Long time no see eh? Yes, it’s a holiday, but things kept me busy and my writing mood was drained answering question on my formspring, ask me anything. It might be a tad too late but welcome to the new year 2010! Last year was a year I would never forget, a year that had changed me in almost every way. I graduated from high school, got into ITB, lost a love, have tons of new friends and new activities, and last but not least, my musical taste has greatly broadened! I no longer put Copeland’s albums on repeat (although they’re still my favorite band so far). 2009 was a great year for music, as there were so many records released through the year, and me myself had listened to hundreds of them. I wrote a post about my favorite albums during the first semester of 2009, and now I feel obliged to write not only six albums, but all releases that I’ve found being on constant play on my iPod. I will not limit the list to certain genres, and the list is not in numerical order. All albums are of 2009 releases. Enough with the chit chat. Go!
toe – For Long Tomorrow
While their previous release The Book About My Idle Plot on a Vague Anxiety has introduced my ears to the drumcrunching sound of the amazing Japanese post-rock piece that is toe, their work in 2009, For Long Tomorrow, still proves that they can still confuse people over whether to put them in the post-rock genre, noticing the gloom aura surrounding their songs, or math rock due to the song dynamics and Takashi Kashikura’s intricate drumming. FLT once again brings the fans to the post-rock tunes you can dance your heads to with tracks like “エソテリック”.
Black Moth Super Rainbow – Eating Us
Reviews say that this album is less “drug trip-like” than their predecessors but for the first listen of this band, what came into my mind was how the album is a total audio hallucination. The first track (which is also the single) “Born in the Day the Sun Didn’t Rise” kicks off the album to a drowning electronic sound and after minutes you will find yourself swaying your head to the buzzing notes of their songs. Tracks like “Gold Splatter” puts them into the definitive road of psychedelic pop.
Jeremy Enigk – OK Bear
The Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk throws a powerful piano-driven tune with his single “Mind Idea” featured in a somewhat interesting skateboard music video, but that’s just one track off his new album OK Bear. With enchanting lyrics and a good mix of enchanting acoustic guitar pop and indie rock, complete with his old days emo-driven shrieking vocal, Enigk delivers you a rock record that you could listen through the pouring rainy day. But careful, singing along the lyrics off the songs might bring you gloom.
Company of Thieves – Ordinary Riches
One of my most favorite albums of the year, the Chicago female-fronted Company of Thieves releases a record with a harmony and power of an established band’s fourth or fifth album — although this is actually their début album, amazingly. Playing in what can be described as a healthy blend of indie pop cheerfulness and energetic alternative rock, vocalist Genevieve Schatz’s voice is perfectly complementary with the band’s laid back rock sound. Oh, and she’s also a definite cutie FYI. The single “Oscar Wilde” is a great start for those that haven’t heard them before, which is practically almost everyone, and the rest of the album is equally highly enjoyable.
The Swell Season – Strict Joy
If you ever watched the movie Once, this is the two main characters in the movie making a band, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Well there’s two or three other band members, but the most highlighted are those two because of that 2007 movie, so who cares. Anyways the band releases Strict Joy in 2009, an “alternative” album I am quite fond of, apart from Taken By Trees’ East of Eden. The Swell Season applies full-bodied folk in their music, using various instruments apart from their acoustic guitars as the main weapon. This is a folksy record that didn’t send me sleeping at one-third of the album, which means you probably will enjoy it more, a music that will calm your nerves down in hectic days.
Nightmare of You – Infomaniac
Remember those lazy summer days where everywhere is scorching hot but you’d still love to take a walk around the neighborhood? This album from those New Yorkers can certainly help lift your mood up on through the sunniest days. Playing uplifting, laid-back indie rock a la The Kooks without the annoying British accent (and also less distortion), Nightmare of You will suddenly make you sing along to their lines in songs like “Eustacia Vye” or “I Think I’m Getting Older”. The only bad news is… the band is currently going on an “indefinite hiatus”, since the vocalist Brendan Reilly is departing to Italy. We all know what an indefinite hiatus means.
HEALTH – Get Color
The Los Angeles quartet created a weirdly enjoyable noise rock music packed in a jam of electronica and post-punk with the release of Get Color. Tracks after tracks seem to be unstructured, but listen them for times and soon you’ll get those impressive bombing drum beats tangled with seemingly random electro noises rhyming into place. And also, HEALTH is a pretty darn cool name.
Ólafur Arnalds – Found Songs
So, this guy hails from the holy land of Iceland where everyone seems to got some brilliant talent in music and he composes what people call neo-classical. To me it’s post-rock only with piano instead of guitars, and in creating this kind of music, Ólafur Arnalds really got the class. The dominance of piano and violin in the tracks makes it good for movie soundtrack, and I think once Arnalds slips his track into some movie he’d gone famous pretty soon. One good thing is he offer a low-quality version of the album here, and this is the best 128kbps I’ve ever heard.
The Postmarks – Memoirs at the End of the World
Start the album and you’ll be blown by the intro of the first track, “No One Said This Would Be Easy”, that sounds like straight off the opening credits of a campy spy film. The rest of the album is equally blowing — an indie pop sound with a touch of Middle East/Spanish tunes topped with Tim Yehezkely’s cute singing. On the whole this is an inverse of a minimalistic pop record, with ranging instruments and a slight gloom atmosphere.
Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Letting Up Despite Great Faults
Hell, this is practically my number one album of the year of all music of 2009 I’ve plugged my ears to. This Los Angeles outfit delivers us their self-titled LP début, playing a sweet shoegaze-influenced electropop with lovely layers of guitars and synth, complete with haunting lyrics. Their music can be described as if someone took all the equipments of Owl City’s Adam Young and created a lush electronic music shadowed by humming vocals. The cute synth noises drag your mind back to where your days were so burden-free you can just snug back in your bed on cloudy days… This is not original nor amazing in any way, but they crafted the songs well for me to listen to on nightly rides.
Unfortunately they haven’t made any music videos, all I got is a live performance video.
And the track “In Steps” and “The Colors Aren’t You or Me”