My Favorite Albums of 2009

I tweeted all this madness, so you have probably seen it before. But here’s all 55 (!) of my #best09 tweets rounded up. The first 10 are in order of preference, after that they’re in the order in which they were posted. For reference, the format is Band/Album//Witty review with the // link going to my tweet.

1. Akron/Family/Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free//Embracing their jammy folkpop side, in the sense that they churn out a dozen monster jams.

2. Jookabox/Dead Zone Boys//Soundtrack for a zombie apocalypse, set in a decaying mall, by werewolves who’ll tear you limb from limb.

3. Cryptacize/Mythomania//Fractured pop held together by cowboy dreams. Beautiful.

4. DM Stith/Heavy Ghost//Haunting, spectral songs with arrangements like immense salt catacombs.

5. Grizzly Bear/Veckatimest//Gorgeous, well mannered songs that will politely blow your mind every time you hear them.

6. Dirty Projectors/Bitte Orca//An alternate-universe pop monster if ever there was one. Absolutely brilliant.

7. Phoenix/Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix//A Daft Punk album for the rockists that’s fun for the whole family.

8. Animal Collective/Merriweather Post Pavilion//Experimental music for the masses that’s as trippy (or lame) as its cover.

9. David Bazan/Curse Your Branches//The most moving and thought-provoking album out in ’09, no matter your allegiance.

10. Viva Voce/Rose City//Kevin and Anita throw down the gauntlet yet again with an album of swirling, near-perfect rock monsters.

read the rest of my reviews after the jump

Wilco/(the album)//Wilco continues to be two or three steps ahead while playing it safe by writing great songs for dads.

The Decemberists/Hazards of Love//Channelling Zep/Jethro Tull works good for the band, alright for a story, GREAT for Shara Worden.

The Juan MacLean/The Future Will Come//is to LCD Soundsystem as no wave is to new wave or techno is to house.

Sufjan Stevens/The BQE//Mr. Stevens’ Opus mingles Reichian beauty and glitch, this time with lots of bonus features and no words.

Bosque Brown/Baby//Stark raving sadness. Gorgeous in the same way that No Country For Old Men is.

Soul-Junk/1960//Psalms interpreted by a former avant-rap pioneer playing shimmery-sludgy math rock shouldn’t work this well.

The Very Best/Warm Heart of Africa//Worried about the spectre of globalization? Play this album and try not to smile.

Bifrost Arts/Come O Spirit//A potent reminder of what “Christian” music could be. Also featuring David Bazan making you cry.

Dan Deacon/Bromst//Every Steve Reich composition, played at double speed on Wurlitzer and Atari.

Numéro#/Sport de Combat//French/French-Canadian electro that’s a little Postal Service and a lot Justice.

Dark Was The Night//The state of indie music, 2009. Or it would be with an Animal Collective or Panda Bear song.

I Was A King/I Was A King//Pure-pop fuzz rock that does not sound like an Ariel Pink ripoff. With choruses yr daughter will sing.

Bat for Lashes/Two Suns//Goth-electro ambience elevated by big choruses and huge drums.

Yo Gabba Gabba Music is Awesome!//Of Montreal, the Roots, and Chromeo, all on the same album. And my kid loves it, too.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs/It’s Blitz//Karen O and crew buy some synthesizers but don’t stop churning out their punky anthems.

Neko Case/Middle Cyclone//Look, at this point you should already love her country soul rock. If you don’t, it’s time to start.

Joy Electric/Favorites at Play//Sweeping synthy covers of alternapop songs that manage to make the songs more longing and wistful.

Deastro/Moondagger//Epic electronic rock, like a post-M83 Joy Electric–both anthemic and atmospheric.

Taken by Trees/East of Eden//Gossamer Swedish beach music with Iranian touches and a wonderful Animal Collective cover.

Health/Get Color//Whoever said they played songs that sounded like “the best parts of Nine Inch Nails songs” was absolutely right.

Memory Tapes/Seek Magic//Noncommittal shoehaze/electro pop that somehow manages to be best of both worlds.

Russian Circles/Geneva//On the post-rock–metal continuum between Explosions in the Sky and Pelican. Instru-metal at its finest.

Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics/Inspiration Information 3//The father of Ethiojazz mostly plays it safe with a psych band.

Fever Ray/Fever Ray//Darkly personal minimal electronic pop from the singing half of The Knife. Intensely absorbing.

The Clientele/Bonfires on the Heath//A perfect album of hazy Britpop; alternately sunny or spooky depending when you listen.

Cotton Jones/Paranoid Cocoon//Jangling 60s country rock perfect for the late afternoon sun.

Bibio/Ambivalence Avenue//It’s funk. It’s folk. It’s ambient. It’s trip-hop. It’s good.

BLK JKS/After Robots//Blistering, desolate, roaming prog funk that’s out to get you.

Balmorhea/All Is Wild, All Is Silent//Pastoral chamber-rock that’ll wrap you up and hold you close all night long.

The xx/xx//Sexy pillow talk set to laptop taps and guitar plucks. Listen with someone and you’ll fall in love.

F*ck Buttons/Tarot Sport//Stadium noise: like listening to some arena rock/dance band by plugging your headphones into the girders.

Richard Swift/Atlantic Ocean//Classic American rock ballads with synths. Everyone and their mom should be all up ons.

Bear in Heaven/Beast Rest Forth Mouth//Dark and scary psych experiments with rainbow choruses that’re cute in a Super Nintendo way.

Destroyer of Brains/Song for Charles Rocket//Meandering, melancholy free jazz mostly lives up to its band name.

Helado Negro/Awe Owe//What if Brian Eno caught David Byrne’s latin music bug? Roberto Lange knows the answer.

Here We Go Magic/Here We Go Magic//In step 1 of how to get your John-Mayer-fan friend to like good music, you hand him this album.

Julianna Barwick/Florine///Vocal, wordless cathedral-songs that break relativity by literally slowing down time.

Kid Cudi/Man On The Moon: The End Of Day//Unnecessarily pretentious pop-rap that coulda used less boasting/brooding, more autotune.

mewithoutYou/It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright//Innovative hardcore band writes strummy fables.

Monsters of Folk/Monsters of Folk//Jim James gets funky, M. Ward rocks, Conor Oberst moans dirges. 2/3 ain’t bad.

The Mountain Goats/The Life of the World to Come//Real-life Bible verse meditations most preachers could learn a thing or two from.

Music Go Music/Expressions//What if Lady Gaga was waaaay more into prog rock and ELO? And less into bad metaphors?

Saxon Shore/It Doesn’t Matter//Post rock with smiles and electronics that is almost too perfect sometimes.

We Were Promised Jetpacks/These Four Walls//Earnest disco-tinged post punk that’s so emotional and sincere you HAVE to love it.

Wale/Attention Deficit//Blog-rapper features Dave Sitek, Mark Ronson, the Neptunes, Gucci Mane AND Lady Gaga and holds his own.



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