The Year in the Rear-View (a.k.a. my chance to pretend people actually care about my musical taste)
(note - My pictures didn't upload properly. I promise to do better next time)
1.) Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies (merge)
What can I say? Everything Dan Bejar touches turns to gold. Destroyer's Rubies is no exception. It's the best critique of 'indie-culture' while remaining wholly within that culture that I've heard in ages. Highlights: 'Rubies', 'European Oils' and 'Looters Follies'.
2.) Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds (blocks)
If J.S. Bach was a fan of Destroyer this is what his compositions would have sounded like. He Poos Clouds is a stunning combination of Destroyer, renaissance and video games. Highlights: 'He Poos Clouds', 'The Lamb Sells His Condos', 'The Arctic Circle'
3.) Junior Boys - So this is Goodbye (domino)
With So this is Goodbye, Junior Boys attempt to relocate 'Canadiana' from the confines of typical rockisms, to the more peripheral icy-white sounds of 80s synth-pop, and end up being ridiculously successfull. Highlights: 'In The Morning', 'Like a Child', 'FM'
4.) Tortoise - A Lazarus Taxon (thrill jockey)
The best bands typically are the best explorers. They are on a continual search hoping to point music in a whole new direction. Tortoise's box set A Lazarus Taxon exemplifies such a search in magnificant ways. A 3 cd (plus one dvd) collection of rarities and b-sides, A Lazarus Taxon is a must for anyone interested in the experiemental shape music can take. Highlights: 'Gamera', 'TNT Remix', 'Cornpone Brunch Watt Mix'
5.) The Knife - Silent Shout (mute)
Sweedish brother and sister duo release an album consisting of pop-hook, after pop-hook. Not only that, they have the done so in a disturbingly beautiful way, tempting you to come back wanting more after each listen. Highlights: 'Like a Pen', 'Forrest Families' and 'We Share our Mothers Health
6.) Grizzly Bear - Yellow House (warp)
Ed Drostse comes back at us with a larger ensemble and a larger sound. However, this is not at the expense of the intuitive and beautiful songwriting that made 2004's Horn of Plenty so wonderful. Highlights: 'Knife', 'Lullabye', 'On a Neck, On a Spit'
7.)Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (anti)
One of, if not the, darkest albums of the year. With Fox Confessor, Neko Case brings her songwriting skills to a new level. Hearing a voice as beautiful's as Case's singing about failed friendships, the fragility of faith, and harshness of love, is most definitely something worth coming back to time and time again. Highlights: 'Hold On, Hold On', 'The Needle has Landed', 'That Teenage Feeling'.
8.) Drumheller - Wives (rat-drifting)
Choosing to focus on the importance of sound over technical mastery over their instruments, Toronto's Jazz ensemble Drumheller remind us of the potential that exists within Jazz music. With Wives they give us an album that is both playful and harsh, lighthearted and whimsical. Highlights: The whole damn thing
9.) Cadence Weapon - Breaking Kayfabe (upper class)
With Breaking Kayfabe, Edmonton's Cadence Weapon offers up a collection of hip-hop songs that are able to stand on their own. Unlike much Canukian hip-hop, Cadence Weapon has successfully created a sound not reliant on typical American hip-hopisms, or even UK grime. This is hip-hop you've never really heard before. Highlights: 'Oliver Square', 'Sharks', 'Black Hand'.
10.) Joanna Newsom - Ys (drag city)
Everyone and their dog seems to be writing about this one so I'll leave it up to them. This album is absolutely stunning though. Highlights: 'Only Skin', and everything else.
And the rest...
11.)TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (interscope)
12.)Beirut - Gulag Orkestar (ba da bing)
13.)Mission of Burma - The Obliterati (matador)
14.)Eric Chenaux - Dull Lights (constellation)
15.)Swan Lake - Beast Moans (jagjaguwar)
16.)Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast (matador)
17.)Beth Orton - Comfort of Strangers (astralwerks)
18.)The Creeping Nobodies - Sound of Joy (blocks)
19.)Glissandro 70 - s/t (constellation)
20.)Birdapres - Get it Done (peanuts and corn)