Top Albums of 2009

“Everyone else is doing the top-ten-albums-of-2009-thing,” I thought,”and so should I.”

Then I realized, I already did it — for a music sharing email list I’m on that heats up in the last two weeks of every year.

Here’s what I sent in. Nothing is revolutionary, and I wish I had more time to go beyond the somewhat predictable choices below. It is what it is: a document of my year in listening.  Chime in with your thoughts and faves.


Top Ten-ish Albums of 2009

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Grizzly Bear

Veckatimest
I know, it’s obvious. But when I first heard this at the beginning of 2009, I knew it would be my favorite of the year. At year’s end, it still is.

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Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Fall Be Kind
On first listen, both of these records were mind-blowing. They continue to surprise. Highlights include “My Girls” (of course) and the bizarre time signature of “Lion in a Coma” on the first album and the Stonehenge-inspired flute jam on Fall Be Kind‘s “Graze.” 

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Bonnie Prince Billy
Beware
A return to form, a year after the last return to form.

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Dinosaur Jr. 
Farm
Another return to form, 15 years after the last return to form.

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Dirty Projectors
Bitte Orca
The first album that showed by what all the hype was about. The main singer/songwriter’s occasionally annoying yelp is tempered by awesome harmonies from his three backup singers. This was constantly playing all summer long.

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Fiery Furnaces
I’m Going Away
Matthew Friedberger is one my favorite guitar players. Totally under-appreciated.

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Neko Case
Middle Cyclone
Sophisticated avant-country that hipsters, housewives, and hippies can get into. The culmination of an incredible string of albums.

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St. Vincent
Actor
Another under-appreciated album. Seeing her live made me realize even more what a genius she is.

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Flaming Lips
Embryonic
A would-be return to form, if the Lips had ever actually sounded this murky before.

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Beach House
Zebra (2010)
This isn’t actually out yet… but having gotten a leak, I have to add it. Like Grizzly Bear before it, it’s already a contender for best of 2010. And the new year hasn’t even begun. 

Honorable Mention

Built to Spill
There Is No Enemy
Another semi-return to form.

Atlas Sound
Logos
Some beauty mixed in with the filler. 

Devendra Banhart
What Will We Be
The major label debut from Natalie Portman’s ex-boyfriend is much better than the reviews would have you believe. 

Jim O’Rourke
The Visitor
A 38+ minute long mash that could only come from Jim O’Rourke. 

Disappointments

Monsters of Folk
Monsters of Folk
Much less than the sum of its parts. And a reminder that I’ve never understood the appeal of Bright Eyes. 

M. Ward
Hold Time
I’m tempted to say M. Ward is a one-trick pony. Ok, M. Ward is a one-trick pony. 

Wilco 
Wilco (The Album) 
Disappointing on so many levels. Even more quaalude-irrific than the last sleeper. They’re phoning it in at this point.

3 thoughts on “Top Albums of 2009

  1. I’m unfamiliar with most of your top 10. Those I know, I like. I’d definitely have Rodrigo y Gabriela’s 11:11 on my list.

  2. not bad. the dirty projectors do make me want to stab myself in the ear. which might feel nicer than the sound of that guys voice.

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