Top 9 Albums of 2009

Starting today there's going to be a week of music related posts, starting with my favorite albums of the year. It's earlier than usual to make time for all the other fun stuff in the days to come.

2009 was better than 2008, but not as good as 2007. I think the year was really front-loaded. Hardly anything came out after June, making for a pretty sad second half of the year. Maybe bands wanted to be nice and give people plenty of free time to work on their best of the decade lists:) I opted for a top 9 instead of 10 because I really couldn't come up with a worthy 10th album I wouldn't regret 2 months later. Maybe down the road I'll add a 10th album. Edit: 10th album added!

10. Maxwell- BLACKsummers'night: This album has a stupid title, but that's the worst thing about it.  Well executed contemporary soul music, back on par with his debut album.

Favorite songs: Cold, Love You

9. PJ Harvey & John Parish- A Man A Woman Walked By: This album is almost like a collection of outtakes from PJ Harvey's solo albums, but you do get to hear PJ Harvey at her weirdest (this decade at least), so that's something.

Favorite songs: Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen, Black Hearted Love

8. Cursive- Mama, I'm Swollen: I enjoy this album, but I can't help feeling slightly disappointed with it because it feels like a step backward (sound wise) for the band. That being said, there are some very good songs, I was just hoping for something more.

Favorite songs: Donkeys, From the Hips

7. John Vanderslice- Romanian Names: I'm running out of things to say about JV. I like the direction the music is taking. That's all I got.

Favorite songs: Romanian Names, Carina Constellation

6. Grizzly Bear- Veckimest: This album is so rich and full with sound that it makes other albums sound bare (bear?) in comparison. The only other album I can think of that compares is In Rainbows. I personally prefer the Ed Droste songs on the album, particularly "Ready, Able", one of my favorite songs of the year.

Favorite songs: Ready Able, Cheerleader

5. St. Vincent- Actor: After the first few listens, I liked the album but I thought it might be too whimsical and weird for me to listen to on a regular basis. I was wrong. The more I listen, the less weird it got (and less whimsical). In some ways, St. Vincent reminds me of a female John Vanderslice, but mostly I just like hearing someone with a girly voice sing about things that are a bit twisted and not so "girly".

Favorite songs:
The Bed, Save Me From What I Want

4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- It's Blitz: I love well done throwback-type music. You can hear the Siouxsie Sioux and Terry Nunn influences in Karen O's singing, but she always maintains her own unique voice (unlike many others). Mostly it reminds me of what female singers used to sound like before Lilith Fair turned everyone into Michelle Fucking Branch. 

Favorite songs: Zero, Dragon Queen

3. Sondre Lerche- Heartbeat Radio: Where Phantom Punch was instantly enjoyable, this one took a few listens to really get into. But well done pop songs will always prevail. I really enjoy the 70s/80s pop feel going on (think Squeeze).

Favorite songs: Easy to Persaude, If Only

2. Neko Case- Middle Cyclone: Another high quality album, still an amazing voice, hard to pick favorite songs. There's not much left to say.

Favorite songs: Magpie to the Morning, This Tornado Loves You

1. Emm Gryner- Goddess: One of the few albums I can listen to start to finish without even considering skipping a song, it made an easy choice for number one. The three song swing of "Skating Rink", "Match", and "Killing Spree", is hands down the best I've heard in a long time. The slow build of "Killing Spree" is just amazing, and has made it probably my favorite song of the year. For an album that was completely unexpected (this isn't the album I've been waiting for the last 2 years), it was certainly a welcome surprise. 

Favorite songs: Killing Spree, Match 

Dishonorable Mention:

Placebo- Battle for the Sun: This album is just bad. There's not one even mildly decent song. They have screwed the pooch.

Girls- Album: If I wanted to listen to Elvis Costello, I'd listen to Elvis Costello.

Looking Forward to in 2010: Emm Gryner (finally!), David Usher, Spoon, The National

Tomorrow, it's time to get the decade party started!