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eskimo bliss’s top 10 releases of 2009

December 24, 2009

Like many musical bloggers, I like to close out the year with a best of list. This year’s list was both easy and difficult. Easy in that I really didn’t buy many new releases this year, as compared to previous years. So that automatically excluded a lot of records that I’ve seen pop up on most lists (namely, XX, Animal Collective, The Antlers, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Elvis Perkins, Flaming Lips). But difficult in that of the ’09 releases I did purchase, there were several that I played over and over, and even stand up as some of my favorite albums of the past few years. This made it incredibly tough to pick a favorite.

With that said, speaking from an indierock perspective, I was really surprised by the diversity and quality of  new music that came out in 2009. I think it’s interesting to note that out of all the releases listed below (including honorable mentions), the majority of them are from bands I had never heard of prior to this year. Considering that I tend to show more interest in a band that’s tried and true vs. a brand new name, that’s saying something. 2010, you’ve got your work cut out for you!

And without further adieu …

10. Monsters of FolkS/T
Is the sum better than the parts? No. And really the only one I’m a big fan of is Jim James. But I think the fact that there’s just enough of each member (ok, perhaps there’s just a touch too much Oberst for my liking) keeps it perfectly diverse and interesting.

9. MegafaunGather, Form & Fly
One of the more interesting releases of the year. This NC (reprasent!) outfit plays with acapella, bluegrass, Americana, psych-folk … ultimately defying classification.

8. The Swell SeasonStrict Joy
I would have liked more Marketa—her “I Have Loved You Wrong” is one of the best tracks on the album. But a beautiful collection, even if it’s a little over produced at times.

7. Port O’BrienThreadbare
What a great surprise. I dug their last one, but “All We Could Do Was Sing” was the only song that really stuck with me. Had I not heard this so late in the year, I probably would have ranked it a little higher. It’s still growing on me, and along with the Real Estate record, will probably be my most listened-to release this winter.

6. Neko CaseMiddle Cyclone
I’d put Neko up against any current vocalist doing the alt. country thing. Pure perfection. And she pulls it off 100% live.

5. Dirty ProjectorsBitte Orca
I’m so not a fan of this sort of music—read: pretentious, overly complex, weird, even prog-inspired at times. But next to Megafaun, this was the most interesting stuff I heard all year, and their live show really blew me away. Interested to see how they’ll top this one. I’m betting they probably won’t.

4. Real Estate S/T
2009’s biggest surprise honors, and my favorite album cover of the year, no doubt goes to Real Estate. My first thought was Beach House meets Grizzly Bear. But I love Real Estate more than both those bands. “Snow Days” is my winter 2009 anthem.

3. GirlsAlbum
It’s garagey, it’s retro … but i love it anyway! It’s just too catchy and Elvis Costello-esque not to. Not since Peter Bjorn & John’s Writer’s Block has an album grabbed me so quickly. Can’t wait to see them live here in February!

2. Hello SaferideMore Modern Stories From Hello Saferide

I think I came across Hello Saferide over the summer, thanks to someone’s emusic list. It’s technically an ’08 release, but we got it this year as an import. Instantly catchy, quirky and endearing, and absolutely AMAZING lyrics. It even won two “Grammis”, Sweden’s equivalent to the Grammys.

1. PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I know, this was the most blogged about record of the year, alongside Grizzly Bear. Which would typically mean I would hate it, or at the very least ignore it. But it really is THAT good. And they really bring it live. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of this album. It makes me dance. And I don’t dance.

Other releases that almost made the cut: Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest; Wild Beasts – Two Dancers; Wilco – Wilco; Regina Spektor – Far; Andrew Bird – Nobel Beast; The Dutchess and the Duke – Sunset/Sunrise; Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – Know Better Learn Faster; Bon Iver – Blood Bank; Volcano Choir – Unmap; The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love; Various Artists – Dark Was The Night; Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Summer of Fear

One thing to note: as always, I excluded any eskimo kiss releases, because it goes without saying that those will always be my faves.

Comment and tell me your faves! And happy holidays!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Maremare permalink
    December 24, 2009 9:36 pm

    You have huge balls to be calling out your favs. I admire those that can do it Kimmikins!

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