So, as promised, the first installment of my favourite albums for 2009. A few of these at the bottom of the pile were so close to one another it made choosing a mite difficult. Anyhow, without further a due, here's my Best of 2009 list. I welcome your thoughts and definitely want to hear what you've been listening to these past twelve months.
#20 - And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Century of Self
An almost epic feeling album. This was one I picked up early on in the year, and right from the opening track, it builds with what a dear friend of mine used to call the "Big Burst of Sound Theory," in which a track will slowly and gradually build steam and layering until it drops you clean off the edge of the cliff. Giants Causeway ends with a subtle piano and immediately you're smacked in the face with feedback, driving guitars, and vocals that fit right in with Sparta and Cursive. Spread that out with beautiful intermissions of harmonized chorus and space-rock synth and beautiful things happen. There's a couple of interesting lull tracks towards the end of the album, and Insatiable One & Two are masterpieces for sure.
#19 Bobb Bruno - Dreamt On EP
In previous years, I've never included EPs in my 'Best of' lists, but this year, there were so many EPs that stood up just as well as full-fledged albums that I decided to include a few of them. This one was a gem I happened upon and fell in love with on one of my runs through Hines Park (which is a several mile trail that spans a few cities, chocked with several scenic spots and parks). Entirely instrumental, it's got a very spacey vibe to it, and is driven by everything from an electric piano to steel guitar. I've really come to appreciate instrumental music, especially as a complimentary piece to reading, writing, and jogging. I find this album does the same thing to me as The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place by Explosions in the Sky; it allows me to clear my head and focus on everything that sits before me, just with a bit more lo-fi. With grainy pop-drumming, bells, and synths that sound like they were stolen from a 70's porno, this is definitely not an album for everyone, but it won me over after a single listen.
#18 Dinosaur Jr - Farm
What can I say about Dinosaur Jr that hasn't already been said? They're fantastic. I was a bit skeptical about this album because my initial thought was "They haven't released anything new in years...they've GOT to be hard up for cash." As I so often am, I was terribly wrong here. It's a very solid album that shows us very clearly these guys still have it. The only reason it didn't get ranked higher is because I was so hesitant to really digest it and it hasn't spent a lot of time in rotation on my player. Much like Frightened Rabbit's last LP, I'm sure I'll have a greater appreciation for it once 09 is over and I've got more time to let it consume me.
#17 The Seal Cub Clubbing Cub - Super Science Fiction
I have a confession to make when it comes to this band. Over the years of my life, I have had a weakness for jumping at artists creative enough to come up with the most ridiculous name. The Seal Cub Clubbing Club does just that. Much to my surprise, I was presented with a catchy indie pop album layered with slow strings, funky guitars, and some catchy lyrics. The thing I find most remarkable about this band is the fact that they deviate a bit from the traditional expectations of pop and venture into some progressive elements. A few points in the album drop some odd-meter on us, and before you know it, you're right back into the beat before you ever knew you were off the rails. For a band still finding their way, I was most impressed. Hoping to see more goodness from them in the future.
#16 Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
Andrew Bird, world class whistler and master of anything stringed. His hauntingly beautiful voice and prowess with such a diverse array of instruments paired with a collection of songs that induces comas (I mean that in the best way possible). This is a perfect chill-out album. Musically laid back, draped with beautiful harmonies and Mr. Bird's ingenious lyrics. I still don't think it stacks up to Armchair Apocrypha, but it's a wonderfully put together and enjoyable album.