Editor’s Picks: 10 Best Albums of 2009
Now, just 10 days remain in the decade, and as such, another top ten list is in order. This time, I am looking at what I think are the ten best albums of the past year.
1. Jonsi and Alex – Riceboy Sleeps
This is one of the finest ambient albums ever made. This album is both enigmatic and idiocyncratic; it really grows on the listener such that it may be true that each time one listens to it, Riceboy Sleeps feels like a whole new album. Despite being produced by Sigur Ros lead singer Jón Þór Birgisson and his boyfriend Alex Somers, this album has a unique quality to it that fans of post-rock should hope continues in the future with Jonsi’s upcoming solo release, Go, which is due out early in 2010
2. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
It’s light and poppy; it’s deep and lyrical; it’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. This album is about contradictions and while that might not normally make for a stellar album concept, French rockers Phoenix have really produced a piece on indie-pop gold in this, their fourth full-length studio album.
3. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Delightfully weird, as one should come to expect from the Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavillion is a tour-de-force of the dream-pop scene, which is developing in and around Baltimore of all places.
4. Karen O and the Kids – Where the Wild Things Are
The Soundtrack to Where the Wild Things Are by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O and her consortium of friends and band mates is a beautiful tribute to the emotional connection we hold to our inner children, in this sense, it mirrors the film for which it was made.
5. Noah and the Whale – The First Days of Spring
I cannot stop listening to this album (literally); Charlie Fink dug deep into his own emotion to write this album, and to fantastic results. Watch the accompanying film if you have 45 minutes to spare.
6. Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport
Tarot Sport is not for everyone, but give it a listen. It is minimalist electronica at it’s finest; it remains true to its roots but also has something there for the casual listener, which does not happen often in this genre.
7. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
The Avett Brothers beautifully blend bluegrass instrumentation with pop melodies and thoughtful lyrics to create an album that transcends multiple genres and arrives at something close to indie-folk perfection.
8. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Grizzly Bear touches on several genres of the course of the 52 minutes of Veckatimest, expertly crafting an album that is a departure from their earlier work, but still is ultimately a tribute to the music they have been producing since they put out Horn of Plenty in 2004.
9. Phish – Joy
Joy should be considered among the best ever for the reformed Vermont-based jam band. Phish proves through this disc that they are not just for hippies.
10. Au Revoir Simone – Still Night, Still Light
Au Revoir Simone, despite using exclusively electronic instruments like keyboards and drum machines, produce something that feels organic and with glorious three-part harmonies evoke something more reminiscent of the 1960s acoustic folk scene, which is fairly unbelievable.
Air – Love 2; Ben Harper and Relentless7 – White Lies for Dark Times; David Guetta – One Love; Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca; El Perro del Mar – Love is not Pop; The Flaming Lips – Embryonic; fun. – Aim and Ignite; Great Lake Swimmers – Lost Channels; Matt and Kim – Grand; Morrissey – Years of Refusal; Mum – Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know; Regina Spektor – Far; Royksopp – Junior; The Swell Season – Strict Joy; Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz; Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs
Doug Ray is the co-host of Saltimbocca & Escargot, Sundays at 8-10 PM Eastern Time on WRBC.