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Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion

I’m pretty sure I tried to call Merriweather Post Pavilion “Record of the year” back in January, when I reviewed it, but City Paper managing editor Andrew Beaujon argued that this statement might be a tad premature, given that ’09 still had 11 months left to go. But here we are in December and it’s still great.

Mi Ami
Touch & Go/Quarterstick

From a sort-of-embarrassing-but-earnest blog post that I wrote after attending three Mi Ami’s shows last March:

But yeah, they really dropped the A-bomb on me. I had seen them before—when they were still a duo and then last February when they came through DC—and I liked it, but thought it just sounded liked a more stripped down version of Black Eyes. This time though, I don’t know, it really clicked. The good shows had the same energy as some of the Evangelical church services that I went to back when I was writing the Service Industry column. The kind of thing where the band doesn’t play hymns so much as they act as a foil for the preacher’s gradually intensifying emotions and everything just gets crazier and crazier until some old lady passes out in the isle. Except at the DC show, it wasn’t an old lady, just some tragic punker kid who had a septum piercing and smelled sort of like salami.

More after the jump:

Love of Diagrams
Nowhere Forever
Unstable Ape/Remote Control

The Melbourne, Australia trio graduates from scrappy post-punk to expansive space-rock that’s one part shoegaze uplift and two parts Flying Nun Records-style skronk. The Northern hemisphere slept on Love of Diagrams this year, big time.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

French pop band reaches for the stars, benefits from not being American.

Deleted Scenes
Birdseed Shirt
What Delicate Recordings

Sad, uplifting, and bizarre in just about equal measure, Birdseed Shirt is probably the best record anybody in D.C. put out this year. It really deserves that spot in Black Cat’s jukebox.

In Prism

Hey, not everything has to be like Star Wars. Sometimes your heroes take ten years off, come back, and really kick ass.

I Blame You

Obits guitarist Sohrab Habibion called me out on Black Plastic Bag (R.I.P.) because I made fun of him for wearing shorts onstage at SXSW. In hindsight, I was being a lazy critic and a bit of a jerk. We got it sorted out, though (I think), but even if Habibion and his bandmates hate my guts, I’ll still listen to this record.

Kurt Vile
Childish Prodigy

Philadelphia songwriter and mega-producer Daniel Lanois are privy to the same secret: If you take the music of the baby-boomers and run it through a ton of effects, it sounds cool again. Hey, don’t laugh, it worked for Bob Dylan on Oh, Mercy. And it works for Kurt Vile, too.

Blues Control
Local Flavor

The ultimate soundtrack to the final beer of the evening.

Dam Funk
Stones Throw

Dam Funk has the chords of eternity at his fingertips. Yeah, that sounds like a cheesy Jim Morrison lyric, but when it comes to synthesizers, the Los Angeles-based modern-funk pioneer really does have the touch. “[I’m trying to get] the best chord that I’ve ever heard in my life. It can hit your heart strings,” he told me during a Q&A last May. “Not that Lil Jon effect–those are the devil chords. I’m trying to get the beautiful chords, to get to something inside.” His debut, Toeachizown, is crammed with just those chords.

Records that I probably enjoyed just as much, but was too lazy to blurb:
Omar S Fabric 45
Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca
Flaming Lips Embryonic
True Womanhood Magic Child Digital 7″
Fresh & Onlys The Fresh & Onlys
The Clientele Bonfires on the Heath
Circulatory System Signal Morning
The Points Beat In Hell 7″
Real Estate S/T