Prime numbers: sexier than Daniel Radcliffe in his Harry Potter glasses?

That wasn’t actually a question.  Prime numbers are sexy, and indie music is sexy, and our Best of 2009 THUS FAR lists are sexier than Paste’s.  Also, more interesting.  Anyway, so, I read Eric’s list and decided perhaps I should make one of my own, because we do, of course have slightly different tastes, and although 4 out of my 13 picks are by artists he also picked, my song choices are different.  So, you should probably just combine our lists and make one massive playlist of wonder.

1) “Cradle” – The Joy Formidable Yes,  this song is number one on my list for a reason.  I love it with all my heart, and I watch the video over and over again wishing for her hair, and a see-saw, and my childhood back.

2) “You’re  Not Coming Home Tonight” – First Aid Kit These Swedes speak to me.  Good luck buying this EP.

3) “Because We’re Dead” – Slow Club This was a really difficult pick for me, as there are so many incredible songs on Yeah, So.  Maybe it isn’t so predictable a choice because of its pace and sparsity, but that’s exactly why I picked it. 

4) “Troll Nacht” – The Dodos You just heard this a couple days ago when they began streaming the album online…I guess there was an album leakage, so why not stream it for everyone’s enjoyment?

5) “Some Day” – We’ll Make It Right Another tough decision, another glorious album.  “We’ll Make It Bright” was a close second.  I like when they say “you better run no matter who you are”–it’s so cute!

6) “Dance Serene” – The Hard to Get I know, I know!  Eric and the producer both say “Good at That” is the best song on the EP, and yet, I can’t help saying that “Dance Serene” is the best, and not only that, it is also one of the best songs of the year, beating out all of Paste Mag’s crap.  (I don’t mean crap in a bad way, promise).  It’s catchy, French, and fits Melissa’s and Tim’s voices in a really unique and charming way.  So, “Dance  Serene” it is.

7) “Serve Them Well” – Swimming in Speakers I swear I’m not trying to argue with Eric.  Some of these artists have reached such a degree of quality that it’s really truly difficult to pick a “best” song.  Although, I am right, and “Serve Them Well” is the best.

8 ) “Songs in the Night” – Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers Samantha Crain is so wonderfully sincere and vulnerable in her music.  This is a brilliant album.  Go see them live if you can.

9) “Young Adult Friction” – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart I like their sound, and their angst, and I think this song is fabulous.  I’m only just beginning to get a grasp on life in my twenties, and they help me.  Also I will review them soon, if you want.

10) “On My Usual Catch Up with Cecilia” – Hari & Aino Okay, Eric, I agree.  Adore these guys.

p.s. I think Chris Graham should do my wedding photography

11)  “Step Off the Map and Float” – Library Voices My new obsession.  I’ll be reviewing their EP soon, I hope, even though I did sort of already rave about their myspace page.  Whatever!  p.s.  I think Chris Graham, who did these headshots, should most definitely do my wedding photography.

12) “Snow Room” – The Secret Life of Sofia Okay, I’m kind of guessing about the release date for this one, and I apologize if it’s not a 2009 song.  But these things are difficult to find sometimes.  Anyway, I love it for its ethereal qualities, and I’m waiting to see The  Secret Life of Sofia become bigger and bigger.

13) “The Trapeze Swinger” – Iron & Wine It might be cheating because it’s a compilation album, so the song was not, you know, first ever heard in 2009.  But the song is one of my favorites, with the most strangely beautiful lyrics you may ever hear, backed by Sam Beam’s classically, expectedly rapturing acoustics.

And there’s my list, love it or hate it.  (Just kidding, I know you’ll love it).

In A Cabin With…We’ll Make It Right

Those of you who kept up with The Indie Handbook during Dutch Week may remember my post about the IN A CABIN WITH international recording project.  If you don’t remember, well, here it is again. And of course you can find a more official description on the IN A CABIN WITH official website.

And now that you’re up to speed on the project, a new album was recorded in January and just released!  I downloaded it today (because there’s a free download available!) and have been simultaneously listening and reading the collaboration’s blog.  This particular project’s name is We’ll Make It Right and is made up of several Dutch musicians I’ve never heard of (because let’s be honest, the Dutch musicians I know are mostly the ones we covered during Dutch Week).  The instrumentation, as described on the blog, is “amongst arp, vibes, piano, banjo, and flute the strange duck in the bite!”  I’m not sure what it means to be the strange duck in the bite, but I’m pretty sure by listening that it’s a good thing.  On a whole, the collaboration is quite fantastic.

Within the first five seconds of the first track, “Stop Trying So Hard,” I couldn’t help thinking of Sondre Lerche, along the lines of “Everyone’s Rooting Just For You”.  Dominant chords and flute motifs bring a definite jazz feel to this track as well as to others, the most notable being the sassy “Just Like A Man.”  If I could swing dance, I would.  Eric can.   Songs like “It Ain’t All Good, “For The Sleeping,” and “We’ll Make  It Bright” are incredibly lovely and sad, and the end of “For The Sleeping” is especially ethereal.  If any of you care about my own personal favorite track (I know, I’m shameless), I think for now it is “Some Day,” which is one of the most playful and moving (literally, not emotionally) songs on the album; however, as with most truly great albums, my favorite is likely to change with more listens.

Reading the blog alongside of listening has added, I think, a new dimension to my comprehending the collaboration as a whole.  This makes sense, as a person’s understanding of an artwork can only increase with their understanding of the artist and the environment under which the art was created.  Can you appreciate Shostakovich without a cognizant acknowledgement of his life in Soviet Russia?  Sure.  But this acknowledgement will take you much deeper into his music than a surface-level listen or chord analysis.  So, I’d like to share a few thoughts I have upon reading the IN A CABIN WITH We’ll Make It Right blog.

The bloggers in the band not only sleep in one hotel room, but “we all sleep in 1 big 8-person bed, and DJ Extraa talks in his sleep. He shouted: ‘Which asshole does this!’. Later on he murmered: ‘Slackers.'”  This is so funny and so imaginably difficult at the same time!  It puts a whole new spin on the second track, “My Best Friend”– “when you bother me/i’ll bother you/and we’ll both know/i wanna make you my best friend.”  They describe their overall feeling as “one of intense, vulnerable sweet people spending day and night in a chalet.  We show each other movies, play each other songs we’ve made or songs by others, have dinner together, sleep together…Definitely not rock’n’roll!”  I don’t know, I guess they’re right.  Maybe it isn’t particularly rock’n’roll.  Later they admit they’ve pretty much lost touch with reality.  That’s natural, I guess!  But don’t you freaking love it?  It’s so artistic and wonderful, and the effect it has on their music is inimitable.  “Sweet with balls,” they call it.  Brilliant.

My favorite is their second-to-last blog post; the implications of this excerpt are fascinating:

“Each person in the band contributed several scetches for a song. And we wanted everybody to at least make 1 song out 1 of their scetches, and we’ve acheived that. So everyone ‘s got his “own” song now, except for Extraa. We will do his tomorrow.”

I think the reason this interests me so much is that despite everyone having their own song, and despite an earlier post saying the only music they all liked was Phoenix’s, all the songs on the album flow beautifully.  There is a definite and distinct sound to this collaboration, which can only come, I suppose, from spending every waking hour together in a tiny hotel room, and perhaps drinking lots of whiskey, and pushing through all those annoying idiosyncrasies that literally every person has, and knowing in the end, you have to produce, and whatever you produce has to be beautiful and it has to be art.

And it is beautiful, and it is art.  So I would say that In A Cabin With We’ll Make It Right is an enormous success.

I can’t embed it, so watch this video.