25. Wavves – Wavvves [US]
It was the best of years/it was the worst of years for Nathan Williams, having blown up to the degree that people cared about him melting down pretty much in the 6-9 months before he melted down onstage at Primavera. As with non-alt melters Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty, the press often overshadows the music, but Wavves are in fact very good. Wavvves picks up the stoner-fuzz-pop formula where Wavves left it, interspersing paranoiac abstraction between anthemic brilliance. How brilliant? So Bored gets a quarter of the screen when they’re reading out the winner of Song of the Year at the Official Correct Music Taste awards, and maybe a lifetime place on the Summer/Stoner playlist, by my reckoning.
(Wavves Daytripped, but the No Hope Kids video gets special mention cos I was there while one of the Whelans scenes was being filmed.)
24. Girls – Album [US]
Reduce, reuse, recycle. It seems like you weren’t anybody this year if you didn’t have a song with the beat from Just Like Honey. So, even though they’re basically vacuous Californians by definition – being brought up in a cult and then escaping into prescription addiction will do that to you – Girls still managed to stake out their own little patch in 2009. When you’re as patently retro [via Elvis C/girl groups/chanteuses] as this, it comes down to the songs, and these are beautifully sun-damaged pop songs, led from the front by Lust For Life, one of the tracks of the year.
(Girls explain their bizarre history to the Guardian, and have their friend mime their song using their other friend’s penis as a microphone)
23. Sky Larkin – The Golden Spike [ENG]
With the head of a knowing British post-something band grafted onto the fine strong body of Portland girl-rock, Katie Harkin’s Sky Larkin exist in the strange zombie world of English bands not being heavily pushed by the people who know these things in England. Regardless, theirs is a power-trio of particular note, with songs like Fossil, I and Antibodies combining cleverness with three-as-one powerhouse guitar music to present something not at all twee, but more than a little catchy.
22. Karen O & The Kids – Where The Wild Things Are OST [US]
Convention states then when you grow up, you stop playing with toys, watching cartoons and going digging for worms. This is the 00s, though. The decade of Disney Pixar and editions of Harry Potter for grown-ups. The line is blurred. Karen O’s voice has always had a note of conspiratorial fun in it that endeared her to quasi-rebellious teens, and it happens to work perfectly on the kids’ music soundtrack to this kids’ film. All Is Love is post-Danielson, and Rumpus is post-No Cars Go, and as a whole it’s more about “indie” people and not growing up than it is about entertaining children.. Fun and melancholically nostalgic in equal measures, and Karen O’s best work of the year.
21. Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport [ENG]
Tarot Sport, it came to me while I was walking up Liffey Street through the fog of my own breath on a frozen Christmas shopping day, is cold molten crystal music. It’s satisfyingly massive in scale – Surf Solar in particular is titanic both temporally (at 10.34) and sonically – and operates wordlessly on the parts of moods at the edge of language, the ones you know but don’t have a name for. Let it all wash by at low volume, or blast it out, it doesn’t matter. This is intelligent, pristine massiveness, unapologetic and proud.
(Dude I’m tripping balls to the Surf Solar video.)