The Year in Music: 2009

Posted in Music and other Arts by Tara Bouley on January 21, 2010

We at Home Slice get excited for Christmas. Presents are sweet, family is great, friends abound, cookies and candy, lights, parties, overeating, winter layering. All that stuff. Totally. But, what we secretly love about Christmas is when it’s over, when we go full throttle planning our Music by the Slice day parties. We’ve spent all year incessantly listening to music, calling each other in the middle of the night to rant about a new discovery, and having heated discussions on this year’s new releases.

I’ve heard people bemoan 2009 for not being year for music that 2008 was. I disagree and go one step further and ask you; did you really want to spend another 12 months of folk rock-induced nostalgia and pain, huddled in the corner or lying on the floor, crying in your bourbon? None of us can deny it, we were all there, holding hands while we silently wept. And let’s be clear, we loved every moment of it. Being miserable can also be incredibly satisfying. But my maudlin friends, this was the year to let the light and the warmth back into our cold, blackened hearts.

2009 saw some decidedly less introspective, but nonetheless incredible (and sometimes surprising) releases from so many great bands. The Dirty Projectors mixed soulful, nimble vocals reminiscent of Prince protégés with intricately arranged songs on Bitte Orca. The Monsters of Folk put out a fantastic album, one of my favorite tracks being the smooth jam, “Dear God, Sincerely M.O.F.” Who knew that M. Ward’s voice would translate so easily from solemn to sexy? The Decemberists with a rock opera, The Hazards of Love, picked up electric guitars and rocked. The Decemberists have been called a lot of nice words, but I think for the first time ‘kickass’ will be added to the list. K’naan comes seemingly out of the ether to make a refreshing, articulate, and positive hip hop album. Devendra Banhart recorded a polished, and I would not say mainstream but maybe more accessible, album What Will We Be that will alienate not one fan with clean hair. Even 2009’s release from the king of wintertime longing, Bon Iver, is nearly joyous compared to his 2008 debut. There are many other notable releases I have dug this year from Neko Case, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Avett Brothers, Pink Mountaintops, and Kurt Vile.

And it’s not like this year didn’t see some bummer-beautiful releases. I have to give an honorable mention to the two great albums about…well…death. The Antlers Hospice and Antony and the Johnsons The Crying Light.

This was great year for collaborations. Initially strange listening for anyone old enough to have lived through yacht rock was Grizzly Bear feat. Michael McDonald with “While You Wait for the Others” becoming one of the most loved songs of the year. Discovery, the side project of Vampire Weekend’s keyboardist/arranger/producer, Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot frontman Wes Miles, put out a sweet electronic album. Dark Was The Night, a veritable smorgasbord of indie rock hard hitters, is probably the best compilation I have ever owned. Like you-must-have-it-on-vinyl, call-in-to-work-to-buy-it-now good.

This year saw many infectious, tail feather shaking singles. Among them, Lust for Life by Girls, When They Fight, They Fight by The Generationals, Deadbeat Summer by locals Neon Indian, and Surprise Hotel by Fool’s Gold.

Having truly and thoroughly considered it, I feel confident in saying it was indeed a great year in music. I am compiling my list of my favorite songs of 2009, which I will post here soon.

And now, America, we wait for the grunge revival. Oh, you post-post-post world of music…

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