Seattle Hip Hop – 3rd Wave

It seems Charles Mudede’s “wave” theory regarding Seattle’s hip-hop history of scene-building is coming to fruition with the talent pool in the town of late, it’s deep like the Sonics in ’96! According to the Mudede Theory, we are currently in the “third wave”, the “second wave” being the Blue Scholars, Common Market reign and the “first wave”, Sir-Mix-Alot, Black Anger, and the Central District crews of the ’90s. The bulk of the “third wave” artists offer a blunted blend of laptop electronica, drum ‘n bass, G-Funk beats, and classical West-Coast stylings. In a town known for flannel and bearded-indie bros, the new, vibrant “third wave” is the most fruitful and interesting scene to pass through Seattle in a minute.

Beacon Hill space-rap enthusiasts Helladope and THEESatisfaction are the brightest stars in the terrestrial Seattle sky but Mad Rad, Champagne Champagne, Fresh Expresso, and Shabazz Palaces are all doing their thing as well. The newest album to come from the blossoming scene is “They La Soul” from They Live!. Founding members DJ Bles One from Mash Hall and Massive Monkeys and Gatsby from Cancer Rising (also the KEXP DJ of the famous Sunday night “Street Sounds”) cement the suspicion that they are two of the most talented musicians in the Seattle scene over the last decade. A DJ-friendly, club rocking ode to the West Coast that’s too hard-hitting to be hipster but too fun to be taken seriously. And its free. FREE! Stream the whole album below.

Can’t get enough? Check out this dance-floor BPM J-A-M from Helladope called “Just So You Know”. Possibly the best hip-hop song from the town all year.

Also… THEESatisfaction keep getting better, offering their routine brilliance in another FREE project “Christmas On The Moon.”

Don’t Sleep.

-c-u-r-t

Lucky 13 List of Luscious Ladies and Lads

This is your resident Love Guru, Chelan, making it even more obvious who I think is hott (two “t”s are necessary). Everyone knows I spend at least half of my time checking people out on campus, googling indie celebrities, dancing in the front row so I’m visible to the band boys and telling people “you are soooooo cute that I want to put you in my pocket and carry you around with me”.

I’ve taken into account some of the other managers wishes for this list, but I’m the queen of list-making so I had to make some changes. Let’s just get this blog orgy started…

13.  Tom Waits. Yes this man is ridiculously old, but Rachel has a big fat crush on him. And it doesn’t take much for me to be convinced that someone is hot. What I love about Tom Waits: his scene with Iggy Pop in Coffee and Cigarettes, the fact that he drinks coffee and smokes cigarettes, his clever hat/suit combos, the fact he adores Kerouac and Burroughs. Truly timeless music and timeless style. Dear Mr. Waits, come to Pullman and have an affair with me.

12. Dan Deacon. I adore possibly mentally unstable assholes that do whatever they want because they make music. I really really really want to carry Dan Deacon in my pocket. Then I can bring him home with me and tell my mom we’re dating. She would really love that. Maybe then she’d leave me alone about getting a boyfriend. The combination of  what I like to call “chubby boy allure” and beautiful thrift store glasses get me to page 14(!) on my Google Images search. Oh just look at this cutie! (P.S. Listen to his latest album Bromst)

11. Andy from Local Natives. Bass player (see bass player below) from the latest indie boy band to visit the KZUU airwaves. All he needed was a bass guitar and a Mishka hat–it was obsession at first sight. Here is why bass players are hot: they can play the guitar, just like the lead guitar, but instead they take the backseat because they are “so into the music.” Duh. Someone recently pointed out to me that I have a “thing for guys in culturally relevant streetwear”. First, have you seen the new Holiday 09 collection?! Second, if that is wrong…I don’t wanna be right. (P.S. I still need his number, you guys are totally dropping the ball on me.)

10. Wale. Speaking of men who wear culturally relevant streetwear…this is just the cutest little hiphopper out there right now. I’ve had a thing for Wale since W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E. but his mixtape this year just solidified my idea that in order to get Wale’s attention I need to pretend to be from D.C. and start wearing clothes from KarmaLoop. I try to ignore his actual album from this year and just stick with the mixtapes. Also,  I know how to say his name correctly so I totally have a chance right? “They keep sayin whale but my name’s Wale. Hoe’s call me Mr. Never Wear The Same Thang.” Hell yeah I do.

9. Tegan(9.5) & Sara (9). I actually don’t even listen to Tegan and Sara because of their music. It’s just because they are adorable. Okay and maybe I listened to “Nineteen” a million times when I was 19 (note to readers: that really wasn’t that long ago). But the more and more I listen to “Back In Your Head” the more and more I connect with their Love Sick Teenager appeal (Bear in Heaven reference anyone?). Embarrassing confession: I once took a picture of them in to Great Clips for a haircut when I was going through my wannabe-indie-girl phase. But for realzies…Austin and Kevin love these girls so see it for yourself…

8. Spencer Krug. I love Wolf Parade. And Evan and Curt love Sunset Rubdown. So the radiant Spencer Krug has to make this list. He just looks so clean! Even in sweat! How can you not love him? I think it is the button up shirts or my undying love for Apologies To The Queen Mary. He works so hard to make music with multiple bands and he never lets our ears down. Or my computer screen background. Spencer, my love, whenever you want to sing “Modern World” to me over coffee, I’ll be around. Waiting. And then maybe we can go on a walk through the city and look through obscure bookshelves and sit on park benches?

7. Zooey Deschanel. It’s those enchanting Baby Blues! This year Zooey married Ben Gibbard and indie boys worldwide were demolished by heartbreak. Other than that I’m waiting for the She & Him album set for next spring. Zooey: DON’T LET ME DOWN–if you do I will burn the scrapbook of all your adorable outfits in my fireplace.  Also this year was the movie 500 Days of Summer where a cute boy falls in love with her because she loves The Smiths. I dream that she actually  listens to The Smiths in real life. Zooey graced GQ magazine in August, I’ve created a link for the pictures…don’t be shy, they aren’t as provocative as we would all hope. Rumor has it she also has a vintage coat collection. How much more classic can you get? Zooey, can you take me shopping and help me with my vintage coat collection? Thanks for being an indie deity.

6. Annie Clark of St. Vincent. Annie Clark is one of the most beautiful and distinct women of music today. She is classic and classy. I can’t even explain the allure we all feel to Annie Clark. I think a simple youtube.com search of her live performances will do. Miss Clark is basically a Siren (a mythological half bird, half woman who seduces foolish men to their deaths upon sharp rocks in the ocean).  I’m still not over this live performance of “Marrow”; I showed this to my 13 year old sister and she classified it as “scary”.

5. James Pants. I LOVE JAMES PANTS. Reasons why I love James Pants (yet another list): he came to Moscow and threw a great dance party, he was nice to my friends, he is from Spokane, he mixes beautifully, he threw his sweat on me, he actually has nice pants. Mr. James Pants also pulls off facial hair quite well. He is close to Pullman so I feel like we could have a relationship. James Pants: call me. I’m single and you could take me home to your mother.

4. Sondre Lerche. This is a recent obsession. Sondre makes the pretty pop-sensible music. He is a natural at this indie music thing. I can’t believe I just found out a month ago what he actually looks like. Although he is from Norway so that explains a lot. It’s the unbelievable wardrobe. He pulls off trendy without looking like a entry-level trendy asshole. Another youtube.com video of him and Regina Spektor. I think I love him. Like actually love him.

3. Yoni Wolf. This is not a recent obsession. My love for Yoni runs so deep that when someone asked me the other day why I love Why? so much I couldn’t find words to explain it. There is something about his lyrics that actually pull on my heartstrings so much it makes me cry (another awkward internet confession). Yoni will rip your heart apart and then sew it back together with an old dirty shoestring and tell you it’s okay because everyone is kinda sad. He grabs musical influence from the following: Radiohead, A Tribe Called Quest, Dylan, Pavement and Counting Crows. Yes, Counting Crows! He continues to amaze me the more and more I cyberstalk him. Quoting lyrics daily is a sure sign of love. True stalker-love. I didn’t even need to Google his name to find this picture, I just took it from my desktop background.

2. Emily Haines. Comely, distinct, fair, petite, graceful, and completely kick-ass.  I can’t think of anyone else I’d want to be my older sister. From her haunting and captivating songwriting to her small but far-reaching voice, there isn’t anything bad to say about the Metric frontwoman. In fact, I would dare you to talk shit about Emily Haines in front of me. I might look little, but I have a fierce competitive side when it comes to defending musicians I adore. I can direct you to so many things from here. The song Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl. Check out her work with gazillion member band Broken Social Scene and solo project Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton. So diverse and always putting out great work. The most beautiful Canadian ever born.

1. Timothy Meinig. Two words: facial hair. The best general manager KZUU has ever had is also in a band. He was also in another band, but you’ve probably never heard of them. This man is so lovable and he has so much love for KZUU. Classic sense of style–the beanie and down jacket will never die.  He plays the bass like no one else and fixes stuff in the studio like nobody’s business. If you ever have a button that won’t be pushed…Tim will be there. T.I.M. is the new KZUU Christ Krist. Thank you Tim.

That is the end. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of beauties to work with. I have some honorable mentions that I will later regret not mentioning, but I wouldn’t want you to overdo it with your Google searches. Feel free to let me know if I left any indie-relevant 2009 people out. I can’t wait to see what 2010 brings us all! It is so much work being this obsessed, but I know you all appreciate my hard work. As always, hugs and kisses.

Your (basically self-proclaimed) Love Guru,

Chelan

Holiday blessings from KZUU: The Night Before Khristmas

Hey guys. The holidays are here, and we’re all back home with our families, wishing we were still in Pullman getting drunk and listening to KZUU. We want everyone to know how much we appreciate the time and effort that our beautiful DJs spend making the station the best thing on the Palouse since John Olerud. To celebrate, Evan has prepared a KZUU-style version of Clement C. Moore’s classic poem “The Night Before Christmas,” rewritten with a few notable changes that, well, you’ll see soon enough. Enjoy it, enjoy your break, enjoy your family, enjoy your friends. Make your New Year’s resolutions, break them, then come back and continue the KZUU debauchery. Happy holidays.

“The Night Before Khristmas”
-by Clement C. Moore, adapted by Evan Reyes
(note: the “I” in the narration isn’t meant to be anyone in particular, just the voice of the narrator. use your imagination!)

’twas the night before Christmas, when all through the station
Not a creature was stirring, except the automation.
Applications were hung by the office with care,
In hopes that St. Timothy soon would be there.

The DJs were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Yoni Wolf danced in their heads.
And Chelan in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long Pullman nap.

When out on the mall there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the studio to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

He held the reins tight as he reached out his limb,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Tim.
More noble than huskies his coursers they came,
And he shouted, and called his fair Cougars by name!

“Now Adam! now, Andi! now, Josie and Brennan!
On, Shannyn! On, Nissa! on, Davis and Weston!
To the top of the CUB! to the top of Todd Hall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

And then, in a twinkling, I thought that I saw
The prancing and dancing of each little paw.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the staircase St. Timothy came with a bound.

He was dressed all in flannel, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of records he had on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his face was as white as the snow.

A can of Busch Light was held firm in his grasp,
You could tell from his drink that the man was pure class.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was handsome and kind, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He told me of music, and the FCC’s rules,
How he works to make our station better than other schools’.
He explained why we rule over KUGR,
Video never killed this radio star.

He spoke many words, then went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Here it is, KZUU’s Top 30 of 2009

Reposted on the front page for easy access.

30. LAKE – Let’s Build a Roof

This loveable indie pop group from Olympia has graced the Palouse twice in 2009 and we love them for it. Sweet cherry pie melodies. Diverse influences and always fun to listen to and play on KZUU. And the adorable front woman knows how to charm a crowd with confessions of not shaving.

–Chelan

29. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME — The Great Misdirect

Another masterpiece full of epic songs brought to you by the geniuses behind Colors. While it can be argued that this is more coherent album that completes BTBAM’s transition to progressive metal, I still find this album lacking in some of the intensity that Colors had. This is not to say that this album doesn’t have intensity, just noticeably less than previous albums. The members are still show their amazing musicianship throughout the entire album.

–Kevin

28. TEGAN & SARA — Sainthood

Another solid album from these Canadian twins. Sweet indie rock that makes you feel as if you’re listening in on a conversation you really shouldn’t be. Better in my opinion musically than The Con. Lyrically though, Sainthood is pretty upsetting. Really catchy infectious drum beats with snappy vocals; it’ll be the best forty minutes spent of your life.

–Austin

27. THE BUILDERS AND THE BUTCHERS — Salvation Is a Deep Dark Well

There is not a lot of room for seriously off-beat music in the indie scene; there’s a line drawn somewhere and it keeps the riffraff out. But by some miracle, The Builders and the Butchers made it through the gates with their surprisingly dark, Chris Funk-produced, Salvation is a Deep Dark Well. They blend Americana with heavier rock influences, all tied together with modern-day murder ballads that hearken back to the true sense of the term (think Nick Cave more than The Decemberists; Appalachia more than Amanda Palmer). Lead singer Ryan Solee’s voice is one more checkmark in the weird column—strangely twangy, it’s one more thing you don’t hear every day in indie music, and that’s most definitely a good thing.

–Rachel

26. MATT & KIM — Grand

There’s a reason these two perform with shit-eating grins permanently plastered on their faces. Their music is pure joy, created from a space of adventure and exploration, brought to you through the lens of two kids who love the world and want to revel in its wonder. Opener “Daylight” rides the strength of its bounding, powerful piano line, reminding us how little effort is actually needed to enrich your life–approach every day with an open heart and mind and see what develops. It’s their best song–immediately catchy and uncompromisingly infectious.

–Evan

25. KURT VILE – God Is Saying This to You…

The lo-fi folkster’s Matador records debut Childish Prodigy was a solid update on Crazy Horse Americana, but it was God, his first LP released this year that captured the unique talent of this singer/songwriter. A wise blend of Americana, psych-folk, and ambient electronics, Vile records his bedroom finger-pickers beautifully. The soul of Young and Dylan embody the lyrics… if they were on acid.

–Curt

24. ST. VINCENT — Actor

Annie Clark is a pretty woman who makes pretty music. Actor is high class music and a huge step up from her already wonderful earlier album, Marry Me. St. Vincent cannot help but write refined lyrics and put out a beautifully polished album. When you finally decide to buy this album, get it on vinyl. Listen to the intensity of “Marrow” over and over and over again.

–Chelan

23. THE DODOS — Time to Die

Some might hate on the Dodos for abandoning the experimentation and rawness of Visiter and Beware of the Maniacs, but when you can produce polished pop gems like this, let the haters hate. Meric Long and Logan Kroeber have honed their sound to a refreshing degree. This album contains, without a doubt, the most beautiful moments in the bands history. The chorus of “Troll Nacht” is among the most transcendent of the year–who can argue with its picture perfect melody and forceful, clean guitar work? The Dodos utilize the percussive opportunities provided by an acoustic guitar, powerfully carrying every song forward on the strength of Long’s strumming.

–Evan

22. BARONESS — Blue Record

Very epic sounding songs with most tracking in at under two and a half minutes. Melodic guitar work draped over rumbling drums make me love this album more and more each time I listen. Lots of heavy distortion set alongside no-nonsense lyrics with a punk twinge. What more could you ask for? These guys get to the point with a Russian Circles vibe all their own.

–Austin

21. WOODS – Songs of Shame

The “lo-fi” tank is running on fumes, and Songs of Shame might be considered the last worthy artifact of an obsessed trend. Aside from founding the preeminent lo-fi/shitgaze label, Woodsist, Woods lead singer Jeremy Earl has likely spent a lot of time in the woods, with an acoustic guitar seeing how high his voice can reach. Rustic psych-folk that is simultaneously haunting and comforting, Songs of Shame is like your favorite worn t-shirt, tattered and stained, a bit old, but fits perfectly.

–Curt

20. CAMERA OBSCURA — My Maudlin Career

Traceyanne Campbell is someone you want to cuddle up next to and never let go. The beautiful front woman of Camera Obscura sings with such a precious lilt that I think she could turn even the most staunch metalhead with her disarmingly pure delivery. Perhaps it’s nothing more than the Scottish accent, but her voice is heartbreakingly tender. CO’s melodies are among the most delicious and satisfying you can find this side of Paul McCartney. A timeless indie pop jewel.

–Evan

19. FREDDIE GIBBS – midwestgangstaboxframecadillac

The rap industry and the economy have a lot in common of late. Mainly, they are both broke as a joke. Rap fans are still waiting on a slew of heavyweight albums to be released; BigBoi, Jay Electronica , Saigon, where art thou? Go ahead and add Freddie Gibbs to that list. Its tempting to write about Gibbs fascinating story (which you can read about here) but I’ll get to the music. What a breath of fresh air. It’s nice to hear a new voice that you can liken to 2pac, a storytelling ability in the vein of Scarface, and a spit-fire flow I’ll credit to… Pimp C and Bizzy Bone? It doesn’t matter, because Gibbs is damn near undeniable. Turn up “Box Frame Cadillac” and tell me otherwise.

–Curt

18. GALLOWS — Grey Britain

This album is British hardcore punk at its finest and is quite frankly the best I’ve ever heard. Laced with liberal doses of most everything you could look for in a Hardcore Punk album without getting clichéd. The guys from Gallows bring you straight up hardcore punk with the message that they’re fed up and disgusted with how things in England are going politically, economically, and socially. The most refreshing thing about this album is that, coming from England, it is entirely devoid of what much of American hardcore has become: white boy posturing and bro-core (The utter garbage that is Emmure’s Felony comes to mind). The band also mixes the merciless assault of thundering guitars and shouted vocals with acoustic guitars, piano, and clean vocals to create an album that really shows off the varied talents the musicians. These guys are welcoming the apocalypse with open arms and with plenty of gang vocals to invite the rest of us to join with them.

–Kevin

17. THE AVETT BROTHERS — I and Love and You

A departure of sorts from what the Avett Brothers were getting really good at, I and Love and You takes some getting used to, but once you have, it’s golden. “January Wedding” sounds the most like the brothers’ last few albums, with bare twang and simple, almost stand-alone vocals. Still, it’s not too out of place among more polished and layered tracks like “Ten Thousand Words” and “Laundry Room,” which, if nothing else, still holds true to their gleaming lyricism. So much of I and Love and You is upbeat and catchy, it’s hard to see where the guys that created Emotionalism and The Second Gleam have gone. But a few listens in, it’s clear they’re still here, a little more grown up but no less beautiful.

–Rachel

16. DAN DEACON — Bromst

The next time you hear someone saying that electronic music is just someone pushing play on a laptop, kindly direct them to Dan Deacon. His compositions are extremely intricate, relying on bouncing, buzzy layers of noise and happiness over nonsensical lyrics that somehow manage to resonate. Too noisy for some? Perhaps, but the patient and open-minded listener will be treated to a rewarding journey through this freaky Baltimorian’s twisted musical vision.

–Evan

15. DOOM – Born Like This

A natural writer, DOOM could probably write a verse off his dome at 4 a.m. and it’d still be better than 99% of rappers written material. So it’s no surprise that most of the music on Born Like This sounds like an impromptu display of his virtuosity on the mic. Daniel Dumile was fated to rap. On “Cellz” he samples a poem from Charles Bukowski’s film Born Into This and it seems, finally, the masked-villain has met his match.

–Curt

14. THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART — self-titled

80s aesthetics are alive and well in 2009, but in a surprisingly un-ironic way. The PoBPaH synthesize 80s shoegaze textures from influences like The Cure, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Cocteau Twins. Perhaps the best way to describe their lovable but not over-the-top indie pop is more comparisons. The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Ride. What I mean is that their sound isn’t new, but it’s refreshing in 2009 when everyone seems to just want to make indie folk records.

–Evan

13. GIRLS – Album

Either these cheeky Californians want to confuse everyone’s Google search or they want to use their band name/album title as an allusion to their simplicity. Girls use about four chords over the course of Album’s twelve tracks, a compliment if you consider “Lust For Life”, “God Damned”, “Ghost Mouth”, and “Hellhole Ratrace” four of the finest pop songs of the year (note: we do). Some critics may chalk up the buzz of Girls to singer/songwriter Christopher Owens horror story of a childhood which was covered in virtually every interview/review concerning Girls, but they would be wrong. The sincerity, pain, and overwhelming call for love is heard in Owens voice on every song, which by the way, Elvis Costello anyone?

–Curt

12. THE ANTLERS — Hospice

We all tried not to bawl our eyes out while listening to Hospice. Written off a personal account of a guy working at a children’s cancer ward, it is scary and intimate. Think Fleet Foxes, but instead of singing about trees and snow, this band takes heartbreak and despair and turns it into beautiful music. Listen to Hospice over a glass of red wine and hold back your tears. Hold someone’s hand. Maybe?

–Chelan

11. THE XX — XX

These trendy Brits are 20 years old? No way. This might the tightest collection of restrained and beautiful pop songs released all year. It tails off a bit on the album’s second half, but the first five tracks might be the best 1-2-3-4-5 sequence of 2009. The vocals tend towards an almost R&B influence, floating over killer basslines and melting into a sexy, sultry swirl. The album’s restraint is one of its strongest points, as it never gets overdone or too full of itself.

–Evan

10. WHY? — Eskimo Snow

This piece of work sits somewhere in between the lines of hip hop and folk-rock music. WHY? released a second album from a previous recording session this September. Eskimo Snow was recorded along with 2008’s Alopecia. Enlightened indie kids everywhere falls in love with Alopecia, and Eskimo Snow was an amazing gift during our WHY? dry spell. Yoni Wolf does a wonderful job of making all of our inner thoughts and obsessions seem completely natural. Wolf calls out and tells us, “It’s okay to be a freak, because I’m a freak and I’m a fucking genius.”

–Chelan

9. METRIC — Fantasies

If KZUU had to pick a top track from Metric’s most recent album, Fantasties, it would be impossible. We actually tried. Emily Haines+band continues to put out the best indie pop beats around and they always do it with such confidence. They know they are good and they take their talent and run with it. The fans, like me, just sit around and wait for the next thing to obsess over. Metric is always somewhat dark, but this one takes it further. The beauty of the album is not necessarily in the wonderfully catchy singles like “Help I’m Alive” or “Gold Guns Girls”, but in the more profound, touching tracks like “Collect Call” and “Blindness”. Metric’s dancey pop does a number on your feet. Sing-along music straight outta the mouth of the hottest front-chick around.

–Chelan

8. FEVER RAY — Fever Ray

Fever Ray is the beautiful and alarming solo project of The Knife’s leading lady, Karin Andersson. Although the project is creepy, weird and scary, it is somehow still gets you tapping your pencil and swaying side to side. This one was mind-opening, mind-bending, mind-altering! How does Andersson pull this kind of thing off? Who knows, but we all loved it like a fat kid loves cake.

–Chelan

7. JAPANDROIDS — Post-Nothing

This is what we call “all killer, no filler.” The Vancouver duo is completely unpretentious, singing about French-kissing some French girls, and thinking about “sunshine girls.” There is nothing here but rock and roll, covered in distortion and garage aesthetics while maintaining an in-the-moment attitude. Japandroids are not deep, but they are incredibly aware of what rocks, and everything that goes along with it. In 2009, when so many bands are self-consciously artistic, Japandroids strip it all away and go after what they want–sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Really, isn’t that what life is all about?

–Evan

6. CONVERGE — Axe to Fall

Another blisteringly paced album from the masters of controlled chaos. The musicianship on this album is the best seen from these guys yet. The guitar riffs in this album will be stuck in your head long after the songs have ended, especially the lead riff in the song Dark Horse. Even when these guys slow down on songs like Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast you are still being pummeled with the shear heaviness of what Converge is dishing out. Converge also makes generous use of guest appearances on this album including the likes of Mookie Singerman of Genghis Tron, Steve Von Til of Neurosis and Seattle’s own John Pettibone(Undertow, Himsa). The bottom line is that this album is just as brutal as Jane Doe and one-ups Jane Doe in being an absolute showcase of the growth and maturity of Converge.

–Kevin

5. SUNSET RUBDOWN – Dragonslayer

I don’t want to suggest a Lennon-McCartney like split between Wolf Parade song-smiths Dan Boeckner (Handsome Furs) and Spencer Krug, but it comes as no surprise that the two have focused their talents on separate endeavors. Krug’s fourth LP with Sunset Rubdown was recorded live off the studio floor, impressive considering just how good this band is at their instruments. Krug has tightened the screws on his brand of epic, near classical art-rock but he continues to let his distressed yelp of a voice soar. Always juggling a handful of projects, Spencer Krug is quickly moving up the short-list of the best songwriters of his generation. Better hurry with those states Sufjan, I may have to change parties.

–Curt

4. GRIZZLY BEAR — Veckatimest

On the surface, Veckatimest is just another indie folk album. But like a good book, the fellas from Grizzly Bear present a solid listen that yields different nuances every time you press play. Listeners are put in a strange place—a world with heavy beats and some sort of ephemeral warmth. Lowdown, sexy drum and guitar work is mixed with electronic subtleties and topped with layered vocal harmonies that make you ache.

–Rachel

3. RAEKWON – Only Built For Cuban Linx… Pt. 2

Hey, anyone remember that one hip-hop group from the ’90s… Wu-Tang Clan was it? Yeah, they were good. Remember that solo album from original member Raekwon, the one where Rae and Ghostface embody fictional mafioso characters Lex Diamond and Tony Starks? Yeah, this is the sequel. The whole clan drops by including highlights from a revived Method Man and a hungry Inspectah Deck. Same shit, different decade. It’s rare in hip-hop, in all music really, when a sequel lives up to the original classic. Pt. 2 does just that throughout the 70-minute magnum-opus. “Ayo, the Wu is back”.

–Curt

2. ATLAS SOUND – Logos

Somehow, Bradford Cox has constructed a machine allowing him to enter into his own dreams, where he proceeded to write and record Logos. These songs morph and fade, grow and transform before our very ears like a soundtrack to a dream. To say that the album is nostalgic would be an understatement, but where Cox’s peers construct their childhoods through lesser sheets of noise, electronic blips, and reverb, Cox amps up his songwriting. Though they take time to unravel, Logos contains the young songwriters best music to date, and I love me some Deerhunter. The single, “Walkabout” with Panda Bear (AnCo) is perhaps the sweetest four minutes of sunshine recorded all year, a close second being “Shelia”.

–Curt

1. ANIMAL COLLECTIVE — Merriweather Post Pavilion

What did AnCo do in 2009? Not much, really, except change pop music. A DJ this semester told me, “I’ve never heard an album that sounded like that before.” It’s hard to dispute the pure creative genius of Noah Lennox, Dave Portner, and hell, even Brian Weitz and Josh Dibb. The sounds and textures on MPP are completely off-the-wall and “weird,” but the brilliance of the band lies in their ability to weave infectious hooks and picture-perfect melodies on top of everything, making it entirely listenable. The album makes perfect sense for 2009, representing the evolution of both pop and indie rock. The two are slowly becoming almost inextricable from one another. If this is what the future sounds like, then I’ll gladly put up with an oppressive dystopian society, secret thought police, and the empire striking back.

–Evan

KZUU Kountdown — Top Albums, TONITE!!

KZUU’s year-end extravaganza is tonight, with managers counting down the Top 30 albums of 2009, LIVE, ON-AIR, starting at 5:00 PM. Join us for a look at the best records of the year. We’ll be updating the blog as we go so you can follow along and try to guess what’s coming up next. Could be a fun drinking game.

You know how to find us. On your radio dial at 90.7fm in the Palouse area or online, streaming at http://kzuu.wsu.edu.