favourite albums 09

You didn’t think that my complete cessation of blog entries for the last 7 months would prevent me from posting my favourite albums of the year, did you?  Well, if you did, you were wrong.  In previous years, I have always included a long introduction to my list, but this time lets just cut to the chase:

10. japandriods: post nothing

Lo-fi had a big year.  I have not considered myself a fan of fuzzy distorted guitars for a long time, so the fact that I really enjoyed Post-Nothing is quite an achievement for Japandroids.  This band is composted of just two guys from Vancouver on drums and guitar, playing fuzzy anthems about love, the city and  growing up.  Seems pretty straightforward, but there is just something infectious about these raucous tunes.

download i quit girls

09. various artists: dark was the night

I’ve never included a compilation CD on my year end list before: there is something about them that seem antiquated in the digital music, shuffle-all age.  But the thing is, Dark was the Night was just really good.  It featured track after track of amazing songs from some of the decades biggest indie artists.  Sure, it may be a little on the easy-listening side of things, but everyone needs some chill-out music once and a while.

download train song (feist and ben gibbard)

08. dan mangan: nice nice very nice

In a very short post about a band that did not make this list, I mentioned in passing my deepening interest in simple, folk music.  There is something very comforting and relaxing in songs composed with just a guitar and voice.  And this years album that reflects this simplicty best is Dan Mangan’s Nice Nice Very Nice.  These are simple songs, but they tell detailed, compelling stories that I just cannot get enough of.  I also enjoy that this disc of folk ballads pulls more themes from urban life than from rural.

download robots

07. natalia lafourcade: hu hu hu

When I was living in Mexico, I had a strange obsession with buying pirated music cds.  I bought a tonne.  But there is only one that I still occationally listen to six years later: a debut, self titled album from a young chilanga named Natalia Lafourcade.  Well, this year, Ms. Lafourcade is back with a new disc that surpasses her debut by leaps and bounds.  Her music retains a hint of mexican influence, while expanding her sound in to the much wider field of indie singer-songwriters.  Her songs are beautiful, even if you don’t understand spanish.

watch azul

06. phoenix: wolfgang amadeus phoenix

I will admit now that I did not give Phoenix much of a chance (either this album or their last), until Theresa and I vacationed in San Diego for a week in August.  There, our good friend Daniel Harker blasted the same two Phoenix songs over and over at full volume in his car.  The fact that I was not completely sick of those songs by the end of the week is the best testament I can give of their quality.  This album is full of songs that are so upbeat and joyful and danceable and I still get excited when any come up on my iPod (although 1901’s overuse in commercials is testing my patience for the song.)

download lasso

05. dirty projectors: bitte orca

A lot is said in the music press about how complex this album is, with its 2/3 time signatures and all of that.  Well, I am no music expert, and I wouldn’t be able to tell a 2/3 from a 6/8 signature.  All that I know is that I really, really like this album.  One of its best qualities, like Phoenix, is the joy that it expresses.  I also enjoy that these incredibly complex songs are all about everyday experiences in suburban life: it is cool to hear music that paints common experiences so vividly and uniquely.

download two doves

04. rock plaza central: …at the moment of our most needing, or if only they could turn around, they would know they weren’t alone

Yes, that is the title of Rock Plaza Central’s latest album.  If I praised Dan Mangan for playing simple folk ballads, I must complement RPC from their over-the-top, complex folk ballads.  This collection of songs feature a number of instruments, all packed together to back Chris Eaton’s evocative  storytelling lyrics.  A number of my favorite bands came out with albums that did not quite live up to my expectations, but RPC, whose last disc was featured on my 2007 list managed to pull off an album even better their their highly-praised Are We Not Horses.

download them that are good and them that are bad

03. grizzly bear: veckatimest

A few years ago, Theresa and I saw Grizzly Bear open for Feist.  At the time I thought the band was good, if a little boring.  Now my opinion of the band has changed.  Veckatimest is a wonderful, beautiful album that is still downbeat, but not at all boring.  These tunes are meticulously crafted, which each layer of sound complementing each other the same way that the band member’s voices complement each other in their multi-part harmonies.  This is Theresa’s favourite album of 2009.

download two weeks

02. animal collective: merriweather post pavilion

It seems like with so many year end (and decade end) lists coming out with Animal Collective featured prominently at or near the top, this band is experiencing a sort of hipster backlash.  This is a shame, because Merriweather Post Pavilion is a masterpiece.  As I mentioned in my album club post, AC have managed to make electronic music warmer and more human that I have probably ever heard.  At at a time of economic turmoil caused directly by debt and overly-lavish livestyles, it is great to hear Panda Bear explain that happiness only needs four walls and adobe slabs for his girls.

download my girls

01. bruce peninsula: a mountain is a mouth

What is this?  Once again Randal has chosen an obscure Canadian album over the most critically-praised album of the year?  There must be some sort of conspiracy going on here!  Well, perhaps there is some subconscious patriotism at play here, but I can honestly say that A Mountain is a Mouth was my absolute favourite album of 2009.  Its unique gospel-choir-turned-indie-rock-band style is like a breath of fresh air.  At it is so captivating – when I put on my big headphones and turn up the volume, BP carries me away to a different place: one that has a big sky and big trees, and is untouched by man.  No other album this year (or in recent memory) has produced as strong as emotional reaction in me as A Mountain Is A Mouth.

download steamroller

4 Responses

  1. Great list. I went nuts for Bitte Orca this year. Of course I’ve always been a fan of dave longstreth, but he’s really upped the level of songwriting on this album. I saw him play about 5 years ago and what struck me most was that the crazy way he sings on the albums– he sings that way in real life too– and he is in total control. he knows exactly what he’s doing. dude is a musical genius.

    there are a couple albums i haven’t heard on your list… so i’ll be checking them out. a notable omission is ‘wind’s poem’ by mount eerie. it’s at the top of my list for 09… but then again i’m a sucker for anything that guy releases.

    have a great holiday,

    mark

  2. I was totally looking forward to this list! I was hoping you didn’t forget. I only know of your top three albums because you suggested them for our ill-fated album club. Thank you for making me cooler by showing me cool bands!

  3. […] Curls (Songs of the year-Robots) Chromewaves ( Top 10 Albums of the Year) This Blog is a Typo (Albums of the year #8) Paper Pistol (albums of the year #23) The Book of Righton (playlist) Spinner (Bucky Awards) […]

  4. good review. they are great. 🙂

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