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On The Hi-Fi, Best Of ’09


Its that time again, time to let share some music with everyone, I dont do it nearly enough and while I do have a number of new albums I could write about I have decided to do something I have been trying to do for years and write a best of list for the year in music. For me its tricky because I am often finding new music that is older than the current year and so digging through some of my favorites I have to track down release dates to and some of them get a bit tricky because of multiple versions of smaller releases coming out. Some on this list are vinyl records that I bought this year which were re-released, or more officially released versions of self released albums or that kind of thing.. but for me this list contains nothing but albums that were released this year in whichever format that I bought it in so its close enough for me.

Well, enough of all that rambling about it, rather than the top albums of the year I have decided to go with my favorite songs of the year, I thought it may be easier for you guys to check out songs rather than entire albums right? I started with the idea of a top ten but it came down to a top 35, all different artists and it was still a tough decision to make really. I know you have probably seen a number of these lists already but hopefully everyone finds something in here that maybe they have not heard or can enjoy. I will try to write a tiny description with each song if your interested in reading my thoughts on them, otherwise, happy browsing!

Find my top 35 for ‘09 after the read more link below:

The list is in alphabetical order (first name) and Most all of them are a quick iTunes search away other than a couple obscure or limited release type ones. I would have loved to include song files here but I can’t risk hosting files like that and the links after each listing will take you to the website of the artist.

Antony & the Johnsons – Dust and Water from ‘The Crying Light’
This was a toss up between this and the song Another World but after listening again I knew it would be this track that I include here, its just haunting to me and I can not help but put it on repeat and hear it over and over again because it puts my mind at such peace as it glorifies the simplicity of beauty around us. (Artist Page)

Audion – It’s Full Of Blinding Light
Audion took an interesting approach to releasing new music this year with a long series of single tracks slowly released digitally and on vinyl as well as a lot of touring and this track has stood out as a favorite and I keep going back to it when I need a straightforward fix. I love the evolution of the song and the energy he can create with such simple elements. Fantastic song. (Artist Page)

Beirut – Venice from ‘March of the Zapotec & Realpeople: Holland’
The first time I heard this I was hooked. The way the horns seamlessly blend in along to the synth melody is beautiful. This release seemed pretty overlooked in comparison to his earlier work, I’m not sure why, some amazing music on this record. (Artist Page)

Bibio – Lovers Carvings from ‘Ambivalence Avenue’
A standout track from this album which was a diverse collection of songs somehow bridging lo-fi folk and hip-hop into one sentence. Not one to be missed and easily one of my favorites from this year. The moment the hook falls into place is just unforgettable. (also be sure to check out the wonderful remix by leatherette) (Artist Page)

Bill Callahan – The Breeze/My Baby Cries from ‘Loving Takes This Course’ compilation
While this is a cover I just fell in love with the song when I saw him perform this out of the blue at a live show towards the end of the year, the song had the venue full of people dead quiet and swaying as if under a spell. One of those songs that just sneaks its way into your mind and wont let you go until the last note has rung out. Beautiful. (Artist Page) (compilation)

Bon Iver – Beach Baby from ‘Blood Bank’
While the title track from this EP was nice and all this song stood out in my mind as it so well defines what he seems to do best with this project, create unbearably beautiful yet simple melodies that are hard to resist. And that slide guitar at the end… it will melt your worries away. While this song is short and somewhat of a singular statement of a song, its still among my top favorites this year and one that will linger on into the future as a favorite. (Artist Page)

Burial & Four Tet – Moth from ‘Moth/Wolf Club’
I remember seeing this announced and thinking to myself, you know, I should probably pick up a copy of that but was too late and missed out on the chance to own a vinyl with two brilliant songs hiding inside. The Stark black cover leaves everything to the imagination and the somewhat mysterious appearance of it to begin with all falls right in line with the music itself. Its exactly what you would imagine a Four Tet Burial collaboration to sound like. While its not directly available to buy you can track it down online and I highly suggest you do. Brilliant music here. (Artist Page – four tet) (Artist Page – burial)

Calmer – Open Source from ‘Past is Present EP’
What happens when you take the idea of a jazz song, the technology and layers of electronic music, and the calm restful peace of an ambient song? You get the music of Calmer aka Colin Palmer. This EP was a long time coming and it seems he worked on these songs for years before they found their way onto an official release. This was my favorite from the EP and one of my favorites from the year, simply brilliant. (Artist Page)

Clark – Growls Garden from ‘Totems Flare’
While many did not seem to know what to make of Chris Clarks addition of vocals to his music I thought he pulled it off well and while lyrically its about as odd and cryptic as any of his song titles it somehow seems to work well here. Its composition is straightforward yet takes you on an ever evolving ride as only Clark can do. For fans of his other music that may not have heard this yet I suggest you give it a chance. (Artist Page)

Dan Auerbach – Trouble Weighs A Ton from ‘Keep it Hid’
This album was released early in the year and while I did enjoy the whole thing this song stuck with me as the year started to take shape and ended up finding countless plays as its melody is instantly familiar and heartwarming. (Artist Page)

Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks from ‘Veckatimest’
Probably one of the catchier song here on the list it was instantly a standout for me with its direct, slightly distorted and direct melodies colliding and finding their way into a permanent stuck in my head status for quite a long while. While at this point it may have lost a bit of its edge because it was heard just one to many times at first I still love putting it on my record player on a sunny day. (Artist Page)

Here We Go Magic – Only Pieces from ‘Here We Go Magic’
While I don’t know the whole story behind the artist I stumbled across this album on emusic and happily picked up a vinyl copy as well. I fell for its unique sound and melody that I cam not help but sing along too. I love the loose, fuzzy feel of their music and this song in particular stood out in my mind as a favorite. (Artist Page)

Hildur Gudnadottir – Aether from ‘Without Sinking’
Im not sure I have the words to describe what I think of this song, its just a slowly evolving simple beauty of a song that I just love. Instrumental and beautifully played and arranged. (Artist Page)

Jónsi & Alex – Happiness from ‘Dark Was The Night’ compilation
This song was also released on a full length album from them but its a different version than the one on this compilation (which was full of great music by the way) but this version of it stood out to me as being warmer and more lush and whenever it would come on I had to double check to see what I was listening to because it is such a lush, haunting sort of a song it would transform whatever moment I was listening to it in into something of a slow motion beauty of a moment. One of my last minute extra additions to my list but I feel it belongs among my favorites. from the year. (Artist Page)

Julianna Barwick – Cloudbank from ‘Florine’
Listening to the music on ‘Florine’ is very much like floating through clouds. Its just so hypnotic and haunting and really, you just cant help but close your eyes and drift off into a dream. The simply layered vocals all fall together into an elegant sort of bed of sound that will ease a stressful mind and leave you wishing every moment in life could feel so peaceful. (Artist Page)

King Midas Sound – Meltdown’
There was a couple of notable EPs with from King Midas Sound earlier in the year that built up a pretty high level of anticipation of the full length release I knew was on its way eventually and then here at the end of the year it appeared and while I have not had much time with it yet this song is one that I had spent time with already due to it being on a Hyperdub label comp released with this song as its first track and I really have grown to love it. Its got plenty to like, a subtle dub vibe coupled with understated subtle lyrics… (Artist Page)

Kurt Vile – Freeway from ‘Constant Hitmaker’
Kurt Vile is the one exception on this list as far as one song from any given artist and thats because he has two sides, a steady pop music side as in this amazing song from Constant Hitmaker and his other side which is much more subtle and meandering. This song was played out countless times this year and was one of my go to songs for getting me awake and moving some slow mornings. (Artist Page)

Kurt Vile – My sympathy from ‘God Is Saying This To You…’
Then there is this side of Kurt which is slower and a bit more acoustic and easy on the mind. I realized recently what has drawn me into his music so much this year and I realized that it reminds me a lot of old beck music, simple in approach and a little obscure lyrically yet it still manages to be really unique and captivating, at least to me, I love this whole album of his actually, really fantastic all the way through. (Artist Page)

Laura Gibson – Where Have All Your Good Words Gone from ‘Beasts Of Seasons’
I am a big fan of what Hush Records have been releasing over the years and this release was a favorite of mine from their recent output. Sweet songs with a warmth that I really loved. My vinyl gets plenty of spins and this song in particular hit a soft spot in my mind this year and was often one I came back to specifically and it was an obvious choice for the list. (Artist Page)

Lusine – Twilight from ‘A Certain Distance’
I have been a fan of Lusine since his wonderful Serial Hodgepodge album and I was anxiously awaiting this release. His addition of singing into the mix worked really well and his edits in the singing work just perfectly really. This was probably the most straight foward song on here with vocals but its still my favorite. Something about it just feels perfect. (Artist Page)

Machinedrum – Let it from ‘Want To 1 2?’
Its about time this album was released, it seems like I have been waiting for its release for years and it did not disappoint. Honestly, I dont understand how he has not gotten more attention from it among the music community. This song is a new classic in my eyes, just brilliant through and through. A hip-hop, dance wonder. Be sure to check out the whole album if you had not heard it and have interest in hip-hop inspired dance music. (Artist Page)

Micachu & The Shapes – Golden Phone from ‘Jewellery’
This album surprised me this year with its chaotic, loose approach to super catch pop music. As a whole the album is brilliant but this song always stands out as I listen through it. Simple, quick pop brilliance. (Artist Page)

Molina & Johnson – What You Reckon, What You Breathe from ‘Molina & Johnson’
As soon as I heard about these two making music together I knew it would be something not to be missed and I was right, the album is my favorite from the few late releases of the year and its slow mood fits the cold of the winter months all too well. As I listened though this to pick a favorite for this list I had trouble picking one but this one has time and again stood out in this collection, at least in my mind. I love the minimal production and feel of this, where you can close your eyes on a quiet night and hear the room it was recorded in and feel a part of the music as you listen. Just brilliant songwriting. (Artist Page)

Mount Kimbie – Sketch On Glass from ‘Sketch On Glass EP’
As far as electronic music this year the hot ticket was surely the overwhelming and sudden popularity of dub music yet among the endless repetition of countless releases from artists int he genera a few did manage to stand out as something really fresh and wonderful and hiding inside those was a couple of releases from Mount Kimbie. This song to me may be my favorite electronic track of the year. The amount of control he seems to hold over the seemingly chaotic blips and sounds here and the way he pulls it together and allows the song to evolve is just brilliant. Love this track. (Artist Page)

Noah And The Whale – Blue Skies from ‘The First Days Of Spring’
As for my favorite song and album of the year, I could easily hand that over to this album and song from Noah And The Whale. This release spoke to me in countless ways and was played dozens of times since I got my hands on it. Both lyrically/emotionally and musically it just hit everything right and tells a story of love and loss in such an uplifting, comforting way that I could not help but fall for it. (Artist Page)

Phoenix – Listomania from ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’
It was a tough call adding this because it sort of stands out as being the most commercially known and available music on my humble list but really, the album is full brilliant pop music that is hard to ignore. I’ve been a fan for years and always anticipate what they will come up with next. If you somehow have not heard this yet and enjoy an uplifting energetic song for your day this is an easy purchase. (Artist Page)

Sarah Winchester – Start To Row from ‘The Northeast Kingdom Demos’
Another subtle song, recorded in a way that brings you right into the heart of the song and leaves you feeling drawn into its little quiet world. This EP was given out free which surprised me because it was one of my favorite releases this year. The singer is the same female vocalist as found in the group ‘A Weather’ and her voice is soft and whispered here and blends into the hand strummed guitar line and the hiss of the recording to make a beautiful recording that I am happy to include here. (Artist Page)

School Of Seven Bells – My Camarilla from ‘My Cabal EP’
While there were plenty of great songs on their full length album I chose this as a favorite from them because as soon as I heard it I knew it would be added as a favorite for a long time to come. No words, simply a slowly evolving, uplifting warm piece of music that has made its way to my ears countless times since it’s release. A beautiful b-side that is not one to miss. (Artist Page)

SND – Untitled (11) from Atavism
While my favorite release from SND remains their album Tender Love, this release that was a long time coming it seemed, held a number of standouts including track 11 (all of which were untitled) which I found myself jumping to many many times. Their music is on the experimental side of electronic and while really basic on the surface there is a lot to catch in the subtleties of how these songs evolve and grow as you listen. (Artist Page)

Solo Andata – Loom from ‘Solo Andata’
This year I really got into a number of releases from the 12K catalogue of releases as they all share a similar, moody ambient feel with the exception of a couple albums that is. This release was a favorite of mine form the label this year. From what I understand the music is created without aid of any electronic sound sources, that is if I am remembering that right and the result is just beautiful. The slow swaying sounds of guitar and violin are hypnotic. (Artist Page)

The Tallest Man On Earth – The Gardner from ‘Shallow Graves’
This is one of those releases that I believe was first available in 2008 but was released in a larger scale this year and the vinyl copy I have here says 2009 so its going on my list heh. I love this song and this guys music. Its about as basic as you can get but the pace of his singing and enthusiastic tone to what he sings out just grabbed my attention and would not let go. (Artist Page)

Thom Yorke – All For The Best (Mark Mulcahy cover) from ‘Ciao My Shining Star’
I just love this song and Thom Yorke’s verison of it is simply brilliant and minimal and leaves so much focus to the melody and lyrics which I absolutely cant get enough of. I am happy to have the 7“ of this song as it is among my very favorites from this year and should not be missed for those who have not yet heard it. (Artist Page) (Compilation page)

Vetiver – Rolling Sea from ‘Tight Knit’
I am a long time fan of Vetiver and this is probably my favorite release from him in quite a while it feels. It gives me the same comforting feeling of his brilliant song Been So Long and listening to this takes me to a warm day near an ocean no matter where I am or what I am doing. Its just a beauty of a song. (Artist Page)

Washed Out – Feel It All Around from ‘Life Of Leisure’
This song is probably tied for my favorite new track of the year, something about it just begs you to feel good when you hear it. The perfect summer anthem blending a warm lo-fi aesthetic with an easy to sing along to catchy as hell melody. Turn it up on a sunny day and feel the warmth of the life all around you. (Artist Page) (Artist tore)

Wixel – Cloud Formation from ‘Clouds’
Last on the list only because its at the back end of the alphabet this song is my favorite from a years worth of releases from Wixel and his album each month project simply called 2009. There are a lot of wonderful songs hiding in the music he released this year from that project but this is one I come back to time and time again when I need a peaceful place for my mind to rest while I work or relax. Its available on his bandcamp site here. (Artist Page)


  1. Marijn - January 8, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Ever heard of Thomas Bartlett, a.k.a. Doveman? You should check out his latest album ‘The Conformist’. I think you might really enjoy it.

  2. john - January 8, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks Marijn, ill look into him. I don’t think I have ever heard his music before, thanks for the suggestion!

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