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The 15 Best Albums of 2009 that You Probably Will Not Like

December 11, 2009 By: Category: Best of 2009, Greatest Hits, Lists, Music

2009-header

If you had asked me to list my favorite albums of the year in, say, October, I would have told you that this was one of the best years for music in ages and I could hardly choose between all my favorites. If you had asked me to list my favorite albums of the year this week, (which you did, as you’ll recall–I think we were at Arby’s), I would tell you that nothing really stood out. Albums that I thought were masterpieces upon first listen (The Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love, Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon: The End of the Day) quickly reached their saturation points. Artists I love released albums that barely warranted a second spin (Tegan and Sara’s Sainthood, The Hidden Cameras’ Origin: Orphan).

My appreciation for this year’s releases has been slightly dulled by the sheer number of new records I picked up this year. According to iTunes, I currently own 69 records that were released in 2009. That is over 2 days worth of music. I could listen to my 2009 releases from start to finish for 48 hours straight and not hear every song on every album. It is just too easy in this age of digital downloads to go overboard and pick up everything that’s garnering a slight amount of buzz. Also, I have a serious problem. It’s this or Home Shopping Network, and I don’t really have anyplace to keep hundreds of souvenir plates.

All that being said, I still maintain that in terms of quality releases, this year saw a greater percentage than many. We’ll have to wait and see whether I’ll still be listening to any of these records next year, but for the time being, here it is. As you read this list, please keep in mind that I would never give this list to anyone and say, “buy these records.” I can’t tell you how many of my friends I tried to turn on to Los Campesinos!, my favorite record of the last five years, who think it is garbage. I don’t think I have the most eclectic taste in the world, but I do like to give everything a fair shake, and this sometimes leads to me liking music that my hip friends find too mainstream and my mainstream friends find too hip. (Note: I do not have any mainstream friends.) In other words, stuff that no one likes. Enjoy! (more…)

My Week of Many Shows Part 1: Sunset Rubdown/Tune-Yards at the Troubadour

October 28, 2009 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Music

tune-yardsI have seen a lot of bands play in my life, and I’m still on the fence about the experience. For every transcendent show I have attended, I’ve probably seen fifteen other shows that have me glancing at my watch after the second song. It’s not that I go see a bunch of bands I’ve never heard of, either; I will rarely see a band play unless I really like their record. But the whole process of seeing a show is just obnoxious; they always start an hour later than you think they’re going to (like, even after you’ve done the smart thing and shown up an hour late), there’s always a second opening band that wasn’t advertised, it takes forever to set up each band, the drinks are expensive, and you’re generally relegated to a 2 foot square piece of space behind some seven foot tall guy for 3 hours. It takes a rare talent to rise above these conditions and give me an experience worth my $20 ($75 after Ticketmaster fees).

But still, I keep coming back. Because the only way to hit that special show that you’ll remember forever is to wade through a lot of mediocrity. And this week, at age 34, I am finally hitting the apex of my band-watching experience. 5 shows at 5 different venues in 8 days. I know that’s a paltry sum compared to a CMJ or SXSW marathoner, but for a regular week that isn’t centered around a festival, that’s a lot of shows. Last night was Sunset Rubdown & Tune-Yards at the Troubadour, tonight is Regina Spektor & Jupiter 1 at the Greek Theater, tomorrow is The Antlers at the Bootleg Theater, Saturday is Dirty Projectors & Little Wings at the Jensen Rec Center Studio, and next Wednesday is the Pixies & No Age at the Palladium. These bands have released five of my favorite albums of the year, and they were considerate enough to space out their shows for me, so I figured I should try to hit them all.

Will I survive? After this week, will I be done with live music forever? I’ll admit, going out on the Pixies Doolittle tour ain’t a bad way to go. Fitting, even, since they were the first band that ever really blew my mind. But more about that next Thursday.

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