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Albums to KILL for from 2009


1 | DOVES | Kingdom of Rust | Astralwerks

‘Kingdom of Rust’ is another sterling example of why the Doves should be household names and why they probably won’t ever be: their unwavering flair for producing mountainous, Wembley-worthy pop anthems that are nonetheless invested with a palpable degree of grace and humility.” – Pitchfork Media

…moving from a hushed, organic guitar-bass-drums format to something more orchestrated and stormy—they show off all the tricks they’ve learned over the past 10 years, about how to build a big space and then fill it with an electric, multicolored haze.” – AV Club

Click the picture of Doves to see their performance of ‘Kingdom of Rust’ at the BBC Electric Proms with the London Bulgarian Choir in October 2009 …

Doves


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2 | GUSGUS | 24/7 | Kompakt.

“…this LP is a piece of genius. A highly recommended long player, with enough to satisfy even the most jaded electronic music fan, this will surely be on many people’s top ten albums list come the year’s end. “365Mag International

“There is more techno at the root of the band’s sound on this occasion, but the soul still remains. In dance music few can sustain interest over the best part of 10 minutes, but GusGus pull that trick out of the hat every time with some really epic productions. In 24/7 they’ve just made one of their best albums of an increasingly impressive and formidable career.”musicOMH

“Spacious luxuriance, indulging in glassy minimalist rhythms and snow-drift vocals…Iceland’s GusGus return with a shiny new LP displaying a sleek strain of euphoric techno soul. “Boomkat

Click the picture of GusGus to their video for ‘Add This Song’ …

gg


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3 | THE XX | xx | XL Recordings

“For a debut album it’s brilliantly realised and contains not an inch of flab across its 11 songs. Debut album of the year? It’s beyond doubt.”musicOMH

“The xx are four 20-year-olds from South London who make predominantly slow, furtive pop music, mostly about sex. After dozens of listens, it’s nearly incomprehensible to think that a group so fresh-faced produced it. It is so fully formed and thoughtful that it feels like three or four lesser, noisier records should have preceded it. The xx didn’t need a gestation period, though xx is nuanced, quiet, and surprising enough that you might.”Pitchfork Media

“The xx craft languid, sparsely arranged love songs that recall atmospheric 80s acts such as the Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star. Better still, they betray their south London roots: gentle, plaintive melodies are framed by minimal beats that nod to dubstep and R&B. There is a lightness of touch at play that gives the XX a sophistication beyond their years. It probably means that their dream pop will become the ubiquitous dinner party album du jour.”The Guardian UK

Click the picture of The xx to see their performance of ‘Islands’ on Later with Jools Holland …

The xx


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4 | THE BIG PINK | A Brief History of Love | 4AD

“A Brief History Of Love is by turns earth-shakingly frightening and blissfully embracing; a noise to damage eardrums, to destabilise bedroom walls; a sound to erupt from loudspeakers in city centres and fall out onto the streets as the 11th plague. It is – when it wants to be – decadent, riveting, rebellious and hopelessly romantic. They say timing is everything. Well, it has been a long wait for a British album like this, the kind that transcends age group appeal and inspires cool kids to form bands and geeky kids to lose themselves in music’s history.”musicOMH

“A Brief History Of Love (blends) both the swirling, shoegazy elements of Creation Records and the raved-up psychedelic dance flair of the Verve. It’s a throwback sound and style that still manages to sound thoroughly modern, with big programmed beats and massive, spiraling guitars layered endlessly over an underlying lyrical thread that seems to try in vain to chronicle the mercurial history of affairs of the heart. The record gets off to a hazy, expansive start with the slow-burning, dreamlike groove of “Crystal Visions.” It sets the moody tone of the album perfectly, with its blend of screeching, fuzzed out guitars, hypnotic bass and an infectious beat. The album is brimming with cocksure confidence, and is packed with layer upon layer of compelling beats, rhythms and melodies, as well as a lyrical theme that everyone with a heart that they’ve given away can relate to.”Culture Bully

Click the picture of The Big Pink to see their video for ‘Too Young to Love’ …

Big Pink


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5 | WASHED OUT | Life of Leisure | Mexican Summer

“Life of Leisure has the bittersweet taste of the end of summer all wrapped up in a seventeen-minute package, quite a good set of songs for those days when you have to look back and think hard to remember everything – every sleepless night dancing, every star in the sky, the sound of waves on every vacant beach. Like night-swimming, half your face submerged, and the moon across the water. Like walking home on sandy streets lined with resorts, gently holding someone’s hand, feeling in your chest the distant pulsing bass from basements and passing cars. It doesn’t sound like dance music or party music or techno music – it is a sensuous electronic whirlwind…”Pretty Much Amazing

“…the summer has wound down, the sun has gone and it has left nothing more than a nostalgic memory of adolescent youth – something captured by its unerring indulgence in 80s synth-pop.”Dummy Mag

“The chief strength of the EP is the giant walls of beautiful noise that Washed Out can create. Through the use of warm and enveloping synths, the aforementioned whooshing vocals and slightly crackling textures, the “Life of leisure” EP creates an inviting and roomy headspace for you to drift away in. Coincidentally, considering the album’s late September release date, it makes a great backdrop for the waning summer.”The Pointer

Click the picture of Washed Out to see their video for ‘Feel It All Around’ …

Washed Out


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6 | LADYHAWKE | Ladyhawke | Modular Interscope

New Zealand multi-instrumentalist Pip Brown a/k/a Ladyhawke presents us with a treasure trove of found blips, as if the 1980s had been nothing but a gigantic mirror ball to smash and paste back together. Stylistic consistency be damned: for every moment of Gary Numan–esque synth hum, there are cheesy Super Bowl halftime Van Hagar keyboard rah-rahs. Still, there are enough silky-yet-catchy melodies and bludgeoning power choruses that you won’t stop to wonder whether this is supposed to be ironic dance music or crossover rock/pop or hip indie whatever.” – Boston Phoenix

Heavily influenced by synth pop, new wave, and AOR in equal measures, Ladyhawke, sounds like a who’s who of ’80s pop. But despite its blatant retro vibe, it still manages to sound fresh thanks to its clever production and Brown’s fiery and vibrant vocals. Ladyhawke is unlikely to win any awards for originality but you’d be hard pressed to find a more consistent and hook-laden debut all year.” – All Music

Ladyhawke’s louche synthetic pop is brazenly Bananarama, ridiculously ‘Rio’, and wonderfully Waterman, but the lack of posing – her sheer scruffiness – makes it the first credible ’80s pop record since ABC’s ‘The Lexicon Of Love’.” – NME

Click the picture of Ladyhawke to see her animated Thelma + Louise-themed video for ‘My Delirium’ …

Ladyhawke


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7 | FEVER RAY | Fever Ray | Mute Records

“…the enigmatic and chilling sounds of Karin Dreijer Andersson’s new project, an exercise in femininity, childhood, and unrest. Fever Ray is a growing, living, breathing document of what electronic music can be. This is an event. A happening. An understated album that teaches you what music is capable of right now. Andersson’s filtered voice, a trademark of hers, is here in full swing, and the effect is chilling and brilliant. The lyrics, as per anything Andersson has committed to song, is cryptic and frightening. This woman has been writing some of the most compelling and provoking pop songs in recent years, and all under everyone’s noses. This album is no different.
” – Tiny Mix Tapes

“…with low, cloudy beats and Andersson’s rough and guttural delivery, Fever Ray is certainly ethereal. On “Seven,” Andersson sings about childhood memories and accompanied by spectral vocal chants and synth-heavy beats, it makes for one enchanting listen….particularly those booming, magnetic beats that combine light snares with wraithlike basses and enough otherworldly atmospherics to paint the dark picture that’s the cover.” – Delusions of Adequacy

“(Andersson’s) eponymous debut as Fever Ray is countless times more claustrophobic and creepy than her better-known project’s ‘Silent Shout’. It also holds its own against that incredibly strong record, mining similar depth of field (an epic, sludge-caked trek as always) but eschewing easier beats for black soundscapes that push back against Andersson’s poisoned breath.” – AV Club

Click the picture of Fever Ray to see her video for ‘When I Grow Up’

Fever Ray


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8 | I LOVE YOU AIRLINES | Love You Like Lions/Candyman | self

“I Love You Airlines is PT Barnum’s most opium-inspired kaleidoscopic carousel, replete with 2000 chartreuse bells and sapphire whistles, 13 sousaphone blowing cheetahs and 1 accordion playing Ganesh…it’s 3001 brass pipes bubbling and belching the symphony a caffeine-fueled Phil Spector composed on the Mighty Wurlitzer that appeared in last night’s dream dreamt by Dali, dictated by Roald Dahl: the sonically-glimmering soundtrack to a Post-modern film fantasia starring Holly Golightly gliding through the East Village glistening head to toe in diamond-studded Chanel, shot in glorious Technicolor by Busby Berkeley and projected on a huge screen suspended high above Cinderella’s Castle in Walt Disney World on a balmy, 72 degree night in late November….the southwesterly breeze carrying fuchsia flamingo feathers down to the Gulf of Mexico…and beyond…”Management

Click the picture of I Love You Airlines to listen and/or download this very single for free, legally …!

ILYA


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9 | DINOSAUR JR | Farm | Jagjaguwar Records

“Farm continues to present Dinosaur Jr. in both destroyer and dreamweaver modes (often within the same song)… and sounds like the best alt-rock album that 1993 forgot.”AV Club

“Asserting itself as the loud and grunge master it sincerely is, J Mascis and crew have now found their fountain of youth with Farm. An album every bit as good as Beyond, it’s time to realize that not only is Dinosaur Jr. back, but the group sounds better than ever. This is one mighty album, one that will tower over others like the green shrubs that tower over the buildings on the cover. It’s amazingly brilliant and will endlessly reward with repeated listens.”Delusions of Adequacy

“…it’s tempting to make a grand statement about J. Mascis and Dinosaur Jr. as heirs to the Young and Crazy Horse throne. Young’s genius is pretty inimitable, but there is something about this band– the way they mix noisy guitar and punk-ish slam with sugared melodies and faded choruses– that’s Young-worthy.”Pitchfork Media

Click the picture of Dinosaur Jr to see their video for ‘Over It’ …

Dinosaur Jr


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10 | THE RAVEONETTES | In and Out of Control | Vice Records

“On a superficial level The Raveonettes’ bittersweet allure has been obtained by filtering surf guitar motifs and doo-wop standard-bearers like the Ronettes through whatever electrical machination it was that gave The Jesus and Mary Chain their brittle searing edge. This is their thing, their schtick. And for the most part, bending Phil Spector out of shape and dragging him by his shock of hair through a raft of distortional devices and all the while kicking the hell out of the ‘Leader of the Pack’ is a very good thing.”Drowned in Sound

“Denmark’s The Raveonettes live in a sonic universe made up of girl-group pop, Velvet Underground ennui, Jesus And Mary Chain fuzz, audiobooks of Jim Thompson novels, and little else. Those sympathetic to their approach will find the group as alluring as ever, from the swelling, skeptical, summer-celebrating album-opener “Bang!” through the sing-along despair of the overdose-referencing “Last Dance,” and beyond.”AV Club

“In and Out of Control finds the Danish duo keeping scarily consistent with their amalgam of 60s Wall of Sound-inspired pop, noisy garage-rock and bubblegum melodies. While the Raveonettes do little to shake things up on Control, they still have the unique and eerie ability to sugarcoat the most serious of songs with their infectious brand of music, whether dousing warm, fuzzy guitars and tender harmonies over “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed),” honoring The Cars on “Last Dance” or dabbling with dancier elements on “D.R.U.G.S.””Lost At Sea

Click the picture of The Raveonettes to see their video for ‘Last Dance’, singing bird and all …

Raveonettes


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VERY HONORABLE MENTION

A Place to Bury Strangers : Exploding Head
Animal Collective : Merriweather Post Pavilion
Apse : Climb Up
Bibio : Ambivalence Avenue
The Drums : Summertime! EP
The Field : Yesterday & Today
The Horrors : Primary Colours
Memory Tapes : Seek Magic
Pains of Being Pure At Heart : s/t
Pains of Being Pure At Heart : Higher Than the Stars EP
SPC ECO : 3-D
Universal Studios Florida : Ocean Sunbirds

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REISSUES OF THE YEAR

** the majority of these came out earlier than 2009, but they were all new to me this year one way or another

A.R. Kane : 69
Beatles : Rubber Soul
Beatles : Abbey Road
Blueshift Signal : Surround
Simple Minds : Empires and Dance
Simple Minds : New Gold Dream
The Wake : Here Comes Everybody


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1 Comment so far

  1. David

    Thank you for being such a fan of blueshift signal!!!!! I loved playing the drums for them and some of the best memories of my life. If you ever have any questions…. Please contact me. David73carpenter@yahoo.com

    Be well
    David

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