Throughout the month of December we’ll be posting lists of the best music of the year as determined by the volunteers that make CHIRP what it is. Today’s is from CHIRP DJ, Caitlin Lavin.
Woods – Songs of Shame (Woodsist)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
If I was making some sort of pseudo-indie flick of nihilism and despair, sitting on my couch w/ the phone of the hook in a lobotomized state – “Military Madness” would be the background music.
Thee Oh Sees – Help (In The Red)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
The best description I’ve seen of Thee Oh Sees is “Mamas and the Papas” in a blender. This record is an amazing, rockin’ romp of tunes. Do you remember that scene in High Fidelity where they put on the Beta Band and someone asked who it was? That was my challenge at the Record Fair w/ “Ruby Go Home” …and it worked
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
A popular artist that I didn’t spend to much time with before, I thought they were too sleepy for me. Strive for perfection is apparent in this album, multiple layers, multiple voices – brilliant. “Two Weeks” is my song of the year – it puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. I especially love the “ooh-wee-ooh” doo-wop throw back vocals at the end.
Fresh & Onlys – Self-Titled (Castle Face)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Colleagues of Thee Oh Sees, on John Dwyer’s label Castle Face. Another super fun garage rock album from San Francisco. “Peacock and Wing” makes me incredibly, blissfully happy. I wish someone would say to me “You should really be my fresh and only – You have a smile on my face that I can always see only…” Way to throw the band name in there, guys.
The Fiery Furnaces – I’m Going Away (Thrill Jockey)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Let me preface this review that before I would never consider myself a Fiery Furnaces fan. Their angular-rock-pop never quite got through to me. So I would never imagine that one of their records would be on my end of year list. Just adding a little more fun, a little more melody and I think a bit of easy going made this record for me. After this record, I want to hang out w/ Charmaine Champagne, Johnny Ramero, and all the other characters mentioned in this album.
Dutchess & The Duke – Sunset/Sunrise (Hardly Art)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Sunset/Sunrise is further testament that the 60’s were an amazing time for music. There is an obvious surge in psychedelic and garage rock revival, but the Dutchess & the Duke leans towards the pop balladry of early Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground. Influenced by the time when these bands were known as musicians and not for their reputations. Their lyrics are simple and straightforward, but not lazy. The sound is all too familiar, but still very new.
Bowerbirds – Upper Air (Dead Oceans)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Quickly became one of my favorites of the year. I liked their last record 2008’s “Hymns for a Dark Horse” – and I thought this was a cult-ish folk family group, because it sounds like there were many singers and performers. I was surprised that the group is a trio, but perhaps they still are a folk family group all their own. This album is a little more subdued and pulled back from the last album, but that hesitation is still excellent. Can’t beat the lovely female vocals over accordion, either.
Sonny and the Sunsets – Tomorrow Is All Right (Soft Abuse)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Is there anything that came out of San Francisco this year that wasn’t awesome? This release, featuring the works of Sonny Smith – is a collective featuring other SF mainstays like Kelly Stoltz, Tim and Shayde from Fresh & Onlys, and sometimes John Dwyer adds to the mix. This release is a little more poppy than the other garage-rock driven SF bands, with comical Jonathan Richman-esque lyrics.
Pisces – A Lovely Sight (Numero Group)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
The Summer of Love took place not in the Haight-Ashbury, or in the East Village, but in Rockford, IL. A never before released psych record from 1968 is one unsettling acid trip. Haunting and imaginative, how come this album was looked over?
Death – …For the Whole World To See (Drag City)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Another fantastic record that was looked over during the time that it was recorded, never before released until this year. Three brothers from Detroit, were playing R&B in the early 1970s, but were inspired by proto-punk bands of the area – the Stooges and MC5. Together they created seven songs that were just as jam kickin’ as their peers. Apparently, they were rejected by the labels because of their name – but let’s be fortunate that the world is not nearly as narrow-minded now a day, so we can all finally “see” this record.