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 Director of Tech and DJ, Dustin Drase.
Pisces – A Lovely Sight (Numero Group)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
The Numero Group’s musical archaeologists hit pay dirt when they stumbled upon the tracks to an unreleased album recorded in the ‘60s by Rockford, Ill., natives Pisces. Primary songwriters Jim Krein & Paul DiVenti showcase a love of baroque psychedelia and studio trickery, but it’s the addition of tracks featuring the mega-talented and mysterious Linda Bruner (not originally included on the album) that really propel this release into outer headspace. It may be 35-plus years late and completely out of context, but these songs still burn with the best of them
Cave – Psychic Psummer (Important)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
The boys in Cave can make one hell of a propulsive racket. Easily one of my favorite bands in the city of Chicago right now.
Mulatu Astatke & the Heliocentrics – Inspiration Information 3 (Strut)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Here we have the pairing of Ehtio-Jazz legend Mulatu Astatke and Stones Throw house band Heliocentrics teaming up for the 3rd volume of Strut’s Inspiration Information series. Where similar concepts series have failed (I’m looking at you In the Fish Tank), the Inspiration Information series has been able to bring together musicians that don’t just fulfill the “what if we got these guys in a room together” fantasy, but rather they stand on their own as impressive and fun albums to listen to.
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest (Warp)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
A lot of people are surprised by this record making my best of list, not because it shouldn’t be here, but because it’s something that is being touted everywhere. I’m usually reticent to jump onto any super hyped band, but this record has returned to my decks more than anything else this year, and it’s just an absolutely perfectly crafted album. Hell, even Jay Z likes em “[Grizzly Bear is] an incredible band. The thing I want to say to everyone— I hope this happens because it will push rap, it will push hip-hop to go even further— what the indie rock movement is doing right now is very inspiring.”
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion (Domino)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
I’m not sure how they did it, Animal Collective went from being a band that I had a passing interest in and absolutely bored me at their live show to creating this surprisingly incredible album. The fact that Merriweather was released in January, and people are still freaking out about it at the end of the year is pretty impressive indeed. Well crafted, catchy, and outright fun, this record makes me happy.
Death – …For the Whole World To See (Drag City)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Like the Pisces record, is one of those albums that was created but never actually released. Quick and to the point, this sucker is a rager of an album.
Flaming Lips – Embryonic (Warner Bros.)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
It’s been a while since we’ve had a truly great Flaming Lips record, but this one sorta came out of nowhere, and ranks right up there with the Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi or Zaireeka as one of their most inventive and fun albums. The vibe this time around returns to some experimental drum techniques and overall there’s a slight Krautrock vibe that suits me just fine.
C. Joynes – Revenants, Prodigies and the Restless Dead (Bo’ Weavil)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
This record is just absolutely gorgeous.
Thee Oh Sees – Help (In The Red)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
2009 was a great year for garage rock, and it seems as though every time I went into the record store there was a new release by John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees). “Help” is actually not the best record by Thee Oh Sees, but it is definitely the cream of this year’s crop of garage revivalism (Ty Segal, Smith & Westerns, No Bunny, etc, etc, etc) and as such deserves a spot on the list for being an exceptionally solid example of the genre.
V/A – Light On The South Side (Numero)Amazon / Insound
I was hesitant to put two Numero Group release in my list of top ten records, but Light On The South Side is such a monumental achievement that I would be remiss to not give it its due. From a pure packaging standpoint, this behemoth 2xlp plus hard cover book set is a beauty to behold. First we have the two LP’s comprising Pepper’s Jukebox, housed in a gatefold jacket with two inner sleeves printed with label scans and track info. When I first heard these tracks would be blues, I was a bit skeptical, but the seventeen tracks contained herein were compiled based on the actual sort of funky Chicago blues that was being played in these clubs, and let me tell you, they are FUNKY! Then we have the 132-page, 12×12, hardcover book itself, which comprises photographs of Chicago’s South Side night clubs taken by Michael Abramson between the years of 1975-1977. Each photo offers a rarely seen glimpse into the mid to late 70s club scene in Chicago and reveal something new each time you peruse them. Overall it’s an epic achievement, and further proof the stellar integrity and attention to detail put into the releases by the folks from Numero.