Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Best Albums

This is the big one - the best/favorite albums of the year. This is the list that any music critic, blogger or big-time enthusiast hangs his or her hat on, the one that's subject to more internal debate than all others.

I joined the Usual Gang of Idiots over at the Tucson Weekly this year, so check out the four-barreled cannon of music writer awesomeness where this was originally printed.

And if you're really into lists, check out the amazingly thorough master list over at Large Hearted Boy... wow.

1. Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Elvis Perkins in Dearland (XL)

On his second album, this extraordinarily talented songwriter assembled a full-time band to perfect a ramshackle folk sound—full of horns, organ and unorthodox percussion—that updates The Band by way of Neutral Milk Hotel. "Doomsday" is the song of the year, with an exultant horn intro becoming a stomping celebration of life, defiant even against doomsday.

DOWNLOAD: Elvis Perkins in Dearland - Shampoo

2. Sunset Rubdown, Dragonslayer (Jagjaguwar)

Spencer Krug is at his best crafting intense and pummeling music, but by backing away slightly from his more experimental impulses, Krug has made his best album yet. Dragonslayer's greatest achievement is its taut focus that makes bombastic, lengthy and relentlessly twisting songs nonetheless accessible and catchy throughout.

DOWNLOAD: Sunset Rubdown - Idiot Heart

3. Neko Case, Middle Cyclone (ANTI-)

Taking inspiration from nature's tumultuous power, Neko Case has written her most-assured, least-enigmatic batch of songs yet. Anchored by her soaring, radiant voice, the record updates Case's usual dreamy atmospheric sound with catchier songs like "People Got a Lotta Nerve" and "I'm an Animal."

DOWNLOAD: Neko Case - People Got A Lotta Nerve

4. Magnolia Electric Co., Josephine (Secretly Canadian)

Jason Molina's reedy, wounded voice gives this record a piercing, lonesome sorrow, matched impeccably by lyrics drenched in images of the open sky, deep shadows, ghosts and the faraway horizon.

DOWNLOAD: Magnolia Electric Co. - Josephine

5. The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You (American/Sony)

With major-label polish from Rick Rubin, the Avett Brothers reach toward both rowdier rock songs and tender ballads, leaving their rootsy bluegrass as background accents. But it is versatility, talent and honest songwriting that carry the day for the Avetts, who offer musical abundance like few others.

VIDEO: The Avett Brothers - I And Love And You

6. Fruit Bats, The Ruminant Band (Sub Pop)

The Fruit Bats turn out 11 songs of blissful, sunny rock music. This is the best Beatles-influenced album of the year, full of the quirky enthusiasm that sparked labels like "zoology rock," "bootgazer" and "rustic pop."

DOWNLOAD: Fruit Bats - The Ruminant Band

7. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Slumberland)

This flawless debut cradles starry-eyed romance in fuzzy guitars, driving beats and boy-girl harmonies, a winning aesthetic for a band that wears both hearts and influences on its sleeve.

DOWNLOAD: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Come Saturday

8. The Lone Wolf, Sum and Belief Are the Lone Wolf (Worker B)

The beats weave in acoustic guitar, piano, banjo and harmonica, and the lyrics are imaginative, poetic storytelling. Sum and Belief's first collaborative album sounds like what hip-hop might have been in the 1960s, mixing with blues, R&B and soul.

LISTEN: Sum & Belief Are The Lone Wolf

9. Metric, Fantasies (Metric)

This electrifying dance record stacks high-wire guitar riffs, surging keyboards and heavy bass on driving beats, but it's Emily Haines' spellbinding vocals that provide the irresistible charm.

VIDEO: Metric - Sick Muse

10. Wilco, Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch)

Hardly complacent with its most stable lineup in 15 years, Wilco's latest features mesmerizing guitar freak-outs, sweet ballads and jaunty piano rock. It's more proof that Wilco is the best band working today.

LISTEN: Wilco - Wilco (The Album)

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career
Vic Chesnutt - At The Cut
Clem Snide - Hungry Bird
Justin Townes Earle - Midnight At The Movies
Fourkiller Flats - Treasure & Trash
Generationals - Con Law
Girls - Album
Golden Boots - Winter of Our Discotheque
Joe Henry - Blood From Stars
Mason Jennings - Blood of Man
Low Anthem - Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
Lucero - 1372 Overton Park
Megafaun - Gather, Form & Fly
Mos Def - The Ecstatic
Modest Mouse - No One's First And You're Next
Pearl Jam - Backspacer
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Provocative Whites - Evolym
Chuck Prophet - ¡Let Freedom Ring!
Dave Rawlings Machine - A Friend of A Friend
Tom Russell - Blood & Candle Smoke
Gabriel Sullivan - By The Dirt
Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs

Previous Years:


1 comment:

Mixtape Mike said...


1 Those Darlins / s/t
2 Bill Callahan / Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
3 Girls / Album
4 Animal Collective / Merriweather Post Pavilion
5 Mayer Hawthorne / A Strange Arrangement
6 Grizzly Bear / Veckatimest
7 Bat For Lashes / Two Suns
8 The Decemberists / The Hazards of Love
9 The Avett Brothers / I And Love And You
10 Florence + The Machine / Lungs
11 The Low Anthem / Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
12 The Pains of Being Pure At Heart / s/t
13 Alela Diane / To Be Still
14 Sunset Rubdown / Dragonslayer
15 Neko Case / Middle Cyclone
16 John Doe & The Sadies / Country Club
17 Dirty Projectors / Bitte Orca
18 Kelly Clarkson / All I Ever Wanted
19 Akron/Family / Set Them Wild, Set Them Free
20 Camera Obscura / My Maudlin Career