Top Ten Albums of 2009
01. The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
Out of every album I've gotten/heard this year, this is the one I've listened to the most, and have come back to again and again. Where there's so many places it could've gone off-course, Colin Meloy and company always keep the ship steered straight (with nary a whale in sight), and still manage to have some great pop songs in the mix.
02. Brand New - Daisy Continuing their evolution from emo-punk to atmospheric dramatics, Brand New really push the envelope of their sound on this album. The Modest Mouse influence is immediately obvious, and the more Glassjaw-ish tendencies (especially on the first track) are a welcome addition. If this is their last album, it's a great note to go out on.
03. We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls
This scottish band overcomes the tweeness of their name and deliver an 11 song salvo of power and emotion. Though I could see how some might find the songs slightly repetitive, I feel the dynamics make all the difference. "Ships With Holes Will Sink" is my song of the year, and "Keeping Warm" never fails to move me.
04. Regina Spektor - Far
Not as much a triumph as Begin to Hope, Regina's follow-up to that amazing record is still full of her trademark peculiarities and strong songwriting, while upping the orchestration a bit.
05. The Lawrence Arms - Buttsweat and Tears
I will buy anything this band puts out, and this 5 song EP is no exception. It continues in the same vein as their last full-length, Oh Calcutta!, and quite frankly, I'd be happy if they just made that over and over again. Hopefully, they have another album coming in '10.
06. Cursive - Mama, I'm Swollen
After the vignette heavy Happy Hallow, Tim Kasher could be forgiven if he'd just relaxed and put out a couple Good Life albums. Thankfully (after the Good Life's excellent Help Wanted Nights of last year), he reconvened Cursive and made this album, which keeps the horn orchestrations of the last one, while adding some of the more folky arrangements of the Good Life's work. The final track, "What Have I Done", could slot into the older discs of theirs, like Domestica, perfectly.
07. Thrice - Beggars
Written and recorded fairly quickly, in contrast to their "Alchemy Index" of last year, this sounds like Thrice decided to just make a "rock" album. It seems almost rootsy at times, like the "Earth" Alchemy Index section but electrified. I can't wait to see where this band goes next.
08. Cancel the Astronauts - I Am The President Of Your Fanclub (And Last Night I Followed You Home)
Another Scottish band with a science themed name, these guys put out a solid 5 song EP of 80's new wave-style pop songs, and the title track especially gets stuck in my head constantly.
09. Slow Club -Yeah So
This duo is so amazingly fun and vibrant. I could listen to "It Doesn't Have to Be Beautiful" all day (and have!). Their harmonies are what drew me in, but the energy inherent in every track is what kept me around.
10. Muse - The Resistance
While the album does drag a little in the middle, the undeniable one-two punch of "The Uprising" and "The Resistance" manage to carry the momentum through to the amazing suite of the last few tracks. I wish more bands would embrace their inner ridiculous epicness.
HONORABLE MENTIONS TO:
Patton Oswalt My Weakness Is Strong and Paul F. Tompkins Freak Wharf for being two comedy albums that I've listened to multiple times, and still find insanely hilarious.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart for having the most ridiculously overwrought band name, yet still having a great record.
The Beatles remasters, because they're what I've listened to most since September 9th.
Jay-Z "Death of AutoTune", because it's my favorite "listening while driving" track this year.