My Best of 2009
Bob Duskis- Co-Founder Six Degrees Records
Best" Bass-Centric" Album which seamlessly mixes Dub, Dubstep, Psy Dub and Global Textures:
Liquid Stranger- Intergalactic Slapstick- Interchill Records
LIQUID STRANGER RICKSHAW MIX (BBC) by Liquid Strangler
Try as I may, I cannot think of another global/electronica record that I have enjoyed more this year than Liquid Stranger's Intergalactic Slapstick. Martin Staaf has taken all of the crunchy, "bass in your face" power that I love about Dubstep and liberally mixed in elements that many of his contemporaries routinely leave out. (you know, little things like melody, nuance, texture and dynamics). I think this is a landmark release that stretches genres in wonderfully "ear opening" ways while still remaining accessible. If you've been wanting to "dip your toes" into the dubstep waters, look no further for the perfect entry point.
The Bon Iver Award for Best Singer Songwriter of the Year:
J. Tillman- Year in the Kingdom-
Don't let the fact that J. Tillman is the drummer for the now hugely popular Fleet Foxes, fool you. While I like the Foxes, I infinitely prefer Tillman's darker and more intimate songs to his band's relentlessly sunny harmonies. This is gorgeous music for people who like their singer songwriter's music to be both "haunting" and "haunted"
Most Enjoyable Movies of the Year: Tie between Pirate Radio & Fantastic Mr. Fox
Notice that I don't say "Best" movies of the year. Neither one of these films is a groundbreaking work of genius- but both of them had me grinning from ear to ear throughout their entire running time. (Nowadays, that's a rare & beautiful gift). Mr. Fox was breezy, charming and perfectly enjoyable for my entire family (another incredible rarity) and Pirate Radio reminded me why I fell in love with radio as a kid and how much radio helped me to fall in love with music for life.
Best Book About Demons (Both Personal & Literal):
Graham Joyce- How to Make Friends With Demons-
Originally published in the UK as Confessions of a Master Forger, under the alias W. Heaney, Graham Joyce's latest is now out in the U.S. under a new title and under the author's real name. This tale of a book forger who can see the actual "personal demons" that have attached themselves to many of us, is a beautifully written examination of suffering & redemption and the often agonizingly difficult task of "getting on with life" despite the sins of the past. Although this sounds heavy, it is in fact often incredibly funny and acerbic and a pleasure to read throughout. You can't go wrong with anything by this wonderfully gifted author.
Best "Flipped Out" Band that has amazingly broken into the mainstream: Animal Collective-
I'm not quite sure what it means when a group as beautifully bizarre as Animal Collective is showing up on the Billboard Pop Charts but I'm pretty sure that it's a good thing. Both the full length, Merriweather Post Pavilion and the new, Fall Be Kind EP were fantastic slices of hallucinogenic dream pop that conjure up images of the Beach Boys on some South American, shamanic drug ritual. It will be interesting to see what sneaks through the crack in the door that Animal Collective have pried open in the months to come.