Top NINE of ’09

Happy New Year!!!

Alright… I realize that it’s already mid-January but with everyone (I hope) now back from their respective winter vacations and adventures, I think it’s still appropriate to wish you the best for the upcoming year. 
Also, I’ve finally had a chance to look over the various Top 10 music lists that were produced towards the end of the year. It’s amazing how many of these come out every single year. And with 2009 being the last year of the decade, it seems everywhere I looked, there was a Top ”something” compilation awaiting me. I think it’s only fair that I make my own, hehe. Without further ado, here are my Top 9 artists from 2009!

…Because, you know, it was two-thousand and NINE ; )

80kidz: An amazing discovery courtesy of Darren and Ian. 80kidz is a group of 3 young Japanese electro artists from Tokyo. This Is My Shit, their first full-length release, is an absolute pleasure ride to listen too. And chances are, if you were in Fukushima in 2009, you came along for the ride – whether it was in Vinnie’s car or during DJ Megu’s sets at any SHINE event. The one critique I would make about this gang is their lack of ”unique identity” (sometimes they sound like Justice, other times it’s Simian Mobile Disco, then on another song it’s Hey Champ…). Still, if you like to dance, you’ll love 80kidz. Check if they’re playing at a club next time you’re in Tokyo or Osaka.

Miike Snow: By far my most-played album this year. I just can’t get enough of it. It makes me happy every single time I hear it. The Swedish producers turned musicians were quite surprised by the own success. I can’t realize categorize this in terms of musical genre but I wish this is what ”Pop” music sounded like. Some have likened it to Passion Pit but, in my humble opinion, it’s even BETTER than Passion Pit.

* side note: Passion Pit will be in Tokyo in February, go to this website for details on how to get tickets. 

La Roux: Eleanor Jackson, the redheaded female Brit and singer, is not afraid to say what’s on her mind. She offers a brand of feminism that’s far from annoying. The music has been labeled ”Synth Pop,” yet it’s not mainstream.  They’ve released one album to date and it’s received a good deal of success so far. There are no ”bad” songs on the self-titled album.

Kid Cudi: Hardest working newcomer in hip-hop. He finally released his first album this year: Man On The Moon. Also, check out his previously released mixtape “A Kid Named Kudi” (I personally prefer the mixtape). In addition to touring as the opening act for Lady Gaga, he ran his own tour at the same time. At one point, he gave something like 5 performances in 3 days in Vancouver, BC. I was shocked he didn’t receive a nomination for ”Best New Artist” at the Grammy’s considering his critical acclaim AND commercial success (you might’ve heard Make Her Say, which samples Lady Gaga’s Pokerface). I’m expecting great things in the future from the self-proclaimed stoner.

Ra Ra Riot: While their album The Rhumb Line was technically released in 2008, I only truly found out about this band late in the spring. Their lyrics can be a little over-emotional. However, overall, their songs provide an easy and pleasant listening experience. The violin and cello add a nice touch. Ra Ra Riot was a good substitute while waiting for Vampire Weekend to release new material.

*another sidenote: Vampire Weekend just released Contra. The critics seem to love it but reactions are mixed among fans. I personally find it uneven and, at times, confusing. 

Phoenix: The French band was a popular choice among music critics thanks to their first mainstream album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. They were on every late-night talk show (including Saturday Night Live) and their songs were used to sell various things (1901 can be heard in the trailer for the movie New York, I love you, for example). The album as a whole is good and fun to listen to. On the other hand, many of the songs sound similar. But here, ”similar” is good so it’s really only a light criticism.

Animal Collective: Speaking of popular choices among music critics, “Merriweather Post Pavilion” was almost universally chosen as 2009’s best album. It came out in January. Even though it took me a couple times (maybe even 10 or more times) to start truly enjoying listening to it, I’ve yet to get tired of it. I was also lucky enough to see these guys at Fuji Rock this summer and was mesmerized by their complex, yet calming, performance.

The Gaslight Anthem: One of my favourite bands from Fuji Rock even though I had never heard of them before. These young tattooed rockers are often likened to Bruce Springsteen. The band’s lead singer is rather candid about his admiration for Springsteen. Personally, my familiarity with ”The Boss’” music is quite limited (Streets of Philladelphia, Born in the USA, Tougher Than The Rest… and that might be it). Nonetheless, The Gaslight Anthem caught my attention with their guitar-heavy sounds and managed to keep me hooked. It’s extremely rare that I like EVERY song by a band, but it’s the case here.

David Guetta: “One Love” was my party soundtrack for the summer. Every time I listened to it, I could imagine myself sippin’ on Smirnoff Ice’s (or any other sugary alcoholic drink) and sweating through body paint on a beach in Ibiza. Ok, that’s not really my idea of a perfect summer, but you get the idea. Lots of people criticized David Guetta for assembling a collection of singles rather than producing a true ”album.” I don’t know what else they could have expected. Honestly, David Guetta is club DJ who just wants people to get drunk and dance. And that’s fine by me. The songs’ vocals feature a who’s-who of Pop and RnB singers (Akon, Black Eyed Peas, Ne-Yo, Kelly Rowland…). He also produced Black Eyed Peas’ I Got A Feeling – it’s QUITE likely you heard this song at some point this year… or on a daily basis.

So there you are: my artists of 2009. Hopefully there’s a little something for everyone. Have a fantastic 2010 and keep checking FuJET News for more music articles!

Lastly, if you have any recommendations you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section. Thanks!

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