playlist for 12/30/09 (sub)

Subbing for Amusia Radio!
And playing some of the best songs of 2009. In fact, I'll italicize the not-recent stuff.

aston familyman barret - we're gonna make it - cobra style
the very best - heart of africa - heart of africa
amadou and miriam - ce n'est pas bon - welcome to mali

edward sharpe and the magnetic zeros - home - s/t
camera obscura - french navy - my maudlin career
thao w/ the get down stay down - know better learn faster - know better learn faster

atlas sound feat. panda bear - walkabout - logos
animal collective - my girls - merriweather post pavillion
headlights - cherry tulips (remix by tj lipple) - remixes

sleigh bells - ring ring - [independent release]
the drums - let's go surfing - summertime
king khan and the bbq show - anala - invisible girl

magnetic fields - california girls - distortion

sleigh bells - crown on the ground - [independent release]

flight of the conchords - hurt feelings - i told you i was freaky

flight of the conchords - carol brown - i told you i was freaky
dent may and his magnificent ukulele - god loves you, michael chang - the good feeling music of...
magnetic fields - absolutely cuckoo - 69 love songs

why? - january twenty something - eskimo snow
dutchess and the duke - scorpio - sunset/sunrise
anni rossi - living in danger - rockwell

devendra banhart - baby - what will we be
elvis perkins in dearland - shampoo - s/t
mountain goats - phillipians 3:20-21
matt and kim - daylight - grand

dan deacon - paddling ghost - bromst
fuck buttons - olympians - tarot sport
antony and the johnsons - her eyes are underneath the ground - the crying light

lee fields and the expressions - love comes and goes - my world
mary wells - do you want to know a secret? - love songs to the beatles
gladys knight and the pips - yesterday - silk and soul


top 15 albums of 2009

Some of the best new stuff out there! Totally subjective list.

15. Elvis Perkins in Dearland - [Self-Titled]
According to Wikipedia (ahem), Perkins "loathe[s] the term singer-songwriter, because it reminds me of open-mic nights and coffee shops and lazy chord structures" -- he would rather be referred to as "a recording artist." Sure, dude. Whatever you say. Perkins's second offering shows off his songwriting skills, and you can be sure this is no open-mic night; he certainly doesn't use lazy chord structures, nor does he fall into the many humdrum cliches of modern indie rock. Although this album teeters over blandness, it never quite falls, always saved by an organ trill, or a tremor in his voice. This is the kind of record that you could leave in your car for months, or even for the duration of a road trip. Start with the excellent "Shampoo," then work your way into "Hey" and "Doomsday."

14. Fool's Gold - [Self-Titled]
Joyous and danceable Afrobeat, exported from 1970s Africa to 2009 Los Angeles by way of Luke Top and Lewis Pesacov. Perfect party album, as it's bound to please both wild kids craving beats and soft intellectuals looking for esoteric sounds. Luke often sings in Hebrew, which is a cool personal touch (and tends to lend an extra tinge of the "exotic"). Standout tracks: "Nadine" and "The World is All There Is."

15. The Drums - Summertime
Clocking in at a brief 25 minutes, this album is short, sweet, and to the point. The title suggests summer jams, and The Drums deliver plenty -- from the swaggering "Let's Go Surfing" to the head-bopping "Down by the Water." Apparently there was a big boom in California garage sound this year, so a lot of bands tried the same tricks, but The Drums are undoubtedly the cream of that crop. They also seem to have slight influences from Flying Nun and/or other 80s DIY bands, and that's a big plus for me.

12. Thao with the Get Down Stay Down -
Know Better Learn Faster
Understated, passionate indie-rock. When Thao with the Get Down Stay Down came to UCI, she somehow managed to turn a room of bored, shuffling, Orange County hipsters into a rowdy dance hall. Not only that, but at the end of each song, we were all compelled to pause, drenched in sweat, to listen to whatever the adorable Thao Nguyen had to say. A year later, and she's just as charming and infectious as ever, channeling the wide-eyed wonder of 2008's "We Brave Bee Stings and All" into a more mature sound. "When we swam our love to pieces," she sings haltingly, "we washed up on messy beaches / You cleaned dry; I would not drift yet." In songs like "When We Swam," Thao reveals herself as both vulnerable and steadfast, using her weakness as a weapon.

11. Amadou & Mariam - Welcome to Mali
It begins with Mariam's voice, singing soft and low in French, filtered through lo-fi. That's broken by short chords from a tinny synth -- and before you know it, Mariam's coming through clear as a bell, singing "Sabali, sabali," high and pronounced. Her voice is soon interwoven with more synth arpeggios, and the song no longer seems slight; now it's ethereal. Although the rest of the album gets more complicated as it goes, Amadou and Mariam always retain the bare sweetness of "Sabali." It gets even sweeter when you realize that they're a completely blind African couple who have been playing together since the 1970s. Each song on "Welcome to Mali" is a departure from the one before it, as Amadou and Mariam mix traditional Mali sounds with "rock guitars, Syrian violins, Cuban trumpets, Egyptian ney, Indian tablas
and Dogon percussion" (thanks Wikipedia).

10. Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele - The Good Feeling Music of...
"Welcome to my record, welcome to the show!" Dent May lilts in the opening track. The rest of the album follows in hospitable suit; May aims to please, and he succeeds. Even though he reps his ukulele, that ubiquitous hipster instrument, the actual production downplays it with plenty of harmonizing vocals and other background embellishments. The lyrics are also appropriately cute and clever ("Joyce, Whitman and Camus...why no, I haven't read them, I'm just here for the booze" he sings in "At the Academic Conference"). Imagine if Paul McCartney started as a solo artist, bypassing the Beatles. Or a happy Stephin Merritt. That's this record.

9. Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

What can I say? I have a thing for adorable indie girls. Tracyanne Campbell is the epitome of plain wallflower turned indie-pop goddess (well, next to that Bat for Lashes chick). With "My Maudlin Career," Camera Obscura proves that they still have what it takes after 13 years of performing -- and they've even gotten better as they've aged. Sounds like a sunny day in Glasgow (...not the band) and promises to warm the cockles of any crusty heart.

8. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Let's face it -- this was a good album. As much as I'd like to dismiss it, defying Pitchfork's mad unconditional love for Animal Collective, "Merriweather Post Pavilion" has it all. From solid, complex instrumentation, to mind-numbing lyrics ("am I really all the things that are outside of me?" they wonder in "Taste"), these guys own their hype. Most of the songs mesh anxious thoughts with calm, meditative sounds -- see "Lion in a Coma" or "Also Frightened" for excellent examples of that tightrope feat. And of course, "My Girls" is the kind of song with which you want to assault everyone's eardrums. [I will leave no preposition behind. -- Ed.]

7. Anni Rossi - Rockwell
Another chick with a guitar, yadda yadda, snoooooze...or so one would think. Rossi takes all the usual elements of solo female musicians and transforms them into something new and mesmerizing. Certainly, her voice occasionally yelps like Regina Spektor, and her palms occasionally smack her guitar like Kaki King, but overall, this is a stunning debut from a very talented artist. She lays it down soft and low in songs like "Air is Nothing," brings haunting dissonance with "Deer Hunting Camp 17," and aims straight for the heart in the quirky-yet-honest "Machine" and "Living in Danger."

6. The Dutchess and the Duke - Sunset/Sunrise
This acoustic Seattle duo takes the old folk model and refurbishes it for this modern age, leaving just the right amount of dust and scratches for the final product. The result is simultaneously raw and comforting, tingling with tambourines and peppered with strings and organ. Jesse Loritz and Kimberly Morrison alternate between harmonization and call-and-response, and their mid-range voices meld together beautifully. Simon & Garfunkel are nodding in approval. My favorite songs here are "Scorpio," "Let It Die," and "Living This Life."

5. Antony and the Johnsons - The Crying Light
Melancholic. Heartbreaking. Sustaining. "Ocean," the transgendered Antony croons, "swallow me now." These words from "Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground" constitute just a small sample of Antony's moving songwriting, which, at its most sublime, burrows into the pit of your stomach. This isn't an album for everyone; Antony's voice warbles like Nina Simone, and the piano/string arrangements are delicate and wispy. But if you're in the mood for something affecting, maybe even visceral, then you'll definitely want to invest in this group. Although Antony and the Johnsons have been performing for nearly a decade, the critics have only just started paying attention. Maybe their time has come. "The Crying Light" is an excellent showcase for the group, and a good choice for both fans and the uninitiated.

4. Dan Deacon - Bromst
Pure futuristic funtime. Sounds like 2009. That's the main reason why I admire this record: Dan Deacon stubbornly avoids retro-cool for something modern, strange, and endlessly listenable. Amidst all the beep-bop sounds and high-pitched squeal of Dan's vocoder, you can tell that he's having a good time, that he thoroughly enjoys the music that he's making -- so why wouldn't you? Give this to your little brother and be the cool older sibling. Play it for your parents to confuse them. Archive a copy so you can
listen to it when you're grizzled and gray, and pretend that you're young and hip again.

3. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros -

There are two things that I enjoy a lot about this band. One is the song "Home," which has whistling and handclaps and cloying lyrics ("Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my ma and pa, but not quite the way that I love you"), so it should be totally annoying indie Urban Outfitters fodder. And yet. Something about this song hits all the right places. Maybe it's the chemistry between Edward Sharpe and Jade Castrinos in their back-and-forth, maybe it's the 12-piece camaraderie, maybe it's the overabundance of major chords -- but it's a very nice song, and the shining standout of a very nice album. The second thing I like is that "Edward Sharpe" is the indie pseudonym for Alex Ebert, who's the mastermind behind the hot 2003 power-pop group Ima Robot. If you know both of these bands, I'm sure you'll be highly amused.

2. Lee Fields and the Expressions - My World
Fields is a soul legend -- "renowned throughout the global Funk community" -- who has "poured his grunts and screams over a legacy of funk and soul hits from the early seventies" into a brand new project. The quotes are from his new label, Truth and Soul Records, and I can get behind that promotional praise. Even though this is arguably not a "new" sound, this album is legit, and definitely one of the best of the year. You too can fall in love with Fields; just listen to the simmering cover of "My World is Empty Without You," the scintillating "Ladies," and/or "Money I$ King," which speaks the truth...via lots of soul.

1. Lady Gaga - Fame Monster [Deluxe]
If you buy this version, you will have every song that Lady Gaga has made thus far, minus a few scant B-sides. In years to come, I believe that she will be the defining artist of 2009 -- like it or not. It is the best album of the year on my list just to annoy you.

Honorable Mentions

Best Throwbacks
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - [Self-Titled]
These guys rip off 1980s indie-pop...and succeed wildly. Check out "Young Adult Friction" and "Teenager in Love."

King Khan and the BBQ Show - Invisible Girl
Khan runs his BBQ Show jams through lots of lo-fi production, and produces the best 60s garage music this side of the century.

Best Half of an Album
Eels - Hombre Lobo
Sometimes Mark Oliver Everett gets sad. Sometimes he wants to rock. On "Hombre Lobo
," he alternates between beautiful acoustic songs and fairly mediocre rock songs. Download this album, then delete any song with electric guitar; you will be left with roughly 6 awesome songs to spin on a rainy day.

Some Other Things That Didn't Quite Fit
But Were Still Pretty Good

Dinosaur Jr - Farm
Jeremy Jay - Slow Dance
Cass McCombs - Catacombs
The Very Best - Heart of Africa
Ida Maria - Fortress Round My Heart
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - Summer Of Fear
The Sound of Wonder: Plugged-in Pop at the Pakistani Picture House


A lot of good music was released this year, come to think of it!


playlist for 12/19/09

I've been waiting 12 months for this...!

charo + pee wee herman - feliz navidad
celia cruz - soy feliz en la navidad - youtube
guster - mamacita, donde esta santa claus? - maybe this christmas 2

the ventures - santa claus is coming to town - the ventures' christmas
the boppers - merry twistmas
sufjan stevens - come on! let's boogey to the elf dance

datarock w/ a traditional norwegian tune - youtube
peter joback - guds frid i gode vise man - jag kommer hem igen til jul
martina sorbara - it's the most wonderful time of the year - maybe this christmas 2

the break-ups - breaking up for christmas - plastic snow
sufjan stevens - it's christmas! let's be glad! - songs for christmas
yo la tengo - it's christmas time - merry christmas from...

polyphonic spree - happy christmas (war is over) - maybe this christmas 3
i make this sound - holiday - plastic snow
the ventures - sleigh ride - the ventures' christmas album

dreaming ferns - christmas drill - plastic snow
the aislers set - "christmas song" - the last match
low - just like christmas - christmas

bright eyes - god rest ye merry gentlemen - a christmas album
magnetic fields - mr mistletoe - distortion
cocteau twins - frosty the snowman - lullabies to violaine

earlimart - i'll be home for christmas - plastic snow
eels - christmas is going to the dogs - useless trinkets
of montreal - christmas isn't safe for animals

jens lekman - maples leaves - when i said i wanted to be your dog
wild honey - angel's christmas - in the christmas groove
the harlem children's chorus - black christmas - in the christmas groove

the o'jays - christmas just ain't christmas - soul christmas
harvey averne band - let's get it together this christmas - in the christmas groove
charles brown - please come home for christmas

jim reeves - jingle bells - gentleman jim
meatwad (athf) - frosty the red-nosed snowman - have yourself a meaty little christmas
disco christmas party - winter wonderland

jimmy jules - the new year - in the christmas groove
eisely - the winter song - maybe this christmas 2
fleet foxes - white winter hymnal - fleet foxes

sleigh bells - ring ring - [independent release]
zebra - christmas morning -in the christmas groove
flaming lips - white christmas - maybe this christmas 2


playlist for 12/12/09

this one goes out to: tom, and the jews!! hannukah time~

clocks remixxxed with buena vista social club
blossom dearie - i won't dance
dinah washington - send me to the electric chair
teresa brewer - i wanna be bad - good news
cat anderson - you're the cream in my coffee - cat anderson & the ellington all-star band

nouvelle vague - just can't get enough
magnetic fields - absolutely cuckoo - 69 love songs
nick drake - pink moon - way to blue
frank black - atom in my heart - honeycomb

yo la tengo - cherry chapstick - and then nothing turned itself inside out
the clean - are you really on drugs - mister pop
the velvet underground - white light / white heat - the best of the velvet underground

king khan and the bbq show - spin the bottle - invisible girl
the nerves - when you find out - one way ticket

the thunderbirds - twistin safari - surfbeat behind the iron curtain
meshugga beach party - hava naglia - meshugga beach party!
silver jews - people - american water
the leevees - latke clan - hannukah rocks

nana grizol - gave on - "ruth"
polaris - recently - music from the adventures of pete & pete
galaxie 500 - plastic bird - on fire
forever people - sometimes - invisible/sometimes (ep)

francois & the atlas mountains - tour de france - brother
thao and the get-down stay-down - when we swam - know better learn faster
nana grizol - for the things that haven't come yet - "ruth"

lake - oh, the places we'll go - oh, the places we'll go
the xx - islands - xx
department of eagles - no one does it - in ear park

galactic heroes - the summer project - how about san francisco?
vivian girls - i'm not asleep - everything got wrong
spearmint - a week away - a week away

the bodines - slip slide - played
the brilliant corners - with a kiss - somebody up there likes me

of montreal - i was a landscape in your dream (grizzly bear remix)


playlist for 12/8/09 (sub)

George Had a...Sun?
3 hours of standards; favorites; and some new stuff (in italics)...

the blow - parentheses (rory phillips remix)
canned heat - poor moon - uncanned!
frank black - go find your saint - honeycomb

flight of the conchords - carol brown - i told you i was freaky
magnetic fields - i think i need a new heart - 69 love songs

dutchess and the duke - mary - she's the dutchess, he's the duke
the belles - melvin (gloria) - girls in the garage (vol 1)
standells - dirty water - bb 1966

incredible bongo band - apache - bongo rock
bobby womack - across 110th street - american gangster (ost)
tammi terrell - my heart - rare + unreleased; youtube
don covay - see about me - mercy mercy

los straightjackets - god rest ye merry gentlemen - surf xmas
(can't wait for christmas!!)

the clean - billy two - anthology
the verlaines - pyromaniac - juvenilia
pains of being pure at heart - higher than the stars - higher than the stars
the crocodiles - tears - 100 top NZ songs
the bats - north by north - daddy's highway

king khan and the bbq show - tryin' - invisible girl
the staggers - wild teens
the monks - i hate you - black monk time

apples in stereo - same old drag - #1 hits explosion
man man - van helsing boombox - six demon bag
mother mother - wisdom - o my ♥
mount righteous - christmas accordian - when the music starts

why - gemini (birthday song) - elephant eyelash
lake - breathing - let's build a roof
the xx - vcr - xx
madeleine peyroux - you're gonna make me lonesome when you go - careless love

beny more - como fue - mambo kings (ost)
clocks - coldplay...latin remix! - rhythms del mundo
she's leaving home - the beatles...remixed by luciano albo! - youtube
single ladies - pomplamoose...covering beyonce! - youtube

fool's gold - nadine - fool's gold
magnetic fields - absolutely cuckoo - 69 love songs
yo la tengo - if it's true - popular songs
the tams - be young, be foolish, be happy! - hey girl
, don't bother me

dinah washington - teach me tonight! - dinah
blossom dearie - i'm hip! - blossom time at ronnie scott's
fats waller - your feets' too big! - mandy
fats waller - it's a sin to tell a lie! - the complete recorded works

brenton wood - oogum boogum song - the oogum boogum man
the exciters - blowing up my mind - northern soul floorshakers
joe dassin - siffler sur la colline - souvenirs

quem e - nara leao - nara leao (1968)
sylvie vartan - abracadabra - best of sylvie vartan
george a romero - the gonk - dawn of the dead (ost)
darondo - didn't i - let my people go


so here's the hap!

There's no playlist for this past Saturday (12/5/09) because I got a sub! It's been cold and rainy, which does not bode well for a sick girl on a bike.

However, I will be subbing the awesome George Had a Hat late tomorrow morning (11-1pm), so look forward to that!