End of 2009: 40 – 31
And the list goes on…
What? Folkpunk opens their bloody doors to wider horizons.
Andrew Jackson Jihad have made my list before in 2007, cause back then they made a huge impression on me with their Fuck-in-your-face Folk punk. The songs were about murders, misantropy and other difficult words that we can’t spell properly. This year they have released at least 2 albums (but I think more), which shows progression in the musical genre. ‘Can’t Maintain’ is no longer 1.2.3 and then 2 minutes of guitar ragging, but it’s got trumpets and kazoos, and all other instruments. They seemed to have traded in some energy for empathy (i just say that because it sounds good, it does not make sense), and made a good album while doing so. Is that the Mountain Goats yelling “This is our sound!”?
What? The usual folky woman in my list.
I think that if you compare all my end-of-year lists, you will always find at least 1 folky woman in it. Although I can remember that I once said to one of my friends that I don’t listen to female singers that often (I really don’t), the female artist I do listen to, are mostly mesmerizing. Haruko certainly is. I must admit: I don’t know much more about her, and I haven’t listened to ‘Wild Geese’ that often, cause I only discovered it late in the year. But after a first listen, I decided that it HAD to be in the list. That doesn’t happen that often. For fans of Alela Diane, Mariee Sioux and the rest of the bunch.
What? Justin Vernon’s trip down memory lane
I wonder if ‘Unmap’ would ever had been released if Bon Iver hadn’t been so famous? It wouldn’t be completely fair, cause I’m pretty sure that this album will eventually prove to be more timeless than ‘For Emma, Ever Again’, although that could be because we’ve played that last album a time too many. Volcano Choir is too experimental for most people I guess, with songs that don’t have a chorus or just are based upon sounds, but that also means that there is much more to discover by each listen. Everytime I listen to this, it seems that it’s something I’ve never heard before, like some strange new species that looks a lot like a crane bird or a dog, but just not fits the description.
37. Gregory Alan Isakov – This Empty Northern Hemisphere (self-released)
What? Heartbreaking singersongwriter eternity
We’ve been doing for about a century now, or even longer, and still people can pull it off to be amazing. Just making simple songs with guitar and sparse instrumentation, and then still getting to the core of things. Gregory Alan Isakov is a name that has to be known by everyone who loves singersongwriters, because he’s one of the best out there, but no one has any clue about who he is. He doesn’t even have a label (order his cd on CD Baby). The songs are heartwarming, without ever being all that special or weird. Just songs. I like that at times.
What? Beard fights!
The beard has become a fashion statement in the indie scene. It separates the city slickers from the hippies, it separates the cool poppunk-sound from the folky-rock sound. It is probably no surprise that the Cave Singers have beards. Next to folky songs with banjos, they have foot stomping folkrock. oh my oh my, what an amount of foot stomping I have done listening to ‘Welcome Joy’. So hard that my foot has turned into a stomp. Am I by the only one who sometimes has to think of Kings of Leon?
What? Melo-drama on a ukelele
Guys who play the ukelele are wussies (I play one too, so I’m allowed to say that). They are dreamers, who make cut-out hearts and spread them anonymously in the streets, hoping to find their true love this way. Dent May sounds in love. He’s actually the twin brother of Jens Lekman, who can be sooo amazingly corny that you feel ashamed in his place. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good music. Dent May is this guy who walks in the streets of Paris with Jens Lekman and Stephan Merritt. Actually, a lot of songs of this album could have been one of the 69 tracks on ’69 Lovesongs’ by Magnetic Fields. Oh, and the canary loves this the most so far.
What? Great-Grandmother of female singer-songwriters waves at Kimya Dawson on the bus
Julie Doiron is special to me, but in some weird kind of way none of her previous albums was good enough to end up at my end-of-years list. But this one…oh my, there are no fillers here. It sounds all amazing. It’s especially fun to hear how she pulls out the electric guitar once in a while, to end up with a song that grabs you by the balls (and who doesn’t love that, especially if it’s Julie Doiron). She seems to sound a bit more like Kimya Dawson, with that difference that Doiron can sing. Doesn’t the song Consolation Prize by the way sound like something by Of Montreal?
What? We hired a garage and made ourselves look like retards
Intelligence hired a garage and then made songs the way they have to sound when you’re making songs in a garage. Actually my first plan was to put Eat skull and Intelligence next to each other on spot 33, because of their fake feud this year, but actually ‘Fake Surfers’ was just a bit more convincing than the Eat Skull-record. So flatten your hair, put on your corduroy trousers and dance the polka, you golly fellows.
What? cowboys don’t cry.
Bob Dylan made a christmas album. Fuck. Enough with that senile guy already. No matter how much people say it’s quite good, as soon as you start making christmas albums, you are off my list. Then you’ve got Richmond Fontaine, who didn’t really impress me with their newest album. Luckily there is Deer Tick, who manage to find the perfect balance between Countrysongs and Rocksongs. I guess the singer’s voice has got a lot to do with that. He sounds as if he smoked a pack of cigarettes (and by that, i mean the package instead of the cigarettes). Every album his voice gets rougher and rougher.
31. Phosphorescent – To Willie (Dead Oceans)
What? Even more cowboys!
A Willie Nelson coveralbum! Yihaaa! Phosphorescent turned away from multilayered melancholy and made this album inbetween. You know how cowboys sound. I went to see their show in Antwerp last year, and ran into a colleague there. Then the show started and a couple of days later, the colleague came to me and said “what the hell was that? I felt like I ended up in a redneck bar”. He didn’t enjoy that, but well, he enjoyed the awful opening act (that’s the reason he was there even), so I didn’t take him all that serious. This album is fun.
Tags: Alela Diane, andrew jackson jihad, Asian Man Recordings, Bracken Records, cd baby, Country, Dead Oceans, deer tick, Dent May, Eat Skull, Gregory Alan Isakov, Haruko, In The Red Records, Intelligence, Jagjaguwar, jens lekman, Julie Doiron, Justin Vernon, kimya dawson, Kings of Leon, Mariee Sioux, Matador, Partisan Records, Paw Tracks, Phosphorescent, The Cave Singers, The Magnetic Fields, the mountain goats, ukelele, Volcano ChoirYou can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.