February 3, 2010

Top Ten Albums of 2009: Music to Make Art To!

Listening to music while creating art is like escaping into a dream and emerging with a souvenir. Music and art-making are undeniably intertwined, passionate partners who enrich, even define one another.  Last year was an amazing year of music. It was so tricky to whittle down my favorites!  But here it is: my humble list of  must-hear melodies from 2009. These songs accompanied me on my artistic adventures last year and I couldn’t have done it without them…

10. Little Dragon- Machine Dreams- My fave track: “Blinking Pigs” -This Swedish band makes glamorous electronic music look easy. With beats reminiscent of the 80’s, playful instrumentation, and raw, dreamy vocals, this album is one of the most under-rated of the year. I love it.

9. Dirty Projectors- Bitte Orca- My fave track: “Stillness is the Move” -Quirky and challenging as it is, this album is also rewardingly luscious. It keeps you guessing from start to finish, fluctuating between gentle and abstract to electro-fabulous.

8. Miike Snow- Miike Snow- My fave track: “Silvia” -I don’t care what the critics say…I love these catchy, radio-ready tunes from the guys who produced pop superstars like Madonna and Britney Spears. And while they may be predictable, they are also solid and hip. But that’s from someone who’s admitted to “Toxic” being a guilty-pleasure listen.

7. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart- The Pains of Being Pure at HeartMy fave track: “Young Adult Friction” -Sure to quench your Cure and Morrissey cravings, this punky rock group dishes up a pretty killer record. Energetic and unrefined, I only wish their live show (at The Great American Music Hall in SF) was as polished as their album. I still bought a t-shirt though, and have a serious girl-crush on their keyboard player.

6. Memory Tapes- Seek Magic- My fave track: “Bicycle” -I can’t believe this brilliant album is still only available online or in the UK. I love this bright, endless-summer-esque soundtrack. Soft and supple, with hints of ocean air. Get your Cruiser, baby.

5. Fever Ray- Fever Ray- My fave track: “When I Grow Up” -These epic, haunting songs from the lead singer of The Knife will make you want to dress up in feathers and sequins and perform ritualistic magic. Everything she touches is gold.

4. Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix- My fave track: “Lisztomania” -Can you say “Dance Party?” This album is perfect for jumping around in your underwear in front of the mirror with your hair-brush microphone. I listened to this album on repeat FOREVER. So much fun.

3. Girls- Album- My fave track: “Lust For Life” -In high school, I used to daydream that boys would sing me this kind of fuzzy, sentimental rock. These local SF cuties deliver steamy, yet crunchy melodies that you’ll be singing in the shower for a week. Believe. Me.

TIE 2. Bat For Lashes- Two Suns- My fave track: “Daniel” -Mystical songs of passion that speak to the deepest parts of your soul. I know that sounds dramatic, but seriously, people: This album is lustful and delicious like drinking port in a velvet robe. Actually, that is also the ideal listening setting.

TIE 2. Atlas Sound- Logos- My fave track:”Shelia” – Not only because my mom is named Sheila do I love this song; the way Bradford coos “Shheeee Leee Awww,” accompanied by mesmerizing melodies almost hypnotizes me.  I can get lost in this album only to find that I’ve listened to it four times in a row and am still enjoying it! **Also a new addition to the top ten as it crept further into my heart after draft 1 was released**

1. The Xx- The Xx- My fave track: “Islands” -Sexy. These pop-driven, minimal beats layered with lovely duets make you wonder how a bunch of 20-year-olds from London could write such beautiful musical love letters. The make-out album of the year, for sure. But then again, I’ve always been an insatiable romantic…

Neon Indian- Psychic Chasms
Antony and the Johnsons- The Crying Light
Real Estate- Real Estate
Grizzly Bear- Veckatimist

What did I miss? (and don’t say “Animal Collective”….) What type of music do you like to create to?

Rachel Znerold is an artist and independent fashion designer living the good life in San Francisco, CA. www.rachelzart.com

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