At the end of 2009 the staff at AVERSE pooled together their resources and came up with sixty of the top records of 2009. Then everyone got sort of bored with the process and we didn’t do anything with it. In the meantime Matt Siblo started off our look at last year with the now ironic “2009: The Year Lists Broke“, I put together a list of my Top Ten Hot 97 Guilty Pleasures of 09 and Thom Siblo constructed his Top Songs of 2009 in three parts, complete with downloads here. Still, there was a lot of effort behind fleshing out our master list, and it seems a waste to throw it away.
Our original plan was to list out the top sixty records, showcasing a few entries here and there that one of us felt needed special consideration. Rather than go through this task I’ve decided to list only our top twenty, with brief (occasionally ridiculous) write-ups for each one. It’s a list I’m really proud of, as I’m sure the rest of our staff is as well. Here are some standouts from selections 60-21:
Destroyer Bay of Pigs
Jay Reatard Watch Me Fall
Nite Jewel Good Evening
Eugene McGuiness S/T
Talk Normal Sugarland
Real Estate S/T
HEALTH Get Color
Memory Tapes Seek Magic
Yo La Tengo Popular Songs
Rick Ross Deeper Than Rap
Polvo In Prism
Drake So Far Gone (Mixtape)
Jarvis Cocker Further Complications
Fool’s Gold S/T
St. Vincent Actor
With all of that talent left out who made the top twenty, you ask? Find out, after the jump.
Recounting the top 60 songs of 2009 with accompanying blurbs was a far grander undertaking than I had originally anticipated. Like most great comic books and hip hop albums (when is that Nonymous ish going to drop?) this last batch of great songs is finally here… but only after numerous delays.
It’s a common mistake to assume it would be easier to write about songs you like the most. In some ways it is- enthusiasm, whether positive or negative, can definitely push a writer through a dry spot of creativity (whatever THAT means). But in the case at hand , I had so much to say about certain songs (“Brother Sport,” “In the Flowers,” “Bicycle” and “House of Flying Daggers”) it was daunting to condense it into the “come for/stay for” format. In other cases, I felt it would be dangerous to overanalyze songs such as “Wet Hair” or “Are You Still in Vallda?” and I kept things short and sweet.
If I had to assess the year in music I would take the time to bemoan the lack of awesome hip hop LPs: of the three hip hop songs in the top 20 only Raekwon’s was released in 2009 (Clipse’s album wasn’t released until mid-December). Jay-z and Kid Cudi put out complete trash this past year and I’ve yet to hear the Drake or Mos Def albums (the former due to weak singles and the latter due to his atrocious appearances on Bill Maher’s television program). The Cool Kids never wound up putting out their debut album (after a meh mixtape, “Gone Fishin’”) and even Yeezy and Jeezy didn’t give me a solid summer jam.
Overall, I liked what I heard in 2009. Between Japandroids, Fucked up, Mean Jeans, Future of the Left, The Thermals, Titus Andronicus and DC Snipers, modern punk rock is better than it’s been for a very long time while Memory Tapes/Cassettes, Washed Out and jj have all impressed me with their gorgeous, amorphous and hazy pop.
I’m thrilled to be done with 2009 and am already wrist deep in some 2010 releases that will be covered on Averse in the near future. Albums from Vampire Weekend and Beach House have been predictably impressive, Yeasayer’s new album is a welcome departure from their debut and I cannot wait to see what the world thinks of Titus Andronicus’ opus, The Monitor. I’m still trying to sift through the minstrel-infused Midlake album and Four Tet’s latest ode to background mood music, There is Love in You.
As a special gift to Averse readers we’d like to present most of the Top 60 Songs of 2009 as a compressed downloads so you can spend the first chunk of 2010 catching up with everything you missed (after the post).
Posted in 2009: The Year in Music, Thom
Tagged Animal Collective, Atlas Sound, Big Boi, Clipse, David Byrne, Dirty Projectors, Discovery, Fucked Up, Future of the Left, Ghostface Killah, Gucci Mane, Inspectdah Deck, Japandroids, jj, Kanye West, Method Man, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Phoenix, Raekwon, Think About Life, Volcano Choir, Wu-Tang
You guys! The next batch of Best Song picks! Only two days late!
Click here for part 1!
(Thom’s picks after the cut. Download a .ZIP of all songs here.)
Posted in 2009: The Year in Music, Thom
Tagged Animal Collective, Bear in Heaven, Camera Obscura, Dirty Projectors, Ezra Koenig, Fight Like Apes, Fool's Gold, Harlem Shakes, Health, Jay-Z, Memory Cassette, Neon Indian, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Phoenix, Real Estate, St. Vincent, Superchunk, The Very Best, Vampire Weekend, Washed Out
Ah! A lesser writer would include the phrase listomania in his introductory paragraph. A true hack would allude to it while pretending he is taking a more respectable stance and get all Charlie Kaufman. But seriously, during this time of year you can’t toss a rolled up magazine without hitting a list of someone’s favourite whatever and hey, chances are if that rolled up magazine was published in December, it contains some kind of list too! Since this is the end of the decade, there is a lot of list double dipping (Best of decade! Best of ’09!). It’s like throwing a rolled up magazine chock full of lists at another item which also contains lists. Complete listomania! Full circle!
A few things: I worked way harder on this list of songs than was necessary and a lot harder than I did the opening paragraph. The fact that there are so many lists didn’t really stop me from making another list, nor did it encourage me to make mine shorter. I do really hope you enjoy reading my list and feel free to argue/agree/disagree with any of the choices. But don’t argue about Grizzly Bear, because you will lose. If you argue with me about Grizzly Bear I will take your contact information and call you in ten years and it will be embarrassing because you will have long forgotten them and also because I will have followed through on something you thought was a joke on the internet from ten years ago. So let’s all spare each other that mortifying experience and admit they have three great songs if we’re meeting them halfway! Great!
2009! It wasn’t a terrible year for music, you know? And despite Matt Siblo’s (accurate) insistence that it was the year lists broke we at AVERSE have put together a few lists that celebrate the year that was.
For me 2009 was 365 days of trying something new. It was about taking a lot of recommendations, having an open mind and, ultimately, listening to a lot of radio. Rock radio may be dead but in NY no one gives a shit because Jay-Z came out with a new record. You couldn’t walk the streets of Brooklyn this year without hearing at least one single from Hov blaring from speakers that cost more than the car they’re sitting in. Not a day went by where a remix featuring Kanye, Drake, or Weezy couldn’t be heard. And most importantly: I don’t remember one trip in my girlfriend’s car this year where we didn’t at least casually check up on Funkmaster Flex.
It started out as an exercise in understanding: just what is happening in the rap world, and why should I care? Certainly I knew the basics– I knew, for example, I should probably listen to the new Joe Budden, the new Jay-Z, the new Raekwon– but I haven’t seriously listened to any new rap music in about five years and had no real interest to do so. My girlfriend, to her credit, seemed to get it. When she first turned me on to Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” I was admittedly skeptical but eventually fell in love with it in a completely unironic way. And with good reason: that Drake mixtape ended up being one of the strongest records to come out this year, and while it might not be as life-changing as I initially thought (the songs don’t make a whole lot of sense) it’s strong enough from start to finish to warrant all the hype.
But that’s not the stuff I want to talk about right now. You can read what I think about Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II when I write about it for our Best Records of the Year list, I promise. It’s the other songs I’m more interested in, the ones that played fifty times a day because of sheer mass appeal. The songs that aren’t breaking any boundaries, that aren’t changing the game; the songs that have no real artistic credibility, and whose only real merit is that they’re catchy as hell.
These are my top ten Hot 97 guilty pleasures.
Posted in 2009: The Year in Music, Paul, Video
Tagged Akon, Beyonce, Drake, Fabolous, Jadakiss, Jamie Foxx, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Keri Hilson, Lil Wayne, Maino, Ne-Yo, OJ Da Juiceman, Swizz Beatz, T-Pain, T.I., The Dream, Trey Songz, Young Jeezy, Young Money
*Note: an edited version of this article appeared in the Washington City Paper.
Layered beneath the flurry of articles bemoaning the death of print journalism, one aspect not regularly mentioned (perhaps not to seem even more cloying) is the somnambulant status of the critic. The professional critic’s stature, maligned as elitist or outright ignored, had diminished long before the onset of the current crisis facing newspapers and magazines. This argument is consistently paraded out during award seasons, when numerous discrepancies arise between the highest grossing and widely praised. As this dynamic steadily played itself out, year after year, mainstream publications have been neutered and marginalized while non-traditional outlets filled the void until the Internet gave everyone with an opinion and a caps lock button a voice.