Doug Elliott

Top 10 of the Year

Columbus Discount Records

Columbus Discount is a great little label out of the Ohio capital that you may have read about on this site. It is operated by a couple of friends of mine, who also run a recording studio. They put out a lot of sweet records this year, including a fantastic run of singles as part of their first annual singles club. Most of the bands are from Columbus, too; one of them, El Jesus de Magico, released the best slab of out-psych Columbus has ever seen in Scalping the Guru. They also convinced hometown heroes, like Ron House and the Cheater Slicks, to be a part of the label. CDR and all the bands involved should be proud of everything they did in 2009.

The Dutchess and the Duke
Hardly Art

This album came with high expectations and met them in unsuspecting ways. The record is dark, lush, and yet far less immediate than their debut. Greg Ashley’s production played a part in the impeccable arrangements and helped showcase the duo’s polished songwriting.

Eat Skull
Wild and Inside

I adored Sick to Death, but this one makes it pale in comparison. Eat Skull have settled into a sound all their own because they take their art, and little else, seriously. Surprisingly heartwarming.

Bill Fox
Shelter from the Smoke

One of Ohio’s best-kept secrets, the former Mice frontman emerged from a decade-plus exile with a handful of live shows and even a rare interview with the press, perhaps to coincide with the reissue of his masterful solo debut, Shelter From the Smoke. Scat Records have done fans of folk-rock a huge service, as Shelter is a flat-out masterpiece of Dylan-meets-Byrds transcendence. It pulls in a single from the era as well as a few rarely heard tracks from a Fox side project, amounting to the year’s most satisfying release. Next year Scat will revisit Transit Byzantium, which may be even better.

Little Claw
Human Taste
Ecstatic Peace

At first I was turned off by the sheer length of Human Taste; at 50-plus minutes, it was bound to be overwrought with dirge. After a few listens, though, I wanted these songs to mutate into eternal hate grooves. Goes well with shitty commutes and bad weather.

The Mantles
The Mantles

Best lyrics of 2009 and the straightest record ever to wear the Siltbreeze name. The Mantles won me over with a great, jangly pop record that isn’t wimpy and doesn’t pander with words, something that hasn’t been done in a number of years.

Dan Melchior und Das Menace
Thankyou Very Much

Is Melchior to the ’00s what Bob Pollard was to the ’90s? Dan’s recorded output in 2009 makes a strong case, and Thankyou Very Much is his masterpiece to date, a sprawling double-LP of home tapes showcasing multiple songwriting personalities. One advantage he has over Pollard: the man can play a mean guitar. Check the solo on “Blue Tentacles” and bow down, Bobby.

Nothing People
Late Night

Each year, this Northern California outfit emerges from their bunker with a record better than the last. Late Night is my pick for 2009’s most original album, full of slow-burning songs made with the assistance of broken robots and decades of suburban angst. Their previous stuff was genre-hopping at its finest; this is something entirely new.

Times New Viking
Born Again Revisited

I liked this record by the band my brother is in very much. In fact, it might just be their best record yet. Densely fucked to the point that I was worried for all three and their mental states.


This was supposed to be the year Tyvek took over the world. Instead, they alienated the fence-sitters and tested long-time fans with a strange, fractured full-length. The point was taken further with the Blunt Instrumental 12-inch (Night People). Both releases tell me Tyvek are perfectly happy with their standing in the world.