Music: The Best of 2009

Well folks, its the beginning of 2010.  Which means it is past due for me to review 2009.  On the whole 2009 was a great year for music and I would be more than ecstatic if 2010 was as bountiful as 2009 was.  Here it goes people, the best music of 2009:

Best Albums of 2009

1. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

To say that I went into this album with some high expectations is a bit of an understatement.  But somehow Colin Meloy and his crazy crew managed to top even 2006’s ‘The Crane Wife’.  Not only was ‘The Hazards of Love’ the most cohesive album to come out in 2009 but the production on this album was also among the best that I have heard in some time.  All of that aside, you haven’t heard this album until you have heard it live.  The experience is nothing short of epic and far and away was the highlight of Lollapalooza 2009.

2. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Those of you that are even mildly tapped into the indie scene this year undoubtedly heard at least some hype about this record.  Let me be the seventeenth to tell you that this album lives up to every shred of hype you may have heard.  Previous Animal Collective albums have dwelled in the inaccessible land of hipster, Merriweather Post Pavilion on the other hand has something for everyone.  There are poppy hooks galore and the soundscapes on this album are unlike anything you have ever heard.  All this is not to say that this album is not going to take some effort, but if you give this album some time it will become obvious why this is such an obvious choice for critic’s year end lists.

3. Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns

Sometimes a band just comes out of nowhere and broadsides you with a debut album so great you are stuck listening to it for years to come.  This year, that band is Rural Alberta Advantage.  I purchased this album on whim after hearing a little snippet on Sound Opinions, and since then its spent as much time in my cd player as it has on my cd shelf.  Technically this album came out in late 2008 but was re-released by Saddle Creek (Record label of Bright Eyes, The Faint, Cursive, and so many others) in 2009, so I am calling it a 2009 album because it would be a shame to let an album this good fall through the cracks.

4. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadaeus Phoenix

I found Phoenix’s previous work to be pretty uninteresting but it is no surprise that they finally started showing up on people’s radar after this album because ‘Wolfgang Amadaeus Phoenix’ is rocking pop bliss.  I can only hope that this is a taste of what is to come from this band.

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5. Metric – Fantasies

Metric is another band who’s previous work has never really caught on with me but from the first minute of ‘Help, I’m Alive’ it was obvious this album was going to be different.  The production on this album is better than on their previous work and the masterful addition of electronic synths makes this work stand far taller than anything Metric has ever done.

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6. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You

This was actually the first Avett Brother album that I have ever listened to but it is definitely not going to be the last.  The Avett Brothers cover a lot of ground on this album but almost all of the album rings with Americana perfection and terrific harmonies. Great stuff.

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7. Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything to Nothing

Another Lollapalooza band, Manchester Orchestra was a band that I had heard of but had never bothered to check out before the show.  After the show I went over to the merch tent and picked up both of their albums and a little EP that came with ‘Mean Everything to Nothing’.  While their first album was good ‘Mean Everything to Nothing’ is definitely an example of a band coming into its own.  Songs like ‘Shake it out’ and ‘I’ve Got Friends’, are tracks that will get stuck in your head for days but the whole album is terrific front to back.

8. Cursive – Mama, I’m Swollen

I knew that there was no way that Cursive could continue along the trajectory that they have for the last few albums.  Domestica (2000) was a great album.  The Ugly Organ (2003) was phenomenal and likely one of my top 10 albums of all time.  Happy Hollow (2006) somehow managed to be perhaps better than The Ugly Organ.  It was only a matter of time before they couldn’t make an album better than the last.  That is not to say that Mama, I’m Swollen isn’t a fantastic record.  As usual it is rife with interesting guitar parts playing dissonant chords over vocals that ooze emotion.

9. Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

When I purchased this album I had no idea that it was going to end up on this list.  This album’s most striking feature is the rhythm section.  Alex’s job on vocals is great as always but this band really stands out because they have some great interplay between the bass and drums.  Oh and because they write songs that are catchy as hell.

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10. Thrice – Beggars

Thrice has been really hit or miss in the past for me.  ‘The Artist in the Ambulance’ was probably the peak of their career up till 2009.   However, ‘Beggars’ is easily the most rock solid album this band has ever put together.  There is not a bad song on this album and there are no shortage of great ones.  Finally Thrice as actually taken the great sound that they have developed over the years and put it into a form that is worthy of a year end list.

Best Debut Albums of 2009

  1. Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns
  2. BLK JKS – After Robots
  3. Florence and the Machine – Lungs
  4. Cage the Elephant – Cage the Elephant
  5. Chester French – Love the Future
  6. Dead Weather – Horehound
  7. Ida Maria – Fortress ‘round My Heart
  8. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
  9. Asteroids Galaxy Tour – Fruit
  10. The XX – The XX

Most Pleasant Surprises of 2009

  1. Weezer – Raditude
  2. Metric – Fantasies
  3. A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head
  4. Mute Math – Armistice
  5. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadaeus Phoenix

Biggest Disappointments of 2009

  1. Our Lady Peace – Burn Burn
  2. Imogen Heap – Ellipse
  3. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
  4. The Fray – The Fray
  5. Tegan And Sara – Sainthood

Ten Tracks I Couldn’t Stop Listening To In 2009 (All from 2009)

  1. Things Fall Apart – Built To Spill
  2. My Girls – Animal Collective
  3. Shake It Out – Manchester Orchestra
  4. Oh My God – Ida Maria
  5. 60 Feet Tall – The Dead Weather
  6. What Have I Done? – Cursive
  7. Metric – Help, I’m Alive
  8. Magic (University A Capella Version) – Ben Folds
  9. Can’t Stop Partying – Weezer
  10. Lisztomania – Phoenix

And Over-Hyped Album of the Year goes to. . .

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Thats gonna close the books on 2009.  Feel encouraged to call my list garbage and post selections of your own in the comments! 🙂

–Ben

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~ by mediametric on January 10, 2010.

One Response to “Music: The Best of 2009”

  1. Once again you have outdone yourself with this comprehensive list. Bravo!

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