Some Things I Have Been Listening To In 2009
But aesthetic quality? Emotional impact? "Importance" (either in one's own life or in general cultural terms)? These things are not quantifiable.
Also, what on earth is a year-end (or decade-end) list supposed to be tracking? "Best Of" - as in, representative of the finest musical offerings your culture has to offer? How on earth is one supposed to judge that, given that most of us can never even hope to listen to *every* record that comes out in a given year. (And that's not even getting into the complex layering of gender and race biases that dictate what is even released, let alone critically lionsised or Rated - and how those race and gender biases interplay with notions of "genre" and pidgeonholing and ghettoisation etc. etc.)
Or is it just "Favourite"? I'm going to try and go with favourite, and try only to worry about how the music I select is representative of *myself* rather than make some sweeping statement about What Music Was Great In 2009. (especially because there are quite a few records that I have *not* heard this year, which I am convinced might have been "best" had I got to hear them in time.)
Here are some albums I really loved this year, in alphabetical order.
Black Meteoric Star - Black Meteoric Star
Techno/dance music interpreted in a way that a dirty dronerock girl can understand.
Broadcast & The Focus Group - ...Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age
Odd, warped radiophonic record about EVP. It doesn't sound like an album, it sounds like an artefact you discovered in a dusty library.
Electrik Red - How To Be A Lady Vol. 1
Super-joyous, sex-positive girl group singalongs with utterly lush production.
Fever Ray - Fever Ray
The creaky, claustrophobic sound of losing your mind from cabin fever in a deep Norwegian winter.
Lindstrom & Christabelle - Real Life Is No Cool
How could Linstrom's yummy kraut-drone-cosmic-disco possibly get any better? He could add a female singer and lashings of classic 80s girlpop.
Little Boots - Hands
Bouncy electro disco-pop with songs about maths. Come on, this was made for me.
Memory Tapes - Seek Magic
Like all those odd shoegaze-tronic 4-track tapes my sisX0r and I made in my bedroom, with a chorus pedal and a 505, only much, much, MUCH better.
Phantogram - Eyelid Movies
Nu-gazetronica that actually manages to both capture the woozy boy-girl vocals and textures that I love about shoegaze *and* still hold up as a decent electronic record.
St. Vincent - Actor
The most "grown up" record on this list, but still proof that being a grown up doesn't mean you have to become boring. A real sleeper of an album full of unexpected moments of beauty.
The xx - The xx
One of those landmark "important" records that actually seems to unite disparate groups of critics coming from completely different ends. How can so many people read so much into such minimal music?
There are other records that should have been on here, had I spent more time with them (Lightning Dust, the new Raveonettes). There are artists who were omitted simply because their record was too similar to a record I had already included (I could have tipped the Annie record over Little Boots - or ASDIG or the Telepathe record over Phantogram) There are whole genres missing - despite the education about say, R&B I've got from The Lex, and about dance... bobbins from the Erol forum - firstly because those are such single-oriented genres*, and secondly because I don't think I really *know* enough about them to make an informed choice. There are people who couldn't get it together in time to get a proper album out in this year (Aeroplane, Beyond The Wizards Sleeve, I'm looking at you.) This isn't supposed to be complete, or canonical. It's just some records I really loved.
*That's another list all together