Monday, December 14, 2009

My Favorite Albums of 2009

Well, everyone else is doing it. So, I guess I should weigh in as well. Take these with a grain of salt. I don't get to hear half as much music as I'd like, and I inevitably will find things that came out this year that should be on this list but aren't because I haven't heard them yet. C'est la vie, right? I've included a link to reviews of the albums on my list. I'll do a separate post (hopefully sooner rather than later) of other interesting year-end lists. If I feel inspired, I'll do a decade-end list, though given my track record here, don't hold your breath!

1) Lucero - 1372 Overton Park - Some are complaining about this band having sold out. It's the same thing we always hear when an indie band joins a major label. Sometimes the compaints have merit. Other times, it's just a pile of crap. Major labels can bring the best out of a band. This one is full of punky southern grit that comes straight from the heart of Memphis.

2) Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest - For a relatively unknown band, this album received a lot of hype. It made me skeptical. Then I heard it. And it gets better with age too.

3) Neko Case - Middle Cylcone - I mentioned how much I love Case's voice earlier this year. Her new album is her best yet. The songs are finely crafted, and she sings the hell out of them.

4) U2 - No Line on the Horizon - A terrific set, if I must say so. Bono sings his heart out, and man, can The Edge play guitar or what!

5) Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - This album took a very long time to grow on me. It's bold, operatic, big music. What else could it be with a song called Lisztomania?

6) Moby - Wait for Me - I loved Play, but I haven't liked a thing he has done since. This one took me by surprise, and it still gets me. Moody and thoughtful.

7) The Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca - Indie rock so often misses the mark by sounding too indulgent. The Dirty Projectors get it right with this finely crafted piece of work.

8) Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion - This one wanders all over the musical map, and from the journey, the band creates a rich sonic stew. The Afro-Brazilian hybrid Brother Sport is the song of the year.

9) Cass McCombs - Catacombs - Another one that surprised me. There are some striking Dylan-esque comparisons to be made. It's a warm, alluring album, fitting since it's supposed to be a love letter from McCombs to his wife.

10) Phish - Joy - The best Grateful Dead album not made by the Grateful Dead. Hell, it is even better than many of the albums that Garcia and company did make. Even Phish haters will have to give props for the first few tracks. You just can't resist them.