200 things we loved about 2009: part one
26th Dec 2009 | 11:06
(...plus the odd turkey)
2009: a big year for music. You've already read our review of the year - now here are 200 more things we loved about 2009!
1. Thom Yorke's new supergroup, featuring Flea and Nigel Godrich and various other genius musicians. Album in 2010 please, gents.
2. Jack White. In 2008 his monumental Glastonbury performance with The Raconteurs proved that there was more to White than Stripes and saw him make a serious bid for the title of Best Guitarist In The World Today. In 2009 he mostly occupied the drum stool and producer's chair with The Dead Weather, setting up a record label in the process. Surprise surprise, he's a killer drummer too. Does this man ever have a day off?
3. Metallica at Sonisphere 2009. Magnetic.
4. Sly Stone - for getting his shit together (technical term there) and signing a deal with Cleopatra Records. No, we haven't heard of the label either, but hopefully Sly will take everybody 'higher' in 2010.
5. Anvil and Anvil: The Story Of Anvil. Here is a band that flies in the face of acclaim, logic and People Telling Them To Stop. Can we say Anvil again? Anvil.
6. Green Day. 21st Century Breakdown is no American Idiot, but as big-time rock opera goes, it still delivers the goods in glorious Technicolor.
7. The Killers. Brandon Flowers said he wanted knock bands like Zeppelin and Nirvana off their pedestals. That didn't happen, but they still made a mighty fine showing in 2009. Oh, except for that track on the New Moon soundtrack. That we didn't like.
"Kerry King. The metal master's riffs and solos helped to make Slayer's latest, World Painted Blood, a ferocious affair"
8. Bill Berry drumming with REM. Well, almost - Michael Stipe wasn't there. But hey, it was great to see him back behind the kit where he belongs. Next year do a reunion tour and play the first four albums, guys.
9. Josh Freese. We're still trying to dig up $75,0000 so he can join our band. Hope the deal's still open.
10. We also raised a drink to Travis Barker. The Blink-182 drummer made a miraculous recovery from a potentially fatal 2008 plane crash. Glad to have ya back, kid!
11. Metallica. For their induction performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, they invited former bassist Jason Newsted to take part. Classy move, gents.
12. That version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.
13.Kerry King. The metal master's riffs and solos helped to make Slayer's latest, World Painted Blood, a ferocious affair.
14.Microsoft's Songsmith. Designed to automatically create backing tracks from your singing, it was quickly appropriated by lark-seeking internet types who used it to create jaw-dropping remixes of classic songs. Cue laughing stock turns into must-have app.
15. Analooger, a YouTube contributor who managed to make a musical instrument out of a '70s blender.
Belfast-based PhD student Peter Bennett, for creating the BeatBearing. That's a drum machine powered by ball bearings btw.
16.Ableton Live 8. A vocoder and a multi-band compressor comes to the ingenious DAW at last.
17. In B flat: the wonderful interactive-soundscape-sculpting multi-Tube player-type-thing.
18. Fridgebuzzz, for making a synth out of a vintage Atari 400 games console.
19. Apple. OK, they didn't give us a computer (that'll have to wait until 2010), but we did get Logic and GarageBand updates and the opportunity to have a hi-def piano lesson from Ben Folds. Erm, hang on a sec…
20. Musiblocks. Quite simply, little wooden blocks that let you control the playback and volume of the music you're listening to.
"Spotify. Time will tell if it can succeed in the long-term, but using it for the first time felt like a seismic experience"
21. The Reason Soul School ReFill (or at least the promo video for it). Take note musical instruments industry: that there's how you do a product launch. Groovy.
22. Stevie Wonder, a thoroughly deserving recipient of The Gershwin Award. This is the highest honour that can be bestowed on an American pop musician and, after Paul Simon in 2007, he's only the second to receive it.
23. Spotify. Time will tell if it can succeed in the long-term, but using it for the first time felt like a seismic experience.
24. The EHX Cathedral Stereo Reverb pedal. Post rock in a box.
25. Oh, and the EHX POG2. Even more octaves in a smaller box than before.
26. The Maestro - a guitar that teaches you to play using lasers. OK, it doesn't actually exist (and probably wouldn't work if it did) but that didn't stop us from wanting one.
27. That cat that plays the piano.
28. Brenden Macaluso, the inventor of the cardboard PC case. Upgrading your computer might not be so environmentally unfriendly in the future.
29. The breathtaking music video for Coldplay's Strawberry Swing.
30. Corinne Bailey Rae, who returned after the death of her husband to put in a spellbinding performance on Later With Jools Holland. Look out for her in 2010.
31. Band Of Skulls. For once, a 'buzz band' that is actually buzz-worthy. Their album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, is a mofo!
32. Christian Bale. OK, his on-set rant might not have done his reputation much good, but it was grist to the remixers' mill.
33.Meeting Brian May at a party. What a lovely fellow.
34.The Classic Rock Awards. There were a lot of proper stars there. And a lot of free booze. A lot.
35. Erykah Badu, who gave birth on Twitter. "I can see the head, full of hair," said partner Electronica at one point (presumably referring to baby rather than mother).
36. The Haynes Telecaster Manual. I mean, how cool.
37. Getting to see (and believe) Teenage Engineering's OP-1 synth/controller - even though it hasn't actually been released yet. Let's hope that changes in 2010.
"Remixing Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger with Matias Najle's 'idaft' Daft Punk Console was a glorious way to waste time"
38. Multitouch control. The iPhone has it, Windows 7 supports it, and soon, we might all be using it.
Music-making apps on the iPhone. They arrived at an alarming rate, and the quality's getting better all the time. Do you know, we might have a go at one ourselves, he typed mysteriously…
39. Vloud.com, for making our MP3s louder.
40. Joel Schilley, the man who makes turntables out of wood.
41. Matias Najle's 'idaft' Daft Punk Console. Remixing Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger was a glorious way to waste time.
42. Windows 7. While the majority of DAWs and plug-ins don't yet fully support it, Microsoft's brilliant new OS holds massive music-making potential. And it almost makes up for the epic fail that was Windows Vista.
43. The news that Daft Punk are composing the soundtrack to Tron 2. It just seems to feel right.
44. Jamie Oliver cooking up his prize-winning Silent Drum.
45. The Eigenharp/electric bassoon/Star Wars cantinamophone.
46. Delia Derbyshire being immortalised on a T-Shirt. Unsurprisingly, it sold out almost immediately
47. Kazuhiro Taniguchi, for bothering to invent the technology that enables you to control your iPod with your face.
49.Small valve amps that eat big ones for breakfast.
50. Bruce Springsteen performing full albums live. It started out with Stump The Band, in which Bruce and The E Street Band accepted audience requests (Wild Thing? No problem. London Calling? You got it!) and progressed to full readings of classic albums such as Born To Run, The River and for the tour closer, the first-ever live performance of Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. Wisely, Bruce chose not to include Human Touch in its entirety. We say… NEBRASKA!
51.Muse's The Resistance. When Matt Bellamy suggested that Muse would go "orchestral" and "classical" on their new album, shudders were felt worldwide. Rather than succumb to prog excess, however, the Teignmouth trio fired up a sonic extravaganza that managed to mix Berlioz, Lizst and Chopin with stomping rock 'n' roll dazzle-dazzle. A winner from beginning to end.
52. Dallas Schoo. Who you might ask? Listen up. When MusicRadar was granted an exclusive tour of The Edge's live set-up (you have to see the equipment list to believe it), we met a man who not only changes strings on over 20 guitars a day, but who, in many ways, keeps the U2 show running like clockwork. More than just a guitar tech's guitar tech, Dallas Schoo is the unspoken fifth member of U2. Hats off to a 'magnificent' fella.
53. That Zakk Wylde is OK. Talk about your cruel summers. First he gets the heave-ho from Ozzy, then the Zakkster suffers a near-fatal bout of blood clots. Now fully recovered, Wylde is on blood thinners and has had to swear off his beloved brew. But he's making a new Black Label Society album and is determined to rule in 2010. We're betting he does just that.
54. Noel Gallagher quitting Oasis. Stay with us because this means one thing: we're finally going to get that solo album that Noel should've made 15 years ago. If he can tap into the brilliance of Oasis' first two albums, it'll be a killer.
55. Kings of Leon going big-time. Constant touring, festival headlining plus the weird beast that is the UK charts meant not only was Sex On Fire a fixture on Radio One for about six months, but the US finally got what the UK and Australia knew all along: that these Kings were ready to be knighted.
56.Beatlemania 2.0. With the release of The Beatles: Rock Band, The Beatles remastered box sets and the 40th anniversary of Abbey Road, 2009 seemed like 1964 all over again.
57. The Twilight: New Moon soundtrack. Whether you're Team Edward, Team Jacob or Team Gimme a Freakin' Break Already, one thing's for sure: this indie rock collection, featuring wondrous cuts by Thom Yorke, Band Of Skulls, Grizzly Bear and more, has sharper teeth than you'd imagine.
58. Watching the Aerosmith soap opera/car crash (delete as applicable). Everybody loves a good ding dong, and this past year one of the nuttiest dramas has revolved around the veteran Boston band and their is-he-or-isn't-he? singer, Steven Tyler. Tune in tomorrow to find out something else. Maybe.
"Daito Manabe, who electrocuted his friends faces in the name of music"
59. Has 2009 been the year of the 'supergroup'? Sure seems like it. First there was Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith making up the unlikely foursome that was Chickenfoot…
…and then there was Them Crooked Vultures. Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones, Josh Homme… The line-up was even more unexpected than Chickenfoot's but the trio unleashed a debut album that rocked hard despite being a year late. Expect to see more of these birds next year.
60. Daito Manabe, who electrocuted his friends' faces in the name of music.
61. Little Boots duetting with Phil Oakey, thus ensuring that the electro-pop circle was complete.
62. Virgil Griffith, who used 'science' to prove that Radiohead fans are smart and Lil Wayne fans are... less smart.
63. MGMT's Kids being covered by girl band The Mentalists on their iPhones.
64. We were sad to hear of the death of John Martyn, a true innovator and one of Britain's most underrated talents. Martin's D-28 John Martyn signature acoustic was a beautiful tribute.
65. SXSW. This year's was the best yet.
66. Twitter. Because everyone needs to know what colour socks John Mayer is wearing today.
67.Joe Bonamassa at Ronnie Scott's. The boy can play.
68. Being able to share synth sounds on Twitter.
69. Doctor Who's being voted the greatest sci-fi theme of all time.
70. Listening to Radiohead and Queen being covered by bits of old computer hardware.
71. Johnny Flynn solo at Bristol's Cube Cinema. Britain's new folk hero?
72. Calvin Harris, who bought himself some more time to produce his second album by claiming that the laptop that contained it had been lost in the mayhem at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5.
73. Adam Lambert. Brian May loves him. Gene Simmons...not so much. In any case, the man can sing. And he brings the glam, too!
74. Chris Randall's frequently hilarious blogs over at Analog Industries.
75. Turkey: Apple removing the dedicated audio input jack and the FireWire port from the redesigned white MacBook. Boo.
76. Apple's Logic Studio 9. Yay!
77. The Fender stand at NAMM. Coolest. Stand. Ever.
78.Street pianos, which popped up across London and Bristol this year.
79. Miloco Studios' refurb. Wanna record in a swimming pool? Grab your Speedos and head down to London's SE1.
80. The Flaming Lips, who are just about to release their cover of Dark Side Of The Moon (and they'll be playing it live on New Year's Eve). Others have tackled this iconic work, but we think Wayne Coyne and co might do the weirdest version yet.
81. Orianthi. The Australian-born shredder was all set to share the stage with Michael Jackson before his untimely death. But she's just released a solo album, chock full of blazing pop-rock songs - and lots of smokin' guitar playing, of course.
82. Jay-Z, for pronouncing the death of Auto-Tune.
83. Antares, for playing along and issuing a press release stating that "reports of [Auto-Tune's] death have been greatly exaggerated".
84. Maxwell's BLACKsummers' Night. A soul album that felt like it could have been made at any point in the past 40 years yet still sounded relevant and necessary.
85. Lily Allen's It's Not Me It's You, 2009's finest pop album.
86. Little Boots' appearance on BBC Breakfast for providing a platform for Bill Turnbull's take on the Yamaha Tenori-On - something the music tech community had been waiting to hear.
87. Passion Pit. Breezy electronic dance pop that sounds like nothing else out there. And they sure don't sound like they're from Boston!
89. Ronnie James Dio. We're sending him good thoughts and best wishes. Slay that cancer beast, Ronnie!
90. Grizzly Bear. Veckatimest is big stuff, brimming with sparkling, disorienting pop songs that sound different with each listen. A band whose grand ambition matches their reach.
91. The Novation Launchpad.
92. The Mighty Mouse: finally, an Apple mouse that's actually any good.
93.Jim Bartek. As superfans go, this Ohio truck shop worker takes the cake. He and his dog listen to Judas Priest's hour-and-45-minute-long Nostradamus every night. But hey - he got to meet Rob Halford for all his trouble.
94. Pete Seeger. The folk pioneer celebrated his 90th birthday with a star-studded concert at Madison Square Garden. Here's to many more.
95. Roland's AX-Synth. Here's to a new generation of keytar heroes.
96. Tom Morello picking up his electric guitar again and shredding like crazy in Street Sweeper Social Club.
97. Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. The former Blind Faith bandmates teamed up for concerts, with more planned next year.
98. Controlling our music software from our iPhones.
99. Vinyl record sales being up 35 percent from last year. What with the cassette underground and CD players going out of production, it's time to head back to the Seventies. Come on the 8-track!
100. Wilco's Wilco (The Album). Wilco (The Song) was great, too. But the best was You Never Know, the best George Harrison tribute (intentional or not) we've ever heard.