Here is what I remember of my musical experience in 2009. I didn’t limit this to just albums, cuz I am special. In no particular order:
All the shows I missed in 2009
Seriously, I bet they were SOOOO much fun. 2 am bar closing times and a square job don’t play nice. I feel so old this year. I missed too many damn shows to count, so I’m not going to get into specifics. But I’m sure each one of them was the best show ever.
Sunn O))) Live at the Riot Room
If there was a sentence I could type that would make your ears ring for the next 5 days, I would type it. Otherwise, I don’t even know where to begin when trying to describe what this show felt like. I had never seen anything like it before. I like Sunn’s records, but this was something else entirely. “Monoliths and Dimensions” is great, but this live show was like hearing the formation of the universe.
Crystal Stilts – “Alight of Night”
This came out in 2008, but it was re-released in 2009, so I’m including it in my list. Simple and catchy guitar riffs, simpler and catchier organ lines, lazy, barely intelligible vocals, primal sounding percussion with emphasis on tambourine, and LOTS OF REVERB. That’s at least 50% of what I like about music in general.
Wooden Shjips – “Wooden Shjips” and “Dos”
The production on these two albums isn’t as blisteringly raw or weird as their previous “Vol. 1” effort, but the jams themselves are really good. Heavily damaged, droning yet adventurous, repetitious yet unpredictably spastic. Just listen and nod your head. This represents the other 50% of what I like about music.
Thee Oh Sees – “HELP” and “Dog Poison”
This John Dwyer guy apparently just craps out good, spacey garage rock with awesome sing-along hooks. I missed them in Lawrence due to prior engagements. I’ll definitely catch them next time.
Deerhunter – “Rainwater Cassette Exchange” E.P.
This Deerhunter band apparently just craps out good, spacey garage post-rock with awesome sing-along hooks.
Times New Viking – “Born Again Revisited”
It sounds like shit, but it doesn’t *sound like shit.*
The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound – “When Sweet Sleep Returned”
I got into both AHISS albums this year. “Ekranoplan” (2007) has more of the crunchy, riff-driven psych rock that I typically cherish, but “Sweet Sleep” has a laid back, hazy sound that really grew on me. It’s awesome summertime music.
Sleepy Sun – “Embrace”
Fuzzed out guitar fuckery, swaggering blues rhythms, and excessive use of floor tom are the things that typically draw me to psychedelic music. But when I hear a band with members who can actually SING… Damn. This record is really diverse, too. Slow burning, riff-driven jams that end in chaotic effect pedal wankery, sleepy, reverb-soaked acoustic strumming, and piano ballads all play nicely together. This variation in style gives the record an odd pace, but this kind of versatility really makes me look forward to what these guys will do in the future.
Lightning Bolt – “Earthly Delights”
I like Lightning Bolt. That’s all that really needs to be said.
HEALTH – “GET COLOR”
GET HEALTH “GET COLOR.” IT IS REALLY GOOD AND KIND OF CATCHY FOR A NOISE RECORD. SERIOUSLY THIS IS AWESOME AND YOU SHOULD TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. JUST GO BUY IT.
Darren Keen SHREDS “Homosexual Mohawk” Live at the Record Bar
Darren, I like it when you play guitar. There were several moments when I was like, “why does this guy have to make it look so fucking EASY?” It was RAD, dude.
Oneida – “Rated O”
The whole beast that is Oneida comes together here. Crazy, garage-rocking guitar spaz? Yeah. Oddly ass-shaking prog jams? U betcha. Weird, dub-influenced techie/dork sounding shit? Yup. The totality of “O.” So many weird sounds, I don’t even want to get into specifics. Just check it out if you want a record with many many many many many layers to explore.
Ty Segall – “Lemons”
Solid garage rocking goodness. The instrumentation varies a lot and he does a nice cover of Captain Beefheart’s “Dropout Boogie.”
Soul/Funk Night at my favorite Mid-Town bar
There’s this dude who has a Library of Congress-sized collection of 60s/70s Motown/Funk/Soul/R&B records, and he spins them at a Mid-Town bar every Friday night. I’m not telling you where it is because it’s already too fucking packed as it is. His collection has plenty of deep cuts that I definitely didn’t hear on oldies radio when I was growing up. Going there to drink, people watch, and nod my head for 3 or 4 straight hours has been one of the highlights of this year, for sure. My friends Brian and Anna deserve big-time high fives for letting my wife and me in on this little secret.
Part Chimp – “Thriller”
This slab of sludgy monotony really hits a sweet spot for me. Awesome riffs, sing the guitar line choruses, and totally ambiguous low end (is somebody playing synth?) all stand out here for me. This sounds like mid-90s Unwound played through a Big Muff. I’m also digging one of their previous efforts, “Cup” (2007). I’m going to enjoy working back through their discography.
T.V. Ghost at a house in Lawrence
T.V. Ghost played at a house in Lawrence this summer. I drank a fine Belgian ale while these weirdos from Indiana gyrated about and the local kids flicked the light switch on and off for like a half hour straight to make a poor man’s strobe light show. Afterwards I went to Burrito King. I felt sick before going to bed, and I’m not sure if it was because of the flickering light or Burrito King. I fucking love house shows.
Beep Beep – “Enchanted Island”
The first time I saw Beep Beep, it was at the Culture Center in Lincoln, NE. They had a small-ish young lady playing bass, and they sounded like early Cursive. Then they got a new rhythm section and started making pervy dance music that sounded like Ex Models, if Ex Models were child molesters. Then they got another rhythm section and started playing music that I don’t even know how to describe. It’s just really strange and it makes me feel gross (in a good way(?)). I like this version of Beep Beep the best. It’s too bad they apparently broke up now.
Polvo – “In Prism”
If you like any of the following, please go buy this record:
- Fun, awesome things
Box Elders – “Alice and Friends”
Fuckin’ crank it and sing along. Wear a loin cloth as you do so.
Ladyfinger – “Dusk”
Read Howie’s review of this album. He’s smarter than I am. I just use words like “loud” and “distorted” and “fuck” to describe records. You’ve got to be tired of that by now.
Sonic Youth – LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Sonic Youth kind of scares me. They seem to be in that late career groove where they are comfortable, consistent, and don’t really care what you think. Usually, bands get boring when they hit that phase. But SY keeps putting out solid shit that I can’t find flaws in. “The Eternal” is not blowing my mind or changing my world view, yet at the same time it’s meeting all of the lofty expectations that their previous masterpieces have ingrained into my brain. Aside from Sunn O))), they put on the best and LOUDEST show I saw in 2009. Aren’t these guys like 60 years old??
Ron Asheton, RIP
I have been pretty hard into the Stooges since I was a freshman in college, but it seems like I listen to their records more and more with each passing year. “Funhouse” is one of those records that I can never passively listen to. It’s loose and wild, yet entirely focused. Every note and squeal of feedback is perfectly in the moment. This is one of those rare records where the production method perfectly compliments the band and songs. Calling this record “raw” is such a pointless understatement. Just go buy the record if you don’t already have it. Listen to it over and over and over. Let it seep in.
I dismissed “The Weirdness” as soon as I heard it, and I never really planned to try and experience the new, live version of “the Stooges,” so Ron Asheton’s passing really didn’t affect my selfish little sphere of existence. Still, hearing that this dude died felt somewhat like a gut punch. I don’t want to belabor this any further. I just want it to be known far and wide that this guy deserves rock and roll immortality.
Stuff that would have made my list but I don’t go to record stores very much anymore and I am lazy:
- That New Flaming Lips album
- Om – “God is Good”
- Mannequin Men – “Lose Your Illusion, Too”
- Pissed Jeans – “King of Jeans”
- Brimstone Howl – “Big Deal. What’s He Done Lately?”
- Ideal Cleaners – “Chord Jams”
- That new No Age EP
Stuff that I missed the first time around:
The Pretty Things, The Feelies, High Rise, Residual Echoes, and Bang. Look ‘em up.
All the stuff I forgot:
I know I forgot to list your band. I am sorry.