Best Albums of 2009 (according to Kris)

Best of 2009, I love it. There are a handful of albums that I haven’t listened to enough this year to qualify for this list (I’m looking at you Raekwon, The Clientele and Shakira), but what’s here is what I consider the best of 2009. 2009 was a good year for music, probably in the top 3 for years this decade. I’m sure that at least half of these albums will receive repeated listens in the years to come. Now, on with the show…

40. Doves – Kingdom of Rust

I’ve always liked the Doves, but never enough to give them any serious attention. That happened again with Kingdom of Rust, but I know somewhere in the back of my mind that I’m going to come back to the Doves again in the future and realize this should be in my Top 25. Solid album that puts the Doves firmly in second place behind Elbow as my favourite British mopey rockers.

Standout tracks: 10:03, Jetstream

39. Matthew Good – Vancouver

Matt Good sounding like Matt Good should (the MGB era). I gave this album a shot since I was listening to a lot of the Matthew Good Band this summer and this album fits in with MGB circa 1998. It doesn’t provide anything new to Good’s bag of tricks, but it is the strongest collection of songs he’s released since Avalanche.

Standout tracks: Us Remains Impossible, Last Parade

38. Annie – Don’t Stop

Annie’s long awaited follow-up to Anniemal was finally released this year. It stands up well to her debut album and provides some excellent dance/pop music straight from Sweden. Sweden, Sweden, Sweden you make great music.

Standout tracks: Songs Remind Me of You, My Love is Better

37. Songs – Songs

I wrote about this album in December and it’s not as high up as I thought it would be, but it’s still a terrific debut album from beautiful Melbourne, Australia.

Standout Tracks: Retreat, Clouds, Pain

36. jj – jj n° 2

I like reading about jj since most rock journalists consider them quite the enigma. Also the album artwork does not describe their music that well, at least I can’t see the marijuana and blood connection. It’s down tempo electro-pop with a hint of African and world influence. It also includes the track ‘Ecstasy’ which fell just outside my Top 10, utilizing Lil’ Wayne’s ‘Lollipop’ to perfection.

Standout tracks: From Africa to Malaga, Ecstasy

35. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Beware

Me and Bonnie had a little thing going on at the beginning of the year where I became immersed in his discography. Then I saw him live and didn’t really listen to him again until December. Beware is a typical Bonnie album with a little more energy than usual, which means that it is a great record.

Standout tracks: I am Goodbye, Beware Your Only Friend

34. Blakroc – Blakroc

Essentially it’s the Black Keys with a cadre of hip-hop artists. A nice fusion of muddy blues-rock with hip-hop beats and lyrics. This album could have been a complete mess, but the caliber of the MCs and their ability to rap over the Keys music makes this an impressive collection.

Standout tracks: Coochie, Dollaz & Sense

33. La Roux – La RouxThe last album I decided to listen to in 2009 based on it being all over NME’s top albums and songs list. Normally I don’t listen to what NME says, but I was intrigued. La Roux has a distinct voice that is immediately present on “In For the Kill” before the album turns into standard electro-alternative fare. Still the voice makes each song distinct, which is why it’s in the Top 40.

Standout tracks: In For the Kill, Bulletproof

32. Pearl Jam – BackspacerThe shortest Pearl Jam album yet gives 8 full throttle guitar heavy rock songs and 3 ballads. It’s standard PJ with a sense of urgency. Not their best album, but what it lacks in originality it makes up with energy.

Standout tracks: Got Some, The Fixer

31. Röyksopp – JuniorThe guests, Lykke Li, Robyn and Karin Dreijer, are what make this album.

Standout tracks: The Girl and The Robot, This Must Be It, Royksopp Forever

30. Au Revoir Simone – Still Night, Still Light

Girls with keyboards and synthesizers, it sounds like a good combination to me. I guess a lot of people could find this group either cheesy or pretentious, I, on the other hand, was really into female vocalists this year and liked it a lot. I haven’t listened to it enough yet, but I know I will.

Standout tracks: Another Likely Story, Take Me As I Am

29. Brother Ali – Us

Brother Ali is a positive force in the hip-hop community and has one of the best voices out there today. He’s loving his life and his career as he shows on ‘Fresh Air’. Positivity is the name of the game.

Standout tracks: The Preacher, Fresh Air

28. Clint Mansell – Moon

Clint Mansell has a thing for making repetitive soundtracks that capture the theme of the films he is scoring perfectly. He did it with Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain and he does it again with Moon. Oddly enough I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I can’t wait to see how his music is used in the film.

Standout tracks: Welcome to Lunar Industries, Memories

27. Handsome Furs – Face Control

Standout Tracks: Evangeline, Radio Kaliningrad

26. Noah and The Whale – The First Days of Spring

Well, let’s give some mad props to Shaun for introducing me to Noah and the Whale. I can’t listen to them that often, but when I do it’s always an experience. A cohesive album that has three distinct parts. It’s heartwarming, heart wrenching and beautiful all at once.

Standout tracks: Blue Skies, The First Day of Spring

25. Eels – Hombre Loco

If you’ve heard the Eels you know what you’re getting into. More of the same from Mr. E.

Standout tracks: Fresh Blood, Prizefighter

24. Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You

I love you Lily, but I was hoping for a bit more from your new album. My suggestion: Find the Japanese airport with ‘Fag Hag’ and ‘Kabul Shit’, those songs are better then almost everything on the album.

Standout tracks: Chinese, Not Fair

23. The Antlers – Hospice

I still haven’t listened to this while paying attention to the lyrics and I think that’s a good thing, otherwise i’d be depressed for days. This one is best taken as a whole.

22. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic

I don’t like the Flaming Lips, but I like this album since it’s all over the place. Does that mean I like the Flaming Lips now?

Standout tracks: Watching the Planets, Convinced of the Hex

21. Gomez – A New Tide

One of those bands i’ve followed since their career started. They’ve been close to letting me down, but this album captures the Gomez spirit very well.

Standout tracks: Airstream Driver, Win Slope Park

20. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion

This is going to be surprising for my fellow blog mates due to my dislike of Animal Collective. But i’ll give this album something, the songs do stick with you after about 10 listens. I have had half the songs in my head for the last month, but they’re almost gone now. I probably won’t listen to this much ever again, but it gets in since some of those songs are sticky. Lion in a coma, lion in a coma…

Standout tracks: My Girls, Summertime Clothes

19. Mos Def – The Ecstatic

Standout Tracks: Quiet Dog, Supermagic

18. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You

Beautiful album that I need to listen to more. It’ll be in the Top 10 in a couple months.

Standout tracks: I and Love and You, Head full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise

17. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon: The End of Day

The slow, lazy drawl of Kid Cudi is a distinct new voice in hip-hop. This album is a bridge between today’s indie scene and the popular hip-hop of Kanye and Jay-Z. He also sings about drugs… a lot.

Standout tracks: Enter Galactic, Day ‘n’ night

16. Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

I think this was the first album I listened to of 2009 and I was happy to hear that Franz still had the ability to write really catchy songs. I like this whole album and it dominated my listening in the early part of 2009.

Standout tracks: No You Girls, What She Came For

15. Wilco – Wilco (The Album)

Standout tracks: Bull Black Nova, One Wing

14. Super Furry Animals – Dark Days / Light Years

Standout tracks: Crazy Naked Girls, Cardiff in the Sun

13. Nil Karaibrahimgil – Nil Kıyısında

Nil’s my Turkish pop lass. I watched her videos on Power Turk while living in Turkey. In rare form for Turkish pop she writes her own songs. I can’t understand it, but I most certainly like it.

Standout tracks: Seviyorum Sevmiyorum, Illa

12. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns

It started it off slow and I didn’t really like it that much. Give it a few more listens and her voice gets to you.

Standout tracks: Daniel, Travelling Woman

11. Heartless Bastards – The Mountain

I saw them open for the Gaslight Anthem earlier this year and I didn’t expect them to be the female version of Black Mountain that they were. The album isn’t as sludgy as they are live, but it still harkens back to that early 1970s sound.

Standout tracks: The Mountain, Sway

10. Timber Timbre – Timber Timbre

Moody folk that smells of death and fear.

Standout tracks: Demon Host, I Get Low

9. Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle

Bill, Sometimes I wish there was something i could write about your album.

Standout tracks: Eid ma Clack Shaw, All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast

8. Group Bombino – Guitars from Agadez Vol. 2

Half the album is an acoustic session where you can hear farm animals in the background. The other half is from a dance at a wedding. You really should check out this piece of African Psychedelica.

Standout tracks: Boghassa, Tenere

7. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

So the whole fairy tale they made up is a bit far fetched, but the music to portray it is extra spicy. Seeing it live is a whole other experience. Here’s to more rock operas!

Standout tracks: The Wanting Comes in Waves/ Repaid, The Hazards of Love I – IV

6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!Hey! These guys had my favourite song of 2009. I guess they likely deserve a place in the Top 10 with an album full of rockers and those slow Karen O songs that just hit you in the heart. This album is a good summation of everything they’ve done before, but all in one place.

Standout tracks: Zero, Hysteric, Little Shadow

5. The xx – xxAny album that recreates Chris Issak’s ‘Wicked Game’ as a shoegaze guitar fest deserves credit in my book. The xx album sounds like nothing before and after a few listens it sinks in and won’t leave you. I assume this is the top of their game since I have no idea where they can go from here.

Standout tracks: Infinity, Crystalized, VCR

4. Neko Case – Middle CycloneNeko Case drifted further away from the country and folk of her earlier albums and some would say it did her well. I enjoyed this album more so than any Neko album beforehand and her vocals were top notch as always.

Standout tracks: Red Tide, Prison Girls, People Got a Lotta Nerve

3. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus PhoenixAn example of the perfect pop-alt record. 30 minutes, 10 songs and melodies that will stay with you for days. Phoenix managed to put all the pieces together and create a rare album where every song is a highlight. Likely the most enjoyable album of 2009.

Standout tracks: 1901, Rome, Fences

2. Florence and The Machine – LungsShe has a strong voice and that is the highlight. The songs are catchy and get stuck in your head. It’s just something that needs to be heard to be enjoyed.

Standout tracks: Dog Days Are Over, My Boy Builds Coffins, Drumming Song

1. Fever Ray – Fever RayI could put anything Karin does at the top of my list, it’s likely that next year a Knife album will top this list. This is moody electronic music to the extreme. The vocals crawl over your bones as Karin spins a tale of youth and coconuts. I would also suggest watching every Fever Ray video, they remind me of David Lynch…. on acid.

Standout tracks: Seven, Triangle Walls, Keep the Streets Empty For Me

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8 Responses to Best Albums of 2009 (according to Kris)

  1. gillthethrill says:

    this list gets me very excited to steal music from your computer. perhaps i should update mine so i can download, but nah, stealing from you is more exciting.

  2. Great collection Kris, looking forward to diving into some of these albums that I haven’t obviously given a fair listen to yet and some of the other gems I don’t know. -Shaun

  3. Jessica says:

    I stumbled upon your blog quite accidentally, but I’d like to confess that it has saved my life. A Google search for “the XX” lead me here, where I am now dancing around in joy.

  4. Marlene says:

    Annie is Norwegian not Swedish 😉

  5. Larson says:

    Came here looking for the Wilco (The album) album cover, but I found so much more! Now that we are well in to 2010 I can say I have enjoyed a lot of your favs from 2009 and I’ll have to check back to see where I should point my ears this year. Thanks!

  6. spectoral says:

    Gosh, you’re the only reviewer I’ve seen so far that also listed Gomez – A New Tide in their top albums of the year. Not because it didn’t warrant listing, but Gomez are criminally ignored by 90% of the music critics out there and 100% of the Australian radio stations, even our own so-called alternative station, Triple J, and I cannot understand it. It certainly is one of my top albums. Probably in the top 5. It deserves to be heard. Now, if I can recommend one album to keep an eye out for in 2010 which will also be criminally ignored, make it The Boat People’s highly anticipated third album of indie magic, “Dear Darkly”.

  7. Kelly says:

    Thanks for this! I live in Tokyo so missed some of these! Especially Phoenix!

    p.s. I liked all of your lists – but Kris’ album covers brought me here from Google… so it’s the one I read first!

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