The previous two years were filled with amazing albums by amazing bands. Picking the ten best of2007 was hard. Picking the top albums of 2008 was almost impossible. In contrast, 2009 was rather easy. There just weren’t that many brilliant albums this year. In fact there weren’t even that many great albums. Fret not, though, there is still more than enough music to enjoy.
01 : Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (amazon) (itunes)
I don’t like a single other album that Animal Collective has ever made. Most of their career (including their latest EP) sounds like simple repetitive noise void of any melody or musicality. Merriweather Post Pavilion is an entire different beast. Although the middle of the album drags a bit it easily tops the list as the best album of the year.
mp3 : Animal Collective – In The Flowers
mp3 : Animal Collective – My Girls
02 : Noah and The Whale – The First Days of Spring (amazon) (itunes)
I simply love sad and somewhat depressing music. Noah and The Whale has taken a melancholic lyrical style and draped it over the perfect mood setting melodies. At times this album reminds me quite a bit of the slower side of The National. Every song is worth a listen (and if you choose the second track below you simply must listen to the very end).
mp3 : Noah and The Whale – Blue Skies
mp3 : Noah and The Whale – My Door Is Always Open
03 : Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (amazon) (itunes)
Phoenix has long led the charge from radio friendly pop music to the purest pop sound imaginable. This entire album is pure pop candy. There exists not an errant second in the entire trip through perfectly crafted pop genius.
mp3 : Phoenix – Girlfriend
mp3 : Phoenix – Love Like a Sunset
04 : We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls (amazon) (itunes)
They have a whimsical name, they share a homeland with Frightened Rabbit, and they titled one of their songs after a rather obscure physics principle. What more could you possibly want? Oh, and their music is top notch.
mp3 : We Were Promised Jetpacks – Quiet Little Voices
mp3 : We Were Promised Jetpacks – This Is My House, This Is My Home
05 : Matt and Kim – Grand (amazon) (itunes)
Matt and Kim proved in 2009 what can be accomplished with a minimal setup and the simple direction of making crowd pleasing dance pop. With catchy hooks and repeated lyrics their are tracks on this album so insidious that you’ll be silently dancing to them well into next month.
mp3 : Matt and Kim – Daylight
mp3 : Matt and Kim – Lessons Learned
06 : Metric – Fantasies (amazon) (itunes)
Most of my Metric listening comes in the form of brilliant remixes of their tracks. For the most part their studio albums always felt flat on repeat listening. This is the first time they’ve broken that cycle and have truly created the masterpiece of their career.
mp3 : Metric – Blindness
mp3 : Metric – Sick Muse
07 : Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz (amazon) (itunes)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs have gone the route of Metric and finally created a masterpiece album to sit atop their collection. The only way this album could get any better is if they could go back in time and steal their previous track Maps and put it on this album.
mp3 : Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
mp3 : Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Skeletons
08 : White Lies – To Lose My Life (amazon) (itunes)
If The Killers ever feel the need to make another album they need look no further than White Lies to see how high the bar has been set. White Lies have found a way to incorporate the grandiose with the melancholic and yet make every song something to sing along to. Brilliant.
mp3 : White Lies – Death
mp3 : White Lies – From The Stars
09 : Deer Tick – Born on Flag Day (amazon) (itunes)
Deer Tick is quite possibly the greatest bar band you will ever hear. The most interesting part of their repertoire is that their trademark live sound is captured perfectly on their studio albums. If you like them live then you’ll love their southern rock infused albums.
mp3 : Deer Tick – Hell On Earth
mp3 : Deer Tick – Song About A Man
10 : The xx – xx (amazon) (itunes)
This album is subtle genius and yet almost forgettable. The band recorded the album in a neighborhood garage after dark and the rumour goes that this setting contributed greatly to the whisper quiet nature of most of the tracks. It’s by far the most mellow album on the list.
mp3 : The xx – Islands
mp3 : The xx – Stars
And there you have it, albeit somewhat belatedly. Those are my top ten albums for 2009. If you’d like to see my previous lists follow these links; 2008, 2007 (or click here to see all 3 years on one page). Although this past year wasn’t near the brilliance we were presented with in 2008 it was still a solid year for music fans. Honorable mention should be given to a few bands that were just barely nudged off of this list for some reason or another. Modest Mouse made one of the best albums of the year but it failed to make this list on a technicality (it’s actually an eight song EP). While albums by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, White Rabbits, and Julian Casablancas all scattered tracks of pure top ten worthiness, but sadly failed to sustain those moments throughout an entire album.
Until the next time around keep reading and, as always, enjoy the music.
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