Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Best Albums Of 2009: 31 to 60

Tomorrow's just another year. That's when we are going to present our Top 30 Albums of 2009. For today, as we're unwrapping our gifts (oh look! Santa brought me the latest Oneida, Lightning Dust, Atlas Sound and Cold Cave albums - what a good taste in music he has!) and keeping the champagne on ice, we'll unveil the rest of the list: the next 30 favorite albums of the year, what's going on just under no. 60, plus some of the records that I still didn't have the chance to listen to properly (or at all) and I'm planning to do something about it in the new year. So, this is what our list looks like from numbers 31 to 60:

Top Albums of 2009: 31-60

31. There is no enemy - BUILT TO SPILL
33. Primary colours - THE HORRORS
35. Radio wars - HOWLING BELLS
36. Years of refusal - MORRISSEY
37. The ecstatic - MOS DEF
38. Dark night of the soul - DANGER MOUSE AND SPARKLEHORSE
39. Balf quarry - MAGIK MARKERS
40. Sewn together - MEAT PUPPETS
41. Broken - SOULSAVERS
42. Monsters Of Folk - MONSTERS OF FOLK
44. Wilco (The album) - WILCO
45. The hazards of love - THE DECEMBERISTS
46. My old familiar friend - BRENDAN BENSON
47. Middle cyclone - NEKO CASE
48. Sometimes I wish we were an eagle - BILL CALLAHAN
49. I blame you - OBITS
50. King of jeans - PISSED JEANS
51. Them Crooked Vultures - THEM CROOKED VULTURES
52. Broken side of time - ALBERTA CROSS
53. Phrazes for the young - JULIAN CASABLANCAS
54. In and out of control - THE RAVEONETTES
55. Til the casket drops - CLIPSE
56. Bitte orca - DIRTY PROJECTORS
57. My maudlin career - CAMERA OBSCURA
59. Now we can see - THE THERMALS
60. Spinnerette - SPINNERETTE

Who says there's no more than 50 or 60 good records released in a year? Here's the rest of the albums I've enjoyed in the last 12 months that didn't make it in the Top 60:

Baby darling doll face honey - BAND OF SKULLS, Further complications - JARVIS COCKER, Kingdom of rust - DOVES, A woman a man walked by - P.J. HARVEY & JOHN PARISH, Beware - BONNIE PRINCE BILLY, Petits fours - GRAND DUCHY, Backspacer - PEARL JAM, The century of self - …AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD, 200 million thousand - BLACK LIPS, Travels with myself and another - FUTURE OF THE LEFT, Ignore the ignorant - THE CRIBS, Art Brut vs. Satan - ART BRUT, In this light and on this evening - EDITORS, Julian Plenti is… skyscraper - JULIAN PLENTI, Love hate and then there's you - THE VON BONDIES, Yours truly, the commuter - JASON LYTLE, Goodnight unknown - LOU BARLOW, Varshons - THE LEMONHEADS, The spirit of Apollo - N.A.S.A., I feel cream - PEACHES, Music for men - GOSSIP, Hush - ASOBI SEKSU, Dear John - LONEY DEAR, The airing of grievances - TITUS ANDRONICUS, Tentacles - CRYSTAL ANTLERS, Grace / Wastelands - PETER DOHERTY, JJ no2 - JJ, No one's first and you're next - MODEST MOUSE

Wait, there's more! Here's the "To Do" list - albums I have yet to listen or that I need to listen more carefully before deciding if they have a place in the final list (the one that's going to be posted in Cool Music Database in due time):

Rated O - ONEIDA, Infinite light - LIGHTNING DUST, Logos - ATLAS SOUND, Love comes close - COLD CAVE, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - PHOENIX, Tarot sport - FUCK BUTTONS, Why there are mountains - CYMBALS EAT GUITARS, Big Sexy Noise - BIG SEXY NOISE, Bird-brains - TUNE-YARDS, Hot wax - GRANT HART, What will we be - DEVENDRA BANHART, Seek magic - MEMORY TAPES, Hospice - THE ANTLERS, Album - GIRLS, Checkmate savage - PHANTOM BAND, Dark days/Light years - SUPER FURRY ANIMALS, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum - KASABIAN, Two dancers - WILD BEASTS, Wall of arms - THE MACCABEES, Jewellery - MICACHU & THE SHAPES, Nests - SHE KEEPS BEES, Actor - ST. VINCENT, Manners - PASSION PIT, Only revolutions - BIFFY CLYRO, Outside love - PINK MOUNTAINTOPS, Pine/Cross dover - MASTERS OF REALITY, Harum scarum - JOE GIDEON AND THE SHARK, Psychic chasms - NEON INDIAN, Born like this - DOOM, Begone dull care - JUNIOR BOYS, Three EPs - SHACKLETON, Ambivalence avenue - BIBIO, Cassette city - LUSHLIFE, SyMptoMs - MORDANT MUSIC, Rain Machine - RAIN MACHINE, All aboard future - THESE ARE POWERS, Under and under - BLANK DOGS

Wait for the Top 30 tomorrow before you tell me what I have missed. We leave 2009 with the cool video for one of the best tracks of the year, "Stillness is the move" by Dirty Projectors (if there were more like this one on "Bitte Orca", the album could have gone higher on our list, too). For now, have fun at your New Year's Eve parties or Happy New Year if you happen to be located to our east!

Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Highlights: Debut Albums of the Year

Before we present the list of our favorite albums of the year, let's take a closer look at some of the best debuts of 2009. After all, new bands are the future of music and they deserve our special attention. Last year almost one-third of our Top 30 consisted of first-time efforts. This year the percentage is lower, but we did have some pretty impressive debuts that will leave their mark on 2009's musical landscape. Here are our 10 favorite debut LPs of the year by new artists (meaning that we excluded the debuts of new groups that consist of already established artists like The Dead Weather or Fever Ray) based on what we've been able to listen to so far:

1. Dance mother - TELEPATHE

They say that once you're in love, you're unable to see the flaws of the object of your affection. I guess it must be true because if there were any imperfections to "Dance Mother", the David Sitek produced debut of Brooklyn newcomers Telepathe, I just wasn't able to spot them. Mind you, this is not some passing infatuation as I have been listening to this album from the start of the year and its spell remains unbroken. More about Telepathe very soon... (MySpace page)

2. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART

Another New York band that left us an excellent first impression. We've seen them live twice this year (read our Primavera Sound review here and the review of their Athens show here) and both times they knocked our sock off. Indie-pop is back, sounding as vital as ever. (MySpace page)

3. A brief history of love - THE BIG PINK

The best electro-pop album of the year with plenty of feedback to satisfy our noise needs. (MySpace page)

4. Marry me tonight - HTRK

My answer is yes, without a second thought. From Australia with love. (MySpace page)

5. Post-Nothing - JAPANDROIDS

An exciting recent discovery. Mind-blowing noise-rock from Canada. (MySpace page)

6. Dim light - GUN OUTFIT

Why this band still hasn't got the acclaim of No Age ("Dim Light" was released on PPM label which is co-run by Dean Spunt of No Age) or Japandroids is beyond me. Only seven friends on Myspace including me? This needs to change now!

7. XX - THE XX

I bet you know all about them by now. (MySpace page)


Florence Welch deserves to be a massive pop star. (MySpace page)

9. Broken side of time - ALBERTA CROSS

Neil Young-inspired epic guitar-rock. (MySpace page)

10. Baby darling doll face honey - BAND OF SKULLS

Another recent discovery. White Stripes influenced garage-rock from the UK. (MySpace page)

Listen to a playlist with tracks from our Top 10 Debuts of the Year here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009: Top 50 Tracks Of The Year

It doesn't really feel like Christmas without a Festive 50. So, after careful consideration and losing several hours of sleep, I finally managed to narrow down a really long list of favorite tracks to the Top 50 you see below. I'm not saying that these are the absolute best tracks of the year but it's a very good sample of the music I've listened to and enjoyed the most over the last 12 months. As usually, there are some rules that I tried to follow in order to make the final selection. The first one was to include only tracks that were released as singles (in some shape or form) but I have to admit that I broke this rule on a few occasions and I have included a handful of indispensable album tracks that I feel they would have made killer singles (perhaps after reading this post - illusion of grandeur alert! - the relevant artists will realize their mistake and make amends). Anyway, the way things are going it seems likely that in the near future there will be no more albums and all songs will be downloadable digital files for mobile multitasking contraptions, so this singles-only rule starts to feel very 20th century. The second rule (which I did manage to follow) was to include only one track from each artist or band in order to have a wider spectrum of music represented in the Top 50. So, it's safe to assume that several artists in here could have more tracks in this list, but only my favorite from each one made the final cut.

The top spot of our 2009 Top 50 Tracks list goes to "Help I'm Alive", the lead single off Metric's excellent fourth album, the rocking "Fantasies". The song got its first digital release a year ago (on December 23rd, 2008 in Canada and on January 1st, 2009 in the US) and later on it was also released as a good old-fashioned 7" vinyl single. The opening galloping drum beats set the frantic pace of the song as Emily Haines expresses her existential angst in a sweet, desperate voice. As the rhythm shifts gears, the panic builds up and when the Pixies-like guitar kick in you know from the very first listen that you're dealing with a classic song that's going to stay with you for years to come.

Cool Music Central's Top 50 songs of the year are the following:

Top 50 Tracks of 2009

1. Help I’m alive - METRIC
2. So fine - TELEPATHE
3. Daniel - BAT FOR LASHES
5. Sacred trickster - SONIC YOUTH
6. Young adult friction - THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART
7. Ambling alp - YEASAYER
8. Seven - FEVER RAY
10. Die slow - HEALTH
11. In your heart - A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
12. Dominoes - THE BIG PINK
13. Stillness is the move - DIRTY PROJECTORS
14. I was born - HIGH PLACES
15. Islands - THE XX
16. Disco - HTRK
17. Hang you from the heavens - THE DEAD WEATHER
18. Death bells - SOULSAVERS
19. Black hearted love - P.J. HARVEY & JOHN PARISH
21. 1901 - PHOENIX
22. First communion - GANG GANG DANCE
23. I’m confused - HANDSOME FURS
24. Troubles like mine - GUN OUTFIT
25. Over it - DINOSAUR JR.
26. Sea within a sea - THE HORRORS
27. Departure - CRYSTAL STILTS
28. Feel like taking you home - BRENDAN BENSON
29. People got a lotta nerve - NEKO CASE
30. French navy - CAMERA OBSCURA
31. Rabbit heart (raise it up) - FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE
32. Digital hearts - HOWLING BELLS
33. Got nuffin - SPOON
34. The rake's song - THE DECEMBERISTS
35. Something is squeezing my skull - MORRISSEY
36. Angela - JARVIS COCKER
37. Panic switch - SILVERSUN PICKUPS
39. Life in marvelous times - MOS DEF
40. Ecstasy - JJ
41. Frost - SALEM
42. Wolf cub - BURIAL & FOUR TET
43. These are my twisted words - RADIOHEAD
44. Bye bye bayou - LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
45. Dancing choose - TV ON THE RADIO
46. Walkabout - ATLAS SOUND (Feat. NOAH LENNOX)
47. The end is near - THE FIERY FURNACES
48. Mykonos - FLEET FOXES
49. Cornerstone - ARCTIC MONKEYS
50. 11th dimension - JULIAN CASABLANCAS

Metric - Help I'm Alive

Listen to our top tracks of 2009 at MySpace Music here.

Meanwhile Dandelion Radio, the internet radio station that continues John Peel's tradition of the annual Festive 50, has just started broadcasting on a daily basis the results of this year's poll. Go here to listen to the complete list and check out below the tracks that make up 2009's Top 10:

1. There are listed buildings - Los Campesinos!
2. Young adult friction - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
3. My girls - Animal Collective
4. Surf solar - Fuck Buttons
5. I'm here to see the clouds of blood - The Chasms
6. I am Grimaldi - Nightingales
7. Whirring - The Joy Formidable
8. Cougar - The Brownies
9. The sea is a good place to think of the future - Los Campesinos!
10. Murder music - Ste McCabe

Los Campesinos! - There Are Listed Buildings

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Brightest Diamond, Live @ Rodeo Club, Athens (December 11, 2009)

A bright diamond as a Christmas gift from Cool Music Central: Exclusive photos from the recent My Brightest Diamond show in Athens and a video of "Feeling Good" from that night, a song made famous by Nina Simone. My Brightest Diamond's cover appears on "Dark Was The Night", one of the best compilations of the year. Other tracks performed by Shara Worden and her band at their first ever Athens gig were "Golden Star", "Ice And The Storm", "Disappear", "Freak Out", "To Pluto's Moon", "Gone Away", "Dragon Fly", "Apples", "From The Top Of The World", "Inside A Boy", a fun cover of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and for the finale of the memorable performance "The Gentlest Gentlemen", with the accompaniment of a ukulele and the crowd's backing vocals, and an a capella rendition of "Be My Husband", another Nina Simone classic.

My Brightest Diamond - Feeling Good (Live @ Rodeo Club, Athens, Dec.11, 2009)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 Highlights: Sonic Youth & A Place To Bury Strangers

Seeing our recently completed list of the Top 25 Albums of the Decade some might rightfully wonder where the heck are the Sonic Youth albums. Fear not, Sonic Youth fan, Cool Music Central has not forgotten the band who took the guitar sound to other dimensions and beyond. It's just that this list is only a first draft and, as we've already explained, it doesn't include any 2009 albums at this moment. And since the best Sonic Youth album of the '00s, in our opinion, was released this year, it just hasn't found its rightful place in the decade's list just yet. You can expect, however, to find the glorious guitar noise of "The Eternal" in a prominent place of our 2009 list, which is currently under construction. Meanwhile, you can check out here what we had to say about the album in June and see below a performance of one of its finest tracks, "What We Know":

Sonic Youth - What We Know

And speaking of glorious guitar noise, here's the video for the brand new A Place To Bury Strangers single "Keep Slipping Away" from the excellent "Exploding Head", another strong contender not only for one of the top positions of our 2009 list, but for a place in the final '00s list as well.

A Place To Bury Strangers - Keep Slipping Away

Links: "Exploding Head" review here, live review of their recent incendiary performance in Athens here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 1

P.J. Harvey - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea (2000, Island)

In my '90s list, "Rid Of Me" is second only to "Nevermind". Seven years after her first masterpiece (although one could argue that "Dry" also deserves the same high praise) Polly Jean Harvey repeated her triumph with "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea", a timeless classic that can proudly stand next to the work of any of the legends that inspired her. For more about our top album of the decade check out here the NME review and here our 2000 review.

A Place Called Home

Good Fortune

And there you have it! With this post we complete the marathon of presenting our favorite albums of the decade and the full Top 25 list looks like this:

Top 25 Albums of the '00s

1. Stories from the city, stories from the sea - P.J. HARVEY
2. Is this it - THE STROKES
3. Turn on the bright lights - INTERPOL
4. Return to cookie mountain - TV ON THE RADIO
5. Songs for the deaf - QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
7. Fever to tell - YEAH YEAH YEAHS
8. Exterminator - PRIMAL SCREAM
9. The unutterable - THE FALL
10. Dig, Lazarus, dig!!! - NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS
11. Let’s stay friends - LES SAVY FAV
12. Franz Ferdinand - FRANZ FERDINAND
13. Whatever people say I am, that's what I am not - ARCTIC MONKEYS
14. Good news for people who love bad news - MODEST MOUSE
15. Silent alarm - BLOC PARTY
16. LCD Soundsystem - LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
17. Source tags and codes - …AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
18. Coral fang - THE DISTILLERS
19. Throwing Muses - THROWING MUSES
21. Yoshimi battles the pink robots - THE FLAMING LIPS
22. Funeral - THE ARCADE FIRE
23. Take them on, on your own - BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB
24. One beat - SLEATER-KINNEY
25. Gimme fiction - SPOON

Roll the credits:

As I've written before, our decision was to include only one album from each artist in this list in order to have a more varied selection. Also, no albums from 2009 were included at this stage as we feel it's too early to compare them with albums that we've lived with for several years. The plan is to return to the subject after a year or so, when we'll have a bit of a distance and a better perspective, and present our full list for the decade in Cool Music Database. Meanwhile, you can check out our "Counting Down The '00s" posts where you'll find out our Top 30 albums and singles for each year of the decade up to 2008 and, of course, our 2009 lists that are coming soon.

This list was presented in parallel to those of more than 80 other greek bloggers that participated in voting for the best albums of the decade and the year. The poll was organized by All Gone and a collective list is expected soon. All the relevant posts can be found here thanks to lkrory.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 2

The Strokes - Is This It (2001, RCA/Rough Trade)

The Strokes was the first 21st century band to have such a huge impact on modern rock music with a sound deeply rooted in last century's most basic sonic blueprints - '50s rock 'n' roll swing, '60s garage energy and '70s punk attitude. On "Is This It" this New York City gang manages to compress 50 years of rock music history in just 36 blissful minutes and add its own magical touch, making this album not only the best debut of this decade, but also one of the most influential rock records since that other landmark back in '91. Read also our 2001 review here and check out Pitchfork's praises here.

The Strokes - Hard To Explain

2009 Highlights: Telepathe

A brief interview with Telepathe (from the German giving us some insight on how they created one of the best albums of the year, the magical "Dance Mother". Here's how their shoegaze-hip hop was born:

For more Cool Music Central posts about Telepathe click here. And here's a live performance of "Threads and Knives" at Studio B, Brooklyn, Apr 5 2007:

Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 Highlights: Raekwon & Mos Def

Hip Hop albums of the year? I certainly think so.

Throw your Ws up for Raekwon and his Wu buddies in the ace "Only Built For Cuban Linx Pt II":

Raekwon - New Wu (featuring Method Man & Ghostface Killah)

And now it's time to get ecstatic with Mos Def's "The Ecstatic", his best album since "Black On Both Sides" from 1999:

Mos Def - Supermagic

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 3

Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights (2002, Matador)

Interpol wear their influences on their sleeves on "Turn On The Bright Lights". The real feat of this album is that it manages to measure up to the music of their heroes and sound just as inspired and timeless. In other words, it was an instant classic that could have been the best debut of the decade if it wasn't for the album at number 2. Read more in our 2002 review and check out here Pitchfork's review.

Interpol - PDA

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 4

TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain (2006, 4AD/Interscope)

As we get closer to the top, it's getting harder and harder to find the right words to express my appreciation for the music here. Let's just say that any of the four records on the top of this list is equally deserving the title of "Album of the Decade" and the order in which we're presenting them is almost random. TV On The Radio have given us three magnificent albums in the '00s and I'm convinced they have what it takes to continue just as strong in the new decade. "Return To Cookie Mountain" was their sophomore effort which took the experimental mix of different styles and influences of their astounding debut "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes" to its logical conclusion. The single "Wolf Like Me", the absolute highlight of this record, will always be remembered as one of the classics of this decade. Read more about the album in our 2006 review and here is Pitchfork's verdict.

TV On The Radio - Wolf Like Me

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 5

Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf (2002, Interscope)

Queens Of The Stone Age and their wildest, off the rails record. "Songs For The Deaf" took the desert rock sound to the ultimate level by feeding its fire with the heaviest riffs, the most relentlessly fast punk rhythms and some truly haunting harmonies. Read here the AllMusic album review and check out here all of our picks for the year 2002.

Queens Of The Stone Age - First It Giveth

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2009 Highlights: The Fiery Furnaces

The presentation of our favorite albums of the decade is approaching its dramatic climax as we're about to reveal our Top 5 over the next 5 days. In the meantime, we are preparing our lists of the best albums and tracks of the year, so this is a good time to start remembering some of the highlights of 2009. Among those is "I'm Going Away", the most pop-friendly album of The Fiery Furnaces. Here you can read our first impressions of the album from October's "Listening Habits" and below is the new video for the track "Even In the Rain", where the Friedberger siblings create their own "Easy Rider".

The Fiery Furnaces - Even In the Rain

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 6

The White Stripes - Elephant (2003, XL)

The hardest working man in showbiz and his soul sister at the top of their game. The White Stripes hit their stride with "White Blood Cells" and perfected their unique garage rock formula with "Elephant", their fourth album recorded in London in just two weeks using vintage equipment. Add next to these two records the equally powerful "Icky Thump" and you have three very good reasons why The White Stripes became one of the most inspiring and influential rock bands of the decade. Read more about "Elephant" in Rolling Stone and check out here our 2003 review.

The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell (2003, Polydor/Interscope)

At number 7 of the list with our favorite albums of the '00s we find the debut of one of the best bands to emerge in this decade. Any of the three very different but equally excellent LPs released by Yeah Yeah Yeahs could have been chosen for the Top 10, but I've decided to go with the raw, explosive "Fever To Tell" as it was also one of the most impressive debuts of the decade. The most stunning moment of the record and the point where you realize that there's so much more to this band than manic energy and exhilarating noise is when suddenly, amidst all the chaos, you come across "Maps", one of the sweetest love songs ever written. Read here the NME review (who also included the album in their Top 10) and here you can find our take on the best music of 2003.

A Place To Bury Strangers, Live @ Rodeo Club, Athens (December 9, 2009)

Another break to our regular program (the presentation of the Top 20 albums of the '00s, that is) to take a look at the photos from one of the best gigs we've seen this year in Athens.

I have already raved about "Exploding Head" (an album that looks certain to find a place in the decade's final "Best of" list), now it is time to salute the explosive power and the breathtaking noise that A Place To Bury Strangers are able to unleash live. Despite the limitations of the tiny club and the inadequacy of the sound system, the intensity of the band's performance was able to overcome adversity and take us on a thrilling ride through huge sonic waves, where guitars melted and heads were not far from literally exploding. Among the highlights of the show for me was listening to my two favorite tracks from the two albums, "Deadbeat" and "To Fix The Gash in Your Head", played back to back and, of course, the magnificent ending with "Ocean" where all hell broke loose and chaos reigned on and off stage! Other tracks played on the night included "Alive", "I Know I'll See You", "Don't Think Lover", "Lost Feeling", "In Your Heart", "Exploding Head", "Runaround", "Keep Slipping Away", "Half Awake", "I Lived My Life".

A Place To Bury Strangers - Keep Slipping Away, Live @ Rodeo Club, Athens (Dec. 9, 2009)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 8

Primal Scream - XTRMNTR (2000, Creation)

"XTRMNTR", the last album to be released on the legendary Creation Records, was a suitable ending to the influential label's glorious history. And it came from a band that it was there from the beginning ("All Fall Down", Primal Scream's 1985 debut single was among the first Creation releases). Here's where Primal Scream stop partying and start protesting with vengeance in mind, offering the best album of their career. Read more about it in AllMusic and in our 2000 review here.

Primal Scream - Kill All Hippies

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 9

The Fall - The Unutterable (2000, Eagle)

What can I say about The Fall? My all-time favorite band, with at least one album present in every decade's Top 10 list I have ever compiled. "Live At The Witch Trials" in the '70s, almost everything they released in the '80s with "Perverted By Language" and "This Nation's Saving Grace" leading the way, "Extricate" in the '90s (an updated list is forthcoming in the new year at Cool Music Database) and now "The Unutterable" in the '00s (with "Fall Heads Roll" the close second). A new album is expected in 2010 and I would bet there's a good chance that The Fall (or should I say Mark E Smith and your granny on bongos?) will be present in my '10s Top 10 as well, "proliferating across the earth" for a fifth decade! Check out our 2000 review here and read more about our number 9 selection at this AllMusic review.


The Fall -Theme From Sparta FC

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.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 10

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (2008, Mute)

As the marathon of our daily posts about the best albums of this decade continues, we finally reach the Top 10 where we find a dear old friend and one of the finest works in a long and glorious career. "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" was the culmination of a particularly fertile period for Nick Cave that started with the excellent double album "Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus" in 2004 and continued with the fire and the fury of Grinderman's debut in 2007 (both of which also deserve a place in the decade's Top 50). Read more about it in this AllMusic review and check out here our 2008 review.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Midnight Man

The rest of the Top 20 so far (read here about the rules of this game):

11. Let’s stay friends - LES SAVY FAV
12. Franz Ferdinand - FRANZ FERDINAND
13. Whatever people say I am, that's what I am not - ARCTIC MONKEYS
14. Good news for people who love bad news - MODEST MOUSE
15. Silent alarm - BLOC PARTY
16. LCD Soundsystem - LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
17. Source tags and codes - …AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
18. Coral fang - THE DISTILLERS
19. Throwing Muses - THROWING MUSES

The relevant posts from all the blogs that participate in voting for the best albums of the year and the decade are aggregated here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 11

Les Savy Fav - Let's Stay Friends (2007, Frenchkiss)

The album that revealed to a wider audience New York rock's best kept secret. Les Savy Fav's fourth LP achieves the perfect balance between aggressive punk-rock intensity and upbeat, pop-friendly melody. For more about "Let's Stay Friends" you can check out our 2007 review or read here AllMusic's opinion.

Les Savy Fav - What Would Wolves Do?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 12

Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand (2004, Domino)

Franz Ferdinand
's perfect guitar pop debut was the album that signified the rebirth of British indie rock at the mid '00s. Read more about it in our 2004 review and in this review from Pitchfork.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Top 20 Albums of the '00s: Number 13

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006, Domino)

With a debut this good, you really do hope that maturity never rears its ugly head! As it turns out, Arctic Monkeys had a lot of tricks up their sleeves and this was just the impressive start of a rare band that really had what it takes to go the distance. Read here our full 2006 review and here the album review from NME.