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08.16.10 Less Popular 90s Gems02.08.10 My Top 50 Of 2009

My Top 50 Of 2009

This is my top fifty list for 2009. I must warn you in advance though that it is quite long, and if you really want to sit and read all about what some random guy on the internet thinks about the past year in music when it's such a beautiful day outside, well.. it's your life.
50Royksopp
Junior


I was pretty excited when I heard about a new R?yksopp album, but I wasn't expecting this. There's a lot of
the smooth downtempo you'd expect, but a lot of it is just so damn bouncy and fun! The opening alone is
fantastic, and a lot of people criticize Happy Up Here for trying to be another Eple, but if you're going to do
that you may as well go ahead and make fun of how similar the choruses in Muse's last two singles sounded,
too.
49Caustic
This Is Jizzcore


This is such a furious affair from start to finish. It sounds like it can't decide whether it wants to be pounding
industrial, almost danceable dark wave, or psychotic breakcore. Either way, the pummeling beats and clever
use of samples make it absolutely hypnotizing.
48Cold Cave
Love Comes Close


A very aptly named band. Right from the getgo, Love Comes Close gives off this incredibly icy and detached
aura with its distorted vocals and dark, fuzzy synths. The gloomy hooks can sound very eighties at times, but
they never come across as derivative; hell, if the New Order-covering-Goodbye Horses sounding title track
manages to not only avoid it, but still sound damn good, that's quite a good sign.
47Bibio
Ambivalence Avenue


Ambivalence Avenue is startlingly inventive. To be honest I was expecting more of a simple, ambient sound
on this but what I got was way more intricate and diverse. Some songs are kickback to be sure, but some
have a cleverly chopped up, almost folk as idm (got I HATE that title) sound. Very pleasant surprise.
46Faunts
Feel.Love.Thinking.Of.


Basically what indie pop would have sounded like in 1983. Though again, like Cold Cave, impressively able to
avoid being completely generic, which these days is WAY too easy to do when you mine the eighties for
inspiration.
45Girls
Album


On top of the fact that most of what Pitchfork says is to be taken with a grain of salt, naming your album
"Album" isn't going to do much other than make you look either unimaginative or smug. Despite that, this
interesting, hook-filled indie/surf rock blend is actually pretty damn good. It's especially good if you're
looking for a breakup album you can mope to while bobbing your head.
44Boxcutter
Arecibo Message


Textbook dubstep. Great, chopped up rhythms and great progressions. Complex, disjointed, and very
intriguing.
43Micachu
Jewellery


I seriously can't wait until the next new music genre comes out; since we're at the end of a decade, I can't
help but imagine it's a mere couple of years away. I like indie and eighties revival as much as the next guy,
but.. I dunno, I'm ready for something new. Which is why artists like Micachu are so great - they toy with the
current sound until it resembles not quite new, but close enough to be completely unique. Very quirky stuff.
42Real Estate
Real Estate


Again, surfy sounding indie pop recommended by Pitchfork. But again, it's surprisingly on the money. Nice
and spacey sounding without getting overly psychedelic, with great melodies to boot.
41HEALTH
Get Color


It's very impressive to think that a noise rock band could yield more good ideas than simply "damn, it's so
loud! Isn't this great??" but there's so much more here than that. There are really good melodies here and
there, but it's the layering and transitions that really sell it.
40Phoenix
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix


Narrowly beating out Passion Pit for that whole indie dance thing they've each got going. Both bands put out
great albums this year, but Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix just has more heart to it.
39Zoot Woman
Things Are What They Used to Be


What is this, six years after their last album? Well for better and for worse, it doesn't sound like it. They pick
up more or less where they left off and their energy is in tact, but they've got a bit more poppiness to their
sound, as well as a few great hard hitting dance numbers that would've been out of place on the first two
albums.
38A Place to Bury Strangers
Exploding Head


Maybe not the biggest step forward to follow their debut with, but it's pretty sweet nonetheless. These guys
have not only put out some of the loudest shoegaze this side of the early nineties, but harmonies Robert
Smith would kill for as well.
37Basement Jaxx
Scars


From the Timbaland-sounding opening to the weird flamenco-house end, for as diverse Scars is, it always
sounds unified. The production masterfully matches each track's guest vocalist (the album is LOADED with
them) with the only real misstep being the uh.. TOTALLY HOT one with Yoko Ono.
36Priestess
Prior to the Fire


Yeah, it's not released in the U.S. until mid to early 2010, but it was released this year, so fuck it. Basically
what Wolfmother would sound like with more personality. I mean I'd like to see them make a dorky ode to
Robocop sound as good as Priestess did!
35Fuck Buttons
Tarot Sport


How many ten minute long songs do you know where when upon first listen, after not even two minutes you
already know you're not going to be bored? And that's just the opener. Like if a post-rock band tried doing
trance or something.. just freakin' awesome.
34Bat for Lashes
Two Suns


Intensely seductive. Seriously. With such lush and dark music backing that soft, breathy voice... I mean if you
didn't want to bang her by the time you were halfway through this album, well... well.... well YOU HAVE BAD
TASTE!
33Boys Noize
Power


After Simian Mobile Disco's good-but-nothing special sophomore effort, I was kinda nervous waiting for the
new Boys Noize.. but all concerns were immediately gone. It did exactly what the former failed to do - yeah,
to add new layers, but keep that back end strong! And my god, is it strong here. ...and no, I'm not working
up to some lame pun about the album's title... I had the POWER to resist! ....oh wait...
32Mos Def
The Ecstatic


Even at its most aggressive, The Ecstatic never sounds anything but smooth and controlled. Clever beats with
an even more clever flow over every single one. The guy managed to make a rhyme with
Supercalifragilisticexpialidicious, for God's sake! COME ON!
31Junior Boys
Begone Dull Care


Speaking of smooth... damn. Maybe their last one was slightly better, but they're still sooo good at letting
their songs breathe (these eight songs still make Begone Dull Care about as long as any twelve song album)
without getting too repetitive. As simple as they can get, they're still nice and chill. And make you want to
make out with the nearest attractive person.
30Bear in Heaven
Beast Rest Forth Mouth


Yet another band I would have no idea existed without god damn Pitchfork. I was very very surprised with
their unabashedly psychedelic sound, but even more so with how little they limit themselves to the tag, opting
rather to take the tag with them as they explore different facets of alternative music. Bears in Heaven. Yeah.
YOU LIKE THAT?? BEARS.
29The XX
XX


I fell in love with this album immediately, and not just because the desire to sing "come, my lady, come
come my lady" when the intro's drums kicks in makes me giggle. The dark atmosphere is so inviting, and not
even because of how catchy the songs are, or how sultry the female (now that I think of it, they both are
really) vocals are... it's just so well established, and doesn't even overtake any of the songs. It's got such a
sexy sound.. in fact, I wonder how many people are fucking with this on right now...
28 Dent May
The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnifice


This looked like it was going to be about the most pretentious piece of crap I'd ever heard, but probably the
first thing I noticed when listening to it was just how startlingly genuine it sounds. There's a cute early-They
Might Be Giants feel to it at times (namely with the opening) and it never feels postured throughout. Very
inventive backing to him and his..... I'm not calling it a magnificent ukulele, but it is pretty sweet.
27Eminem
Relapse


Dammit! I was doing so well with avoiding any mainstream artists... and I had to go ahead and put fuckin'
EMINEM here. In front of twenty-three totally sweet albums, no less! Well it's here, and it's god damn
good, easily his best since The Marshall Mathers LP. I would argue that it's got the best opening of the
year with the half funny/half disturbing introductory skit, and he seems the most comfortable he's ever
been with making fun of himself, ("oh boohoo! I HAVE A DRUG PROBLEM") which is a must for someone
like him. Brilliant rhymes, great beats, and he just flat out sounds more confident than he has in almost a
decade.
26Atlas Sound
Logos


One of the best examples of the year of psychedelic pop being unexpectedly accessible. It has such a warm,
pleasant sound that he even makes an eight minute song seem like a sublime slice of pop that ends too
soon. Diz-amn.
25Dinosaur Jr.
Farm


It was pretty exciting when they came back a few years ago with their original lineup, but who expected that to
only be the beginning? Er... re-beginning? They really feel like they haven't missed a beat since 1990, and
yet still sound just as relevant nearly twenty years later. Hell, singers who need to learn how to sing with a
pained voice but without sounding like a little bitch could benefit the most from Farm! Lo-fi grunge is here ta
STAY, yo.
24Baroness
Blue Record


Bash them as a part of the whole so-called "scene-metal" genre all you want, but there's no denying their raw
talent and lack of contrivances. The southern sounding progressive metal sounds great on its own, but when
that commanding roar armed with such catchy vocal patterns(yeah, he doesn't even growl! I know, what
BULLSHIT) steals the show. And the guitar solos? Forget about it. Game over, man! GAME OVER!
23Moderat
Moderat


Danceable melancholic electronica? Damn straight. For some reason they pull it off so well that the music
(and especially the vocals, when Apparat sings) sounds downright penetrating. Hell, even if the whole album
didn't sound great, it boasts Rusty Nails, which is easily one of the best songs of the year.
22Great Lake Swimmers
Lost Channels


"These guys sound like total wimps! You tellin' me they swim in the Great Lakes?? HAH!" ...okay, nobody ever
said that. This band is one of the most consistently gorgeous/heartbreaking active bands that I know of; the
rich folk sound is powerful enough, but the gentle, yet pained vocals never fail to get to you. Loves it.
21Pearl Jam
Backspacer


I've always been a Pearl Jam fan; even throughout their hazy little experimentation phase, but I'm really
glad that's all over. I was blown away by their self titled, but this is even better. It's such a tight and
entertaining rock record, but they haven't lost any of their poignancy either. Can you believe they'll be eligible
for induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in another couple of years? Scary...
20Slayer
World Painted Blood


Slayer is another band I've loved for a long long while. I didn't want to admit that after Seasons they'd
gotten pretty damn... well, redundant, but I still loved them anyway.. until Christ Illusion came out and I
just couldn't take that faceless brutality anymore. So no, I wasn't too excited about this album, but I got it
anyway... and my god, I'm glad I did. Finally, a Slayer album with more Jeff Hanneman written tracks!! I
mean, not to discredit the writing skills of the man who wrote the poetic line "I'm the one who's gonna rip
your fucking face off," (Kerry King), but it's so nice to hear the clever time changes and transitions take
over instead of the three or four minutes of them playing as fast as they can. Easily, their best in a long
ass while.
19The Prodigy
Invaders Must Die


Alright, I don't care what anybody says, because I seriously do not get why this album has gotten so much
disapproval. I mean if I saw a guy in church chomping on an aborted fetus while holding a crack pipe, and
a hooker was on her knees blowing him, I'd be like "well that's pretty messed up... but at least you didn't
unfairly pan Invaders Must Die." It really blends the few good qualities of Always Outnumbered, Never
Outgunned with their early work, which was basically three consecutive masterpieces. What's even better
than the fact that it recalls those albums is that it's waayy worth listening unto itself. Aggressive but with
strong, strong groove, and it just sounds so fucking fun.
18Vitalic
Flashmob


Speaking of electronica follow-ups that have taken forever but proved well worth the wait... this is some
flooring progressive house. Intricate, but always with a sick beat to propel it. The hooks are seemingly
endless, and the music's power seldom relents, though cleverly sets up for harder hitting tracks fairly often. If
you've heard better house music this year... seriously, tell me! Fuck, man... I wanna go raving now.
17Mastodon
Crack the Skye


I have to be honest, I flat out didn't like this album the first time I listened to it. As they say though, it's
more of a grower than a shower, and it wasn't long before it snared me in with its quick flow and severely
complex instrumentation. I don't care how many other douchebags like me are on this bandwagon - you give
Crack the Skye a few listens, it will give you some damn-near flawless metal.
16Raekwon
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt II


Speaking of flawless, have you heard the flow on this fucking thing? God damn. It's nonstop, and the beats
are maddeningly simple, but equally maddeningly addicting. As the musical goes, who could ask for anything
more?
15Dirty Projectors
Bitte Orca


Don't you love how many bands successfully tweaked up their own different brands of strange yet poppy
indie? Choppy melodies, fucked up time signatures, mismatched choruses.. the fact that all this works so well
is amazing as it is, without the songs themselves being amazing as well.
14The Antlers
Hospice


Like Bon Iver's from last year, The Antlers' sophomore album has quite the sob story behind it. I imagine
next year we'll be treated to another guy isolating himself from the world to write and record an album as
well... not that I'd mind, mind you, if it's anywhere near this good. I love how Hospice's heartbreaking theme
is left just flimsy enough for personal interpretation, and it's all the more powerful for it. Not to mention the
lush feel, intoxicating sounds, and all that other stuff music critics say.
13Manic Street Preachers
Journal for Plague Lovers


Unbelievably rousing. Alternately energetic and moving, Journal for Plague Lovers is about as spot on as
post-Blur/Oasis britpop gets. If by the time the third track has come and gone and you haven't moved once...
well, you know what they say. Good thinking, because that shit kills.
12Dan Deacon
Bromst


I think that probably the most impressive thing about Bromst is just how it builds on itself. The whole album
flows remarkably, and each song is continually layered over with tons of sounds that should be weird but all
somehow fit wonderfully. More than a few of these songs I was too mesmerized on my first listen to formulate
an articulate opinion.
11 White Rabbits
It's Frightening


This one I fell in love with right away. In fact, I think it's the highest album I've ranked with the least
amount of listening time, but hey - I'M STANDING BY THIS BITCH. From what I understand, Britt Daniel of
Spoon produced this, which would help explain the somewhat Spoonish sound, but that's ultimately
reductive. It's far better than just something to listen to while waiting for the next Spoon album; every
song has such texture to it but with such apparent effortlessness, and it's a shame more run-of-the-mill
indie bands don't sound anywhere NEAR this good.
10Camera Obscura
My Maudlin Career


Speaking of ungodly addicting indie pop... man, I could not let this one go for a long, long time. It sounds
like it should just be derivative Belle and Sebastian wannabe shit, but.. it's just so well written, and all the
elements are so cleverly woven together, it's impossible to hate. Every poppy hook and every kitschy melody
against that melancholic backdrop just makes me want to fucking melt. Great fucking album.
9Fever Ray
Fever Ray


I still haven't decided whether or not I like this better than The Knife, but it's always a good sign when a solo
project is neck and neck with the original group. Not only is this intricate as shit, but it's overwhelmingly
atmospheric - tell me this isn't creepy ass music! I mean don't get me wrong, it's infinitely charming, I love
how freakin' dark it is, but... whatever, I don't know what I'm saying.
8Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion


Yeah, I know... everybody else has already been shitting their pants over this album for nearly the entire
year... so I won't get too bad with it. There's just something to be said for something so sophisticated and
psychedelic to be so listenable.
7Grizzly Bear
Veckatimest


It's kind of funny to envision what is essentially folk music to have so much stuff going on. Everything clicks
brilliantly, and does so all throughout the album. This edges out Merriweather Post Pavilion for me simply
because it's just so much easier to love, but still rewards repeated listens every bit as much as the former
album does.
6Neon Indian
Psychic Chasms


Most placed Memory Tapes higher than Neon Indian, and I can totally understand why. But this album is just
so artfully weird, it was irresistible from first listen. It sounds like eighties pop thrown into a blender, then the
blender being thrown into a washing machine. Then the washing machine gets hoisted up by a tornado. You
get the idea, I mean this shit is just plain WEIRD. But its pop sensibilities are so strong, everything is so
catchy.. it's so abstract but so attractive, I'm surprised there aren't more people who love it as much as I do.
5Major Lazer
Guns Dont Kill People... Lazers Do


Listening to this, you wouldn't think a couple of white guys produced it; if ever they were out of their element
while putting this together, you'd never know it. This stuff seriously pumps you up. It's got energy and
charisma to spare, and is a great introduction to dancehall, a genre I know jack shit about. This shit makes
you move, dude.. such a ridiculously fun album. It's really hard for me to imagine any non-uptight people not
loving this.
4St. Vincent
Actor


I don't think there's a single indie-loving guy who's familiar with St. Vincent and doesn't have a ridiculous
crush on her. Um... not me though. Never. And even if I did, her insane creativity would have nothing to do
with it. Outstanding melodies with interesting instrumentation... she makes indie sound refreshing again...
ahh, I sure am not smitten in the least.
3Depeche Mode
Sounds of the Universe


Yeah, yeah, I love Depeche Mode. I honestly believe that people who put this album down would be
praising the shit out of it if it were some newer band and sounded ever so slightly less DM-ish. I'm not
going to get into that whole game so many DM fans do, the "BEST ALBUM SINCE VIOLATOR" bullshit
(because it really isn't) but my god it's still pretty fucking good. I just think it's so remarkable how after so
many years they still turn out consistently good material. Everything about this album, except maybe the
dumb title, is absolutely mindblowing.
2 Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz!


You know, you hear the singles, and you think "god damn that sounds fucking good!" but you never realize
just how consistently jaw dropping this is until you listen to It's Blitz! as a whole. There is not a single weak
song in this tight set, and the decision to go electronic this time around was incredibly inspired. I mean,
anybody could, but they make it work so so well; energetic, fun, well textured, a total knockout from start to
finish.
1The Flaming Lips
Embryonic


Absolutely god damn stunning. Not immediately, though; when I first heard this, I didn't exactly hate it,
but I was somewhat disappointed. I still liked it of course, so I kept listening to it... and it didn't just grow
on me, it crept under my skin and is still there. My whole idea on why it's called Embryonic is that it is
never complete to you when you first hear it, it reveals more and more of itself each time you listen, and
it's almost as though the album is in a constant embryonic state in your head. Every single time you listen
to it, you catch new things, certain melodies resonate more, and so on and so forth. I really can't praise
this album's intricacies enough, I fucking love it. And that is my top album of the year.
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