1. Yo La Tengo, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (Matador)
So this has to be their masterpiece. A longtime coming, but what buildup. A mellow synthesis of all that makes them great: a little avant-rock rock out, studied drones and a few bah-bah-bahs. Simple bliss. Really and truly.
2. Third Eye Foundation, Little Lost Soul (Merge)
Back in fine form. Puts some of the intelligent,occasionally the dance, and always the music in IDM.
3. Morr Music Comp., Putting the Morr Back in Morrissey (Morr)
The future of future pop. Brilliant mix of American, German/European and Canadian stay-at-home folks remixing themselves and one another. Perrey and Kingsley for the black turtleneck set. Thoughtful and melodic, this somehow summed up my taste for the past twenty years in ways so many records this year couldn’t.
4. Lowfish, Eliminator (Suction)
Canadian analog knob-twiddler. Hooked up with the Morr music set. Dance music for aliens, robots and you.
5. GoBetweens, Songs for Rachel Worth (Jetset)
After many years out in the wilderness (or cane fields) and McLennan and Forster return to team up with those savvy rioting types to jump start what was beginning to look like lacklustre solo careers. Fine and as perfectly out of step as they always were.
6. B. Fleischmann, Pop Loops for Breakfast (and the Sidonie EP) (Morr)
More on the electronic pop front. The way out sounds are worth grooving to. Got my circuits breaking in ways they haven’t broken before.
7. Lali Puna, Tridecoder (Morr)
Again, something from Morr Music. Cool and French (and German and Portuguese), but only barely paraphrasing Stereolab. This is beautiful, graceful and elegant. And more.
8. Various Artists, Remixen die Welttraumforscher (Gagarin)
From Gagarin Records, more out-there Germans doing what they do best: quirky, detached and abstract all done up with cute German accents. Playful and occasionally ponderous, but only just.
9. Tomas Jirku, Variants (Alien8)
I’m not sure why the top 10 is so chock’a’block with Canucks. Well two, actually. But both are worth the trip to Acton (as they say). More noodling, but this time dub-flecked minimalist techno. Warm and gurgly blips and clicks enveloped in a gauzy haze.
10. Ersatz Audio, Forgotten Sounds of Tomorrow (Ersatz Audio)
More retro-electro. If rock can shamelessly plunder the past, so can electronic music. Cool and artificial in all the right places. Tastefully timeless.
Elk City, Status
Mitchell Akiyama, intr_verse
Low and Springheel Jack, Bombscare EP
Blonde Redhead, Melody of Certain Damages Lemons
Raymond Scott, Manhattan Research Inc.
Pop-Shopping: Juicy Music from German Commercials 1960-1975
Lee Hazlewood, The Cowboy and the Ladies
OMD, Peel Sessions
OHM – The Early Gurus of Electronic Music
Doob Doob O’Rama 2 – More Filmsongs from Bollywood
Mixed Up in the Hague Vol. 1
Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (Kranky)
Living where I live (Montreal), it’s been hard listening to Godspeed the same way I did say four years ago. I hate to buy into the ‘local saturation syndrome’ but that’s about it.
Label of the year has to be Morr Music, with Suction (in Toronto) running a close second.
Many disappointments and high points that, for the sake of brevity and to avoid by-now tired cliches about how sucky or great the year was, I’ve left out.
Best to all in the new year.