2009: Emerson Dameron
My memories of 2009 are, quite intentionally, shot. It was the most exhausting year I’ve experienced - personally, professionally and constitutionally - as a post-collegiate adult. I realize that makes me part of the zeitgeist, the new para-dig-um, but that doesn’t cheer me up too much. I hate being poor. I wish Obama would grow some balls. I don’t have much to write about my life circa ‘09, because I refuse to pity myself, as I refuse to pity the rest of you. And I won’t take out my hormonal rage on those who, by the time I’m done, won’t deserve it. Which leaves me sipping a beer and nodding, silently, at the rest of the Christmas party.
I’ve got game. I’ve got friends. Things will be different soon enough. I will bury this year in my memory, and, many years later, it will sprout some morbid yuks.
Our suffering doesn’t make you special. But in bad times, entertainment is a precious luxury indeed. When you’re down, a few minutes of head-nodding, brainstem-tickling bliss… that means something. Therefore, I recognize a few albums that kept the heat from my head in ‘09. Maybe you’ll like them, too – who the fuck knows? Please keep in mind that a lot of the ‘09 babies got flushed with the toilet water, and I don’t pretend this is some kind of objective rundown. Go ahead and like what you liked, and, please, recommend it to me. (I’m way behind. I haven’t even heard the new Akron/Family, or the new Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, or the new 50 Cent – what was I doing?)
A retro-funk record ahead of its time. Roll down the windows, put this on the car stereo, do 30 MPH in the left lane, and spend some time as hard-as-nails, as sweet-as-pie – the consummate hustler. Royalty of the soul.
A relentlessly eclectic, apocalyptically aggressive battle-rap record, impossibly hypnotic on the first five or six spins, eventually sums up this cursed decade as elegantly as anything in the Economist podcast. Beats at once smart and ign’ant, summarizing the circa-now pop-music condition (nothing special, everything in the fucking blender) while never leaving the trunk.
Not as shockingly weird as the debut EP, but an irrefutable case for these Long Beach sweathogs as meritocratic heirs to T&G’s Jesus-Lizard legacy. (Long may you run, my misanthropic Chicago friends. Here’s to better days.) Ambition and humor are not mutually exclusive.
New-age metal goes… country? Almost? Somehow the creepiest – and most peaceful – piece of plastic to pop out of the Western Hemisphere’s most overworked MacBook.
Can’t deny this. My favorite bed music for driving, writing, making out, doing laundry, whatever. Some say the series is falling off (hope you enjoyed that experimental sophomore Field record, you stuck-up, teacher-assisting assholes), but I liked it. A lot.
These pop-jazz Wu-Tang covers reminded me why I used to love digging for thrift-store vinyl. If you’re immersing yourself in something, build a tribute to it like this – it’s the only real reward for a perfect memory. The year’s most unforgettably elaborate, galvanizing novelty record.
Except for, maybe, this one. The most cheesy (more classy than the “cheesiest”) theme-songs of the ‘80s rendered as timeless, unpresumptuous, charmingly sexy lounge-pop. From the people who, as Nouvelle Vague, mocked and seduced post-punk, but somehow much more inappropriate and perfect.
If Dam Funk was The Chronic of 2009 LA micro-funk, Nite Jewel was one of the better Cocteau Twins records. Surreal, passionate, creatively atonal, and unbelievably catchy in the most awkward possible way.
I made some effort at explaining how much 6OoA’s latest impacted my nauseated summer, but I’m not sure why I keep listening to it, more than all the great new shit Otis and company keep Sendspacing me. Chasny just seems to be hitting his fucking stride, as an artist and a guy,
Along with Brent Weinbach’s debut, this is the year’s finest – and perhaps sole – prog-comedy record. A mix of standup and improv that will leave thumbprints on any thoughtful person’s reverse button.
Between the uproarious nerd rage of former Parts and Labor drummer Christopher Weingarten and the lucid wit of Top-40 snob Maura Johnston, Idolator’s “F2K” series, counting down the most miserable hits of the decade (its standing graphic an antropoid, vomiting iPod) is the Apocalypse Culture of music journalism. The series began on idolator.com, and was, when Johnston was abruptly cut from that site’s masthead, revived on the Village Voice’s website, of all e-places. I will bury my memories, and cast these delinquent tenants from my body. But our collective fuck-ups will live forever. Never forget.
By Emerson Dameron