Andrew Casillas' Best Music of 2009: Part 1...FACT: 9 out of 10 actual animal collectives believe that Animal Collective sucks

Hello, my good looking Club Fonograma readers. Andrew Casillas here. Carlos and the guys are a bit busy at the moment, you know, having a life. So I volunteered to provide them a bit of relief. A sort-of prominent American alt-weekly newspaper commissioned me to do a write-up on my favorite albums and songs of the year, and have graciously allowed me to reprint the extended version of the piece on this site. Please don’t confuse this with any sort of “official” Club Fonograma—this is an entirely personal list. We’re still in the process of figuring out what we’re going to do for the site’s “Best of 2009” features, but trust me, they’re coming, and they’re going to be glorious. Now please, enjoy the first of what will be three installments.

2009 had to be one of the weakest years of pop music in decades. I don’t know whether it was the continued decline in record sales or what…maybe musicians were saving their A-game for NEXT decade because “end of decade” lists are great for boosting sales, I don’t know. Still, that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some great music to be found out in the pop landscape, though you probably had to search a wide variety of sources. Thankfully, I’m here to provide a bit of guidance as to what was out there and, most importantly, what was worth listening to.

Also, any complaints can be addressed to: itsmylistsoidon’

[I’ve also included an SOT (“stand-out track”) that you should seek out if you think you might be interested in the album being blurbed]

25. King CoyaCumbias de Villa Donde: Who, you ask? [Note: Super sexy Club Fonograma readers would never ask this, of course] King Coya is the pseudonym for venerable Argentine folk musician Gaby Kerpel, but this isn’t just some “old dude record.” This is the sound of authentic South American roots music filtered until it becomes the most scarcely-lit hyper hipster techno that you’ll hear on any continent. Don’t mistake this for old folk music dressed with pre-programmed beats and thick beats though, this album is stacked with electronic landscapes that’ll leave you gasping…and dancing, of course.

SOT: “Un Ninio Que Llora en los Montes de Maria – El Hueso (KC Remix)”

24. Mos DefThe Ecstatic: Never been a huge fan of Mos Def’s rapping, but this album is a romp of funk-fueled, high energy hip-hop, certainly way too infectious to be ignored. Yet, I still personally think his career peak was his portrayal of Gangstalicious on The Boondocks. “You know, a lot of people think being shot is cool, but in some ways, it’s not so cool. But mostly it’s cool!” Kills me every time…

SOT: “Casa Bey”

23. Bill CallahanSometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle: A wry, brooding piece of melancholy from the misanthrope also known as lo-fi superstar Smog. Not the most immediate of works, but its delicacy can be quite rewarding. Like a Leonard Cohen album, but with conviction. But seriously, what’s up with that title? Apparently this guy lives like 10 minutes away from me in Austin…I have a feeling that there’s a shouting match a brewing.

SOT: “Eid Ma Clack Shaw”

22. Grizzly BearVeckatimest: For the first 4 or 5 months of its release, I was convinced that Veckatimest had to be the most boring piece of indie rock this side of Bon Iver (and this is a guy whose 2008 #1 was freakin’ Fleet Foxes). Then I gave it one last try…but with the speakers turned WAY THE FUCK UP. It was then that I discovered that there was music within all of these atmospherics, empty space and twisted collages converging into a tapestry of sorts. I can’t say that it changed my life or anything, but it sure as hell gave me some more study music.

SOT: “Two Weeks”

21. AmerieIn Love & War: I saw the Beyonce was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s “Entertainers of the Decade.” You people should all be ashamed of yourself. Here’s poor Amerie having to turn Ms. Knowles leftovers into tortured R&B dynamite, while the rest of you are laughing at fat frat dudes imitating the “Single Ladies” dance. It’s despicable. Can we at least get a Congressional declaration that “1 Thing” was better than “Crazy in Love”?

SOT: “Why R U”

20. Neko CaseMiddle Cyclone: On an album full of natural disasters and killer animals from demented relationship hell, Neko Case still comes across as the most powerful force in the world. It’s not so much her (amazing) voice, as much as how she tackles everything with an all-knowing muscle. She’s not singing these songs, she’s controlling them. Plus, have you seen that album cover?! Dios Mio!

SOT: “This Tornado Loves You”

19. BigottFin: Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Lou Reed and Tom Waits cut a record after a lost weekend in the French countryside? No? What the hell is wrong with you? Well anyway, this is what that imaginary record would have sounded like. A giddy and dramatic piece of indie folk from a guy seemingly obsessed with death and pretty girls. The whole thing could be mistaken for pessimistic or morbid if it weren’t so damn sexy.

SOT: “She’s My Man”

18. Animal CollectiveMerriweather Post Pavilion: Remember how I was saying that 2009 was the weakest year of pop music in recent memory? Well here’s Exhibit A: a record from a band I personally CANNOT FUCKING STAND made my top 20. But credit goes where credit’s due. Animal Collective finally made an album with 4 listenable songs. And “Summertime Clothes” is actually pretty good! But seriously, stop with the lyrical poetic-nonsense. I now anxiously await the “Stop hating on Animal Collective!” hate mail…

SOT: “Summertime Clothes”

17. RaekwonOnly Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II: In 1995, Raekwon made the best rap album of the year with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Fourteen years later, Raekwon again made the best rap album of the year…with a sequel to that album. Not taking any potshots there; this a marvel in narrative-rap storytelling, with some sizeable beats to match (“House of Flying Daggers,” “Mean Streets”). The high profile producer count makes this a bit like the Ocean’s Eleven of rap albums, and how could that ever be a bad thing?

SOT: “House of Flying Daggers”

16. Tegan & SaraSainthood: “They’re identical twins! They’re lesbians! They’re CANADIAN!” There, now that we got the lazy PR notes out of the way we can discuss how this is the most enjoyable indie rock album of the year. After gaining a critical foothold with 2007’s The Con, the duo removed that album’s aural clutter while retaining their sharp melodic presence. There are enough hooks on this record to clean out a small lake, and that’s certainly enough to encourage repeat listens.

SOT: “Hell”

15. DananananaykroydHey Everyone!: Young, Scottish six-piece that sounds like Los Campesinos! playing hardcore. One of their lyrics says “There is something brilliant approaching.” I don’t know if it’s entirely brilliant, but I do know that I’d better get the fuck out of the way before it breaks my legs. Admittedly, the band name is not the most congenial, but one listen to this zealous fit of unwieldy fight-rock will leave you exhausted and begging for more.

SOT: “Infinity Milk”

14. The Avett BrothersI and Love and You: Two years ago, the Avett Brothers released one of the best records of the decade with their Americana masterpiece Emotionalism. That record, along with constant touring, got them a major-label contract and a {gasp} budget. So what did they do? They toned down the rustic, rudimentary, gut-screaming ebullience from their previous works and delivered an album full of ballads. I’d hate that sort of maneuver, if said ballads weren’t so damn wonderful (and thankfully they keep the random shouting). By 2012, this band will be huge. Mark it.

SOT: “And It Spread”

13. MaxwellBLACKsummers’night: I remember getting into a debate with a friend about whether there were any musicians who went on an at least 5 year hiatus without releasing any music, and then returned with a great record. That entire night we couldn’t come up with a single example but thankfully, Maxwell finally proved the exception to this rule. The first of a planned trilogy, this is nine songs of Maxwell taking hopelessness, paranoia, fear, and anxiety, and creating a mood of complete love and surrender. Powerful stuff.

SOT: “Cold”

12. DJ SprinklesMidtown 120 Blues: Technically, this came out in 2008 (in some vending machine in Japan located on a street corner on December 31st or something), but it’ll work for our purposes. DJ Sprinkles is the pseudonym of techno producer Terre Thaemlitz, and Midtown 120 Blues is a concept album about the origins and history of house music, this isn’t just some mix of electronic musical archetypes. Instead, the album provides an assortment of lush, twilight-tinged soundscapes that ride the border between deep-house and ambient. It’s certainly not for the dance floor, but it’s sure to be quite the party for your cerebellum.

SOT: “Sisters, I Don’t Know What This World is Coming To”

11. Dan DeaconBromst: How to describe Dan Deacon? Hmm. Well, imagine someone with a wealth of mixing gear, a few Casio synthesizers, a fascination with chipmunk vocals, and experience with ProTools. Now give that person ADD. Ostensibly, this would be a tiring gimmick, but Bromst is a freewheeling, delirious mix of electronic noise-pop that’s both unapologetically thrilling yet avant-garde. It’s not the most accessible music on the market, but it’s definitely some of the most unique.

SOT: “Padding Ghost”