Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Halfway to Christmas: The Best Records of (the First Half of) 2009

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2009 at 1:19 PM

click to enlarge This is my neighbor, Doug, at last year's Xmas party. He's no longer with us.
  • This is my neighbor, Doug, at last year's Xmas party. He's no longer with us.

At the end of every year, our esteemed corporate overlords at Village Voice host what's known as the Pazz and Jop Poll. They send ballots out to various music writers under their benevolent corporate umbrella, and we send them back filled out with our favorite albums and singles of the year. It's a fantastic opportunity to feel self-important--and self-importance is literally an attitude that music critics need in order to survive. We're like arrogance vampires.

Well, last year I waited about as late as possible to submit my 2008 ballot (close to midnight on Christmas Eve, as a matter of fact), and thusly did something of a piss-poor job recollecting what the best records of the year were. I tend to drink around the holidays. Anyhow, I left off Raphael Saadiq's The Way I See It (d'oh), Tapes 'n Tapes' Walk It Off (not phenomenal, but a solid follow-up to their debut), British Sea Power's Do You Like Rock Music?, Deerhoof's Offend Maggie, TV on the Radio's Dear Science (though they certainly weren't hurting for votes) and Bottomless Pit's Congress (just an EP, but still worthy of a vote). Let's just say the holiday cocktail of loneliness, last-minute scrambling and egg nog resulted in one epic fail by me. But this year, by God, I'm gonna make it right. This year I'm going to keep a list. This year I've already started thinking about my choices, and I want you guys to weigh in. See a few albums that have already wowed me after the jump, and tell me what else belongs on my list. This year, I'm going to be the man my ego already thinks I am.

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Alright, I've already Creamed over this one, so to speak, so I'll spare you the re-post. Just know that, as hard as I try, I can't seem to go more than two days without listening to this record in its entirety. Easily one of the acts I'm most excited about seeing at Bonnaroo, and this video for their single "1901" definitely didn't hurt.

Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

This one was just released yesterday. Now, the Projectors' approach/aesthetic isn't exactly something I'd typically go for. Some fairly manic arrangements and melodies that are far from predictable. But damn, Bitte Orca seriously has some of the most mind-blowing vocal performances I've heard in ages. Mariah Carey-tier shit.

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Eating Us

Another one I've mentioned at great length. Since I've already shared a few hundred words on why this record's noteworthy, I don't feel the need to expound any further. Plus, I'm still a little upset with them for playing in the dark.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Alright, alright, I know. They're not exactly going to need a boost from me to be in the top 10, but I find this one to be their most consistent and accessible record yet. "No More Runnin," "Summertime Clothes" and "My Girls" are three of the best songs they've ever recorded. And don't think I'm the type to vote for P4k-cred artists right off the bat. Example: I'm still not certain if Grizzly Bear's Veckatemist will be getting a vote from me, even though this song is pretty damn good. And the video's terrifying.

Cortney Tidwell - Boys

If you haven't already, please stream this record. I heard it for the first time yesterday, and I'm already prepared to listen to it a third time. Cortney & Co. for the win on this one.

Screaming Females - Power Move

Any time you're within 20 miles of a Screaming Females show, drop what you're doing and go. Thanks to Marissa Paternoster's fleet-fingered badassery at The End a few weeks back, I still can't find my face. Serious. It's ghastly. The record's solid, too.

Still need to spend some time with Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and Wilco's latest releases; it's difficult not to be blinded by the back catalogs of bands like those, and I don't want to vote for anyone out of obligation. But let's be honest: I'd probably vote for Jeff Tweedy if he put out an album of birdcalls. I'll check back in as the year progresses. Now tell me what else I need to listen to.

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