Thursday, December 31, 2009

Twin Cheek's Best Albums of 2009

I don't really listen to, or particularly care for, a ton of new music. I do manage to find a few records each year that I deem worthy enough to spend my hard earned trust fund money on, and they are as follows:

Psychic Ills - Mirror Eye (The Social Registry) This was the first record that came out this year that really grabbed my attention. I think it was released the first or second week of January, proving that Merriwether Post Pavillion was not even Album of the Month when it was released, much less album of the year. A huge improvement over 2006's Dins, Psychic Ills seem to be both more focused AND spacey this time around, or maybe just more focused on being spacey. Hell, I probably listened to this record 5 or 6 times before I realized/remembered that there were vocals on a few tracks! Perfect album to sink back into the couch for a while.

Wolves in the Throne Room - Malevolent Grain EP, Black Cascade LP (Southern Lord) Uh-oh, trendy black metal band, watch out. I can't understand the bad reviews that these releases got when they came out. It seems like the indie critics were upset that they didn't replicate 'The Two Hunters' and the metal guys didn't like the fact that WitTR had strayed so far from their debut (and best album) Diadem of 12 Stars. When I put these on the turntable I hear some great 10-15 minute songs that seem like they are over in 5 with tons of guitars and fantastic production. It fucking works for me.

Zola Jesus - The Spoils (Sacred Bones) Here we have another fine addition to the Sacred Bones catalog. I'm sure it's pretty tough to produce an appealing blend of noisy, digitally delayed instruments (all of em!) and a female singer that reminds me more of Ian Curtis that anyone in recent memory, but Madison, Wisconsin's Nika Roza Danilova and crew have managed to marry the two fairly effectively.

Amen Dunes - Dia (Locust) I'm not really sure if this completely qualifies as a 2009 record since it was written and recorded in November 2006, but fuck it, it was released this year. Initially I was skeptical about this one because it has one of those 'guy goes into the mountains alone to make a record' back stories that usually results in some retarded free form noise record that nobody actually likes or gives a shit about. Damon McMahon throws that theory out the window with this release, his first (maybe only?) under the Amen Dunes moniker. Dia is a fairly eclectic record, with some rocking guitar/echo vocals, acoustic folk/psych ala Pearls Before Swine (though less lyrical), and some drone organ/voice material thrown in for good measure. All of this is helped out tremendously by the sequencing of the songs, each track individually may be nothing special, but the thing as a whole is fucking great. Album of the year for me.


These days there a million reissues every year to deal with, so I'm not going to get that in depth about them-- if you couldn't find a record before, you probably can now. Even if you could find it before, you can get the reissue from 4 Men with Beards.

Drag City did their usual awesome job of unearthing some great albums this year, these are my faves:

The George-Edwards Group - 38:38 - This one's a fucking killer bedroom psych record from 1977. Two guys, some guitars and an ARP String Ensemble. The reissue sounds great and will save you about $500 over the very limited edition original. Highly recommended!

Death - ...For All the World to See - I'm counting this as a reissue even though only two of the tracks were previously issued in 1975. Most of the music press seemed to make a big deal about these Detroit guys being black and playing rock n roll, I guess they forgot how the whole thing started.

Royal Trux - Twin Infinitives - It's about damn time that this four sided mind fuck be available to a new generation of kids willing the plunge into whatever the fuck Neil Haggerty and Jennifer Herrema were thinking when they recorded this one.

Fifty Foot Hose - Cauldron - OK, this one isn't on Drag City. Phoenix Records released a limited vinyl run of one of the few West Coast psych albums that I consider a must have. Don't be surprised if this 1969 classic pops up in a future installment of Not New Music, if I can ever get that thing off the ground again.

Honorable Mentions:

Health - Get Color (Love Pump United) I have much better things to do with my time than look at other site's year end lists, but from the little that I've seen and heard, this record is not on very many of them and I'm not sure why.

Moon Duo - Killing Time EP (Sacred Bones) So what if it sounds like some weird hybrid of Suicide and Faust, at least it's fucking good.

Blues Control - Local Flavor (Siltbreeze) I'm sure SR has a ton to say about this one, I'd just like to add that I really dig it too.

Sun Araw - Heavy Deeds (Not Not Fun) It usually takes me a while to warm up to Sun Araw records, and this one was no different. This one might not have made my list at all if I didn't think of "War Anus" every time I come across it. Thank you, anonymous, for making me smile on a daily basis!


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