Best Albums of 2009: #18, Sister Suvi's Now I Am Champion

Rank: #18
Album: Now I Am Champion
Artist: Sister Suvi
Label: Common Cloud

Disorganized, haphazard and random, Sister Suvi's Now I Am Champion lacks the aesthetic appeal that usually comes with being ranked this high. It jumps, stops and starts, rarely has a cogent chorus and its songs vary so much it's not always obvious that they're all part of the same album. Yet, with all of that in mind, Merrill Garbus (Tune-Yards), Patrick Gregoire and Nico Dann manage to put together an effort here that screams loudly against conformity-- covering the walls with whatever sights and sounds the group sees fit.

Playing in-part like a full-band version of Garbus' Tune-Yards, Sister Suvi gets by on superior percussion arrangements and the same off-kilter approach that made Bird-Brains such a success. Whether harping on aspects of freak-folk ("Desolation"), mainstream rock ("The Lot"), or employing the dizzying mix of 1950s rock 'n' roll and hip-hop ("American") that can throw some listeners for a loop, the band executes each genre experiment with an enviable precision. The transitions are flawless, a surprisingly coherent combination that make Now I Am Champion all the better after extended listening. Though some may start to get lost in the bevy of pure, jubilant noise, the fact is that Now I Am Champion, regardless of its lack of commercial appeal, is an effort worth exploring over and over again.

Best Track: "American"

[Previously on Animal Noises: Best Albums of 2009: #19, Eels' Hombre Lobo]

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