It sucks being in Dijon where my ability to, erm, 'find' new music is at an all-time low, so I reckon that by the end of February 2010 this list will have changed because of new arrivals, but for the time being, here's what I've played this year in order of how good it is.
Aim And Ignite
You pretty much knew this already; the only 5 I have from 2009 is easily one of my favourite records ever. It still gives me the shivers it did the first time it clicked while I was walking to the pub about half a year ago.
Sing The Word Hope In Four-Part Harmony
4.5 - I loved Maybeshewill's debut but Hope is something else; heavier, darker and somehow still more subtle, the way the band moves through enthralling riffs to an astounding set of climaxes is IMMENSE.
Hymn To The Immortal Wind
4.5 - posted a 5 review for this when it came out, but it grew off from the pedestal I once placed it on. That said - wow. Breathtaking post-rock that's geared to the sonic equivalent of a fucking huge storm. Sublime.
4.5 - Kensrue & Co. calm it down a little bit and release arguably their best material yet - there's an atmosphere, a tension to Beggars that has only ever been hinted at before. Affecting and brooding; excellent.
Grace And The Bigger Picture
4.5 - Well... if you'd told me as the year started that JoFo would be in my top 5 of the year I would have been somewhat skeptical, but Grace comes ridiculously close to the standard set by their debut. Different - more punch, less pop, more twists and turns - but still the same frantic indie-rock they offered on Light. Get it!
4.5 - I still don't know what to call this. There's so much metal and post-hardcore but then they go and do something mental like the synth in Fact Of Life and it's like, holy shit. One of the most effortless listens of 2009.
4 - When Home hits, it hits really hard. You need to invest in it to appreciate it but the concept is just fucking huge, and absolutely heartbreaking by the time Credits rolls. This is not an album about a zombie movie, it's god damn art, and it's amazing.
4 - Pop-hardcore is now officially a genre. It's like Fightstar fuse everything that's good about pop-rock with an aggression that's never sounded more sincere; call it post-hardcore if you will, but tracks like Give Me The Sky are nothing but ambient beauty. Stunning.
Mean Everything To Nothing
4 - Angrier than before, vocalist Hull and Manchester Orchestra craft a complete indie-rock record with no holds barred and basically the best song of the decade hidden in amongst the brilliant songwriting.
4 - Though it doesn't hit the heights of IARB and stumbles towards the end of the track listing, Bemis is once again on top-form, slating everyone between scientology and Bjork with a couple of heartstopping gems in the form of Cemetery and Ahh... Men's climaxes. Catchy as fuck and passionate throughout.
Until The Earth Begins To Part
4 - If you don't like your music with orchestras and loads of over-the-top crescendos stay away from Scottish indie-rock outfit Broken Records. If, on the other hand, you can handle a bit of ambition and you're into Arcade Fire, check out this sprawling, wide-open album - it's gorgeous.
|12||Florence And The Machine|
4 - You basically already know if you like Florence. Soulful, powerful voice atop harps and excellent, enigmatic songwriting - pretty much the year's best pop album with a decidedly indie bent.
4 - Live albums can trip up in a million different ways and none of them apply to LRLRL. It's Coldplay. Live. Get it.
Everything Is True
4 - Props to Dougie for forcing the issue because this is genuinely a beautiful album of mostly straightforward but pretty extraordinary songwriting. Safety In Numbness might be one of the year's best tracks.
|15||Taking Back Sunday|
4 - TBS, now an alt-rock band with an occasionally gritty edge, sound mature on their 2009 release but not like they're forcing the issue. Hooks abound, and consistency is the key.
|16||August Burns Red|
4 - Not even going to pretend I know enough about metalcore to explain why this is good, it just really fucking is.
It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright
4 - Well fuck me sideways, Aaron Weiss can write lyrics. Though sometimes the record lulls, about half the songs on Crazy! count as standouts, and when I say standouts I mean I've been caught singing "Allah" over and over out loud because of how good it makes me feel.
Brand New Eyes
4 - There's really nothing new about it but the band are just BETTER and Hayley Williams is about tenfold as good. Holy fuck The Only Exception gives me butterflies. Also, blonde Hayley is fit in the new video.
|19||Set Your Goals|
This Will Be The Death Of Us
4 - This is like, it reminds me of all the best parts of the pop-punk I love thrown into a massive cauldron and stirred with fuck loads of brilliance. Aggressive sometimes and poppy sometimes and great throughout.
|20||The Twilight Sad|
Forget The Night Ahead
4 - The perfect soundtrack to Autumn nights where it's proper dark and raining.
|21|| ||Yeah Yeah Yeahs|
The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
|23||We Were Promised Jetpacks|
These Four Walls
Merriweather Post Pavilion