FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music.

The 40 Best Albums of 2009

Use your ← → arrow keys to navigate
  • From the Horrors to Hildur Gudnadóttir, these are the forty albums FACT liked best in 2009.
  • published
    9 Dec 2009
  • share
     

20: DUCKTAILS
DUCKTAILS
(NOT NOT FUN)

Every year brings its silly new coinages that seem to create scenes as much as describe ones that already exist: 2009 was all about “glow-fi” (or the more unwieldy “hypnagogic pop”). Covering such disparate groups as Memory Tapes, Washed Out and Pocahaunted, glow-fi referred to a kind of woozy, sun-spoiled and quasi-nostalgic American alt-pop music, a more colourful take on the UK’s decidedly monochrome hauntology.

Its finest architect and practitioner was, without doubt, Matthew Mondanile, a.k.a Ducktails: using tape loops, reverb-soaked guitar and rippling, kraut-influenced synth textures, he demonstrated an uncanny ability to evoke memories of young love and hot, stoned summers past. He released two splendid albums this year; this delicately psychedelic self-titled effort was the first of ‘em, and the best. [Daniel Feeld]


19: 10-20
10-20
(HIGHPOINT LOWLIFE)

10-20 specialises in a similar vein of clipped, greyscale techno as The Village Orchestra, but over the course of this album he seizes the opportunity to expand that sound – over industrial whirs and clangs on ‘Nei’, flattened hip-hop bumps on ‘Wdtrhjvelgrad’ and ‘Inb’, sweet piano transmissions on ‘Jjuvxszla’ and icy-cold minimal on ‘Milvus’. [Tom Lea]


18: DIRTY PROJECTORS
BITTE ORCA
(DOMINO)

Much like the early yardstick for 2009 that was Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, Bitte Orca‘s a record that continues to give, and represents a career best for a band who’ve previously compelled but frustrated, but have now found the stars aligning, their dynamic clicking into place, and are on top of their game. [Luke Jarvis]


17: DJ SPRINKLES
MIDTOWN 120 BLUES
(MULE MUSIQ)

“The contexts from which the deep house sound emerged are forgotten,” states Terre Thaemlitz, aka DJ Sprinkles, in a wistful spoken intervention on Midtown 120 Blues. “Sexual and gender crises, transgendered sex work, black market hormones, drug and alcohol addiction, loneliness, racism, HIV, ACT-UP, Tompkins Square Park, police brutality, queer-bashing, underpayment, unemployment and censorship – all at 120 beats per minute.” Midtown 120 Blues is educational, for sure; but it’s no lecture – Thaemlitz demonstrates the emotive and (believe it or not) political potential of deep house not just through rhetorical preaching, but by assured and heartfelt practice. [Kiran Sande]


16: SHACKLETON
THREE EPS
(PERLON)

Three EPs combines the cutting edge of electronic music with a ritualistic intensity operating at the level of the unconscious; in this purely “shamanic” sense it’s part of a lineage that includes voodoo tribes, Burroughs/Gysin, Psychic TV. It makes you feel anxious, it hurts your ears, it changes your physiology. It’s a trip. If you’re looking for music to DJ out or to brighten up your commute, then look elsewhere. You can’t “use” this record – it uses you, it’s uncompromising, and it doesn’t meet you in the middle. It’s a record to be loved, but also to be feared. [Kiran Sande]


15: BLANK DOGS
UNDER AND UNDER
(IN THE RED)

Fifteen great pop songs, weighed down with dense fuzz, recorded with slack chords and slacker percussion – what more can you say? It’s a formula that’s worked for generations, from The Wipers to Guided by Voices, to Ariel Pink, and when it’s done by someone with the sort of abundant songwriting talent that Blank Dogs clearly possesses, there’s nothing better.

Like the best albums of this ilk – GBV’s Bee Thousand, Jay Reatard’s singles collections – there’s that overarching impression that its tracks are knocked off; casual moments of almost-genius. Ultimately none of this lo-fi malarkey affects their quality – it just affects whether they sound closer to Pavement or The Beatles. [Tom Lea]


14: DESIRE
II
(ITALIANS DO IT BETTER)

Italians Do It Better’s Johnny Jewel (he of Chromatics and Glass Candy) journeys to Montreal, hooks up with vocalist Megan Louise and drummer Nat Walker, and makes a full-length album of timeless sounding ballroom pop that fans of Nite Jewel or the Fiery Furnaces should lose their shit to. Sound as a pound. [Tam Gunn]


13: ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION
(DOMINO)

Underscoring the adventurous melodies and arrangements at the forefront of Merriweather Post Pavilion is a chirruping ecosystem of peels, chimes and drones, buttressed in turn by sparse, dynamic jabs of bass and drum that nod very subtly to dubstep and even Atlanta snap. When I first heard this elated, exultant album I – like many – thought I might be dealing with a Smile for the twenty-first century. Clearly I was getting carried away, and sure enough its lesser tracks have lost their lustre over the past year; the whole doesn’t sound quite as profound or substantial as it once did. But fuck, come on, the likes of ‘Bluish’, ‘Almost Frightened’ and ‘My Girls’ -  that stuff is eternal and inarguable. I almost hate to say it – who likes consensus? – but seriously, ‘My Girls’ – wow. [Kiran Sande]


12: MARTYN
GREAT LENGTHS
(3024)

Martyn’s interpretation of dubstep is utopian; drums and bass are all that are required for entry, everything else is yours. Great Lengths is varied and listenable, percussion and warm bass lines rub against driving airy chords; each sound feels distinct, like an audio memory being written into the present. An album that’s going to stand the test of time by standing on the edge. [Marcus Scott]


11: LEYLAND KIRBY
SADLY THE FUTURE IS NO LONGER WHAT IT WAS
(HISTORY ALWAYS FAVOURS THE WINNERS)

A magnificently sustained achievement, and – to date – James ‘The Caretaker’ Kirby’s most human and anguished work. Sadly is an unfashionably immense album about an immense and unfashionable subject: loss, and time’s stubborn failure to redeem it. Compulsory listening then, but perhaps best avoided by the recently dumped. [Peter Strathain]

comments


FACT is the UK's best online music magazine and home to the weekly FACT mix series.
All content © 2012-2014 by The Vinyl Factory. All rights reserved.
Advertisement