Thursday, December 24, 2009


Good newspapers (e.g. The New York Times or the Yolo County Flatlander) are at their weakest in the last days of a year. Many of the op/ed columnists go on holiday, and those who remain write EOY retrospectives. Same story with the better websites (e.g. The Cedar Blog). Yawn.

So. What does Veronica Fever offer for her last entry of 2009? An EOY retrospective. Sadly, it can't be avoided: her integrity gene was found to be recessive at birth.

My 2009 was marked with several notable non-2009 discoveries. One was Steven Wilson, whose music in various guises (Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Blackfield, 'Insurgentes') was all over my heavy rotation; in fact, I can't recall such a dominant presence since the days when repeat-play automatic changers and medicinal inhalants conspired to create an inertia conducive to full appreciation of an artist's canon. Or one side of it, anyway.

Another late arrival was Bohren and der Club of Gore. If you don't know of them, they're a German outift that started out as exponents of death metal, but morphed into a sort of jazz-noir combo. This is great late-night mood music (albeit of the dark, troubled sort) which owes a huge debt to Angelo Badalamenti. Any of Bohren's music from this decade is worth hearing, but the place to start is 'Sunset Mission.'

As for was a very good year. The competition was fierce among Fever Faves. The list follows, with this caveat: I'm not here to make a case for any of these. They made the list because they reached me. I'll never be any good at parsing the whys and wherefores, so with little fanfare or embellishment....

1. The Decemberists -- 'The Hazards of Love'
Truly a long-player of the old school.

2. Soulsavers -- 'Broken'
Mark Lanegan is to my Top 10s as Juan Marichal was to the Cy Young Award.

3. Doves -- 'Kingdom of Rust'
Huge leap forward. The first several tracks are monsters.

4. Low Anthem -- 'Oh My God, Charlie Darwin'
My pick for Americana of the Year.

5. A Place to Bury Strangers -- 'Exploding Head'
This is the perfect 2nd album--a refinement of an already great sound, and with tunes to match.

6. Kinetic Stereokids -- 'Kid Moves'
Bursting with ideas, this thing isn't always focused but is frequently brilliant. My Grower of the Year.

7. Rocco DeLuca -- 'Mercy'
Produced by Daniel Lanois, updating the blues-rock sound from another Lanois-related production, Chris Whitley's career-defining debut.

8. Le Loup --'Family'
Another inventive album that might appeal to lovers of Grizzly Bear, Yeasayer, or Fleet Foxes. This was a latecomer to the list, and might have been higher up given a bit more time.

9. Spinnerette -- S/T
A Queens of the Stone Age-related project, this is a fun rock record featuring Brody Dalle's appealing mix of sauce and brass.

10. Pink Mountaintops -- 'Outside Love'
This was a good year for 'new psychedelia,' and this one tops my chart.

Honorable mentions: releases from Musee Mecanique, The Sleepover Disaster, Mulatu Astatqé, The Willard Grant Conspiracy, and Richard Hawley.


One last Christmas music bit:

We all have the ones we love to hate. For me it's Paul's 'Wonderful Christmastime.' But a close runner-up is 'Feliz Navidad.' My longtime co-conspirator just mentioned that she has recently heard a couple of new covers of that one. Her comment: 'Why would anyone bother? No one could possibly make it any worse.'

Happy Holidays from all of us at Feverland.

No comments: