Before I start this highly subjective list, I would just like to thank anyone who’s ever read this blog, recommended or submitted music or has linked to Electric Skeleton over the past six or so months.
When I first started this blog my aim was to simply write about music that I thought was awesome and hopefully someone would read and fall in love with a band or two. I never imagined that anybody would ever want to send me their music, take what I write even remotely seriously or that I would meet all kinds of awesome people on the internet. So thanks.
Anyway, back to the list-making. You know the rules: no compilations, no EPs and no Animal Collective.
10. Arctic Monkeys-Humbug
It would have been very easy for the Arctic Monkeys to cash in on the success of their debut album and make the same record for the next five years. Luckily they chose the harder option, which was to vary their sound to a degree. Enlisting the help of Queen of the Stone Age Josh Homme as a producer, Humbug is the band’s most mature album and a sign that they are more than just a one trick pony. It defenitly is much slower than their other releases and even features a ballad in the song Cornerstone, which is the best song on the album. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.
9.M.Ward- Hold Time
I have the music director at Triple R to thank for this one. I did work experience there for a week and instead of money they give you two CDs as the end and this was one of them. It is one those albums that I enjoy every time I listen to it but often forget about. I think it is because it was released with very little hype and is consistently good rather than patchy with a few exciting tracks. If you’re into folk and haven’t heard it, I highly suggest you get yourself a copy.
8. Oh Mercy-Privileged Woes
I have only owned this album for a week or so and it is already a clear favourite with great songwriting and laid-back pop. Admittedly it can be a little samey at times, but it is still excellent.
7. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart- Self Titled
Also winning the award for the most long-winded band name is American band The Pains of Being Pure At Heart who write great pop songs with boy-girl vocals, which are hidden under a layer of fuzz. While it is not a particularly original concept, it is a highly enjoyable one. If you don’t believe me, have a listen to their track Come Saturday which is fuzz-pop perfection.
6.Philadelphia Grand Jury-Hope Is For Hopers
It seemed like Philadelphia Grand Jury, or the Philly Jays are they like to be known, appeared out of nowhere. There is a reason for their sudden popularity: they are extremely good at writing short, fun pop songs. While some of the tracks on their debut album are a little cheesy, it’s hard not to smile along anyway. And you’ve got to love a band who run a label called Normal People Making Hits and end their album with a party song abut not wanting to party. Genius.
5. Sunset Rubdown-Dragonslayer
Dragonslayer is an album full of off-kilter epic tracks that manage to be memorable and engaging, rather than long-winded and dull. Most of the album was recorded live and doesn’t sound overproduced. The use of backing vocals from Camilla Wynne Ingr also adds to the album and contrasts quite nicely with Krug’s unusual voice. The album’s highlight comes in the track Idiot Heart which is the closest thing to a rock song on the entire album and features the memorable lyrics “I hope that you die…in a decent pair of shoes/you’ve got an awful lot of walking to do.”
4. The Decemberists-The Hazards of Love
Shapeshifters, forest queens, infanticide. If a lesser band had attempted such a concept album, it would be a disaster. However in the hands of The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love is a highly enjoyable twisted fairytale of an album. Mixing both folk and prog influences, the album is essentially a one hour piece of music with track names added in for convenience. While it is not everyone’s cup of tea, you must admit that is a brave move for a major label band to make when most people would rather play music on shuffle than listen to an entire album.
3. Yves Klein Blue- Ragged and Ecstatic
Ragged & Estatic is by far my favourite local release this year. Yves Klein Blue flip between pop, rockabilly, country and indie while still creating a consistent album. While most of the songs are upbeat, they can also have darker subject matter, which makes it worth listening to more than once. Highlights include Polka and Getting Wise.
2.Phoenix-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I don’t think anyone thought that Phoenix would become so popular this year. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is an almost flawless pop album that appeals to both indie kids and mainstream pop fans. It isn’t all catchy pop songs either with the mainly instrumental track Love Like A sunset in the middle of the album. The reason this one isn’t the number one album is because even though it’s instantly likable, it isn’t the kind of album that requires multiple listens. In five years time I think that album number one will sound less dated.
“What! No Animal Collective!?” I hear you gasp. Well, this is my highly subjective list, not yours. And to be honest, I don’t really care about Animal Collective. What I do care about though, is depressing concept albums and Hospice is the mother of all depressing concept albums.
Hospice is the most depressing albums of 2009 and also one of the best. It’s a concept album about a man who works in a hospital and falls in love with a cancer patient, which was written by Peter Silberman during a self-imposed exile. It’s an incredibly sad listen and deals with grief, love, loss and isolation. It is not instantly likable but it is a rewarding listen with memorable lyrics and electronic fuzz that almost sounds like hospital machinery over the instruments. Peter Silberman’s vocals are wispery and intense, which makes getting all the way to Epilogue without wanting to burst into tears very difficult. While this may not sound like the kind of album anyone would want to listen to, very few bands can create such haunting and emotional music, which is why Hospice is my album of the year.
What your favourite albums of 2009? Did I leave something out? Is my taste in albums completly crap? Let me know in the comments section.