My Top Albums of 2009 So Far

For anyone interested, here are my top 14 albums, with a song and with some snappy explanation where necessary. I only considered albums that have actually been released. These rankings are going to fluctuate plenty as the year goes on, and as the day goes on, actually...but here's what I'm feeling right now.

[Honorable Mentions, no particular order: Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP - Deerhunter; Art Brut vs. Satan - Art Brut; The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - S/T; This Charming Mixtape - Theophilus London]

14. Wavves - Wavvves

Sloppy, scuzzed-out beach rock with some catchy tunes and some mesmerizing Eno-Bowie-esque atmospheric guitar work.

13. Mos Def - The Ecstatic

Solid LP from a rapper with a great ear for lyrical euphony.

12. Lucky Strike - Tha Thesis

LOLOLOL, I'm so Indie that you can't listen to this on YouTube or Hype Machine. Yet. This is a great mash-up album that combines beats with lyrics and segues from lyric to lyric based on thematic similarities or on shared words. Very cool stuff...I'm not saying you should illegally download this album, but...well, you can listen to the whole album on his Facebook page. Huzzah.

11. jj - jj n° 2

Twee-ish pop album from Sweden. Wistful springtime music, hypnotic, occasionally beautiful.

10. Florence & the Machine - Lungs

Powerful female vocalist, strong, somewhat quirky lyrics, giant gestural arrangements--listen with headphones and experience what it's like to be a bowling pin.

9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!

I think the synth-y new YYYs album also wins the award for Album Art of the Year So Far.

8. Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light Years

Another ridiculously consistent album from these guys. The first verse of the song above always makes me smile...oh, and then there's one of the best riffs of the year.

7. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

A strong record that many call genius. I call it two tracks in the middle too long--but man are those other 12 or so beautiful/haunting.

6. Various Artists - Dark Was the Night

My students really like the Conor Oberst/Gillian Welch duet. I like almost everything else, which is really something for a 30 track double LP. New songs by some of the best bands in rock today.

5. Discovery - LP

Ra Ra Riot frontman and Vampire Weekend brain-man team up for one of the most sonically interesting release from any indie rock act this year. Check out this scuzzed-out, synthed-out, reggaed(!)-out reimagining of an already stellar Ra Ra Riot standout track. A polarizing album--I find myself steadily North.

4. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeux Phoenix

This is my 2009 analog for 2008's Vampire Weekend LP--just 10 great pop-rock songs with catchy hooks and foot-tapping beats. Verse-bridge-chorus done well.

3. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Is this the best album of the year? Maybe. Is this the best album of the decade? Also maybe. Could a song or two have been cut from the middle? Certainly. We are going to be listening to this album for a long, long time.

2. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

I sent Charlie a long email about why this album was great, and why I thought this song contained within all of the elements of this album's greatness. Listen to this song and think about the absurdity of the structure, and the way that hip-hop beats, gospel choir harmonies, yelping Talking Heads vocals, John Cale strings, and cacophony all merge in six and a half minutes. I am in awe of this record.

1. Dan Deacon - Bromst

Well, I think Bitte Orca and Merriweather Post have more staying power, but Bromst is too classically good for me to pass it up. The combination of the ecstatic climactic possibilities of minimalism and the evocative power of electronic sound manipulation has been fully realized here. The animalistic ability of music, without language, to draw out emotion from the primitive-within meets the distortive capabilities of technology. I could ramble for hours about how this album embodies the man v. machine, technological advance v. skepticism cultural-literary-artistic debate that's been going on for centuries; but frankly, I would rather listen to "Get Older" again. Rational, meet emotional; id, ego.


Whew! Well that was long overdue. I'm glad I'm getting so much accomplished with my week off.

I still have several pictures of myself in Thai clothing (for Elena's mother (hello!)) that I need to post, as well as some explanatory notes/photojournal on the Death March Up the Mountain from a few weeks ago, which perhaps you remember.

For now, though, I'd be interested to hear reactions to the list, personal rankings, etc.

By the way, Steve, I don't think there's any question that Return to Cookie Mountain is one of the top 50 albums of the 2000s.


The Cudderpillah said...

I think you forgot Taylor Swift's "Love Story." Just, like, FYI.

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