That's got a nice sci-fi kinda ring to it, without the apocalyptic overtones of 2012, or the blink-and-you-missed-it dystopian vision of 2001. It will surely be the Year Where Things Could Only Get Better, with hope, faith and diligence from all of us terrestrial or extraterrestrial. Luckily 2009 was a fantastic year for the space rock, so much in fact that, rather than bombarding my faithful listeners with an epic length set, as some of the more recent installments have been, this one will be divided up into two month's worth of playlists, in January and February. This should make these stimulating slabs of soul-sustaining sustenance much more digestible. Longtime fans of the Continuum know also that the Best Of editions stretch the definition of space rock to its breaking point, as I am apt to include as much of the music that moved me this year as possible without regard to how much it can be squeezed into the space/psych/prog/post/acid/experimental etc. pigeonhole. You might even find bits of electronica, jazz, pop, straight-up indie rock or even underground hip hop (well, maybe), but it all sums up the music that kept BeeDub alive last year, and I hope it nourishes you as well.
So! On to the VERY BEST TRACKS OF 2009! (in no particular order, of course)
We start off, as I am apt, in a post rock vein, with two of the legacy practitioners, Montreal's Do Make Say Think, here with a 4-song essential distillation of their modus operandi, each song titled after, and evocative of, one of the verbs in their name, and Chicago legends Tortoise still showing up the naysayers with their most vital album (and subsequent tour) in a long while. Would it be odd to transition into classic krautrock here? Not when the band in question is the seminal Faust, who are stronger than ever after nearly four decades of confoundingly inventive music, even in 2009. Sit down children, and LEARN.
Speaking of legacies, The Flaming Lips have constantly reinvented themselves, from Butthole Surferish acid-punk, to psych-noize extremists, to indie pop darlings, and with their 2009 release they have come full circle back to dark beginnings, but with a fresh and brand new musical approach. I call them the godfathers... and the young prince of this family line is young Dennis Coyne, nephew of the Lips' Wayne Coyne, who, along with his former Lips roadie pals, has his own project off to a great start with Stardeath and White Dwarfs... another entry in the heritage of OK City's finest. Their whimsical lysergic tendencies have been absorbed through osmosis by one Neon Indian, an unhinged electronica producer who shares a similar a taste for the blotter. Not to be overshadowed in this sort of beatific frenzy, the one man band (with laptop and outboard effects) known as Dan Deacon has a myriad of influences to wear proudly on his sleeve then shake out and hang on the laundry line to be absorbed by the cosmic winds of devotional audience participation. And so... why not round this segment out with yet another classic from the prolific longevity and ever-mindblowing enduring creativity of Jersey oldschoolers Yo La Tengo?
Shifting gears toward the Welshmotorikpsych (there was one?) we have a couple winners from newbies The Phantom Band and stalwarts the Super Furries, bringin' the brogue to outer space. A sonically smooth but geographically abrupt transmogrification brings us to Sacramento CA for the Ganglians' lo-fi Brian Wilson worship, and San Francisco's Assemble Head's Crazy Horse/Laurel Canyon devoutness. Another Neil Young acolyte, Built To Spill's Doug Martsch harvested yet another fruitful batch of beauty this year (this track could be his response to Do Make Say Think's imperative above)... may his travelin' boots never wear thin.
Which brings us into a bit of the oft-occurring alt-country/psych crossover with Chicago pluck and crank artists Califone, SF guitarist Ben Chasney's otherworldly folk in Six Organs, a "supergroup" featuring the one dude from The White Stripes and that chick from the The Kills known as the The Dead Weather, with their high profile take on some dark amalgam of voodooswampblooz, and the enigmatic and explosive Sleepy Sun, who very well may have released the album of the year. Stay tuned!
More psychamericana from everyone's favorite party pixie Devendra Banhart, and jam cult Akron/Family's continuing series of anthemic mantras, stripping down to worn and bare southern gothic with newcomers UUVVWWZ. A left field twist brings the next track from Mercury Rev covering, of all people, Black Sabbath, in a rather faithful yet unsettling rendition of one of their more atypical tracks, at a crossroads of Eastern malady and stargazing melody. So why not round out the set with a sitar-drenched bass & drum drone from the latest and best Om album, this one featuring Grails & HolySons alumnus and friend of the show, drummer/multi-instruMENTALIST Emil Amos, followed by workhorse Montrealite Sam Shalabi's Land of Kush, an album with a track-by-track/chapter-by-chapter correlation (supposedly) to Tom Pynchon's recent novel of the same name. Heady stuff, eh? Well, that's why yer here, innit?
Also for 2010 I've dusted off the original opening theme from when this podcast/blog/thing was a webcast on internet radio, courtesy of BAGel Ted's Live 365 station bagelradio.com... 'member when? And don't forget: if you don't see all that you wanted here, there'll be Part 2 continued in February!
The following tracks should appear in the player below:
Spacerock Continuum Intro - bRambles - BeeDub's Spacerock Continuum
Do - Do Make Say Think - Other Truths
Prepare Your Coffin - Tortoise - Beacons Of Ancestorship
Kundalini Tremolos - Faust - C'est Com...Com...Compliqué
See The Leaves - The Flaming Lips - Embryonic
The Sea On Fire - Stardeath And White Dwarfs - The Birth
Deadbeat Summer - Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
Snookered - Dan Deacon - Bromst
Here To Fall - Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs
Folk Song Oblivion - The Phantom Band - Checkmate Savage
Cardiff In The Sun - Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light Years
Valient Brave - Ganglians - Monster Head Room
The Slumbering Ones - Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound - When Sweet Sleep Returned
Done - Built To Spill - There Is No Enemy
Giving Away The Bride - Califone - All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
The Ballad Of Charlie Harper - Six Organs Of Admittance - Luminous Night
3 Birds - The Dead Weather - Horehound
New Age - Sleepy Sun - Embrace
Rats - Devendra Banhart - What Will We Be
Everyone Is Guilty - Akron/Family - Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free
Berry Can - UUVVWWZ - s/t
Planet Caravan - Mercury Rev - Peel Sessions
Creation Ghat II - Om - God Is Good
Iceland Spar - Land Of Kush - Against The Day