Saturday, December 12, 2009

Listening Habits 11-12.2009

A brief break to the presentation of our Top 20 albums of the '00s for a look (and a listen) at the latest additions to our favorite albums and tracks of the year. November was the month of Nirvana for us, thanks to the release of the CD/DVD "Live at Reading". It was recorded on August 30, 1992, when Nirvana headlined the Reading Festival for the first and only time. The weather was terrible, mud was everywhere and rumors abound that the band was going to cancel. None of this mattered when Cobain took to the stage on a wheelchair, wearing a hospital robe, to kick-start with "Breed" an amazing show that turned out to be Nirvana's last ever performance on British soil. This CD/DVD combo is the document of that historic night, a night that yours truly had the privilege to witness first hand, and it is undoubtedly a necessary addition to the collection of every fan of 20th century's last great rock band.

The news of the release of Raekwon's "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt II" were certainly intriguing for hip hop fans everywhere, as the first part was one of the best rap albums of the '90s. What's even greater is the fact that the new album lives up to the expectations and it's an indisputable addition not only to the year's top releases but to the decade's greatest hip hop albums as well.

Other noteworthy recent releases included Vivian Girls' excellent sophomore effort "Everything Goes Wrong", a highly addictive noise trip where the Ramones are reimagined as a shogaze girl group, Brendan Benson's richly melodic "My Old Familiar Friend", the hi-octane rock of Alberta Cross and Them Crooked Vultures (the second album in our Top 10 featuring the mad drumming skills of Mr. Dave Grohl), the latest efforts of The Raveonettes and The Cribs (time for album number four for both bands who keep up the good work without managing to surpass their previous efforts) and solo works for Lou Barlow and Julian Casablancas. Barlow revisits his lo-fi roots with "Goodnight Unknown", presumably to take a breather from all that Dinosaur noise he helped create earlier in the year, while Casablancas finally tries his luck without The Strokes with "Phrazes for the Young". Synthesizers and dance beats in tracks like the single "11th Dimension" differentiate Casablancas sound from that of his group, but it's the more Strokesian tracks like "Out Of The Blue" and "River Of Breaklights" that do the trick for me.

Top 10 Albums

1. Live At Reading - NIRVANA
2. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt II - RAEKWON
3. Everything Goes Wrong - VIVIAN GIRLS
4. My Old Familiar Friend - BRENDAN BENSON
5. Broken Side of Time - ALBERTA CROSS
6. Them Crooked Vultures - THEM CROOKED VULTURES
7. Phrazes For The Young - JULIAN CASABLANCAS
8. In And Out Of Control - THE RAVEONETTES
9. Ignore The Ignorant - THE CRIBS
10. Goodnight Unknown - LOU BARLOW

Top 12 Tracks

1. Ambling alp - YEASAYER
2. I was born - HIGH PLACES
3. Keep slipping away - A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
4. River of brakelights - JULIAN CASABLANCAS
5. Can't get over you - VIVIAN GIRLS
7. Planting seeds - BUILT TO SPILL
8. Feel like taking you home - BRENDAN BENSON
9. One machine, one long fight - LOU BARLOW
10. House of flying daggers - RAEKWON
11. Dead end friends - THEM CROOKED VULTURES
12. We were aborted - THE CRIBS

And here are the videos for two of the singles of the year:

Yeasayer - Ambling alp (the album "Odd Blood" is coming in February)

High Places - I Was Born from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

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