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Top 10 albums of 2009

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Top 10 albums of 2009

This year the music industry in 2009 continued to trend towards the digital download model making more music than ever before available to the masses. There were a number of standout albums, and promising bands that emerged this year. Below is a list of the top 10:

10) Rated O by Oneida

So dense, it almost takes an active, analytical listener to truly appreciate the breadth and depth of this album. Largely instrumental, the Brooklyn band spans a litany of mind-bending genres in this album. From psychedelic 20 minute jams to structured rhythmic rock, Oneida braves new musical territory with this gem.

9) Horehound by The Dead Weather

It seemed like 2009 was the resurgence of the “supergroup.” Jack White (The White Stripes and The Raconteurs), Alison Mosshart (The Kills and Discount), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs and Greenhomes) suddenly formed The Dead Weather this year and the result is nothing less than some of the best rock and roll produced in years. Horehound is simply sublime. Reports are the group is working on a follow up album.

8) Humbug by Arctic Monkeys

Humbug took the Arctic Monkeys in a new direction from their past work. Darker, more mature and developed, the music flows more deliberate and less sporadic than previous works. Song such as “Crying Lighting” and “Dangerous Animals” still seep the signature AM sound, but the guidance of Queens of the Stone Age’s frontman Josh Homme, who produced the album recorded in Joshua Tree, Calif. Is evident throughout. The result is a more deliberate, stoic and untimely cohesive album.

7) Octahedron by Mars Volta

Characterized by a smooth subdued pace, pined up more by Thomas Pridgen’s insane drumming than ever before,Octahedron steps towards a more “traditional” album than previous works. Still filled with spectacular guitar by Omar Rodriquez-Lopez and surreal screeching vocals by Cedric Bixler-Zavala, MV continues to advance music is a direction unexplored by any other artist. This is the kind of deep, dark and phenomenal album one has come to expect from MV.

6) Manners by Passion Pit

Following on 2008’s promising Chunk of Change, Manners is the ideal follow up full of everything one could ask for. Rhythmic beats, fun hooks, choppy synchs and airy lyrics that make up one of the year’s most pleasurable albums to listen to. It just one of those records that makes the listener feel good.

5) It’s Blitz by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Some might frown upon commercial success, and Karen O and the crew have seen the limelight this year more than ever before. It’s Blitz achieved that new degree of success by departing from its conventional formula. Still true to its roots, the YYY added a heavy amount of synthesizers and reverb to the album taking the band to the next level.

4) Old Money by Omar Rodriguez Lopez

Perhaps one of the most complex albums of 2009, Lopez, of Mars Volta, unleashed a juggernaut with Old Money that could be interpreted a million different ways. Much like MV, Old Money is an epic journey of disjointed sounds, rhythms and themes. Revolving around otherworldly themes of dreams and nightmares, the album is an intricate mix of instruments and textures making for a surreal listening experience.

3) Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez by Felt

In a time when hip-hop is pretty uninspired, primarily composed of guys ripping off each other’s beats and rapping about cliché’s, comes Felt’s new album produced by Aesop Rock.  Murs (Living Legends) and Slug (Atmosphere) compose an intelligent original piece of work in their latest tribute to b-list celebrities. Adding Aesop to the mix adds an edge to Felt 3 that the previous two albums didn’t have.

2) Them Crooked Vultures by Them Crooked Vultures

Another superband to make this year’s list and the members pretty much say it all: Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, Josh Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal, and John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin. The combination creates a classic rock album that chock-full of heavy guitar riffs and thumping bass. The album sounds more like a QOTSA than anything, but that may be Homme’s predominance on vocals.

1) Cosmic Egg by Wolfmother

Who cares if Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale wasn’t even alive when Robert Plant and Ozzy Osbourne were in their heyday. Nearly 40 years later he is blatantly ripping off their style with a precision that makes listeners have flashbacks to ZoSo. Stockdale takes his new band and breathes a second life into the notion of comprising an album around power chords thundering bass lines, reverb and wailing vocals.

See 2008’s list here.


Passion Pit remixes Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Heads Will Roll"

Passion Pit is hot off its recent release Manners, and the Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ are riding high on It’s Blitz! so combining the two can only make for a stellar project.

That project is personified in today’s release of YYYs “Heads will Roll” a selection of four remixes of “Heads will Roll” off of It’s Blitz!

Considering it is a pretty spectacular song to start with, once Passion Pit gets its synth saturated hooks in it it makes for a must listen.

Also included are remixes by Tommie Sunshine, Little Vampire and James Iha. All good, but all fall short compared to the Passion Pit version.

While all have a similar sound, each has its own distinct beat and cadence to them.  Although it’s hard to beat the original version.

Written by David Young

July 14, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Blitz new album

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs "It's Blitz"

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been making the rounds this past week promoting their latest release It’s Blitz!

I finally got around to listening to the album that dropped last month, and am floored by what may actually be better than Show Your Bones, the trios’ previous effort that was sublime.

Karen O, lead singer, has perfected her voice on this album. Her signature squeal laid against the undercurrent of bass and reverb synth is the perfect balance that made such hits as “Gold Lion” and “Phenomena.”

On this, their third album, YYY seem to capture all the best attributes of their previous efforts, bottle it, shake it violently and uncork them on the lucky listener.

The album begins with its first single, “Zero,” a great base to build on filled with a synth riff that heralds a raucous ignition.

The drumbeat transports the song through a subtle base ride that builds relentlessly without ease. The song signifys a full on audio assault that is only appropriate considering the album’s name.

From there the sound only proceeds to build from such a start capitalizing on “Heads Will Roll” and “Soft Shock,” two faster tempo songs, before diving headlong into “Skeletons.”

“Skeletons” features clanking drum sticks, as if emulating bones jangling together, before levitating into an eerily muted tune that sounds almost hymn-like. The departure for the band rounds out with a gusty wind movement as O’s haunting voice fades.

From there the band slides into a comfortable pace as O, Brian Chase and Nick Zinner proceed to build an album less based in guitar riffs and more stemming from electronic beats. It is similar, although not as extreme, as Bloc Party’s Intimate move towards dance infused rock.

While unexpected, the album shows growth in all the right directions. YYY is coming into its own on this album, aware of its strengths and capitalizing on them.

It’s Blitz! Is just that, an assault on the senses that leaves the listener asking for more. Expect to see great things from this band.







Written by David Young

April 19, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Album Review, Music

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