PREVIOUSLY on TSURURADIO….
PREQUEL: The Pilgrimage & The Honourable Mentions
PART I: The Opening Acts, Numbers 35 to 17 & Accompanying Mixtape!!!
And now, today, the exciting conclusion… PART II: The Main Event, Numbers 16 to 1 & Accompanying Mixtape!!!
WOO! Yesterday was fun, eh? You enjoying the mixtape? Me too! But man o’ man we aren’t done yet as today we finally, finally get to the top 16, the most awesomest AND tsururific albums of 2009, the creme de la creme, the cream of the crop, the cream in my coffee, the sugar in my bowl, the…… well, you get the idea.
For me, this marks the end of 2009, from here on out, it’s a new day with a new year to think about. Why, we’ve already had two amazing albums pop up in our ears between July Flame by Laura Viers (currently my No. 1 album of 2010, seriously) and Teen Dream by Beach House, and with the likes of Spoon, Shout Out Louds, Shearwater (damn, lots of “S-bands”), and even old Ted Leo starting to crop up on the hype radars out there, it’s time to start putting ’09 to bed.
What a fun, fun year it’s been. Some of my absolute favourite artists (new & old) have had an active year, everyone from REM (though I didn’t let it be eligible for our list) & Gordon Gano to Sunset Rubdown & Decemberists, and almost everyone else in between. I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
Now, I’m sure you will hear out there that 2009 was a good/bad/meh year, or whatever. Every year everyone says one or the other or the other, but I have a theory….
With the amount of music out there, I don’t know if there is such a thing as good/bad years anymore. A bad year for me would be when I didn’t come across a collection of albums that blew my mind, but I’ve GOT to believe, with the hundreds & hundreds of albums I DIDN’T get to listen to, that I must’ve just listened to the wrong ones!!!
Because man, I look over at the musical intertubes at the stereogums & pitchforks & millions of other blogs and all the albums they talk about, which is even just a percent of the total, and I didn’t get to so many of those albums! Let alone all the smaller guys out there who didn’t catch any of our radars. Surely, if I had a “bad year” there would have been 10 or so albums in that bunch that would’ve kicked my ass. I would’ve just had to dig a little deeper!
It’s overwhelming at times….. but in the end, I was lucky this year. All of my favourite artists put out proper albums and honestly none of them disappointed! YAY! So for me, tons of great albums just fell into my lap making the hard part of the year trying to sort it all out (which we already discussed on Tuesday). I’m not sure what to expect for next year but yeah, that’s kinda where my heads at these days on that!
So, enough 09-sentimentalism & theory-talkin’ jibber-jabberin’, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of today’s post. Intro music PLEASE!Intro music
Same as yesterday, eh? Well, thanks anyways. Ladies & gents, please join us today on our very special presentation as…
TSURURADIO Proudly Presents…
The 35 Most Awesomest Tsururific Albums Of 2009
Part II: The Main Event, Nos. 16 to 1!!!
Oh, and once again, my apologies on the less than stellar mini-write-ups. There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but as far as my brain is concerned, there is certainly less than 35 ways to say how much you love an album. Anyways, let’s get to it, coming in right where we left off at No. 16….
16. The Rest – Everyone All At Once
Kinda coming off at first like a Scandinavian version of Arcade Fire, until 1) you listen more than once and 2) you realize they aren’t Scandinavian anyway. These Canucks put out an emotional anthemic & bombastic beautiful album that has a layer of snow glistening about it making it extra ethereal or gorgeous. I’d predict big things for them, but I’m thinking that whole non-Scandinavian Scandinavian thing may inhibit some of that potential indie-mainstream success. If so, man, some people are really going to miss out.
15. Dan Deacon – Bromst
I don’t like this kind of music. I really don’t like this kind of music. I just don’t like this kind of music. You know, I told myself that before Bromst came along, I don’t know how many times. But then this album fades in, slowly, slowly, slowly, repeating, repeating, until finally it crashes into your brain, taking you on one of the most fantastic electronic yet organic rides you could imagine going on. Albums like this remind me to never NOT try an album…. Thank you Dan for breaking down a music barrier for me.
14. Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, The Commuter
Sweet breathy-voiced pop ain’t just for the John Mayers of the world as Grandaddy’s Lytle builds perfect pop songs built around a mix of prominent acoustic guitars, a bit o’ the electronic stuff, and his understated vocals. On the surface, it may not come off as all that amazing, but I’ll tell you, this album has been with me and a go-to since it fell into my mp3 player of choice/necessity. Just a beautiful sun-drenched album.
And we’ll ruuuuuuuuuuuuuun….
To a brand new suuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!
13. Patrick Watson – Wooden Arms
Patrick Watson doesn’t write songs, he writes goddamn compositions and pieces and though his talent, ability, and technique often surpasses my own comprehension, I can’t help when listening to just sit back and, well, marvel, letting it consume your ears & brain. Just an unfathomly (how’s THAT for a word?) beautiful album.
12. Clues – Clues
Ah, Clues. Just picked this up on vinyl Saturday. How do you go about talking about this album? No clue, it’s one of those kinds of albums. So… Instead, I’ll let kindred spirit and good friend Zach at We Listen For You talk about it and why he gave it the elusive and rare PERFECT 10 (out of 10, in case you are curious), because he uses the words that if I tried to use them, not only would I embarrass myself further than I already do, but I’d be doing We Listen For You and Clues both a disservice.
11. The Phantom Band – Checkmate Savage Glasgowians (is that a word? Firefox says no) bring the heat in this amazing debut. It’s dark, a bit gothy even at times, has a distinct “Man, we loved Morphine but dude, what was up with that sax” kinda feel to it, but is really fleshed out, taking full advantage of a rich and thick-accented lead singer, a wealth of instrumentation and sounds at their disposal, and the ability to craft melodic rock songs. It’s just got this nostalgic feel to it that got me drawn in on that first listen last year and kept it around.
10. The Lovely Feathers – Fantasy Of The Lot
Uh oh! We are in the Top 10! WOOT!!!! How perfect that it was The Lovely Feathers with Fantasy Of The Lot that would take us to the final stretch! I love this album (obviously), it’s just so much fun. Poor Jimmy and his sexual inadequacies, songs about walks, some dude named Donald, and so on. Might catch a little shit for putting them above some of the bigger releases this year, but this album puts a smile on my face, and that’s worth so much.
9. Port O’ Brien – Threadbare
Pardon the hack writing, but Threadbare is one of those albums that transport you to a different time, place, era, etc. It’s haunting, it’s got life-learnin’ messages to convey and delivers them in a way that is a little more accessible than their last album, making it, in a way, more timeless. Yeah… that’s a good word for it, “timeless”.
8. Noah and The Whale – First Days of Spring
Speaking of timeless…. holy shit, Noah And The Whale, where the hell did this come from?? Last year you snuck into our #2 spot with your fun quirky melodies wrapped in suicidal lyrics so I thought we were done with you until, at least, 2010, but you get tied on, somehow, to soundtrack a super-indie film and make what may be your masterpiece? It’s dark, sonically gorgeous, slow, sad, and just absolutely beautiful. A little too depressing to be my “top album” (after all the albums have to be the most awesomest AND tsururific), but hot damn, this is otherwordly beautiful.
7. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
In all honesty, Middle Cyclone was originally not in the top 10 (shhh… don’t tell Baby). Don’t get me wrong, I love this album but I felt like it was more of a collection of songs when I mistakenly kept comparing it to Fox Confessor, her masterpiece & possibly one of the best albums of the decade, seriously. But on the drive up to Toronto this weekend, we played Middle Cyclone nice and loud and my brain finally separated the two albums, letting me listen to Middle Cyclone as it’s own entity, as where Neko is today, not where she was 3 years ago, and I was struck. Is it more of a collection of songs than Fox Confessor Brings The Flood is a full & complete album? Yes, but that’s okay, because Case delivers each song absolutely flawlessly, filling up every crevice of the car with her talent and pushing her way up to No. 7 on our list.
6. Elvis Perkins In Dearland by Elvis Perkins In Dearland
Elvis Perkins (who, for some ungodly reason, I keep confusing with Ezra Furman) has built a near perfect roots folk album that’s at once melancholy and joyous! It just makes you want to pick up something, anything, that can be used as an instrument or percussion device and play along while happily singing the lamenting of change, of doom, of loss. Keeping it all together is Perkins voice, so earnest, you believe and feel every word. Probably the most honest sounding album this year.
5. Islands – Vapours
Top 5 mother bitches!!! And we start if off with last year’s album of the year winners Islands and their complete about-face effort Vapours! I’ve expressed it before, but hearing that Nick was bummed about the reception of Arm’s Way and proceeded pull the team back to shorter, less ornate, traditionally “Islands” songs (whatever the hell that means, I guess sounding more like “Rough Gem” or something), I was concerned this would be a step backward for my beloved Islands (I think I was hoping for 18 minute Pink-Floyd-meets-Islands epics or something). But oh ye of little faith, eh? I should’ve trusted Nick because instead of pretending to be Return To Sea Islands, Nick just amps up the quirk, the synths, the pop-experimenting, and the lyrical twisting and literally kicked my ass. Even the auto-tuned “Heartbeat” (which I’ve been known to mimic when singing WAY too loudly in the car) is just a fucking blast. This album, even when lyrically at it’s darkest & most self-analyzing, is just fun! Nick, I’ll never doubt you again. As they say in Canada (a lot), “sorry”.
4. fun. – Aim And Ignite
Well, what do you know, speaking of “fun”, eh? How about that fun.? This one’s easy. They took every single thing I loved about The Format, dropped everything I could give or take, and made a super, uh, fun, over the top theatrical & overly-dramatic (in a circus kinda way) album. Each song is nearly perfectly executed trip all over the damn place, nodding equal parts to Eddie Mercury (at his most flamboyant) and early Weezer (the pop-sensibilities part of Weezer) all in one fail swoop — is that the right phrase? I think the wording to remember here is “over the top” and absolute blissfully delicious fun.
3. Harlem Shakes – Technicolor Health
Number 3…. Technicolor Health. They had me at “Strictly Game” and it never let up. Fun & quirky hook-laden jangly music & lyrics simply fulfill so much of what I look for in an anytime album, and really that’s just what this is. I can put Technicolor Health on anytime, anywhere, and in any mood and smile and dance and generally be a happy motherfucker. This album is simply my favourite pop album of the year. It’s a shame they broke up, but if this is what we get from their short-lives, I’ll take it and cherish the hell out of it.
Oh man… time for #2! Ready?
2. Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer
BLAMO! Yep, Dragonslayer. ‘Nuff said. Just kidding, let’s chat. After building his masterpiece 2 years ago with Random Spirit Lover (which I STILL contend will be looked at & revered 10/20 years from now), Krug kicks the “band aspect” up a few notches building a slightly proggy (not really) swirling guitar-based album wrapped in his ever-so-cryptic lyrics, often leaving your stunned and breathless. The album is huge sounding, takes advantage of every crevice given, even when it’s silent and saying nothing at all. Krug is a master of eccentric music as he keeps proving again and again. Even when the songs seem to be leaving the planet, out of reach, Krug has a way of suddenly dropping back into your grasp. Honestly, I don’t think he has an equal right now. Fantastic fantastical album… again.
Okay… time for our #1 album… the MOST awesomest, MOST tsururific album of 2009…
You know what it is, don’t you?
I mean, you’d have to be living under a rock buried under a tree covered in concrete to not be able to guess this…
Here we go…
No. 1 iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssssssssssss……..
1. Decemberists – Hazards Of Love
Singin’ “ooooooooh, the hazards of love!”
OF COURSE IT IS! I mean, sweet mary fucking jesus this album EXUDES tsururificosity out of every stinking metaphorical pore! The Hazards Of Love does what I wished The Crane Wife did, take the story and built a genuine full concept album, but then Mr. Meloy and crew one up that by building it all into basically one giant one hour long song (not really, but kinda), creating characters, giving them life, delivering cohesive narratives, using pop, rock, metal, prog, & folk, and maybe even a tiny bit of country at the end there, absolutely perfectly. It’s really about all I could want in an album and honestly, when I re-listened the other day as a double check that yeah, this is my album of the year, there was no doubt. I listened again on the way up to Toronto on Friday, and each time I listen again, the roots dig a little deeper into that No. 1 spot, pulling away from every other album I’ve heard this year.
Thank you Decemberists. I have no idea what’s next for you guys, where you can go after this, I’m assuming a collection of simple pop songs would be refreshing but for now, you don’t have to do a damn thing. Congratulations to you, your imaginary trophy is in the fake mailbox on it’s way to your home and/or place of business. Expect 4 to 6 weeks for delivery.
Wow… that was fun, eh? How about another round of applause for our 35 albums!!!
And of course, before we go, we got one last treat, a mixtape created by these 16 albums with extra emphasis on our winner! WOOT! I don’t know about you, but Iiii’m POOPED and tired of talking, so it’s time to let the music do the work for me.
Thank you everyone for playing along, I hope you enjoyed the presentations and now it’s time for one last 2009 hurrah as…..
TSURURADIO Proudly Presents…
The 35 Most Awesomest Tsururific Albums Of 2009 Mixtape!!!
Part II: The Main Event Nos. 16 to 1
01 The Decemberists – Prelude
02 Islands – Switched On
03 Harlem Shakes – Natural Man
04 Neko Case – This Tornado Loves You
05 Port O’ Brien – Sour Milk / Salt Water
06 Elvis Perkins In Dearland – Doomsday
07 fun. – Be Calm
08 Jason Lytle – Brand New Sun
09 Noah And The Whale – Blue Skies
10 The Decemberists – An Interlude
11 Clues – Perfect Fit
12 The Lovely Feathers – Lowiza
13 The Phantom Band – The Howling
14 Dan Deacon – Snookered
15 The Rest – Modern Time Travel (Necessities)
16 Patrick Watson – Traveling Salesman
17 Sunset Rubdown – Idiot Heart
18 The Decemberists – The Hazards Of Love 4
Okay, that’s it! Been a helluva year! Thank you to all the amazing artists and the incredible albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and discussing this year. Here’s to an amazing 2010!!!!
Until next time,
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