Tuesday, 8 December 2009

DADA'S TOP 50 ALBUMS OF 2009!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

MEW - NO MORE STORIES ARE TOLD TODAY…

Mew are a band like none other, a creative trio who help shape and define the Scandinavian underground art and music scene not only with their unique breed of music but with their inspirational audio visuals and animation. Mew’s 2003 European release of Frengers, caught the ears of profound music lovers and tastemakers, while 2006’s release of, And the Glass Handed Kites cemented the bands cult status and won over critics on both sides of the Atlantic. Their latest offering, No More Stories is again - nothing short of spectacular. Recorded during the summer of 2008 in Brooklyn, NY with renowned producer Rich Costey (Muse, Glasvegas, NIN) Mew had spent the last year between Brooklyn and Copenhagen perfecting the album and creating the animation and audio-visuals for their upcoming live performances.

THE REST OF OUR ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS - EXPLODING HEAD
The 2nd album from Brooklyn-based noise terrorists A Place To Bury Strangers. If you loved the self titled album then don't worry as nothing has changed apart from the white noise levels, the intensity, seduction, groove and pop factor have gone into overload. The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine remain the most immediate reference points but they have added a Suicide style nastiness on 'Ego Death', a New Order-esque bass throb on the title track and a Cramps style garage somp on 'Dead Beat'. When the album stops you realise that you have just come out of a shoegazing war and that A Place To Bury Strangers are the generals leading you into battle.

ALBERTA CROSS - BROKEN SIDE OF TIME
NYC based Alberta Cross release their long anticipated debut longplayer, following their glorious debut EP, "The Thief & The Heartbreaker", that won fans all over the music world. "Broken Side Of Time" was produced by Mike McCarthy (Trail Of Dead, Spoon) and mixed by Andy Wallace's right hand man John O'Mahoney (Depeche Mode, Kasabian) in Austin, Texas and NYC.

ALESSI'S ARK - NOTES FROM THE TREEHOUSE
Armed with spellbinding fairytales of magic, freckles and asteroids, 18-year-old Londoner Alessi Laurent-Marke is set to cause quite a stir with her stunningly mature debut, produced by Bright Eyes' Mike Mogis. Haunting, breathy vocals weave intricately between rich layers of orchestral strings and generous use of harps and violins, while Alessi's curiously ethereal voice shines over wistful keyboards.

AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY TRAIL OF DEAD - CENTURY OF SELF
Plenty of bands like to yammer on about how their newest record is a 'return to their roots', as if some undiscovered brilliance is to be found and resurrected on early demos and basement jam sessions. But in the case of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, a return to form could be just what the doctor ordered. The band's 2002 album, "Source Tags And Codes", sparked a near universal rock-critic orgasm; after that, how could their two follow up efforts match up? Trail of Dead are now free men, emancipated from their former record company and ready to reach back to the past while looking forward. 'We finally have the artistic freedom we've wanted, with no pressure to create radio music, no legal department to OK our artwork, and no A&R people breathing down our necks', says Conrad Keely, one of two primary and founding members of the band. "The Century Of Self" is an epic masterpiece. From the soaring instrumental opener, "Giants Causeway", to the album's closer, "Insatiable Two", which starts off with the sounds of a demented circus and ends with an echoing sing-along about Keely's lack of monstrosity, the record is a work of tremendous scope and ambition. 'The new songs are very personal', says Keely. 'We're building on everything we've ever done, looking back on our whole career and taking a lot inspiration from our early music. We continue to evolve the concept and try to incorporate new ideas'. Fifteen years in to their career, Trail of Dead continues to innovate and grow. At a point where many other bands would be resting on their laurels and half-heartedly tossing off greatest hits comps, Trail of Dead are just getting started.

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE - MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION
Perhaps one of the most talked-about aspects of the eighth Animal Collective album is its optical illusion cover art - oddly acting as a pre-cursor to the sonic invention within. Ever the experimentalists, the New York-based indie troupe decamped to Mississippi for this offering, resulting in the usual lush avant-folk jams, but with a definite focus and a more accessible vibe. Listening to "Merriweather Post Pavilion" you'll hear echoes of everything they've recorded to date, especially the mesmeric and melodic repetition of Panda Bear's last solo opus "Person Pitch". Production duty comes from friend of the band Ben Allen. A true contender for 2009's album of the year!

ATLAS SOUND - LOGOS
Following the release of Deerhunter's 'Microcastle' last year, the Atlanta, Georgia group's lynchpin Bradford Cox returns to his solo guise, Atlas Sound, for another round of ethereal pop genius with 'Logos'.

BAT FOR LASHES - TWO SUNS
Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) returns with her dazzling second album, produced by David Kosten (Faultline), featuring guest spots by Yeasayer and Scott Walker. Bat For Lashes' previous album Fur & Gold was nominated for Mercury & Brit awards and a Plug Award in the US, and has received accolades from Thom Yorke, Bjork, Spin Magazine, and The NY Times.

BIG PINK - BRIEF HISTORY OF LOVE
Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell are The Big Pink. Both from London, Milo is behind the celebrated Merok label, which has helped to launch both Klaxons and Crystal Castles as well as unleashing mutant triumphs from such underground experimentalists as Salem and Teengirl Fantasy, while Furze made a name for himself in such industrial behemoths as Panic DHH and Alec Empire. Combining dreampop melodies with electronic basslines and beat-chunky drums this is an exhilarating debut record with elements of Spacemen 3 and Spiritualised's trance gospel, of My Bloody Valentine's brief foray into nightclub territory on their Andy Weatherall-remixed epic of noise-dance, 'Soon', even of Happy Mondays' religious rhythmic rock classic, 'Hallelujah'. Standout tracks are the upbeat Stone Roses referencing 'At War With The Sun', the already classic singles 'Velvet' which recalls 'The Mercy Seat' by ultra vivid scene An gigantic single ‘Dominoes’. An immense album with real emotional depth.

BLUE ROSES – BLUE ROSES
The debut album from Blue Roses is very much a homegrown adventure – a record full of great musical ambition and songs that tug at heartstrings and conjure up images of fairytales and long lost loves. Recorded with friends in and around Shipley in Yorkshire, "Blue Roses" is a grand statement from Laura Groves, an artist showing great maturity beyond her 21 years. 'I wanted to record in the north because it felt like the right context for the songs, and it meant that we could work in the way that we did - borrowing instruments and living rooms and things rather than having a month or so in one studio. Ultimately I think this approach contributed to the eclecticism of the record.' - Laura Groves.

BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB - I HAD THE BLUES BUT I SHOOK THEM LOOSE

DADA's favourite indie of 2009! A beautifully literate and ambitious debut. From the dizzying MBV/M83 swoops and morning-after ruefulness of the opening song to the open-tuned, Appalachian folk feel of the closing track, the album thrums with subtle invention and quiet emotional intensity. Fans of Bloc Party, Broken Social Scene and Bon Iver, or any mildly sensitive soul with a fondness for ricocheting guitar chords, will be utterly beguiled. Indie rock rarely gets to enjoy its innocence these days, but Bombay Bicycle Club know that's exactly what makes it precious.

BUTCHERBIRDS - SET MY BONES
Possibly one of Brisbane’s most anticipated releases for 09, Butcher Birds Set My Bones is everything it promised to be, and a little bit more. Sure, it’s heavy as hell, it’s got luscious layers of guitars and vocals and it kicks like a mule, but it’s also laden with catchy tunes, hooks and melodies. In the four years since debut release Eat Their Young the band have taken their ear-bleedingly loud riffery to the next level, whilst honing their live show with a run of sweet support slots. Local producer Jeff Lovejoy, lauded for his straight up raw recordings, has managed to combine the best of the performance and studio worlds to help create a record that sounds tight, natural and jagged enough to slaughter cattle.

DECEMBERISTS - HAZARDS OF LOVE
The Decemberists' "The Hazards Of Love" album plots an extravagant tale rooted in ancient language and imagery of a woman ravaged by her lover who is able to change his form between animal and man. The result is musically and lyrically rich with elaborate orchestrations that explode like baroque fireworks. The Decemberists are joined on this record by Lavender Diamond's Becky Stark and My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden and there are cameos from Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Robyn Hitchcock and The Spinanes' Rebecca Gates.

GLISS - DEVOTION IMPLOSION

GRAMMATICS - GRAMMATICS

GRIZZLY BEAR - VECKATIMIST
There is an unbelievable clarity of sound and vision to "Veckatimest": vocals are sharper and more complex, arrangements are tighter, production is more venturous and lyrics more affecting. Having opened the creative dialogue at such an early stage, Grizzly Bear was able to realize these 12 songs together as a band, making it their most collaboratively compositional album to date. This yielded an unexpected mix of material that feels more confident, mature, focused and most of all, dynamic. An album of the highest highs and lowest lows an unbelievably diverse collection of songs that celebrates the strength of each band member, and the power of the whole. It was well worth the wait.

HOWLING BELLS - RADIO WARS
Get ready for the Howling Bells to work their magic on you all over again and go fantastically widescreen with the release of their brand new record, "Radio Wars". If their debut could easily be the soundtrack for the beautifully haunted world of Twin Peaks, their sophomore effort would be their leap into the blockbuster mainstream. There's a formidable richness here, a glorious depth and maturity and growth which takes the Howling Bells' sound into hitherto unexplored terrain, aided, in no small part, by the expertise of producer extraordinaire Dan Grech-Marguerat.

JENIFEREVER - SPRING TIDES

JESUS LIZARD RE-ISSUES
(LIAR) The Jesus Lizard's Touch and Go era albums remastered for 2009 by Steve Albini and Bob Weston. Arguably the greatest underground live band of the 1990s, the Jesus Lizard displayed all their virtues in perfect form on 'Liar'. The album blisters with a musical exactitude that can only come from within in a studio, but the lurching, slightly bluesy underpinnings of the tone make one feel as if they are present for the chaos.

MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO. - JOSEPHINE

MANIC STREET PREACHERS - JOURNAL FOR PLAGUE LOVERS

MOS DEF - THE ECSTATIC
The last twelve months have seen some classic album returns to form by Def's contemporaries such as The Roots (he guested on title cut "Rising Down") and Q Tip's "The Renaissance". They sounded vibrant and refreshed. That same vibrancy and eye on progression can be heard clearly on "The Ecstatic" and makes for yet another bold work that vaults over so many lacklustre hip hop offerings. Here Mos Def worked alongside producers such as Oh No, Chad Hugo (half of The Neptunes), Preservation, Mr. Flash, J Dilla and the indomitable Mad Lib assisting with some of his best tracks ever. This latest instalment reminds us as to just how special the recognisable flow is and showcases a powerful oration and lyrical prowess. Album standout "Auditorium /The Ruler" provides the first of three tracks recorded with Mad Lib and this proves to be a most perfect melding of minds, with the killer guest spot from Slick Rick and Def riding the infectious rhythm with adroit ease. Centrepiece track "Quiet Dog" utilises a portion of a Fela Kuti interview which serves as a key summation of Def's motivation behind his art – probing at the human perspective. There is so much strong material to get through, what with the beautiful "No Hay Nada Mas" but the final two tracks deserve special mention as we get to hear the wonderfully languorous reunification of Mos with Kweli, weaving their way around a Mary Wells sample and it sounds so dextrous and honed. A perfect summer anthem. For the outro we find Mos riding a rollercoaster rhythm supplied by Banda Black Rio that shows yet again that regardless of what backdrop he is given, Mos can work it effortlessly and with superior skill.

MUMFORD AND SONS - SIGH NO MORE
It is the presence, the joy and the unbelievable talent of Mumford & Sons that stops people in their step. They represent a youthful spirit and communicate it with an intensity and integrity wise beyond their years. Musically they keep close to the roots of folk and bluegrass, but cleverly translate the songs into a wider world of the popular. Not in the throw away sense of the word, in the true sense of the word. The band formed at the tail end of 2007, when Marcus Mumford met banjo player Winston Marshall at the infamous West London folkster hangout Bosun's Locker on King's Road. The pair discovered a shared joy of bluegrass and country music, and quickly added Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane into the cocktails that brings to life the lyrics Mumford had been penning. "Sigh No More" is the eagerly anticipated debut album.

OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT - UNDERSTANDING ELECTRICITY

PHOENIX - WOLFGANG AMADAEUS PHOENIX
We can all breathe now. The coolest band on the planet are finally back - and how! This album has been eagerly anticipated ever since the incredible "1901" streamed on their homepage a few months ago. You should all know the band's sound by now and, even if you don't, you're in for a real sonic treat. "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" continues the Parisians' effortless ability to carve out achingly-hip sophisticated pop music. Indeed, the polished ambience on this LP actually brings to mind the genius production skills of Steely Dan. Worth the price of admission alone is perhaps the centrepiece of the whole album and probably the best and most ambitious song they've ever done: the unimpeachable near-instrumental "Love Like A Sunset Part 1 & 2". Deftly traversing several genres - from the ominous keyboard-heavy opening via hypnotic Carpenter-esque spacey plodding to the lush acoustic finale - and synthesizing them into a steadily building sumptuous whole, this is pure pop for here and now!

PISSED JEANS - KING OF JEANS

PJ HARVEY & JOHN PARISH - A WOMAN A MAN WALKED BY
If 2005's "Shallow" was Pissed Jeans coping with moving out of their parents' homes, and 2007's "Hope For Men" their initial reaction to the mechanical lifestyle of a wage-earner, "King Of Jeans" is their formal and uneasy acceptance of adulthood. Pissed Jeans went ahead and made one hell of a rock record. Working with renowned producer Alex Newport (who holds a Fudge Tunnel pedigree and has worked with such luminaries as At the Drive-In, The Locust and Sepultura), Pissed Jeans have pushed further to the raw, minimal core of heavy rock music with "King Of Jeans".

PONTIAK - MAKER

PORTICO QUARTET - ISLA
Mercury Music Prize Nominees release their second album on Peter Gabriel's Real World Records. The new album, "Isla", is a thoughtful and richly tuneful collection of nine pieces recorded by producer John Leckie (Stone Roses, Doves, XTC, Radiohead) at the Abbey Road studios. Sounding like nobody else in jazz, world or contemporary music. Each of the nine tracks on Isla has a distinct mood and atmosphere, thanks to the use of the hang, a tuned percussion instrument, they have a sound that is instantly attractive, yet uncompromisingly individual.

RICHMOND FONTAINE - WE USED TO THINK THE FREEWAY SOUNDED...

RUSSIAN CIRCLES - GENEVA
Follow-up to 2008's 'Station', produced by Brandon Curtis (The Secret Machines). Unite 3 musicians playing 3 unique roles, each compelled to move in the direction of what is timeless, to draw on history and take from where they've grown and from the traditions of music made decades ago - and you'll craft a moment, a rite of spring, a new foundation akin to what Russian Circles have accomplished on their third album. Alternative Press 4.5 / 5, "The sweetly syncopated `Malko' sounds like a darker version of Minus The Bear."

SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS - ALPANISMS
Based out of Brooklyn, NY the band is comprised of Benjamin Curtis (ex-Secret Machines) and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza (formerly of ambient post-rockers On!Air!Library!). "Alpinism" is an electronically enhanced pop record of dizzying highs and claustrophobic lows, whose painstaking conception shows in its detail-laden crevices. On the album's best tracks – the polyrhythmic dream-pop of "Face To Face On High Places", the nervous shimmer of "My Cabal", the menacing lilt of "Iamundernodisguise" – Benjamin Curtis constructs layers of shoegazing, moire-patterned guitars, while sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza intertwine their near-identical voices like the fingers of praying hands. Throughout, the whole heavenly affair is tethered to the ground with a glitchy, tribal thwomp. In "Alpinisms", technology collides with cryptic religious imagery and airtight songcraft; knowledge begets action; and School Of Seven Bells master an alien climate with effortless artistry.

SLEEPY SUN - EMBRACE

SONIC YOUTH - THE ETERNAL
The Eterna is a supercharged rocker, recalling aspects of the "Evol", "Sister" and "Daydream Nation" holy trinity but with cleaner, louder production and more straightforward momentum. With Pavement's Mark Ibold joining on bass, and producer John Agnello back at the controls, "The Eternal" takes the melodic songwriting of 2006's "Rather Ripped" and slams down the accelerator pedal.

SOULSAVERS - BROKEN

SOUNDCARRIERS - HARMONIUM
The word psychedelic is bandied around pretty freely, but The Soundcarriers are the real deal. The debut album from this Nottingham-based band is psychedelic in the less well-trodden way: jazz-influenced, free-thinking and utterly spaced out. "Harmonium" was self-produced by the band in their own studio using entirely analogue equipment. The unorthodox techniques of David Axelrod and Phil Spector were a constant source of inspiration, and the band employed their full arsenal of equipment, from harps and organs to flutes, recorders, stylophones and chimes. The result is an incredibly lush debut album that's quite unlike anything else that's around at the moment. At the root is some richly vulnerable optimism. It takes a weird inner strength to pit flutes and quiet voices against drums and electronics and the rest of the world.

THE DRONES - HAVILAH
Australian punk-blues act the Drones clearly worship at the altar of fellow Aussies like the Birthday Party, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the Triffids, and the Scientists, all of whom blazed the musical trail the Drones follow. But HAVILAH proves that the Drones are no mere slavish copycats: their take on this brand of dark, sludgy blues rock is awash in noisy desperation and the mortal dread in singer-guitarist Gareth Liddiard's heavy-lidded delivery. Powerful, cathartic, and exciting.

THE LOVELY EGGS - IF YOU WERE FRUIT

THE THERMALS – NOW WE CAN SEE

TYONDAI BRAXTON – CENTRAL MARKET
For more than a decade, Battles Tyondai Braxton has fine-tuned his unique approach as - quite literally - a solo artist. Working by himself on stage and in the studio, he employed guitar, voice, looping and delay pedals plus various found objects to create work that simulates the sound of a large ensemble. On his Warp Records debut and second full-length solo album, "Central Market", Braxton has composed for a real orchestra (the Wordless Music Orchestra, perhaps best known for their performance of Jonny Greenwood's solo compositions) for the first time in his solo career. The result is an exhilarating mix of acoustic and electronic instrumentation; surprisingly pastoral moments give way to more clangorous passages that will immediately appeal to fans of Battles. Composed, arranged and produced by Braxton, the seven-track set features guitars, vocals, electronics and percussion, unified to create orchestral music re-imagined for the 21st century, and perhaps the 22nd as well.

VENETIAN SNARES - FILTH

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