Posted by: cousinbrandon | December 31, 2009

“The Mixes” Series: Green, Yellow and Red, 2009

It’s been forever since I actually made a list of my favorite records of the year. I used to do that every year, even before I made actual mixes. I’d list out no less than 20 records, writing descriptions on each, ordering them carefully so I always had something to look back on to encapsulate the year. As time passed I whittled my list down to 10 records. Then, in 2003, I threw my system out the window, namely because I couldn’t come up with even 10 great records. I knew my favorite album released that year was Songs: Ohia’s Magnolia Electric Co., but that was about it. Placing another nine records in any sort of faux-order just didn’t seem necessary.

So, for the past five years I’ve avoided lists entirely and have stuck only to my mixes. Well, this year I’m back with a pseudo list of 10 records. Records 10 through 6 are all numbered “6,” simply because I’m not really ranking them other than the fact that they didn’t make the top 5. In other words, they all tied for 6th place. Records 1 through 5, however, are ordered. I feel it necessary to add that 2009 really wasn’t a good year for records. I know many critics argue that the record is dead, but I’m still not convinced. I think there are plenty of albums that work just fine – great, even – in their entirety. To call the record “dead” is, well, overkill.

Now, before I got to my top honors, as well as the contents of my Best of 2009 mixes, I want to add a couple special mentions:

Album Cover of the Year: Neko CaseMiddle Cyclone (Anti-)

Favorite Vocal of the Year: Three-way tie between:

The Thermals – “I Called Out Your Name” (the “Woah-oh” at 2:46 in the clip below)

Alec Ounsworth – “Holy, Holy, Holy Moses (Song for New Orleans)” (“Moses” at 2:41 below)

Neko Case – “Middle Cyclone” (the lyrics “They shake me deaf and dumb” at 1:36)

The Five Most Overrated Records Based On the Critics’ Picks:

Animal CollectiveMerriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
The Flaming LipsEmbryonic (Warner Bros.)
The xxThe xx (Young Turks)
GirlsAlbum (True Panther/Matador)
PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Loyauté/Glassnote)

And now, records 10 through 6 (or those records all tied for 6th place):

6. The ThermalsNow We Can See (Kill Rock Stars)
6. Do Make Say ThinkOther Truths (Constellation)
6. Florence and the MachineLungs (Island)
6. We Were Promised JetpacksThese Four Walls (FatCat)
6. The DecemberistsThe Hazards of Love (Capitol)

And here, now, are my top five records of 2009, beginning with number five:

5. Alec OunsworthMo Beauty (Anti-)

4. The Avett BrothersI And Love And You (Columbia/American)

3. The Fiery FurnacesI’m Going Away (Thrill Jockey)

2. Real EstateReal Estate (Woodsist)

1. Ida MariaFortress Round My Heart (Mercury Records)

Now, then, I opted to put together three CDs worth of music this year as opposed to my usual two. Each disc contains 20 songs. This year’s theme is a bit weak, what with the disc titles representing a traffic light (for example, Green for “go/fast”). Yellow is the biggest hodgepodge of the three, as there is a greater mixture of music thematically. Still, I think it works well from a song-to-song basis. With that, I give you my 2009 mixes…

Green front cover.

Green inside art.

Yellow front cover.

Yellow inside art.

Red front cover.

Red inside art.

Green (The Best “Fast” Tracks of 2009):

1. Animal Collective – “Brothersport
2. Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Wind Phoenix (Proper Name)
3. Ida Maria – “Oh My God
4. Metric – “Stadium Love
5. The Thermals – “I Called Out Your Name
6. Jay Reatard – “There Is No Sun
7. Art Brut – “Am I Normal?
8. We Were Promised Jetpacks – “Quiet Little Voices
9. Japandroids – “The Boys Are Leaving Town
10. Vivian Girls – “When I’m Gone
11. The Decemberists – “The Rake’s Song
12. Bishop Allen – “Shanghaied
13. The Fiery Furnaces – “Lost At Sea
14. Smothered in Hugs – “Young Flare
15. Harlem Shakes – “TFO
16. The Avett Brothers – “And It Spread
17. Islands – “EOL
18. Telekinesis! – “Coast of Carolina
19. Why? – “Against Me
20. Alec Ounsworth – “Idiots in the Rain

Yellow (The Best “Other” Tracks of 2009):

1. Florence and the Machine – “Kiss With a Fist
2. Sunset Rubdown – “Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!
3. Alec Ounsworth – “Bones in the Grave
4. St. Vincent – “Actor Out of Work
5. Art Brut – “DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes
6. Sister Suvi – “Desolation
7. Ida Maria – “Stella
8. Pink Mountaintops – “Holiday
9. Real Estate – “Fake Blues
10. Woods – “Rain On
11. The Thermals – “At the Bottom of the Sea
12. We Were Promised Jetpacks – “An Almighty Thud
13. Grizzly Bear – “Two Weeks
14. Magnolia Electric Co. – “Josephine
15. The Deep Dark Woods – “The Gallows
16. The Avett Brothers – “I and Love and You
17. They Might Be Giants – “Why Does the Sun Really Shine?
18. A.C. Newman – “Elemental
19. MeWithoutYou – “Allah, Allah, Allah
20. Riceboy Sleeps – “Indian Summer

Red (The Best “Slow” Tracks of 2009):

1. Heartless Bastards – “The Mountain
2. Florence and the Machine – “Girl With One Eye
3. Alec Ounsworth – “Holy, Holy, Holy Moses (Song for New Orleans)
4. Wye Oak – “Take It In
5. Bill Callahan – “Too Many Birds
6. The Fiery Furnaces – “Drive to Dallas
7. John Vanderslice – “Romanian Names
8. Magnolia Electric Co. – “Shiloh
9. Neko Case – “Middle Cyclone
10. Swan Lake – “Ballad of a Swan Lake, or, Daniels Song
11. Real Estate – “Snow Days
12. The Thermals – “How We Fade
13. The Avett Brothers – “Ill With Want
14. Islands – “Heartbeat
15. The Mountain Goats – “Genesis 30:3
16. Ida Maria – “Drive Away My Heart
17. A.C. Newman – “There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve
18. Grizzly Bear – “While You Wait For the Others
19. Bon Iver – “Beach Baby
20. The Antlers – “Epilogue

Well, folks, that’ll do it for 2009. A lot of work went into this year’s edition, so I genuinely hope you enjoy it. Now, then, I encourage you to do two things:

  1.  In the comments section, let me know your favorite songs and records of 2009. What did I miss that? What do you violently disagree with? What are you wholeheartedly in agreement with?
  2. Should you choose to (or if you have already) put together a Best of 2009 disc of your own, by all means send me a copy of the disc, or at the very least a track listing. I’ll do my best to post them on my blog.

Until 2010, have at it, you vultures!




  1. Animal Collective,The Antlers, The Avett Brothers, Bon Iver, Florence and the Machine, Grizzly Bear, Metric and the always wonderful Neko Case all reside in various iTunes playlists of mine.

    What a fine selection, Sir.

    (listening to “Kiss with a Fist” as I type this)

    • Thanks so much for the kind words, as always. Lots of great songs this year, but, as I said above, not so many great records. And the Neko Case is just outside of the top 10, incidentally.

      And as for Florence and the Machine, “You hit me once / I hit you back…”

  2. Awesome. Love them. Still trying to decide which of the three is my favorite. I’m in love with red and green, and in like with yellow. Thank you most of all for introducing me to Florence + The Machine. I love them so much now, listen to them every day. Her voice is amazing. And “Indian Summer” by Riceboy Sleeps? Absolutely lovely. Thank you for that as well. One of the prettiest songs ever. Looking forward to many more listens.

    Btw, congratulations on hitting 10,000 reads here, Brandon! It’s always fun to visit your spot whether it’s for poetry, music, or to mock you. xo

    • I’m with you on Yellow, bgb, as being the least strong of the three. It’s clearly not as cohesive. Still, plenty of great songs on all of them. (Okay, that wasn’t at ALL humble.) And the vocalist on Riceboy Sleeps is actually the frontman of Sigur Ros, so, yeah, lovely.

      Thanks for the reads, thanks for the kudos, and thanks for the mockery. I deserve every bit of it.

  3. Merriweather Post Pavillion is definetly the most overrated album of the year and could possibly tie The Knife’s “Silent Shout” of 2006 as the most overrated album of the decade. Not to mention that it is on a continual loop at frat houses with the likes of Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit, Dave Mathews and maybe a little 2Pac. My 2 cents.

    • I’m with you. If you saw Pitchfork’s review (which I link to above), I believe they gave it a 9.6. Everyone and his brother loved the new Animal Collective, and yet I found it extremely boring (much like The Flaming Lips record). I’ll take AC’s Sung Tongs or Feels any day over the new record. Also, good call on The Knife, Sir.

  4. Upon further review, here are my favorite selections…

    1. “Kiss with a Fist” Florence + The Machine
    2. “Stella” Ida Maria
    3. “When I’m Gone” Vivian Girls
    4. “Middle Cyclone” Neko Case

    Wow. After looking at that list, only one thing comes to mind: “Holy hell, I gotta have these women.”

  5. Okay, a few things Mr. Dameshek.

    First…Where do you get the art for your covers, because that is some cool shit. (If you are doing that too, I may have to kill myself with jealousy)

    Second…Could not agree more with you about Animal Collective…what gives? I so don’t get them.

    Third…I am so happy to see the Avett Brothers on your list…I have a serious addiction to that album…it’s SO good.

    Enjoyed your appearance on LCS last night. Way to fight the good fight for us hipsters! Shalom, my man.

    • Although I’m also a painter (sort of), I did NOT paint these images. I lifted ’em off of Google, so thanks to those artists whose imagery I, er, borrowed.

      Everyone I talk to seems to feel the same way about the Animal Collective record, yet it’s the critics’ darling. Again, it’s overproduced and, well, not so good. I urge you to check out Sung Tongs and Feels.

      Thanks for reading, Craig!

  6. Appreciate you introducing The Thermals to me as a Portlander I endeavor to chiggidy check them.
    Surprised Ida Maria, I Like You So Much Better…, didnt get top billing as their best stuff. Its a catchy tune and promotes female promiscuity. Whats not to love?
    You replaced weak, with week, in this post. That’s weak.
    Anyhow. I actually posted your blog link on my Facefuck, thats how much I enjoyed the show/content.

    • First and foremost, the “weak” issue has been corrected. I’m ashamed of myself. That, Sir, is what sleep deprivation does to a man.

      Second, yes, you must check out The Thermals but quick! Again, go for The Body, The Blood, The Machine followed by Fuckin’ A.

      Third, the reason I will almost never pick a song like “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” is due to staying power. Look, that was the first single from the record. Songs like that, while catchy, are too “easy” and typically don’t hold up as well over time. I’d much rather dig a little deeper and find a diamond in the rough, so to speak. Remember “Hey Ya!”? Exactly.

      • Aww. I think Hey Ya actually holds up quite nicely. Though I do completely see your point.

        Sorry I’m so late to the party here. Wow, where to begin. I certainly want to go with a real sincere thank you. It’s honestly a little overwhelming how much new material there is in here, and I’m pretty taken with a great deal of it. I’ve tried to do a pretty good job of digesting each mix before moving off of it and I’m still working my way through the Green cd. Well, I guess I should just get into the current favorites.

        Also, before I get too into it. I’m also with you on the Animal Collective cd. Certainly not to say that I don’t like the record, I do. It is immensley overblown though. Great call on that one.

        I figure I’ll go with my top 3 from each mix:
        Avett Brothers – I’ll With Want
        Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
        Florence and the Machine – Girl With One Eye
        Alec Ounsworth – Bones in the Grave
        Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks
        Pink Mountaintops – Holiday
        the Decemberists – The Rake’s Song
        Smothered in Hugs – Young Flare
        Bishop Allen – Shanghaied

        and that was pretty tough all in all. I also know that if I was repolled on the matter in a month you’d probably get a totally different selection. There is just a ton of great stuff here.

        Top 3 of 2009 outside of bands on the comp (keep in mind that I’m still pretty behind for the year):
        Wilco – Bull Black Nova
        Bowerbirds – Northern Lights
        the Spires – Famous Last Words
        Blitzen Trapper – Preacher’s Sister’s Boy
        Polvo – Beggar’s Bowl

        I can tell you for certain that the Avett Brothers and Alec Ounsworth records have jumped to the top of my list of things to buy and there are a few others that have been added as well.
        Thanks a lot man. I really appreciate everything.

  7. Shoot, I meant top 5.

    • Great to hear from you as always, WakingUpWithRobots. As reader Craig was so good to point out with me, I completely fucked up my “Green” covers by listing The Avett Brothers song as “I’ll With Want,” when I meant to write “Ill With Want.” Duh!

      In any event, glad you’re enjoying the compilations. Just wanted to respond to one of your personal picks in particular, that being Wilco. This last record of theirs was, well, pedestrian. By that, I mean it was a solid record, but nothing out of the ordinary or all that interesting. They’re in dangerous waters at the moment, as I fear they might have peaked. I still point to AM as my favorite Wilco record, and you can easily see the transformation from that to Summerteeth when you look at the transitional record in between, Being There (which is a great album, by the way). I loved Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, as well. Still, this new record is just, well, flat. There’s nothing to hold onto as far as I’m concerned, and it’s a shame.

  8. I do agree on the whole about the Wilco album. The funny thing with me and that record is that there is this block of about 4 or 5 tracks that may as well be one song as far as I’m concerned. It all just sort of bleeds together. I think it’s also helped by the fact that I saw them live right before the album came out and they were amazing so I already had that sort of completed vision of the songs being realized (particularly Bull Black Nova which was just nuts live). For the most part Wilco (the song), Deeper Down, and Bull Black Nova are the only real stand-outs there. The rest of it is kind of “a nice record” by a band that I expect at least close to greatness from. I also felt pretty similarly about Sky Blue Sky.
    You’re right, it is kind of a shame. That middle pocket of albums you discussed are really amazing stuff.

  9. […] comparing Cousin Matt’s mixes to my 2009 mixes, Green, Yellow and Red, it would appear we six songs in common (Woods’ “Rain On,” Real Estate’s “Snow Days,” […]

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