14 January 2009

14 ON 14

(14) the french kicks - swimming.
-- a favorite rock band of ours, but they've yet to buckle down and make a masterpiece. then again, perhaps that's what we like about them: they don't burn themselves out; their music sounds effortless; their beauty is subtle. 'all our weekends' was probably our favorite song this year. we include their daytrotter session and a videotaped session they did for bright young things:

(13) hauschka - ferndorf.
-- this music will make your brain grow. just an exquisite piano-centric record filled with gorgeous compositions. john cage never made the prepared piano sound as good as volker bertelmann does here. this site lets you preview all the songs on the album: http://fat-cat.co.uk/fatcat/release.php?id=268 - give 'blue bicycle', 'rode null', and 'schones madchen' a go, or allow this animated music video to heighten your alpha waves: http://pitchfork.tv/videos/hauschka-eltern

(12) the clips - matterhorn.
-- it's their debut and they already outdid bands like islands, tapes 'n tapes and coldplay this year. they remind us a bit of low flying owls, but since they're much superior song-writers - technically-proficient jammers and judicious harnessers of noise, we get the good feeling that these guys will be around much longer. we've dubbed their sound "'kid a' garage rock" due to their penchant for thommy yorke's piano-lines ('wire', 'darko', and 'abalone') and nigel godrich's atmospherics ('eyesuck'). mark our words: their next outing could conquer rock. you can listen to their whole album on their website: http://www.theclips.ca/

(11) vetiver - thing of the past.
-- okay, this album gets a little hokey at times: it's all covers of old-timey music, some of which failed to make the leap from vinyl to compact disc. but goddamn if they're aren't some great songs here; even the lamer cuts are well-done. in truth, this is probably only on our list because of one magic morning i spent listening to it on headphones, but judge for yourselves:

(10) vampire weekend - vampire weekend.
-- sure, they were over-hyped, but at least one of their songs had a peculiar way of making its way onto practically every mix c.d. we'd make this year: first it was 'walcott', then 'one (blake's got a new face)', then 'oxford comma', and finally, 'campus'. so they're not the next arcade fire - so what? they write pleasant, feel-good pop, and that's good enough for us. here's a live take they did with strings:
and their wes anderson-esque, one-take extravaganza:

(9) evangelicals - the evening descends.
-- now this is a balls-out rock album, a band swinging for the fences: high-energy, multi-instrumental, loud, with great progressions, great solos, great melodies, and wonderful oddness. you'll see what we mean:
or check out their horror film spoof debut video:

(8) fleet foxes - fleet foxes (and sun giant e.p.).
-- new folk revived by old gospel. robin pecknold is probably the most captivating new singer in popular music today. this record is fraught with flaws (as they've since admitted), but the raw power of the vocals trumps everything else. exhibit a:
exhibit b:
exhibit c:

(7) jake one - white van music.
-- more albums like this will save hiphop: the underground working with heavy hitters without beef. here's brother ali, breaking it down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IHn0RuCQtw
and here's an instrumental that showcases jake one's mastery of his craft:

(6) department of eagles - in ear park.
-- best three-song opening of the year: 'in ear park', 'no one does it like you', and 'phantom other'. after that, the album hits a lull, and can be trying at parts. not every song has to jam out, daniel, especially not the otherwise beautiful 'floating on the lehigh'. still, this is the school of rock music we belong to, whether we like it or not; we've probably listened to the songs we do like on this album more than any other album all year. so here's their boring-ass take away show which we loved:
their performance on don't look down:
and daniel rossen and fred nicolaus by their lonesome:

(5) shearwater - rook.

(4) beach house - devotion.

(3) immortal technique - the 3rd world.

(2) portishead - third.

(1) the walkmen - you & me.

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