Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of 2009: Short-Form Achievements

Ah, it's that time of the year again. It's time for us to gather, and share the things we like and berate the things we didn't like. Well, I'll be doing more of the former (I'm trying to keep the negativity to a minimum, but we'll see how long that lasts). I liked some EPs and singles this year, and I would like to share what they were with you. I didn't really decide on any sort of hierarchy, so here's a simple list:

Singles and stuph:

THE SHACKLES - "Broken Arm" b/w "Funeral Shroud"
(Sweet Rot Records)
Five and a half minutes of tight, well crafted power pop split over two songs. A fun and catchy, but, more importantly, promising start from a relatively new Seattle band.

ABE VIGODA - Reviver
(Post-Present Medium)
LA art-punks continue to move toward accessibility. Reviver sounds like an epilogue to their breakout 2008 album Skeleton without simply sounding like a retread of old ideas. It's well-paced, alternating between frenetic and placid, most of the time within the same song. Plus, it has a killer cover of "Wild Heart" by Stevie Nicks.

NO AGE - Losing Feeling
(Sub Pop)
I wasn't much of a No Age fan last year when Nouns dropped, but I'm glad I gave them another shot. For two dudes, they sure get a lot done over the course of four songs. The record is equal parts frenzied punk rock, anthemic psychedelia, and lush, reverb-soaked dream pop. Fun for the whole family. The video to "Losing Feeling" is one of my favorites too.

REAL ESTATE - "Suburban Beverage" 7"
(Underwater Peoples Records)
A meandering mess of reverb and guitars over hushed vocals and a bouncy bassline almost represents Real Estate's mission statement. The A-Side clocks in at six-and-a-half minutes (it runs at 33rpm) and really only has one verse but it exemplifies the early sound of the band. It sounds two beers and a few puffs deep. The two tracks on the b-side, "Black Lake" and "Old Folk" are solid as well.

SPIDER BAGS - "Teenage Eyes" b/w "Eileen" 7"
(Odessa Records)

Twangy garage rock from Chapel Hill (by way of New Jersey?). The best thing from the South to come from the North in a long time. Rowdy without being abrasive, and catchy without being boring. Fun stuff.

Remember to stay tuned for the upcoming "Best Of" lists for albums and compilations/reissues from this year, and the daunting "Best of 2000-2009" list.

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