Top Ten Records of 2009 (in no particular order)

Dan Deacon - Bromst
Bonnie Prince Billy - Beware
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
Thee Oh Sees - Help
Dâm Funk - Toeachizown
DJ Sprinkles - Midtown 120 Blues
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
The Dream - Love Vs Money
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Other Favorites:

Little Dragon - Machine Dreams
Pill - 4075: The Refill (mixtape)
Best Coast - Sun Was High (So Was I)
Broadcast and the Focus Group - Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age 
Blues Control - Local Flavor
Six Organs Of Admittance - Luminous Night
John Zorn - O'o

Top Ten Movies

Avatar (I haven't even seen it yet...I just know)
Public Enemies
Star Trek
District 9
The White Ribbon (also haven't seen it yet but comeon, it's Michael Haneke)
The Hurt Locker
Fantastic Mr. Fox
In The Loop
Bright Star
Anvil: The Story of Anvil
(side note if I ever did get around to seeing A Serious Man I have no doubt it would have made this list but since Michael Haneke has never done me wrong, and the Coen bros do me wrong every other movie, tie goes to the runner)

Lawrence - Until Then, Goodbye

Lawrence's Until Then, Goodbye is one of the Japanese label Mule's newest offering of low key, sleek, late night house, and it's also their best since the elegiac DJ Sprinkles release Midtown 120 Blues.  The record is sort of divided between the luxurious fantasy that one could expect from house these days and a comparatively raw group of interludes that paint a more realistic, earthy vision.  Lawrence's moves are as fluid as the moon is blue; he's elusive but generous.  In the acoustic oriented tracks (of these I've posted the title track, and "Father Umbrillo") he draws heavily from twinkling, ringing things - vibraphones, marimbas, mbiras, bells of various sizes.  But in the synth driven tracks (the obscenely gorgeous "Jill", and the haunted "Don't Follow Me"), it's not an entirely falsified template, he'll sneak in timpani, bongos, trap sets and tablas that feel almost untouched.  Lawrence has clearly been around long enough to know how to keep a mix dense enough to be interesting (take note minimal folks - simplicity is not simplification) but spacious enough for you to fill in the blanks.  It doesn't hit you in throat the way DJ Sprinkles does, it's not a massive record really, but it is careful, well conceived gorgeous music by any standard.

Lawrence - Until Then, Goodbye

Lawrence - Jill

Lawrence - Father Umbrillo

Lawrence - Don't Follow Me

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Edan - Echo Party

Edan, the Boston indie hip hop boy wonder with an intense servitude to obscure rap oldies and a killer disappearing act, has put down the mic and focused solely on his turntablism on Echo Party a mixtape he's been developing (presumably) for years now.  Apparently Traffic Entertainment Group let Edan run wild in it's archives, a veritable treasure of records from the period where hip hop was somewhere between disco, house, and the common breakbeat + MC oriented stuff we think of as the birth of the genre.  Edan has always been terse in all the right ways, and I can't imagine a more well structured 29 minute mix than this one.  It comes, it jamz, it goes into outer space and then it's done.  But it's a dense mix, samples fly by at an alarming rate, perhaps not quite as distracted as Girl Talk, and in general much smoother and less reflexively preoccupied with juxtapositions of genre.  Part of the glue of the whole thing is Edan's use of the echo taps.  It's a constant reminder there's an artist's hand twisting and mashing here.  What's amazing about this record is that he manages to let the samples speak for themselves and yet provides the framework to make them sound utterly new.  There are certainly distortions and intrusions and moments where you wonder if something in there is purely Edan (his previous records make sure the line between sample and production stays murky).  In the booklet that comes only with the CD or vinyl copy of the record, he has painstakingly delineated every sample and when its used in the booklet that comes only with the vinyl, and something tells me Edan has a pretty fierce ethic when it comes to materials so it's hard to tell what's what sometimes.  Devotees of Edan's rapping (I could take it or leave it) will certainly be disappointed by this release, especially having waited so long since the last, but this current incarnation plays so well to his strengths as a producer and un-anointed rap historian that I wish he'd been making these kinds of mixtapes all along.

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