Photograph by Annabel Mehran

The year 2009 will be remembered for many things, including the divorce of Jon and Kate Gosselin, Tiger Woods’ infidelity, and of course, the introduction of Keyboard Cat. But aside from those momentous events, some decent music was released. As the year draws to a close, we here at Ca Va Cool continue our list-making ways to bring you our favourite albums of 2009. Through an intense, scientific process, we have distilled the vast amount of quality releases into an essential brew of twenty such albums. Old favourites share space with relative newcomers in the first half of our list.

Sunset Rubdown

20. Sunset RubdownDragonslayer (Jagjaguwar)

Spencer Krug has solidified his position as wizard of the indie world with the release of Dragonslayer. Conjuring up mythical beasts and inspiring a belief in whimsical folklore, all while contorting vocals entangled with punchy keyboards. Dragonslayer is Sunset Rubdown’s white rabbit in the top hat. The witty experimentation paired with outstanding hooks forms an album that is both accessible and multifarious. Dragonslayer compiles an unparalleled consistency as the eight tracks serve as standalone sensations while weaving an outlandish fairytale. The record has the capacity to immerse listeners and encourage exploration. Sunset Rubdown uncovers a new adventure with each thumping refrain of ‘Idiot Heart’ or the possessed chanting of ‘You Go on Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)’. The quintet’s unpolished finish on the album prides itself on the kinks in their armour and much like a good fairytale, each scrape, bruise, and bump has its own merit when fighting dragons. — Jan Kucic-Riker

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— , December 21, 2009    Comments Off on Best Albums of 2009, Pt. 1
Peter Silberman

Photograph by Elizabeth Weinberg

Composing a soundtrack for all our glowing triumphs, withering heartaches, and subdued disenchantment, the Antlers share liveliness in contemplation. Hospice, their latest album released in August, conceptualized sorrow and mourning in the loss of a loved one to bone cancer. The music and stories shared are intimate and genuine as they are graced by delicate instrumentation and placid vocals. Recently Ca Va Cool had a chance to speak with Peter Silberman and we discussed forgiveness, religion, and the future of the Antlers.

The Antlers – Bear
The Antlers – Thirteen
The Antlers – Two

Jan: You mentioned that the writing and recording process for much of Hospice was done in isolation, what triggered the time alone?

Peter Silberman: Actually, Hospice wasn’t made in isolation. It was made while reconnecting with a lot of people I’d lost touch with over the course of a couple of years.

Jan: Do those reconnections underlie any of the tracks on the album?

Peter: Hospice more or less ends with a plea for forgiveness from people I’d ignored and been distant from. That’s what ‘Wake’ is about.

Jan: Do you feel disconnected with the themes covering Hospice now that it is in the hands of the public?

Peter: If anything, I think that’s helped the album become something entirely different, existing within other people, no longer just within myself. That’s what I wanted.

Jan: How did Darby and Michael get involved with the Antlers? How long have you known one another?

Peter: We’ve all known one another for a few years now. They got involved back when the band was first getting together, when it was a larger group. We scaled it back and decided we were happiest with it being a three-piece, then began touring and spending all of our time together.

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— , November 30, 2009    2 Comments

Walking towards Horseshoe Tavern in the late afternoon with headphones clad and high spirit, I was leaping at the premise of hearing Peter Silberman’s distort vocals lull me into trance and shouting back the lyrics to ‘Head Rolls Off’ by Frightened Rabbit. Meandering past the dimly lit bar and a few security officers, I found a snug position next to the stage between a set of speakers. The following three hours consisted of worn vocal cords, stolen set lists, and intermittent declarations of undying love to the various performers and audience members alike.

Glowing underneath crimson stage lights, a serene Joshua Bertram approached the stage alongside drummer Kerry Latham as the evening’s first act. The pair modestly introduced themselves as Our Brother the Native and began their set to what can only be described as an hour of shattering ambient bliss. With melodic layers abound and warped vocal loops, the duo from Ann Arbor, Michigan flooded the patchwork dance floor with sound. Hidden between two boxes overflowing with wires and electronics, Joshua thanked the now burgeoning audience and finishing the set, left the stage, leaving a comforting ring and gratifying resonance in the crowd’s ears.

Our Brother the Native – Well Bred
The Antlers – Two
Frightened Rabbit – The Modern Leper

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— , July 28, 2009    1 Comment

“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” I am beginning to question those accrediting Edward Norton for this quote, as each loop of The Antlers self-released Hospice convinces me otherwise. Brooklyn based band The Antlers was born in a shroud of seclusion, a cold kitchen in Manhattan, recording at a farm that no one visits during the winter and an island no one lives on during the summer. Three EPs preceded Hospice before its unveiling early this March. Peter Silberman carefully embeds lush conditions of optimism in Hospice imposed upon by a morose atmosphere twirling blissfully with his soft voice. The Antlers have graciously offered Hospice as a live stream through their Myspace page.

Interestingly, Hospice embodies a cohesion drawn together by a theme weaved through several narratives. This becomes evident through imagery of just that, focusing care on those terminally ill. Between cold hospital sheets, harsh white lights, and a dismal sense of solitude, Peter Silberman probes the delicate parts of humanity. On the blossoming track ‘Kettering’, The Antlers approach each element with refinement, from a placid piano interlude to the restful sounds of Peter Silberman, this is what life support feels like in an empty room. Comparisons in the gentle flowing vocals create a beauty reminiscent of an orchestral rendition of Elliott Smith’s ‘Needle in the Hay’.

Balancing the isolated heartbreak of such a temperamental album is an underlying tone of hopefulness in the wistful ambience. The Antlers portray subjects of aging, loss, and death intuitively rather than sombrely, creating an aura in tracks such as ‘Atrophy’ that manage to give meaning in silence. Hospice is analogous to your grandmother’s woven quilt, a tender sadness draped over frailty with several spirited patches scattered throughout. In the end, we are all going to die; and when we do, The Antler’s will make it beautiful.

The Antlers – Kettering
The Antlers – Atrophy
The Antlers – Bear

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— , March 26, 2009    7 Comments