Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Has it really been a year? It still feels like yesterday that I was compiling my best of 2008. But what can you really say about the music of 2009? There were some definite hits, and some pretty awful ones too. In a year that took from us the King of Pop yet gave us Beatles Rock Band, we all experienced this year of music in our own way. And what better way to sum it all up than to do the quintessential year end round up of great albums! These are the top 20 that really stood out for me, and made this year's soundtrack very, very listenable.

20. BlakrocBlakroc
Even though this album was very recently released, you can tell from the first few songs that this isn't just any old hip-hop album. An 11 day collaboration between the Black Keys and various hip hop artists such as Mos Def, Q-tip, RZA and Raekwon, its beats and lyrics make anyone within earshot take notice.
Highlights: Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo), Dollaz & Sense, What You Do To Me

19. Girls – Album
A fantastic, lo-fi pop album that makes you wanna grab a six pack and your surf board and relax on the beach all day. This is how pop music should be.
Highlights: Hellhole Ratrace, Laura, Lust For Life





18. St. Vincent – Actor
Not only can she sing with a subtle beauty that few possess, but she can shred like a madwoman on guitar as well. With pixie-ish beauty to boot, Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is a force to be reckoned with. Her follow up to the awesome Marry Me doesn't disappoint.
Highlights: Actor Out Of Work, Black Rainbow, The Party



17. DiscoveryLP
What started off as a side project from Vampire Weekend's keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot lead vocalist Wes Miles has slowly turned into a full-time gig of sorts. With songs like these, they don't have to quit their day jobs, but it certainly couldn't hurt.
Highlights: Can You Discover?, Osaka Loop Line, I Want You Back



16. The pAper chAseSomeday This Could All Be Yours Vol. 1
To truly grasp this band's musical genius, one only needs to appreciate the dysfunction of our society, and then imagine that interpreted into sounds. Yes it may creep the living shit out of you, but you'll be tapping your toes and enjoying every minute of it.
Highlights: I'm Going to Heaven With or Without You (The Forest Fire), The Laying of Hands, The Speaking in Tongues (The Mass Hysteria), The Common Cold (The Epidemic)

15. Neon Indian – Psychic Chasms
Another side project which has developed a life of its own, Neon Indian is the brainchild of musical do-it-all Alan Palomo. What started out as a few songs released on the internet has turned into an electronic music phenomenon, garnering attention from all over the globe.
Highlights: Deadbeat Summer, Terminally Chill, Should Have Taken Acid With You


14. The Mars Volta – Octahedron
The Mars Volta are one of those polarizing bands that people can't quite figure out. You either love them fanatically, or you simply can't stand their progressive style of music. I for one recognize their genius, and in their latest offering, they've decided to get back to doing what they do best: Eclectically rocking your face off.
Highlights: Since We've Been Wrong, Teflon, With Twilight As My Guide


13. Fanfarlo – Reservoir
This little album snuck up on me out of nowhere, and man did it ever impress. Led by Swedish vocalist Simon Balthazar, Fanfarlo sounds like an indie stew made up of equal parts Beirut, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Arcade Fire. If that sounds tasty, it's because it is.
Highlights: The Walls Are Coming Down, I'm A Pilot, Comets



12. jj – jj N˚2
Another Swedish band to come out of the gates with a surprising release is jj. Not so much for their lo-fi blend of Afro-pop and electronica, which is fantastic, but for the fact that no one knows a thing about them, including who is in the band or where they're located. Seriously. Look it up.
Highlights: Things Will Never Be The Same Again, From Africa To Málaga, Masterplan


11. Passion Pit – Manners
You would be hard pressed to not have heard at least one song by this group in the past year. With their catchy dance beats and infectious vocals, these fellas from Cambridge, Mass. should be rocking crowds for quite some time to come.
Highlights: Little Secrets, Sleepyhead, Eyes Like Candles



10. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Self-Titled
What looks like a rag-tag band of hippies and gypsies is, well, a rag-tag band of hippies and gypsies. But they also happen to be a band of merry music makers to boot, with a sound that could fit in the 60's just as easily as today. And on that note, flip that record and light another one up.
Highlights: Janglin', Carries On, Home



9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It's Blitz!
Karen O and her boys are back this year, and they're out to make you get up and dance your ass off. With a collection of rocking dance tunes and catchy sing-alongs, they're not looking to relinquish their hold on you anytime soon.
Highlights: Zero, Heads Will Roll, Hysteric



8. Blind Pilot3 Rounds And A Sound
Originally released in 2008 to little fanfare, their debut album was re-released in 2009 to a larger audience. With unbelievably catchy, heartfelt lyrics and an unplugged, grassroots sound, these Oregon natives are finally taking off into clear skies.
Highlights: The Story I Heard, One Red Thread, 3 Rounds And A Sound



7. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
Hailing from North Carolina, Scott and Seth Avett have it figured out. Along with their bud Bob, these 3 guys produce some of the catchiest Americana-style music out there, with lyrics that put most songwriters to shame. If you see a year end list that doesn't feature this album, it's probably wasn't compiled by a music lover.
Highlights: I And Love And You, January Wedding, And It Spread


6. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Phoenix really has it all. Clever, if not sometimes nonsensical lyrics, catchy hooks, driving beats, all held together with that unmistakable voice. Another highly used album in all forms of advertising this year, these Frenchmen left us dancing in the aisles with smiles from ear to ear.
Highlights: Lisztomania, 1901, Lasso



5. Dan Auerbach – Keep It Hid
As the lead singer of The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach unleashes his powerful mastery of bluesy rock and roll to the masses. But with this solo album, he has a chance to really showcase his ability as a songwriter and true master of his craft. With a full backing band behind him, you can't help but feel the music in your soul.
Highlights: I Want Some More, When The Night Comes, The Prowl


4. KiD CuDi – Man On The Moon: The End Of Day
One of the few MC's that's actually impressed me in quite some time, Kid Cudi is on the verge of major stardom. With smart and original rhymes and beats, along with some fantastic collaborations with both Ratatat and MGMT, this is one hip-hop album that has legs to last for awhile.
Highlights: Soundtrack 2 My Life, Day N Nite, Pursuit of Happiness



3. The Dear Hunter – Act III: Life and Death
This may be one of the only albums to come out this year that I honestly can put in and listen to from beginning to end and truly be amazed. That's a good thing, considering it's only the third act in a six part concept album, based around the story of a 20th century boys birth, life and eventual death. Epic in scope? Very. Epic in sound. You bet your ass.
Highlights: In Cauda Venenum, The Tank, Saved


2. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Can these guys make an album that isn't going to be regarded as beautiful in scope and visionary in nature? Didn't think so. Once again, Grizzly Bear construct a fantastic example of how music should sound. Ethereal and haunting, this is one for the ages.
Highlights: Two Weeks, Cheerleader, While You Wait For The Others



1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Holy hell, what an album! For something that literally came out at the beginning of 2009, it damn sure never let go of it's hold of the number one spot this year. With ass-shaking catchy beats, carefree lyrics and a generally upbeat attitude throughout, it has gone on to become not only the best album of this year, but quite possibly a landmark album of this decade. Yeah, I went there.
Highlights: My Girls, Summertime Clothes, Brother Sport

And there you have it. Here's to a another great year in music, and great expectations for 2010!

Happy listening.

1 comment:

moostache said...

well done bradley..you left out some fine disks, but i'll take this...