Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Albums of the 2000s (Pt. 4)

Happy New Year's Eve Day! It's almost 2010, and we're finally at the end of Il Buono's Favorite Albums of the 2000s. It's been a long decade and a long list, but both have been thoroughly enjoyable (for me at least). So here are my top 15 favorite albums of the decade: the albums that have truly stuck with me, that I have listened to over and over without getting sick of, the ones that I'll play for my children to get them to stop listening to late period Justin Bieber. Parts 1, 2, and 3 are here, here, and here, and Part 4 is, well, about two lines down. Enjoy.

15. Burial--Untrue
When I first heard Untrue, I thought it was amazing, and Untrue, as it turns out, is a grower. This means that now, after the however-many-eth time I've heard it, it's however-many times more amazing than it was at first. Like the album right above it on this list, Fennesz's Endless Summer, Untrue creates unique sonic moods and atmospheres. It's calm and reserved most of the time, but some of the sounds are refreshingly jarring. The electronics are minimal and dark, and the beats (aided by that persistent woodblock) are the right amounts of repetitive and uneven. The sound is icy, but it's so deep that it creates a warmth upon repeated listens. Burial's vocals--well, the vocals he uses--are just another instrument. But, despite the lack of discernible words, the vocals are very emotional. And that's how this whole album plays out: as contradictions. Cold, but warm. Robotic, but personal. Burial's Untrue is an album that I'll never tire of.

14. Dizzee Rascal--Boy In Da Corner
Boy In Da Corner is one of the heaviest albums to have come out this decade, heavier than practically all '00s metal or experimental albums I've heard. Its beats are heavy, and Dizzee's lyrics and delivery are heavy. Those beats are industrial, experimental, and completely unlike those on any American (or other British) hip-hop release. Those lyrics tell what it's like to be a badass in London--they're intense and very clever--and Dizzee's delivery is frenzied, urgent, and frequently shouted. Dizzee Rascal was nineteen years old (I think) when Boy In Da Corner, and that's kind of evident. It is in that he sounds genuinely excited, not jaded at all, and he is, as the British would say, very wiry. But it's not in that his sound is developed, mature, and way weirder and more complex than most nineteen year olds would be capable of making. This album sounds like no other hip-hop or electronic release before or since, and not even Dizzee himself can replicate it.

13. The Arcade Fire--Funeral
I have a feeling that all reading this are pretty familiar with Funeral. It is, after all, one of--if not the--most important, most critically acclaimed, most beloved albums in the history of independent rock music. And it's mostly deserving of its status. (I say mostly because I'm not sure it's my most beloved indie rock album ever.) Funeral has more big, goosebump-inducing moments than any other album released this decade. Whether that's due to the heavy use of accordion, french horn, and glockenspiel or the bilingual group shouting or something else isn't quite clear, but Funeral brings the chills for sure. The music itself isn't startlingly original or anything, but it has certain qualities--earnestness, warmth, an overall sense of beauty and perfection, and much, much more--that make the album extremely memorable, far more memorable than any other recent indie rock release. Funeral holds up extremely well, unlike its contemporaries or predecessors.

12. The Knife--Silent Shout
After buying Silent Shout sometime in the Fall of 2006, I put it in my (my mom's) car. I believe it stayed there, in frequent enough rotation, until early 2008. It's not just that the music is that good--and, believe me, it is that good--but there is a certain quality to Silent Shout that makes it addictive. Maybe it's that it's a perfect soundtrack to a cold, ugly winter, something Swedes (The Knife) and Chicagoans (me) are plenty used to. Maybe it's that the songs are all so deep and complex that you hear something new every time you listen. It's probably both those things and several dozen others. Silent Shout may not be a startlingly original record (though it's not startlingly derivative either), but it's just intensely likable. Its music draws on European techno, minimalism, goth-y industrial, and pop but adds plenty sonic depth and icy Swedishness. Though the music is cold and dark, The Knife don't take their selves too seriously, which makes Silent Shout pretty fun, too.

11. Fiery Furnaces--Blueberry Boat
I owe Blueberry Boat an eternal gratitude for opening my mind to a lot of different stuff. I first heard it sometime in 2005 I think, and, needless to say, my mind was pretty much blown--which is something that doesn't happen too often. The album is a monumental achievement, and while, yes, it is a bit overblown and chaotic, it's an enjoyable and exciting listen all the way through. The songs meander and change directions like crazy, the lyrics tell bizarre and fantastical stories that are both confusing and brilliant, the instrumentation is extremely diverse and, well, confusing (not to mention virtuosic), and so on and so forth. But Blueberry Boat, despite its wide and frenetic vision, makes sense. When a dissonant organ becomes a light, acoustic guitar in the blink of an eye, it makes sense. When Eleanor Friedberger's English singing becomes Inuit wailing, it makes sense. Fiery Furnaces employ the "it's so crazy it just might work" theory, and the result is so crazy that it works.

10. TV On The Radio--Return To Cookie Mountain
I'm a bit of a cover art snob. If an album cover is really ugly, I might not even give the music a chance. If an album cover is awesome, I'm about 18% more likely to like that album. (This is an estimate.) If an album cover is neither ugly nor awesome, I...I don't know. I tell you this because Return To Cookie Mountain happens to be an album with a pretty darn ugly cover, and so the fact that it cracked my top ten must mean that it's amazing. Which it most certainly is. It's a big, long, loud record that is just accessible enough to warrant repeated enjoyable listens and just experimental enough to make your ears confused at times. Return To Cookie Mountain accomplishes this feat with its arena sized hooks (accessible) and its layers upon layers upon layers of fuzz and feedback (experimental). Its hazy, beautiful, dissonant, sonic attack is paired with uncharacteristically (for a hyped indie release) strong singing. TV On The Radio make expertly executed, intelligent experimental rock, which I like. A lot.

9. Devendra Banhart--Rejoicing In The Hands
If it weren't for a three or four song chunk towards the end of the album's sub-par-ness, Rejoicing In The Hands very well might top this list--or at least be in the top three. You see, I have listened to the first ten songs of this sixteen song album more than probably anything else released this decade. And I know almost every word of each of those ten songs. (Well, to nine of them. One's an instrumental.) It's the only album for which I've tried (with intermittent success) to learn to play every song on guitar. When I went to sleep away camp, I listened to the first four tracks every single night, and I refused to go to bed without doing so. But why do I love this stuff so much? I'll tell you why. I've thought long and hard about a good adjective to sum up this record, and that adjective is pleasant. This is arguably the most pleasant listen ever recorded. The music is almost entirely comprised of nice, finger-picked acoustic guitar, and the lyrics are quirky, weird, and endlessly charming. This album is just endlessly, beautifully, bizarrely pleasant.

8. Dirty Projectors--Bitte Orca
I'm lazy, and I just wrote about this in my favorite albums of '09 post, so I'm just gonna copy and paste. "To say that this was my second most anticipated album of 2009 would be an understatement. It was my first most anticipated album of 2009. And it didn't disappoint. Coming off the decidedly more rock-ish Rise Above, Dave Longstreth and crew created a very rock/pop-ish album in Bitte Orca. And while increasing accessibility is not always a good thing (see Atlas Sound: notice the slip from last year's ranking?), it is in the case of the DPs. David Byrne said something along the lines of, "Dirty Projectors sound like people making pop music who have never heard the form," and I think that's a pretty brilliant critique. Bitte Orca is a scattered, experimental mess rooted in pop music. Its songs are both catchy and mindblowing. And most importantly, with Bitte Orca, Dave Longstreth solidifies his place in the pantheon of songwriters/composers." I'll add that what excites me most about Bitte Orca is that I think that they can do better, and I think they will do better.

7. Panda Bear--Person Pitch
I was (and still am) a big Avey Tare fan. So when I first heard Person Pitch, I got a little worried. "Does this mean that Panda Bear is the reason Animal Collective is so good? Is Avey Tare expendable? Is Noah Lennox the true musical genius?" Well, the answer to that question is no, not really. Avey Tare is brilliantly gifted as well. But my questions were rational, because Person Pitch is an album rooted in the same principals as much of Animal Collective's work, but, for the most part, more lush and--I hate to say it--better. And Panda did it all by himself. Taking samples from all over (Tornadoes, Scott Walker, some crazy religious vocal group, etc.), Panda Bear created an album that is so beautiful, harmonically rich, and sonically diverse that the countless Brian Wilson comparisons that were made were not farfetched. Panda's innocent sounding voice floats above his distorted, murky symphonies as they loop and loop somemore. (I know "somemore" should be two words, but I like thinking of it as one.) Person Pitch changed who my favorite AC member is, which is neither good nor bad.

6. The Avalanches--Since I Left You
When listening to Since I Left You, I feel kinda bad about myself. The Avalanches got to do what I basically do: sit around and listen to an inconceivable amount of music, listening for weird intricacies and patterns and whatnot. The thing is, they created a masterpiece of an album for the masses whereas I write a nerdy blog of which I am probably the most frequent reader. This is why I feel a little bad. But then I actually listen to the album, and I feel bad no longer. I just feel happy and excited because the music on Since I Left You is so invigoratingly upbeat and original that one can't listen to it and feel bad at the same time. It's impossible. In case you didn't know, it's constructed entirely from samples, and the samples are so varied that it gives the music a uniqueness and diversity that I've never really heard. Some songs are straight up pop songs, others are soul, others are dance tunes, and several are more hip-hop-esque. Mashups are a neat trick and all--one that anyone with a computer can pull off--but it takes real musical talent to craft an album as rich and amazing as Since I Left You.

5. LCD Soundsystem--Sound of Silver
Sound Of Silver was well represented in Il Buono's favorite songs of the decade list; two of its songs cracked the top ten. Those two songs--"Someone Great" and "All My Friends"--appear one after the other on the album, creating one of the finest 14 minute segments ever recorded that could alone land this album in the top 20. Fortunately, though, those two tracks are surrounded by several other excellent songs. James Murphy sticks his foot further into the realms of pop, post-punk, and no wave on Sound Of Silver, but it's clear that his heart is still in making dance music. The result is a batch of very diverse songs, from piano ballads to short post-punk tunes to experimental-y electronic songs that are all tied together by an innate sense of groove and Murphy's vocals. Said vocals are what sets this album apart the most, though. Still snarky and clever, James Murphy injects a ton of heart and soul into his smart, age-appropriate lyrics (especially on those two songs), creating a thoroughly personal listening experience. It's a shame that the last three songs aren't too great, because this could maybe be #2 otherwise.

4. The White Stripes--White Blood Cells
I'm pretty sure White Blood Cells holds the distinction of being the album on this list that I've had longest. Riveted by "Fell In Love With A Girl" and "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground", my nine year old self cherished this album. It was in a group with Hoobastank's eponymous disc, Linkin Park's debut, and Nevermind of my absolute favorite albums. So part of my adoration for this album is certainly tied to nostalgia. But I still love and cherish White Blood Cells (and Nevermind) while I'm not quite as keen on Hoobastank or Linkin Park. This is because White Blood Cells not only rocks really hard and has plenty of radio-ready hooks--the qualities that appealed to the nine year old me--but is also filled with genuinely creative and amazing music. One might knock its lack of originality or its influence on so much bad music, but, despite the fact that The White Stripes are following forty-plus year old traditions and have indeed inspired several terrible knockoffs, White Blood Cells is still wholly unique. And that's because, nowadays, genuinely great rock n' roll is unique. Jack White's guitar playing doesn't hurt. (He gets my vote for best guitarist of the decade.)

3. Modest Mouse--The Moon & Antarctica
This marks the second time Modest Mouse has appeared in my top three albums of the decade list (the first was when The Lonesome Crowded West showed up at #3 on my top albums of the '90s list), and there's a reason for that. The reason is: Modest Mouse is a great band. Their last album may have been a bit of a misfire (not terrible, though), but Modest Mouse is without a doubt one of my favorite bands. (I won't get into specifics, but I bet they would at least make a top 20.) The Moon & Antarctica is, musically speaking, their best album. (I kinda prefer Lonesome, but I think Moon is a smarter, more mature, and more well constructed work.) It found them stepping up their accessibility a little, crafting several songs with acoustic guitars, recognizable choruses, and limited screaming. The songs are certainly a bit more structured, but they still meander and drift in a beautiful manner. And, in making the album a little poppier, they lost none of their lyrical genius or complexity. Isaac Brock proves himself once again to be one of music's foremost songwriters through his self-deprecating, realistic/surrealistic portraits of everyday life. The Moon & Antarctica is a mesmerizing, invigorating listen by modern rock's most creative group.

2. Outkast--Stankonia
I think I've proven that I'm not really a reliable source for hip-hop. My taste in the genre doesn't really extend beyond the critically acclaimed, white man approved albums, and I usually don't even like those albums as much as most of those pasty critics do. But I do like Stankonia, the third best reviewed album of the decade, according to Metacritic. And I attribute my loving of this album (and Outkast as a whole) not only to its status as an heir-apparent to There's A Riot Goin' On (note its cover, its content, and its samples; Riot was definitely an influence), but also to that it contains some of the most inventive, complex, and bizarre music of the decade. If one were to listen to Stankonia's instrumentals, one might think it was some sort of underground experimental space-funk album. This is because, as into the funk of the '70s as Outkast is, this music is extremely forward-thinking. Even the hits off this album are unique and very weird, both production-wise and lyrics-wise. Speaking of the lyrics, by the time of Stankonia's release, Outkast had already proved themselves lyrical geniuses: their vocal rhythms are entirely unique and their subject matter covers the surreal, aliens, and real life with the utmost cleverness, intelligence--even when they are relentlessly dirty. Stankonia just gives them even more, evens stronger evidence. Both Andre 3000 and Big Boi are true (I hate to say this next phrase with a straight face) street poets. Stankonia is the best hip-hop album I've ever heard.

1. Animal Collective--Sung Tongs
I think it's fitting to quote Ichiro, probably the decade's best contact hitter, when talking about the decade's best album. What he said referred to Daisuke Matsuzaka, but I think it works for me and Sung Tongs as well. You see, Sung Tongs "[aroused] the fire that's dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul." As starkly calming, relaxing, and warm as the album is, it excited me like nothing else released from '00 to '09.

It excited me first simply because I had never heard anything quite like it. At the time I first listened to Sung Tongs, I wasn't used to music so formless, so effected, so affected, and so beautiful. I wasn't used to albums with vocals, but, for the most part, without intelligible words. I wasn't used to the gurgles and hazes that sometimes obscure the actual music. I wasn't used to minutes upon minutes of atonal acoustic droning. Even now, after I've heard some of these things pop up in other music, Sung Tongs is an extremely unique work. I suppose it fits under the freak-folk banner, but the "freak" half of the title is certainly the more apt half. This album is very experimental without a doubt. While it's certainly more accessible than their previous albums, it's a far cry from something Entertainment Weekly would call the best album of the year. Avey Tare and Panda Bear's shrieks, moans, and mumbles are just another instrument (unlike on successive AC releases), one to complement the atonal pianos and repetitive guitars and tribal percussion. This is a landmark album for indie rock in general, as it allowed (and even encouraged) others to experiment with textures and forms, and it was a landmark album for me, as it encouraged me to look for music that wasn't just Arcade Fire-esque. (Not that that's always a bad thing. I just have found more enjoyment in things not as Arcade Fire-esque.)

As I said, this album is heralded as one of the foremost documents of freak-folk. And, as I said, this album is most definitely more "freak." But it's called folk for a reason. It incorporates many of the traits of great folk music. While the most obvious of those traits is the acoustic-ness of the music, the overall feeling of the album reminds me of some of the finest works of folk (Pink Moon, Songs Of Leonard Cohen, Blue, etc.) It's that feeling of (I know I talk about this all the time) warmth and personality that makes this, like other folk albums, so amazing. Sung Tongs sounds like it was recorded in your living room, next to the fireplace, possibly in a fort made by hanging blankets over tables and chairs. And that's how a folk album should sound.

Is Sung Tongs the most technically amazing album made this decade? No. Is it the most unique? No, though it's quite unique. Would it impressed an old music theory professor? Likely not. But it's one of the most beautiful and relaxing recordings I've ever heard. And it's my favorite album of the decade, and that's that.

That's what I think. Some pretty good stuff came out this decade, huh? I think so. Celebrate the new year by listening to some of these albums; that's sure to make it a good New Year's Day.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top Albums of the 2000s (Pt. 3)

Well, here's Part 3. Part 1 and 2 are here and here in case you missed them or just want to refresh yourself. Below are my #16 through 30 favorite albums of this past decade. We're getting close!

30. Fugazi--The Argument
Fugazi's last album (unless they reunite--please reunite!), The Argument is a very nice end to the path their music was taking. It tones down the hardcore-y-ness even more than the preceding releases and adds further maturity and complexity to their music. This, however, is not to say that The Argument is not aggressive or emotionless. It's quite aggressive and emotional, just in a way that's more calculated than on, say, 13 Songs. Fugazi are legends because they've been able to maintain the qualities that made Minor Threat and early Fugazi great while modernizing and progressing their sound with each successive album. This is a classic end to a classic career.

29. The Strokes--Is This It
As much as publications would like you to think, Is This It has nothing to do with 9/11 in terms of content and idea. It came out in July of 2001, two solid months before the attacks. But the reason that people feel it's necessary to connect this album to the attacks is because this album is distinctly New York, and, during a time when New York was a mess, this album was able to represent all that was good and exciting about the city. It combines various aspects of New York's rich musical history (from The Velvets to punk to new wave, etc.) to create one of the decade's defining musical statements. It might not be my favorite, but it's certainly one of the most important albums this decade.

28. Boredoms--Vision Creation Newsun
The spacey, kraut-y accessibility hinted at on Super Ae is unleashed on Vision Creation Newsun, and the result is the Boredoms' most instantly pleasing and probably best album. Like its predecessor, Vision is made up of several lengthy pieces that start in one place and then travel to about twelve others before concluding. Boredoms make thoroughly busy music, and I'd be lying if I said parts of Pop Tatari and Super Ae didn't give me headaches. But Vision is headache-free. It is still very experimental, but it's much more refined and sophisticated experimenting. Released right at the dawn of the decade (and in the '90s in Japan), it's still more contemporary and more complex than nearly everything since.
"(Circle)" (excerpt)

27. Broadcast--Haha Sound
(For some reason, I always type "Boradcast," so I'm gonna refer to them by that name for the duration of this post.) Haha Sound caught me kind of off guard. This is music that, even though it is rooted in '60s psychedelic and krautrock, sounds like essentially nothing else, and it sounds distinctly modern. And in a decade when most bands tried to sound old, it's refreshing to hear someone trying (and succeeding) to sound current or even like the future. Combining propulsive, Liebzeit-ian percussion with gurgly, metallic-y electronics with air-y, pretty pop vocals, Boradcast makes music that is both instantly enjoyable and catchy, but also appetizingly challenging. It's both very weird and very pleasant: a winning combination, in my book.

26. Animal Collective--Strawberry Jam
With each successive release, Animal Collective has taken a step towards outright accessibility. That said, at the rate they're going, it'll probably take another fifteen releases before they're on Kiss FM. But Strawberry Jam is the album that proved to all that they know how to write a great hook in addition to all their other talents. Their lyrics are still on the obtuse side, but their structures and melodies on Strawberry Jam are much more conventional even than on Feels. It's a bit of a transition album, as it mixes the acoustic-ness of old with the electronic sounds of MPP, but it's great on its own. And it contains some of the band's best material (notable "Fireworks"), and, as a whole, is just more evidence to prove that AC is the best band of the decade.

25. Brian Wilson--SMiLE
Countless artists tried to sound like Brian Wilson this decade, and the person who best accomplished that task was, well, Brian Wilson. All the material on SMiLE was written about thirty-five years before this album was released, and though it doesn't exactly sound fresh, it doesn't sound terribly dated. It proves that the beautiful, harmonic, sophisticated pop music that Wilson has such a penchant for crafting is timeless. Though Wilson's voice isn't quite what it was on, say, Pet Sounds, the superior production makes up for it. The fact that SMiLE is as good as it is is pretty incredible due to the fact that it was shelved for so long. By making SMiLE a success, Wilson was able to end one of the longest running jokes in music with a triumph, a feat Axl Rose couldn't match.

24. The Exploding Hearts--Guitar Romantic
Guitar Romantic is one of the most exciting, exuberant, and downright fun albums ever made. Combining '60s pop, '70s power-pop, and punk, The Exploding Hearts perfected a formula that has been attempted (with less success) by many a band since. It's one of the most unabashedly personal albums I've heard. It's also not pretentious at all, which is nice considering the high amount of pretension that is featured on most indie rock albums. It's also more focused on rocking and having fun than being abstruse, which is equally refreshing. While listening to Guitar Romantic, you just want to friends with The Exploding Hearts because they're real and they're fun, which makes what happened to them all the more devastating. Imagine what they could have done with another album or two.

23. Liars--Drum's Not Dead
The fact that Liars can change their sound pretty radically with each successive album and always be good is pretty amazing. They've dabbled in a plethora of underground rock sub-genres, but on nothing else is their sound more unique and just plain awesome as on Drum's Not Dead. Recorded after the band moved to Berlin, this album is a chiming, droning mess of a rock n' roll album that is filled with as much beauty as it is bizarre-ness. The guitar tones they get are ridiculous (in a great way), and singer Angus Andrew's primarily falsetto singing is, like everything else, both very weird and surprisingly pretty. What moves the music most, though, is the percussion. Caught somewhere between African tribes and '70s Germany, the percussion is heavy and wild. Drum's Not Dead is one of this decade's finest acts' opus.

22. Sonic Youth--Murray Street
Sonic Youth took a bit of a hiatus from making landmark albums, but, on Murray Street, they return. Don't get me wrong, I like nearly everything they've ever done, but everything after Goo is relatively inessential compared to their '80s output. (One could argue that Goo isn't entirely essential either.) Anyhow, Murray Street showcases a decently accessible Sonic Youth, aided by the guitar of Jim O'Rourke. The music on this album sounds new--newer than any previous, or possibly even subsequent, release--but it still sounds like quintessential Sonic Youth. As is often the case with their music, the guitars are the most important thing, and the third guitar allows for even more unique textures. They peaked in 1988, but Murray Street shows that the slope after the peak has not been (and will continue to not be) all downhill.

21. Boards of Canada--Geogaddi
Because it's not super different from Boards of Canada's genius Music Has The Right To Children, I was a bit skeptical of Geogaddi at first. But, while it is certainly built upon the same musical foundations, it's its own unique and amazing album. Geogaddi sets a darker and thicker atmosphere than Music Has The Right To Children does, which, for starters, sets it apart. It's also more complex and mature in general; it was created four years after Music...Children, and that is readily apparent. Boards of Canada have inspired many knockoffs, which may lead some to view their music as simple and/or nothing special. But their music is not simple. The textures and moods they create are deep, unusual, and uniquely them. And their music is certainly something special. Is this one better than Music? You know, it's really hard to say.

20. Animal Collective--Merriweather Post Pavilion
I wrote about this bad boy about a week ago (maybe a little more) in my recap of my favorite albums of 2009 (this placed at #2), and I mentioned how ridiculously over the top the hype surrounding the album was. From folks declaring it the top album of '09 in early January to it actually being voted the top album of '09 by everyone from Pitchfork to Entertainment Weekly in December, news about MPP was inescapable. But it wasn't undeserved. On this album, Animal Collective, the greatest band of the decade (no hyperbole here), sounds more mature and confident than ever before. They sound as though they have accomplished their vision, and they know that it has been a huge success. The production quality, accessibility, and overall shininess are all upped on Merriweather, but it still sounds distinctly like Animal Collective, which is always good.

19. Radiohead--Kid A
"Blasphemy! How could you not love Radiohead?" you may find yourself asking. Well, I almost love them. I think they're a great band, and I think Kid A is their best album and one of the finest of this past decade. But it's not the best. That said, I'll talk about the music a bit. With Kid A, Radiohead wanted to reject the mainstream, and they did just that. Kid A sounds like nothing else released by a band this big since...a long time ago. It's a weird, complicated, emotional electronic album that's decidedly introverted and experimental. All the programming is intricate, which is impressive given the guitar rock background of the group. The vocals are very Yorke-ian, but they often hide behind effects and whatnot, making his voice even more demented. It's a bit derivative and pretentious at times, which is why it's not top ten for me, but Kid A is great.

18. D'Angelo--Voodoo
It's been said that while recording Voodoo, D'Angelo and his crew listened to Sly & The Family Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On (my favorite album of the '70s and, perhaps, my favorite album ever made) a lot, and, well, it shows. Not since Riot have I heard a soul album as dark, bizarre, and just plain amazing as Voodoo. It's the funkiest thing since the '70s, but it sounds like the '00s, possibly even the '10s. In that respect, and in that it's more minimalist than Riot set it apart musically, but they definitely share a common ancestry. Guitar and organ grooves drift in and out slowly and thickly, creating a minimal, funky atmosphere. Questlove's beats are perfectly slow and hip-hop inspired. The music on Voodoo alone could land it on this list, but D'Angelo's vocals make this a classic. His voice is unbelievably smooth and soulful, his lyrics both clever and demented.
"Untitled (How Does It Feel)" (one of the decade's most ridiculous videos)

17. Portishead--Third
Portishead's triumphant return is...triumphant. After a long hiatus, Portishead came out with Third, their aptly titled third album. On it, they abandon the trip-hop that made them semi-famous for a varied mix of avant-electro rock (thankfully. Trip-hop would've sounded pretty out of date.) The music on this album is just that: varied. They change stylistically from acoustic ballads to smooth electronic numbers to noisy, industrial pieces--sometimes mid-song. There's even a short ukulele tune thrown in there. And it works. Everything works. It's an extremely diverse record, but it's cohesive. The common thread is Beth Gibbons's voice; it's as beautiful and soulful as ever. That Third is indeed triumphant though is made all the more amazing when you realize that it was the band's first release in eleven years. Here's to hoping the next Portishead album drops before 2020.

16. Fennesz--Endless Summer
When I first began making this list, I made a group of about twenty albums that were "the best ones." Right off the bat, I put Endless Summer in that group. But then, I was like, "Does this really belong? It's an instrumental album of just hazy noise. All these other albums have a lot more variety. And words." And so I dropped it down a little. But then, I was like, "This does belong. It may not have lyrics, but it is one of the most beautiful, atmospheric, warm, texture-rich recordings I've ever heard." And so I moved it back up, all the way to #16. And it deserves #16. Endless Summer, created using just a guitar and a computer (my two favorite things), is indeed one of the most blissful listening experiences of the decade. Nothing else sounds like this, not even Fennesz's other albums. Fennesz is probably the best composer of this decade, and Summer is his Music For 18 Musicians a.k.a. his opus.

That's what I think. Picking between these albums is next to impossible. Also, we're getting really close to the top. Can you guess the top 15? Probably.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Albums of the 2000s (Pt. 2)

Hey there. Here are my 31st favorite through 60th favorite albums of the decade. I like them a lot, and you should, too. In case you missed Part 1, it's here. Otherwise, keep on reading.

60. Hercules And Love Affair--Hercules And Love Affair
59. Unwound--Leaves Turn Inside You
58. The Field--From Here We Go Sublime
57. Deerhunter--Microcastle
56. Grizzly Bear--Veckatimest
55. Sun Araw--Heavy Deeds
54. Madvillain--Madvillainy
53. Tom Waits--Alice
52. TV On The Radio--Dear Science
51. Fuck Buttons--Tarot Sport

50. Grizzly Bear--Yellow House
49. Dirty Projectors--Rise Above
48. Clinic--Internal Wrangler
47. The Books--The Lemon Of Pink
46. John Fahey--Red Cross
45. Fever Ray--Fever Ray
44. Liars--They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top
43. Sigur Ros--Agaetis Byrjun
42. Battles--Mirrored
41. Scott Walker--The Drift

40. The Streets--Original Pirate Material
39. LCD Soundsystem--LCD Soundsystem
38. Animal Collective--Feels
37. Mclusky--Do Dallas
36. No Age--Nouns
35. Dan Deacon--Bromst
34. The White Stripes--Elephant
33. Manitoba--Up In Flames
32. Antony & The Johnsons--I Am A Bird Now
31. Yo La Tengo--And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out

That's what I think. Part 3 comes next, which will have my #'s 30 through 16. If you want, try to predict what will make the top 30. It probably won't be too difficult.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top Albums of the 2000s (Pt. 1)

I got a little sappy on you in my explanation of My Favorite Songs of the 2000s (Pt. 1) (Part 2 is here in case you missed it), but it was a deserved sappiness. I've enjoyed this decade, partly because I don't have much to compare it to. (My memories from the early to mid '90s are few and far between/nonexistant.) Anyhow, here is my list of my favorite albums of the decade. While I do tend to prefer older music for its originality and whatnot, this is the music that resonates most with me because these are albums I (sometimes) bought the day they came out made by artists that I read about and see live, etc. When I grow old and my kids are listening to Justin Bieber (after his mid-career renaissance), I'll be able to say, "this is what music was like when I was your age," and then put on Blueberry Boat and blow their minds. Enjoy.

150. Viktor Vaughn--Vaudeville Villain
149. The Unicorns--Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone
148. Fucked Up--Hidden World
147. Sunn 0)))--Black One
146. Fiery Furnaces--I'm Going Away
145. Beirut--The Flying Club Cup
144. Chromatics--Night Drive
143. Lindstrom--Where You Go I Go Too
142. Caribou--Andorra
141. Queens Of The Stone Age--Songs For The Deaf

140. Art Ensemble Of Chicago--Tribute To Lester
139. DJ/rupture--Uproot
138. My Morning Jacket--Z
137. Sunn 0)))--Monoliths & Dimensions
136. Dirty Projectors--Slaves' Graves & Ballads
135. The Books--Lost And Safe
134. TV On The Radio--Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes
133. Deerhunter--Cryptograms
132. Junior Boys--Last Exit
131. M83--Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts

130. Lightning Bolt--Wonderful Rainbow
129. Fuck Buttons--Street Horrrsing
128. Boris--Pink
127. Destroyer--Destroyer's Rubies
126. Dam-Funk--Toeachizown
125. Mum--Yesterday Was Dramatic - Today Is OK
124. Basement Jaxx--Rooty
123. Burial--Burial
122. M.I.A.--Arular
121. Isolee--We Are Monster

120. Beach House--Beach House
119. Jim O'Rourke--The Visitor
118. The Go! Team--Thunder, Lightning, Strike
117. Sonic Youth--Sonic Nurse
116. The Microphones--The Glow, Pt. 2
115. Deerhoof--Apple O'
114. Bibio--Ambivalence Avenue
113. Liars--Liars
112. Radiohead--Amnesiac
111. Arthur Russell--Love Is Overtaking Me

110. Atlas Sound--Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
109. Jim O'Rourke--Insignificance
108. Primal Scream--XTRMNTR
107. King Midas Sound--Waiting For You
106. M.I.A.--Kala
105. Ekkehard Ehlers--Plays
104. Mu--Afro Finger & Gel
103. The Rapture--Echoes
102. Junior Boys--So This Is Goodbye
101. Beach House--Devotion

100. The Sandwitches--How To Make Ambient Sadcake
99. Ghostface Killah--Fishscale
98. Black Dice--Beaches & Canyons
97. Dirty Projectors--The Getty Address
96. Animal Collective--Here Comes The Indian
95. Devendra Banhart--Oh Me Oh My...
94. Dan Deacon--Spiderman Of The Rings
93. Micachu--Jewellery
92. The Darkness--Permission To Land
91. Fleet Foxes--Fleet Foxes

90. Hot Chip--The Warning
89. Luomo--Vocalcity
88. 2 Many DJ's--As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2
87. Fenn O'Berg--The Return Of Fenn O'Berg
86. Bat For Lashes--Two Suns
85. Godspeed You! Black Emperor--Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
84. Gang Gang Dance--Saint Dymphna
83. The Books--Thought For Food
82. Modest Mouse--Good News For People Who Love Bad News
81. Grouper--Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill

80. Max Tundra--Mastered By Guy At The Exchange
79. Outkast--Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
78. Fiery Furnaces--Gallowsbird's Bark
77. Deerhoof--The Runners Four
76. Erlend Oye--DJ Kicks
75. Antony & The Johnsons--The Crying Light
74. The Streets--A Grand Don't Come For Free
73. Joanna Newsom--Ys
72. The White Stripes--De Stijl
71. Ghostface Killah--Supreme Clientele

70. Missy Elliott--Miss E...So Addictive
69. Raekwon--Only Built 4 Cuban Link, Pt. II
68. Bjork--Vespertine
67. Gas--Pop
66. Broadcast & The Focus Group--Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age
65. The Bug--London Zoo
64. Fucked Up--The Chemistry Of Common Life
63. Wolf Parade--Apologies To The Queen Mary
62. Tom Waits--Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards
61. No Age--Weirdo Rippers

That's what I think. Stay tuned for Parts 2 through 4.

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Favorite Songs of The 2000s (Pt. 2)

Here is Part 2 of the my-favorite-songs-of-the-decade list. In case you missed Part 1 (and my corresponding wistful intro), it's here. That one explains essentially everything you need to know. The only thing you need to know about this part is that it includes my absolute favorite songs of this past decade: #60 through the big #1. All these songs are very good, so I hope you appreciate them.

60. Portishead--Machine Gun
59. The Darkness--I Believe In A Thing Called Love
58. Dan Deacon--Wham City
57. The Knife--Silent Shout
56. TV On The Radio--Staring At The Sun
55. Queens Of The Stone Age--No One Knows
54. Annie--Heartbeat
53. Antony & The Johnsons--Aeon
52. Dirty Projectors--Two Doves
51. The Avalanches--Frontier Psychiatrist

50. Kylie Minogue--Can't Get You Out Of My Head
49. Bat For Lashes--Daniel
48. M.I.A. feat. Bun B & Rich Boy--Paper Planes
47. The Streets--Fit But You Know It
46. Dizzee Rascal--Fix Up, Look Sharp
45. Animal Collective--Leaf House
44. Animal Collective--My Girls
43. Gold Panda--Quitters Raga
42. The Knife--Heartbeats
41. Hot Chip--And I Was A Boy From School

40. LCD Soundsystem--Yeah (Crass Version)
39. The Rapture--House Of Jealous Lovers
38. UGK feat. Outkast--Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)
37. Beyonce--Crazy In Love
36. Joy Orbison--Hyph Mngo
35. DJ Kaos--Love The Night Away (Tiedye Mix)
34. The Postal Service--Such Great Heights
33. Electric Six--Danger! High Voltage
32. Peter Bjorn & John--Young Folks
31. Antony & The Johnsons--Hope There's Someone

30. The Avalanches--Since I Left You
29. Grinderman--No Pussy Blues
28. Dan Deacon--Snookered
27. Burial--Archangel
26. Arthur Russell--I Couldn't Say It To Your Face
25. Animal Collective--What Would I Want? Sky
24. Panda Bear--Bros
23. The Knife--We Share Our Mothers' Health
22. The Exploding Hearts--I'm A Pretender
21. Mclusky--To Hell With Good Intentions

20. Beirut--Postcards From Italy
19. Modest Mouse--Float On
18. Yeah Yeah Yeahs--Maps
17. Dirty Projectors--Stillness Is The Move
16. The Arcade Fire--Wake Up
15. Wolf Parade--I'll Believe In Anything
14. TV On The Radio--Wolf Like Me
13. Gnarls Barkley--Crazy
12. The White Stripes--Seven Nation Army
11. Hercules And Love Affair--Blind

10. Outkast--B.O.B.
9. LCD Soundsystem--Someone Great
8. Missy Elliott--Get Ur Freak On
7. Animal Collective--Fireworks
6. Battles--Atlas
5. R. Kelly--Ignition (Remix)
4. LCD Soundsystem--All My Friends
3. Outkast--Hey Ya!
2. The White Stripes--Fell In Love With A Girl (Also the best video of the decade)
1. LCD Soundsystem--Losing My Edge

That's what I think. Yes, I like LCD Soundsystem. Look for the best albums list soon.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Favorite Songs of The 2000s (Pt. 1)

I post this list with a feeling of bittersweetness. The sweet: it's given me the impetus to listen to all my favorite songs of the past ten years over and over again, and I get to publish a list that has technically been in the works since I was seven and a half years old. The bitter: I've been downloading and buying music for the past ten years to make this list, and now that it's done, what the hell will I do with my time? I guess I'm now officially looking forward to my best of the 2010's list.

Anyways, this list is indeed exciting (for me, at least.) It covers the music of my decade, so making this list felt more relevant and personal than making, say, my best of the '60s one. Because I remember when this stuff came out. I remember getting Good News For People Who Like Bad News for fifth grade graduation and immediately getting rid of my Hoobastank CDs. I remember. I remember hearing "Fell In Love With A Girl" when I was nine and falling in love with rock n' roll. I remember hearing Animal Collective for the first time after Feels came out and having my mind blown, never to fully recover. This music is close to me, and it's awesome. Wow, that was sappy.

You know how people on VH1 are always like "I was a child of the '80s or the '90s. I'm soooo cool." Well, I'm a child of the '00s, and I, too, am so cool. This is the first decade that I've lived through entirely, and I must say, it's been a pretty good one--for music and in general. So sit back and enjoy what I think to be the best music of this decade, whatever you choose to call it.

First up is Part 1 of My Favorite Songs list, which will include #'s 150 through 61. Part 2 will have #'s 60 through 1. After that, we'll count down the Top 150 Albums of the decade in either three or four parts. We'll see about that.

As far as picking the songs goes: 1) It was very difficult, and 2) I focused on singles. When it comes down to it, I wanted to go with the songs that I listened to the most over the course of the whole decade and the songs that really caught my ear. Some caught my ear a couple months ago and others: eight years ago. Is Jimmy Eat World as groundbreaking as Dirty Projectors? No, but they released an amazing single that I was obsessed with when it came out, and I still like. So, yeah. Oh, and I did set up one restriction, which was that one album can only have two songs on the list. I did this for the sake of diversity. Here goes.

150. TV On The Radio--DLZ
149. Sleigh Bells--Crown On The Ground
148. Missy Elliot feat. Ludacris--Gossip Folks
147. Caribou--Melody Day
146. Basement Jaxx--Romeo
145. Amerie--1 Thing
144. Beirut--Nantes
143. Beach House--Norway
142. Lady Sovereign--Random
141. The Streets--Has It Come To This

140. Fishcerspooner--Emerge
139. Sonic Youth--Sympathy For The Strawberry
138. Ghostface Killah--Shakey Dog
137. No Age--Eraser
136. Joanna Newsom--Emily
135. Dirty Projectors--Rise Above
134. Yo La Tengo--You Can Have It All
133. Clinic--The Second Line
132. My Morning Jacket--Off The Record
131. Broadcast--Colour Me In

130. The Sandwitches--Back To The Sea
129. Arthur Russell--Close My Eyes
128. Fleet Foxes--White Winter Hymnal
127. Grouper--Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping
126. Fuck Buttons--Sweet Love For Planet Earth
125. Grizzly Bear--While You Wait For The Others
124. Prinzhorn Dance School--You Are The Space Invader
123. Dan Deacon--The Crystal Cat
122. Aeroplane feat. Kathy Diamond--Whispers
121. Chromatics--In The City

120. Daft Punk--Digital Love
119. Fugazi--Life And Limb
118. Girls--Lust For Life
117. The White Stripes--Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground
116. Air France--Collapsing At Your Doorstep
115. Panda Bear--Comfy In Nautica
114. M.I.A.--Galang
113. Basement Jaxx--Where's Your Head At
112. Beyonce--Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
111. Justin Timberlake feat. T.I.--My Love

110. Hot Chip--Ready For The Floor
109. The Exploding Hearts--Modern Kicks
108. The Field--A Paw In My Face
107. The Go! Team--The Power Is On
106. Radiohead--Idioteque
105. Animal Collective--Brother Sport
104. LCD Soundsystem--Tribulations
103. Portishead--The Rip
102. Mu--Let's Get Sick
101. Fuck Buttons--Surf Solar

And now: the top 100! (This line is completely unnecessary!)

100. Deerhunter--Nothing Ever Happened
99. Kelis--Milkshake
98. !!!--Me And Giuliani Down By The Schoolyard
97. TV On The Radio--Mister Grieves
96. Modest Mouse--Gravity Rides Everything
95. Junior Boys--In The Morning
94. The Strokes--Last Nite
93. The Shins--New Slang
92. Yeah Yeah Yeahs--Y Control
91. Kelly Clarkson--Since U Been Gone

90. Brian Eno & David Byrne--Strange Overtones
89. Grizzly Bear--Knife
88. Devendra Banhart--The Body Breaks
87. Missy Elliott--Work It
86. Big Boi feat. Gucci Mane--Shine Blockas
85. Jimmy Eat World--The Middle
84. Animal Collective--Grass
83. R. Kelly--Trapped In The Closet: Chapter 22
82. The Very Best--Warm Heart Of Africa
81. Dizzee Rascal--Jus A Rascal

80. Dirty Projectors & David Byrne--Knotty Pine
79. Outkast--Ms. Jackson
78. Andrew W.K.--Party Hard
77. Sigur Ros--Svefn-g-englar
76. D'Angelo--Devil's Pie
75. Freelance Hellraiser--A Stroke Of Genius
74. Hercules And Love Affair--Hercules' Theme
73. Modest Mouse--3rd Planet
72. Animal Collective--Who Could Win A Rabbit
71. Radiohead--Everything In Its Right Place

70. Hot Chip--Over & Over
69. Grizzly Bear--Two Weeks
68. Lily Allen--Smile
67. The Hives--Hate To Say I Told You So
66. Gorillaz--Clint Eastwood
65. Fiery Furnaces--My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found
64. YACHT--Psychic City (Voodoo City)
63. Fleet Foxes--Blue Ridge Mountains
62. The Strokes--Hard To Explain
61. Justice--D.A.N.C.E.

That's what I think. According to the timeline at the top, Part 2 will come out tomorrow. Let's hope so. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Favorite Albums of 2009

2009 is finally coming to a close. Too bad. I liked it. There was an alarming number of good albums released, and life has been pretty enjoyable. Win-win. Anyways, let's get to that alarming number of good albums.

Coming into the year, I (and many others) knew I (they) would love the new albums from Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, and, most of all (for me at least), Dirty Projectors. This turned out to be the case, as all three artists delivered great albums. But, fortunately, a ton of other artists stepped up to the plate and made amazing albums, too. No real trend emerges on my list, other than quality. There's Reich-ish electro-pop, sludgy psychedelia, garage-country, noise covered dance, etc. You get the point. Here's the list.

30. Zu--Carboniferous
29. The Juan Maclean--The Future Will Come
28. Oneida--Rated O
27. Dream Colour--Spiritual Celebration
26. Tyondai Braxton--Central Market
25. Ganglians--Monster Head Room
24. YACHT--See Mystery Lights
23. Flaming Tunes--Flaming Tunes
22. The xx--The xx
21. Girls--Album

20. Atlas Sound--Logos
19. The Fiery Furnaces--I'm Going Away
18. Sunn 0)))--Monoliths and Dimensions
17. Dam-Funk--Toeachizown
16. Jim O'Rourke--The Visitor
15. Bibio--Ambivalence Avenue
14. King Midas Sound--Waiting For You
13. The Sandwitches--How To Make Ambient Sadcake
12. Micachu--Jewellery
11. Bat For Lashes--Two Suns

10. Antony & The Johnsons--The Crying Light
I was nervous upon my first listening of The Crying Light because it sounds so similar to its predecessor. But you know what: its predecessor is pretty darn amazing. On Light, Antony's voice, which is certainly the center of attention, sounds as good and emotional as ever and maybe even more polished. The album doesn't necessarily offer anything new, but it's good music. And good music is always welcome at Il Buono.

9. Raekwon--Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. II
Chastise me for including the obvious hip-hop album. Go ahead. But the bottom line is OB4CL2 has the gotten the attention it has because it's a truly special hip-hop album. It's awesome because it sounds like vintage Wu-Tang Clan (thanks to the many Wu guest appearances) which is always a good thing, but it sounds current. And not current in that it abuses auto-tune and whatnot, but current in that it's crisp and relevant.

8. Broadcast & The Focus Group--Investigate Witch Cults of The Radio Age
I was a little thrown by the "& The Focus Group" part seeing as I don't know who The Focus Group is, and I tend to stray from collaborations. (I don't know why. I just do.) But this album is thoroughly Broadcast-ish. It's a messy collection of psych-pop songs that's even more experimental than their other work. Witch Cults breezes through a whole bunch of songs without the listener realizing what's going on because it's all so hazily blissful.

7. Grizzly Bear--Veckatimest
I think anyone that is reading this is pretty familiar with Veckatimest. It was a big album in sales (it debuted at #8 on the charts), in hype (if you used the internet this year, you read about it), and in aspirations. The aspirations are the part I care about. This album is carefully calculated and rehearsed to be beautiful. And it is beautiful. On no other album released this year is the musicianship so crisp and the effort so great, and that's refreshing to hear. It had a lot of hype, and it delivered.

6. Sun Araw--Heavy Deeds
An album that kind of came out of left-field for me, Heavy Deeds has turned out to be one of my most listened to albums in recent memory. The idea behind the music isn't especially original: long, sludgy, psychedelic songs heavy on wah and chanting. But, for some reason, it sounds like basically nothing I've heard, new or old. It's certainly heavy, as the title suggests, but it's also very warm and personal in an otherworldly manner. Heavy Deeds is modern psychedelia done right--an epiphany, of sorts.

5. Fuck Buttons--Tarot Sport
When I was listening to Street Horrrsing a lot last year, I really liked it, but I thought that maybe it was trying to hard to maintain a shred of accessibility. Maybe it'd be better if Fuck Buttons just decided to stick to making harsh noise. Well Tarot Sport kinda proved me wrong. Rather than become more experimental, Fuck Buttons became more accessible--my fear--and it turned out to be a great success. Tarot Sport is still filled with spiky electronics and primitive noise, but it's also a ton of fun. It's really a dance album--and a darn good one at that.

4. Fever Ray--Fever Ray
Fever Ray a.k.a. Karin Dreijer Andersson (sp?) from The Knife sounds quite similar to The Knife. Coincidence? I think not. Problem? Definitely not. She follows The Knife's Silent Shout, a certified classic, with a batch of tunes similar in approach but different enough in sound to make Fever Ray worth your time. It's less icy and more natural than Silent Shout, and Karin's voice is even more in the forefront. Is it better than Silent Shout? No. But it's close, and it makes for both a great companion piece to its predecessor and a great standalone record.

3. Dan Deacon--Bromst
Bromst is the sound of Dan Deacon growing up, which I'm sure wasn't easy for him. Part of what made his previous music so great was its childishness and recklessness. And while Bromst isn't short on chipmunk-esque vocals and wacky electronic noise, it's also chock full of sophisticated compositions. Taking cues from Glass, Reich, and the like, Deacon composes long and thoughtful pieces of music. And many of the tracks are just that: pieces, rather than songs. Bromst is a bona fide work of art in which Deacon phases, programs, pulses, and, most importantly, dances his way into genius status.

2. Animal Collective--Merriweather Post Pavilion
If I claimed that Veckatimest was over-hyped, what could I possibly say about Merriweather Post Pavilion? Well, for starters, I'm kinda glad it's so popular. It has made the band that I've loved so dearly for so long stars of one sort or another, and I think that's pretty cool for them. That said, musically, it is not the second coming of Christ that many blogs would like you to believe. It is, however, the second best album of 2009 and probably Animal Collective's second best album. MPP takes the popiness hinted at on Strawberry Jam and makes it a priority, as many of its songs are catchy and accessible by AC's standards. I don't think I really need to say much. I think you're all aware of this album and its greatness.

1. Dirty Projectors--Bitte Orca
To say that this was my second most anticipated album of 2009 would be an understatement. It was my first most anticipated album of 2009. And it didn't disappoint. Coming off the decidedly more rock-ish Rise Above, Dave Longstreth and crew created a very rock/pop-ish album in Bitte Orca. And while increasing accessibility is not always a good thing (see Atlas Sound: notice the slip from last year's ranking?), it is in the case of the DPs. David Byrne said something along the lines of, "Dirty Projectors sound like people making pop music who have never heard the form," and I think that's a pretty brilliant critique. Bitte Orca is a scattered, experimental mess rooted in pop music. Its songs are both catchy and mindblowing. And most importantly, with Bitte Orca, Dave Longstreth solidifies his place in the pantheon of songwriters/composers.

That's what I think. An important note: the Il Buono readers' choice for best album of 2009 is Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion. It received 40% of the vote. (Veckatimest and Bitte Orca each got 20%, as did "Other". Unfortunately, whoever said "Other" failed to say what that "Other" is.) So there you have it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Favorite Songs of 2009

It's finally here (not that you've really been waiting): my list of my favorite songs of 2009! I've done a sizable amount of downloading and CD buying this year, and now I get to make that all worthwhile. A lot of good stuff has been released in the past twelve months, which means it was tough to narrow down a list of my favorite songs. So I'm gonna list my top 45 of the year. The songs cover a decent array of music, from dance to indie rock to...oh wait. That's about it. What can I say? My favorite songs are the ones that are catchy and to the point. I may love Monoliths & Dimensions, but none of those songs are exactly good singles. Anyhow, here's the list. (I'm only posting links for the top 10 because those are the most important ones. And I'm lazy.)

45. Major Lazer--Keep It Goin' Louder
44. Ganglians--Valient Brave
43. Free Energy--Dream City
42. Fever Ray--Seven
41. Bibio--Lovers' Carvings

40. Tyondai Braxton--Platinum Rows
39. Raekwon et. al.--House Of Flying Daggers
38. Sun Araw--Heavy Deeds
37. The xx--Basic Space
36. Neon Indian--Deadbeat Summer
35. Burial--Fostercare
34. The Juan Maclean--One Day
33. No Age--You're A Target
32. Solange--Stillness Is The Move
31. Matias Aguayo--Rollerskate

30. Raekwon--10 Bricks
29. Girls--Hellhole Ratrace
28. Joker--Digidesign
27. John Talabot--Sunshine
26. Micachu--Golden Phone
25. Lady GaGa--Bad Romance
24. Das Racist--Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (Wallpaper. Remix)
23. Atlas Sound--Walkabout
22. Sleigh Bells--Crown On The Ground
21. Beach House--Norway

20. The Sandwitches--Back To The Sea
19. Grizzly Bear--While You Wait For The Others
18. Girls--Lust For Life
17. Animal Collective--Brother Sport
16. Fuck Buttons--Surf Solar
15. Big Boi feat. Gucci Mane--Shine Blockas
14. The Very Best--Warm Heart of Africa
13. Dirty Projectors & David Byrne--Knotty Pine
12. Grizzly Bear--Two Weeks
11. YACHT--Psychic City (Voodoo City)

10. Antony & The Johnsons--Aeon
9. Dirty Projectors--Two Doves
8. Bat For Lashes--Daniel
7. Animal Collective--My Girls
6. Gold Panda--Quitters Raga
5. Joy Orbison--Hyph Mngo
3. Dan Deacon--Snookered
2. Animal Collective--What Would I Want? Sky
1. Dirty Projectors--Stillness Is The Move

That's what I think. Look for my favorite albums of 2009 tomorrow. This list probably gives insight as to what those albums may be.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pitchfork's and The Wire's Best Albums of 2009

My two most anticipated Best of '09 lists are here. Those lists belong to (coincidentally) (not coincidentally) my two favorite music publications: Pitchfork and The Wire.

The albums included on Pitchfork's are largely unsurprising, but the order provides some intrigue. 9.0/#45ish of the decade achieving Veckatimest slipped to #6. 9.1 garnering Girls barely cracked the top 10. I appreciate the inclusion of Micachu's Jewellery and the high placement of Bitte Orca. Overall, though, the list is semi-predictable.

The albums included on The Wire's are much more surprising, mostly because I haven't even heard of at least half of them. That said, I always appreciate The Wire's lists because I look up those artists I've never heard of and often like them. Their list does include some more conventional groups like The xx, Dirty Projectors, and Animal Collective, but it's definitely heavier on experimental stuff.

The top 15 of each are below, and Pitchfork's is here and The Wire's is here.


15. Japandroids--Post-Nothing
Not a huge fan.
14. Neon Indian--Psychic Chasms
Definitely good, but not great.
13. St. Vincent--Actor
I'm not crazy about her.
12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs--It's Blitz!
This album is interesting, but not that good.
11. Fuck Buttons--Tarot Sport
Great album, should be higher.
10. Girls--Album
Overrated but still good.
9. Fever Ray--Fever Ray
Should also be higher.
8. Phoenix--Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Overrated and just not that good.
7. Bat For Lashes--Two Suns
A great album and an understandable ranking,
6. Grizzly Bear--Veckatimest
See above.
5. Raekwon--Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. II
See above.
4. Flaming Lips--Embryonic
I just don't really like Flaming Lips.
3. The xx--The xx
Good album, nothing more.
2. Dirty Projectors--Bitte Orca
Makes sense.
1. Animal Collective--Merriweather Post Pavilion
Makes sense.

The Wire

15. AtomTM--Liedgut
Never even heard of it.
14. Sa-Ra Creative Partners--Nuclear Evolution: The Age of Love
I don't have this album, but I like these guys.
13. Shackleton--3EPs
I know the name, but not the music.
12. Dirty Projectors--Bitte Orca
I'm glad they included it, but it could be higher.
11. Harrapian Night Recordings--Glorious Gongs Of Hainuwele
Never heard of it.
10. King Midas Sound--Waiting For You
Great album, and this number makes sense.
9. Ben Frost--By The Throat
I haven't heard this album, but I like his other stuff.
8. Jim O'Rourke--The Visitor
Maybe a touch overrated, but still a very good album.
7. Group Doueh--Treed Salaam
I've read about this, but I've never heard it.
6. David Sylvian--Manafon
I don't really like him.
5. Sunn 0)))--Monoliths & Dimensions
A tolerable choice, but I'm not sure it's this good.
4. Alasdair Roberts--Spoils
Never heard of it.
3. Bill Orcutt--A New Way To Pay Old Debts
See above.
2. Oneohtrix Point Never--Rifts
See above. (But I just listened to it a little, and it sounds interesting.)
1. Broadcast And The Focus Group--Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age
This is indeed a great album, but I'm not sure it's #1 material.

Those are probably the two best lists we'll see, so soak 'em in.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Poll Results: Your Favorite Song Of '09

Hey there. It's time to announce the winner of Il Buono's Readers Choice: Favorite Song of 2009! All formalities aside, the winner (unsurprisingly and fittingly) was Dirty Projectors' "Stillness Is The Move." Released this past spring, "Stillness Is The Move" has been my and most of your favorite song of '09 since it came out. The twisted King Sunny guitar lick, the metallic R&B beat, and the ridiculous Amber Coffman vocal runs make for a pretty classic song, and I'm glad you chose it (with 42% of the vote) as your favorite song of the year.

Frequent list-topper "My Girls" tied with Bat For Lashes' "Daniel", Animal Collective's "What Would I Want? Sky", and Dirty Projectors' "Two Doves" for second place, with 14% of the votes. "Two Weeks" by Grizzly Bear failed to receive any votes. Too bad.

Well, it's that time. I now want to know your favorite album of 2009. Before the year even started, most people thought they had their top three set: Merriweather Post Pavilion, Veckatimest, and Bitte Orca (in some order). While all three of those are indeed great, there were many '09 releases on par with those. But those are still your options for this week's poll. You can, of course, always choose "other."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fast N' Bulbous's Best Albums Of The Decade

I know I said I was done with decade lists, but here's one more. This one comes from Fast N' Bulbous, a site that tends to cover things I like. (It's named after the opening of a Beefheart song, after all.) They make a bunch of cool lists, and the main guy clearly likes a lot of post-punk and stuff. I saw today that he made a list of favorite albums of the decade. It's a solid list, though a bit more conservative than I would've expected. And the dude is clearly a TV On The Radio fan. (The list is here, and the top 10 are posted below.)

10. Burial--Untrue
About time Burial found his way into a top 20.
9. Queens Of The Stone Age--Songs For The Deaf
It's good, yeah, but this is a bit much.
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs--Fever To Tell
7. The Strokes--Is This It
Fair enough. I'm not sold though.
6. PJ Harvey--Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
I haven't heard it, but I tend not to like PJ Harvey.
5. TV On The Radio--Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes
I'm not sure it's this good.
4. Bjork--Vespertine
Great album, but, again, overrated.
3. TV On The Radio--Return To Cookie Mountain
This makes enough sense.
2. Radiohead--Kid A
I think we're used to this.
1. TV On The Radio--Dear Science
Told you he likes them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Metacritic's Favorite Music Of The Decade

Metacritic just published a comprehensive survey of the decade in music. There's a lot of fancy deciphering of their lists, and it's relatively interesting. Check it out here.

Pitchfork's Best Songs of 2009

OMG! Pitchfork! I love Pitchfork! Now I know what to like! Yeah!

All kidding aside, I actually do really like Pitchfork, and I value their opinion. Which is why I was looking forward to this list. Unfortunately, the list is relatively predictable; it's full of buzz bands and Best New Musics. Fortunately, the list I predicted was a good list, and I like several of the buzz bands. The majority of my favorite songs from this year made the list, so that's good I guess. (My main beef: Phoenix.) The whole list is here, and the top 15 are posted below. Pitchfork's albums list in its entirety will be out on Friday.

15. Girls--Hellhole Ratrace
A very good song, but a bit overrated.
14. Joy Orbison--Hyph Mngo
A great song, and a bit underrated.
13. Neon Indian--Deadbeat Summer
See #15's explanation.
12. Grizzly Bear--While You Wait For The Others
Another great song that is slightly overrated.
11. Animal Collective--What Would I Want? Sky
I'll just say this is in my top 3. So I think it's underrated.
10. Washed Out--Feel It All Around
This song is okay. I don't see the hype.
9. Girls--Lust For Life
It's my favorite Girls song, too, but it ain't this good.
8. Phoenix--Lisztomania
Phoenix made the top ten? Oy.
7. Big Boi--Shine Blockas
Just a smidgen overrated, but I won't complain.
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs--Zero
Really? Not even my favorite song on this mediocre album.
5. Grizzly Bear--Two Weeks
Tough to argue with. But I'll argue anyways: it's a little overrated.
4. Bat For Lashes--Daniel
See above.
3. Phoenix--1901
Phoenix in the top ten again? Oy again.
2. Dirty Projectors--Stillness Is The Move
Underrated a bit. (Cough) It should be #1 (cough).
1. Animal Collective--My Girls
Unsurprising, seeing it was chosen as their ninth favorite song of the decade, but it's not entirely deserving. But still a great song.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Greg Kot's Favorite Albums of 2009

I said I'll probably stop posting best of the decade lists, but I'm still all for best of 2009 ones. This one comes from Greg Kot, a writer for the Chicago Tribune and one of the two hosts of NPR's music show, Sound Opinions. He seems like a decent enough guy (just look at that photo), and I neither value nor disvalue his opinion. He knows what he's talking about, and he has solid taste. And he offers some different choices (i.e. no Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, or Dirty Projectors in the top 10.)


10. Kid Sister--Ultraviolet
Not a big fan.
9. Japandroids--Post-Nothing
Decent, but not great.
8. Rihanna--Rated R
I've actually been meaning to check this album out. I like Rihanna.
7. Kid Cudi--Man On The Moon: The End Of Day
Not a big fan.
6. Neko Case--Middle Cyclone
She's fine, but a little boring.
5. Phoenix--Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
4. The xx--The xx
Good. Overrated.
3. Cymbals Eat Guitars--Why There Are Mountains
Decent. Way overrated.
2. BLK JKS--After Robots
These guys intrigue me, but I don't like their music that much.
1. St. Vincent--Actor
A non-AC/Phoenix #1. That said, I'm not crazy about her.

Songs (If I haven't heard it, I won't say anything)

10. Ida Maria--I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked
9. Decemberists--The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs--Heads Will Roll
Definitely the album's best song.
7. K'Naan--T.I.A.
6. Cheap Trick--Sick Man Of Europe
5. Phoenix--Lisztomania
Decent song.
4. Weezer--Can't Stop Partying
It's not terrible. I can't give it much more than that.
3. Kid Sister--Right Hand Hi
"Control" and "Pro Nails" were decent. Two or three years ago.
2. Rihanna--Russian Roulette
Certainly one of the year's best pop songs.
1. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys--Empire State Of Mind
Another solid pop song. I like his #2 better, though.

Poll Results: Your Favorite New Artist Of '09

This week, I asked you for your favorite new artist of the past year--"new" meaning they released their debut album/single/EP in 2009. There are so many new artists; it can be hard to keep up with them. But I asked you to pick your favorite anyways. I gave some options of blog- and Pitchfork- (and mostly Joe-) approved new bands, so...

The winner, with a total of 60% of the votes, was The xx. I'm not surprised, seeing as a lot of people really like The xx. And I like them, too. (Although I'm not sure I would have chosen them.) They take interesting influences (Aaliyah, Young Marble Giants) and make them sound modern and hip and stuff. Anyhow, Girls and Cymbals Eat Guitars each got 20% of the votes, which sounds about right. Micachu (sadly) got no votes, and neither did Real Estate (but Evan said he almost voted for them.)

We'll continue with our favorites of '09 in anticipation of the end of the year. Next: I'd like to know your favorite song of the year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Too Many Lists! Pt. 2 (2009)

Like I said before, the world has been hit with an onslaught of music lists. I'm consolidating best of '09 lists that are of interest in this post here. We have lists from The Onion, Spin, Mojo, and Stereogum. Enjoy! (These are all best albums of the year list, b-t-dubs.)

The Onion

Overall: Solid. Some unexpected choices, but tough to argue with. (Except #1.)
5. Dirty Projectors--Bitte Orca
Higher, perhaps? Actually not "perhaps." This needs to be higher.
4. Sunset Rubdown--Dragonslayer
I'm not a huge fan, but it's okay.
3. Animal Collective--Merriweather Post Pavilion
This is fine by me.
2. Grizzly Bear--Veckatimest
Just a bit overrated here, I think.
1. Phoenix--Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I could tolerate something like top 20. But #1? Give me a break.


Overall: These lists are all starting to look the same. Spin's is fine, though.
5. Girls--Album
I feel like I say the same thing all the time: good, but a little overrated.
4. Grizzly Bear--Veckatimest
Tough to argue.
3. Phoenix--Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs--It's Blitz!
I was pleasantly surprised by this album. Having said that, I'm still not a huge fan.
1. Animal Collective--Merriweather Post Pavilion
Works for me.


Overall: Another solid, similar list. They're clearly British, but they stepped a little outside their comfort zone with this one.
5. Tinariwen--Imidiwan: Companions
I actually never listened to this one. I like Aman Iman.
4. The Horrors--Primary Colours
I actually kinda like this band. But not this much.
3. Richard Hawley--Truelove's Gutter
Not too familiar with this guy.
2. Bill Callahan--Sometimes I WIsh I Were An Eagle
Not sure about this.
1. Animal Collective--Merriweather Post Pavilion
A surprising and nice choice from Mojo.

Stereogum (The Gummy Awards)

Overall: Again--very unsurprising, but hard to complain too much about.
5. The xx--xx
Ok. I'll take it. But definitely overrated.
4. Phoenix--Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
No comment.
3. Dirty Projectors--Bitte Orca
2. Grizzly Bear--Veckatimest
Lower! (Just a little bit.)
1. Animal Collective--Merriweather Post Pavilion
People seem to like these Animal Collective guys, huh?

Too Many Lists! Pt. 1 (Decade)

Okay. So it's now December, which means the best of the year and best of the decade lists are coming out left and right. It's getting hard to keep up. In this post, I'm running through a few best of the decade lists. I'll just give you the top 5, my thoughts, and a link or two. (The lists are from: Rolling Stone, Newcity, Entertainment Weekly, and Lee Ranaldo.)

Rolling Stone (Albums)
Overall: A little heavy on the Springsteen, but a surprisingly decent enough list from a garbage publication.
5. The White Stripes--Elephant
I would've chosen a different album by the same group.
4. Jay-Z--The Blueprint
3. Wilco--Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Eh x2.
2. The Strokes--Is This It
Fine. I'll take it.
1. Radiohead--Kid A
Surprise, surprise.

Rolling Stone (Songs)
Overall: It's hard to argue with many of the selections, but it's a predictably generic list.
5. M.I.A.--Paper Planes
A little overrated.
4. Outkast--Hey Ya!
No complaints.
3. Beyonce--Crazy In Love
A little overrated.
2. Jay-Z--99 Problems
I think I've made my lack of appreciation for him clear.
1. Gnarls Barkley--Crazy
The best song of the decade? No, but close enough.

Newcity (Albums)
Overall: A good list, but a questionable top 5.
5. Yo La Tengo--And Then Nothing...
Certainly very good, but not top 5 good.
4. Radiohead--In Rainbows
This is definitely my least favorite Radiohead album.
3. Crooked Fingers--Crooked Fingers
Never heard it.
2. Sleater-Kinney--All Hands On The Bad One
Never heard this one specifically, but I'm not a huge fan of the group.
1. The Mountain Goats--The Sunset Tree
See above.

Entertainment Weekly (Albums)
Overall: It's a kinda scattered array of popular music. In other words, I don't agree much with it.
5. Bob Dylan--Love And Theft
It's a fine album, but I'm not sure about this...
4. Outkast--Stankonia
Nothing wrong here.
3. Radiohead--Kid A
Hey. It's not #1.
2. Jay-Z--The Blueprint
1. Kanye West--The College Dropout
Just what Kanye needs: an unwarranted ego boost.

Lee Ranaldo (Albums)
Overall: I saw this here. It's actually quite surprising, judging by the music that Lee makes.
3. Bill Callahan--Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle
Haven't heard. Smog is decent.
2. Cat Power--You Are Free
I'm not sure about her.
1. Bob Dylan--Love And Theft
Refer to what I said about this a few lines up.

I might stop posting decade lists after this. Unless The Wire comes out with one.