Flashflooder’s Top 25 Album’s of 2009

Wow, the year seems to have just flown by just like that. It seems like only yesterday I was compiling this same list for 2008 while eagerly awaiting the release of Merriweather Post Pavilion and wondering what the rest of 2009 would hold.

Well, MPP didn’t disappoint but overall it’s hard to say whether it’s been a “good” or “bad” year for music. Nevertheless, I can say that there have been plenty of quality albums released in the past year that are worth your ears time. So if you’re looking for some records you might have missed in ’09 or just want some new music to listen to, go and buy some of these albums! Or at least, find some way to get them playing through your headphones and/or stereo.

So without further adieu, here are my picks for the top 25 albums of the year. Apologies to any other great albums that should have made this list that I didn’t listen to (I know there are some of you out there!). And if you are curious to see what albums topped other critic’s list for 2009, head over to metacritic’s best music of 2009 section and check out their summary of various critic’s lists towards the bottom of the page. Anyways, here goes:

25. Black Dice – Repo [Paw Tracks]

24. Built to Spill – There Is No Enemy [Warner Bros.]

23. DOOM – Born Like This [Lex]

22. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz! [Interscope]

21. DatA – Skywriter [Ekler’O’Shock/Naive]

20. The xx – xx [Young Turks]

19. Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport [ATP]

18. St. Vincent – Actor [4AD]

17. The Mars Volta – Octahedron [Warner Bros.]

16. Phaseone – Thanks But No Thanks/White Collar Crime [Lefse]

15. Atlas Sound – Logos [Kranky]

14. Calvin Harris – Ready For The Weekend [Sony Music]

13. Girls – Album [True Panther/Matador]

12. Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx…Pt. II [H20/EMI]

11. Vitalic – Flashmob [[PIAS] Recordings/Different]

10. Dan Deacon – Bromst [Carpark]

09. Tim Hecker – An Imaginary Country [Kranky]

08. Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms [Lefse]

07. Madlib – Beat Konducta Vol. 5 & 6 (Dil Cosby and Dil Withers Suite) [Stones Throw]

06. The Antlers – Hospice [French Kiss]

05. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest [Warp]

04. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue [Warp]

03. The Bloody Beetroots – Romborama [Dim Mak]

02. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amaedus Phoenix [Loyauté/Glassnote]

01. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion/Fall Be Kind EP [Domino]

Etienne De Crecy and The EXYZT Cube

Most everyone these days are familiar with Daft Punk and their epic pyramid light show that toured the world over the past few years, but have you heard of Frenchman Etienne De Crecy and his cube? Unless you saw his set at Coachella this past year or are really in the know, chances are that you haven’t.

And to be honest, I’ve only learned about him and his cube recently and all I can say is that they are quite an impressive spectacle. While the 3 x 3 cube (designed by French collective EXYZT) dazzles you with synced up light tricks, Etienne De Crecy pumps out dance music from the central square, looking like a lone DJ contestant of Hollywood Squares. It definitely gives the Daft Punk pyramid a run for its money, and that is saying something. But don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself!

Now, before you run off to buy tickets to the nearest upcoming live show Etienne is playing, you should know that (sadly) he doesn’t always bring the cube with him. Regardless though, Etienne De Crecy’s tunes are still pretty solid and are worth a listen (check out Etienne De Crecy’s Myspace).

John Frusciante Quits The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Guitar virtuoso John Frusciante has left The Red Hot Chili Peppers (again) to seemingly focus on his own solo material (which can be, depending on who you ask, for better or worse). As for now, Frusciante’s spot in the band is being filled by fellow friend and collaborator Josh Klinghoffer (who has contributed to every Frusciante record since 2004’s Shadows Collide With People). According to John, he quit the band over a year ago; however, the story has just recently broken leading him to make the following statement via his myspace page.

“When I quit the band, over a year ago, we were on an indefinite hiatus. There was no drama or anger involved, and the other guys were very understanding. They are supportive of my doing whatever makes me happy and that goes both ways.

To put it simply, my musical interests have led me in a different direction. Upon rejoining, and throughout my time in the band, I was very excited about exploring the musical possibilities inherent in a rock band, and doing so with those people in particular. A couple of years ago, I began to feel that same excitement again, but this time it was about making a different kind of music, alone, and being my own engineer.

I really love the band and what we did. I understand and value that my work with them means a lot to many people, but I have to follow my interests. For me, art has never been something done out of a sense of duty. It is something I do because it is really fun, exciting, and interesting. Over the last 12 years, I have changed, as a person and artist, to such a degree that to do further work along the lines I did with the band would be to go against my own nature.  There was no choice involved in this decision. I simply have to be what I am, and have to do what I must do.

Sending love and gratitude to you all.”

Although Frusciante is by no means abandoning music (if anything he’s focusing more on it and his own material), feel free to reminisce below with a video of him showing in slow motion how to play the RHCP favorite “Under the Bridge” and then discussing/illustrating his take on guitar play and style (there is a little bit of an overlap between the two videos, but both are very much worth watching!). Now let the anticipation for the next Frusciante solo record begin…

Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum Releases First Song In Over A Decade

Jeff Mangum, the frontman of the critically acclaimed yet short-lived band Neutral Milk Hotel has released a song (albeit a cover song) for the first time in over a decade. Jeff contributed a cover of the Tall Dwarfs’ song “Sign the Dotted Line” (which can be heard below) for the compilation Stroke:Songs for Chris Knox whose proceeds will go to benefit Chris Knox (of Tall Dwarfs, Toy Love, and his solo work) who recently suffered a stroke and is recovering at his home in New Zealand. If you’re interested, there’s more information at the official Chris Knox Stroke website.

Now Jeff Mangum has been somewhat of a recluse since disbanding Neutral Milk Hotel in 1999; however, he has made a few public appearances (most recently on the Elephant Six Holiday Tour where he played “Engine” on several stops) and released a few musical things (most notably his Orange Twin Fieldworks: Vol. 1 and a contribution to Major Organ and the Adding Machine) although none have really fell into the singer/songwirter aesthetic he was known for in Neutral Milk Hotel. That is, until now.

“Sign the Dotted Line” is a straight forward, short song lacking the amazing visual imagery and lyrics Mangum was known for; nevertheless, it is great to find Jeff singing once again and quite refreshing to hear how his voice has aged a bit over the years. Granted, “Sign the Dotted Line” is no “Little Birds” (check out the chilling video below), which was the last and only known unreleased song of Mangum’s after In The Aeroplane Over the Sea; however, after this long of a hiatus, we’ll take whatever we can get. One can only hope now that there will be more releases to come from Jeff in the future.

New Pantha Du Prince Song: “The Splendour”

Pantha Du Prince aka Germany’s Hendrick Weber is readying the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2007 album of minimal/ambient techno This Bliss with his upcoming record, Black Noise (due out February 8 on Rough Trade Records).

We get our first taste of Black Noise (see the cover art above on the right) with “The Splendour”, which evokes many of the same sonic qualities we came to know and love on This Bliss; however, don’t take this as a lack of growth or a bad thing. The scattered synths, ambient noises, and wide use of panning still keeps your ears in a heightened state of relaxed awareness allowing you to either float along with the song or delicately pick out all the electronic intricacies Pantha Du Prince has come to master.

“The Splendour” features Tyler Pope of !!! and LCD Soundsystem on bass, although I can’t really distinguish Tyler’s contribution from Pantha’s production and honestly would probably have no idea that there was a guest on the song had I not been told so (which can be good or bad based on your thoughts on featured guests on albums).

Check out Rough Trade’s official statement on the concept behind Black Noise below and the mp3 of “The Splendour” as well.

Pantha Du Prince – The Splendour

“On his new album, Pantha Du Prince, who lives in Berlin and Paris, claims: music slumbers in all matter; any sound, even silence, is already music. The mission, then, must be to render audible what is unheard and unheard of: black noise, a frequency that is inaudible to man. Black noise often presages natural disasters, earthquakes or floods; only some animals perceive this “calm before the storm.” Black noise is something archaic and earthy. The music on Black Noise balances precariously on the slippery threshold between art and nature, between techno and folklore, which lends it a certain spectral and intangible aspect.”