2009 was, in my opinion, the best year for music this decade. The sheer number of quality albums released this year are staggering. So much great music that these bands didn’t even make my top ten; Dinosaur Jr, Memory Tapes, HEALTH, Atlas Sound, Dirty Projectors, Raekwon, Metric, The Love Language, The xx and Yacht, all of which I loved. And even that doesn’t include the excellent pile of eps 2009 produced.
Anyway, here’s my top 10 …
Just take my word for it that a lo-fi update of CBGB’s New York by way of the son of a Philadelphian banjo player is the business. This kid is good, as is Childish Prodigy.
Kurt Vile – Freak Train
A welcome return for Olivia Tremor Control frontman, Will Cullen Hart, and and even more welcome return to form for Elephant 6. Jeff Mangum appears, so, you know, it’s awesome and all that.
Circulatory System – Overjoyed
Cold Cave are a side project for Wes Eisold, but perhaps it should become a full time gig. Dark, cold synth stabs punctuate perfectly the detatched vocals and Cure at the disco songs.
Cold Cave – Cebe And Me
A slightly cleaned up sound just meant Times New Viking’s talents were made even more obvious to first time listeners. It gave the songs a new immediacy, while still remaining the same kind of fucking killer lo-fi burst of noise they’ve always been.
Times New Viking – Martin Luther King Day
Aside from maybe Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear were the indie-crossover darling of the year. An intimately expansive, brilliant step forward and deserving of all the praise heaped upon it.
Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks
I’ll admit to not being overly excited for a Flaming Lips double album, thinking after At War With The Mystics they’d settled into a comfortable middle age of good, but not great music. How foolish of me. There were enough ideas packed into single songs, that lesser bands could’ve made an entire album out of them. I shan’t be anything less than chomping at the bit ever again.
The Flaming Lips – Watching The Planets (featuring Karen O)
Girls’ debut was one of the most emotionally complex albums of the year, yet it never dragged because of this. Instead it just added more layers to the incredibly strong songs that arrived fully formed as they leaked, building the anticipation for an indie rock band with real substance.
Girls – Morning Light
Released just a few days into January, lesser albums might have been forgotten by December, Merriweather not only endured, but grew ever stronger with each spin. The upsurge in Animal Collective’s popularity and ubiquity this year (I saw this album reviewed in Woman’s Weekly of all places) had nothing to do with any compromise or watering down on their part, more to do with a great band finally getting mainstream recognition.
Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes
When your band is constantly prefixed with “NME favourite – ” it is both a gift and a curse, the exposure is nice, but it does tend to stamp an expiry date on ones’ foreheads. With album number two The Horrors ditched the schtick for substance, and did it ever produce results. By fleshing out their sound with influences as diverse as Shoegaze, Nuggets era Psychedelia and 60’s Girl Groups, The Horrors overcame the NME hypemachine and became a mature, rewarding band in their own right. Nowhere were their wings spread wider than on seven minute epic and first single Sea Within A Sea.
The Horrors – Sea Within A Sea
The first time I listened to the Smith Westerns’ Be My Girl I fell in love. It was the perfect pop song, teenage lust set atop a sunny, fuzzed-out, T-Rex recalling gem of a track. The first time I listened to their debut record I knew I’d found the number one for this list. It’s a charming, immediate, lo-fi, hormonal overload..Buy it here.
Smith Westerns – Be My Girl