Twenty-ought-nine has come and gone, so it's time to reveal the top ten albums released that I jammed to the most/best. Oh-Nine saw my musical leanings change from the past few years. I didn't really have Josh, Dennis, or Austin to feed me solid albums. So, I went to fill my own plate, and being in Tennessee means I ate a lot more backwoods, not in-the-know music. Or maybe it's just that the music stuck with me differently than if I had been at the musical buffet of a "refined" city.
Also, 2009 was the year that probably everyone saw coming but me. It was the year I became ashamed to be a Kings of Leon fan. Their first two albums would definitely make my top 10-20 albums of the decade, and I even threw them a bone with the last two albums. But radio play and and abandonment of the style that made them The Country Fried Strokes made me tired of standing up for their worldwide pop rock status.
I know every single one of my friends will and have raked me over the coals because of the KOL, but I would remind them of a little band named Weezer and the first few albums that they still laud.
Also, The Avett Brothers put out an album this year. That's all I'll say about it.
First, some honorable mentions:
Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish I Were an Eagle
Listen to Too Many Birds and try not to really dig the end of the song as he adds word by word the last verse. Also, try not to dig the lyrics themselves.
Daniel Martin Moore - Stray Age
Never heard of this Kentuckian until I saw him with about 15-20 other people at the Social in Orlando. His voice is incredible and his guitar playing is sweet. I love the small little track By Dream. It's perfect for situations gone south and internet crushes.
The Swell Season - Strict Joy
This record almost crept into my top ten, but I kept it away because I am a man. And gawldernnit, men don't like sappy albums like this. It also came to me late in the year, and I hate putting albums that are only a couple of months old in the Ten. After a few listens though, I really enjoyed the melodies and the vocals mixed together like it was a real couple making an album together.
// Okay, here's the serious business. Here's the ten albums I would take on a trip with the balloon boy or to jail with his dad. //
10 / Dan Deacon - Bromst
I loved his previous album so much and was excited about this release, especially after hearing the track Get Older before the whole album dropped. I recommend listening to this only when you're not around old people or people that take themselves to serious. I can't defend this on my list, but it's number ten, it's super fun, and layered like Randy Parker in A Christmas Story.
09 / Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Beware
This gentleman continues to amaze me with every dark line delivered from his hilariously light character. Of course, this album threw curves at me with xylophones and flutes, but he worked them right over the plate for a Denny's Grand Slam. I Am Goodbye is so happy, so serious and so matter of fact. Just the way BPB delivers it best.
08 / The Thermals - Now We Can See
Sometimes I want to be punk but I also want to shower, smell clean and enjoy production with my punk music. That's when I throw this album on the iPod. I get all the anger and the "I-know-we're-getting-screwed-over-but-at-least-I'm-not-clueless-about-it" out of my system, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on palatable, goes down smooth melody.
07 / Bonny Billy and the Picket Line - Fundown Comedown
Okay, remember last year when Bonny Billy snuck out an overseas live recording from Scotland? It's possibly my favoite of his albums ever. It's an amazing recording of amazing arrangements of some of his greatest work. Well, this year he snuck a more backwoods, hillbilly live version out. Recorded at a tiny little show in Kentucky, Oldham rearranged some more of his tunes (and a few other artists') in a manner fitting of the finest hole in the wall Kentucky bar house band.
06 / Phoenix - Wolfgang Amedeus Pheonix
Israel goes Pop. Who knew an album with such a dumb title could have some of the smartest pop contained within. Although I probably couldn't sing one lyric to you from this album, I sure as heck could dance all night to it (I'm looking at you, 1901).
05 / David Bazan - Curse Your Branches
There's a lot of things I've been taught about you that haven't really rang true in my life. I had high hopes for us and even learned a lot early on. But aside from not understanding you and your "ways", I don't think I really trust that all I've known can actually be true.
Let's put things on ice. Okay?"
This is a dumb version of the letter I think Bazan had in mind when he read my mind and wrote this album. Sounds a lot like a Pedro the Lion/Headphones album musically, but Bazan continues to be one of my favorite all time songwriter and thinker. Also, Please, Baby, Please is a simple and perfect Bazan song.
04 / The Antlers - Hospice
Thank you, Tim Reid for cluing me in to this album. I was not at all into this spooky sounding and sad leaning music. Then I listened to it again. Then again. And again. And then every night as I went to sleep. And then every morning when the skies were grey. And now I think it's amazing. And I think you should listen to it. A lot.
03 / Mason Jennings - Blood of Man
Mason Jennings was just alright with me. A few good tracks on previous albums and a unique voice caused me to give this one a shot. Not to pile on too much praise, because let me say that I wish that first track had never been born. I almost quit listening before I started. After I skipped through that first one, the catchy, beautifully written folk rock got to work. It worked smiles on my face, lightness in my heart, and thoughts of past and future into my head.
02 / AA Bondy - When the Devil's Loose
Hard to believe this guy was in a horrible rock band before cutting out on his own to put out two amazing folk rock albums. He seems to have taken Band of Horses down to Mississippi, taught them how to hurt like a man, pine like teenagers, and make a country sounding rock album that doesn't care if it makes the cover of Radar or Filter magazine. A Slow Parade is a song you can play for me any time of the day and I'll expect silence while taking it in. Seeing him live in 2009 was the most bittersweet thing I did all year.
01 / Elvis Perkins - in Dearland
Usually when an album is released early in the year, I don't expect for it to stay atop my favorites list past August. I loved this album right out of the gate. I even listened to it a bit too much. I knew I was going to tire myself of it before I could put it on this list.
I was wrong. Every song on this gem feels natural to me. The slight style differences between tracks works very well. The lyrics are sometimes perfectly vague. You can use his feelings for your own and not feel like you're misinterpreting his song. Then you can go right back and listen to it as he intended and it's even better. Try riding a bike at midnight while listening to Doomsday and not shouting out that last bit of chorus. Try to listen to Chains, Chains, Chains and imagine yourself at shore's edge wanting to be free from something but not being able to step into the sea. While you're at it, lend an ear to Hey and find yourself lending a couple of restless legs aching to dance to a vintage sounding pop tune.
For some reason, I didn't want this album to be my number one. I guess because I sang it's praises long after friends moved on to that Pitchfork band, Animal Collective. Here it is though, standing king over the other albums that had their chance to dethrone it all year long.
Disclaimer: You will not agree with me on the order and albums listed here as being the best put out in 2009. I am prepared to take suggestions and ridicule in the firm belief that your musical tastes aren't as perfect as mine.