I’ve failed as a music blogger.Â Much to my own disappointment, I was unable to list 20 albums from 2009 I really liked.Â Mind you, it’s not that 2009 was a bad year for music…I’m just way behind on listening to most new music.
So instead, I made three different lists: a top 10 list for 2009 (I said most new music, not all), a list of honorable mentions and a list of albums that probably deserved to be on the list had I actually gotten around to listening to them.
10.Â Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down – Know Better, Learn Faster
Thao’s follow up to We Brave Bee Stings and All is just as quirky, catchy, and smart as her lauded debut.Â Instructions:Â 1.Â Play “Body” on repeat.Â 2.Â Check out the guest vocalist Merrill Garbus’ solo project, tUnE-YaRdS.
9. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band - S/T -
Seattle’s MSHVB, one of the longest acronyms in indie rock, put out one of the most refreshing rock albums of the year, worthy of blaring in your car with the windows down (though maybe not this time of year).Â FYI, the drummer is only 14 years old, which is both awe inspiring and makes me resent my parents for not making me learn an instrument in high school.
8.Â Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
It’s Blitz! is a far cry from their breakout album Fever to Tell, but it doesn’t seem like many are complaining.Â On their 3rd album, YYY decided to go electronic, proving once again, Karen O can do just about anything she wants and we will love her. Â It’s still the gritty art rock from New York we fell in love with back in 2003 – just more refined, more focused, and more synthesized.
7.Â St. Vincent - Actor
Actor, St. Vincent’s second album, was actually my first introduction to Annie Clark, the one-time member of the Polyphonic Spree and touring band member for Sufjan Stevens.Â Â Actor finds Clark more evolved, writing from the perspective of women restless with their lives, using whimsical string arrangements and crunchy guitar riffs as the soundtrack.Â I saw her at Sasquatch this year and was blown away – she could seriously shred!
6.Â BlakrocÂ – S/T
This hip-hop side project from the Black Keys and rapper Jim Jones may have just come out, but it’s already in my top 10.Â Guest artists include NOE, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Q-Tip, Raekwon, & RZA, with Damon Dash, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, behind the helm as producer.Â Check out “Coochie” – apparently, The Black Keys are so badass that they resurrected Wu-Tang’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard to collaborate with Ludacris.
5.Â Dark Was The Night compilation
It seems rare that a compilation would land a top 5 spot on a Best Of list, but this compilation is DAMN good.Â Â The compilation, which benefited the Red Hot Organization, was produced by Cincinnati’s own Aaron and Bryce Dessner of TheÂ National, so it was assumed it would be good.Â But my god, each track is so good.Â Try to name another compilation with so much talent – Sufjan Stevens, Beirut, Arcade Fire, Yeasayer, Grizzly Bear, The Books…you get the picture. I think ENS’ Dave Rolfes put it best: “This album was a hipsterâ€™s wet dream.”
4.Â Pomegranates – Everybody, Come Outside!
Pomegranates’ follow up to their debut, Everything is Alive (Lujo Records) finds the beloved Cincinnati pop band more mature, both musically and lyrically.Â They manage to hone their best influences into a fluid meshing of genres – art rock, pop, even some afro pop – without sounding pretentious.Â Better still, the guys found distribution across the pond!
3.Â Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
Bitte Orca is hands down, Dirty Projectors’ most accessible album.Â Dave Longstreth’s voice is still fairly divisive, and the album’s harmonies will still melt your brain, but the music itself is less jarring but will still attract fans of the band’s past albums. Â
2.Â Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Upon its release, Merriweather Post Pavilion was hailed as one of the best albums of the year.Â Certainly, it’s the most likable.Â I mean, even the guys at WOXY liked this one, which really says something (Shiv had a handful of unsavory things to say about Animal Collective prior to MPP)!Â It’s definitely the most electrocentric (is that a word?), with more synths and beats that helped it appeal to the masses.Â Personally, it’s not my favorite album (I’m more keen to Feels and Sung Tongs), but it’s hard to deny how good the album is.
1.Â Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Honestly, it’s difficult to put into words the beauty of this album.Â Grizzly Bear seem to have found their stride on Veckatimest, a lush chamber pop record that is both aurally stunning and more mature.Â Less than two years after the band played in Cincinnati for the 2008 MusicNOW festival, the band found itself opening for Radiohead and reaching the Billboard Top 10.
Akron/Family – Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free
Sonic Youth – The Eternal
M. Ward – Hold Time
Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – self-titled
Still Need to Catch Up On These…
The Flaming Lips – Embryonic
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Monsters of Folk – s/t
Mount Eerie – Wind’s Poem
TuNe-YaRdS – Bird-Brains
Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster*
*Final note: I’m aware that this is last choice seems of place on an indie music blog, but I’m being honest here. I’m not ashamed to admit I loved Lady Gaga’s single, “Bad Romance.”Â I am, however, ashamed to admit I once watched the video 7 times in one day.