy mind-melting 4 tracks contained here. The review on my blog says everything I could say: Basically, this is bliss on record. Clouds don't even begin to describe the effervescent joy White Rainbow rides here. Put it on low volume to set sail for dreamland, or crank it up to shake your house apart in a sun-worshipping frenzy.

Shackleton - Three EPs

Hearing about both the continued vitality and impending death of dubstep all year, it's easy to understand folks stepping back and ignoring the whole galaxy while the dust settles, content to pick up whatever pieces are left after the fact. Well fuck that laziness. Shackleton has done more to stretch the boundaries of the genre, incorporating nearly every active subgenre of electronic music in vogue this decade into a cavernously dubbed out sculpture of forward thinking chill out music. Play it to anyone thinking there's nothing new under the sun and watch the grins slowly creep up. Weed optional.

Dam-Funk - Toeachizown

Funk, through and through. This is the most futuristic album made by old school instruments made all year, if not the entire "oughts" decade. Dam-Funk has crafted such a singular and deep body of work here that it demands attention from anyone coming into near orbit with the massive (2CD, 5LP!) thing. Despite standing FAR outside any of the trendy genres 2009 had to offer, this album stands head and shoulders above anything your favorite blog went apeshit over - and because of this it will most likely be far more fondly recalled when the time comes to look back on these days. Get it now to hear what I mean. Or go back to your 'chillwave' acts which you'll be shitting on in a year's time.

Oneohtrix Point Never - Rifts

This one snuck up on me at the last second; in fact I'd only heard a track or two before the official end of 2009. Luckily I have the common decency to wait until the year is actually complete before sharing the best of it (ahem, every music magazine in existence) so a gorgeous bombshell of alien earworm fantasy like this can get the recognition it's due. A 2CD set collection the band's 3 LPs and various rarities, Rifts takes me on a trip through a wormhole filled with the best 80's soundtracks (think Thief, Blade Runner, Legend, etc etc etc) and minimalism/drone epics of the modern era, mixed through a lense orbiting Terry Riley, Ashra, Emeralds, and anyone else popping into your mind while reading this. Despite arriving at the tail end of the year (for me), this one colors the past 365 days as deeply as anything else on the list.



ROVO - Nuou

Boredoms - Super Roots 10

Dan Deacon - Bromst

The Durutti Column - Love in the Time of Recession

Hudson Mohawke - Polyfolk Dance

Coconot - Cosa Astral

Peter Bjorn and John - Living Thing

Shogun Kunitoki - Vinonaamakasio

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Eating Us

Dorian Concept - When Planets Explode

Dusty Kid - A Raver's Diary

Fever Ray - Fever Ray

Burial & Four Tet - Moth / Wolf Cub

Prefuse 73 - Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian

Meanderthals - Desire Lines

Subway - Subway II

J Dilla - Jay Stay Paid

Paul White - The Dreams of Paul White

Moby - Wait For Me

Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue

Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas - II

Lunar Testing Lab - Seashore Blvd.

Ganglians - Monster Head Room

Yagya - Rigning

Tim Exile - Listening Tree

jj - jj n° 2

Nosaj Thing - Drift

Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs

The Very Best - Warm Heart of Africa

Flying Lotus - LA EP 3X3

Nudge - As Good As Gone

OOIOO - Armonico Hewa

The Antlers - Hospice

Oh No - Dr. No's Ethiopium

Flight of the Conchords - I Told You I Was Freaky

Eliot Lipp - Peace Love Weed 3D

The Gaslamp Killer - My Troubled Mind EP

Universal Studios Florida - Ocean Sunbirds

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Kid Cudi - Man on the Moon

Tim Hecker - An Imaginary Country

Tyondai Braxton - Central Market

Teebs - Teeps 09 Mix

Memory Tapes - Seek Magic

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2

Emeralds - Emeralds

DJ /rupture - Solar Life Raft

Dr. Strangeloop - Are We Lost Mammals of an Approaching Transcendental Epoch?

Boris - Japanese Heavy Rock Hits Vol. 3

Mos Def - The Ecstatic

Sweet Trip - You Will Never Know Why

Animal Collective - Fall Be Kind EP

King Midas Sound - Waiting For You

Sun Araw - Heavy Deeds

Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem

Black To Comm - Alphabet 1968

Grackle - Desert Acid EP


NOT FROM 2009:

Cannibal Ox - The Cold Vein

Shogun Kunitoki - Tasankokaiku

Dimlite - This Is Embracing

Steve Reich - Music For 18 Musicians

A.R. Rahman - Dil Se

Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

Billie Holiday - Lady In Satin

Caural - Mirrors for Eyes

Santo & Johnny - Santo & Johnny

Omar Khorshid - Rhythms of the Orient

Isaac Hayes - Hot Buttered Soul

Dif Juz - Soundpool

John Cale & Terry Riley - Church of Anthrax

Alice Coltrane - Transcendence

Boris - Flood

Bill Fay - Bill Fay

The Gaslamp Killer - I Spit On Your Grave

Z-Rock Hawaii - Z-Rock Hawaii

Manuel Göttsching - E2-E4

Blue Sky Black Death - Late Night Cinema

Bows - Cassidy

Have a Nice Life - Deathconsciousness

Tetsu Inoue - Ambient Otaku

William Basinski - El Camino Real

...and there are many more I'm forgetting at the moment, so this segment will most likely be appended soon.


  • optimistic_tour

    @liz: hell yes I did, great lil album! I hope they drop some more asap. @max: danke

    Jan 9 2010, 18h28
  • BoringArcade

    I listened to that Bullion EP so fucking much when it was on my broken ipod. Only 4 songs though : \

    Jan 9 2010, 19h40
  • sambedford

    The first Shogun Kunitoki record in the 'not from 09' list, but no Vinamaakasio on the best of 09? Interesting. I think the newer one is a huge improvement on the last one...

    Jan 9 2010, 20h10
  • optimistic_tour

    @sam: Vinonamaakasio is the 8th album on my "The Rest" list!! I agree that it's a huge improvement, and love it profusely. Just didn't fit on the top 12 there, thats all...

    Jan 9 2010, 20h15
  • tylerstravis

    damn fine list! Some of those I still need to check. Also saddened DJ pica pica pica was not on your last list. It was on my top 10 until I figured out it wasn't a 2k9 joint :)

    Jan 9 2010, 21h39
  • ConorTripler

    all those albums suck!!!!!!

    Jan 9 2010, 21h53
  • baxinski

    Animal Collective, The Field, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Fuck Buttons... Good list! and I`m gonna check few things I don`t recognize :)

    Jan 9 2010, 22h45
  • optimistic_tour

    @tyler: the DJ Pica Pica Pica thing was from 2007 I thought. Really though, I have no clue. It would have probably made that list, retrospectively looking, but hey at least I've got Super Roots 10! Which is truly fucking incredible, if you haven't heard it. Especially the Lindstrom mix...

    Jan 9 2010, 23h14
  • thybbuk

    thank you for pointing me to a handful of great records

    Jan 10 2010, 0h10
  • iacus123

    picapicapica is from like 99 or somewhere there abouts. DJ chaos x is from 2006

    Jan 10 2010, 2h18
  • optimistic_tour

    @thybbuk: you're welcome, I hope you find some enjoyment on here! @iacus: ah, I knew I was way off. or, Tyler was way off too.. anyway, I like picapicapica much more than the Chaos X mix, but to be honest I've given that one much less of a chance.

    Jan 10 2010, 4h22
  • beatfanatic

    I might have to give Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band - Between My Head and the Sky a try.

    Jan 10 2010, 18h57
  • optimistic_tour

    @rog: jumping the gun, too! And yeah, I thought of you and your late eureka moment with that album, when posting. I just think it's funny how plasticine folks' opinions seem to be when it comes to hype - they move in and out like the tide! And I'm getting on that Kirby album today, thanks for the reminder. I may have to retroactively add a couple to this list before the week is out...

    Jan 10 2010, 19h30
  • optimistic_tour

    @gon: oh definitely give your full attention to the Dam-Funk album! It's an epic journey to behold in one sitting. Or at least just listen to each half separately - they do make up 70 minutes apiece, after all.. as for Moderat, I listened several times but it never struck me as hard as Tyler and several of the EE guys made it out to be. This may change later, but it just felt too pleasant, too innocuous to truly stand out for me. @pi: um yes, give that one a try. it's on my blog

    Jan 10 2010, 19h32
  • coookiess

    i agree with lou reed - "average"

    Jan 10 2010, 20h17
  • optimistic_tour

    Lou can suck a fuck!

    Jan 10 2010, 20h43
  • hornygirl3

    I don't think I apply to the MPP revisionist movement, either. I didn't like it when it came out and I still don't care for it too much. It's not as good as AC's other pop stuff. I wouldn't say it's bad, though. Anyways, I agree with the Oneohtrix! I discovered that band in the Wire of all places, which I had previously dismissed as a publication for obscurist pricks. It still is in my book, but it totally has its merits. Someone needs to talk about the music no one will ever hear, right? I also keep reading Leyland Kirby's name. He sounds up my alley. Anyways, great list! Definitely one of the most honest end of the year lists I've seen.

    Jan 10 2010, 21h02
  • coookiess

    lou reed's "average" was directed at the comments on this journal, not the journal. more trolls are needed

    Jan 10 2010, 21h28
  • optimistic_tour

    I know, max. The post went up only yesterday, so don't worry. I expect wildly unpredictable comments in here over the next few weeks, or as long as it stays on the right side of certain artist pages.... (ps I just really wanted an excuse to say 'suck a fuck' - still gives me giggles. thank you Maggie Gyllenhall!)

    Jan 10 2010, 22h31
  • optimistic_tour

    @elliot: Yeah you definitely don't fall under that revisionist crap. I was mainly digging at those whose opinions are so maleable by hype and all that, especially the "oh no they're popular!" types. I took the time to listen to the album a few times in December, to make sure that it did indeed stand the test of time for myself, and was pleasantly surprised to still really enjoy it.. As for The Wire, I rarely pick it up, but despite being old-school pretentious (the photography gives that right away) there's almost always a true gem or two in each issue I've seen. OPN is one of my favorite discoveries this year.. And as for Kirby - his album is a 3cd affair, I guess, but I'll be tackling it later!

    Jan 10 2010, 22h35
  • BoringArcade

    Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue and not Vignetting : (

    Jan 11 2010, 0h28
  • optimistic_tour

    That's right Alex! I know you were proselytizing about it all year, but Ambivalence Avenue simply hit me a lot harder than anything else he did. You know I like my beats, and that's certainly his most beat-driven affair. I mean, you can see how much more I listen to the first two BoC albums over Campfire Headphase, which is more like earlier Bibio. As for the non-AA work, I like Fi most anyway. In any case, thank you for getting me into him. I'd heard hype bout him for over a year before finally checkin him out because of your enthusiasm!

    Jan 11 2010, 0h37
  • JoshP1134

    C'mon, put NUMBER GIRL's "SAPPUKEI" on there! Hahaha.

    Jan 11 2010, 1h47
  • mrmocha

    I don't ascribe to revisionist history. You probably went apeshit for this album in January but talk shit now that your kid brother likes 'em. This is a great psychedelic pop album... [2]

    Jan 12 2010, 0h17
  • hornygirl3

    re-listened to AC pop albums: Feels, Strawberry Jam and MPP. Feels sounded much worse than I remember... it sounded so tame. MPP you all know I still dislike. I'm leaning towards Strawberry Jam as their best pop album....

    Jan 13 2010, 5h59
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