My 2009 part 2

I’m going to go through the second half of my 2009 favorites list as promised, but first here’s the last of the videos from our show in November, the Heaps classic “Casual Encounters”:

And here’s two more videos of The Dutchess And The Duke from that show:


UUVVWWZ – “s/t”:

Bratty nonsense words

blurt “Make Me Love You!”

while guitars make shapes.

(I know I refused to put Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear on the list because I didn’t think their new albums didn’t equal the sublimity of their best tracks, but UUVVWWZ (yes, yes, pronounced “Double U, Double V, Double Double U, Zee) got on the list by having half great tracks.  When it works, they bring to my mind the female fronted angular postpunk of Shapes And Sizes (whose self-titled album is basically perfect), lunging around through language but still keeping their heads.  And then there are the ballady tracks that Pitchfork for some reason heaps their praises that don’t interest me that much.  But maybe my preference just comes from my fervent wish for Karen O. (or someone else) to measure up to her own legend again.  Anyway, the I-wish-they’d-called-it-something-else-instead song “Japdad” was basically up their with AC’s “My Girls” for biggest single of my year.)

The Mumlers – “Don’t Throw Me Away”:

Some organ, mostly

horns and unpretentious soul.

Old timey / timeless.

(I had another Mumlers album before but I don’t think I ever gave it a second listen.  This new record caught me immediately by not trying too hard.  I love Van Morrison’s voice and it might be misleading for me to bring him up because Mr. Mumler doesn’t really have Morrison’s jagged larynx flights of monomania but I give this guy a lot of credit for his unfeigned soulfulness.  You can’t really call the band loungy, and they’re not really “jazzy” in the sense that usually means–earlier this year I said they were “kinda like if M. Ward stopped telling fortunes at the carnival and found some friends in a beaten up horn section” and I basically stand by that but it had a few too many syllables to put in the haiku.)

Neon Indian – “Psychic Chasms”:

Sparkling crystal synths.

Relaxed hipster electro.

Tweakyness caught me.

(It’s nice that there are different sub-sub-sub-genres of the recent hipster lo-fi renaissance but “glo-fi” is generally not my favorite.  Neon Indian’s record was an exception–the synths described in line 3 had me on board immediately.  I might as well say I also liked the record by Washed Out–please don’t take away my garage rock card.)

Dan Melchior und Das Menace – “Christmas for the Crows” (2008):

Flat underdog wit.

“Stacked Sally Plummer” is best.

Good kind of samey.

(Ahh, Dan Melchior.  I like his records a lot and now I have a bunch of them.  All his songs kind of run together for me: throw together some smart writing, a few lines that fall flat in okay ways, and a bunch of not-exactly-garage 60s brit licks.  We saw him open for Thee Oh Sees at The Echo and I felt bad that more of the crowd didn’t show up until after his set because he’s great–maybe that’s why I think of him as an underdog.  Anyway, my favorite songs of his are the first 2 I ever heard–“Stacked Sally Plummer” from the “World is Lousy With Ideas vol. 5” comp and “She’s Incorrigible” from “Christmas for the Crows” (which is why that album hedged out his new record “Thank You Very Much” on this list.)

Nobunny – “Raw Romance” (2009) / Ganglians – “Monster Headroom” (2009) / P.S. Eliot – “Bike Wreck Demo” (2008)

So they didn’t blaze

new ground–we can use more of:

(1) crazy masked fifties

(2) acid fried Beach Boys

(3) spunky girl lo fi

And now, those things in order:

(I guess I never said exactly how many spots there were in this list but putting these three in a tie for the arbitrary final spot makes a point: things that have precedents can still be a lot of fun.  Lo-fi hasn’t been a slur to me a long time and it shouldn’t be just because there’s a lot more of it being made / bubbling to the surface recently–like any boom, there’s going to be derivative or undistinguished exemplars and then there are going to be good records like these.  In the case of P.S. Eliot, their polished studio album “Introverted Romance In Our Troubled Minds” is much less interesting than their self-released demo tape which Erin and I listened to in the car all the time.  Other acts looking to climb the “fi” ladder would do well to note.  Anyway, so even though these three albums didn’t take me to especially new places, I listened to them a lot more than I did with some albums that are at the top of real critics top ten lists.)

LAST MENTIONS: Since the new year, I’ve enjoyed The Flaming Lips’ “Embryonic” and Death Sentence: Panda!’s “Insects Awaken” but felt weird about giving them cuts onto the list since they weren’t actually part of my 2009.  I was all ready to pan the Lips album since the last one didn’t really hold together but they managed to evade me by seemingly starting from scratch.  Wayne Coyne’s instantly recognizable voice is now less central but they’re not just descending into a synthy prog swamp.  I asked Erin what she thought the difference was and she said, “It’s hypnotically rhythmic . . . and like you said, he doesn’t do the Neil Young thing” which pretty much nails it, especially for the first track “Convinced by the Hex”.  Not that he NEVER goes back to sounding like Neil Young on acid but it feels like the Lips have rebuilt themselves using some of the same pieces but haven’t felt bound to the any of their previous blueprints.

As for DS:P, they’re also pretty rhythmic (that’s basically postpunk’s strong suit).  The Acrobatics Everyday folks brought them to UCI recently with promises of “no wave.”  As I discussed last week, the term often gets thrown around pretty irresponsibly but I’m willing to say it works here: clarinet, flute, voice, and drums all used for other than their intended purposes.  I decided not to go see them because it was after Heaps practice but it was a lesson in remorse–I’m sure they would have been great.  Next time, Death Sentence: Panda, next time.


One Response to “4018”

  1. […] If you want what an A&R guy would call a more “urban” video for the same song, check out the 2nd half of my 2009 list. […]

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