The Other Ten: Rather than an ordered list, this is more of an overview of 10 other records that I really enjoyed from 2009.
Justin Vernon Deals With Success
After listening to the masterful debut for the better part of a year, Bon Iver's Blood Bank EP felt somewhat like an epilogue but the songs it contained were certainly more than b-side material. Woods,the final song, is a lush exploration of what a true artist can pursue with Autotune.
Vernon also collaborated with some old friends
Brand New You're Retro
Both Mayer Hawthorne and Major Lazer are masters of styles created by others in the recent and not so recent past. Part of the fun of both of these is the conceptual framework - the Warhol touch, if you will - that seems to underpin them. Now, that could all be in my head but that is exactly where I listen to music so it works for me. To a point.
A Strange Arrangement, the all-singing, almost-all-playing debut from dynamite DJ Hawthorne, takes us through a variety of soul styles the way only a true crate-digger can. Folks like Raphael Saadiq and Eli Reed may have more sheer talent but they bring no perspective to bear on their perusals of the past. However, Hawthorne's voice can sometimes seem as slight as the running-length of the album.
Guns Don't Kill People...Lazers Do is a project of genius producers Diplo and Switch and listening to the whole album is a little like spending time with the nutty friend-of-a-friend who just doesn't know when to stop. In small doses, however, their twisted simulacra of reggae and dancehall tropes is delightful. There was no way the blissful Cash Flow was not going to be heard during my New Year's Eve DJ set. And it rocked the house.