Dirty Projectors
“Ascending Melody”

Dirty Projectors released a limited-edition 7-inch this week, featuring “Ascending Melody” and “Emblem of the World,” exclusively through Domino Mart. But you can also get the 7-inch free in MP3 form through DP’s website.

• Dirty Projectors: http://www.dirtyprojectors.net
• Domino: http://www.dominorecordco.us

Animal Collective

“Brothersport”

From Domino:

“Brothersport” is the new video from Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, directed by Jack Kubizne.

• Animal Collective: http://myanimalhome.net
• Domino: http://www.dominorecordco.com

Citay

“Mirror Kisses”

Citay are releasing a new LP titled Dream Get Together. Here’s a track from the album, called “Mirror Kisses.” Take a listen, and pre-order the LP here if you’d like to. BUT ONLY IF YOU’D LIKE TO.

• Citay: http://www.citay.net
• Dead Oceans: http://www.deadoceans.com

Let's Wrestle

“We are the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon”

Merge has recently added British rockers Let’s Wrestle to their ever-growing roster. The three-piece band’s debut full-length, In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s, is set for release March 23, and you can preview a track from it by hitting the little play button. Titled “We are the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon,” the song was described by singer Wesley Patrick Gonzalez as “Let’s Wrestle’s Barmitzvah from whence they turned from punk pre-teens into men who rock.” FYI.

• Let’s Wrestle: http://www.myspace.com/letsfuckingwrestle
• Merge: http://www.mergerecords.com

Chocolate Grinder Mix 25

“Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White”

My first love may be electronic music, as it has been since the early naughties, but that does not dampen my love of organic sound. This mix distills the finest guitar, jazz, and prefix-laden independent music, along with a little hops and barley, into a refreshing, full bodied lager that is FDA approved to cure road trip doldrums. I’m humbled and grateful to feature, in full-on, theremin-driven, post-rock glory, The Octopus Project [one of my favorite post-millennial collectives] as well as The Heavy, whose sophomore record grows on me a little more every time I hear it. You would also be well advised to remember the name Examples Of Twelves, as they comfortably rank among England’s finest purveyors of contemporary jazz. Sometimes good guys don’t wear white; sometimes good music comes from outside your comfort zone.

01. The Heavy - “Short Change Hero” (The House That Dirt Built)
Start time: 0:00; Links: Counter - The Heavy

02. Jamie T - “On The Green” (Kings & Queens)
Start time: 5:19; Links: Astralwerks - Jamie T

03. Experimental Dental School - “Dark Stars In Daylight” (Forest Field)
Start time: 8:50; Links: Terrorbird - Experimental Dental School

04. The Octopus Project - “Rorol” (Golden Beds EP)
Start time: 11:56; Links: Peek-A-Boo - The Octopus Project

05. 3 Shades - “Bombay Can” (Thank God For Beatnicks)
Start time: 17:49; Links: Alien Transistor - 3 Shades

06. Shona Foster - “Dance Of The Meanies” (Hard Work EP)
Start time: 23:48; Links: Beach Hut - Shona Foster

07. OOIOO - “O O I A H” (Arminico Hewa)
Start time: 27:11; Links: Thrill Jockey - OOIOO

08. Law Of Least Effort - “Massive Transaction” (Library Catalog Music Series - Vol 2: Music for Measurements)
Start time: 30:23; Links: Asthmatic Kitty - Law Of Least Effort

09. Hush Arbors - “Fast Asleep” (Yankee Reality)
Start time: 33:59; Links: Ecstatic Peace! - Hush Arbors

10. Examples Of Twelves - “Orange/Gold” (Impossible Ark: A Compilation)
Start time: 38:19; Links: Impossible Ark - Examples Of Twelves

Artwork: [Keith Kawaii]

2009: Chocolate Grinder Mix 2009

One, two, three times a mix

This year, we started a new section on the site called Chocolate Grinder, where we created 10-track mixes from newly-released albums. It was a blast. So, instead of doing another typical year-end mix without audio (as we've done the last several years), we decided to turn the year-end mix into a Chocolate Grinder mix. Which means we're now able to celebrate some of our favorite songs of the year with actual music. What a concept! We chose 20 tracks and sequenced them into two different "sides." Take a listen, and allow us to change your opinion of 2009, track by track.

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SIDE A:

01. Joakim - "Medusa" (Milky Ways)
- Start time: 0:00; Label: !K7

Joakim is like the Jacques Dutronc of the late '00s; guileful and charming, he blithely brandishes the zeitgeist while we try to guess exactly which side he's on. Once "Medusa" 's opening ear-drill of a tone cedes to yearning choral harmonies, we sense our imminent seduction at the hands of this winsome French trickster. Chilly elongated vocals anchor and direct the ebullient electronics, which sound like something out of the Dan Deacon beatbook, except with a sense of decorum. "Sheee. Isss. Sailll-linggg." Wait, which mythological story are we even in? As we speed on our course to a paradisal haven, the song suddenly shifts to a chorus of demented, dubbed-out vocal tics over nail-in-the-coffin drums; a rocky ending. The rhythm sequence still has more juice left, though, so we're on to round two: "Sheee's. Gottt. Shaaarppp. Teeeeth." This time around we know what's coming but still we follow, heedless. Percussive synths throb; demon dub obliterates; our eulogy is given over waves of washy scales. As the French say, la petite mort. --Brendan Mahoney

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02. Atlas Sound - "Criminals" (Logos)
- Start time: 5:36; Label: Kranky

Bradford Cox and I are on the same page. Whether with Deerhunter or Atlas Sound, his hit-to-miss ratio is out of this world right now. With Deerhunter, he was responsible for last year's stellar Microcastle, and this year his Atlas Sound project may have one-upped that record with Logos, a hazy pop/rock collection of one incredible tune after another. Picking a favorite is tough, but "Criminals" was an easy highlight, a swooning, starry-eyed vision awash in reverb, swirling around a simple, repetitive guitar figure. Sure, you could describe most of Logos in the same terms, but "Criminals" best encapsulates the album's druggy, ethereal charm. --Tamec

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03. Foreign Born - "Vacationing People" (Person To Person)
- Start time: 8:30; Label: Secretly Canadian

If moments are monuments, then consider the drum fill that marks the 38th second in Foreign Born's "Vacationing People" Mount motherfucking Rushmore. It comes exactly 38 seconds after the sort of precision-based kickoff that makes all these "glo-fi" acts sound as if they're just having trouble getting to the point, and its anticipatory prelude arrives five seconds beforehand, in the guise of hysterically enjoyable Afro-popped guitar notes. Jamming three memorable moments into one minute of a song is no small feat, and making every second count is precisely the aim and intent of "Vacationing People," right down to the endlessly strung-out guitar chords, numerous vocal affectations set off like perfectly-placed firecrackers, and the warm, nearly romantic sax lines that close out the tune. After all, what's the point of a vacation if it's not perfectly planned out? --Larry Fitzmaurice

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04. Ga'an - "Servant Eye" (Ga'an)
- Start time: 13:16; Label: self-released

Don't you love how we canonize older bands? Looks like far-out 70s shit like Cluster, Neu!, Magma, and Amon Düül II are finally being stocked at Best Buy, if you get what I'm saying. Suffice to say, if a track like Ga'an's "Servant Eye" had dropped in 75, it would be right there with the best of them. Like those distant, cosmic relatives, this simple four-piece setup yields insane, otherwordly results. The drums and bass cease functioning as concrete instruments and become pure thumping texture swirling around a truly eerie, artificial string sound. And the vocals are totally alien -- wordless, haunting, all of that. You almost forget it's a bunch of sweating twenty-somethings banging on some instruments. --Keith Kawaii

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05. Fever Ray - "If I Had a Heart" (Fever Ray)
- Start time: 19:45; Label: Mute

This sounds like either the gathering of a storm that will undoubtedly wash away everything it touches or the battle that will end life as we know it -- ominous, sickening, inevitable. A wiry noise that fluctuates just enough between two pitches to be profoundly unsettling runs the track from beginning to end, serving as an anchor with no comfort. The lyrics, filled with longing and an insatiable hunger for something unknown, lack any trace of a human warmth. As wispy vocals and slow beats converge and dissipate, the anticipation builds to a big, tension-breaking change, but after four minutes, it's all over and you're still waiting for a release that never comes. It's seductive but terrifying, and you realize Karen Dreijer has claimed your soul and taken you to an otherworldy wasteland where the sky is always grey and time has no meaning. --Elzee

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06. Spoonbill - "Wonkball" (Zoomorphic)
- Start time: 23:33; Label: Omelette

Mostly constructed from the sounds of ping-pong, racquetball, and the like, along with some seriously wobbling sub-bass, springs being sprung, water splashes, and slapstick effects, this bizarre composition from Australian oddball Jim "Spoonbill" Moynihan's third album is as casually amusing as it is ass-shakingly funky. It's like being in a cartoon factory, hearing Acme manufacture one of Wile E. Coyote's doomed Roadrunner-killing devices. Electronic and arranged sounds parody the samples Spoonbill employs, akin to Steve Reich's Grammy-winning "Different Trains" (where the inflection of Reich's samples influenced notated musical material). For fun-loving electronic music, it manages to tread the line between a cerebral exercise and, if you hear it in a live setting, a physical workout. --Alan Ranta

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07. Myka 9 - "Cadillac Nights" (1969)
- Start time: 28:08; Label: Fake Four

Tucked in halfway through an album featuring some of the most intricate flows of the decade rests a song content with itself despite any flash or pomp. "Cadillac Nights" burns slowly at such a level of assured confidence it risks sounding boring, or uninspired, yet listening between the beats reveals an honest affection for an American automobile that inspires young men, while empowering their older counterparts. The lyrics recall a time when friends were closer; the night more innocent; the girls sweeter. Myka 9 floats by on cushion-pushed upholstery, seducing a drizzly Saturday night beat that feels lived in, not outdated. 1969 as a whole is an assured work by a man who has nothing to prove, and "Cadillac Nights" is the clutch that keeps everything in sync. --munroe

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08. The Antlers - "Bear" (Hospice)
- Start time: 32:06; Label: Frenchkiss

With regard to lush, narrative songwriting, few records are in the same class as Hospice. The album traces the ill-fated relationship between a terminally ill woman and her homecare provider, from its turbulent beginnings to its tragic conclusion. Along the way, it carves a bloody map of the human heart in vibrant, gruesome detail. Falling smack-dab in the middle of the album, "Bear" provides a turning point for the dramatic arc, yet the song's narrative is no less compelling on its own. It begins with the opening bars of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," an allusion that both evokes the speaker's vulnerability and foreshadows the song's central conflict. Through a series of oblique references and euphemisms, singer Peter Silberman relates the characters' unplanned pregnancy and decision to abort. The brilliance of this track (and indeed, the album) rests on the agonizing details of the speaker's contradictory emotions. Desperate solidarity transforms without warning into claustrophobia, and when the song builds up to its final image -- "You sit in front of snowy television/ suitcase on the floor," you know that the characters' relationship, riven with fault-lines as it was from the beginning, is finally and irreparably broken. --Joe Hemmerling

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09. Guilty Simpson - "Coroners Music" (Coroners Music 12")
- Start time: 36:00; Label: Stones Throw

It's true there ain't nothing to save, but people are going to be talking messianic after hearing this track. A year-and-a-half after his solid debut album, Ode to the Ghetto, Guilty Simpson has teamed up with astro-traveling producer Madlib (Otis Jackson) to form a project called OJ Simpson, an entity doing its part to herald a new golden age of hip-hop. (If you haven't been tuned in to what the Stones Throw label has been putting out lately, then now is the time to rub the crust from your eyelids and peel 'em open.) "Coroners Music" is slated to appear on the forthcoming OJ Simpson full-length, and if the rest of them are like this track, it might turn out to be the early '90s all over again. Built around a beat that's gully, hard-hitting, and downright empowering, Guilty Simpson spits an uninterrupted flow of some of the most consistently inspired writing I've heard in years. "Solar eclipses couldn't stop my shine." --Timothy Terhaar

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10. Woods - "Echo Lake" (Songs of Shame)
- Start time: 38:23; Label: Woodsist

It's okay, feel free to roll your eyes. Why, when there was no shortage of impressive songs from brilliant and less-than-brilliant albums this year, would one pick a two-minute instrumental filler track that is little more than two repeated melody lines for a musical-highlight-of-the-year mixtape? Woods' Songs of Shame is crammed full of wonderfully muddy gems, a memorable Graham Nash cover, and a nine-minute psychedelic jam, with Jeremy Earl's Neil Young-indebted falsetto all over the place, but there is something about "Echo Lake" 's indie-swamp voodoo that is truly intoxicating. It may be the simple melodies and a rural turn away from self-indulgence that is so appealing. Or maybe it's the sloppy-yet-brazen, confident guitar meandering and tribal pitter-pat drumming? Regardless, there is a feel-good familiarity to "Echo Lake" one can link to past heroes like Guided by Voices, Dinosaur Jr., and, yes, the aforementioned Mr. Young. Whether it deserves to be a song of the year, who can say? Songs resonate with people for a whole host of personal reasons that are not important here. What is important is that "Echo Lake" has that ability to break a gloomy face with a smile and can transport the hang-dog dreamer to a virtual log cabin in cottage country within a blink of an eye. What is music for if not to escape to a happy place on the lake every now and then? --David Nadelle

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(SIDE B DOWNLOAD) - (PODCAST)







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SIDE B:

01. Fuck Buttons - "The Lisbon Maru" (Tarot Sport)
- Start time: 0:00; Label: ATP Recordings

Can noise march? That's a bizzare question. Usually, noise doesn't even have much of a rhythm to follow, let alone step in line to. A march seems out of the question -- an outdated form for a relatively new idea -- and yet one can't help but feel that this is exactly what Fuck Buttons pulled off here. The first half the song is build-up, with beautiful allusions to "Sweet Love for Planet Earth" included for good measure. But the drum line, building from a simple beat to a powerful marching line, is what draws you in. Don't be surprised if, once the guitar screeches out halfway through, you've already been marching in step with the beat, walking down the street like a hero. Don't be surprised at feeling triumphal, either: Fuck Buttons' thoughtful-yet-visceral layering does more than create an ambiance around you. It creates an emotional pull that compels you to feel hopeful. Considering these trying times, why not have some hope, even for a few moments? --Ze Pequeno

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02. Kurt Vile - "My Sympathy" (God Is Saying This to You...)
- Start time: 9:19; Label: Mexican Summer

"My Sympathy" is only 2:32 long, consists of a scant four lines, and features an unadorned Kurt Vile fingerpicking an acoustic guitar. And yet, the song will forever transport me back to the frantic New York, where my wife and I honeymooned this past summer. I can clearly picture myself at the Wellington Hotel (where Borat stayed, incidentally), plopped on a tiny couch while my wife napped. God Is Saying This to You... was my go-to album each time she slept, streamed through my tinny laptop speakers. When she'd wake up, I'd immediately re-start "My Sympathy" because I knew she'd love it. (I did the same for a friend who slept over recently, and he of course dug the track too.) Appropriately enough, the NY trip ended at a Vile show in Brooklyn, but the heat exhaustion in the DIY venue, the lack of food, and the long, long delays (The Violators were double-booked that night, apparently) forced us and the bulk of the crowd to skidaddle early. But "My Sympathy" has stayed with me long after the honeymoon, which judging by our many fights, is decidedly over (kidding). --Mr P

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03. Molina and Johnson - "Each Star Marks a Day" (Molina and Johnson)
- Start time: 11:50; Label: Secretly Canadian

Fans of lonesome-highwayist Jason Molina and raspy Centro-Matic mastermind Will Johnson alike all but salivated at the notion of a full-length collaboration between the two -- what glorious noise would result from the pairing of such distinctive voices? It arrived, however, less collaboration than compilation: half-Molina, half-Johnson, but all pretty darn good. Molina's standout was undoubtedly the soft, shimmering "Each Star Marks a Day," its lonely desert guitar and electric piano instrumentation providing an ambling but purposeful backdrop for lines like, "Forever just keeps going/ 'Til every tear has a name/ And each star marks a day since you been gone." Whether Molina was singing about a lost love or a recently-departed friend seems largely irrelevant, and only serves to mask the underlying truth: nobody does loss like this dude. Molina and Johnson may not have been the creative mind-meld some anticipated, but damn if it didn't showcase two of the best in the field in startlingly rare form. --Gabe Vodicka

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04. Vic Chesnutt- "Coward" (At the Cut)
- Start time: 15:24; Label: Constellation

If North Star Deserter, Chesnutt's first Constellation Records outing and initial pairing with Guy Picciotto, left any lingering recollections of Chesnutt's polished past, At the Cut, his sequel to that record, should do well to completely blast away the lingering memories of Hootie and the Blowfish playing Chesnutt's songs. At times bracingly sparse, at other moments unnervingly tender, never does Chesnutt cast a more fitful shadow than on "Coward," exploring the hoarsest elements of his voice like a Southern ghost shouting Flannery O'Connor poems over the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, with a touch of drummer-getting-the-Led-out just past the three-minute mark. The widescreen ambition of the song not only signifies Chesnutt's status as indie-rock's Southern-gothic elder statesman, but establishes his collaboration with the post-rock elite as one of the finest ideas of this decade, gifting the epic soundscapes with an utterly human air, illustrating with tremendous violence the power that comes from being backed into a corner, the sounds of a snarling cat baring his teeth as he bleeds from some existential wound. --Jason P. Woodbury

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05. Marissa Nadler - "Loner" (Little Hells)
- Start time: 20:35; Label: Kemado

Forget Marilyn Manson's redundantly crappy new album and Patrick Wolf's recent flirtation with the dark side; Marissa Nadler's "Loner" is by far the most chilling track of the year. Let this arctic snowstorm of a song lure you in with its fractured-lullaby melody. But before you even have a chance to orient yourself, you'll be powerless against its gale-force theremins and Nadler's airy, tortured vocals. "Loner" doesn't just talk about heartbreak and loneliness, it reaches into our frozen hearts and makes us feel it, in fragile, Christian imagery and church organs. When Nadler hisses, at the chorus, "I believe you're filled with sin," she tempts even the most agnostic among us to head for the confessional. --Judy Berman

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06. Crystal Stilts - "Love Is a Wave" (Love Is a Wave 7-inch)
- Start time: 25:22; Label: Slumberland

As aptly demonstrated on 2008's stellar Alight of Night, Crystal Stilts are above all else masters of mood -- both intentionally and incidentally, since it's next to impossible to parse vocalist Brad Hargett's mournful baritone emissions. This year's "Love Is a Wave" single, then, was a pleasant surprise, and not because the almost-as-great B-side, "Sugar Baby," revealed satisfying Smiths-via-Auckland references. Sure, there's the sugar-rush drums and the now-almost-trademarked seasick pitch-and-roll weaved into the song's production. However, it's both Hargett's bell-clear vocals and the infectious repetition of the song's title that steal the show. It's a vocal performance that is somewhat brief, tinged with uncertain joy and regret. Most importantly, it's direct, a quality that might end up giving the Stilts a creative and commercial edge. --Larry Fitzmaurice

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07. The Mumlers - "Coffin Factory" (Don't Throw Me Away)
- Start time: 27:19; Label: Galaxia

This band that sorta does a West Coast Dr. John/Van Morrison, evoking Wolfman Jack-era oldies on this one, complete with hoots and hollers in the background that could be in appreciation or in horror, judging by the little video they made for the song. The whole track is driven by a dynamic organ line straight from the canons of soul and R&B. While Will Sprott (guitar, vocals) spews some extremely clever lyrics about being a cog in a morbid assembly line, I'm completely caught in the moment. "I'm tired of working in a coffin factory/ building boxes to bury humanity." The cooing harmony vocals during the bridge help balance the overall feel, reinforcing what I take as the song's theme, a metaphor for a planet-wide sense of malaise and individualized complaints about the drudgery of dead-end jobs (pun intended, dammit). --Chizzly St. Claw

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08. Reigning Sound - "The Bells" (Love and Curses)
- Start time: 30:07; Label: In the Red

It had to be this or The-Dream. But 2009 wasn't a friendly year for dreams, other than those deferred. Love vs. Money, huh? Oh, to be so privileged. It was a brittle, flinty fucking year and I'm sure that I wasn't the only one feeling "lost, without compass or direction." As the world appeared to fade into some hopeless, illogical fog, "The Bells" was a beacon, a reminder that you don't need to see the path to walk it. Love or money, someone please let me know that I still have that choice. --Embling

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09. Wye Oak - "For Prayer" (The Knot)
- Start time: 32:35; Label: Merge

A beautiful thing about music: the "Holy Shit" moments when a song takes a turn so breathtakingly unexpected it knocks you down and demands you hit "repeat" as soon as the song ends. "For Prayer" has not one, but two such moments. The first time catches you off guard, as Wye Oak plod through a melodic first verse that features Jenn Wasner's dreamy vocals barely lifting above Andy Stack's minimal drumming. Then, like a sudden clap of thunder or a feat of unprecedented athleticism, those guitars jolt you with primal four-chord bliss as Wye Oak abandon words altogether. In the second verse you find yourself in the eye of the storm; all's calm, but all's not right. This leads you blindly into the "Did They Just Do That Again?!" moment. This time, you're given an extra four bars of clamor to contemplate what's about to befall you: all roaring tempests of distortion and pummeling drums, with a searing pedal steel solo that practically defines emotion in rock music. The words of the verses are there just to prime you for that which words could never express. Those guitars. Those guitars. Those guitars.... --Todd Olmstead

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10. Thomas Function - "ADP Blues" (In the Valley of Sickness)
- Start time: 36:23; Label: Fat Possum

Dead Prez said it first, but it still sounds fresh and honest coming from this gang of Deep South garage rockers: "The only good cop is a dead cop." And while NWA made cop-killing sound like a mandate, Thomas Function make it sound like a party. This song captures everything there is to love about these guys: infectious hooks, bratty vocals, plenty of trouble-making, and even a brief sing-along at the end. They know how to build the excitement, too, loading "ADP Blues" with an upbeat pre-chorus and a guitar line that wanders a bit but never makes it far from the single chord the song is built around. --Saltlick

- Click here to return to our 2009 year-end image map.

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.