My Year In Lists

Every song needs a home, every record needs a song or two and every year needs a fair few records. This year, the song shelters that powered dark days and enlightened nights were, in a distinctly particular order:

20. Tarot Sport, Fuck Buttons
Tarot Sport from noisecore Bristol duo Fuck Buttons was just as relentless a listen as Street Horrrsing yet Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power for the first time exposed frenetically beautiful melodies for the very first time.

19. Get Color, HEALTH
Similarly, Canadian noise rock titans HEALTH had often opted to neglect musical coherence previously in favour of sonic abrasion. Get Color welcomed back frantic instrumentation that concocted a visceral, layered cacophony with Die Slow sounding somewhere along the lines of Enya whacked out on acid in the Haçienda circa '95.

18. Post-Nothing, Japandroids
The debut LP from Vancouver's Japandroids channeled a similar clattering of drums and splattering of barré chords as Californian noiseniks No Age yet came out in ecstatic rashes. The Boys Are Leaving Town drips with sweat, froths at the mouth and still manages to be as delightful as a thousand birthdays.

17. The Golden Spike, Sky Larkin
Current darlings of a sedated Leeds music scene, Huw Stevens faves Sky Larkin released a spiralling snowball of a record as jagged as sabre teeth from a Dinosaur Pile-Up, as gutsy as bodies Pulled Apart By Horses. Matador was the calming red flag and indisputable highlight.

16. Chant Darling, Lawrence Arabia
New Zealander Lawrence Arabia (aka James Milne) ploughed ahead with Chant Darling whilst keeping his eyes fixed on the rear-view mirror, drawing inspiration from the likes of The Beatles and Brian Wilson whilst spinning a uniquely blissful thread throughout such divine inspiration.

15. Gorilla Manor, Local Natives
As simplistically beautiful as a Santa Monica sunset, LA Local Natives' naïvely nimble guitars and hauntingly alluring vocals made Gorilla Manor a record as thorough as Brighton rock.

14. Duke Pandemonium, Marmaduke Duke
Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro fame and fortune must have had a fair bit of pent-up disco fever awaiting an outlet prior to the unleashing of Duke Pandemonium. A schizophrenic burst of kaleidoscopic insanity bettering Only Revolutions on sheer audacity alone.

13. Wooden Arms, Patrick Watson
Wooden Arms swirled with enough woozy strings to power an Arcade Fire for years as the rustic harmonies of Watson's pots and pans made for an exasperating, timeless listen. Culminating in a Union Chapel heartstopping show in Islington, Watson somehow remains about as unheralded and unknown as desolate log cabbins in the heart of the forests of Canada.

12. Dead Man's Bones, Dead Man's Bones
Wondrously haunting sounds from actor Ryan Gosling and the prepubescent hope of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children's Choir, the debut S/T LP is far more terrifying than that Goosebumps episode Gosling starred in all those moons ago.

11. About Love, Plastiscines
All-female quartet Plastiscines were never going to have many problems crossing borders and escaping the claustrophobic electro-domineering of Paris, before winding up on the likes of Gossip Girl... Whilst About Love barely scratches the surface of emotion, promiscuity, indie obsession and saccharine swagger all lace an album by The Donnas it's alright to fawn over.

10. The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, Dent May
Dent May, labelmate of Animal Collective, is about as far removed from their hallucinatory howls musically as he is geographically from Wagdug Futuristic Unity. Reclaiming the ukulele back from drab Youtube covers is no mean feat though and Girls on the Square reeks of delightful desperation.

9. Now We Can See, The Thermals
Far from the post-punk opus of 2006, The Body, The Blood, The Machine, Now We Can See is still infinitely superior to the KROQ krap Green Day pummel the United States of whatever with these days. And in the title track, they've finally penned their own anthem.

8. Fever Ray, Fever Ray
The Knife have proved themselves to be amongst the most innovative artists of this generation, despite wallowing in minimal electro as dark as David Lynch directing early NIN in a syringe-littered underpass. Karin Dreijer Andersson's debut solo outing was equally stirring and provides the ultimate underground soundtrack, whilst trampling all over the mainstream.

7. The Fame (Monster), Lady Gaga
2009 may not be recalled for all that much musical revolution but pop-wise, it's belonged to Stefani Germanotta. The Fame would have gatecrashed the top ten regardless but as if it weren't impeccable enough, The Fame Monster reaffirmed her status with sledgehammer slabs of synth-heavy chart destroyers.

6. Is And Always Was, Daniel Johnston
It had been a while that cutesy cult hero Daniel Johnston had forged a studio record and Is And Always Was heralded the ideal return, filled with slurred sympathies for the superlative songsmith.

5. Telekinesis!, Telekinesis
Bespectacled Seattle power popper Michael Benjamin Lerner shocked with his debut like a bolt out of the blue. As catchy as Gaga and as emotionally charged as The Thermals on a loveless Valentines Day Telekinesis abnormally warp the musical side of your brain and fry it, laying it out in the shape of an exclamation mark on a skull-shaped plate.

4. Journal For Plague Lovers, Manic Street Preachers
Evading the mire of Radio 2 fodder the Manics have peddled over the past decade and featuring the lyrical majesty of the late (presumably), great (definitely) Richey James Edwards, the spit and shine choral blasts of Peeled Apples and Jackie Collins Existential Question Time shaved years off the veteran Valley boys and cemented their status as controversial captains of Britain.

3. In And Out Of Control, The Raveonettes
Spaghetti Western reverb-drenched guitars, stomping drums and a hefty Velvet Underground influence added a pristine sheen to the great Danish duo's ingeniuos indie amalgamation. Lyrics taking on rapists, drugs and joy riding, Sune and Sharin are maturing. Like Glastonbury cheddar rather than Glastonbury headliners though...

2. A Balloon Called Moaning, The Joy Formidable
North Wales' prime purveyors of unpredictable indie power pop conjured up a near-faultless 8-track behemoth that bettered almost every British release of the past twelve months. The contorted pop sensibilities of Cradle and The Last Drop earned the still-unsigned trio (awaiting the right label although personally I'd be on the verge of drawing together a label just to house them) lauded support slots with the likes of Editors, Passion Pit and The Temper Trap. Although they bettered the lot of them. And frontwoman Ritzy Bryan's the 34th sexiest woman in Wales.

1. No More Stories Are Told Today, I'm Sorry, They Washed Away, Mew
Dreamy melancholy that'll last for decades from Denmark's dreampop saviours. If the genre ever existed in the first place... Opener New Terrain can be played backwards as well as forwards, the jilt-funk of Introducing Palace Prayers is otherworldly and Beach is the perfect pop song Simon Cowell is sure never to aurally digest. Their Shepherds Bush Empire show provided the musical moment of the year to top it all off.