I always enjoy browsing through the abundance of end of year lists that are published throughout December; it usually means an expensive January as I catch up on all those albums I missed that now just seem invaluable. For what it’s worth, here are my belated top ten favourite albums released over the last year, although I’m sure they will change over the coming weeks. 2009 was a fine year for music.

Sunn O))) – Monoliths & Dimensions
One of my biggest regrets of the year was missing Sunn O))) at the Sage in Newcastle due to some useless last minute disorganisation. My first live experience of them was as recently as Sonar 2007, but as intrigued as I was it wasn’t quite the right environment and I never really immersed myself in the noise. Since then I’ve picked up a few of their records but it wasn’t until this release that I found myself wanting to play the record regularly. It may be because they have now added some light to the dark. You can certainly see the influence of working with Oren Ambarchi, who plays on the album, on tracks such as the album-closer Alice. It builds with incredible patience with Julian Priester’s beautifully soft trombone tones appearing unexpectedly amidst the more familiar, albeit lighter, guitar drones.

Bill Callahan – Sometimes I wish I Were An Eagle
A recommendation from a friend, who has written an excellent review elsewhere. Bill Callahan’s uncomplicated delivery belies the vivid images his words conjure.  The track Eid Ma Clack Shaw is an fantastic tale of striving and dreaming for perfection in art, only to realise the futility when the perfect song turns out to be nonsense.

Ben Frost – By The Throat
Admittedly, I didn’t ‘get’ the wolf effects on the first listen, they seemed too obvious, too cliched.  But never has the chiaroscuro of brutal sonic noise and textured melody sounded so visceral and exciting. It is in the context of this intuitive and physical sound that you begin to appreciate the vicious, feral bass-growl.

Mount Eerie – Wind’s Poem
For an album that draws on so many obvious influences this is an incredibly intimate record, full of hearty drones, dramatic melodies and Phil Elverum’s whispering vocals.
Spotify

Broadcast & The Focus Group – Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age
Familiar Broadcast song arrangements occasionally appear from within a psychedelic dream of faded memories. This album is a great progression of the Ghost Box sound, with Trish Keenan’s vocals marrying a catalogue of whirring soundbites from yesteryear. Still unsure whether I’ve fully absorbed this album, as it tends to send me inside my thoughts and leave me slightly confused. In a good way.

Leyland Kirby – Sadly The Future Is No Longer What It Was
I wasn’t quick enough to get the vinyl copies of this three-part release from Boomkat, and I’ve been slowly working my way through the mp3s. It is an incredible body of work that will take longer to digest than I’ve been able to give it so far, both due to the sheer size of the project and the subtle shifts in mood and tone. Incredibly stirring vast landscapes of sound.

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
This was easily my favourite album for the first half of the year; the irrepressible happiness of walking around town in the early summer sun to tracks like My Girls and Summertime Clothes. With the onset of winter my headphones have been swayed by more frosty tones, so only time will tell if Animal Collective’s new ‘pop’ sound will have the longevity of albums like Sung Tongs.
Spotify

The Gaslamp Killer – My Troubled Mind EP
William Benjamin Bensussen brings so much more to the beats and bass music scene with his work as the Gaslamp Killer. Warped, psychedelic loveliness. After a series of superb mixes this year brought us My Troubled Mind, featuring the excellence of singles Baiafro and Anything Worse.

Monolake – Silence
Has music ever sounded so good? Leave at least half an hour after absorbing the incredibly crisp sound of Silence before attempting to listen to another record; go watch some television, listen to another human talk for a while, stick your head out of the window, get some fresh air. Otherwise your subsequent record will sound like a fuzzy dirge. Awesome technical prowess matched by immaculate melodies that have become customary for Robert Henke.

Matias Aguayo – AY AY AY
This record is pure happiness. It even managed to penetrate my usual tedious routine of listening to happy records in the summer and miserable records in the winter.

Rather than posting individual tracks I’ve collated a playlist of my favourite tracks from these albums and other notable highlights from the year. Enjoy. All of the music above is available from Boomkat or your local record shop.

Download QBE review 2009

Tracklisting :
01 The Be Colony Broadcast and The Focus Group
02 Baiafro The Gaslamp Killer
03 Salak Pazar The Laughing Windows
04 Hellhole Ratrace Girls
05 Sheila Atlas Sound
06 Brother Sport Animal Collective
07 Want You Back Nite Jewel
08 Rollerskate Matias Aguayo
09 Between Two Mysteries Mount Eerie
10 Hibakusja Ben Frost
11 Eid Ma Clack Shaw Bill Callahan
12 Planes Peter Broderick & Machinefabriek
13 Borderlands Tim Hecker
14 Memories Live Longer Than Dreams Leyland Kirby
15 Infinite Snow Monolake

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