Best Albums of 2009

An outstanding year of music comes to an end.  Below are just 40 of the great records that came out this year.  Some on the list are obvious and you’ve heard them to death but I hope you find a few more that haven’t been given their day in the sun.  Take a listen to each and pass it around.  In this day and age even the most earnest simple sound can get their song on an episode of Gossip Girl (hah!).  Here’s to hoping that 2010 brings us more of the same great music.  Enjoy!

1)   Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavillion

One of the earliest released albums of 2009 is also its best.  Hyped to an almost unheard of degree the latest opus from Animal Collective collects all that is great about experimental music: interesting sounds, heartfelt personal lyrics and an outstanding commitment to teamwork.  The fact that the band members have been friends since high school makes you like them even more.  This is their Pet Sounds, their Exile On Main Street.  A ridiculously outstanding album.

2)   Au Revoir Simone- Still Night, Still Light

The Brooklyn based female trio creates beautiful electro-pop music.  Sweet and sensitive lyrics and breathtaking harmonies are just a few words to describe their sound.

3)   The xx- The xx

The xx refers to the ages of the band members.  Yes, 20 years old.  I defy you to find a more mature view on love and emotions in the music world.  Incredibly hyped they are worth all the press they’ve been receiving

4)   Grizzly Bear- Vecatimest

What hasn’t been said about the Brooklyn based band’s 4th album.  Perfectly orchestrated with 2 outstanding vocalists.  Moving into indie rock stardom as well as the mainstream with accolades by THE power couple Jay-Z and Beyonce.  Not a bad year.

5)   Neko Case- Middle Cyclone

The most beautiful voice in music comes from this part time New Pornographer. Fewer artists have her chops, her range and her uncanny ability to write amazing rock songs.  Here’s hoping she gets back in the studio for other band.

6)   Here We Go Magic- Here We Go Magic

The Brooklyn based band (who doesn’t hail from Brooklyn nowadays?) mixes up indie folk, electro and rock with droning yet sometimes hypnotic vocals.  A band to watch for years to come.

7)   Throw Me the Statue- Creaturesque

So much has been made about the new Phoenix record (and rightfully so) but my favorite indie pop record of this year is this lo-fi gem.  Essentially a one man band this incorporates all that is good and fun about pop music.  Perfect at any point, not nauseating like most pop records and always interesting.

8)   Atlas Sound- Logos

To be honest, I like Deerhunter.  Don’t love them but like them.  This solo project of front man Brandford Cox lets him go a little outside the box, strips it down and really lets his vocals shine.  It also helps that 2 of the better songs are sung by his friends Noah Lennox (of Animal Collective) and Letita Sadier (of Stereolab).

9)   Dirty Projectors- Bitte Orca

It’s been a long strange trip for Dave Longstreth, the brainchild for the experimental, cerebral yet always interesting Dirty Projectors.  On practically every best of list for this year, his lo-fi meets hi-fi sound will be big for years to come.

10)          Fever Ray- Fever Ray

Karin Dreijer aka Fever Ray (also of The Knife) bellows her Swedish voice in almost sad like moments.  Her beautiful accent shines through in this record.

11)          Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Another “best of 2009” band.  A truly great indie pop record.  Don’t get me wrong I love the album but I just hope that they don’t explode into an average band after all the hype and accolades that were bestowed upon them this year.

12)          Washed Out- Life of Leisure

Equal parts ambient trip pop and electro fun this is a 6 song ep that is a big “one to watch” in 2010.  I can’t wait to see what they do.

13)          The Antlers- Hospice

Sad, melodic tones tell the story of a man befriending a cancer patient in the Sloan Kettering Hospital.  Depressing, heartbreaking and beautiful.  Perfect example of a “concept album”.  Listen to the kettering and feel the bands emotions.

14)          The Big Pink- A Brief History of Love

England’s very popular The Big Pink hit it big here in 2009.  I’ve heard comparisons made to Spiritualized and My Bloody Valentine (albeit a quieter version).  Not bad company to be compared to.

15)         Bishop Allen- grrrr…

Another kick ass pop record that brings great melodies between their male and female voices.  Why is it so hard to make a great pop record these days?  Brooklyn band via Boston.

16)         The Drums- Summertime!

Guitar driven indie rock they invoke an updated Kinks sound.  Equal parts British and American sounds.  Another great ep that came out this year.  I hope to see more of them in 2010.

17)          The Pains of Being Pure at Heart- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

This quartet has been in the biz for a while and they finally hit it big with not one but 3 total albums released this year (1 full length and 2 ep’s).  Hard working Brooklyn band done well.

18)         Sunset Rubdown- Dragonslayer

One of my favorite bands working today releases another gem.  Spencer Krug is the indie rock version of Jack White.  This is just one of 4 bands/units that he is associated with.

19)         The Dodos- Time To Die

Simple yet elegant sounds come from this trio that hails from California.  This is a great little indie band that continues to make outstanding records.  2007’s Visiter also made my best of list.

20)         Matt & Kim- Grand

The Grand is in relation to the street that they live on in Brooklyn.  Matt and Kim are boyfriend and girlfriend respectfully and they sing like they are in love with each other and with the world.

21)         Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros- Up From Below

The whole country hipster scene is big now and this collection of musicians is proof.  Made up of a bunch of people (I have no idea how many) they bring the hippy sounding southern California scene to fruition.  Reminiscent of The Polyphonic Spree.

22)         Woods- Songs of Shame

The most lo-fi sounding album on this list is perfectly orchestrated and stripped to its core.  Echoing choruses of spooky camp fire folk (as stated by Pitchfork).

23)         St. Vincent- Actor

the one time Sufjan Stevens band member released her critically acclaimed 2nd full length album this year.  What drives me to her sound is her musical flexibility.  She plays the guitar as well as she sings.

24)         Franz Ferdinand- Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

I have to be honest, I’ve always just liked this band.  This record seems grittier and more real sounding than the popular music that they created on their first 2 records.  The whole record is consistent.  One of the more underrated albums of the past year.

25)         Antony and the Johnsons- The Crying Lot

The beautiful and understated sounds from Antony Hagerty and his bandmates.  There’s no doubt that he would fit in a theatre piece as he would the most indie of rock shows.  Droning never sounded so beautiful.

26)         A.C. Newman- Get Guilty

The second New Pornographer to make this year’s list.  Get Guilty keeps the same guitar driven indie sound that make the New Pornographers (as well as his first band the underrated Zumpano) so amazing.

27)         Dinosaur Jr.- Farm/Sonic Youth- The Eternal

2 of indie rock royalty they both produced some of the best music of their career.  J. Mascis’ vocals have never sounded more original while Sonic Youth still makes the best feedback driven guitar rock probably ever.  All the young kids should bow down to these 2 great bands.

28)         Passion Pit- Manners

Infectious electronic music from the Boston based band.  Great anthems for all seasons.  This album was played endlessly at work.

29)         Micachu (and the Shapes)- Jewellery

Experimental almost trip like sounds bellow from Micachu.  Each song on this record is as interesting as the one before.  Almost unclassifiable this is an artist I would love to see live.

30)         Yacht- See Mystery Lights

Techno served up in the dueling vocals of Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans.  I wondered why this album was more popular.  If I ever decide to go dancing again I’m bringing this record along with me.

31)         Cymbals Eat Guitars- Why There Are Mountains

With comparisons to Modest Mouse this band was originally a Weezer cover band.  Hard to believe that a Weezer cover band exists in this world but listen to this record.  It’s fantastic (and sounds nothing like Weezer).

32)         Girls- Album

Another incredibly hyped band, this one hails from San Francisco and could be the American version of The Smiths or even Spiritualized.  They have that ethereal almost dreamy and druggy sound that makes for really great music.

33)         Jay-Z- The Blueprint 3

Rap royalty releases another disc in 2009 and with a little help from some very big name friends releases one his best records.  What can’t the man do?

34)         The Very Best- Warm Heart of Africa

The most original record on this list.  African music is beautiful when played and recorded to this degree.  I was just blown away by the sounds and music played on the whole record.  Both celebratory and sensual at the same time.  I really recommend this.

35)         Metric- Fantasies

I’ve always loved Emily Haines energetic yet tough sounding voice.  I wish more people liked this pop record as much as I did.

36)         Julian Casablancas- Phrases For The Young

The frontman for The Strokes released his first solo album this year.  As good as anything he has done in his career.  Only down side, a little too short.  Give us more Julian!

37)         Telekinesis- Telekinesis!

Sophisticated indie pop from the Michael Benjamin Lerner who now goes by the band name Telekinesis.  Sometimes the simplest music is the sweetest.

38)         Real Estate- Real Estate

Jersey boys make good indie rock.  Intimate and laid back. Given more listens this is an album that would have climb higher on this list.  A band you will hear more of in 2010.

39)         Camera Obscura- My Maudlin Career

The Scottish ensemble releases another great record.  I think they master the innocent, romantic sentiments that you want in a pretty pop band.

40)         We Were Promised Jetpacks- These Four Walls

Brooding and hard sounding, these guys just belt it out.  Another Scottish band they remind me of a tougher Twilight Sad.

Least favorite album of 2009

Manchester Orchestra- Mean Everything to Me

The Atlanta based quintet makes slow boring southern style music.  I know they are a favorite of one of my best friends but I just can’t take them.  Sorry Thom!

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One comment on “Best Albums of 2009

  1. Thom says:

    Best Albums of the Year:
    1)Manic Street Preachers – Journal for Plague Lovers
    2)Slayer – World Painted Blood
    3)Morrissey – Years of Refusal
    4)Dizzee Rascal Toungue N Cheek
    5)Florence + The Machine – Lungs
    6)Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You
    7)Jay Z – The Blueprint III
    8)Arctic Monkeys – Humbug
    9)Gallows – Grey Britain
    10)Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter

    Best song of the Year: “Warm Heart of Africa” by The Very Best or “The Fear” by Lily Allen

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