Top 10 Albums of 2009

Top 10 List As 2009 comes to a close, I thought it would be fun to give you my TOP 10 albums of the year.  I thought about doing a TOP 10 of the decade but for my first real post I’ll start small.  Keep in mind that these albums are my favorites of the year, not albums that necessarily sold the most albums or topped the most charts, but rather ones that I can’t stop listening to.  Drum roll please…

The Satanic Satanist - Portugal. The Man.

1.  The Satanic Satanist – Portugal. The Man.

On July 21st 2009, the Wasilla, Alaska band released it’s fourth studio album to immediate acclaim.  This album, for me, was everything I had been waiting for.  The album is a majestic, poppy, masterpiece of catchy grooves and harmonies.  This record has all the makings of a landmark album for the band, who also released an acoustic accompaniment, The Majestic Majesty, which coincided with the release of The Satanic Satanist.

Key Tracks:

People Say (2:59)
Work All Day (2:59)
Guns and Dogs (2:45)

2.  Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King – Dave Matthews Band

Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King

After the tragic death of DMB’s big boned and talented saxophonist, LeRoi Moore, Matthews set out to create an album in his honor. Thus, the Groogrux King was born. Now, 18 years in the making, DMB has made arguably their best album in years or ever for that matter. Matthews said in an interview over the summer with Matt Pinfield, DJ for WRXP New York, that he set out to create an album that would be fun to play live and fun for audiences to dance to. He succeeded. Like Dave Matthews, don’t like Dave Matthews. Get this album.

Key Tracks:

Funny the Way It Is (4:27)
Lying in the Hands of God (5:13)
Alligator Pie (3:59)

3.  Vapours – Islands

Vapours

Like The Satanic Satanist, Vapours is a very poppy album laced with layers of delicate instrumentation. Vapours is the third studio release for the Montreal based band, and ultimately their best to date. What got me on this album was the last minute of the song Disarming the Car Bomb, in which the keys chime in with a honky tonk. It blew me away that a band would try that in the age of auto-tune. In an interview with Exclaim!, Nick Thorburn explained how he likes to try new things, which is why he dismantled the line-up from Arm’s Way to create an all-new line-up for Vapours. He remarked “That’s important to me ― to be able to constantly try new things. That’s why this record’s largely informed by electronic stuff like drum machines, sequencing, and programming, which really scales it back from the last record.”

Key Tracks:
Switched On (3:31)
Vapours (2:41)
Disarming the Car Bomb (4:15)

4.  Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures Them Crooked Vultures

“It’s been a long time since we’ve rock n’ rolled…” Yes it has. Especially for Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, who makes up one third of this supergroup who also includes the likes of Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal).  It started with 3 guys jamming out, just having a good time, when they thought to themselves, “Hey let’s make a record.” And that they did.  Slowly they posted 30 second clips, never leaking or releasing full versions of their songs.  Hell, they were touring before the album was even released.  TCV sounds like rock n’ roll, pure and simple. With one member of the legendary Led Zeppelin, and two of their greatest disciples, TCV start with a bang and end with a bang.  They only way I could describe this album is Led Zeppelin meets Cream meets QOTSA – and in Dave Grohl’s drumming, John Bonham’s spirit is alive and well.

Key Tracks:

Mind Eraser, No Chaser (4:07
New Fang (3:49)
Scumbag Blues (4:26)

5.  I and Love and You – The Avett Brothers i and Love and You

My friend actually turned me on to this album, which I probably never would have listened to otherwise since I usually don’t go in searching of folk music.  However, this album leveled me.  As you probably already know from reading the top half of this page, I love catchy riffs.  Produced by Rick Rubin, founder of Def Jam Records, and probably the most sought out producer on the planet, I and Love and You, is a glorious exercise in folk-pop.  With topics that liken playing ones heart like a kick drum, how could you not get into this album. Seriously, if you don’t usually check out this genre, give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Key Tracks:

I and Love and You (5:01)
Kick Drum Heart (2:54)

6.  There is No Enemy – Built to Spill There Is No Enemy

There is No Enemy starts with the crash of guitar, well guitars.  Built to Spill is one of those interesting bands who strays away from the usual dynamic of a band, featuring 3 guitars, allowing them to layer their unique sound.  The lead singer of Built to Spill, Doug Martsch, sings with conviction in each song, imploring you to discover his words.  I originally couldn’t get into Built to Spill, but when my friend told me to take a look, I did and haven’t looked back.  He figured I would like them because of their multi-layered guitar parts, since I play guitar, but in the past, I had found that very few bands succeed in this undertaking.  Some exceptions are of course Radiohead and The Foo Fighters.  I can now at Built to Spill to that list. Give this album a spin or two, or three, or four…

Key Tracks:

Aisle 13 (3:17)
Hindsight (3:38)

7.  The Resistance – Muse The Resistance

I thought that it would be almost impossible to top 2006’s Black Holes and Revelations, but Muse have done it.  Muse have cemented themselves as one of Britain’s premiere acts in just a short time.  In their early days, they were considered Thom Yorke knockoffs but now they have a sound all their own.  So what makes this their best album? Well for one thing it is just epic.  Like Queen epic.  When you listen to this album, especially the first track, Uprising, you immediately get the feel that this album is part of something much bigger, like it’s working towards something more.  In between the double tracking and Queen-like riffs, Muse compiles a unique and catchy album involving so many instruments, they sound like an orchestra.

Key Tracks:

Uprising (5:02)
United States of Eurasia (5:47)
Unnatural Selection (6:54)

8.  The Blueprint 3 – Jay-Z Blueprint 3

After two horrendous albums, one being his so-called comeback album after his so-called retirement and the atrocity that was American Gangster, Jay-Z is back and better than ever (much like the Hess Truck).  The best line of 2009 has to be off his 5th track, “Empire State of Mind,” in which he says, “Shit, I make the Yankee Hat more famous than a Yankee can.”  This album proves that Jay-Z still has it and hasn’t lost touch with his audience.  Sure he is not rhyming verses about selling crack anymore, but his lyrics still hit home, no matter who you are.

Key Tracks:

D.O.A (4:15)
Run This Town (4:28)
Empire State of Mind (4:37)

9.  It’s Blitz! – Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz

I had the pleasure of seeing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at this years All Points West Festival in New Jersey, and I must say that having been vaguely familiar with them, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing them on stage before Jay-Z.  After 30 seconds on stage, I was in love with Karen-O and blown away.  As a first time listener I was really only familiar with their hit single, Maps, from their 2003 debut Fever to Tell.  So imagine my surprise when they turned out not to be a bland, love-struck band, but rather a rocking band with a charismatic chick for a lead singer.  After 45 minutes on stage, Karen-O, exhausted from screaming and I’m sure a bunch of drinking, slammed her mic to the ground and jumped on top of it.  The mic was destroyed.  Get this album.

Key Tracks:

Zero (4:26)
Heads Will Roll (3:42)

10.  Blew it Again – Electric Tickle Machine Blew it Again

Brand new band.  Don’t know much about them but I heard it on our college station 91.7 WICB and loved it.  It is much like The Satanic Satanist in that it draws on many catchy melodies while maintaining an indie sound.

Key Tracks:

Part of Me (3:07)
Gimme Money (2:34)

Almost made it..

11.  Now We Can See – The Thermals

12.  Black Gives Way to Blue – Alice in Chains

I’ll be reviewing some new albums soon…until then enjoy!

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~ by jmstone87 on November 14, 2009.

2 Responses to “Top 10 Albums of 2009”

  1. thanks ~ I’ve been looking for some new listens!

    I agree on the Vapours disc…amazing stuff

    Tim

  2. love that portugal. the man. great pick.

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