Year in consumables: 2009 music
Does the music post have different rules than the games or movies post? Of course it does. But, that changes this year. In the past, it has allowed for the ranking of anything that I picked up during the year while the list in the Audio pages for that year would only rank stuff from that year. No more.
The list that appears here will strictly be of albums released during that year. Like the past, this list won’t change, but the one in the Audio pages may, and likely will, if the past is any indication. That said, I will still point out any album I picked up this past year. It is only fair to share. Just not fair to rank.
Suitably confused yet? Hope not because if you got this far, you actually care about music and I don’t want to lose you over my stupid explanations/definitions of what constitutes a best-of list.
Therefore, let’s get with the list. Here are my Top 10 for the year as of right freakin now:
- Metric: Fantasies
- The xx: xx
- Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
- As Tall As Lions: You Can’t Take It With You
- Miike Snow: Miike Snow
- Doves: Kingdom of Rust
- Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson: Break Up
- Muse: The Resistance
- Pearl Jam: Backspacer
- The Bravery: Stir the Blood
How does that list taste? How many of those bands have you heard of besides Pearl Jam? (No, Scarlett Johansson does not count as a band.)
Okay, here is the why:
- Fantasies: I picked up on Metric last spring and was blown away. Their big single was the spooky “Help I’m Alive”, but by no means is that the best single on the disc. In fact, the disc is full of singles: Gold Guns Girls, Satellite Mind, Stadium Love, Gimme Sympathy. You could play every single track on the radio and that would be cool. After digesting the crap out of this disc, I checked out their other efforts. Interestingly enough, out of their three other releases, I found their first–Grow Up and Blow Away–the most satisfying. Except that it kind of isn’t their first, but second most recent. Confused yet again? Well, it was recorded, but never released. They went back and did it again and released it. Therefore, it probably sounds more like Fantasies than Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? or Live It Out. I even sought out Emily Haines‘ solo stuff and it is just as good. She has a very nice voice. Anyway, I figured something would come along to knock this off its perch, and it was close, but I had to stay faithful since this has sat with me for so long.
- xx: But, this was actually my happiest, best find of the year. I don’t even remember how I came across them. I think maybe via last.fm. Anyway, this is music to put on in the background while you get down to snogging on the couch, yeah? I feel like you can just melt into anything you are doing while listening. “Islands” is by far my favorite track on the disc, but “Crystalised” is another big one. Like the album at the top of this list, the entire track list is solid here.
- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: These guys are French? Really? Could have fooled me. If there is a theme starting to appear, it is that these albums at the top are solid throughout. I can actually bet you have heard Phoenix without knowing it. They have already had a few tracks as soundtracks in commercials, most notably being Cadillac. Don’t hold it against them. They deserve the bank.
- You Can’t Take It With You: The first band without an electronic hook. These guys kind of came out of nowhere after being recommended by a friend and what a great name for a band. For some reason I don’t quite get, the singer’s voice makes me think Maroon 5, who I am only slightly aware of in I have heard a little bit enough to not really like them, but then be jealous that that guy gets a lot of Hollywood women chasing him. Anyway, their first album is pretty good, but I haven’t heard the others. This one is likely their best though and if the first three tracks don’t sell you, I don’t know what’s wrong.
- Miike Snow: Now, last.fm definitely turned me on to these guys, although I figure there is at least one CW show that has featured a song in a show’s soundtrack. That or Grey’s Anatomy, right? Don’t hold that against them. Those people usually have good taste. Oh, and it is a band, not a guy that spells his name funny. Although, I am sure there is some story there that I haven’t looked into yet. “Black & Blue” is my favorite track, but really, the first five are super strong, and the rest ain’t bad either. The album cover even has a jackalope on it!
- Kingdom of Rust: Finally, a band that has appeared in a previous year’s list. Hard to believe they could get pushed down this far, but that just speaks to the strength of the new kids. Do I like Some Cities better? Yes, but not by much. Another good album in their catalog. No doubt.
- Break Up: Yeah, she can actually sing. I know! I will be honest, at first, hated it. Well, not hated it, but focused more on Pete than ScarJo. I mean, all she did was smoke a couple packs and go into the studio. But then I actually listened. She’s doing more here than I thought and yeah, I’d actually like to hear more, but not on her own. With Pete. “Blackie’s Dead” is my favorite, but the short, dare I say “EP”, is good. In fact, this actually pushed Yorn’s fourth album, Back & Forth, out of my list. I was going to add it on here, but that doesn’t seem fair. It isn’t the same thing as what I did with Coldplay last year. Those go together. These do not. So, buy it next time you are in SBUX.
- The Resistance: I just automatically put them on the list. I do feel like Black Holes and Revelations was better, but how much better? Not that much better. What can I say, I like to compare and then throw away my comparisons. You get that by now, yes?
- Backspacer: I think this came out the same week as the previous entry, which might have in fact hurt both their chances to move up a slot or two. Hard to say. I listened to the shit out both. That said, I feel like this, even more than Pearl Jam, was what I had been waiting for. As soon as I first heard “The Fixer” on, I forget which show they premiered it on, I was sold, waiting with baited breath. This album makes me think of their early stuff and it is a solid, solid album. The more they change, the more they stay the same. It is evolution baby.
- Stir the Blood: To be honest, I kind of just chucked this one on here at the end. I felt guilty about leaving off other great bands that dropped discs this past year for not making this list this year when they always have in the past. I picked this one because this disc is better than their sophomore effort, which I actually put at second in 2007. This album sounds more like their debut and that is a good thing. A bad thing? Two songs about skin. Ick.
So, who were the other bands that I hinted didn’t make the cut? Well, Kasabian with West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum for one. Easily could have put that at 10 instead, but maybe the long name put me off a bit. A good album, but not as good as their self titled or Empire. Zero 7 also dropped Yeah Ghost on us and while good, didn’t quite hook me for long. Some new collaborators here, and some faves like Sia are back, but I don’t know…good, not great. Paramore put out a nice second effort with Brand New Eyes, but it wouldn’t have a shot at this list. Especially since they have a song on one of those Twilight soundtracks. I guess that is part of their appeal though. I also liked the new albums from Them Crooked Vultures, Gomez, Editors, The Cinematics, Mute Math and Arctic Monkeys.
Okay, how about more new to me this year bands? White Lies put out To Lose My Life and that was on my Top 10 early this year, but it got pushed out. Wild Lights is a great band out of New Hampshire that says “F–k California” on their album Adult Nights. Local faves Passion Pit album Manners tied Owl City‘s disc Ocean Eyes for makes-me-smile-and-happy-so-much-when-I-hear-it-I-want-to-explode. Therefore, I had to leave both out of list. Seriously though, if I am in a bad mood and don’t want to go further into it with some NIN or similar, I put one of these on to get me going reverse. Then I hate myself for it. Somewhat related could be Grand from Matt & Kim, but not quite as happy, happy, joy, joy. Heard them interviewed on FNX yesterday and they are working on a new album right now and are super excited about it. Kinda looking forward to that now. Oh, and Band of Skulls. Good.
What about the geezers you ask? Well, No Line On the Horizon from U2 made me feel like they are getting further back to their roots too. Weezer dropped Raditude on us so soon after the Red album that it was kind of shocking. The fact that it might be better than Red is very shocking. Okay, shocking is an odd choice, but I am running out of review words. Sounds of the Universe dropped from Depeche Mode and I liked it. Then again, they haven’t done anything I haven’t liked. Except maybe those years where they didn’t do anything. Didn’t like that. Dave Matthews Band overcame the loss of Leroi to put out an album partially named for him. Not sure if they are heading back to more of what I like from them, but it did feel less produced than Stand Up.
What didn’t I like? Well, that’s the point, not to pick up anything that sucks. Unfortunately, it can still happen. This year, the discs from AFI and Dear Leader were pretty disappointing. That will teach me to automatically buy from artists I like.
Lastly, what about bands that didn’t drop anything in 2009, but I found in 2009? Well, there is M83, who crushed it. Have to add them to the 2008 list in Audio. Friendly Fires could also sneak on that list as well. Will have to check that out when I throw together the 2009 list. (No rush because I hate doing the album art images.) The Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist soundtrack also got me on We Are Scientists. A friend introduced me to Ra Ra Riot and also Ladyhawke (along with last.fm). Speaking of last.fm, how about Crystal Castles or Black Ghosts if you like the 8-bit, chiptunes type thing. Which I do. Finally, I think I picked up on a track by The Virgins on FNX and they turned out to be great. In fact, I swear one of their tracks had to have been on The Hills and I still haven’t checked it out. Feels like it should be anyway. All of these bands had something drop in 2008. Sometimes you are a year late to the party.
Phew! Yes, this post is just about 200o words. So, what do you think? Going to try some of this stuff out? Have any recommendations? Anyone read this far?