Whilst our top 50 albums of the year list offers somes glimpse into what our staff have been listening to these past twelve months, the annual mixtapes give a real insight as to what has been pleasing the ears, minds and heart strings of those wot write for DiS.
These 'mixtapes' or, er, DiStapes, are fairly self-explanatory, they have a-postcard-from-'09 intros followed by 9 songs. If you missed part 1, you can find them here.
Memories of 2009: Watching high school kids on E puking on each other while Animal Collective played in a giant park; seeing Yojiro from the Boredoms getting carried aloft over a crowd while playing his drum kit at ATP; being blown away by Ponytail and wondering why they're not huge yet; TV on the Radio making the rain stop in Central Park (nYc); being at a Grizzly Bear show with Jay-Z and Beyonce; watching Deerhunter, Dan Deacon and No Age collaborate together in a bowling alley while Avey Tare ate a plate of chips; Pissed Jeans almost getting into a fight onstage; watching the Beets get busted by the NYPD; Rhys Chatham leading 200 guitarists at Lincoln Center and it being surprisingly quiet and tranquil; Nick Cave playing the piano with the Dirty Three; and new bands like Jeff the Brotherhood, Javelin, Sleigh Bells and Sisters making 2010 feel like it’s filled with potential.
1) Screaming Females 'Bell'
Jack White knows it, J Mascis knows it, and soon the world will know it: Marissa Paternoster and her Screaming Females are here to crush your brain with Rock (the rest of the band are all male, natch).
2) Fuck Buttons 'Surf Solar'
Our Andrzej Lukowski said it best when he described this one as "nigh-on hijacking the old nervous system", and never has that felt so agreeable.
3) Lady Gaga 'Paparazzi'
One of the best pop songs of the decade, but also one of the best music videos of, well, ever.
4) Das Racist 'Combination Pizza Hut & Taco Bell'
Because every good hip-hop act has a sense of humour, and because "humour" does not = "novelty".
5) Micachu & the Shapes 'Curly Teeth'
Listening to Micachu is a bittersweet experience, mainly because it reminds me of the late and dearly lamented Plan B magazine, which I spent a small fortune importing to the US of A (it was always worth it).
6) Nite Jewel 'Artificial Intelligence'
21st century pop as it was supposed to sound.
7) Raekwon '10 Bricks'
Mainly for Dilla's ability to extract a monolithic pinging noise from a Smokey Robinson record, but also because hearing Raekwon back on form was one of the unexpected pleasures of '09.
8) Joy Orbison 'Hyph Mngo'
Like Burial, this one sounds so much like late-night London that hearing it is almost feels like being there.
9) The Horrors 'Sea Within a Sea'
I grew up in Southend-on-Sea, and feel a little hometown glow whenever 'Sea Within a Sea' wraps its pop-motorik tentacles around my head.
Click below to listen to my full playlist on Mixcloud:
To pick nine tracks for the year, the rhymes and the reasons and the whys and the wherefores are so myriad that anything more than ten minutes spent numbering and crossing out is likely to set your patience alight.
So I decided on a quick stipulation to cut down the options, the thought being that this would primarily be a list of the years unexpected delights. Songs that snuck up on me over the radio before an album a name or an image. No context, no caveat, no copy, no blog, no blurb, no list, no hype. just a song thrown into a room without warning. And so it was with Wet Dog, Atlas Sound, The Hornblower brothers, Copy Haho, Kurt Vile and Slow Club, all stopping me in my tracks to stare at the tiny speaker on the window ledge. Let's Wrestle is on the list because it's one of the best songs on probably the greatest album ever made and The Horrors and These New Puritans make the nine thanks to both leaving me eyes wide and jaw agape, wondering how something so incredible could have a link to the Essex badlands. Pukka.
1) Wet Dog 'Lower Leg' | video
2) Atlas Sound 'Quick Canal'
3) The Hornblower Brothers 'Android With A Heart' | video
4) Copy Haho 'You Are My Coal Mine'
5) Kurt Vile 'Freak Train'
6) Slow Club 'Come On Youth'
7) Let's Wrestle 'My Schedule'
8) The Horrors 'Sea Within A Sea
9) These New Puritans 'We Want War'
Simon Jay Catling
This year's been reet canny like; DiS let me start writing for them in the summer (yay!) and I won a nice spangly award at the end of the year. As writing for this site was about the sum of my journo ambitions, I can say that, at age 21, I’ve reached life fulfilment. Two things I've learnt this year: 1.) Tongue-in-cheek japery doesn't translate well online (sorry Scotland, I love you really) and 2.) Wolfmother are from Australia (oops).
I think it probably has been a good year for music (better than '08 anyway). My mixtape doesn't lean too heavily on any main trends I've found myself following this year- namely the revival of all things shoegaze and Manchester's ascendant folk scene (although Samson & Delilah reprazent the latter). I've always been a fan of ostentatious over-the-top types, and this year's seen rich pickings for such minded-fellows (Wild Beasts and Grammatics take a bow). In general, though, the following nine songs are synonymous with personal happenings that have taken place over the last twelve months, when music doesn't really need to be analysed in any other way than just "good to have around".
1) Wild Beasts 'Hooting & Howling'
2) Animal Collective 'My Girls' Obvious ones first: Wild Beasts were as ubiquitous for me as anyone else this year. I saw them four times, reviewed Two Dancers, and 'Hooting & Howling' was my most played track this year (according to last.fm). Meanwhile, 'My Girls' seems to have sound tracked almost every personal memory of 2009.
3) Deerhunter 'Disappearing Ink' It was a tie between Deerhunter and 65dayofstatic for my favourite gig of '09; Cox and co. are included by dint of releasing new tunes this year.
4) Spiritualized 'Come Together'
My favourite festival performers this year; towards the end of their set this shook everyone at the Big Chill from their stoned reverie.
5) Patrick Kelleher 'I Am Eustace'
Kelleher’s 'You Look Cold' was probably my favourite new release that I reviewed for DiS; still struggling to hear the hazelnut spread jar amongst the 31 other instruments mind...
6) Samson & Delilah 'Motherbird'
7) Daniel Land & The Modern Painters 'Off Your Face Again' Samson & Delilah's traditional East European folk and Daniel Land's wistful psychedelic post-rock prove that my adopted home of Manchester's been doing just fine this year.
8) Grammatics 'Relentless Fours' That said, I've still cast the odd envious glance over the Pennines…
9) Beach House 'Norway'
And so it comes to making a list of my favourite tracks of 2009. Here should be some kind of comment on the futility of the process, but it would be undermined by the fact I have actually produced a list. Plus, lists actually provide a useful function, acting as a filter, a gentle suggestion, and a way of providing context and closure on a year.
Despite of those bold claims, 2009 doesn't seem to have a particular theme. These things always come in retrospect, probably. Characterising it as the year of the comeback, when only a couple of people (The Horrors, and ermm.. Robbie) have actually come back, still seems a bit silly. And minority genres only impact on a minority of people. The internet has fragmented everything into glittering shards. As a result, there is no theme to the choice here.
This list was formed with one rule. If the band's album had made my top ten records of oh nine HERE, then they were barred from entry into my top nine tracks of oh nine. As a result, there is no room for 'My Girls', or 'Quick Canal'. Sorry guys. This list was not chosen with an eye to the underground. It's simply a list of the tracks I have enjoyed most this year. There could easily be three or four different versions of this list, all with different tracks, all of which I love equally, like any (lying) parent should. There really are some amazing tracks here – The Dirty Projectors make a song that could almost be hip hop (and then Solange Knowles covered it), Jeff Lewis further demonstrates his mastery of sad little antifolk ditties, & Beak> do post rock with shimmering guitar majesty. The rest are pretty good too.
1) The Fiery Furnaces 'Lost At Sea'
2) The Horrors 'Sea Within A Sea'
3) Jeffrey Lewis 'To Be Objectified'
4) Beak> 'Battery Point'
5) Beirut 'The Concubine'
6) Grizzly Bear 'Two Weeks'
7) Dirty Projectors 'Stillness Is The Move'
8) Wavves 'So Bored'
9) The XX 'Crystalised'
In terms of what I have been listening to this mixtape is maybe not my favourite or most played songs (JAG Those will be on my blog this week) but it definitely represents the wide mix of amazing things that have happened in the world of music in 2009. There hasn’t been an overriding theme to what I’ve enjoyed this year and as one of the few people who does not ‘get’ Animal Collective there hasn’t been one album that I can say above all is the best of the year. Mostly though I have been listening to indie stars come good (The Maccabees, The Horrors, Jamie T) and lo-fi noise pop (Male Bonding, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls, Graffiti Island and Mika Miko R.I.P). Music is not about looking back though and 2010 is what is making my heart race right now- new records from Liars, Four Tet, Lightspeed Champion, Vampire Weekend and LCD Soundsystem all await my love and adoration so until next year- enjoy!
1) Camera Obscura ‘French Navy’
Like going to a Northern Soul disco with Stuart Murdoch and Los Campesinos! this song explodes with romance and a swelling sense of beauty. Simply put this is the best pop song of the year.
2) Lady GaGa ‘Poker Face’
I was dismissive of her at first but twelve months of making mainstream music interesting and forcing the masses to accept a freak have won me over. 'Poker Face' is the best chart friendly song of the year just beating ‘She Wolf’, ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Fight For This Love’ to the finish line
3) Jamie T ‘Fire Fire’
Jamie T has been frighteningly prolific this year releasing one album, two EP’s and this one off free download single. Of all his stuff ‘Fire Fire’ remains the most insistent and passionate and assures the Wimbledon troubadour his fast rising legendary status.
4) Girls ‘Lust For Life’
“All I want is a girlfriend, a pizza and a bottle of wine” says more than a thousand flowery verses about love ever could.
5) White Denim ‘Regina Holding Hands’
I spent a very sweaty night in Heaven wishing that they’d play this but alas they didn’t. From the vastly underrated band comes this slice of soulful psychadelia that I always imagine is about Miss Spektor without fail.
6) Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘Hysteric’
Everyone goes mad for ‘Zero’ but this is the best song on It’s Blitz! by a mile. Karen O can break a heart at twenty paces.
7) Joy Orbison ‘Hyph Mngo’
Following the ‘Sound of 2010’ announcement this may look like zeitgeist band wagon jumping but Itunes play counts don’t lie. I can’t wax lyrical about why this is good as I have no way of contextualising it but all I know is that it sounds amazing every time it spins into action.
8) Florence and The Machine ‘You Got The Love’ (The xx remix)
This song tells so many stories of this year. First you get the unstoppable rise of Florence (who, in this [DiS feature] (http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4136079-new-music-week--here-come-the-girls-friday-fun), I predicted would ‘win’ 2009). Then there are the sultry 3am musings of The xx and their tech-soul ballads. To top it off the emerging sound of the year (Dubstep) washes over a disco classic completely redefining it. I love the way that by stripping everything back to the essential core you get the purest sounds.
9) The Horrors ‘Sea Within A Sea’
The Horrors deserve all their acclaim this year and everyone who ever dismissed them should listen to this on repeat until New Years Day- it’ll certainly make Boxing Day bearable.
My ear has been completely tuned out from any form of national radio as of late, so these choices may seem kind of banal to many of you. Luckily for me, these tracks have remained fresh and almost new because of this lack of exposure and can still make me feel as emotionally driven by their spectacular tunes nearly as much as that first time I heard each of them.
Plenty of these choices have really stood up as singles as opposed to be any specific selection from an album of worth. In other words – take note Florence, Jay-Z and The Big Pink; to me, you have not bettered these introductory efforts with your long players. But, in saying that, all of the below have made some damn fine singular efforts and deserve what little notoriety I can give them. So, here are my singles of 2009:
1) Florence and The Machine 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)'
Still the undisputed choice cut from the much overhyped ‘Lungs’, ‘Rabbit Heart’ still stands a fantastic slice of 2009’s foray into post-pop.
2) HEALTH 'Die Slow'
Health’s transition from devastating noise mongers to undeniably twisted disco behaviour is perfectly encapsulated with this first slice of from Get Color.
3) Darkstar 'Aidy’s Girl’s A Computer'
Hyperdub’s output so far was perfectly enveloped with their 5 Years of.. compilation this year, and newbies Darkstar quickly stamped their warped garage mark all over the electronica loving masses.
4) Grizzly Bear 'Two Weeks'
An unashamedly vintage pop effort from the Brooklynites which heralded the beauty of their strongest album effort to date.
5) The Big Pink 'Velvet'
Still stands, in my humble opinion, as one of the best introductory singles of the past five years, and eclipses that vehemently opposed other single about pizza.
6) Gold Panda 'Back Home'
This wonderful slap of ethereal tech-house from Mr. Panda is just one highlight from what will inevitably be a sharp rise to warranted acclaim.
7) Paramore 'Ignorance'
‘Is that song about us?’ asked the non singing members of Paramore. Yes. Yes, it is says Hayley. Get over that quick sharp, boys, and realise that this is the strongest pop-rock track of the year.
8) Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys 'Empire State of Mind'
OK, OK. This one I will probably never be forgiven for on here. But if that ode-to-NYC chorus doesn’t stick in your head at some point, then there may be a Sunn o))) track for you that will replace i.
9) Delorean 'Deli'
An introduction sent via email from Barcelona in June made this track a beautiful distraction from my sweltered summer months.
Check out my top 15 singles of ‘09 in this here YouTube playlist..
Paul Stephen Gettings
1) Telepathe 'Devil's Trident'
This time last year, Telepathe were making me froth in anticipation at what 2009 would bring. And while their January full length Dance Mother didn't set the world aflame as much as i had hoped, this dizzying cyclone of a highlight has been melting my brain all year.
2) The Horrors 'Sea Within A Sea'
I know, I know, there's been no shortage of plaudits for these boys this year, but everything about 'Sea Within A Sea', from it's mysterious countdown and deadpan, tortured compere, it's sprawling, shifting, kaleidoscopic cascade, to the satisfaction that all faith invested in the southend quintet had been well placed, makes for it being not only a classic song, but also a classic moment of 2009.
3) Three Trapped Tigers '6'
The anonymous, metallic flurry of this three-piece would be impressive enough, but somehow they've embued it with a heartbreaking soul that transcends mere songtitles and lyrics. Ones to watch.
4) Burial/Four Tet 'Moth'
Collaborations can be tricky fare, especially with two such distinctive artists as Four Tet and Burial. But with Moth, they NAILED it. Nine minutes of hypnotic beats infused with Burial's heavenly sonic murk.
5) The Joy Formidable 'Whirring'
The Joy Formidable's debut CD (Not Album, apparently) continued the trend of the boutique album into the download-heavy 2009, coming in a box crammed with fan-sent momentoes on the theme of 'What is your Joy Formidable?' (What did you get?) This sharp, dreamy cut was a standout.
6) Castrovalva 'Thuglife'
The addition of vocals to the monsterous bass-led grooves of this Leeds two-piece could only be a good thing, but demon child Leemun Smith banshee-wailing across their hornets-nest noise is so terrifying that it sounds like a download from the devil himself. Nice.
7) Sketches 'Bleed Victoria'
A beautiful, soaring single of dreamy alt-rock.
8) Fever Ray 'Keep The Streets Empty For Me'
Just one track from a whole albumfull of absolute tunes. What was simply a side-project for Knife vocalist Karin Dreijer Andersson now seems like the main attraction. What next?
9) These New Puritans 'We Want War'
The clarion call carrying us off into 2010. Will the full-length Hidden be as good as this opening blast? SHHHWINGGGGGGG!
Plenty more staff mixtapes to follow tomorrow...