JUICE got together with a bunch of artists, musicians, designers, friends and fire starters to pick out the gems from the sh!t. It wasn’t easy – egos and eardrums were attacked by arguments and cottonbuds – but after much debate here’s the countdown to the best albums of 2009. Turn volume to 11, please.
TEXT BEN LIEW, KEVIN YEOH, MIRANDA YEOH, MATT ARMITAGE, ALIA, ETHAN CHU, CHRISTOPHER UJINE ONG, CHOOEE, DILL MALIK, WORDSMANIFEST, NOH, ALTIMET, JEROME KUGAN, MAK WAI HOO, DJ GOLDFISH, DJ GANJAGURU, DJ VICTOR G, RUEBNI KARUNAKARAN, JESSICA TAN.
KAREN O & THE KIDS
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (SOUNDTRACK)
GEFFEN / INTERSCOPE
Howling frontwoman Karen O leads an all-star indie rock line-up including Deerhunter singer Bradford Cox, The Bird and the Bee’s Greg Kurstin, a pair of Raconteurs and her fellow Yeah Yeah Yeahs in this jubilant soundtrack to her ex-boyfriend Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. With the help of an actual children’s choir, this soundtrack will stick in the minds of kids until they’re way past adulthood. And in term will bring tears to those who already have past those years. Warm, earthy, folky and innocent, this’ll leave a dent in your otherwise solid heart. Simply timeless. BL
EMPIRE OF THE SUN
WALKING ON A DREAM
Empire of the Sun are a pair of Aussies with a flair for costumes consisting of Sleepy Jackson’s Luke Steele and PNAU’s Nick Littlemore. Not taking themselves too seriously, the duo has created some catchy synth-pop love songs that gained them the number 4 spot on BBC’s Sound of 2009. Like an uber-chic Fleetwood Mac sharing a dressing-room with David Bowie, Walking on a Dream is a space-disco album that actually sounds the part. More electro than retro, Empire of the Sun is leading us to party in a galaxy far, far away. BL
WEST RYDER PAUPER LUNATIC ASYLUM
Kasabian guitarist Sergio Pizzorno has described this 52-minute long player as “the soundtrack to an imaginary movie”. If those words are anything to go by, then West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum is Quentin Tarantino meets Guy Ritchie in one of those badass gangsta flicks. Mystically dark and infectiously groovy, this 3rd by the Brit alt rock band is a concept album named after a 19th century mental institute. It brings back all the best elements of Madchester (despite the band claiming that’s lazy journalism), mixing it up with slick production courtesy of Gorillaz’s production supremo Dan The Automator. Capitalising on big beats and psychedelic vibes, West Ryder is Kasabian at their pub-brawling best. And if you’re still not convinced, consider this: even Noel Gallagher gave the lads two thumbs up! BL
THE END RECORDS
After their lukewarm 2006 comeback, no one expected Evan Dando and co to be back on the saddle for a while. But then Varshons comes along and we are yet again elated. Inspired by old mix tapes of Butthole Surfer Gibby Haynes (who also produced this album), Varshons sees Dando at his best covering classic and obscure tracks like sh*t smearing punker GG Alin’s ‘Layin’ Up With Linda’ and Linda Perry’s ‘Beautiful’ (written for Christina Aguilera). Most of the album is acoustic driven but there are some offbeat moments such as the electro duet with model Kate Moss on ‘Dirty Robot’ and another haunting duet with Liv Tyler for Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye’. This album has masterpiece written all over it – even if it’s not by Dando’s own pen. BL
VALLEY OF THE DEAD
QUIET STILL DEAD
I think Killeur Calculateur’s EP Valley of the Dead is really great. It’s 7 minutes of hyper, hyper music that doesn’t drag, because it’s too short, like one song is about a minute or so. I think it’s great. Unfortunately, I wished the album had more songs so it wouldn’t repeat itself so fast. My favourite song from the album is the whole album. Dill Malik
There has been a return to the art of listening instead of hearing, away from mere emo-punk posturing to spiritual-folk proclivities. At the forefront of the alt country scene, are 21-year-old head kid Robin Pecknold and his skulk of Fleet Foxes. They may sound like replicas of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and The Beach Boys, but they are modern pilgrims segueing sacred choral music, gothic Americana and “freak folk” into possibly one of the year’s loveliest albums. CUO
Having spent our entire college-lives listening to Zero7, this downtempo duo admittedly has a special place in our hearts. Fortunately they’ve grown and evolved from album to album – their beginnings with Simple Things and When It Falls sounds like one’s teen angst ridden years, dark and moody yet sexy. If The Garden could be considered the equivalent to the time you’re learning to be sure of yourself, Yeah Ghost is you all grown up, confident, sophisticated and ready for a night out. MY
ONLY BUILT FOR CUBAN LINX … II
Rae seemed to sit himself down hard and decided that rather than reinvent himself as so many other hip-hop artists of his tenure and exposure do on a constant basis (look at Jay-Z: he’s trying to sound completely different on every album he puts out) the best thing for him as an artist, and the most rewarding thing for his fans, was to be true to his original format. OB4CL2 is both a tribute to the classic 90s Wu-Tang sound and a reaffirmation of the style’s longevity. A lot of rap artists don’t take “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seriously enough. The album is not the classic Pt I is, but give it a few years, who knows. It grows on you. WordsManifest
Get ready for the top 10 albums of 2009!Â Coming soon!