Monday, December 21, 2009

Ambient Signal's top albums and other things of 2009 it is...the top howevermany albums of the was incredibly hard to put things in a proper order, and I really only deliberated over the top 5 or so. I also thought it would be fun to use my iTunes stats and sort of figure out how much I had actually listened to some of my top albums in relation to their we go:

ALPT = Averages listens per track..i.e. the average number of times I would've listened to each individual track on the album, or the album as a error bars today

12. Balmorhea - All is wild, all is silent - ALPT= 2.8
Really nice more acoustic leaning post-rock instrumental stuff that I just discovered this year, but they have been around for a while. Best track: Harm an
d Boon

11. Nurses - Apples Acres - ALPT = 3.6
Probably not something I would normally like, but damn if a few songs off of this sort of freak-folk leaning album didn't get stuck in my head all the tim
e. Best track: Technicolor

10. Cortney Tidwell - Boys - ALPT = 3.5

A really all over the place album genre-wise, but her voice really holds it together. Best track: Being Crosby (or 17 Horses)

9. Doves - Kingdom of rust - ALPT = 4.8

Really glad to see some of my old favorites come back with a solid album of psychedelic leaning brit-rock. I was a much bigger fan of the album when it first came out, but as the months have passed, I found myself returning to it a little less. There are still some hits on it in the first few tracks though. Best track: Winter Hill

8. Why? -Eskimo Snow - ALPT = 4.6

A far cry from last year's amazing Alopecia, but definitely some great stuff hiding in this album as well. The major issue for me with Eskimo Snow was the dropping of the more interesting hip-hop style production on his earlier albums. The more live sounding band format is an interesting experiment, but ultimately I prefer the older stuff. That being said, there are some gems on here that I'll be coming back to. Best track: Into the Shadows of my Embrace

7. Bibio - Ambivalence avenue - ALPT = 4.3
Another initially unknown artist for me, but someho
w I was initially attracted to this album. At first it reminded me a lot of RJD2 with sort of 70's tinged electronic music production with some funky elements...but the album throws so many curveballs at first it sounds like a genre train wreck, but the songs really start to grow on you. Best tracks: Haikuesque or Lover's Carvings

6. Le Loup - Family - ALPT = 5.0

I was a big fan of Le Loup's 2007 release, and I was curious where they would take their sort of spacy-banjo-electronics-chanting sound. To my dismay, they lost the banjo in this album, but the other sonic shifts make many of the songs much more immediately accessible. It doesn't have the more adventurous quirks of the previous, but is more satisfying as a whole. Best tracks: A Celebration and Family

5. Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career - ALPT = 10.4

I have been a big fan of Camera Obscura for quite a while, and this album did not disappoint. I'm still on the fence as to whether this one tops 2006's amazing "Let's get out of this country" but that's not a bad problem to have. Best tracks: Away with Murder and My Maudlin Career

4. The Antlers - Hospice - ALPT - 8.2

Here begins some of the total surprise albums of the year. I hadn't even heard wind of this band before Tim posted his review of the album on the blog back in July, and the re-mastered album hadn't even come out by this point. I was immediately swept away by the bizarre skill of balancing the pop and the ambient. The subject matter was definitely the heaviest of the year, and it sometimes made me nervous to listen to it as much as I did, but it definitely came out as a successful risk. Best tracks: Two and Bear

3. Mew - No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories The World Is Grey I'm Tired Let's Wash Away - ALPT = 8.57

I have no idea where this album came from. I had passed on Mew several times over the past few years (I recently came across a note of "Bands to listen to" from 4 or 5 years ago and Mew was on it). I'm almost glad I waited, because this album sticks out of my favorite of theirs from the last few years. These Danes in a way managed to make music that was just fun to listen to. Extremely complex (and varied) arrangements and very skilled musicians made this an album with some real staying power. I really had trouble wearing this album out because I would come back and find a whole new song to become obsessed over. Best tracks: Introducing Palace Players and Sometimes life isn't easy

2. Ramona Falls - Intuit - ALPT = 14.1

Ramona Falls is the solo project of Brent Knopf of Menomena. As many of you may recall (and by many, I mean none), Menomena's Friend and Foe album was my favorite album of 2007. There are many of the same Menomena-ish elements here, but much more subdued and spaced out. The album is consistently good all the way through, only wavering a bit for a track or two in the last third. Best tracks: I say Fever and Clover and Bellyfulla

1. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest - ALPT = 14.1

You can talk about how everyone really bought into the hype for this album, but trust me, the hype is deserved. I luckily managed to avoid a lot of the blogspam raving on the early leak of the album and held out until I had my own physical copy. For weeks I had the album on repeat, and would find new gems every few days. I could never quite put my finger on what they were doing, and how they were doing it, but the important thing was that they were doing it. I felt like I hadn't heard pop music handled quite this way before, but it was an exciting detour. Just the right sprinkling of detailed arrangements, weirdness, and catchy hooks. This is definitely a classic I'll be coming back to for years. Best tracks: Two Weeks (omg) and While You Wait for the Others and Ready Able

Best EP's
1. Bon Iver - Blood Bank EP
I was so mad when I discovered Bon Iver back in June. I wanted to know why no one had grabbed me by the lapels, shaken me 'til my monacle had fallen out and yelled "Good god man, You haven't listened to Bon Iver yet?!" Surely "For emma, forever ago" would have been in my top albums of 2008 had I known about it, but ah least its in my collection now. This is a short EP, but Blood Bank and Woods are amazing standouts. Woods is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in a long time, and is the most successful use of autotune I have heard so far.

2. Land of talk - Fun and laughter
I passed on it the first few listens, but every song on it soon became essential listening...which is unlike their full length "Some are lakes" where I really only loved a couple tracks. I'm looking forward to the next full length based on the direction they took with this EP. Best track: A series of small flames

3. Phantogram - EP
Kind of hard for me not to be a fan of these guys when I occasionally do live video for them at shows. I had been waiting for this EP to be released properly since I first saw them over a year ago as I really needed something I could practice along with. I am really looking forward to their debut full length coming in's going to blow up, I promise you.

4. Animal Collective - Fall be kind EP
I always have trouble with Animal Collective's full lengths. I fall in love with one or two songs, and then just can't stand the rest of the album. This EP however had much more bearable tracks that were mixed in a way that I could actually understand what I was listening to. Best track: What would I want? Sky

Best songs (no order):
Grizzly Bear - Two weeks
Animal Collective - My Girls
Mew - Introducing palace players
Ramona Falls - I say fever
Camera Obscura - Away with murder
Bon Iver - Woods
Animal Collective - What would I want? Sky
The Antlers - Two
Bibio - Lover's Carvings
The Dodos - Fables
Nurses - Technicolor
Land of talk - A series of small flames
Why? - Into the shadows of my embrace
(and a bunch I'm forgetting)

Disappointing albums of the year (albums I wish were better..or bands I used to like and have sort of fallen out of favor)...maybe i'll come back to them eventually
Cursive - Mama I'm swollen
Orenda Fink - Ask the night
Conor Oberst - Outer south
Monsters of Folk - s/t
Brand New - Daisy
Mum - Sing along to songs you don't know
Amy Millan - Masters of burial

Most anticipated albums of 2010:
Phantogram - Eyelid Movies - February 16th
The Album leaf - A Chorus of Story tellers - February 2nd
Menomena - Unconfirmed details..but I know they were working on it
Jonsi (of sigur ros) solo album - March 23rd
Midlake - Feb 2nd
Efterklang - Magic Chairs - Feb 23rd
The Velvet teen - (I think they're in the studio...)
Amiina (I think they are recording too...)
Hammock (Also recording..I think this may come out in march as well)
Radical Face

Wish list:
Son Lux (pretty please...with sugar on top)
Sigur Ros (I thought I remembered reading about them recording for this...)
Bright Eyes (the final album...rumored to be in the fall?)
Battles (????)
Forget Cassettes (plz come back)

See you in 2010!

1 comment:

darynr said...

I'll have to check out Hospice. I kept meaning to do so but never actually got around to it for some reason.