Thursday, January 14, 2010

Music Feature

My boyfriend and I spent some time writing up a music feature for the local alternative newspaper we both work for, Artvoice. It was meant to be a recap of this years 50 best tracks but due to spacing it was cut back to a Top 10 + our choice "runner up". You can read the full article HERE. I'm pleased with the way the feature turned out, it's always nice to work along side my beau and play off each other.  Enjoy! 

Here's the list in it's entirety

The Top 29 Tracks of 2009 (plus 21 More), by Kaitlin Isabella and Craig Reynolds
In the 1960s, the 3:33 single was both a recipe for pop perfection and a blueprint for the banal, but the rise of FM radio, which opened the airwaves to long-playing sonic art, radically devalued the meager pop song. In the ‘00s, however, as Itunes and peer-to-peer file-sharing smashed the artifact of the album (and the music industry as a whole) to bytes, the concise package of the individual song has never seemed more relevant, or fun. Here is our humble list of mixtape essentials and penultimate dance party jams, in 2009 rewind.

TOP 10
When I Grow Up, Fever Ray. Through eerily pastoral synthesizer mists and skittering electronic beats emerges the mangled, pitch-shifted voice of The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, suggesting both the Grim Reaper and a mummified tribal dancer ritually exorcising some unknown demon.

Anonanimal, Andrew Bird. A song within a song within a song, with equally circular lyrics: "I see a sea anemone/ The enemy/ See a sea anemone/ And that'll be the end of me." Bird, who performed this number during his autumn visit to The Church, manages to deliver so much multi-syllabic alliteration without sacrificing resigned ennui.

My Girls, Animal Collective. Abundant with bristling synths and sing along melodies, this call for "Four walls and adobe slats" by which to provide for one's family, marks joyful maturation after a decade of experimentation.

1901, Phoenix. Blissful pop perfection. This Sophia Coppola approved quartet first brought dance jams to indie parties with "Too Young," featured in 2001's Lost in Translation.

Two Weeks, Grizzly Bear. When Grizzly Bear appeared at the bottom of a 2005 Soundlab bill, a meager audience witnessed their glorious set. Two weeks later, Grizzly Bear were indie darlings leading the charge for respectability in mainstream circles. Two Weeks captures the group's trademark harmonies in full bloom.

Stillness Is the Move, Dirty Projectors. 2009 was the year for these quintessential art-rockers, whose early work, including a pop opera about Don Henley, earned them least likely to play Letterman honors, but sure enough they did in 2009 (Fallon too). Stillness is the Move captures the group's angular rhythms, fragmented guitar work and awkwardly crystalline harmonies.
Actor Out of Work, St. Vincent (Bonus Track Version). The highlight of St Vincent's performance at the Church this fall, Actor Out of Work builds perfectly, juxtaposing handsome vocals with a hauntingly insistent counter rhythm, all propelled by a bombastic straight-marching beat.

A Teenager In Love, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Yes, that charming beat juxtaposed with brittle, forlorn guitar jangle may seem familiar to those of us with an awkward stance and a poetic bent, but why complain. Although singer Kip Berman is no Morrissey, the lyrics do cleverly abuse the title of Dion and the Belmont's classic ode to squeaky-clean heartbreak in its lament for "a teenager in love with Christ and heroin."

Home, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. One of the most adorable folk-rock love songs ever, this rollicking sing-along duet culminates in the how can you go wrong chorus, "Home is where ever I'm with you."
The Old Days, Dr. Dog. Dr Dog, who played Mohawk Place in the spring and returns February 1, mixes country and folk elements. Throw in a dandy salon piano and you've got yourself a hoedown.

Rosyln, Bon Iver & St. Vincent. Whether you trend toward Team Edward of Team Jacob, it's impossible not to melt with this song, which even surpasses other excellent contributions to the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack from bigger indie stars like Grizzly Bear, Thom York and Lykke Li.

Walkabout, Atlas Sound (w/Noah Lennox). From the solo project of Deerhunter's Bradford Cox and featuring Animal Collective's Panda Bear, Walkabout is a delightful slice of pop perfection from an artist known for cranky, sometimes uninviting work.

I Wanna Kill, Crocodiles. This song sounds like the Old Pink. The Old Pink in the 80s, the Old Pink in the 90s and the Old Pink today. Gritty and anthemic, 4:36 of 2009's 120 Minutes.

I Make Her Say, Kid Cudi (w/Kanye West & Common). When this deliciously raunchy take on 2009's most ubiquitous pop gem first hit the internet, it was tagged "Poke Her Face." Over the cooed melody to Poker Face, a song about faking it in bed, Cudi & Co. exude street corner machismo as they brag, oblivious and hilarious.

Agoraphobia, Deerhunter. "Come for me, comfort me, cover me." Instant. Indie. Classic.
Empire State Of Mind, Jay-Z (Featuring Alicia Keys). With this unapologetic shout-out to NYC (which returns the pop goodness missing from recent efforts), Jay proves once again he can make it anywhere (although he still isn't sure about YOU).

I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend, Discovery (w/Angel Deradoorian). Evoking Tom Tom Club's 1981 "Genius of Love" (or Mariah Carey's derivative '90s hit Fantasy), I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend's snakecharmer melodies showcase Dirty Projector Deradoorian's distinctive vocal theatrics.

Hooting & Howling, Wild Beasts. Operatic, urgent and androgynous pop disco, Hooting & Howling updates last year's love affair with Hercules and Love Affair.

IRM, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Channeling Broadcast in style and sampling from an IRM machine in practice, this title track from the daughter of French pop royalty (Serge) and producer Beck turns a near death experience into haunting electronic rock.

Little Secrets, Passion Pit. With its delicious chorus of "Higher and Higher," this song would have ranked near number one had 2009 ended in May, but a serious case of overexposure dragged it lower and lower. If you were shut out of Mohawk Place last June, you have a second chance to see them at the Town Ballroom March 28.

Collapsing At Your Doorstep, Air France. "Sort of like a dream, no better."

Animal, Miike Snow (Crookers re-mix). This version, by Italian duo Crookers, bumps and grinds in all the right places, turning the plain-by-comparison original into an over the top dance floor classic.

Accusations, The Juan MacLean. Featuring lite disco rhythms, funky synths and glamorous purring vocals, Accusations is almost as good as 2008's excellent Happy House.

Funny Little Frog, God Help The Girl. Originally an austere gem on Belle & Sebastian's Life Pursuit, this version, from leader Stuart Murdoch's new side project, slows it down, grooves it up and wraps the whole thing in orchestral trimmings.

Up A Tree (Went This Heart I Have), Cotton Jones. This Page France side project played Mohawk Place a few years back and visited Soundlab in 2009. Back country blues wrapped in easy pop melodies. Strap on your overalls, and flop into a hay stack, pick some pumpkins or grab some cider.

Future Primative, Papercuts. Indie rock goodness by the numbers from these alumni of Soundlab 2009.
Raindrops, Basement Jaxx. How is this band still around? and why am I dancing so hard? Calvin Harris electro + Passion Pit helium-voiced giddiness + late 90's electronica = one of the best dance tracks of the year.

Island, IS, Volcano Choir. Bon Iver's side project is an experiment in minimalist repetitive patterns, with notes of recent Animal Collective, a common trend these days. As the album cover beckons, invite someone over for least you won't be disappointed with the music.

My Step, Little Dragon. "My step slide, lightning fight/ Tropical times, hmm, hmm." Little Dragon sums up 2009 with this track, which blends indie rock and dance music without becoming either. Understated, sexy and fun.

Until We Bleed, Kleerup (Feat. Lykke Li) (Kleerup)
Stars, The xx (xx)
Not Fair, Lily Allen (It's Not Me, It's You)
Ready for the Weekend, Calvin Harris (Ready For The Weekend)
Help Im Alive, Metric (The Twelves Remix)
Big Dipper, Delorean (Ayrton Senna EP )
D.R.U.G.S., The Raveonettes (In And Out Of Control)
Right Hand Hi, Kid Sister (Right Hand Hi)
Telephone, Lady Gaga (Feat. Beyoncé) (The Fame Monster)\
Dominos, The Big Pink (The Big Pink)
Hold the Line (feat. Mr. Lex & Santigold) (Guns Don't Kill People Lazers Do)
Mommy Complex, Peaches (I Feel Cream)
Happy Up Here, Röyksopp (Junior)
Woof woof, Dan Deacon (Bromst)
This Tornado Loves You, Neko Case (Middle Cyclone)
Die Slow, Health (Get Color)
Bulletproof, La Roux (La Roux)
Bicycle, Memory Tapes
ecstasy, jj (jj n° 2)
Cruel Intentions (featuring Beth Ditto), Simian Mobile Disco (Temporary Pleasure)


  1. Very nice article! I'm from the Philly area and there's a relatively new(I think it's about two years old) station that plays some great alternative music and has really gotten me into new things, some of which were on your list. As a bonus, they have yet to play more than sixty seconds of commercials in a row...pretty amazing they've kept that up over time, no?

  2. That's awesome, Buffalo is a bit lacking in terms of indie stations. I DJ ed at my college radio station, and that seams to be the only real alternative tunings in these parts. It's more of a search and hunt situation. I'm glad you enjoyed the read, I'm hoping to set up some free downloads for all the tracks you, and others aren't familiar with. :)

  3. Thank you! I was going to download new music tonight, and you've given me some fresh ideas! I'll let you know which ones I like...


  4. I'll have to look these up.

    Nice writing style;good voice.

  5. I listened to SO MUCH of the Dirty Projectors and St. Vincent this year. Great list! Annie.


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