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Top 30 Albums Of 2009 - Part 2

Same deal as the first. It seems that a lot of the albums that I had hoped would make it to the top-10 ended up here this year. Oh well, enjoy!
1Volcano Choir
Unmap


20. Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) continues to show his musical diversity as he has tackled many different
projects following the incredible "For Emma, Forever Ago". The formation of Volcano Choir shows Vernon
take a more experimental approach over the unorthodox yet surprisingly groovy instrumentals of the
backing band. This album sounds just like a bunch of musicians having a little fun, but that doesn't mean
there aren't some good tracks here. "Seeplymouth" in particular is good example: a repetitive blip-like
drone over a somewhat jazzy drum beat opens up the song, and it slowly evolves its way to one hell of a
noisy climax. This album isn't wonderful, but it continues to show Vernon isn't afraid to put in front of
different types of projects, showing he is more than just 'that guy in the woods'.
2He is Legend
It Hates You


19. He is Legend has continued to put their more pop flavored emo/post-hardcore/whatever you call it
behind them in favor of a more gritty sound. While the tracks are hit and miss here, Croom and company
hit it right more time than not. The blazing opener of Dichepalous contains the energy of "The Seduction"
but with a more refined dirty Southern rock sound that the band stumbled through often on "Suck Out
the Poison". There are moments where I swore Croom was channeling a 90's-era James Hetfield better
than Hetfield ever could. "Everybody I Know Has Fangs" is another track where you can just feel the dirt
flying out of your stereo until a soaring pop chorus ties it all together. If the band continues in this
direction, they will only continue to get better at what they do.
3August Burns Red
Constellations


18. Let's face it: metalcore is pretty much dead. The genre is a perfect example of over saturation, with
clone bands writing the same exact records as their predecessors. That's why it was so surprising when
August Burns Red, a band with two previously somewhat mediocre records, put out one of the genre's
best. This album has everything that is good about the genre: guttural screams, blazing guitar work, and
an absolutely skintight rhythm section. ABR have not reinvented the wheel here by any means, but have
put forth an extremely solid offering. When metalcore is looked back on in the next decade or so, this
album should be one that is remembered along with "Alive or Just Breathing" and a few others as
stalwarts of the genre.
4Mew
No More Stories


17. This album was my first experience with Mew, and I was happily impressed. The band tackles a
multitude of sounds from pop, to electronica, to indie and shoegaze. Fan favorite "Repeater Beater" is a
perfect example, dance inspired verses that lead to absolutely soaring choruses. My personal favorite "Silas
the Magic Car" is a little slower than some of the others, but the slow steady pace gives way to beautiful
vocal interplay and perfectly selected instrumentals. Despite the absurd title, Mew gave 2009 a powerful
offering with "No More Stories".
5HORSE the Band
Desperate Living


16. I'm not sure what's funnier: that fact that HORSE the Band continues to be one of the most ridiculous
bands around, or that they keep writing excellent music. "Desperate Living" is the culmination of the
sometimes awkward experimentation found on "A Natural Death". The band has never sounded better
here: 80's inspired synths giving way to tightly crafted post-hardcore, nintendo blips and beeps integrated
more seamlessly (the "hurry-up" Mario music at 2:17 in "The Failure of All Things" in particular gets me
every time). But the dynamics of the songs have improved, as well as Nate's vocal presence, which seems
to fit every part immaculately. "Desperate Living" is an album that few will appreciate, but deserves an
immense amount of credit.
6Mastodon
Crack the Skye


15. Another album that seems to get knocked here quite a bit, but I enjoy. Though it's about as far
removed from "Leviathan" as can be, Mastodon's progressive tendencies work very well within the context
of the songs. "The Czar" is a great example: spacey guitar tracks lead into a whirlwind of a song that takes
the listener many places. The band hasn't lost their harder edge though, "Divinations" in particular opens
with an acoustic riff that sounds downright nasty. Though it is sure to polarize longtime fans, "Crack the
Skye" shows that Mastodon is capable of writing an epic, and I feel that this will only be a jumping off point
for the band in the long run.
7dredg
The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion


14. dredg's 2009 release shows that they are still happy with trying new things in their music. "The
Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion" combines the more 'epic' song structures of "El Cielo" with the pop rock
of "Catch Without Arms", creating a hybridization that produces some very good music. "Information" is a
U2 sounding cut that works perfectly between the tense verses and explosive choruses, while "Quotes" is
a powerful track which goes from a simple quiet/loud verse/chorus structure to an expansive bridge,
showing off the qualities which makes dredg work well. Sometimes the album drags too much, but overall,
the band put forth another solid addition to their discography.
8Various Artists (Indie)
Dark Was the Night


13. Rarely do we see a compilation that truly deserves a spot on a year's end list, but "Dark Was the
Night" truly merits an inclusion. The record beings forth Indie's best and most prominent artists, from
Grizzly Bear to Ben Gibbard to the Dirty Projectors. The songs range in style: Sufjan Steven's cover of "You
Are the Blood" threatens to implode from its grandiose nature, while Andrew Bird's cover of "The Giant
Illinois" is a stark and beautiful tribute to Americana. There are some great originals and collaborations too,
and with a cause like the fight against AIDS, its hard to go wrong with this release.
9Thrice
Beggars


12. It's a bit surprising that Thrice finds themselves out of my year's end top-10, but that shows how
many wonderful records came out this year. Thrice didn't necessarily write a bad album, but after
"Vheissu" and "The Alchemy Indexes", Beggars feels a little weak in comparison. Regardless, the energy on
this album is a much needed bridge to their earlier releases. "The Weight" mixes Kensrue's urgent vocals
against simple yet effective instrumentation, while "Wood and Wire" creates a touching layering of vocal
textures over a subtle yet moving drum groove and beautiful electric piano tones. "Beggars" wasn't exactly
a career changing album, but it continues to show that they are not afraid to change directions for the
sake of writing the music they want to.
10Cymbals Eat Guitars
Why There Are Mountains


11. Another wonderful debut album. The Brooklyn group come out swinging with their 90's inspired Indie
music that packs a punch so often missing from the genre. Opener "...And the Hazy Sea" straddles
between practically screamed choruses and lush piano interludes to utmost perfection. Their willingness to
experiment with everything from jazz to pop makes the album sound both hectic and incredibly mature.
This is certainly a band to keep an eye on, and I think their forthcoming albums will really tighten up their
sound into something special.
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