Best album of 2009: Talbot Tagora - Lessons in the Woods or a City
Seattle trio Talbot Tagora are a young and mighty rock band whose approach to their work follows in the mold of older bands like Sonic Youth, Polvo, Trumans Water, and -- most notably -- Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. As dizzying and strange Lessons in the Woods or a City, (the band's first album on Sub Pop's Hardly Art subsidiary) initially sounds, its catchiness, energy, and aura unhatch after a couple of full listens.
One of the most notable qualities of Talbot Tagora is ironically the one in which they seem the most shy: the vocals. The band sings in a reverb-drenched droney fashion occasionally hitting abnormally high registers at times, sounding more atmospheric than any of the layers of guitars or drums they play. (Yes, moreso than My Bloody Valentine.) Another plus is the drumming of Ani Ricci, whose highly danceable rhythms carry the momentum of these densely layered bursts. Most importantly, Lessons is the rare type of album that's weird enough to excite the easily bored, but inviting enough to inspire listeners to pick up an instrument and want to be in the band.
The awkward tragedies in pop and the music biz in 2009 have unfortunately muted a lot of great music released this past year. Nothing has come as close as both an escape from and a joyous workout to 2009 as Lessons in the Woods or a City.