Trip Out to 2009’s Best Unheard Music

From Trans Am’s revved jams to chilled hypnotics by Swervedriver’s Adam Franklin, there’s plenty of unfairly unheard music from 2009. Wrap your ears around a head-trip’s worth in the streams and free downloads below. But brace yourself for a rough blast-off. That first tune is highly flammable.

Who: Trans Am
What: “Positive People (Live)”
Where: What Day Is It Tonight?
When: Released in December by Thrill Jockey
Why: Because it burns.

Prankster power trio Trans Am’s live album is a blizzard of insanely tight energy, best exemplified by this tune. It’s a rocket out of reality, just like the globe-trotting band’s tours. “The award for Single Most Intimidating Border Guard goes to Serbian Guy,” said Trans Am bassist and vocalist Nathan “Natron” Means. “Thanks again for not shooting us, by the way.”

Performed at frat houses and clubs by Means, guitarist Philip Manley and drummer Sebastian Thomson (pictured above, photo courtesy Hoyt Fay), What Day Is It Tonight? is fueled by dense grooves and blistering rhythms. And great advice for anyone looking to cross a border or two.

“Wear glasses,” Means advised. “Cover all tattoos. In the U.S., always have a football clearly visible and hide Frisbees (hippie disks) and hacky sacks. Tell anyone who asks that you sound ‘sort of like AC/DC.’ Don’t mention acid jazz. Wipe your Facebook and Wikipedia entry of any drug references.”

Who: Adam Franklin
What: “Winter Girls”
Where: Spent Bullets
When: Released in March by Second Motion
Why: Because it’s simultaneously warm and chilled, just like the holidaze.

And spontaneously natural. “It’s just one of those organic songs that come together quickly and without over-thinking,” Franklin told “It’s a simple chord sequence that flows around itself over again while going off at tangents.”

That organic electricity continues throughout the album, which is the second solo effort from the guitarist and vocalist of Swervedriver. The lo-tech serendipity of “Winter Girls” continued in the studio. “The demo sound and vocal are on the final recording,” Franklin said. “You can still hear the blinds flapping.”

Who: Gang Gang Dance
What: “Egowar”
Where: God’s Money
When: Reissued in 2009 by The Social Registry
Why: Because it’s space digitalism at its finest.

Manhattan’s strangest sound collective released one of the best albums of 2008 with Saint Dymphna, led by the dubstep stomp “Princes.” This reissue of Gang Gang Dance’s out-of-print 2005 record, led by the epic interstellar trance of “Egowar,” was better than half the stuff released this year. Gang Gang Dance is an acquired taste for sure, but once it’s ingested, the rewarding sensations aren’t far behind.

Who: A.M. Architect
What: “Road to the Sun Part I”
Where: The Road to the Sun
When: Released in May by Exponential
Why: Because it’s trip-hop at its finest.

The beatific digital duo of Daniel Stanush and Diego Chavez (above) mash organic grooves and synthetic glitches through hip-hop’s prism and come up with head-bobbing exposition. Their full-length debut recalls similar fusions from Madlib and Thievery Corporation, filled as it is with samples, jams and jazz. Loose and accomplished, it’s also one of the most trippy spacewalks of the year.

Who: Atlas Sound
What: “An Orchid”
Where: Logos
When: Released in October by Kranky.
Why: Because it is ethereal psychedelia.

Bradford Cox’s sonic explorations are so deep and wide, he needs two bands to bring them fully into being. The first, Deerhunter, put out an excellent EP called Rainwater Cassette Exhange in 2009, the same year this psychedelic swirl arrived from his solo outfit, Atlas Sound. And like Franklin’s “Winter Girls,” the spiraling strangeness of “An Orchid” was a spontaneous mind-wipe.

“It was one of those songs that comes out of the ether,” Cox told “It’s gestural. The sound and feel are more important than the words, which were automatically generated. Boring but true.”

This article appeared at Wired

Swervedriver’s Resurgence Achieves Escape Velocity

Swervedriver Returns To Raise Heads

Swervedriver, Film School Hypnotize Hollywood

Reunited, And It Feels So Loud: An Interview With Swervedriver

Space-Walking Through Swervedriver’s Sci-Fi Sonics

Interview: Adam Franklin’s Magnetic Morning

What Is(n’t) Shoegaze?