Albums of 2009

After many months of deliberation here at L&L Towers (ok, it’s just me sitting there looking out of the window trying to remember what on earth I’d done all year), I’ve put together my top albums of the year. Like the Albums of the Decade (starting here), the idea was to only choose albums which I happily listen to all the way through, and had listened to a whole bunch of times. This time, rather than the album art, I’ve gone for YouTube videos. Enjoy!

The Top 5, not in any kind of order, except the first one.

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

Horrifyingly predictable for anyone who’s spent any time reading this blog. Whilst it’s not quite up there with Yellow House, still more detailed, more melodic, more emotional and more surprising than pretty much anything else that came out this year. Returning to it after a few weeks absence has got me playing “All We Ask” many times a day. A thing of sheer, dark beauty which slowly unravels itself into your brain, like some odd robotic monster.

(Is this the oddest video of the year, or what?)

MP3: Cheerleader (Live) by Grizzly Bear

Buy “Veckatimest: Special Edition” (CD)

The Xx – Xx

Came out of nowhere, made by teenagers, and wonderfully quiet. The bastard child of Low and Burial. Talked about at some length here.

MP3: Crystalised by The Xx

Buy “XX” (CD/MP3)

Metric – Fantasies

Many people found this too shiny and strident. For me, it was the soundtrack of the first part of the year – deep in job-hunting mode, wandering around the City in jeans listening to Emily Haines’s metallic majestic marvel. A proper album too; well-paced, with a proper start and even more proper fists-pumping-in-the-air finale.

MP3 – Sick Muse by Metric

Buy “Fantasies” (CD/MP3)

Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue

Again, came out of nowhere, and picked it up as a recommendation from another blog (the marvellous Fat Roland). Whilst other people have mixed folk and electronica (“Folktronica”, one of the worst genre names in history), to my mind Bibio have done it the best so far. For whatever reason, I never posted anything about this before, but it’s been happily playing away in my kitchen and in the car many times this year.

MP3: Lovers’ Carvings by Bibio

Buy “Ambivalence Avenue” (CD/MP3)

Mew – No More Stories….

Also horribly predictable. This album didn’t really make much sense to me until I saw them live, then it all started to click and fit together properly – ironic, given the complexity of their music. If you like your music a touch more unusual than the norm, but don’t feel warmed by the “Look at us, we’re clever, like”-isms of Animal Collective et al, this could be for you.

(Actual music starts about 2:20)

MP3: Introducing Palace Players by Mew

Buy “No More Stories” (CD)

Not quite the best, but still good

I couldn’t do an end-of-year list without mentioning Bill Callahan, Jason Lytle or Kingsbury Manx. All had albums out this year, and all had some highlights that were amongst their best songs, but the albums as a whole don’t quite make the top list. Still worth it though.

And Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is good too, but the chirpy popness doesn’t quite last the whole album, causing me to lose interest about half-way through.

Albums I need to listen to more, that would probably have made the list if only I had some more time to listen to them properly

Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter

Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs

Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

Jim O’Rourke – The Visitor

Mark Eitzel – Klamath

Mastodon – Crack The Skye

I’ve listened to these albums a few times and they are starting to settle in nicely, but not enough for me to hand-on-heart call them albums of the year. Maybe they will appear on my list of albums I have loved in 2010 that were actually released in 2009 but I didn’t hear them then.

Albums I have loved in 2009 that were actually released in 2008 but I didn’t hear them then.

Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight

This’d be up in the top 5 above if they’d released this in 2009. A great record by Grumpy Scots, and I suspect they’ve got more to come in 2010.

MP3: I Feel Better by Frightened Rabbit

Buy “Midnight Organ Fight” (CD/MP3)

Wye Oak – If Children…

When I first started this blog, in the depths of January, I rooted around a bunch of sites looking for some new music. And I stumbled across Wye Oak, and after listening to a selection of tunes far too many times, I went out and spent a bit of my redundancy money on the album. Very fine it is too.

MP3: Warning by Wye Oak

Buy “If Children” (CD)

Albums by bands I love that I really should get round to listening to at some point

Twilight Sad – Forget The Night Ahead

Flaming Lips – Embryonic

Yes, I know. Love both these bands but there just isn’t the time, you know?

The “People Tell Me I Should Love These Albums But I Just Don’t Get It” Award (sponsored by Kissing In Kansas)

Nominees:

Fever Ray – Fever Ray

Animal Collective – Merriwether Post Pavillion

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

And the winner is Animal Collective. People keep telling me to give it time, but as I’ve not even listened to the Twilight Sad or Flaming Lips yet, that’s pushing it. But you know, 2010 and all that.

(I still don’t get it, but have a listen and see what you think)

MP3: My Girls by Animal Collective

Buy “Merriweather Post Pavilion” (CD/MP3)

So that’s me albums done. Join me in a few days for the tracks. Some blinders in there, you know…

Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. I’m with you on the Animal Collective. ‘My Girls’ is OK, but is that even a fully realized song? I don’t think it requires almost six minutes to get the point of it. Dare I say neo-Beach Boys album filler? I like it enough, but I would never actively want to hear it.

    A song like ‘Lovers’ Carvings’, by contrast, has a strong sense of melody, as well as a nice progression that keeps things interesting.

    To each his own, of course, but Animal Collective does not sit alone at the pinnacle of musical evolution.

  2. More stuff to listen to! Thanks. Loved The Veckatimest and XX and will check the rest. Tune-Yards would certainly make my top 5. Maybe Atlas Sound too.

    And I have to say I love My Girls. From those Frankie Knuckles triplets to that bouncing killer of a hook. It’s definitely been the song I’ve hummed to myself most this year. After, Nelly the Elephant, that is…

  3. loftandlost

     /  December 24, 2009

    I have a feeling that Animal Collective might just click with me one day, but until then I’m with SH on not quite getting it. “My Girls” does seem to be the pick of the album so far (and is certainly hitting many people’s top song lists). Too many people have told me I should like it so maybe they are onto something!

    Haven’t heard Tune-Yards so must give that a try… Anything else I’ve completely missed this year? 😉

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