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|Klap4music's Top 20 Albums Of '09|
Self-explanatory - in my continued protest of the current rigid
list system Sputnik imposes on
us, this list will be set backwards (i.e., #1 is actually #20, 2 is
19, etc.). Comments, thoughts,
disagreements welcome! Last in my four-part series, although I
will be doing my decade list
sometime before the New Year.
|1|| ||Kiss Kiss|
The Meek Shall Inherit What's Left
20. Kiss Kiss don't really have any idea what they're going to be doing from one minute to the next, so
should come as no surprise that The Meek Shall Inherit What's Left is a delightfully scrambled mess of
album, one that jumps from bouncy indie pop to quirky gypsy folk to outsized 16-minute concept
But somehow everything holds together, making it a wonderfully effective blender of rock music.
19. It's become typical to expect excellence from M. Ward at this stage in career, but even so, Hold
was a startling consistent example of beautifully refined Americana. His best since Transistor Radio, it'
album that flows smoothly from one song to the next, a river of songs photographing classic American
music as it rolls along.
|3||Noah and the Whale|
The First Days of Spring
18. Few bands could do such an abrupt about-face as Noah and the Whale do with their sophomore
but the London quintet pull it off in style. The First Days of Spring is the break-up record of the year,
would be crushingly depressing if not for the vivid, pastoral soundscapes the band have masterfully
|4||Manic Street Preachers|
Journal for Plague Lovers
17. It always seemed like the Preachers were searching for an identity to call their own after the
disappearance of their heart and soul, frontman Richey Edwards. But Journal for Plague Lovers
stands tall among great Preacher records of the past, exorcizing Edwards' ghost with his own lyrics and
creating a modern rock record that blows away most of the newer competition, including many of their
own previous works.
|5|| ||The Fiery Furnaces|
I'm Going Away
16. Ever since Blueberry Boat, the Fiery Furnaces seemed to lose their way on latter albums, unable to
reconcile the experimental brilliance of that album with the pop charm of Gallowsbird's Bark, resulting
albums that were wildly uneven and even more challenging. But with their latest, the brother-sister duo
has regained that middle ground wonderfully. I'm Going Away is their most accessible album in years,
without losing that distinctive oddball charm and slice-of-life lyrics that has defined them.
Mean Everything to Nothing
15. Manchester Orchestra's second album shows them maturing into something every fan of the band
desperately hoping for, the newest poet laureates of emotive indie rock. Singer and lyricist Andy Hull
sharpened his roiling tide of emotions into impassioned pleas and finely tuned angst, resulting in one
year's best songs ("I Can Feel A Hot One") and a record that bodes so, so well for the future.
Merriweather Post Pavilion
14. It's no surprise that Merriweather Post Pavilion became so wildly popular in indie circles - without
losing any of the weirdness or experimental angles that have defined the band over the past decade,
successfully broadened their pop horizons, resulting in an extremely accessible record that appealed as
much to the diehard fan as it did to the wannabe hipster. Perhaps the strangest success story of the
year - after all, would anyone listening to Animal Collective in 2000 have predicted this level of success ten
|8||Portugal. The Man|
The Satanic Satanist
13. An alt-rock record that never seems to struggle and definitely never wants for a tasty melody or
grabbing hook, The Satanic Satanist is Portugal. The Man at their best, a melding of all their previous
sounds into a record that could not sound more tossed-off or carefree if it tried. It's a brilliant trick,
that results in an album that is as light and relaxing as it is refreshing and remarkably accomplished.
|9|| ||Lily Allen|
It's Not Me, It's You
12. While not as unique and defining as her debut, It's Not Me, It's You is the perfect pop album,
Lily Allen's sizable amounts of sass and razor-sharp wit with superbly diverse production by Mark
and songs that absolutely kill. Track after track is a potential hit single, perhaps derailed from
success only by Allen's often-blunt lyrics. Then again, that's what makes Lily such a treat in the
whitewashed world of mainstream pop.
11. This could very well be the comeback record of the year, and would easily have been the rap record
the year if it were any other year. Alas, 2009 was a special year in music, and The Ecstatic is no
Mos Def sounds rejuvenated, more centered in than he has in years, and the record's confident tone
relentlessly ingenious beats and rhymes follow in turn.
The Hazards of Love
10. There's been better Decemberists records, and there's certainly been better concept records over
course of history, but The Hazards of Love is perfect at what it sets out to do: embody the
literary and musical ambitions in one giant song cycle. It?s the ultimate progression of the band's
taking their penchant for wordy songs and long-winded stories and expanding it over the course of an
entire album. It's what the Decemberists were destined for, and in that respect it's a fine piece of
And while the story is a little half-baked, the songs are as epic and well done as ever, driving the story
resulting in some of the best instrumental work the band has ever put down.
|12||Taken by Trees|
East of Eden
9. Journeying to the East to find one's self has become as much of a cliché as any over the past few
decades, as has recording one's experiences there. Luckily for former Concretes' frontwoman Victoria
Bergsman, she seems to have sublimated all those Eastern influences into her own sound rather than
throwing in a few foreign instruments and styles onto her shiny brand of Swedish indie-pop. It's a
that is almost impossible to place, the convergence of sounds and Bergsman's own haunting vocals
resulting in a mystical, almost timeless album, one just at home in the foothills of Pakistan as it is in
8. While Middle Cyclone doesn't quite approach the classic status of Case's last record, the
Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, it takes only three-and-a-half minutes to foresee it possibly attaining
stature. While the musicianship is top-notch and runs the gamut from smoky folk to woodsy Americana
and straight-ahead rock, the focus remains, as always, on Case's inimitable vocals. Opener "This
Loves You" is proof of this and more, Case's distinctive pipes highlighting a stormy mess of a song,
that revels in the passion of destruction as much as it does in love and longing.
|14|| ||The Yeah Yeah Yeahs|
7. It's Blitz! is perhaps the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' most complete record yet, one that runs the gamut of
emotions and moods from the exhilarating opener "Zero" to the frighteningly effective, lullaby-esque
"Little Shadow." No longer can the Yeah Yeah Yeahs be accused of being just another one-dimensional
New York garage rock band - from synth-filled new wave to mellow alt-rock to haunting ballads, It's
is a multifaceted album that reveals more and more upon each successive listen. It shows a startling
amount of growth for a band long relegated to one-hit wonder status, and gives hope that, yes, there is
|15||Monsters of Folk|
Monsters of Folk
6. It didn't come as a surprise that a collaboration between Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket's Jim
M. Ward, and uber-producer Mike Mogis would be entertaining; what was a surprise, however, was just
how good and refined Monsters of Folk ended up being, more the product of a long-time band than a
supergroup thrown together for shits and gigs. It's a minor miracle that the foursome are able to
all their own influences and ideas so seamlessly into the final product, a time capsule of classic
that manages to stand on its own, rather than the hodgepodge of styles one would expect. Best of all,
final product is the best example of pure, unadulterated American rock 'n roll to come out all year.
5. Post-Nothing is best taken straight, no chaser, with zero preconceptions or any hint of in-depth
analysis upon first listen. All fuzzed-out guitars, straight-out-of-the-garage drums and vocals that,
don't give a damn, it's the sound of youth and youth's emotions at their most free, uncaged from any
of adult restraint. It's a record full of anthems and undeniably vital, practically bursting with life,
lust, you name it: and not ashamed of any of it.
4. It's a far cry from "Toxic," but Bloodshy & Avant's new side project (with singer Andrew Wyatt) is
deliciously unfettered pop in its own way. Perhaps the best-produced album of the year, it flits from
Vampire Weekend-esque indie ("Animal") to gorgeous atmospherics ("Silvia") to fantastically filthy
pop ("Black & Blue") to haunting ballads ("Faker"), with the ease of a musical chameleon with a liking
keyboards. It's an instant party starter, but at its heart it's something more, an album built on a pop
foundation but with multiple layers, a heart that values superior songwriting and grade-A production to
shallow sentiments and mindless hooks.
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt II
3. Raekwon's latest is a shining reaffirmation of Wu-Tang dominance over the rap game; RZA's
is his best work in years, the various guest spots all seem placed to perfection, speaking more to their
lyrical abilities and personalities than any "oh, hey, look who we got to guest on this track" bullshit.
spot here means something, and, more than that, every spot here frames and support the leader, the
rapper whose flow and style defines this album and makes it a new rap classic. Raekwon is clearly at
top of his game here, delivering a conceptual story that wallows in the dirt and grime of New York and
comes out reinvigorated in the end. The Wu are far from dead - indeed, this might be the strongest
they've been all decade.
|19||Florence and the Machine|
2. The Voice is a major reason for this album's success, but it's not the only one. Just as importantly,
talented backing band does an excellent job transcribing Florence Welch's uniquely powerful voice and
haunting tone into the music. Lungs is an album as versatile as its namesake, from the thumping
of "Drumming Song" to the bluesy "Kiss With A Fist" to the ethereal buildup to "Between Two Lungs."
that Voice! - from fierce to grieving to lusty, Welch is the driving force behind Lungs, one that at times
seems to be like a force of nature, whirling from high to low with equal passion and equal ease. The
of the year, and a very exciting one for the future.
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
1. When I first heard this record it certainly didn't stand out to me as a potential Album of the Year
candidate. And it still didn't stand out after the second, third, or a dozen listens, but over the course
summer the little things began to strike me as special, revealing a record full of layers I had previously
dismissed in the guise of "just another dance-rock record." It is a dance-rock record, and an
one at that, but it's the painstaking attention to detail, the relentlessly innovative beats and polished
drumming, the appealingly earnest way these Frenchmen take English rock 'n roll and make it their
all these things and more that catapult Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix into a realm of its own. It's the way
the band breaks it down and then the multi-tracked harmonic guitar flies in over the end of "Lisztomania;"
it's the way "1901's" chorus zooms in and out on the bass like a pneumatic hammer of pop as the
take skyward; it's the way the "Love Like A Sunset" suite resolves itself so beautifully in a haze of
key watercolors; it's the way singer Thomas Mars' bares all in the heartbreaking shimmer of "Rome."
than anything else, it's a dance record that isn't afraid to celebrate its own flaws, rejoicing in its ability
take a shallow genre and make something lasting, one that speaks as much to a person's emotions as
does their feet. Here's to my record of the year.
|goddamn question marks - fixing|
don't think #1 will be much of a surprise to most haha
|no klappy? i refuse to read|
|don't even go there robin|
|Sweet list, glad to see Portugal there.|
|word, i thought that album really flew under the radar this year. so good but underappreciated|
|For sure, I think its my most listened to this year.|
|fucking love this list and the work i'm sure went into making it and your other '09 lists.|
|"don't think #1 will be much of a surprise to most"|
Now what would make you say a thing like that?
This looks awesome, Im gonna come back and read it in a sec, lots on here I never bothered checking out.
|thanks rodigo, you da man|
|M. Ward is a one trick pony. |
|but its such a good trick adam|
|so it looks like i might need to here phoenix, good list brosif.|
|Have you heard As Tall As Lions latest? I think you'd really enjoy it.|
Anyways, I'm getting everything on here that I don't have... all five albums.
|you told me to get it and its in the queue as soon as i finish my decades list, which will be in the next couple of days.....|
which of these haven't you heard? i'm so proud caleb
|great stuff here rudy, lots of fun to read. couldn't agree more with you on 10 and 13. and I really wanna be all like ' f 2009' but Im now going to pick up 19 & 17...you suck. |
|which set of numbers are you referring to yeti lol|
|I was about to comment about my surprise at pheonix not being number 1, and then i realised it was in reverse order.|
|A great read Rudy. Well done. It's an extremely diverse range of albums too & I think you should be proud of that. I'm actually surprised to see a couple on your list (especially Raekwon) & I thought we would have more than 3 albums in common. |
Question for you: While you felt Lily Allen's debut was more unique & defining, do you also feel it was better?
|no while i thought it had a few individual songs better than anything on her latest, i thought this was one was better overall|
|and i like my fair share of rap davey :0|
|I knew Phoenix would be your #1. Anyways good stuff. |
|I was referring to the list #s, not yours, as in you're spot on about Mos & Neko, and I'm getting 'Lungs' and Miiiiiiike Snow.|
|oh and Phoenix, nailed that too. I didn't read it at first, figured I'd heard it already ;) |
|nice! you'll love them both|
|sorry not enough metal for you good sir|
|someguest being a really awful sputnik user since 90210 BCE|
|i see. tell me more|
|is it wrong of me to not enjoy metal? i find most of it unpleasant to listen to, in the same way that i don't like the majority of country artists. sorry if i'm not meeting your personal quota of good taste|
|woah woah buddy|
let's not get ridiculous here HOLD UP
|i know this is pretty crazy who would've thunk it|
|oh yeah well|
|it's hard for me to give credit when the very act of listening hurts my ears. i'm sorry, but you're clearly less narrow-minded than me|
|someguest stoooop |
|I still like your list :D |
|Good stuff, I really need to check out some of what is on here. Solid descriptions, too.|
|thanks robot - yours kicked mine's ass though haha|
|awesome list Klap. I'm trying to decide if I should check out 2, I heard a bit of it and didn't really like it, probably should give it a go. Monsters of Folk was kinda average though :( I find it gets really tedious to listen to as the album progresses.|
|i assume you're talking about 2 on my list (florence)?. you definitely should, i find the first couple of tracks are kind of hard to get into at first but starting with "howl" it's immediately awesome|
and yeah, i know most people didn't share my monsters of folk boner, what can i say, i really like that type of music :/
|i will solve this album art problem by god|
|bonus version of lily allen album should be called 'it's not me, it's you, or is it?'|
|you're on a roll robertson|
too legit to quit
|We don't talk much, do we? Alex, was it? My name's Rudy. I do awesome stunts all the time with my friends. You probably didn't know that. And you probably have lots of cool stuff about you that I don't know. Point is, if you don't sit down with someone and really talk and get to know them you'll never find those things out. So what do you say? Wanna make this thing official? |
|'i said that you look shitty' omg hahahaha i fucking DIED at that part|
|omg the scene where hes dancing in the forest and then he like falls for a whole minute hahaa fuckin cracking up|
|truly a cult classic|
|i listened the shit out of #1 the months following its extremely early leak but ended up coming back to it a lot recently. you should get passion pit, its not really the same thing, but along the same lines and its just happy-go-lucky synth and falsetto madness. |
and youre about as metal as a ham sandwich
|1 should be 20 haha c wut i did thar|
nice list though i tried 20 the other day groovy as hell
|2 is so gooooddd|
|er 19 -- 19 is so goooood|
|kir i heard passion pit if you had seen my songs list|
loved the album but not really top 20 material in my book
|yeah, i can see where youre coming from, same reason i didnt really latch on to miike snow as much as everyone else i think. |
|who else latched on to miike snow i'd love to meet them lol|