It’s easy to locate the origin of my obsession for lists. When I read and later watched High Fidelity, it was great to read and see someone who loved to compartmentalize a Top 5, Top 10, or whatever. For me, I point my finger directly to this book:
The Book Of Lists by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace was something that when I was given this as a gift, I read it at home, in the car, I wanted to take it to school. It wasn’t just Top 5 or Top 10 lists of anything and everything from “Best sexual positions” to “Best selling albums”, it was the content and information within. I loved discovering things, I loved hanging out at the library as a kid and now I had a book where it was possible to see everything in nice little lists. The lists were just icing to the big informational cake.
For about 25 years, even before I started writing for a living, I created lists of my favorite albums of the year. I still have a piece of paper from 1984 where I listed my favorite albums of the year, and I know it included Prince & The Revolution‘s Purple Rain and Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s Welcome To The PleasureDome. When I had my Intensity fanzine, I’d have lists of Best Cover Versions, Best B-sides, Best Music Videos.
The one list I’ve kept up with all these years is a Best Albums list. I should state that these are albums I listened to, I have not listened to every album that was released this year. I’ve missed many, but that’s what the new year is for, to discover what I ignored or passed up. Out of the albums I liked, the following is a list of 25 albums that I really enjoyed, I played them repeatedly. Some may feel that’s hard to do in a world where any and all albums are readily accessible. No, i simply like what I like and listen. Then listen again. Here’s my list, with links to my reviews of each when available, in alphabetical order:
Mark Benevento-Me Not Me (The Royal Potato Family)
Black Moth Super Rainbow-Eating Us (Graveface)
Crown City Rockers-The Day After Tomorrow (Gold Dust Media)
Dumhi-Indian Summer (self-released)
Felt 3: a tribute to Rosie Perez (Rhymesayers)
Garage A Trois-Power Patriot (Royal Potato Family)
Inara George-Accidental Experimental (Everloving)
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey-One Day In Brooklyn (Kinnara/The Royal Potato Family)
Jeniferever-Spring Tides (Monotreme)
Kowloon Walled City-Gambling On The Richter Scale (The Perpetual Motion Machine)
Lullabye Arkestra-Threats/Worship (Vice)
Makalei-Pehea Ka Lawai’a (Makalei Music)
Johann Merrich-Fricadelique! (how to be a flower-power nihilist) (Clinical Archives)
Moodswing Orchestra-s/t (El Destructo)
mr.Gnome-Heave Yer Skeleton (El Marko)
Dudley Perkins-Holy Smokes (SomeOthaShipConnect)
Alec K. Redfearn & The Seizures-Exterminating Angel (Corleone)
Samothrace-Life’s Trade (20 Buck Spin)
Seabrook Power Plant-s/t (Loyal Label)
Slayer-World Painted Blood (Columbia)
Terminal Lovers-As Eyes Burn Clean (Public Guilt)
White Mice-Ganjahovahdose (20 Buck Spin)
Yoko Absorbing-Vinyl (Clinical Archives)
Zechs Marquise-Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare (Rodriguez Lopez/Sargent House)
From major labels to indies, to self-released albums. It was very hard to slim these down to 25, because I don’t want anyone to get offended that I didn’t choose their album. People have complained about the lack of decent hip-hop albums in 2009, but I found there were a lot of good music. There was an overwhelming amount of shit, but for the most part I drove around it.
Nonetheless, there was one album that I was highly anticipating, and as soon as I heard it, I had a feeling it would be my favorite album of the year.
Black Moth Super Rainbow‘s Eating Us (Graveface) blew me away because here was a group who created some pretty trippy sounds, which I love, but through working with producer David Fridmann they were able to refine their mission to create something that was arguably pop/radio friendly but still retain their sound that still remains 100 percent undefinable. It’s electronic, it’s mind-altering, there’s a hip-hop influence, it’s definitely forward thinking, and it’s also bubble gum sprinkled with curry powder. People are quick to say it’s psychedelic, even though they probably mean it’s progressive in a Pink Floyd sense but Pink Floyd were also pop friendly when they wanted to be (“Echoes”, “San Tropez”, “Fearless”). When you have a group whose core of existence is a man named Tobacco, whose live photos reminds me of myself cramped up in my bedroom making bedroom music but without a plastic mask, it’s nice to hear someone else who gets it, that need to be creative and share that side of your muse to an unknown/uncertain world.
In truth, not unlike Sun Ra and Madlib‘s multiple music personalities, Black Moth Super Rainbow create audio worlds that they want people to listen to and perhaps enter, or at least to witness their visions for a few minutes at a time. It’s a mixture of analog synths mixed in with samplers and subtle funk, but that would be to simply their sound. It would also be too easy to say they’re like The Flaming Lips‘ long lost cousin from the countryside, but both groups do share a common love for knowing and understanding the limits, then taking it to create new shapes within their own self-made boundaries.
It’s just great music that isn’t going to please everyone, they’re not the Black Eyed Peas and proud of it. However, as Tobacco becomes more cinematic with his music and video projects, it’s only a matter of time before he takes his music to higher levels, hallucinogenic or otherwise.