Saturday, 2 January 2010

2009 In 10 Songs...

I am aware that the convention at this time of year is to compile lists of favourite songs from the previous 12 months, or top tips for the next, but I don't want to. I have however decided to give some thought to my personal top ten listening from 2009...

1. Teenage Riot - Sonic Youth
(from Daydream Nation - 1988)
One of the more commercial efforts from the band's late '80s output, Teenage Riot opens with a repeated guitar phrase that veritably glistens. This is joined by a Kim Gordon-recited mantra, before exploding in to a driving, melodic riff.

2. Iamundernodisguise - School of Seven Bells
(from Alpinisms - 2008)
A collaboration between Secret Machine's Benjamin Curtis and identical twin vocalists Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, School of Seven Bells released the ethereally beautiful Iamundernodisguise in 2008. A hypnotic, electronic folk song, the track opens the band's debut Alpinisms.

3. Atoms for Peace - Thom Yorke
(from The Eraser - 2006)
Arriving late to the party with this album, it didn't take me long to succumb to its introspective magic, aided by the Radiohead revival I was personally going through at the time (it was only after much agonising deliberation that I didn't include a Radiohead song in this list due to the selection of Thom Yorke). I could have included two or three tracks from The Eraser on this list, but have gone for Atoms for Peace. Yorke's melody writing at its best.

4. Efuge Efuge - Stelios Kazantzidis
(from ...And all the Pieces Matter, Five Years of Music from The Wire - 2008)
I, like many others, first heard this track during a montage sequence on the fantastic HBO series The Wire. Its vocalist, popular Greek singer Kazantzidis, sounds pained beyond comprehension as he delivers the song's mesmerising refrain.

5. Haikuesque (When She Laughs) - Bibio (from Ambivalence Avenue - 2009)
It's been an eventful year for Warp Records. They celebrated their 20th anniversary, their film company had a major nationwide release, and they blessed the world with Ambivalence Avenue. Again, this is just one of the many tracks that I could have chosen.

6. Blue Ridge Mountains - Fleet Foxes (From Fleet Foxes - 2008)
After the success of first single Mykonos, Fleet Foxes appeared on the radar as part of the so-called 'folk revival' of 2008. None of the other bands coming through on the back of this influx really delivered however, and the self-titled follow up album to Mykonos, Fleet Foxes, took the crown. The song-writing is as refreshing as it is respectful to its fore fathers, and the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young-type harmonies more than competant.

7. Sugar Water - Cibo Matto (From VIVA! La Woman - 1996)
Japanese expatriates Cibo Matto brought their leftfield take on Hip-Hop/Funk to New York in the early '90s. Their debut, VIVA! La Woman, is packed full of playful lyrics set to the hypnotic prototype Trip-Hop of producer Yuka Honda. Sugar Water is towards the tranquil end of the Cibo Matto cannon.

8. The Race To Be First Home - ISAN
(From Meet Next Life - 2004)
A slice of ambient electronica from English duo ISAN next. This is a charming xylophone-lead track complete with electornic blips and a dizzying,revolving melody line.

9. The Rip - Portishead (From Third - 2008)
The Bristol trip-hop powerhouse that is Portishead released their third album in 2008, keeping up their tradition of making fans wait an excruciating amount of time between albums. Third is a strong effort however, and is worth the wait for The Rip alone, a desolate acoustic track that melds in to a roving synth-led second half.

10. Beaux Dimanches - Amadou & Mariam (From Dimanche a Bamako - 2005)
Mali musicians Amadou & Mariam broke entered the Western conciousness with this Manu Chao-produced album in 2005. Chao's understated touch allows the songwriting and harmonies between the husband and wife duo to come through. Beaux Dimanches also features a memorable and catchy guitar line.

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