2009 Favorites

In no particular order; not necessarily released this calendar year but in some way important to me in it; limit one from any given artist/album:

  1. Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, “Blanchard.” This single (and the whole album) was enhanced by Ms. Sandoval’s show in October — apparently she doesn’t like to perform live, so the theater was very dark, and she had these repetitive, gorgeous videos playing in the background, so the focus was truly on the music and its rhythm.
  2. Taken by Trees, “My Boys.” I like Animal Collective’s version of this song, but I really like Taken by Trees’ version.  Fronted by Victoria Bergsman, lead singer of The Concretes (I love the Swedes!), the vocals are clear, and the rhythms are funky.  I like the whole album, which was heavily influenced by Bergsman’s travels to Pakistan and has a worldly — but not too off-the-map — sound to it.
  3. Tunde Adebimpe, “Unknown Legend.” Another cover song, this one adapted for Rachel Getting Married.  Adebimpe is from TV on the Radio, and conveniently plays the man Rachel marries in the film.  I have a big crush on him.  I like the soundtrack to the film, and this song is the most mix-cd-worthy of the bunch.  Mainly it’s about the film, though, and tears pouring out of my eyes on an international flight while the guy next to me laughed at Burn After Reading.
  4. Neko Case, “Prison Girls.” I love a lot of songs on this album, and I really loved seeing Neko Case live this summer.  “Prison Girls” is my favorite, though.  “I love your long shadows and your gunpowder eyes.”  Sounds like something I wish I said.
  5. Bill Callahan, “Too Many Birds.” Another completely lovely album.  Callahan’s voice, his rhythm, his reductionist lyrics…  It reminds me of examining a river rock — nothing special from afar, smooth but made so only by constant interaction with the elements for years and years, monochrome until you look closer, and then infinitely rich and variegated…
  6. Regina Spektor, “Eet.” This album was a bit disappointing after her others, but I don’t dislike it (it just had so much to live up to, and, frankly, didn’t).  But here it is: somehow I couldn’t leave her off the list.
  7. Noah and the Whale, “Blue Skies.” If you’re interested in this band at all, I highly recommend you hear the whole album.  I think one music critic (either on All Songs Considered or Sound Opinions) described it as a breakup vaccination or something to that effect.  I think it’s like a breakup band-aid.  A whole album of, “wow, this really sucks, but I’m going to be okay.”  Which we all feel at some point, right?  The songs flow together beautifully, too.
  8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Hysteric.” No good reason for this.  I just like it.
  9. Feist and Ben Gibbard, “Train Song.” Again — I just like it.  This is off of the compilation Dark Was the Night, which is largely wonderful and star-studded.  I miss Feist.  I hope she makes another album soon.
  10. Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne.” So, Leonard and I didn’t get married when he was in Denver this summer, but I think it’s okay.  He is such a lovely man, but my coworker’s right when he says: “He would totally break your heart.  But then maybe he’d write a Marianne-esque song about it.”  I think he’s out of my league, and my age range.  But I’m so glad I saw him live at Red Rocks — easily the best show I’ve ever been to.  Ever.  Even with ex-boyfriend sightings.
  11. Headless Heroes, “Blues Run the Game.” I think this one falls into a category of sort of timeless singer-songwriter songs that I imagine my mom liking as a teenager.  Another one in this genre is Bob Dylan’s “Spanish Leather,” and maybe Trisha Yearwood’s “Walkaway Joe.”  I have soft spot in my heart for these.
  12. Matt Bauer, “Old Kimball.” I would not have heard of Matt Bauer had he not opened for Jolie Holland this fall.  The show was at the Walnut Room (my first time there — can you believe it!?), and the crowd was hushed.  Here was this bearded guy with his banjo, and you could seriously hear each individual pluck.  His vocals were smooth.  It was just a memorable listening experience..
  13. Camera Obscura, “French Navy.” Another really, really great album (and one I don’t feel I’ve given enough attention to).  This particular song mentions both libraries and dietary restrictions, and therefore is my favorite.
  14. St. Vincent, “Actor out of Work.” This was a fortuitous discovery — the Leonard Cohen show was postponed due to rain, and I had comp tickets from this show I couldn’t manage to give away.  So glad it worked out.  St. Vincent is unusual — dreamy vocals and some heavy instrumentation
  15. Bowerbirds, “Northern Lights.” Catchy and pretty.
  16. M. Ward, featuring Zooey Deschanel, “Never Had Nobody Like You.” Also catchy and pretty + an old-school rock-and-roll sound
  17. The Avett Brothers, “I and Love and You.” My heart melts every time I hear this one.  It might be about a single relationship — I think it’s about humanity, though, plus withholding love from one another, plus escaping to the anonymous comfort of cities and it breaks my heart.
  18. Blind Pilot, “Oviedo.” Another lovely album by a lovely little band.  You just want to invite them into your home after the show and feed them and let them sleep in your living room.
  19. Blitzen Trapper, “Furr.” I was a halfhearted Blitzen Trapper fan until I saw them live this summer.  What. Fun.  While I can see my mom listening to Headless Heroes in high school, this is what I picture my dad listening to — not necessarily this song (it’s uncharacteristically quiet compared to most of their others).  Anyway.
  20. Jenny Wilson, “Like a Fading Rainbow.” I bought this one in a frantic, end-of-the-month e-music stress-out (the ones where you don’t want to lose any credits, but nothing you’ve “saved for later” sounds worthy anymore).  And I love it.  It’s upbeat, the rhythm is great, and it’s just good, fun music.  And so I kept my subscription for another month.


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2 responses to “2009 Favorites

  1. I was actually going to email you for some new music suggestions. This’ll do nicely.

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