2009: And thus Albert spake

Strauss and Swann at the momend England regained the Ashes

Strauss and Swann as England won the Ashes, 23rd August

I know, I know, who needs another look back at the musical year that will forever be remembered as 2009? Well, I for one need to jot down a few notes about the year’s music, if only for myself to look back on in my dotage. If anybody else is interested by what I write here too, then that’s a bonus. I’ll try and make that the only clichéd sentence though..!

I’ll get to the music of 2009 in a moment, but the most enduring image of 2009 was the look of sheer unbridled joy on the face of Andrew Strauss as Graeme Swann took the final Australian wicket as England won back The Ashes at The Oval in August. He just looked so happy. It must have been wonderful to be Andrew Strauss’s mum or dad on Christmas morning watching him open his presents. I have my own reasons for fondly remembering 23rd August too, as I listened to TMS while walking soaking wet in Dent with Sally at the end of a weekend away.

Now…the music. One caveat on everything that follows – it must be stressed that there is a lot of music I read about but didn’t actually hear in 2009, so my judgement is biased by what I’ve heard. I suggest listening to the following tune while reading on; all will become clear:

Rosenrod – Diskjokke by dancewell

My favourite lyric of the year came from Wild Beasts, in The Fun Powder Plot:
This is a booty call, my boot, my boot, your asshole

My sonic palette evolved in 2009 as I got more into beats and bleeps, and in particular Warp Records, celebrating their 20th anniversary. I probably played more Warp tunes in my show than any other label in 2009, and there were several other notable Warp days for me in 2009. For instance, the Warp20 (Sheffield) day, Battles, Flying Lotus and Nice Nice in Manchester, or the Warp20 (Minutes) night Phil, Laura and I did on BCB.

My favourite single of 2009 was Rosenrød by DiskJokke. I’m not suggesting it was the best single of 2009, but it certainly represents my growing interest in electronic music, and contains my favourite bit in any tune of 2009 – the passage around the 3:43 mark. Thanks to one of 2009’s online developments, Soundcloud, you are probably listening to it now.

I haven’t got a favourite LP of 2009. There have been plenty of contenders, but to my ears, each of them has a lull, so I can’t put any one LP on a personal pedestal. It was also interesting, when looking at various 2009 polls, to notice the great divergence in opinion there was in the music press. Grizzly Bear, The Phantom Band, and The Horrors all topped polls, but none of those were even included in every poll, nevermind being near the top. In terms of LPs, for me 2009 was the year of the re-issue, as there were welcome re-issues by Big Star, Neil Young, Kraftwerk, The Beatles and Spiritualized.

In terms of live music, well Animal Collective towards the start of the year were fantastic; The ATP Festival in May was, as ever, full of multiple highlights; and towards the end of the year, seeing Daniel Johnston is something I will never forget, with or without the aid of the memory jogger that is this here blog.

Daniel Johnston in Leeds in November 2009

Daniel Johnston in Leeds in November 2009

If I were to make a playlist to become a double-CD compilation, called Now That’s What Albert Calls Music: 2009, it would look like this:

01 DiskJokke – Rosenrød
02 Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks
03 Camera Obscura – French Navy
04 Animal Collective – My Girls
05 Wild Beasts – The Fun Powder Plot
06 Brakes – Consumer, Producer, a Chicken Or An Egg (BCB session)
07 APSE – 3.1
08 Fever Ray – I’m Not Done
09 Sibrydion – Femme Mental
10 School Of Seven Bells – My Cabal
11 Fool’s Gold – Surprise Hotel
12 Allo, Darlin’ – Henry Rollins Don’t Dance
13 HEALTH – Die Slow
14 The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin
15 The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Higher Than The Stars
16 My Latest Novel – All In All In All Is All (BCB session)
17 Phosphorescent – Can I Sleep In Your Arms
18 Blue Roses – Cover Your Tracks

01 Au Revoir Simone – Another Likely Story
02 Future Of The Left – Arming Eritrea
03 Slow Club – It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful
04 Fuck Buttons – Surf Solar
05 Wildbirds & Peacedrums – Today / Tomorrow
06 Richard Hawley – Don’t Get Hung Up On Your Soul
07 Daniel Johnston – Queenie The Doggie
08 Fever Ray – Seven
09 The Grave Architects – Highway Be True
10 Clark – Growls Garden
11 Choir Of Young Believers – Why Must It Always Be This Way (BCB Session)
12 The Phantom Band – Throwing Bones
13 Atlas Sound and Panda Bear – Walkabout
14 Japandroids – Young Heart Sparks Fire
15 PJ Harvey and John Parish – Black Hearted Love
16 The Antlers – Two
17 The Flaming Lips – Watching The Planets Collide
18 Grizzly Bear – While You Wait For The Others
19 Tinariwen – hidden track from Imidiwan: Companions album

I contemplated Spotify playlists for the above, but as half the songs aren’t on Spotify it didn’t seem worth bothering with.

Finally, a mention must go to those musicians who passed away in 2009. I’m afraid I can’t remember them all, but here are three: Ellie Greenwich, Vic Cheshnutt and Michael Jackson.


7 thoughts on “2009: And thus Albert spake

  1. avatarPhil

    so with the fact that album sales are declining and singles sales are soaring plus the fact that you didn’t find an LP to truly love in 2009 – are we looking at the Death of the Album in 2010? What d’you think?

  2. avatarAlbert Post author

    I don’t know. That’s not a very intelligent sounding answer is it? But it’s true, “I don’t know”.

    One thing I would like to know though is this: is the resurgence of the ‘single’ a belated acknowledgement of the treasure that is a 7″ record, or simply that the downloading of ‘single’ tracks has become very popular? If it’s the latter, then I put it to you that the traditional ‘single’ is not soaring, but that downloads (of the legal kind) have meant that the distinction between terms such as ‘single’, ‘EP’, ‘mini-album’ and ‘album’ has become diluted.

    To me, a ‘single’ is something ephemeral, released on a given day, to promote an album, and probably deleted within a year, while the album stays available ad infinitum. If the popularity of single downloads is influenced by a social networking campaign (e.g. RATM) or by a celebrity death (e.g. Michael Jackson) then the question about the future prospects of traditional singles is as pertinent as the prospects of the traditional album.

    They’re singles Jim, but not as we know it.

    Of course, another way of looking at it is far less phylosophical – there was a lot of filler on the albums of 2009.

  3. avatarDavid Clapham

    Hmm – a single is just a single but albums are forever – the news of its death is a tad premature methinks. Let It Bleed? Roxy Music first,? The Wild the Innocent, etc? – but that shows how old and out of touch I am.
    Deaths – Willy DeVille of Mink De Ville should be mentioned as he never (well only the one produced by that prat out of Dire Straits) made a bad record.
    And the best thing I have heard all year – must be Red Light Company – the album
    David – I went to the Crossroads – every sunday at 10 – music from every decade since 1915!

  4. avatarSue, Going North from Nashville

    A fine, eclectic mix, as befits your show !
    I didn’t know Vic Cheshnutt had passed away – a sad loss.

  5. avatarA

    You should really try and listen to that XX album albo, its on spotify.

    Right gizzly bear.

    I just came off listng to the whole album again..Am sorry but is a case of the the emperors new clothes. Lots of people nodding stroking their chins and going ‘hummm very good’, but we all know its totally naff. The Gavin and Stacy of alternative music.

    Trite and Banal

    We should try consolidating everyones top 10 lists and work out who comes on top. for some reason I forgot that jarvis had an album out last year…strange.

  6. avatarAlbert Post author

    That’s a good idea – collecting everyone’s lists together, but I think Simon is the only one who’s done a top 10. Although DiskJokke’s was my favourite single of the year, the rest of my list is just in the order that would sound good together, not necessarily in order of favouritism.

  7. avatarA

    to be honest. I dont think I even have a top 10 albums…its been a bit cruddy last year…I spent more time than ever listing to old stuff and finding gems there.

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