Friday, January 22, 2010

Music Highlights 2009 Part 3

Arbouretum - Another Hiding Place

Arbouretums' Song Of The Pearl is a great record, and I mean that literally. This music lends itself beautifully to the vinyl format with the kind of loose organic jams that Crazy Horse would be proud of. That is if Crazy Horse spent their time listening to British folk acts like Pentangle and Fairport Convention of course.

Local Natives - Airplanes

The standout track from their Gorilla Manor album I was hooked on this one from the first time I saw this live clip that a friend sent to me. This song refused to leave my head for quite a while. Gorgeous stuff.

Alisdair Roberts - The Hallucinator & The King Of The Silver Ship Of Time

Scottish singer songwriter Alisdair Roberts is a singer songwriter who puts his own unique spin on traditional folk music making him a contemporary of James Yorkston and Trembling Bells (whose members are also in a band with him called Black Flowers which I must investigate further). The Wyrd Meme EP was my introduction to his music and this is the opener from it. Unfortunately I couldn't find a stream or clip of the song but I did find this lovely video of him playing in Kilkenny.

Dirty Projectors - Temecula Sunrise

More proof that Brooklyn bands are listening to a shit load of African music! Bitte Orca had its flaws but when the highlights are as good as this who cares? This is perfect pop music, or at least my idea of what perfect pop music should be.

Grizzly Bear - Ready, Able

No other album this year has enthralled, surprised, confused & frustrated me more than Veckatimest. Roundly praised by critics everywhere it faced accusations from some quarters of being too distant & cold but the rewards for sticking with this gem of a record are still paying dividends. The Beach Boys are perhaps too obvious a comparison for some people but I can't help being reminded of Pet Sounds, such is the ambitous reach of the sound and arrangements (helped by Nico Muhley whose excellent Mothertongue I was introduced to this year). They then converted any remaining doubters with the gig of the year in Vicar Street.

Antony & The Johnsons - Epilepsy Is Dancing

Although I found the album slightly disappointing, there's no denying that when you put Antonys' voice to a melody as beautiful as this, you get pure magic. One of only a few songs on the album that I would hold in the same regard as those from I Am A Bird Now which was one of my favourites of the decade.

White Denim - Regina Holding Hands

One of the finds of the year for me. White Denim's stunning Fits is one of my favourite albums of 2009. Running the gamut from power trio garage rock to psychedelic jams and even proving they can pen a catchy pop song like "Regina Holding Hands". If that sounds all over the place well... it kinda is! But the album holds together brilliantly, it's eclectic without being jarring. Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to find their debut album Workout Holiday.

Alela Diane - Lady Divine

A beautiful singer songwriter who pens music which seems timeless, Alela Diane's To Be Still is a spellbinding album. The gorgeous appalachian harmonies on "Age Old Blue" almost took pride of place here but the gorgeous descending melody of "Lady Divine" won me over in the end.

Animal Collective - Brother Sport

Merriweather Post Pavillion was my introduction to the world of Animal Collective where I have been happily squatting since. A psychedelic swirl of beautiful samples, harmonies and endless hooks, typified by this closing track. This encompasses everything I love about this band. Another group released a single this year called "Lust For Life" but here was where you heard the proof of it.

Charles Spearin - Mrs. Morris (Reprise)

One of the live highlights of the year for me was seeing Broken Social Scene in Vicar Street. And although their marathon set may have been outstanding, it was the support that stole the show. If memory serves me correctly the scheduled support had to cancel providing Do Make Say Think and sometime Broken Social Scene guitarist Charles Spearin to premiere an album he had been working on called The Happiness Project. It's the only time I recall an audience baying for an encore from a support act. This video can explain better than I can the concept behind the album. And although the album didn't quite live up to the promise of that wonderful performance it's still worth a listen, especially for Mrs. Morris infectious monologue on the meaning of happiness.

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