Best of 2009: Music

I just don’t get the noise the young people listen to these days.

As far as I can make out, my taste in music got locked in around 1999, along with my clothes. I’ve got friends — friends my age, even — who seem to understand what’s popular on a level that just baffles me; for me, the highlight of my musical year was a terrific concert by The Pogues and another by the Pixies, both of which were just a couple hours hearing music I loved in college.

According to my research, I’ve heard exactly six of the albums released in 2009:

  • Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future by The Bird & The Bee
  • Middle Cyclone by Neko Case
  • The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists
  • Sad Man Happy Man by Mike Doughty

and the only two that I thought were worth putting on a “best of” anything list:

1. Actor by St. Vincent
I’ve already confessed to having a huge crush on Annie Clark now, but I want to say it again: this is some of the best music I’ve heard in years. Best track is either “The Strangers” or “Black Rainbow,” take your pick.

(Incidentally, apparently I had it wrong, and Clark doesn’t call herself St. Vincent, but it’s the name of the band. The name is a reference to St. Vincent’s hospital in New York, which she calls “the place where poetry goes to die.”)

2. The Music of JG Thirlwell for The Venture Brothers
This was just bad-ass and you can also get it on vinyl. And it counts as an album instead of just a soundtrack, because I never really noticed the music that much during the series but I think it’s amazing here. If you can hear “Tuff” and not totally rock, rock out, then you’re a robot.

(And if you like the Venture Brothers music but haven’t heard Thirlwell’s other recordings as Foetus and Steroid Maximus, you should check out Ectopia, the track “Chaiste” in particular.)