Now I know it is a little late for the countdown lists for 2009. It’s almost a whole month into 2010 already and we all should be looking into the future.
But for me, musically, I’m constantly looking into the past. I’m not one to really hunt down new music. I get most of my recommendations from either band loyalty or word of mouth. So now that it’s 2010, I think I can properly assess the merit of 2009’s music.
I hope you agree, if not….try to convince me otherwise.
5. Lady Gaga- The Fame Monster
Yes. Lady Gaga. I don’t care if you love her music or hate her music, 2009 was Lady Gaga’s year. From “Poker Face” to rumors of her being a man (she’s not), few pop stars worked harder than to get a spot in the limelight than Miss Gaga. In 2008 I had no idea who she was, but when “Bad Romance” exploded on every radio station I couldn’t help but belt it out with the rest of you. Like me, you couldn’t escape it. If you had access to a television or the internet you were introduced. Her new found fame is a big chunk of America’s fascination with her, but there’s another important element in the equation–you can’t help but shake your ass when you listen to her. The electro-synth pop is like PCP for your booty, but Gaga also reveals her soulful side with my favorite track on the album “Speechless”. Since 2009 regrettably failed to give us another Justin Timberlake album (still waiting for that Justin! Any day now!) this was the feel good album of the year for millions. While its greatest detriment is its short length, Lady Gaga cemented herself as the new queen of American pop.
4. Dave Matthew’s Band- Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King
The long-awaited followup to DMB’s 2005 album Stand Up, Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King made a bold statement and let everyone know that even though 90s casual rock and other jam bands are all but dead, the Dave Matthew’s Band isn’t going anywhere. BWGGK is celebratory, extravagant, and just all and all a good album. It almost knows it too, you get the feeling that Dave Matthews and company are just sitting back with a smirk and you just fell into their delightfully melodic trap. While this singles “Why I Am” and “Funny The Way It Is” are enjoyable, no single track stands out as the end-all-be-all hit of this album. This could be a downfall for some, but I see it as a well planned even record that always hits and never misses.
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs- It’s Blitz!
I have to admit. I’ve been in love with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs since their debut album Fever To Tell in 2003. Front woman Karen O is the stuff of legend and I can never find enough good things to say about this band. With each album the Yeah Yeah Yeahs continually mold their sound to embark on a completely new auditory adventure with their fans and have yet to disappoint me. It’s Blitz! is no different. When I was reading up on this album before its release, I was afraid when I read in an early review that It’s Blitz! featured absolutely no guitars on the album. I was concerned, because at that time I hadn’t quite fully jumped on the alt pop bandwagon yet, but if anything could sway me, it would be this album. If you’re not quite a fan of synthesizers, It’s Blitz! might take some getting used to. The first half of the album is essentially a club record, but it flows beautifully into a dreamy alternative aria. Karen O’s voice is heavily featured on this record, far more so than any other because of the lack of distinct instrumentation.
While most other reviews will tell you that “Zero” is the best track, “Dull Life” was a stand out for me and if you’re smart enough to get the deluxe edition of iTunes, the acoustic track of “Hysteric” is beyond gorgeous.
2. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion
Unlike most of my friends of the indie-rock persuasion, I hadn’t heard much of Animal Collective until this album was passed along to me. I burned it honestly just for free music’s sake and didn’t think to listen to it for months, and the second the opening track “In The Flowers” opened up I was in love. Musically this record is brilliant. I can’t help but just get lost in the auditory craft of this album. I’ve never done drugs, but if I had I would want this album to be in hand because I feel like I would have the best trip of my life. Every song on this record is its own present to the listener. I find myself having to listen to the whole album together rather than track-by-track because I can’t tear myself away. If you don’t have this album. Get it. Almost every single viable music reviewer has put this album in one of the top spots of its “best of 2009” list and for good reason. This is music at its best.
1. The Decemberists- The Hazards of Love
Yes, The Decemberists have done it again. Colin Meloy you bastard. Again, as a band I’ve been smitten with for a long time, I had long-awaited the arrival of The Hazards of Love. The Decemberists have always been known for their lyrical propensity and full range of musical talent, featuring much more than the standard guitar-bass-drums (and now laptop) setup. The Hazards of Love is an entity onto itself. Meloy will tell you it’s a story, much like his previous albums (most recently The Crane Wife) but in all honesty, you don’t need any grasp of this story whatsoever to be completely enamored with this record. The lyrical story gets too confusing with all of the male vocal parts being sung by Meloy and it just gets to be too much if you try to make sense of it. Don’t think I’m saying don’t pay attention to the lyrics though because this is what makes The Hazards of Love so wonderful. Before you know it, you will be joyfully singing along with Meloy about drowning and burning children to death (The Rake’s Song). I know, I know. Meloy has a penchant for the macabre, but I promise you’ll love it. Meloy’s distinctive voice coupled with guest vocalists Becky Stark and Shara Worden are mesmerizing at minimum, the range and complexity of the vocal quality still baffles me every time I listen to this record. In essence, it’s beautiful. Downright beautiful.