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The Long Decline #10: 2009
Alright, 2009... a total motherfucker of a year with so much happening, where to start and where to end... yeah, I don't even know. But let's take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?
First thing I want to mention is the untimely passing of Dani Long of Celer. It was the biggest shock in a year full of pretty shocking stuff and my heart still breaks whenever I think about it. I feel pretty damn honored that over the past few years I was able to call her a compatriot, collaborator and, most importantly, a friend. She is missed but not forgotten, and thanks to her true partner-in-crime, Will, her art and ideas live on. But it is definitely a loss that is still felt pretty deep around these parts...
But as I'm sure Dani would want it, let's look back at some of the awesome bombs that dropped in 2009, cuz nobody wants to get all depressed reading this shit.
Highlight of the year, for sure, was our quick jaunt in May up to Madison and Chicago. Madison was a great first stop and getting to see/hang with Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis again is something nobody should ever pass up. Also a bonus was meeting Julian Lynch, who I found out lived in Madison about two weeks before we went up after a few email exchanges. Dude is a prince. Saw some old friends (Woodman and Endless), met some new ones (Jenny, Luke, Dave, & Nika) and saw way too much good music in one night. An added bonus was an impromptu collab set with Scott Tuma and the downing of much good beer and fried cheese curds. Wisconsin, I love you.
Chicago, I think I love you more (sorry!). In addition to the two best Ajilvsga
sets we've ever played thanks to Mike Weis
joining us on drums (one live on WNUR and one at Enemy), we also got to spend a couple days in Chicago with Mike and Tuma. Mike & Michelle were the best hosts imaginable and an afternoon sitting in Tuma's courtyard with his wife & kids chatting about god only knows are the best memories I've got. It also doesn't hurt that Tuma/Weis dropped one of the best live sets I've heard in ages.... at the end, when Tuma started belting out the few lines of "Hope Jones (Jason's Song)" (coming sooooon on "Dandelion), the room came to a total standstill. Devastating in the best possible way. Also awesome? Meeting Dan & Holly and seeing Uneven Universe
absolutely shred everyone's eardrums. Fucken awesome. Not as awesome was the drive back from Chicago to T-Town, but oh well. Good memories, good times. We'll be back this summer.
So instead of going through a whole shitload of releases I loved this year, I am going to just talk about some bands/artists who left a lasting impression and who I am most excited to hear more from in 2010.
First up, the heavyweights, the old faithfuls...
It starts and ends with Odawas
in 2009 due to the fact "The Blue Depths"
was played so much around here, my vinyl copy is going to be worn out if they don't release another equally-stellar opus soon. It's got this insanely well-done dichotomy of feeling futuristic but nostalgic at the same time. It's fucking genius and the production values on it - yeow. If they can replicate this kind of magic in 2010, watch the fuck out.
Then there are SF-duo, Barn Owl
. Already cemented as one of my absolute favorite bands, they had a great year. Now I'm obviously biased on part of this, but their two solo records on Digitalis are mind-benders, but it's "The Conjurer"
on Root Strata
that takes them over the top. Few bands can match the dark, meditative spirit these guys are exorcising. Again, based on some of what I know is coming down the tube in 2010, the next level is on the way.
Can't have another duo so let's add one dude to the mix and go trio-style - Emeralds
also killed it. The highlight was the s/t LP they self-released. It's a near-perfect record and shows how much they've evolved since the early tapes. It's kind of mindblowing to me that this is that same band, but I'm not complaining. Solo and side-projects of all three did some great shit in 2009 as well. The Mist
LP on Amethyst Sunset
was probably my favorite of the bunch, but I've listened to John Elliot's Lilypad
and "Boring Electronics" releases a shit ton and Hauschildt's
"Critique of the Beautiful" (which would be well-served on wax). Killer year for three killer dudes.
came back with a vengeance this year. After sorting out some issues that nearly sunk the label a few years ago, the list of great releases John Twells & Co. put out in 2009 is sick sick sick. From Black to Comm's
piece de resistance and William Fowler Collins
dark growler and the sheer beauty of Richard Skelton
and Rameses III
(not to mention Zelienople
and an underrated Mokira
record) - yeah, wow. Looking ahead 2010 will be even better since I've got two records coming out on Type. Oh and there's the final album from this band called Yellow Swans
you might have heard of.
Honorable mentions to Daniel Lopatin and his various work but especially Oneohtrix Point Never
, obviously. Hope that dude makes millions; Eli Keszler's
various output but especially the Red Horse
LP and duo LP w/ Ashley Paul
was probably my favorite label of the year not named Type, but much love to Excitebike
, Night People
and Gift Tapes
. Keith Fullerton Whitman
, Andrew Coltrane
(his output is unmatched and the "Refuse" box was incredible), Celer
, Big Blood
, Sean McCann
, Super Minerals
Niggas With Guitars
x 100. I said it in my last column that they were my favorite new band in 2009 and that certainly hasn't changed. I love them. Way too much. I'm not sure what else I can say about these guys but everytime I listen to these tapes I am transported. Their music creates SPACE, a total environment. I can only imagine what the experience is live. Goddamn I love it.
Another one is Demdike Stare
from the killer Modern Love
label. After securing copies of the vinyl edition late in the year thanks to a friend, they've barely left the turntable. If you told me someone would make an electronic album that mixed elements of dub, black metal, drone, turkish psych, indian/iranian library records and who the fuck knows what else - I would have said that it sounds like some shit fusion project. And then there was Demdike Stare who did all these things in such a way that you've never heard anything like it. Unreal.
Savage Young Taterbug, oh sweetforce. He's the little nymph making the sweet decaying sounds of zombie pop music put on repeat. I feel like I should live in washed-out colors and sunkissed rooms with loads of silver windows everytime I put this on. Tater exists in another universe from us all and we're just damn lucky that he's deemed us worth enough to ride shotgun. Love love love.
The end of Raccoo-oo-oon brought on the rise of not only Wet Hair, but also the birth of Daren Ho's solo spice as Driphouse. Don't get me wrong, I love some Wet Hair but for these hard-earned clams I want to fill up my chalice with every little drop that Driphouse spills. Pristine synth excess. Everytime I listen to this I feel totally renewed, totally clean. There's something about how crisp and crystal clear Ho's efforts are that just bring things into focus. Well-defined, fucken great.
A quick mention to my friend Colin AKA Alphabets. Yes, we put out a tape of his and such, but the amount of stuff he cranked out and posted on his mediafire account puts most folks to shame. The fact that he's like a mad-scientist beat/electro/weirdo music genius and most of those tunes are spectral gold. He's scary good. I find myself humming songs of his I haven't heard in months - it's just THAT damn catchy. Love.
So what are some bands and albums (besides the above mentioned) I'm most excited about for next.. err, this year? Near the top of that is Kane Pour
. I stand by the assertion that his first Housecraft
tape ("Wand in the Beak of the Yellow Bird"
) is the best thing the label has released. He followed it up with another great one ("Cat on a Paisley Shawl"
) and while it may not have lived up to the pure magic of the first one, it showed that dude is not a one-trick pony. So I am absolutely fucking DYING to hear what he does next and hope that some things bigger than a couple real limited tapes are in the works (and if they're not, KP - get in touch). Great, dreamy bliss for staring at endless clouds. So good. So so good.
sister, Heather Woods Broderick
released her debut CD last year and it's pretty great. There's something charming and understated about it that makes it so easy to digest that you can't help but want more. I hear a vinyl edition of it is on the way and I hope she's got her next one in the works.
- always, forever. I mentioned A.C.I.D. earlier, briefly, and the only reason "Imaginary Falcons"
isn't talked about at length here is b/c I already did that last year (but it was obviously one of 2009's best). If I had a million bucks, I'd give it all to Aaron & Indra just to see what they'd come up with b/c I'm pretty sure it'd be the best money I'd ever spend. There's nobody out there like them and never will be and I love them for it. New album please?
You know what else we need more of in 2010? More Pete Swanson
solo releases (hopefully some vinyl). More Housecraft projects. I hope new ones continue popping out like bunny babies. More KGB Man
. Yeah, OPN is awesome and Lopatin's a king, but the KGB Man tape in that recent double dip on Catholic is too great for there not to be more. I hope I actually get this Alphabets
boxed-set done and that Colin & I finish a Sweater Weather release. More Terrors
- like a proper a follow-up to "Guard" maybe? Whoa. I hope Lawrence English
follows-up his Touch
album soon. I hope Knit Prism/House of Sun
gets the recognition he deserves. I hope Miley Cyrus
releases another song as awesome & as catchy as "Party in the USA"
(my favorite song of the year, no doubt!). I hope nobody close to me dies. I hope Bureau B
keeps putting out incredible vinyl reissues. I hope I can either get up to Boston or The Xela Family (tm) gets down here cuz it's been too long. I hope mediocre pop bands that all the sound the same stop getting so much friggin hype when so much truly great shit flashes by. I hope Arsenal
win the title.
So long 2009, hello 2010.
-- Brad Rose (14 January, 2010)
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