Since I generally disagree with the idea of numerically ranking albums according to â€œwhich is best,â€ the following is a list of my personal 20 favorites. There are also some runner-ups and other miscellaneous acknowledgements. Enjoy!
Dinosaur Jr.- Farm
The bandâ€™s ninth album since they formed in 1985. Proves they havenâ€™t slowed down one bit.
Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Easily my favorite pop album of the year. Whatâ€™s perhaps most impressive is that they donâ€™t seem to rely on technology to write great songs. No amps, drums, synths? Play it on an acoustic and itâ€™ll be just as enjoyable. Donâ€™t believe me? Check out the Take Away Show.
Fever Ray- s/t
Fever Ray is Karin Dreijer Anderssonâ€™s first solo project. Who knew The Knife being on hiatus would bring about such a wonderful result?
Califone- All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
I got a chance to meet Tim Rutili once. He rolled a cigarette and agreed to an impromptu interview with a nervous college radio kid. Listen to Funeral Singers all the way through, then listen to it again. Folk gems in the rough, from one of the most underrated songwriters of our time. Produced by the drummer of the Fruit Batsâ€”random, huh.
Mt. Eerie- Windâ€™s Poem
The not-so-black metal follow up to Lost Wisdom showcases Phil Elverumâ€™s talent as a noise musician, in addition to his usual knack for melody. He is, undoubtedly, a master of the dark arts.
Flaming Lips- Embryonic
One of my favorite albums of all time, The Soft Bulletin, came out a decade ago. Embryonic is far less accessible, but no less exciting. Still, donâ€™t let anyone tell you that itâ€™s more like â€œtheir old stuff.â€
Years is an experimental folk-rock solo debut, full of classical-sounding arrangements and drastically diverse instrumentation. Personally, I havenâ€™t encountered an instrumental album as vivid or culturally relevant since Black Flagâ€™s The Process of Weeding Out. Listen to Years while reading Thoreauâ€™s Walden, and youâ€™ll see what I mean. Looking closely, youâ€™ll find that the man responsible is also member of Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene.
Originally released independently, later picked up and distributed by Polyvinyl Records, Post-Nothing is loud and relentless. However, the most threatening thing about the record is its pure, uninhibited catchiness. Like most punk kids, youâ€™ll sooner find it talking about girls, drinking, and skating than burning the American flag.
Yo La Tengo- Popular Songs
Popular Songs is a nice encapsulation of Yo La Tengoâ€™s extensive career. At times, it echos nearly every previous album, but leans most noticeably And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. A calmer, more serious effort was sure to follow the release of the thrasher Fuckbook, which they released under the moniker Condo Fucks early in the year.
J. Tillman- Year In The Kingdom
Iâ€™m a sucker for minimalistic folk ballads. Known by most as the drummer for Fleet Foxes, Tillman holds his own as a songwriter. This one marked his second album of 2009, this one beautifully and creatively explores topics of spirituality.
Pomegranates- Everybody, Come Outside!
Built To Spill- There Is No Enemy
The Antlers- Hospice
Wilco- Wilco (The Album)
Timber Timbre- s/t
Dirty Projectors- Bitte Orca
Burning Hearts- Aboa Sleeping
Pains of Being Pure at Heart- s/t
Jason Lytle- Yours Truly, The Commuter
Sunset Rubdown, Yim Yames, Animal Collective, Engineers, Lightening Bolt, St. Vincent, David Bazan, Grizzly Bear, M. Ward, The Dodos
Favorite Compilation: Dark Was The Night (obvs.)
Favorite Re-issues: (CD) Red Red Meat- Bunny Gets Paid , (LP) Red House Painters- Songs For A Blue Guitar