by QC staff

Well, hello there. How’ve you been? How was the year? What did you do? Who did you see? Why did you make the decisions you made? Did they turn out well? Did your mistakes become happy accidents? Did you hear that song? You know which one. Wasn’t it great? How about that show? The one where they… yeah, that one. I almost cried when I saw that part where he…

We don’t really believe in lists here. We prefer conversation to soap boxing; we enjoy the transfer of ideas more than we enjoy espousing them. So peruse our side of the conversation: the song, album, show, piece of art, movie, or experience that helped to define the year of 2009 for each of our roster of writers. Then leave your thoughts in the comment section. What moved you? What moved past you? What changed you? What do you wish you had changed? And most importantly, how have you been?

Grab our entire Define ’09 Playlist in a single click here.

SONG / “Chin” by I’m Turning Into
I started playing shows with my band Shark? this year, and the best thing to come out of that is undoubtedly the relationships and friendships I’ve formed with the other struggling bands I’ve met and played with along the way. The cherry on top of that sundae is this: my favorite song of the year, “Chin” by I’m Turning Into; a song I may never have discovered if I hadn’t played a million shows with these guys. They’re awesome, the song is awesome, and you need to listen to it now.

Artist: I’m Turning Into
Song: Chin

ALBUM / Intelligence – Fake Surfers
This year was defined by an emergence of blogger-friendly micro-genres, loosely related at best. From ChillWave to ShitGaze, most of these genres had one thing in common – they were spearheaded by virtual unknowns and were defined by their lo-fi aesthetics more than their songwriting talent. While sifting through this onslaught of new talent, I was lucky to find some real gems. And this, the fifth album of this young band’s life, shone through the shit like nothing else. The guitar tone on this album alone is enough to warrant repeat listens. But it’s the songwriting that really stands out here: not held down by genre or style, these songs all exist as one movement, yet each stand on their own as works of art.

Artist: The Intelligence/a>
Song: Debt & ESP

LIVE SHOW / Sleigh Bells @ Market Hotel
This is kind of a “Duh!” moment, because we put this show together. Of course the show was a blast. Every band that hit the stage that night hit it hard, but it was the final, short set by Sleigh Bells that got me moving. That and some shitty Market Hotel whiskey. Sleigh Bells blew up fast and have some backlash already, a sure sign that they’re going to be big. All I can say to the haters is: lighten up and enjoy some amazing, distorted pop music already. I feel sorry for the haters. I do.

WILDCARD / Starting a Band
People who know me know I’ve been recording music on my own for almost 12 years now, but 2009 was the first time I put myself on stage in front of other people and played those songs live. It’s been the greatest decision I ever made, and it makes me question why I ever waited so long. But no point looking back, I’m only looking forward. Happy 2010 everyone.

SONG / “All For the Best” by Thom Yorke (off tribute album Ciao My Shining Star)
Released in late September, this record celebrates the music of Miracle Legion front man Mark Mulcahy. Other contributing artists include Michael Stipe and The National, but Yorke’s rendition of “All For The Best” is earth shatteringly beautiful and by far my favorite song of the year. “It’s a long way to go before we can rest, but it’s all for the best.”

Artist: Thom Yorke
Song: All For The Best

ALBUM / Useless Creatures by Andrew Bird
The lesser known sibling of Bird’s 2009 release Noble Beast, Useless Creatures is disc 2 of the album’s deluxe edition. The record is completely instrumental and a high-art masterpiece for the contemporary classical genre. “Nyatiti” is a harmonious and hopeful song that was vital to my 2009, and the ten-minute “Carrion Suite” is another tremendous musical accomplishment with a magical transition at the 1:37 mark.

Artist: Andrew Bird
Song: Carrion Suite

LIVE SHOW / Nine Inch Nails @ Bonnaroo
NIN at Bonnaroo ’09 was pretty miraculous, as was Jay-Z subbing in for the Beastie Boys at All Points West. But I’d like to throw out a few other honorable mentions that come to mind. Grizzly Bear and Here We Go Magic both rocked seamless sets during their Summer MHOW date. Two smaller shows that were fun as hell were Kap Bambino at the Studio @ Webster and more recently, These Are Powers rocking Damon Dash’s basement at Under 100 with Mos Def and RZA in attendance. But my personal favorite would have to be the Quiet Color Showcase with Darlings and Dinosaur Feathers at the Kisses Loft in July. Undeniably, the hottest party ever.

WILDCARD / Brooklyn Magic
I feel live I’ve been fully myself more in 2009 than any other year thanks in large part to geographic good fortune. I want to highlight the freedom and energy New York City affords me at the cost of an increased heart rate. This city quadruples my contribution to society. In particular, Brooklyn is a beautiful home-base for free enterprise on an impoverished battleground. I’m incredibly thankful to be a small part of crucial BK neighborhoods and a thriving scene that fosters a sphere of self-made success and accomplishment.

SONG / “What We Know” by Sonic Youth
I love the guitar, the noise, the buildup; songs like this don’t happen enough. There’s a sense of urgency unexpected by Sonic Youth after all the years they have been making music. It’s as tenacious as it gets and you have to love how everything is centered by those steady but inviting drums.

ALBUM / Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective
Kind of an easy choice, no? This album has held up no matter how close the scrutiny. Merriweather Post Pavilion was about the hype, but mostly it was about the songs. I kept coming back to this album, constantly rediscovering minor things that I love about it. Be it the breakdown in the opener “In the Flowers” to mega summer jams like “Summertime Clothes,” “Brother Sport,” or “My Girls,” the album has it all.

LIVE SHOW / The Dead Weather @ Bowery Ballroom
Frankly, I don’t think it’s wrong or weird to admit I have a man-crush on Jack White. In fact, I think everyone does. This man is passionate, engaging, and constantly pushing music forward. He’s like the best dealer you could ever have. He has his own recording studio, pressing plant, and label as well as three bands who put out some good music. As per The Dead Weather, well add Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Jack Lawrence from The Raconteurs, and Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age and it seemed to be an interesting concoction White had brewing. The Bowery Ballroom show was the first public one, tickets were insane to come by, and well no one had a clue as to what the music was going to sound like. There was a magic in the air and everyone was held in awe of what to expect. The show turned out to be fantastic with Mosshart sexing up the Bowery Ballroom and the music sounding like some good old renegade blues.

Artist: The Dead Weather
Song: Treat Me Like Your Mother

I’ve always been an avid reader, but this is the first year I truly dipped my toe in truly modern literature. I always see people on the train reading something like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I was leery. They couldn’t be that good, could they? I was a bit of a snob, thinking these books were little more than hyper-aware and too intelligent for their own good, stuffing their literature with references (a thing David Foster Wallace did amazingly) and takes on modern life. Plus, I had all these older books, I was on a big Russian Lit kick for awhile, that were obviously way better. Luckily, I was wrong for the most part. As I said, I’ve dabbled before in modern literature, but never as much as this year and I think I loved it.

ALBUM / Wooden Arms by Patrick Watson
This is a lie. My favorite album of the year is actually Bitte Orca by Dirty Projectors, but if you’ve been hanging around the blogosphere at all recently, you probably have had it up to here with hearing about how ridiculously amazing it is. Therefore, I’m choosing Wooden Arms because it is my favorite album this year that not everyone was talking about 24/7. This album is pure beauty, full of lush melodies, swirling soundscapes, and Watson’s incredible voice. Already highly regarded in his native Canada, the U.S. has yet to fully catch on to the greatness that is Patrick Watson.

Artist: Patrick Watson
Song: Big Bird In A Small Cage

SONG / “Magic Tape” by Bell
I can’t think of any of any other song that has a higher play-count on my itunes. Go get repeat crazy with this song if you haven’t already.

Artist: Bell
Song: Magic Tape

LIVE SHOW / David Byrne @ Prospect Park
A miracle of a night. I shouldn’t have gotten in, but I ran hard past a line of fans one-million people long to meet a friend at the front of the line just as they were walking in. They said it would rain that night, but the sky just glowed. I drank just enough wine to feel fine about running past the crowd to get to the front. David looked like a million bucks all in white. I danced my ass off as I got lost in the David Byrne’s legendary vortex of musical bliss.

WILDCARD / QC’s Hottest Party Ever
I’m one hundred percent biased because this was my band’s first show ever, but what is more memorable is the amount of sangria, water, beer, and hard liquor that I poured on people, and the even larger amounts that I went home covered in. I’m now fully convinced it’s the only way to properly cool off at a hot party.

SONG / “Northern Lights” by Bowerbirds
I like when a song can toss me in the back seat, grab hold of the steering wheel, and take me on a journey.  ”Northern Lights” is the type of tune where you can be feeling anything, and as soon as it comes on, whatever you’re enduring ceases.  Then, as the strumming dances along, it starts to rock you slowly from side to side.  No matter how much you resist, you can’t control the sentimental thoughts creeping into your head.  And in this moment Bowerbirds have succeeded.  Or maybe its just me.  I’m a sentimental guy.

Artist: Bowerbirds
Song: Northern Lights

ALBUM / The Ecstatic by Mos Def
In a year where Indie Rock reigneth supreme, Mos Def dropped a glorious hip hop album when the genre was playing like the Detroit Lions.  While Indie Rock magnetically drew all of the critics praise, The Ecstatic slipped in the back door and ended up being the life of the party. Tight rhymes, poppin’ beats, creative eccentricities, and divine track transition flow are symptoms of one of the Kings of Hip Hop returning to form. After a slight sabbatical, one of the game’s most talented MC’s is back. We missed you Mos.

LIVE SHOW / Dangeroo Duo @ Nada Surf’s Williamsburg Loft
Daniel Lorca of the band Nada Surf is a wonderful dude with a wonderful loft space adjacent to the QC Headquarters. One night he was having a party and he invited the Dangeroo Duo (Neil Roberts and Ofir Ganon) to play. Performing at a party surrounded by musicians who have had success in the craft is an intimidating feat for two 25-year-old spring chickens. And yet, the Dangeroo Duo triumphed brilliantly and played their hearts out, captivating the room, and wildly impressing everyone present. These are two immensely talented young musicians who can do things with their instruments (Neil bangin’ on those drums and Ofir pluckin’ that six-string) in more innovative ways than dudes their age should. They’re freaks. It’s frightening.

WILDCARD / The Last Goodbye @ Joe’s Pub
Quite simply, the concept of “The Last Goodbye” had me both extremely interested and created the highest of expectations.  ”The Last Goodbye” is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set to the music of Jeff Buckley.  Michael Kimmel conceived this brilliant piece and did an incredible job directing it at Joe’s Pub back in May.  Personally, Jeff Buckley ranks #1 on my list of favorite singer/songwriters of all time, so for me to appreciate something involving his tunes has to be done right.  Creator/director Michael Kimmel and Musical Director Kris Kukul did it right, and it was the most fulfilling theatrical experience I had all year.  And yet, it was only a staged reading, scripts in hand and all.  Still, the marriage of Buckley and Shakespeare was constructed masterfully, and stayed in my head till…well it’s still in my head.  Broadway would be lucky to have such a piece.  Stay tuned.

SONG / “Trouble Weighs a Ton” by Dan Auerbach
Auerbach kicks his usual sludgy riffs as one half of the Black Keys and instead, dabbles with 60′s British rock, Motown, and Doo-Wop. On “Trouble Weighs a Ton,” the Black Keys front man trades punk-blues riffs for a Woody Guthrie-esque acoustic duet with his uncle that channels the latter’s Dust Bowl-era laments.

Artist: Dan Auerbach
Song: Trouble Weighs A Ton

ALBUM / Paranoid Cocoon by Cotton Jones
Under the radar from 2009 stalwarts Monsters of Folk, Page Francis members Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw make a debut effort that blends the mellow vibes of Yo La Tengo and dismal rainy day Pavement juxtaposed with Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks.” And, I missed seeing them at Bonnaroo.

LIVE SHOW / Bonnie “Prince” Billy @ The Apollo Theater
This guy Will Oldham has probably replaced Ryan Adams in my mind as the singer/songwriter and alt-country crooner with the most stage names and incarnations, not to mention number of albums dished out yearly. His live set, with fiddle, Dirty Three drummer Jim White, and company, was purely serene and transcendental, given the fact that I knew barely an album or two by the guy out of a decade’s worth of tunes.

WILDCARD / “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

My 2009 – my first Bonnaroo experience, Market Hotel, Bushwick shows, oysters on the half shell and all – was book-ended by my two all-time favorite directors’ adaptations to two awesome children’s books I grew up on: Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers taking on Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” complemented by voices James Gandolfini and Forrest Whittaker as Wild Things and a killer kiddy soundtrack by Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O; and ethereal mind Wes Anderson doing “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” a story by Roald Dahl whose translation onto the screen continues to boggle my mind, as far as Anderson’s stop-motion animation.

SONG / “Lakeside” by Blk Jks
My favorite song of the year comes from South African progressive rock band Blk Jks. The song is “Lakeside,” and since my first hearing I’ve pretty much been addicted. It’s not so often that a song comes along that sounds completely fresh and new every time you hear it. Lakeside is my forever changing, yet forever spectacular gem of the year.

Artist: BLK JKS
Song: Lakeside

ALBUM / Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear
‘s beautiful album Veckatimest was one that clogged up my iPod speakers from the day it came out till about two minutes ago. Full of intricate melodies and seemingly perfect execution, Veckatimest reigns supreme for my 2009 album pick.

LIVE SHOW / The Pixies @ Hammerstein Ballroom
The Pixies Doolittle tour hit Hammerstein and blew me away. Without a doubt this long-awaited performance was by far my most memorable live show experience of 2009.

I’m going to have to give my wildcard pick to Pixar’s latest creation, UP. This is for the simple reason that I’ve never experienced such innocent childlike fun at the same time as pure mature amazement before. I thank you UP for completely jumbling up my emotions and perspective into an unforgettable experience that I will enjoy for years to come.

SONG / “My Girls” by Animal Collective
I first heard this track in 2007 when Animal Collective came through Tucson on the Strawberry Jam tour. I didn’t recognize the song but I immediately began humming the melody and the next morning, eardrums droning, I was still humming. Fast forward to two years later as the opening track of Merriweather Post Pavilion sounds remarkably familiar. This time I recognized the song and it immediately became not only my winter soundtrack, but my summer jam, end of summer jam, and now my look-back-on-the-year-that-was jam. Ultimately the song is an honest and genuine representation of an individual growing older and taking responsibility for his life. The music reflects that focus and maturation as well. Thank the lord for it.

ALBUM / True Story of Abner Jay by Abner Jay
Not exactly a reissue, but not quite a totally new release either, this re-mastered and remixed collection of songs by one of the most unique and bizarre recording artists of 20th century was hands down the most affecting album released in 2009. On tracks like “I’m So Depressed,” “Vietnam,” and “Cocaine” Jay plays a six-string electric banjo and stomps time on a bass drum and high hat set-up, singing in his deep, soaring time-worn soprano. Here is a link to the most ancient of folk-blues traditions. Like all the best, when he sings about drugs and women and hardship, we have to believe him. One listen to Abner Jay’s voice and his electric banjo and you’re forced to stop everything you’re doing and listen. He’s compared most accurately to Leadbelly in his folk-blues stomping way, and in the way his numbers come across more often like stories or even parables than little blues ditties. These songs and Abner himself would have been lost if not for this album, leading one to wonder who else we may have missed.

LIVE SHOW / Tortoise
Overall, 2009 turned out to be a rather disappointing year for live music. A lot of big name acts showed up and did things like shuffle through entire albums or headline festivals so massive and unwieldy that you’re lucky if you got to the end of the beer line before the weekend ended. Tortoise, however, came to town and played two and half hours of the most ripping, raging, hard-charging live music (rock or otherwise) that I’ve seen in my entire life. They may be post-rock avant garde experimentalists on paper, but at heart they’re still just a bunch of sweaty punks.

Artist: Tortoise
Song: Seneca

WILDCARD / Michael Jackson dies, the world celebrates
The afternoon of June 25 I was in the stockroom at work when a coworker came to me in tears. Michael Jackson had died, he told me through his sobs. Two hours later as I rode my bike home from the Upper West Side to Bed-Stuy in the golden summer evening light, it seemed that every car I zipped past and every open apartment window was exuding M.J. From the West Side highway to the Lower East Side, South Williamsburg to my block off Franklin Avenue, everyone and I mean everyone was listening to Jackson. Thriller, Off the Wall, Dangerous, Bad, the Jackson Five, every incarnation of Jackson was represented. White people and black, Latino and otherwise, there weren’t many people unaffected by Jackson’s death last summer. His death was heartbreaking and untimely, and I’m skeptical about rumors of the comeback that was supposedly in the works. But more importantly, Jackson’s death sparked a celebration of life like I’ve never witnessed. People literally took to the streets of not just Brooklyn, but cities the world over to celebrate a brilliant artist who despite his demons was able to bring people together in the street and on the dance floor, a power that will prove to be the man’s lasting legacy.

SONG / “Folding Chair” by Regina Spektor
“Just come and open up your folding chair next to me / My feet are buried in the sand and there’s a breeze.” I love the images in this song almost as much as I love Regina. The quirkiness of both served as a makeshift oasis for those times when reality begged for nothing more than the simplicity of ocean breeze.

ALBUM / Fortress Round My Heart by Ida Maria
I was lucky enough to stumble across a review of Ida Maria on the Bowery’s website, and once I got the actual album I couldn’t get enough. For a month straight almost every other piece of music from my collection sat abandoned; my heart devoted entirely to this one. Ida Maria has that raw, angst-filled kind of honesty I only wish I was brave enough to possess. This isn’t necessarily an album about the truths of life or lessons learned- in fact it’s more cynical and funny than anything- but it said all the things I couldn’t, and sometimes, that’s more than enough.

LIVE SHOW / The Weakerthans @ Bowery Ballroom
Ever since I heard “Night Windows” three years ago on a friend’s computer, I’ve wanted nothing more than to hear it performed live. Ironically, it was the song they opened the concert with, and watching John Samson sing it beneath those fluorescent lights was even more surreal than my mind’s three-year span of imagined expectations. Easily the best live show I’ve ever seen by one of the greatest bands to ever find their way onto my ipod.

WILDCARD / Rediscovery of Alligator by The National
This album came out in ’05, but I rediscovered it early on in 2009 and thank god for that, because every song seemed to eerily coincide with some major or minor (and most likely over-dramatized) event in the blurred recollections of this past year. Half the time I could barely make sense of Berninger’s mumbled voice, but just the way he sang was enough to pick me up from some drunken stupor or ease the heartbreak of faces whose names now all run into each other. I can remember playing “All The Wine” for hours on repeat, and daydreaming of the lights in “City Middle.” When I needed it the most, this album reminded me that: “We’ll be fine / All we gotta do is be brave and be kind.”

Artist: The National
Song: Secret Meeting

SONG / “Rollin’ (Remix)” by Kid Cudi feat. Jackie Chain
This song burrowed into my brain early in the year, and still hasn’t left. DJ Benzi’s remix, which samples Robert Miles’ mid-90′s house jam “Children,” gave us an early introduction to Kid Cudi. Before his Ratatat guest spots and Lady Gaga opening gigs, here Cudi simply expressed his love for painkillers over a similarly spaced-out beat. “Word / I can’t feel the left side of my face/ stressful thoughts have been replaced / by Henny & coke & Jager, mane.”

ALBUM / On Little Known Frequencies by From Monument to Masses
Now that the post-rock market has become completely saturated, it takes a lot for bands to distinguish themselves within the genre. Produced by Matt Bayles (Minus the Bear, ISIS), this album never stays in one place for too long. With propulsive guitar riffs and constantly shifting time signatures, this may be the most dynamic post-rock release to date. Though the band officially has only three members, the many guest musicians (particularly the string section) help expand the atmosphere that From Monument to Masses create.

LIVE SHOW / El Ten Eleven @ The Mercury Lounge
Despite the preview that I wrote for this show back in April, there were still only about 15 people in attendance at the Merc Lounge. This proved to be a good thing, considering the fact that their Union Hall show the following Friday was packed to the rafters. The two-man band ran through the majority of their catalogue, premiered two new tracks, and even unveiled a Joy Division cover. See this band in 2010.

WILDCARD / Das Racist’s Surprise Performance with Bear Hands @ Siren Festival
I made a point to get to the Siren Festival early this year to catch one of Brooklyn’s finest bands, Bear Hands. However, I would have never expected Das Racist to jump onstage and perform their ultra-ironic hit, “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” with them. While Bear Hands attempted to recreate the beat to Jay-Z’s “D.O.A.” Das Racist both amused and confused the crowd with their repetitive back-and-forth: “I’m at the Pizza Hut / What? / I’m at the Taco Bell / What? / I’m at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.”

Artist: Das Racist
Song: Ek Shaneesh

SONG / “You Can Have What You Want” by Papercuts
I want this to be true. Great song for a late night roof session.

Artist: Papercuts
Song: You Can Have What You Want

ALBUM / Embryonic by The Flaming Lips
This album truly makes me feel like I might be insane in a really good way.

LIVE SHOW / Nine Inch Nails @ Bonnaroo
This set the bar for which I will compare all rock shows to for now on.

WILDCARD / Getting to perform music…
…with my best friends.

One Comment

  1. Posted November 15, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

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