Readers, I apologize for the lack of a super cool Best of 2009 logo. The entire graphic design department has taken an early vacation and left me completely bewildered in my WordPress cubicle.
Here are my favorite albums that 2009 produced. It was tough making this list, but ultimately I had to look at it this way – would I be willing to purchase this album over buying my own lunch for a day? And the answer is yes, I would be willing to buy all of the following albums and sacrifice my daily soup and sandwich in order to get them. The albums on the honorable mention list are great, but a well constructed veggie sub and soup at Quiznos beats them any day of the week.
1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
This was clearly album of the year (at least on any indie music blog or magazine’s list). Animal Collective really pushed the boundaries with Strawberry Jam and proved they could wrap their complex and multi-dimensional vocal harmonies and experimental weirdness into pop song structure and format. However, Merriweather pushes things even further and proves the band can appeal to a wider audience. I feel they brought in a new demographic and generation of Animal Collective freaks with this album and I greatly applaud them for it.
2. Doves – Kingdom of Rust
Kingdom of Rust is the sleeper record of the year made by most underrated band of the decade. When I first heard this record, I couldn’t put it down. Check out the song “Compulsion” and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
3. Mastodon – Crack the Skye
Mastodon is the new Metallica and this is their Black Album. They make kick ass epic progressive metal records and they rep my city. I don’t need any more reasons to place them on the list.
4. St. Vincent – Actor
I had never heard of St. Vincent before listening to this album. It’s a really great record full of big electronic sounds, lush orchestration and string arrangements, catchy vocal harmonies and great melodies. St. Vincent proved to me that she was a strong force to be reckoned with on this one.
5. Q-Tip – Kamaal the Abstract
I’m a huge hip-hop and rap fan, but I noticed my list was gravitating more towards the rock spectrum. I like to keep things balanced so I searched hard for a rap album that could definitely be on my top 10 list. This is it and technically it’s not even a rap album. Kamaal the Abstract is more soul than rap and on songs like “Barely in Love,” Q-Tip even evokes a Beatles-esque feel. Nonetheless, this is a great album and it easily made the cut.
6. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
I was completely averse to the concept of this supergroup when I first heard about it. That aversion lasted all of about ten minutes – Josh Homme is just too good of a songwriter and musician for me to hate any of his projects and John Paul Jones contributing bass on anyone’s tracks is worth looking into. I could care less about Dave Grohl, but he played his part and was a good drummer in the back of the group.
This album was necessary for 2009. We needed something that would bring back the essence of rock n roll and extend the vitality of the genre.
7. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Surprise, Grizzly Bear is on another best of 2009 list!
8. Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue
I heard about Bibio a few months after Ambivalence Avenue was released and I’m really digging this guy. I have a deep love and reverence for electronic music and Bibio is almost like the missing link between Boards of Canada, Prefuse 73 and Daedelus. If you enjoy any kind of electronic music, you must own this album.
9. Sonic Youth - The Eternal
Sonic Youth has definitely evolved over the past decade. They rely less on experimentalism and noise as crutches these days and they’re writing well structured and great songs. The noise and feedback are simply tools for various kinds of brush strokes and colors. The Eternal is proof that Sonic Youth has truly grown up and have reached a point where their maturity and life experiences as people are intriguing to outsiders and pulls them into the music and experience that is Sonic Youth.
10. Japandroids – Post Nothing
Japandroids are on the list because No Age’s record came out last year and not this year.
All harsh jokes aside, I like the guitar textures on this album and it has a certain spatial quality that other records lack.
Honorable mention list:
Sunn o – Monoliths and Dimensions
Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship
Raekwon – Only Built for Cuban Linx pt. II
Beirut – March of the Zapotec
Mos Def – The Ecstatic
Dizzee Rascal – Tongue N Cheek
The Dead Weather – Horehound
Fabolous – Losos’s Way
Isis – Wavering Radiant
Currency – This Ain’t No Mixtape
Clipse – Til the Casket Drops
*Readers, please leave comments and list your favorite albums of the year