35 Favorite Albums of 2009
1. Metric - Fantasies
Are we really meant to feel sorry for Metric's plight, as they ponder whether writing hooks and gaining popularity and wealth will eat away at their soul and indie cred? Of course they will! But to be an artist is (usually) to be emotional, so even superstar artists should remain able to write songs everyone can relate to (e.g., "Party in the U.S.A." and "Paparazzi".) Hmm... or maybe mega-stars put flash and riffs first? Whatever the case, I found Fantasies the most consistent, engaging, and enjoyable album of the year.
Check out: Pony up your email address and get an acoustic MP3 of "Gold Guns Girls" at Metric's website. This version is on the acoustic Plug In, Plug Out EP. The streaming player on Metric's site includes the plugged-in version found on Fantasies (as well as the other tunes found on both Fantasies and Plugged In, Plugged Out.)
2. Bishop Allen - Grrr...
Some of 2009's most fun tunes appear on Grrr..., a danceable, sing-along collection of hopefully devoted songs.
Check out: Here's an MP3 from the album: Bishop Allen - Dimmer
Another MP3 from Grrr..., "The Ancient Commonsense of Things", is available at Bishop Allen's website.
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
A dang great rock album.
Check out: These kids have one of those trendy streaming players on their website too.
4. Eels - Hombre Lobo: 12 Songs of Desire
Sweet, lovely, heartbreaking. Eels, basically, and as such, there are references to birds and dreams.
Check out: The band's website has five videos and one live clip of songs from Hombre Lobo. Humorously, someone banned embedding on two of the clips ("Prizefighter" and "That Look You Gave That Guy"), preventing the band themselves from embedding them on their website. Wacky! They tried embedding them anyway. so y'all can click through to YouTube on links through their attempted postings.
5. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
Imagery of animals and weather fill a well-written, somewhat melancholic album.
Check out: Here's an MP3 from the album: Neko Case - People Got A Lotta Nerve.
"Someday we'll find a heaven
Full of the good and freedom
Of somewhere younger than America
Born in what we can hope" - Younger Than America
6. Idlewild - Post Electric Blues
Idlewild-esque bands (skinny British men who croon about love and America as though they're the first who thought of either) might simply be your cuppa or not. I dig them, and cynicism set to the side, "Younger Than America" is a great song (my 37th favorite of the year, according to my favorite songs post.)
Check out: Here's a Radio Scotland version of that very song, as YouTube'd:
7. The Brunettes - Paper Dolls
Bouncy as a pogo stick, sweet as cotton candy, and as adorable as a bunny. Speaking of which, how many couples must have already made "Magic (No Bunny)" their song? Aww...
8. Noisettes - Wild Young Hearts
Part groovy ode to freedom and independence, part poignant wish to recapture a lost love. Both are stellar.
9. Christophe Willem - Caféine
Most of these synth-happy pop songs are sung in French, but they're perfectly enjoyable even if you have, let's say, a very shoddy understanding of a small amount of the language. The album includes a cover of Kylie Minogue's "Heartbox", as well as duets with Minogue and Skye Edwards. (The deluxe edition adds 5 extra songs; one is another duet with Edwards.)
Check out: Plenty of Willem's songs have been uploaded to YouTube, including album tracks and live performances.
10. The Juan MacLean - The Future Will Come
Nifty, fizzy new wave/electronic sound with great drums and lyrics about robots and love. "One Day" struck me as reminiscent of the B-52s with a more insistent beat... and strings.
Check out: The album is streaming at the band's website.
11. Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains - Plaine Inondable
Yes, more French music even though je ne parle pas Français.
12. Julie Doiron - I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day
Check out: Three tracks from the album are streaming at Doiron's website, and you can download "Consolation Prize" at JAGJAGUWAR.
13. Maxïmo Park - Quicken the Heart
Check out: One track from Quicken the Heart is available at RCRD LBL: "Let's Get Clinical".
14. Memory Tapes - Seek Magic
Check out: Here's a shorter version of a track from the album: Memory Tapes - Graphics (Edit)
Other songs from Seek Magic are available at RCRD LBL.
15. Muse - The Resistance
16. Sea Wolf - White Water, White Bloom
Check out: One song from the album is streaming at the band's website.
17. Jason Lytle - Yours Truly, The Commuter
Check out: The title track's at RCRD LBL.
18. The Clientele - Bonfires of the Heath
Check out: A couple Bonfire tracks are available at RCRD LBL.
19. Wave Machines - Wave If You're Really There
Check out: Download an MP3 of "Keep the Lights On" at the band's website (without having to sign up for a mailing list; they merely require a click.)
20. Stephen Steinbrink - Ugly Unknowns
21. Owl City - Ocean Eyes
22. Built to Spill - There is No Enemy
23. Slow Club - Yeah So
Check out: You can listen to the first minute of each song on Yeah So at the Moshi Moshi store.
24. a-ha - Foot of the Mountain
Check out: Here's the video for the title track:
25. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
Check out: Grizzly Bear's "Cheerleader", on Veckatimest, is at RCRD LBL.
26. Depeche Mode - Sounds of the Universe
Martin Gore is the stain in your bed...
Or maybe Dave Gahan is... depending on whether you go by the chap who wrote the line in question or the one who sings it. Hmm...
It's only right and fair to judge the basic, standard edition of albums when ranking them. But for the record, "Ghost", available on the super-special Deluxe Box Set Edition of Sounds of the Universe, is a pretty cool song. Awesome job on writing (and singing) the creepy lyrics, boys:
"I'm the ghost in your house
Calling your name
My memory lingers
You'll never be the same
I'm the hole in your heart
I'm the stain in your bed
The phantom in your fingers
The voices in your head."
I wish "Ghost" made it onto the regular edition, but a) I trust that it will make its way onto a bonus tracks collection sooner or later, and b) the album is still keen and tortured without it.
27. Eulogies - Here Anonymous
Check out: You can download an MP3 of Here Anonymous track"Two Can Play" as well as a non-album version of "Bad Connection" upon providing eulogiesmusic.com with a name and email address (presumably your own).
28. The Antlers - Hospice
Check out: RCRD LBL has Hospice singles "Bear" and "Two" for the taking.
29. Lusine - A Certain Distance
Check out: A Certain Distance tracks "Two Dots" and "Cirrus" are available at RCRD LBL.
The "Two Dots" video:
30. The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
31. The Orange Peels - 2020
Check out: In 4 sunny minutes, this audio-only video for "We're Going to Make It" can give you a great idea of the glimmering power-pop on 2020. (Okay, so they veer into 60s psychedelic-pop on one track, "Emily Has Told Me Why"... a song I don't love. Otherwise, they pretty much stick to the power-pop, and I think the album is stronger for it.)
32. The Crêpes - What Else?
Check out: Here's a slide show set to the title track:
33. The Most Serene Republic - ...And The Ever Expanding Universe
Check out: The album is streaming at the band's website. In particular, check out the surging "Patternicity", which has a most pleasing theatrical quality.
34. Nosaj Thing - Drift
Check out: "Coat of Arms" is available at RCRD LBL.
35. Sweet Trip - You Will Never Know Why
Favorite Live Album of 2009: R.E.M. - Live at The Olympia
J'aime cet album!
Check out: You can listen to snippets from the album at the microsite or watch clips at the official YouTube channel.