Top 10 Albums of 2009

So, here is IndieMuse’s “Top Albums of 2009″ list. I know what you’re thinking… there’s only a few hours left in 2009 and we must have rushed to get this up last minute. The truth is, we wanted to make sure that we listened to every single album released in 2009 before publishing an official list. What if Wilco or another band released an amazing, secret album on December 31st? We couldn’t leave it up to chance.

10. Fanfarlo – Reservoir atlantic

I first came across Fanfarlo a few years back before they played SXSW, and was really impressed by their song “Fire Escape.” Their debut album is fantastic. Reminds me a lot of Clap Your Hands, but I like their arrangements more.

(mp3) Farfarlo – Harold T. Wilkins Or How To Wait For A Very Long TIme

(mp3) Fanfarlo – Finish Line

official site

9. Le Loup – Family hardly art

Le Loup brings to mind Animal Collective and Born Ruffians. They have a really cool worldly sound.

(mp3) Le Loup – Forgive me

official site

8. Grand Hallway – Promenade

Grand Hallway in an eight piece orchestral pop band from Seattle, Washington. I came across their music through one of the musicians in the band, Shenandoah Davis, whose solo music I really like. This album hasn’t received much exposure, but definitely deserves to be on more lists.

(mp3) Grand Hallway – Raindrops (Matsuri)

(mp3) Grand Hallway – Blessed Be, Honey Bee

official site

7. Passion Pit – Manners frenchkiss

I don’t usually listen to electronica, but I’ve always been a fan of Passion Pit. I wasn’t sure if the band would be able to live up to all the hype they were receiving from “Sleepyhead,” given they didn’t even have a debut out… but sure enough, they released a really solid album.
I know that some people think the band is over-hyped or even “untalented.” But you may be surprised to know that some members of the band, such as Ian Hultquist, have professional training from places like the Berklee College of Music. In other words, their success isn’t a fluke…

(mp3) Passion Pit – Sleepyhead

(mp3) Passion Pit – Little Secrets

official site

6. Fruit Bats – The Ruminant Band sub pop

The Fruit Bats have been one of my favorite bands for a long time, and I can’t believe that they’re still such a big secret. Let’s just say that they are so catchy that The Shins stole frontman Eric Johnson away for a few years to play in their band. We loyal Fruit Bat fans had to wait four years for this release!  I also highly recommend their 2003 album, Mouthfuls.

(mp3) Fruit Bats -The Ruminant Band

(mp3) Fruit Bats – Being on Our Own

official site

5. Bombadil – Tarpits and Canyonlands ramseur records

This album is great. Again, it’s an example of a band that just lacks exposure. They should be on more lists.

(mp3) Bombadil – Honeymoon

(mp3) Bombadil – So Many Ways To Die

official site

4. Various Artists – Dark Was The Night 4ad

This album is on my list for several reasons. First, the music is all great. Second, it’s one of the first compilations out there that doesn’t blow. Every now and then you’ll see a compilation or tribute album that has some big names on it, but after a quick listen, it feels more like a marketing stunt than passion project. That is not the case with Dark Was The Night. The National’s Dessner brothers put a ton of time into making this compilation and got musicians such as Andrew Bird, Bon Iver, Beirut, Sufjan Stevens, and pretty much every other established indie artist to produce exclusive, top quality content. And lastly, all the proceeds from the album go to the Red Hot Organization, an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS.

(mp3) Arcade Fire – Lenin

(mp3) Beirut – Mimizan

official site

3. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion domino

(mp3) Animal Collective – My Girls

(mp3) Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes

official site

2. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You atlantic

Some fans of the Avett Brothers think this album was overproduced. I think it’s really good.

(mp3) The Avett Brothers –  I and Love And You

(mp3) The Avett Brothers -  Laundry Room

official site

1. Andrew Bird – Noble Beast fat possum

Noble Beast was pretty much all I wanted to listen to for the first few months after its release. Mysterious Production of Eggs is still my favorite album of Bird’s (what’s up with the blue album art in Google?), but Noble Beast doesn’t fall too far behind. This album would probably be higher up on a lot of “Best of the Year” lists had it been released later in the year. People tend to have stronger feelings for more recent things.

(mp3) Andrew Bird – Masterswarm

(mp3) Andrew Bird – Effigy
official site

Bombadil – “So Many Ways To Die” Music Video

I’m still tossing and turning at night over my “best of 2009” list, but one album that I am quite certain will be on there is Bombadil’s Tarpits and Canyonlands. It’s also going to make it onto my “Most underappreciated albums of 2009” list, “Most underappreciated albums of the decade” list and “Most underappreciated albums of the century (so far)” list. And David over at Largehearted Boy will have to recognize them all!!! (seriously, how does he do that?! He’s like a magical blogging wizard.)

Anyway, the main point of this post is to bring to your attention a hilarious music video Bombadil made for their song “So Many Ways To Die.” The video is comprised entirely of stock footage from the 30s, and was put together by Bombadil frontman Bryan Rahija. After watching the video a few times through I asked Rahija how he thinks he’s going to die, given all the possibilities. He said he figures he will clobbered by a bus scooting down G St in Washington DC. Similarly, I know for a fact that my untimely death at 93 is going to involve (but not be limited to): Montana, a treadmill, mountain goats, and 7-Eleven coke slushies.

There are so many ways to die. How is it going down for you?


Tarpits and Canyonlands (2009):

(MP3) Bombadil – Honeymoon

(MP3) Bombadil – So Many Ways To Die

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Sondre Lerche – “Bluish” (Animal Collective cover)

Sondre Lerche’s Two Way Monologue (2004) used to be one of my favorite albums, but I have to admit that I haven’t connected with his several releases since then nearly as much. I respect him a lot for experimenting, and trying out different sounds from jazz to indie rock, but none of it has really done much for me.

He just sent out an acoustic cover he made of Animal Collective’s “Bluish” off their highly acclaimed album, Merriweather Post Pavillion. It brought to mind Lerche’s older work (meaning it’s really good!), and I thought I’d share.

Sondre Lerche – Bluish (Animal Collective cover)

Animal Collective – Bluish

Two Way Monologue (2004)

Sondre Lerche – Two Way Monologue

Sondre Lerche – Track You Down

Official site

Eureka Birds – S/T

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing one of Baltimore’s best unsigned bands, Eureka Birds, play at Iota. They played at one of the Federal Reserves gatherings (a collective started by dc folks like These United States and Vandaveer), and performed a really impressive set.

Eureka Birds released a self-titled debut album last year that blends together folk, rock, pop, and even a bit of punk. It creates for  a unique sound and the creative composition leaves the instruments telling an eerie story of their own. It may take a little time for the album to grow on you, but each listen is that much more rewarding.

Front man, Justin Levy,  plays keyboard and is backed by five bandmates: Dave Rogoza (guitar), Dami Soh (cello), Jason Hoffheins (drums), Mike Passariello (bass), and Nathan Royer (euphonium, trumpet). The band is nice enough to give away their album for free in mp3 form, but if you like their music, you should really consider buying the CD. Levy, who is also scientist!, told me that he really wants to rent a van and go on tour, but the band needs some financial support. They barely had enough to put out their debut and had to turn to alternative means, as you can see in this below photo of  Eureka Birds’ own Justin Levy. Shame Shame.

Eureka Birds – S/T (2008):

Eureka Birds – Oh! My Dear

Eureka Birds – Goodbye Space And Time

Eureka Birds – Dinosaurs

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Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) Contest Giveaway


photo credit: Paul Addotta @ Red Rocks

I don’t listen to all that much electronica, but one band that I love seeing live is Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9). For those who aren’t familiar with the band, they are basically an electronica jam band that combines live instruments with samples. The first time I saw them perform was Bonnaroo 2007, and I’ve seen them live two times after that… each show being extremely rememberable.

Last Tuesday, the band released a new album Ad Explorata, and they will be going on a nationwide tour in early 2010. If they are rolling through your city, you should definitely check them out… it’s money well spent.


IndieMuse is taking part in an STS9 Giveaway were you can win some free stuff like an STS9 t-shirt, hat, or the new album. It’s not every day that you can win FREE stuff (right?), so you should take part in this!

Contest rules

In the comments below, write your location (i.e. Chicago, IL) and 3 of your favorite albums of 2009. We could pick the winner out of a hat, but that’s boring, so instead we are going to take out our big U.S. map and randomly point to somewhere. If your location is the closest, you win! And we will be giving away all three prizes separately, so there will be three lucky winners! We will pick the winners on Friday December 18th, so you basically have til the end of the week. And sincere apologies, but we can only ship prizes to the U.S.

Winner Update: So the whole map pointing thing turned out to be kinda a pain in the ass, cause I obviously picked places very close to the middle of two or three contestant locations and literally had to google map the number of miles… but I wanted to do this with integrity!

Winners: The shirt went to Tim (Columbus, OH), the hat went to Will (Atlanta, GA), and the CD went to Katie (Milwaukee, Wi). Thanks for participating!

(mp3) STS9 -Phoneme

official site

tour dates after the jump…

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Wartime Blues – Doves & Drums

Wartime Blues

The Montana music scene isn’t well known to people who aren’t from the great state of the Grizzly bear, but I’ve actually heard some really great bands out of the region. One of them that especially stands out is the Missoula, MT based grassroots, folk group Wartime Blues. If you are a fan of  M. Ward, Wilco, or Modest Mouse, check em out!

They just released a new album, Doves & Drums, that’s one of the most solid releases of the year. The album has a heavy classic rock influence and front man Nate Hegyi’s voice could easily be compared to that of Dylan’s.  A few of my favorites on the album include  “Doves & Drums,” “Youth,” “Saul Whitewater,” and “Judas Horse.”

The eight piece band is made up of Nate Hegyi, Jesse Netzloff (guitar), Ben Prez (mandoline), Sam Luikens (banjo), Bethany Joyce (cellist), Lisena Brown (keyboard), Tyler Knapp (bass), and Martin McCain (drums).

Doves & Drums (2009):

(mp3) Wartime Blues – Youth

(mp3) Wartime Blues  – Doves & Drums

Official site | MF (where artists earn all the money from sales. a new project I’ve been working on!)

Tour dates:

Dec 15th, 2009 – Badlander w. Jerry Joseph

Dec 31st, 2009 – Old Post New Year’s Eve Bash

Feb 10th, 2010 -  Spokane, WA (Empyrean)

Feb 14th, 2010 – Portland, OR (The Woods)

Feb 26th, 2010 – Greeley, CO (Crabtree Brewery)

Lost In The Trees – All Alone In An Empty House

lost in the trees

Chapel Hill, NC based, Lost in the Trees, is one of the most impressive groups making music today–I recommend them to fans of Bound Stems, Bombadil, Seabear, and Ratatat. The nine piece band has a diverse sound that incorporates a ton of instruments such as the violin, cello, piano, tuba, accordion, and pretty much every other instrument you can think of (even the ole’ glock!).

The music is composed by front man Ari Picker, and merges classical, folk, and other genres. Last year they released a fantastic debut album, All Alone in An Empty House. A few of my favorite songs off the album include “Fireplace,” “Song for the Painter,” “Love On My Side,” and “For Leah and Chloe.” “Mvt 1. Sketch” is also a gorgeous composition that classical fans will probably really dig. In many ways, Picker’s music also brings to mind some composers who I love like Yann Tiersen, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Jon Brion. Given he studied studied Film Music at Berklee, I could definitely see him doing some compositions for the big screen. Most of his tracks include vocals, but he actually has a great voice and some of the most thoughtful lyrics you’ll find out there.

Picker started composing music in 10th grade. After a few years of studying at Berklee, he moved back to North Carolina and got a group of local musicians together to help him move forward with songs he had been secretly composing over the years. He stated in an interview with GoUpstate that Lost in the Trees’ sound will likely evolve into a “classical opus” if they release another album. Picker wrote his first symphony last year and made it into a charitable project to give back to the community.

All Alone In an Empty House (2008):

(mp3) Lost In The Trees – Song for the Painter

(mp3) Lost In The Trees – Mvt 1. Sketch (classical goodness)

Time Taunts Me EP (2007):

(mp3) Lost In The Trees: Tall Trees (highly recommend)

(mp3) Lost In The Trees -Lost In the Snow

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