Monday, December 28, 2009

Laura's Favorite Albums of 2009

Top 20 favorite albums of 2009 in good ol' fashioned ABC order:
Also, if you want a mix CD with one song from each of my top 20, give me a holler! In return, all I ask is for something cool mailed to or traded to me... Nothing that can get me in trouble with the authorities, and nothing alive. Those are the rules.

BOAT - Setting the Paces
Remember when Weezer was catchy, pure and fun? And how they're like, not that anymore? If you're one of those people who is still having trouble letting go, listen to Setting the Paces. That should give you some closure. Not to mention a new favorite band and album.

Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
Sad bastard enough for me and J Mascis to both place it on our favorites of the year list.

Copper Thieves - From Way Out To Way Under

I can't imagine any of these guys actually stealing copper pipes from the deluge of foreclosed and abandoned properties Detroit readily offers to those willing to risk it for precious scrap metal. Well, maybe John.

Sonya Cotton
Red River
Remember that movie Powder? I wish that guy was real so he could could bring the deer on the album cover back to life. Wait - did Powder bring the deer back to life, or only make the hunter feel the pain of the deer as it died? I don't want to do that to Ms. Cotton - her record is sad enough. But even if he can't bring the dead back to life, if Powder were real I could at least tell him to his face how horrible his movie is.

Deastro - Moondagger
Randy once made a comment in an article about how he measured how excited to get about money as a child by assessing how much Big League Chew he could buy with it. I can't remember the whole deal, just that it was totally a "Wow! Me too!" moment and it made me happy.

Dinosaur Jr - Farm
The loudest band I've ever seen live, and still near and dear to my heart after all these years. 2007's first-album-in-a-decade-with-the-original-line-up Beyond was really awesome, but Farm one ups it and wins perfect Dinosaur Jr status. I also give my coveted "album cover of the year" title to this one. It's like Super Mario Bros meets High Times magazine. I want the sweet, stoned foliage man to carry me into the J Mascis dream world. But I'll make sure to remember some ear plugs.

Elvis Perkins in DearlandElvis Perkins In Dearland
If asked which Elvis camp I was in, I wouldn’t pick Presley or Costello. I’d pick Perkins which would illicit a, “You mean Carl Perkins?” response from Presley fans, and maybe a, “Was it marrying Diana Krall that did you in?” from Costello’s faithful. But my response would probably make his dad (Norman Bates!) happy seeing as he named his son after Elvis Presley.

Future of the Left - Travels With Myself and Another
If you were to tell me that one of my favorite albums this year would contain the lyric, "
Slight bowel movements preceded the bloodless coup," I would've considered that the end of our friendship. I would've insisted you return the Ace of Base/bhangra mix I gave you, because that is only for true friends. But alas, our friendship is safe thanks to my love of this record. As my friend Tim said, "It's refreshing to hear someone ripping off the Jesus Lizard properly."

Morrissey - Years Of Refusal

Oh, hai. Hav u heard of Morrissey? He are my favorite singr.

The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come
As soon as I heard the line, "And if my suffering doubles, let me never love you less" I knew this would be on my year end list. I'm still not totally sure if that line is from the Bible or if it's Darnielle's work. If it's a Darnielle line, that's not a huge surprise seeing as he's pretty good at that whole writing lyrics thing. If it's actually from the Bible, I'm not moved enough to like, go to church or something, but I am comfortable with extending a, 'Hey Bible, nice work."

Music Go Music - Expressions
Besides Stephin Merritt and John McCain, it's not often that you hear anybody unabashedly point to ABBA as a favorite or an influence. As many records as ABBA has sold around the world, I've yet to personally meet somebody who has a serious passion for the band. Music Go Music love ABBA and, using Sweden's greatest export as a foundation, have smartly harvest an array of late 70's staple sounds on Expressions: Heart, Donna Summer, 10cc, Olivia Newton John... basically all things that are patently uncool to today's youth. Which is probably the exact reason why today's youth will love this record.

Office - Mecca

Do you work in a cubicle environment? Maybe you keep the radio on NPR real quiet-like all night for your desk plant to help you feel more humane and in touch with nature’s rhythm. This is because you can’t even tell if it’s sunny or dark out from where you sit, let alone see a tree. When you go home at night, you are too exhausted to do anything but watch TV and heat up a Lean Cuisine (which is the same thing you had for lunch). It’s rough, but at least you have a job, yes? Either way, you totally deserve a break once in awhile – so maybe download Mecca, the new album by Office. For free. It is so, so good and not boring like your life.

Polvo - In Prism
Polvo is one of those bands I should’ve listened to sooner, but alas, it took In Prism to get my attention. I blame the indie subcategory of “math rock.” I don’t want to say I hate math, but if one were to judge my intelligence level based solely on my math skills, I may very well be considered a developmentally challenged adult – high functioning enough to say, dress myself, but still in need of some sort of basic supervision or home care.

The Prime Ministers - Compromiser

One of the first bands I saw after moving back to Detroit and still one of my favorites. Smart, catchy, high quality pop songs. I probably get songs from this album stuck in my head more than any other this year.

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir - ... And The Horse You Rode In On
Like a cross between Camper Van Beethoven and Pulp, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir totally make me think of my friend Meghan. Like, if she hadn't been the one to introduce me to them, and I heard them for the first time, I'd think, "I bet Meghan loves this band." And if Meghan likes it, it makes me happy.
They were supposed to play Detroit earlier this year, but their entire tour got scrapped because of a tour van accident. I figured they abandoned the tour due expensive van damage, but further investigation revealed that every single member of the band was hurt in the accident - some are still recovering/doing physical therapy, etc. So sad! Their record ... and the Horse You Rode In On just came out in September. Consider it your contribution to health care reform and buy a copy.

Telekinesis! - Telekinesis!
I like this guy even more now that I know he recently became obsessed with Scott Walker. I can't imagine what a Walker influence would do to his perfect pop songs, but it could be interesting.

Those Darlins - Those Darlins
These ladies played the Pike Room the night of the Nine Mile Overpass Tanker Truck Explosion (7/15: Never Forget) and I’m going to just run with the idea that their presence in Pontiac is the reason nobody died, because why not? They’re like a super fun mix of Wanda Jackson, Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers and the Exciters.

Wye Oak
The Knot
Squalling feedback- drenched guitar interspersed with glacially paced haunting melodies ala Low, Red House Painters, Pale Saints etc. Jenn Wasner has that matter-of-fact-yet-longing alto voice like Georgia Hubley or Jennifer O'Connor that I’m a sucker for. Wye Oak is a nice break from the Dan Deacon wackiness I typically associate with Baltimore. Then again, I don’t know that much about them – maybe they wear neon dinosaur masks and pass out roller skates to audience members during live performances.

Yo La Tengo
Popular Songs
Early on in high school, I befriended this really sweet hippie girl who eventually made me a mixtape. I remember only two things about the tape – that it was mostly really boring Grateful Dead stuff and that it had this song called, “From a Motel 6” by Yo La Tengo. She soon afterward became a born again Christian, started dating a sanctimonious prick who once (as a “concerned friend”) said to me, “As a white, Christian male, I feel threatened by your feminist views” and our friendship dissolved. For all I know she’s married to him now and has 11 kids with names like Ezekiel and Hezekiah all of whom have been homeschooled to believe that homosexuality is responsible for the inevitable apocalypse which would come shortly after Satan was elected President of the United States by posing as a hope filled black man with a Muslim name and no U.S. birth certificate. But I got Yo La Tengo out of the deal and I’ve basically been madly in love with them ever since. So clearly I win.

Zoos Of Berlin - Taxis
If you missed Zoos Of Berlin playing in the Detroit Science Center IMAX back in November, you probably missed one of the coolest sets in Detroit this year. Seriously.

Here's 20 Runners Up! For Fun!
Antony & the Johnsons - The Crying Light

Bad Veins - Bad Veins
Lou Barlow - Goodnight Unknown Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
Choo Choo la Rouge - Black Clouds

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele - The Good Feeling Music Of...

Heartless Bastards - The Mountain

John Doe & The Sadies - Country Club

Dan Mangan - Nice, Nice, Very Nice

Amy Millan - Masters Of The Burial

The Most Serene Republic - ...And The Ever Expanding Universe

A.C. Newman - Get Guilty

NOMO - Invisible Cities

Nurses - Apple's Acre

Pet Shop Boys - Yes

Sonic Youth - The Eternal

The Thermals - Now We Can See

J Tillman - Year In The Kingdom

The Very Best - Warm Heart Of Africa

WHY? - Eskimo Snow


Aaron Detroit said...

Amazing list and a beautiful incorporation of some local bands that deserve recognition. Deastro and Zoos of Berlin are some of the best that Detroit has to offer; I'm glad people are starting to notice.

(Laura) said...

Thanks Aaron! The music in this city is amazing, and all my favorite Detroit releases are as great as many of the "national" indie stuff that is topping most critic's lists this year. I see no real reason not to single them out.

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