Albums of 2009

It’s the end of the year, two days before Christmas.  And what better time to give you our lists for best (and worst!) albums of the year?  And, no, it’s not just because we’re lazy and don’t want to write actual reviews right before Christmas.  The task of coming up with these lists was a difficult one, choosing between albums that all deserve to be up there combined with having albums that we just weren’t able to listen to, yet.  So, I’m sure these following lists aren’t particularly solid, as tastes, opinions, and the future changes.  These are changes that continually shape music, and I think we all hope that 2010 will bring more of them.


Top 10 of 2009
So this is gonna be a hard thing for me to do, since I didn’t listen to a whole lot of new music this year, but I’m gonna give it a shot anyway. As far as this list goes, there’s really no bands that I haven’t listened to before, save a pair of debut albums. Even then, I’ve listened to the New Pornographers for a while, so I don’t even count A.C. Newman in that. Okay, here we go…

10. The Decemberists – Hazards of Love
Colin Meloy is a musical genius. Previous albums always feel like a musical journey. So what happens when they make a concept album? Unfortunately, this album doesn’t hold up as well as The Crane Wife, and only steps in at number 10.

9. The Lonely Island – Incredibad
These guys are hilarious, but to me they aren’t as funny as someone who will appear later on the list. That’s because The Lonely Island is more in your face comedy, rather than subtle, dry humour.

8. RX Bandits – Mandala
These guys have been changing their style throughout their career. Mandala is more rock-oriented; it seems like they’ve been going more towards that, and further away from ska constantly. It’s a good album, but doesn’t sound right to me for them. I miss the old stuff.

7. Wilco – Wilco
It took Wilco long enough to come out with a self-titled album. This really showcases Jeff Tweedy’s versatility yet again, but for me, it isn’t as good as previous offerings Sky Blue Sky, A.M., or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Collaboration with Feist really was awesome though.

6. Metric – Fantasies
It seems like Metric went for more of an arena-rock theme on this album. While it works for them for sure, I really liked the sound they had before. It’s still a great album, with standout tracks like “Sick Muse” and “Gimme Sympathy”.

5. 311 – Uplifter
311 seems like they went pretty mainstream for this album. They still deliver, and it’s a great album, but (yes there’s always a but) I’d like to see them go back to the sounds of Music or Evolver.

4. Flight of the Conchords – I Told You I Was Freaky
I said they’d appear later, and here they are. I didn’t think it’d be possible to improve upon their debut album, but they did it. This is hilarious, but you can also appreciate the music too. Oh and the show is great too.

3. Billy Talent – Billy Talent III
It really seems like Billy Talent listened to me here. On their previous two albums, there was a certain sound that I liked from them, and I thought it would help them to focus on it. They really did well on this album, and it delivers from beginning to end with what I want to hear.

2. Modest Mouse – No One’s First, And You’re Next
So yeah, this is an EP, but I don’t give a damn. It’s out-takes and such from We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank and Good News For People Who Love Bad News. I’ve gotta say, I like these better than some songs on either of those albums. Great work here from Modest Mouse puts them near the top.

1. A.C. Newman – Get Guilty
I saw them in concert on the tour for this album, and it’s even more awesome in person. There is not one song on this album I don’t like. It came out in January, and nothing else came out in the next 11 months to beat it. This is my best album of 2009 winner.

Top Albums of 2009
I don’t plan on explaining why I picked what I picked. Just take my word for it.
1. The Decemberists-The Hazards of Love
2. Coner Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band-Outer South
3. Wilco-Wilco (The Album)
4. Weezer-Raditude
5. Norah Jones-The Fall

Worst Albums of 2009
1. Cobra Starship-Hot Mess
I understand that Cobra isn’t exactly a serious band. But really? This album? For real? With a song titled called, “Pete Wentz is the Only Reason We’re Famous,” I think it’s safe to say the Cobra guys are trying a little too hard.

2. Green Day-21st Century Breakdown
I am an avid Green Day fan. I have every disc they’ve ever put out—Starting with “1039/Smoothed out Slappy Hours.” So I went and bought this album. I was able to pick out a few tunes I liked, the rest just seemed overproduced. It wasn’t Green Day. Although I’m sure now that they are almost forty, they’d like to grow and mature as musicians a bit more than they have in the years that have passed. This album isn’t maturation; it isn’t an evolution. Rather it is a complete 360 from the signature Green Day sound. It is an album that caters only to the younger generation of scenesters now, overlooking the original fans who care more for music they can relate to than a rock opera with all the bells and whistles attached.
3. Owl City-Ocean Eyes
I know people who are into this band. I hear their songs on the radio at work every day. Thing is, I cannot get into them. Don’t get me wrong, I did try. However, I cannot listen to the same synth-noise over and over and over and over again on the album.
4. Tokio Hotel-Humanoid
I don’t even think I need to comment on this.
5. Animal Collective-Fall Be Kind
See Ryan’s review.
Top 10 Albums
10. Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young
-Although The Strokes haven’t released anything in years, Casablancas is the last of his band to come out with a solo album.  Combining their big guitar sound with more electronic music, Casablancas did put out this really solid album, even if it seemed a little too much at times.
9. Sufjan Stevens – The BQE
-Well, it’s not a new States project, and it’s not even a “normal” Stevens’ album.  But, The BQE has all of Sufjan’s quirks brought over to orchestra pieces.  It’s a different kind of music, and I’m glad he’s stretching out across all arenas.
8. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band – Outer South
-Obersts’ songs are the best on this album, but he’s allowing his band to come through as well.  While they don’t have as much experience as he does, they still put forth decent songs, sometimes rocking out, sometimes just laying back in their folkness.
7. Metric – Fantasies
– I have such a crush on Emily Haines.  She’s just such a talented singer.  “Gimme Sympathy,” “Sick Muse,” and “Help, I’m Alive” are really awesome, catchy songs with great melodies.
6. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
-Josh Hommes, Dave Grohl, and John Paul Jones rocking the hell out.  Need I say more?
5. Yim Yames – Tribute To
-Ok, so it’s actually an E.P.  But Jim James’ (from My Morning Jacket) takes on George Harrison songs are so emotional, I couldn’t not put this on here.  It’s basically just James’ voice and guitar, allowing for bare arrangements of Harrison’s tracks, and it’s quite uplifting.
4. Dent May – The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele
-Newcomer Dent May writes fun, catchy uke songs.  “Meet Me in the Garden” is magnificent.  Oh, and live he’s like Pete Townshend on the uke (minus the damaging of instruments).
3. Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
-Wilco, finally a coherent unit (this is the first time that their lineup hasn’t changed from one studio album to the next) released this awesome album earlier in the year.  Though I don’t think it’s as great as their previous stuff, most of the songs on here show off a band that is never afraid of change.
2. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
-Holy hell, who saw this one coming?  These guys put out one of the best albums this year, hands down.  Starting off with the untouchable couple of songs “Lisztomania” and “1901,” the rest of the album has to be listened to now that they’ve gained your attention.  Just freakin’ amazing.
1. A.C. Newman – Get Guilty
– I’ve already discussed how talented Newman is, especially on this album.  But let me reiterate it: Get Guilty does not have any bad song, easily peaking at #1 for me.  It’s definitely been the most played this year for me, and not because I’ve had the most time to spend with it.  It really is that damn good.

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