The 15 Best Albums of 2009

03Jan10

Don’t you just LOVE end of the year lists? (see: overdone and boastfully-smug).  Well… it’s that time again! I was hesitant at first to start writing my list of the best albums of 2009 because I honestly didn’t think I could come up with fifteen.  Ha! Boy, was  I wrong.  It wasn’t until I started looking more into what was being played around town, and more importantly, on my playlists. I have to admit, some guilty pleasures were left off (can we say Miley?) while some amazing CD’s were left out.  I wanted to have a snapshot of how I saw music influencing my life as well as what truly seemed important to 2009.

I won’t lie… this isn’t quite “The 15 BEST Albums of 2009” but more like “Tim’s 15 Favorite Albums of 2009.”  These fifteen made a personal connection with me on some level.  So without further ado… the standouts that made me stand up and take notice (and also shake my booty!).

15. MSTRKRFTFist of God


14. Robin Thicke Sex Therapy


13. Kings of Leon Only by the Night

12. Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca


11. Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack

The beautiful soundtrack to the beautifully illustrated book, engulfs the listener with a sense of childhood and adventure. Karen O truly delivers here. “Worry Shoes” and “Hideaway” are true gems.

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10. Jay Brannan In Living Color

The simplistic offering of Jay Brannan’s second release is highlighted by his ever ethereal voice gliding across simplistic covers and new originals.  Check out – “Beautifully” and “All I Want”.

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9. Silversun Pickups Swoon

This is my kind of rock.  Heavy on the distortion, a lot of importance on the impressive vocals and more importantly a cohesive blend of it all. This was by far my favorite alt-rock CD of 2009. Check out the catchy “It’s Nice to Know You Work Alone” and “Panic Switch”.

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8. Peaches I Feel Cream

The Queen of Electronica and Vulgarity hit us hard with a strangely personal and meaningful album this year.  The range from house (“I Feel Cream”) to raw and edgy (“Talk To Me”) to strangely sad (“Lose You”), made it quite a wonderfully bizarre journey that I for one repeatedly enjoyed.

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7. Norah Jones The Fall

Once discarded as tame and only suitable for courting a lover, I have re-fallen in love with a one Norah Jones.  She brings in a wide array of instruments, toys with odd harmonies and just makes a plain enjoyable album.  Quite catchy and musically interesting to discover, check out the standouts – “Chasing Pirates”, “Young Blood” and “It’s Gonna Be”. (AND the dog is super cute on the cover!)

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6. Brandi Carlile Give Up the Ghost

I have to admit… there is no other recording artist out there that I have seen as many times live than Brandi Carlile.  Why you may ask? She puts on one of the most raw, inspiring, emotional, musically astounding, and vocally impeccable performances I’ve ever seen. I’ve honestly lost count of how many times I’ve seen her live. So if you see she is coming to a city near you, be sure to check it out.  I personally love – “Looking Out”, “Before It Breaks” and “If There Was No You”.

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5. Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

I first fell in love with the fun and danceable Phoenix during my undergrad days at Colorado State.  Their 2004 ‘Alphabetical’ album was catchy and fun, but it wasn’t until ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’ that the band truly stood out something brilliant.  When people ask me what style of music I most listen to, I almost always point to the indescribable style of Phoenix.  It’s alternative, electronic, pop, rock, HEAVY 80’s influence. It’s a musical enigma that I (hopefully) believe will be the future of music in 2010. Check out the obvious standouts of “Lisztomania” and “1901”.

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4. Regina Specktor Far

I think what surprised me so much about Regina’s ‘Far’, was how confident she was not only lyrically but stylistically.  You will almost always hear her piano skills at the forefront but her songs take a grandiose and almost cinematic quality to them.  It’s hard to say which is more beautiful, the literary wonder of her lyrics or the beautiful world she engulfs you in.”Blue Lips”, “Folding Chair” and “Laughing With” were my definite favorites.

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3. La Roux La Roux

Oh, La Roux.  How I love thee so.  You’re like that new girl in town who everyone seems to be infatuated with your mysterious ways.  We all want to hang out with you but you are just TOO cool for school. I remember early in 2009 when I heard the single “Bulletproof” and I remember thinking how glorious and promising this group seemed to be.  I for one am not ashamed to admit that I still proudly play 80’s synth records and am head over heels about this new wave of 80’s throw-back sounds that are becoming more prevalent in modern music.  Perhaps it’s La Roux’s hypnotic beats, or unique vocals that make them so dang interesting.  I for one am excited to see what La Roux does in the future, all while dancing my butt off to their beautifully executed piece of synth-pop art. Check out – “In for the Kill”, “Bulletproof”, “I’m Not Your Toy” and “Reflections are Protection” (shoot, check them all out!).

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2. Grizzly Bear Veckatimest

It is no surprise to anyone that knows me, how much of an obsession I have with Brooklyn’s own Grizzly Bear.  It is hard to believe that this is only their second album (not counting their spellbinding EP Friends).  It is haunting, gorgeous, other-worldly, blah-blah-blah. I could go on and on about them but you have to personally discover them — quietly — alone. Like a small fire, it starts out slowly as it builds and builds until your throat is filled with smoke, as an amber hue is being cast all around you.  Before you know it you are engulfed in a world you wouldn’t even dream of leaving even if you had a choice.  Standouts are- “Cheerleader”, “Two Weeks” and my personal favorite, “Ready, Able”.

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1. Passion Pit Manners

When I was looking to pick my favorite album of 2009, it was one that I knew colored my year as well as one that I would still be listening to in 2019.  What makes Passion Pit so engrossing? Is it the unique vocals that soar to the falsetto with such ease? The poppy electronic dance beats that feel like they are from another planet altogether? It would be the combination of the above that transcended this year’s other offerings. This unabashedly brave and unique album is the future of music.  Where synth meets orchestra, pop meets dance. You might recognize “Sleepyhead” from a commercialson TV, and it’s that strange mix of emotional electronic that makes this album stand out in the crowd.  It is also one of the few albums on this list that I never skip a song, they really are all that good.  This is one of those albums that makes me excited for the future of music. My favorite tracks would be, “Swimming in the Flood”, “Make Light”, “To Kingdom Come”.

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There ya go! Hope you enjoyed my selections! Feel free to leave thoughts in the comment section!

-tr

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