Posts Tagged ‘Best of 2009’

Free music. Dig in!

Thursday, December 17th, 2009


Welcome, music aficionado! You’ve found your way to the Frequency blog and Near/Far, The Bulletin’s online hub for coverage of 2009’s best sounds.

For the third year in a row, we’ve collected dozens of the best songs of the past 12 months from both local and national acts and created a two-disc compilation of free, legal MP3s for your downloading pleasure. You even get cool CD sleeves with artwork and tracklists! Let’s get to the good stuff:

Download “Far” by clicking here
Includes 18 songs by some of the coolest national acts of the year, including Animal Collective, The Avett Brothers, Brendan Benson, Japandroids, The Very Best, Felt (with Aesop Rock), Atlas Sound, Portugal. The Man, Box Elders, Alela Diane, J. Tillman, Telekinesis, Shabazz Palaces and more. See the entire “Far” tracklist here.

Download “Near” by clicking here
Includes 18 songs by some of Central Oregon’s best artists, including Empty Space Orchestra, Person People, Moon Mountain Ramblers, Eric Tollefson, Erin Cole-Baker, Mosley Wotta, Anastacia Beth Scott, The Mostest, Tuck And Roll, The Snag, Dan Shanahan and more. See the entire “Near” tracklist here.

(Please be aware that a few of these tracks might contain some coarse language.)

In today’s issue of Frequency’s big print brother, GO! Magazine, we’ve got several pages dedicated to reviewing music in 2009. For example:

-My favorite albums of the year.
-My 10 favorite local albums of the year and a round-up of some other notable local releases.
-The best musical moments of the year through the eyes of those closest to the scene, presented in handy Top 5 list format.
-My short overview of the Central Oregon music scene in 2009. (Hint: Local musicians stepped up big time.)

Here are some bonus things that are only on the blog:
-My favorite concerts of the year in Central Oregon.
More Top 5 lists from locals close to the music scene. (We got a ton of these, and ran out of room in print.)

Last, but not least, you’re currently looking at The Bulletin’s music blog, Frequency, where for the past couple of weeks I’ve been reviewing the best music of the past decade. Click here to see those posts, and check back, because I’m not done yet.

And finally, we still have the 2007 and 2008 Near/Far compilations available for free download. Just click here to grab them.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to send me e-mail. I love feedback, and am always looking to improve Frequency.

The 10 best concerts of the year in Central Oregon

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I’ve gone on and on about my favorite recordings of 2009 here and here, but live music is the backbone of any good scene. Here is a look back my 10 favorite shows of the past 12 months in chronological order, with excerpts from reviews already published in The Bulletin or on Frequency.

Moon Mountain Ramblers, Jan. 24, Tower Theatre


(The Ramblers) were terrific. Their arsenal of stringed instruments rang out crisp and clean. The mix was perfect, with percussionist Dale Largent complementing the pickers nicely. Vocally, the harmonies were shipshape, and I was surprised by guitarist Matthew Hyman’s strong voice. I didn’t realize he’s that good of a singer.

As for the set list, the band flitted back and forth between its favorite styles, from Hyman’s twangy ballads to bassist Dan McClung’s jazzgrass instrumentals to mandolinist Joe Schulte’s more rock-influenced numbers.

One highlight was my co-worker Jenny Harada’s song for her brother, Jason, who died last summer, called “Chasing The Sun.” I’m sure there were dry eyes in the house, but they weren’t mine. Another highlight was a new Schulte song built on a weird, ominous groove and featuring a wicked Largent drum solo, like old-time music meets heavy metal. A genre was born just then, I think: doomgrass.

We also got a raucous cover of the old Stealers Wheel hit “Stuck In The Middle,” a perfectly plaintive version of “Restless,” and what may be the Ramblers’ new signature tune, “Let It All Be Good.” In the latter, when Schulte sang “You’re dancing to our music till your toes start to bleed,” I scanned the wiggly bunch up front to get a glimpse of life imitating art.


What others thought of the year in music (addendum)

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Tomorrow morning in GO! Magazine, the music section will be dedicated to the best music of 2009, with a couple pages set aside for Top 5 lists from those closest to the scene — the musicians (plus the Tower Theatre’s production manager and a radio DJ.)

A few weeks ago, I sent out a call to everyone I know asking them for their fave five musical moments of the year, and I got back a lot more lists than I could fit in the paper. So click below The Dirtball’s list to read all those that didn’t make it in print, which range from funny to serious to insightful to self-promotional. And thanks to all the good folks to responded! I appreciate it.

The Dirtball
Bend-based rapper
1. Tech N9ne receiving an MTV Woodie Award
2. Brad Jones’ newly released CD “No Strings”
3. The new release from local bluegrass band Quincy Street, “Small Country Towns”
4. The formation of local metal group Kleverkill.
5. Big B’s new record on Suburban Noize Records, “American Underdog”


What good are year-end or decade-end lists anyway?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

At the end of each year, music geeks (like myself) rank their favorite albums, singles, reissues and so on, and post them in public places for fellow geeks to deride. And each year, a small chorus of dissenters question the value of such an exercise, asserting that a true music fan can’t fully absorb the year’s sounds by the end of December. Great music takes time to sink in, they say, and the best time for ranking, say, 2008’s releases would be at least the end of 2009, if not later. Only with the passage of time can you truly know which records have stuck with you, and which are collecting dust on the shelf.

I’m here to tell you, reader, they’re absolutely right.

I’m living proof. Last year, I wrote up a big, splashy year-end review and we put it in GO! Magazine. (Here, here, here and here.) Included in that review was a list of 25 albums I believed were the best of 2008. I wrote thousands of words about those albums, going on and on about their good qualities, and why I think you should listen to them. For some, I wrote a lot, and for others, just a sentence, because there’s only so much space in the paper.

And a year later, after another year of listening to those albums and discovering new ones, I must say that what are now my two favorite albums of 2008 took up only a small fraction of that space.

Back then, I thought no one had made a better album in 2008 than Fleet Foxes and Throw Me The Statue and Sigur Ros and Raphael Saadiq. But today, if I revised my list, I’d have Kathleen Edwards’ “Asking For Flowers” at the top, followed closely by Frightened Rabbit’s “The Midnight Organ Fight.”

A year ago, I dedicated 28 words to Edwards’ album because its brilliance hadn’t yet washed over me. And the Frightened Rabbit was nowhere to be found, because I hadn’t even heard it yet. And yet those two albums have dominated my ears in 2009, to the point where I have to force myself to listen to other things.

And so, those end-of-year list-making naysayers are right. This whole exercise is poppycock. You can’t get a permanent, accurate ranking of your favorite albums of a given year in December. You probably can’t even get one a year later. These kinds of things are works in progress, of course, subject to changing moods, evolving tastes, new discoveries, the passage of time, and so on.

All. That. Said.

Welcome to Frequency’s coverage of the best music of the past decade and 2009! Forget everything I just said and join me as I take a look back at the best songs and albums of the 2000s, both through my eyes and the eyes of others.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting list after list and song after song from the past 10 years, and we’ll wrap things up on Dec. 18 with my overview of Bend’s music scene in 2009, including the third installment of our downloadable MP3 compilation, “Near/Far.” (Get the first two volumes by clicking here.)

It’s going to be fun for me, because I love stuff like this. And I hope it’s fun for you, too. I hope you’ll jump in at any time to agree, disagree, debate or just chat about music.

Just remember: Anything you read here could change tomorrow, next month, next year, or next decade. And that, at least in part, is the beauty of a living, breathing love of music.