Weird at My School: Top Ten for 2009

by DJ El Toro

While some blogs and periodicals are still tallying up the votes for their Best Of 2008 champs, once again I find myself looking forward to the new year. There are a lot of albums that I’m excited about, including new titles from Lily Allen, Franz Ferdinand, Animal Collective, and Vetiver. But I haven’t heard most of those. Yet. The ten discs below, however, are already in heavy rotation in my Weird world.

Antony & The Johnsons – The Crying Light (Secretly Canadian)
The third album from the androgynous New York polymath, full of haunting vocals and discrete orchestration, pays homage to our battered planet. One-of-a-kind talent continues to break new ground. (out 1/20 – more info)

Circlesquare – Songs About Dancing And Drugs (!K7)
Now based in Berlin, rising art star and musician Jeremy Shaw delivers a second set of slow-moving electronic songs that throb with delicious menace. The aural equivalent of codeine cough syrup. (out 1/27 – more info)

Azita – How Will You (Drag City)
I’m a sucker for a quirky vocalist with emotional songs, and throaty Chicago singer Azita Youssefi fits the bill nicely. Her ace rhythm section includes vets from Tortoise, Iron & Wine, and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. (out 2/17 – more info)

Eleni Mandell – Artificial Fire (Zedtone)
Miss Eleni gets in touch with her inner teenager, the one who likes to dance on coffee tables; this time out, the Los Angeles storyteller’s vivid songs revel in crunchy pop-rock abandon. (out 2/17 – more info)

“Bigger Burn” – (download) or listen:

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Mi Ami – Watersports (Touch & Go)
Percussive debut full-length from this San Francisco crew, featuring former members of Black Eyes. Imagine !!! performing Arthur Russell’s World of Echo in an giant aquarium. (out 2/17 – more info)

Morrissey – Years of Refusal (Lost Highway)
A strong set of robust rockers and wry lyrics – and the final album by producer Jerry Finn (AFI, Alkaline Trio), who also helmed the Mozzer’s You Are The Quarry.
(out 2/17 – more info)

Various Artists – Dark Was The Night (4AD)
Don’t make me repeat myself. (out 2/17 – more info)

Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (Anti-)
Neko’s new tunes sound a little sweeter than the Fox crop, and illuminated from within. Lyrically, she rivals Antony in eco-consciousness — brace yourself for her stunning cover of Sparks’ “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth.” (out 3/3 – more info)

Seeland – Tomorrow Today (Loaf)
Cool tunes from a kaleidoscopic laboratory. This act combines former members of Broadcast and Plone, and their debut bristles with all the geek-chic those credits suggest. (out 3/17 – more info)

The Juan Maclean – The Future Will Come (DFA)
Continuing the momentum of the 2008 club hits “The Simple Life” and “Happy House,” this sophomore full-length marries pulsating grooves to strong songs. LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang adds vocal panache. (out 3/31 – more info)

DJ El Toro is the host of the overnight show In Between Sleep & Reason, Wednesday mornings from 1 AM to 6 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org. His column, Weird At My School, appears every Monday on the KEXP Blog.

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