My albums of the year, Summer-Autumn 2009

Wow, 2009 was quite a year for new music. At the start of the year all I knew was coming was Mistabishi’s Drop and Röyksopp’s Junior. I knew absolutely nothing about Animal Collective, and I was still living in the faint hope that Mew would release their long-promised album sometime before the apocalypse. What I ended up with was an absolute barrage of new releases, which I will try document chronologically in these posts.

Animal Collective: Merriwether Post Pavillion
(thanks to DominoRecords)

I didn’t actually listen to MPP until about March, when I found myself wondering ‘why did I waste the last two months not listening to this?’ I know that every NPR listener and his immaculately trimmed labrador have raved on about this album, and I understand why, but I’d like to be a bit more level headed toward it.

It took a while to get under my skin, but I did find myself whistling the melodies from Daily Routine, Also Frightened, and of course My Girls. I had a high res picture of the album cover as my desktop background at work, all the other technicians felt queasy after ten seconds of looking at it. It took me much longer, five days.

As electronic music goes, Animal Collective are off on a tengent. Thye’re not off that way on their own, they have neighbours (in the same way that a farmer has neighbours) but they are carving out a bit of a niche for themselves in the short term, midway between MGMT and Empire of the Sun.

Mistabishi: Drop
(thinks to HospitalRecords)

Apart from starting the year with Lusine’s back catalog, I was waiting for this album, which DJ London Elektricity did a succesful job of hyping up (I mean that in a positive context. When He is hyping up an album it’s very rarely a letdown). The track featured above was a great exercise in sound manipulation, but it wasn’t the only drawcard. The track Greed, despite being contradictory to my worldview was an absolute stormer, as was White Collar Grime, which I listened to, along with Wipe Your Tears on the way back from picking my fiance and her friend up from Christchurch airport after their three month sojurn in Africa and the middle-east. The Light’s Really Bad is a track with an infectious personality, as is Lean

I didn’t think Drop was that original for an album title, but don’t let that lead you to assume that the music inside is unoriginal or completely conventional. While there are some stereotypes, there is a seedy quirky underbelly waiting to be discovered.

Mistabishi’s new single I Feel Lol is out now on Hospital Records.

The Lonely Island: Incredibad
(thanks to thelonelyisland)

The only reason I’m including this is because of it’s ability to be easily memed, and it’s capacity to be enjoyed my an entire student flat. 122 Queen St rocked to the chorus of I’m on a boat and friends of mine still makes Jizz In My Pants and Dick In A Box jokes. Along this line there have been several memes created around The Lonely Island’s songs, including, but not limited to:
I’m On A Goat
(thanks to jlineham)

and this t-shirt:
http://www.bustedtees.com/dickinabox

Let’s just say this album lived up to it’s title and be done with it. Bring back United States of Whatever!

Rhian Sheehan: Standing In Silence
(thanks to redkidone)

This was the first ‘I’ve waited years for a new album from <artist> and it’s finally here!’ album I got this year, except at the same time it isn’t because I hadn’t been waiting years for a new album from Rhian. He collaberated with his father, photographer Grant Sheehan to create a coffee table book of New Zealand Landscapes and an album that came with the book, which was just as much of a motivation for buying the book as the book itself. Standing In Silence came out at roughly the same time as the next album on my list. I bought the two at the same time and they couldn’t be further apart. Focussing o n SiS though, it’s a 14 part album that takes Rhian’s sound in a different direction to his previous releases. There is a much more cinematic focus in this album (stemming from the New Zealand Lanscapes album, perhaps?) which serves his brand of music well.

The album swoops through quiet times, brooding times, triumphant times, and foreboding times, and the album works quite well as background music as much as it does foreground music, When I bought the album I was actually given a musicbox that plays the same musicbox melody in the video above, and I still play with it pretty often.

I still haven’t seen Rhian live (for goddness sake, he may live in the north island, but he still lives closer to me than any other artist on this list!), but I have friended him on facebook. He’s not a big fan of the last Röyksopp album.

The Prodigy: Invaders Must Die
(thanks to MRTTVD)

I never really got into The Prodigy before this album. Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned just made me thing of playing NFS: Most Wanted all summer and apart from that I’d ever really delved into their back catalouge. My abiding memories of this album coincide with those of the Rhian Sheehan album, as well as three other occasions; ‘O-week’ at University, the (somewhat irresponsible) purchase of a B&W Zeppelin iPod speaker, and the physical symptoms of my anxiety disorder all finally coming to a head (specifically My head, and they’ve been stuck there since )

This album was a big party album for me. It will always remind me of the relative chaos that is O-week (stands for orientation, really means orgy), but it actually made me enjoy the chaos for a change. I probably took away ten percent of the life expectancy of my hearing listening to this album at stupidly high volume (it drowned out the drunk chicks outside the cook tyring to sing or form simple sentences) but I don’t really regret that. Next time, however I will probably be more considerate of my ears.

Neko Case: Middle Cyclone
(thanks to aekituesday)

Neko Case is the hottest redhead/ginger/ranga/other redhead slang in music! There’s now that we’ve covered that bit, let’s talk about the album.
Firstly, she has a fascination with tornados, or morespecifically the part in the middle of the tornado that’s a tornador within a tornado, called the middle cyclone (hence the album title) the album is rife with references to these powerful winds. Secondly, this album is great driving music, particularly if you live somewhere rural. Not that it’s bad music for any other purpose, just that the pop-country-folk sound works better on the road between Oamaru and Timaru than it does in the middle of Dunedin.

Röyksopp: Junior
(thanks to RoyksoppMusic)

The first of the ‘I’ve been waiting for a new release from then for years and now it’s finally here!’ releases I got for 2009. Admittedly I did discover the infamous Black Session bootleg, and that did tide me over for while, but the new material in Junior was stunning, especially ater having to wait three years for it. Röyksopp are famous for having a different sound for each of their albums (except for the live ones, they sound pretty similar, just that the bootleg is longer than the legitimate release. Record execs take note!) and the sound of Junior is different again, involving a synth sound that my remind some listeners of The Grudge, but since I haven’t watched that film I had plenty of fun. Those expecting a return to the glory days of Melody A.M. (including Rhian Sheehan) can forget it. Frankly if your view of Röyksopp is limited to their debeut album, as sensational as it is, you aren’t really going to like their new material much. This album has had the highest rotation in my car this year, Susan and I have listened to it many times when we’ve had to drive somewhere. Favourites have been This Must Be It, You Don’t Have A Clue, Miss It So Much and Silver Cruiser. The more astute of you may have noticed the adherence to one furmula though. The quirky little track at the end of each album. It’s there.

p.s. the other good news about Röyksopp is that they are releasing a companion album, titled Senior in 2010

Metric: Fantasies
(thanks to metricmusic)

I feel a bit bad including this one, not because it’s bad music, but because when I got it I cherry-picked which songs I liked, so I didn’t really listen to the whole album. I first heard of Metric when NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast played the song above on an episode in April. It’s catchy pop, and I’ll probably play it a lot more often when Summer rolls around. I wouldn’t call it forgettable, because I remember that Sick Muse exists ever other week, but the fact that I was able to cherry pick only half the songs from the album is kind-of a bum rap this band. Still, it wasn’t the only album I treated this way in 2009, so maybe I was just being generally unfair. Sick Muse is a great song. Keep it up guys, you’ll win me yet!

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One thought on “My albums of the year, Summer-Autumn 2009

  1. Just so you know, I am aware that there are two ‘first’ ‘I’ve been waiting for new materian from <artist> for years…’ albums, but if you’ve actually read the entries (beyond the typos) you’ll no that Rhian’s album technically doesn’t fall into that category. 😉

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