|Mendigo's 2009: Songs|
I worked long enough on this list, but most of the descri-ptions were written in a real hurry, so I'm sorry if they are wrong or just plain stupid or anything. Albums will follow later today I guess. Enjoy!
|1|| ||Sufjan Stevens|
You Are the Blood
Sufjan Stevens is without a doubt one of indie rock's most versatile musicians, so versatile it's probably wrong to even speak of him as an indie rock artist anymore. Equally at home in the most different genres, he never ceases to amaze and surprise. You Are the Blood, his contribution to the amazing "Dark Was the Night"-sampler shows how far cover versions can go: Sufjan Stevens doesn't simply reinterpret, or rearrange the Castanets-original, but uses it as a template upon which he builds a completely different musical vision. You Are the Blood combines all of his previous incarnations into one sprawling 10-minute epic. Lush pop melodies, broad half-orchestral and half-electronic arrangements, allusions to modern classical and a seemingly endless amount of ideas - all that makes You Are the Blood the most fascinating and rewarding listening experience I've had this year. I so hope his next album will be filled with songs like this one.
|2|| ||Dirty Projectors|
Stillness Is the Move
I honestly cannot think of much to say about this one. Ridiculously catchy, sweet, sexy - taking the best of what the mainstream charts have to offer and putting it into a dazzling and original formula. My favorite single in a long, long while.
|3|| ||maudlin of the Well|
Laboratories of the Invisible World (Rollerskating the Cosmic Palmistric Postborder)
Laboratories of the Invisible World is the maudlin of the Well song most closely resembling Kayo Dot - in fact I guess it wouldn't be too out of place in the middle of "Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue". A large assembly of different ideas open the track, constant changes from the amazingly beautiful "I am a melody burnt into thin air"-line to almost metal-like guitar riffs until a long and drawn-out outro takes over. And when it's all over, you know someone did everything right. Again.
|4|| ||Animal Collective|
I'm not much of a dancer with a BAC of less than 0.2%, but this one makes me wanna jump stupidly around blaring out: "Open up your open up your open up your open up your open up your open up your open up your open up your *gasp* up your open up your throat" all the time.
Never Come Down (The Brownie Song)
Not since America's Most Blunted has a pot song been that much fun.
Burning the Altar
Holy shit. Doomy, aggressive, fucked up, long. Has already become a doom metal classic in my book.
So, fuck it back to the wall / Crush it, laugh at them all / Hush, let them try to find the beauty in your face!
|8|| ||Sunn O)))|
Two guitars droning droning droning along, backed up by some initially subtle orchestration. As the song progresses the classical instruments slowly take over and towards the end when the guitars have completely disappeared you can hear - gosh! - fragments of beautiful melodies. Like always with Sunn O))), it's hard to say exactly why but this is as enthralling as anything they've ever done.
|9|| ||The Antlers|
He brought me out into the hall / (I could have sworn it was haunted) / And told me something that I didn't know that I wanted to hear: / That there was nothing I could do save you / The choir's gonna sing and this thing is gonna kill you / Something in my throat made my next words shake / And something in the wires made the lightbulbs break / There was glass inside my feet and raining down from the ceiling / It opened up the wounds that had just finished healing
|10|| ||Giant Squid|
Sevengill (Notorynchus cepedianus)
Loud guitars plus symphonic arrangements plus female vocals usually equals horrifying power metal. Not so with Giant Squid, who know how to create songs that are equally catchy as interesting. Sevengill starts as a heavily breathing monster flexing its muscles until it finally lets lose and goes on the rampage. The melodies stick in your head and the use of instruments shows great care and imagination.
|11|| ||The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble|
For 50 minutes "Here Be Dragons" manages to abstain from the huge climaxes that always lurk beneath its songs. But when the drums finally kick in halfway through The MacGuffin, they hit hard and herald the epic finale towards which the album was building.
"Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt II" is full of awe-inspiring tracks. What makes 10 Bricks eventually stand out just the tiniest bit isn't only the fine rapping of The Chef and Ghostface Killah. Even more so it is the top notch beat by J Dilla, proving once again what an irreplaceable genius the world of hip hop has lost with his death.
For me "Beacons of Ancestorship" is another one of these Tortoise albums with one track sticking out like a sore thumb. For better or for worse, the rest of the album pales in comparison to the closer Charteroak Foundation. Its uniqueness sort of shows how little bands have really followed Tortoise's genre innovations of around 15 years ago. A very abstract, at moments even IDM-like track which takes its greatness out of repetition in which the tiniest changes weigh a lot and weird layering of melodies.
|14|| ||Animal Collective|
What Would I Want? Sky
When you look back where this band started it is fascinating how far they've come. Nowadays Animal Collective are no less mind numbing than back then, but they have evolved an exceptional talent for combining unique ideas and sounds with the catchiest pop melodies and psychedelic bliss rather than hardly digestable oddities.
|15|| ||Bat for Lashes|
Daniel was the song that received all the buzz, but in all honesty I find Travelling Woman to be by far the most outstanding track on Bat for Lashes' second album. Something like a female version of the Pyramid Song and one of those tracks where you cannot tell whether it's actually depressing or uplifting.
|16|| ||Mumford & Sons|
"As the winter winds litter London with lonely hearts... " this year's award for the coolest The Band-ripoff goes to Mumford & Sons! Winter Winds is the kind of song that has this special tendency to become a possible campfire-standard (and for me that's nothing bad at all).
|17|| ||Do Make Say Think|
Do Make Say Think's new album contains not one or two but four amazing post rock tracks. Say is my favorite only by a margin, but there's something about the simplistic childlike melody line and the way it slowly gets lost between all the percussion that always makes me smile.
Granted, a 20+ minutes doom track sounds a bit like a yawn fest. But Ea are among the bands which can make something like that not only work but turn it into an adventurous and rich experience. Slow (of course), but never standing still, the first of the two new untitled tracks crashes along through its many different parts, mercilessly.
|19|| ||Burial & Four Tet|
When two of the most unique electronic artists around today collaborate it has to be something special. Now the two 2009 tracks of Four Tet & Burial are surprisingly unsensational. But not uninspiring in any way, especially Wolf Cub evolves a strange and oddly enchanting mood over its nine minutes running length. There's not much happening on the outside but there's an awkward but strong tension underneath this ambient dubstep track.
|20|| ||maudlin of the Well|
Rose Quartz Turning to Glass
Mia Matsumiya's violin obviously gets not enough exposure in Kayo Dot's more organic or, ergh... strange band sound or Gregor Samsa's post rock. But on Toby Driver's revisioning of old maudlin of the Well material she gets the space she deserves. Rose Quartz Turning to Glass first half relies on her beautiful playing, before the song turns into - whoops! - is that light-hearted pop?!
|21|| ||Alamaailman Vasarat|
Even at the first listen Mielisaurus sounds like something you've known all your life. Like something you'd use as the main theme for a TV show (I would). And it's also one of those moments to ask yourself why the hell every rock band thinks it needs guitars when some musicians like these Finns can easily create a track like this one without any.
Another Converge album, another insane opener. Dark Horse sets the done for the album, highly technical, heavy, varied. Not as flat out crazy as Concubine or Heartache were, but more refined and channelled and, if anything, even more impressive.
|23|| ||Animal Collective|
Imagine the Beach Boys and Neu! taking lots of funny pills and recording a single together. And assume that said single is really awesome. Then you probably have a vague idea of what My Girls is like.
No Turn Un-Stoned
I do like Shpongle's crazier songs, but somehow it are always the soft ones that I enjoy the most. This is not their most action-packed piece, but No Turn Un-Stoned is still almost perfect with its calmer but still urgent atmosphere and the soothing melodies.
|25|| ||Sole and the Skyrider Band|
Children of Privilege
Sole and the incredibly Skyrider Band kick off their second album with an exceptionally powerful opener. "Now who am I? Lost in GPS infinity" Sole opens the first verse after the intro and goes on with a dark "rant" about modern life while strings build in the background until some very unusual beats get cut lose and accompany the depressing observations which are so free of any mendacious "we'll save the world"-pathos.
The Death of Baldur and the Coming War
It goes like this: starts out with a Godspeed You! Black Emperor-like ambient section including political speech samples. Then blasts away in black metal style, dry drums, distant screams, walls of sound. Then out of nowhere it simply breaks off and leads into a soft folk part which evolves into a - what the heck? - bluegrass section.
|27|| ||The Decemberists|
The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid
The Decemberists' change of direction towards hard rock wasn't entirely successful in my book, but it brought us some real gems, especially this tight song with its Black Sabbath guitar lines, nice hooks and one of the catchiest moments in the band's endless list of catchy moments - "Still the wanting comes in waaa-aaa-aaaaves".
|28|| ||The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble|
On an album full of twists and turns, Embers is an unusually straight-forward song. Its soft beginning as some sort of beautiful ballad is one of the least creepy parts of the album. And this rare break stretches on for some time before the track is slowly drowned in sound and drone and we're back in this blood-curdling horror vision, even more enthralled than before.
Most hardcore bands' idea of an epic song is to put five or six 2-minute songs in one track. Well, the Polish punk band Armia shows us otherwise: They intervine atmospheric, heavy and melodic parts into one whole piece creating 15 minutes of sprawling epicness combined with the harsh roughness that you'd expect from anything labelled "hardcore punk".
|30|| ||Crippled Black Phoenix|
Epicness galore. Like in: slowly building endless crescendo, ridiculously majestic backing vocals, Floyd worshipping all over the place, and most importantly: mindblowing climax. I just don't really get what the ol' Bandit's got to do with it.