Friday, January 08, 2010


Top Albums of the Year 2009 Edition

#30 The Thermals - Now We Can See

Another great snotty pop punk record from one of the better pop punk bands still putting out records. This record is a bit more polished and catchier than their previous efforts but all of the signature Thermals sounds are there.

#29 St Vincent - Actor

After seeing the last St Vincent record on a ton of end of year lists, I decided to give the new record a chance. I'm glad I did. It's a great indie rock record with amazing vocals and interesting song arrangements. Check out a video of my favorite track on the record:

#28 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

My friend Sean turned me on to this band. The album is made up of songs full of catchy melodies layered over distorted guitars. Something about this album just puts me in a good mood. I recommend this band to fans of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

#27 Joey Kneiser - The All-Night Bedroom Revival

Joey is the lead singer of a band called Glossary, which had an album on my list last year. This is a great album to just throw on and chill. It's mostly acoustic and Joey pours his heart into his lyrics. You can get the entire album here.

#26 Cursive - Mama, I'm Swollen

Cursive just keeps churning out great albums. This album was not quite as strong as their last few releases but was still great from start to finish. The album starts off with a few amazing songs and then gets weaker as the album progresses. This release is anything but "swollen," coming in at 10 tracks total, which makes for a perfect length.

#25 Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

Grizzly Bear is all over every music blog ever created but I still don't totally understand why. When their last release blew up, I gave it a chance and just could not get into it. It was just a bit too boring for me. This album suffers from the same problem. A lot of the songs are just too soft and have minimal instrumentation, which just bores me for the most part. On the songs that I actually enjoy, the harmonies are great and the music is often catchy. The only thing that has changed for this album is that there are more songs on this release that actually keep my attention and a few that I really enjoy including the one below.

#24 The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love

The Decemberists just continue to put out solid albums. This album is essentially a rock opera. It's very well done and feels like one long song for the most part. There are several guest vocals on this album including Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. This may not be the best album to jump into if you are not familiar with this bands back catalog; but it is a welcome addition.

#23 Malajube - Labyrinthes

I had never heard of this band before this year. Greg sent me the album and I was a little turned off at first because it's in french. I quickly got past the language barrier and began to really enjoy the album. It's very poppy and catchy. Take a listen below:

#22 Ben Harper & Relentless7 - White Lies for Dark Times

Another rocking bluesy record from Ben Harper. This time he has a different backing band but it's the same awesome result. I'm a huge fan of slide guitar and there is plenty of it on display here. If you don't know who he is by now then you really need to check this album out.

#21 POS - Never Better

This is the only rap album on my list this year. It has some of the best beats I've heard in a while and the rhymes are intelligent and well thought out. If you like rap then you need to check this album out.

#20 Passion Pit - Manners

This album is just straight up catchy. If it doesn't make you dance then there's something wrong with your ears.

#19 Cymbals Eat Guitars - Why There Are Mountains

I'm glad that Sean mentioned this band. I just happened to remember their name and decided to check out the album. The album has a full sound through out and alternates between loud noise and soft beautiful melodies, which I think is what makes me love it so much. I also like the vocals which are hard to categorize.

#18 The Danger O's - Massively Intimidating Episodes

You may remember this band from my list last year. They had the #1 album of the year. They came back this year with a 6 song EP that is amazing and would be much higher if not for the fact that it's only an EP. The clever lyrics are there and the songs just keep getting catchier. Below is a video I took of them performing 2 songs off of the EP back in December:

#17 Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Here's another indie band that I just didn't understand the hype for until recently. This album is great to put on and just zone out. It can be very repetitive but is still enjoyable.

#16 Frank Turner - Poetry of the Deed

I've had one of Frank's EPs for a few years now. I loved it but always forgot to check out his newer work. I finally got around to it with this release and was blown away by how great the album is. The lyrics are written from the heart and have the punk attitude you would expect from someone that is doing more than just playing an acoustic guitar. Somehow Frank has managed to combined punk and acoustic rock music into a great record with songs full of great stories and messages about life, love, and being on the road.

#15 Metric - Fantasies

I was a little late on this band's last release but once I gave it a chance, I loved it. On Fantasies, the band picks up where they left off with the last release. Catchy songs and beautiful vocals by Emily Haines keep me coming back to this album even though it came out at the beginning of the year. If you like female vocals and songs that get stuck in your head, then this is the album for you.

#14 Deer Tick - Born on Flag Day

Some of the best alt country rock out there. The vocals are definitely an acquired taste but I suggest giving them a chance. These guys just like to be on the road and to get drunk at shows and it shows in their music. This is just a fun album that I keep coming back to.

#13 Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

I had never heard of this band and was really late getting into this album. It has dominated my stereo in the last few months. Every song is catchy and full of great lyrics. I wouldn't even know these guys were from France unless someone told me.

#12 Dan Auerbach - Keep It Hid

I became a huge fan of the Black Keys last year. This year, Dan Auerbach (1/2 of the Black Keys) released his first solo effort. I had no idea what to expect from this album but what I got was one of the best blues influenced albums I've heard in some time. Check out the single below:

#11 RX Bandits - Mandala

One of my new favorite bands released this gem. They have gotten rid of their horn section for the most part but the music still has that off beat ska feel. I finally had the chance to see them live this year and was not disappointed. Check out a video I took at the show:

#10 Portugal. the Man - The Satanic Satanists

This band is putting out albums at a ridiculous rate. Last year's "Censored Colors" was one of my favorites and this album is not far behind it. The lyrics and vocals are really mellow and the music is very psychedelic rock influenced. This is a great album to just throw on and relax.

#9 Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

I hated this album the first time I listened to it. It just felt like a band that was trying to cram every time signature and sound they could into each song. Once I was able to step back and just give the album a chance, I just kept getting sucked in by the arrangements and vocals of each song. This album may not be for everyone but I highly recommend giving it a chance....and then a second chance.

#8 Brand New - Daisy

Every album this band puts out is a major departure from the previous one. I'm beginning to think they chose their name because of this. The album is a bit heavier than their other releases and Jesse seems to like to scream a bit more than he used to but it seems like the natural progression for the band. Check out my video from one of their Philly shows below:

#7 The Builders and the Butchers - Salvation Is a Deep Dark Well

I really wish this band had been opening the east coast dates of Brand New's tour instead of the west coast. I have been listened to this album at least once every other day for the past few months. I don't really know how to describe the music but I'll try. The best I can come up with is that it's a mix of americana style folk and alt country rock. The vocals are similar to Jesse Lacey of Brand New in some songs but in others I can't really describe it. Check out their awesome video for their single below:

#6 Wilco (The Album)

Another great release from Wilco. It seems that they can do no wrong. The album sounds like pieces of all of their other albums were thrown into a blender. The arrangements on the record are beautiful and it sounds amazing on vinyl.

#5 Lucero - 1372 Overton Park

I think these guys have taken over as my favorite band right now. They are by far my favorite live band. Their album is a good mix of the up tempo drinking songs and the slow paced ballad style drinking songs. The addition of a horn section also greatly helped out the band's sound.

Johnny Davis from Lucero on Vimeo.

#4 Kevin Devine - My Brother's Blood

Kevin is one of the best songwriters of this decade and I wish more people were into him. This album isn't as cohesive as his last few but the songs are all amazing and the lyrics are among the best of the year. Check out his new video:

#3 Thrice - Beggars

Thrice just keeps maturing with each release. I feel like my musical tastes are maturing with them. This is a very solid album with amazing lyrics. It may not be as ambitious as their last release but it's great enough to have been stuck in my stereo since it was released.

#2 David Bazan - Curse Your Branches

I was familiar with David Bazan from his days with Pedro the Lion but I didn't think his new album would be even better than his previous work. The general theme of the album is David's struggle with and eventual loss of faith. It's rare to see someone bare so much of their soul in their songs and it makes for a very intimate album. I highly suggest checking out an acoustic version of the first track off of the album below:

#1 Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing

This was one of my most anticipated albums of this year. I heard the band perform some songs from it at Lollapalooza 2 summers ago and was hooked. I've been listening to this album regularly all year and don't see that stopping any time soon. I think they topped their last release which I didn't think could happen. This album just flat out rocks (although it has its nice slow songs too).

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