Northwest Artists Pick Their Best of 2009

Just like last year, I asked a few of my favorite local artists which albums defined their 2009. Here’s the rundown:


Tim Weeks

photo by Tim Weeks

Erik Blood:

1. The Horrors - Primary Colours (XL)

2. Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career (4AD)

3. Hunx and His Punx - Gay Singles (True Panther)

4. Fresh Espresso - Glamour (Out For Stardom)

5. Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue (Warp)

6. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glassnote)

7. Girls - Album (True Panther)

8. The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement (Domino)

9. David Holmes - The Holy Pictures (Mercury)

10. Micachu and the Shapes - Jewellery (Rough Trade)

Laura Musselman

photo by Laura Musselman

Joseph Giant, Final Spins:

1. King Tuff - Was Dead (Tee Pee)

Kyle Thomas is the future! Unreal sugary 60′s power-pop!!! Amazing production! Songs like “Sun Medallion” “Connection” “Kind of Guy” and “Animal” are jams of the year! I can’t wait to hear his new band Happy Birthday. Watch him blow up!

2. The Fresh and Only’s - The Fresh and Only’s (Woodsist/Revolver)

Rad garage/psych/pop band from San Francisco. Kinda surfy, kinda punk, totally awesome! Kick ass live too, saw ‘em at Funhouse in front of like 10 people. Hopefully these guys get the credit they deserve in 2010!

3. Nirvana - Bleach (reissue) (Sub Pop)

What can I say? This album scared the crap out of me when I heard it in 1990! 20 years later it still holds up! You can hear the lows and highs so much better! Check out the guitars on “Negative Creep” blast it!

4. Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy (Matador)

This album rips! I loved “Freeway” but this one really grew on me. Super fuzzed, washed out production. “Overnite Religion” “Freak Train” are my favorites. Kurt and band stayed at my house on their last tour stop, nicest dudes from Philly!

5.Thee Oh Sees - Help (In The Red)

A psych/punk romp! Kinda scary how much this record will get under your skin. Great sounds from the Bay area! Anybody who was at the Funhouse last summer can tell you how rad they are live! My favorite is “Ruby Go Home”... Yikes!

6. Cotton Jones - Paranoid Cocoon (Suicide Squeeze)

A little bit lounge, a little bit country, with a dash of soul. There are some serious jams on this album. Great male/female harmonies! Favorite jam: “Gotta Cheer Up”

7. The Dutchess and The Duke - Sunset/Sunriset (Hardly Art)

I grew up down the street from Jesse! Its so rad to see him become one of the best songwriters in the NW! Kimberly’s vocals and guitar are insane! “Living this Life” is my favorite! Brilliant!

8. Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Primary Colours (Goner Records)

This also came out late ’08. Who cares! Amazing stripped down late 70′s punk from Australia! The beach meets the street! Crank it!

9. Here We Go Magic - Here We Go Magic (Western Vinyl)

We played with these guys at Chop Suey. Great dudes! “Tunnelvision” is my favorite! Trippy Jams! Cant wait to see what they do in 2010!

10. Pissed Jeans - King Of Jeans (Sub Pop)

This album is so awesome! The guitars sound amazing! The drums are huge! Captures the energy of a band ready to explode in to your ears. Check out “Dream Smotherer ” and rock on!

Ken Roeder

photo by Ken Roeder

Aaron Poppick, Blood Red Dancers:

10. The Curious Mystery - Rotting Slowly (K)

Nice kids, good stuff.

9. Constant Lovers - Demo (self-released)

Our favorite local band.

8. Speck Mountain - Some Sweet Relief (Carrot Top)

Very pretty/sad.

7. Various Artists - Mata La Pena (Mississippi Records)

Compilation of International artists! Amazing!

6. Om - God Is Good (Drag City)

Great stoner metal.

5. Fred McDowell - Fred McDowell (reissue) (Mississippi Records)

Another Mississippi Records release. They put out great stuff, and work out of Portland. This record is very raw.

4. Skip James - Devil Got My Woman (reissue) (P-Vine)

This particular reissue is so brutal and melancholy, it sends chills down your back.

3. Karen Dalton - It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best (reissue) (Light In The Attic)

Karen’s wonderful first album, reissued by Light In The Attic. A must have ...

2. Townes Van Zandt - Live at The Old Quarter (Fat Possum)

It’s Townes fucking Van Zandt!

1. Tom Waits - Glitter and Doom (Anti)

He can’t be beaten.

Alex Crick

photo by Alex Crick

Lesli Wood, The Redwood Plan:

1. Throw Me The Statue - Creaturesque (Secretly Canadian)

I can’t imagine ever getting sick of this album. I loved it from the opening note of the first song. I kept hearing songs I loved on KEXP and every time I’d check who it was, it was Throw Me The Statue. After about the 50th time that happened, I gave in and bought the album. I’ve been hooked ever since. Brilliant songwriting, pop hooks. ::sigh::. So good.

2. Silversun Pickups - Swoon (Dangerbird)

I was a huge fan of their first album, so the fact that Silversun Pickups made a follow up that I listened to even more is impressive. From the explosion of the vocals in “The Royal We” to the tension in the guitarline and spaces in “Catch & Release”, this album was the perfect soundtrack for a pretty dramatic year.

3. The Kills - Midnight Boom (Domino)

Again, huge fan. But, The Kills really nailed it this time, especially with songs like “Sour Cherry” and “Cheap & Cheerful”. How they managed to turn the sexiness up even more on this album is beyond me ... (A 2008 release discovered in 2009.)

4. Great Northern - Remind Me Where The Light Is (Eenie Meenie Records)

It’s a shame this album was really overlooked by most people. Maybe it was Great Northern’s quick placement in car commercials that turned the indie kids away. But this was a really beautiful album with soaring vocals and great arrangements. There’s even a prominent cat meow. Which, hey, i can’t say no to ...

5. Iron & Wine - Around the Well (Sub Pop)

I was actually late to work the morning John Richards debuted “Trapeze Swinger” because I couldn’t stop listening. The song is damn near 10 minutes long but is incredibly poignant from start to finish. Of course the album has their brilliant covers of Waiting for Superman and Love Vigilantes, too. But, from the opening line of “Please Remember Me”, this album was all about the 10 minute finale with his voice as understated as ever.

6. Various Artsts - Dark Was The Night (4AD)

Yo La Tengo - Gentle Hour. Bon Iver - Brackett, WI. Riceboy Sleeps - Happiness. Thank you, 4AD, for renewing my faith in your ability to put out a brilliant compilation.

7. Au Revoir Simone - Still Night, Still Light (Our Secret Records)

Absolutely beautiful album. The vocals are so delicate but the instrumentation is still complex and at times really dark. This is an amazing album, not just a collection of singles. Best when listened to start to finish at sunset with good company.

8. Gossip - Music for Men (Columbia)

And The Gossip dial it in. I loved their last album and was really curious where they would go next. They easily could have stayed on the same track as Standing in the Way of Control and I doubt anyone would have complained. But, instead, they enlist Rick Rubin and took it way up a notch, tightening the songwriting, really giving in to hooks and beats, and, of course, letting Beth Ditto work her magic.

9. Metric - Fantasies (Metric Music International)

Best single of the year? Hands down: “Help, I’m Alive”. This song will not be denied. The album was great, too (“Sick Muse” was overshadowed only by the brilliant aforementioned single). But, from the opening line of “I tremble, they’re gonna eat me alive”, you’re hooked on where this song is gonna go. And it just keeps getting better and better.

10. Cave Singers - Welcome Joy (Matador)

There’s something so sweet about this album. Maybe it’s the lightness of the instrumentation at times. Maybe it’s the sweetness of Pete Quirk’s vocals. Maybe it’s the feeling that you’re sitting on a front porch in Georgia surrounded by friends playing music. Yeah. That’s it.

Jill Rachel

photo by Jill Rachel

Scraps:

The Spits - SPITS cassette (ggnzla)

“The Spits are the best punk band in Seattle. So many hooks and sweet weird vocal harmonies. This tape sounds awesome.” - Andrew

Consignment - Laundry Room EP (Sweet Rot)

“A Consignment song is like getting in a car and steadily accelerating until you’re going 63mph, then doing a donut into a brick wall for fun. At least some of them are like that. Others are pretty songs about kidnapping grocery store clerks and keeping them in your basement. So 2009.” - Carlos

Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle (Drag City)

“Everything is so smooth on this. The voice, the lyrics, the songs.... I want to hang out with him.” - Andrew

“Andrew listens to this every time he cooks breakfast. It’s growing on me.” - Erin

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (Warp)

“I listened to this a lot when we were driving to go camping this summer. It was a perfect follow up to their last album!” - Erin

Meth Teeth - Everything Went Wrong (Woodsist)

“I love how blown out and pretty and awesome this is.” - Andrew

Vetiver - Tight Knit (Sub Pop)

“These sleepy, hooky songs sounded amazing when they played at the Crocodile earlier this year. This is their poppiest album yet and it’s good music to cook dinner to.” - Cathy

Charles Leo Gebhardt IV - Unfaithful EP (ggnzla)

” I love Leo’s lyrics and think his live shows are just amazing! I really like how he records his vocals.” - Cathy

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion (Domino)

“I like this album because it came out in 2009. Mostly I’m really into the first five songs and haven’t spent much time with the second half of the album because of that, but I would like to. Maybe that’s what 2010 is for.” - Carlos

The Clean - Mister Pop (Merge)

This was one of Dave Ramm’s pick. Dave Ramm could not be reached for comment because he was napping. On his behalf we say, “I love it. I listen to it a lot.”

Thee Oh Sees - Help (In The Red)

“I listen to this a lot on my way to work. It puts me in just about the right mindset to work with kindergarteners. Also, they had the best show I went to all summer at the Funhouse!” - Erin

Chona Kasinger

photo by Chona Kasinger

Jared Mills, Noddy:

Me’shell NdegeOcello - Devil’s Halo (Downtown)

The album plays as a sequel of sorts to NdegeOcello’s austere masterpiece Bitter, but funkier, steelier and with more sexual menace. This is truly genre-less music that must be heard to be understood, and even then, it’s like pulling teeth ...

Miranda Lambert - Revolution (Sony)

If you’re a country fan of any stripe (alt, mainstream, traditional), you owe it to yourself to get this album. If you’ve never liked country music, this is the one to convert you.

Amerie - In Love & War (Def Jam)

Amerie just might be the greatest thing happening in RnB and pop right now. She has a powerhouse and the songwriting chops to back it up. The girl can do things with a breakbeat that are downright illicit!

Metric - Fantasies (Metric Music International)

The kind of album that only deepens with every listen, though it’s just as easy to get caught up in the big guitars and drums, with Emily Haines cooing over the top of it all like she knows a really big secret we’d rather not hear.

Lisa Germano - Magic Neighbors (Young God Records)

A sad, uneasy album by the reigning master of sad, uneasy music. Germano has found a perfect home on Michael Gira’s Young God Records.

Daniel Johnston - Is and Always Was (High Wire Music)

Though I am a huge Daniel Johnston fan, I have to admit that he has never made a front to back perfect album--until now. Is and Always Was is brimming with some of Johnston’s strongest songs and imaginative arrangements courtesy of producer/instrumentalist Jason Faulkner.

Maxwell - BLACKsummers’night (Columbia)

If you are looking to score with your old man (or old lady) Maxwell has returned in the nick of time. His voice is heaven, and his new batch of songs will have the panties dropping in no time.

Chrisette Michele - Epiphany (Def Jam)

Epiphany is a little more ballad heavy than Michele’s last album, but with melodies this supple, I’m not complaining. She continues to be criminally ignored by the mainstream, which is a damn shame, especially for fans of RnB. This album also features Ne-Yo at the top of his game, which is saying a lot.

Kid606 - Shout at the Doner (Tigerbeat6)

A strange and playful album of Kid606′s trademark IDM and techno wizardry. It’s not the most immediate album of his career, but I have found myself going back to it again and again over the past year trying to dissect its internal logic.

Matt & Kim - Grand (Fader)

Something about these two just work for me. They’re cute, without being cutesy. Fun without being jokey. Just the right amount of sad nostalgia and rollicking piano jams.

photo by Alex Crick

photo by Alex Crick

Thee Stasia & Cat Satisfaction, THEESatisfaction:

1. Shabazz Palaces - Of Light/ Shabazz Palaces (self-released)

Ishmael’s black anger is so hot. Shabazz is hands down the best release of 2009. It’s full of positive affirmations that’ll stick to you all day. The Mbira on ‘Blastit’. The bassline on ‘Capitol 5′

2. Shafiq Hussein - En A’ Free Kah

Afrocentricity of the future. Black love. Shafiq provides a creative approach to subjects like weed smoking, child rearing, and racism. We love the unpredictable key changes, haunting vocal arrangements, uplifting lyrics, and off-beat drum loop on ‘Changes’ The 1st single ‘Lil Girl’ is a beautiful ode to Black women. Bilal shows up on ‘Cheeba’ the way his vocals float over the hard drums is sex. We got a chance to see Shafiq & Bilal live in NY, we felt blessed and privileged.

3. Georgia Anne Muldrow  - Umsindo (Stones Throw)

She made all the filthy beats herself and she’s fed up with society. ‘Roses’ has dark & lovely piano noises. ‘Caracas’ is a hilarious response to all the Obama hype.

4. Sa-Ra Creative Partners - Nuclear Evolution (Ubiquity Records)

We knocked this album all summer. Nuclear Evolution is a variety of super funky-spacey-sexy-cloud-surfing-kick back tunes. Listen to ‘Can I Get U Hi’ & ‘Dirty Beauty feat. Erykah Badu’.

5. Muhsinah - Oscillations Triangle (Rxlngr)

We believe that everything Muhsinah makes is perfect. Between her and Georgia Anne Muldrow, we’re good as far as female artists. In this 2nd installment of the Ocsillations project, she remixes some of her original jams from Daybreak 2.0 with a few new cuts. The Flying Lotus produced track ‘Lose My Fuse’ is a head-nodders dream. The entire album is ambience with an afro-pick.

6. Little Dragon - Machine Dreams (Peacefrog)

We play “Feather” before we go on stage and into euphoria. We harmonize and visualize with this album. The drummer kicks ass on ‘Runabout’.

7. Georgia Anne Muldrow - Early (Animatedcartunes)

This is a collection of songs that Ms. Muldrow wrote when she was very young. The issues touched on are still very relevant, ‘Keep It Real’.

8. J*Davey - Boudoir Synema (Warner)

J*Davey dropped an incredible 5 track ‘misstape’ on Christmas morning that blew our minds. ‘Permission’ is the stand out track. It definitely has that bounce and Janet Jackson electro feel. [insert THEESatisfaction dance break here}

9. Theophilus London - This Charming Mixtape (Normrex)

If Prince could rap this is what his music would sound like. We like ‘Love Always’ and ‘Cold Pillow’.

10. Micachu & The Shapes - Jewellery (Rough Trade)

Quirky excellence. ‘Hardcore’ and ‘Golden Phone’.

1. Shabazz Palaces - Of Light/ Shabazz Palaces (self-released)
Ishmael’s black anger is so hot. Shabazz is hands down the best release of 2009. It’s full of positive affirmations that’ll stick to you all day. The Mbira on ‘Blastit’. The bassline on ‘Capitol 5′ 
 
2. Shafiq Hussein - En A’ Free Kah
Afrocentricity of the future. Black love. Shafiq provides a creative approach to subjects like weed smoking, child rearing, and racism. We love the unpredictable key changes, haunting vocal arrangements, uplifting lyrics, and off-beat drum loop on ‘Changes’ The 1st single ‘Lil Girl’ is a beautiful ode to Black women. Bilal shows up on ‘Cheeba’ the way his vocals float over the hard drums is sex. We got a chance to see Shafiq & Bilal live in NY, we felt blessed and privileged. 
 
3. Georgia Anne Muldrow  - Umsindo (Stones Throw)
She made all the filthy beats herself and she’s fed up with society. ‘Roses’ has dark & lovely piano noises. ‘Caracas’ is a hilarious response to all the Obama hype. 
 
4. Sa-Ra Creative Partners - Nuclear Evolution (Ubiquity Records)
We knocked this album all summer. Nuclear Evolution is a variety of super funky-spacey-sexy-cloud-surfing-kick back tunes. Listen to ‘Can I Get U Hi’ & ‘Dirty Beauty feat. Erykah Badu’. 
 
5. Muhsinah - Oscillations Triangle (Rxlngr)
We believe that everything Muhsinah makes is perfect. Between her and Georgia Anne Muldrow, we’re good as far as female artists. In this 2nd installment of the Ocsillations project, she remixes some of her original jams from Daybreak 2.0 with a few new cuts. The Flying Lotus produced track ‘Lose My Fuse’ is a head-nodders dream. The entire album is ambience with an afro-pick. 
 
6. Little Dragon - Machine Dreams (Peacefrog)
We play “Feather” before we go on stage and into euphoria. We harmonize and visualize with this album. The drummer kicks ass on ‘Runabout’. 
 
7. Georgia Anne Muldrow - Early (Animatedcartunes)
This is a collection of songs that Ms. Muldrow wrote when she was very young. The issues touched on are still very relevant, ‘Keep It Real’. 
 
8. J*Davey - Boudoir Synema (Warner)
J*Davey dropped an incredible 5 track ‘misstape’ on Christmas morning that blew our minds. ‘Permission’ is the stand out track. It definitely has that bounce and Janet Jackson electro feel. [insert THEESatisfaction dance break here} 
 
9. Theophilus London - This Charming Mixtape (Normrex)
If Prince could rap this is what his music would sound like. We like ‘Love Always’ and ‘Cold Pillow’. 
 
10. Micachu & The Shapes - Jewellery (Rough Trade)
Quirky excellence. ‘Hardcore’ and ‘Golden Phone’.
This entry was posted in Audioasis, KEXP, Local Music and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

5 Comments

  1. ratnerd
    Posted January 16, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    SCRAPS!!!!!

  2. Posted January 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Love the nod to Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Meshell Ndegeocello and Georgia Anne Muldrow. I reviewed Meshell’s excellent 2009 release on my blog, too.

  3. sharlese
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    This is awesome Reese!

  4. Phil
    Posted January 19, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Carlos & Cathy Lopez from The Scraps are awesome, no wait.. let’s make that Freakin Awesome

  5. MATT
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    SCRAPS!!!

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