It's the most nerve-wracking time of the year, the holidays usually bring road trips, parties, family, friends, and agonizing over the best music releases of the past 12 months. Here are mine.
1. This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem- There are two things that are popular in my household; one is dancing, and the other is 80's alternative music. This album celebrates both. "Dance Yrself Clean" sounds like The Talking Heads meets Metal Box. We saw these folks on tour, and were incredibly surprised at how HARD they ROCKED. I've been following James and the DFA label since the early part of the decade, and I am happy they have found success without selling out.
2. The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire- When I first heard "Ready To Start" back in the Spring, I knew this album would be a return to form. These folks have a certain cheesy earnestness about them, but have finally hit the big time on their own terms while scoring a #1 Album for local indie label Merge. A very cohesive and beautiful album.
3. Pomegranates: Persian Pop, Funk, Folk and Psych of the 60s and 70s by Various Artists- I love this record, and highly recommend it. As essential as the NUGGETS box sets. Nuff said.
4. Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter- In a surprising turn of events, this band decided to release another recording. Music for boot-gazing Sissys? Who cares, "Helicopter" is a lush masterpiece of pop and a great gothy single. There are also some brilliant guitar workouts as well to keep the rockers happy. A very nice release from some surprisingly prolific dudes. (Check out the free downloads for the ATLAS SOUND home demos on their blogspot page)
5. Dark Night Of The Soul by Dangermouse and Sparklehorse- A dream album for me, featuring a smorgasboard of guest vocalists like Frank Black, Iggy Pop, Suzanne Vega and Wayne Coyne. Leaks of this long rumored collaboration surfaced last year, but due to legal wrangling, it was not released until this year, and by that time local musician and Sparklehorse CEO Mark Linkous was dead. The title cut features not only a ghastly team-up of the doomed Linkous with film maker David Lynch, but vocals by a dearly missed Vic Chesnutt. Within a six month period we had lost them both. One of the most chilling songs I have ever heard.