Well, it’s that time of year again, where everyone from Rolling Stone to your neighbor’s pet iguana is unleashing a yearly “best of” list. As far as my list of the year’s best albums is concerned, this year is different in a couple of ways.
First, I don’t think 2009 was as aesthetically impressive as 2008 in terms of albums. Last year, my top 10 included TV On The Radio, Beck, MGMT, Blitzen Trapper and Plants and Animals, among others. This year’s crop, while amazing, lacks some of the “wow” factor of 2008’s group. But the quality of the music is equal – maybe even superior – even if the names and instant recognition are not.
Second, I haven’t heard as many albums this year as I did in 2008. While there’s little that could be done about that, what with the whole “real life” thing interfering with my ability to listen to every mildly-hyped release, this list is slightly less informed than some. But indulge me anyway, if you will, for my favorite ten albums of the year in random order.
-Andrew Bird – Noble Beast – Revealing, intricate, scatterbrained, and gorgeous.
-Dave Matthews Band – Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (review) – The band’s triumphant return to great songs, not just good songs.
-SeepeopleS – Apocalypse Cow Vol. 2 (review) – Will Bradford again proves to be one of the world’s most criminally ignored musical talents.
-Circlesquare – Songs About Dancing and Drugs (review) – A woozy, shoegazey period piece for the still-young millennium.
-Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion (review) – A once in a lifetime work that made a million music critics swoon this year.
-Charles Spearin – The Happiness Project (review) – Aptly titled, this album is what happens when the world of music orbits tantalizingly and satisfyingly close to the world of art.
-Five Peace Band – Live (review) – Jazz in our present age doesn’t get any more virtuosic, expressive or explosive than this all-star collaboration.
-Emeralds – What Happened (review) – An example of thought-provoking, modern instrumental music so rare and pure that it belongs in a museum.
-M. Ward – Hold Time (review) – Great songs – now what to do with them? Ward finds perfect sonic companions for his words on every track of this masterpiece.
-Wilco – Wilco (The Album) – A routinely fantastic flourish to end an unforgettable decade of music from the veteran band.
Here are the last 5 albums I deleted from my master list, or, honorable mentions:
-The Phenomenal Handclap Band – The Phenomenal Handclap Band (review)
-Sondre Lerche – Heartbeat Radio (review)
-David Bazan – Curse Your Branches
-Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk
-Portugal the Man – The Satanic Satanist
2009 was an insane year for music and it shows in the diversity of this list. Only one round of year-end celebration to go, and I’ll be posting my favorite 101 albums of the decade tomorrow!