Sunday, February 21, 2010

Albums of 2009

Uncharacteristically I realised the other day that I had not posted my albums of the year for 2009. Not a bad year 2009 in the end with a number of interesting releases. It also proved hard to pick an overall favourite, so I'm going to jointly award it to The Decemberists, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Reginia Spektor. Anyway in no particular order the best 25 albums of 2009 were:

1.The DecemberistsThe Hazzards of Love. Never really been convinced by this band until now, but this concept album is a delight.
2. Yeah Yeah YeahsIt's Blitz. A band that manage to retain a 'sound' whilst playing around with that sound and the injections of 70s/80s synth (which did seem to be compulsory this year, especially in the UK) suited this album perfectly.

3. The Duckworth Lewis Method - The Duckworth Lewis Method. Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh, of Divine Comedy and Pugwash respectively - deliver a ‘Cricket’ concept album. Madness, but a joy. Fun lyrics combined with the myriad of musical style employed – 20’s Jazz, Gilbert and Sullivan style opera, Glam Rock, and thrown into the mix. A joyous listening experience, and you do not need to know anything about Cricket to enjoy it.

4. The Editors - In This Light and on This Evening . Who knew they had an album as good as this in them? Must confess to always finding them a bit dull before this record, but this is a majestic record and one that was a serious contender for my album of the year. First two tracks are as good as any released this year.

5. Arctic Monkeys - Humbug. Another example of a band I liked but didn't love. This album changed that. It wasn't to everyone's taste but hanging out with Joss Homme seemed to work wonders for them.

6. Steve EarleTownse. Steve tackled his old mate Towse Van Zant's back catalogue, and whilst leaving out some tunes I may have chosen, delivered a heartfelt and compelling collection.

7.Kris Kristofferson - Closer to the Bone. A bit like Marmite, you either dig Kris or you don't. I do and whilst not his best album, this once again showed what a fine songwriter is his. The album is indeed stripped down to the bone musically too.

8. Nell BrydenWhat does it Take. The live revelation of 2009 for me, and then this album explained just why. A great collection of tunes, beautifully sung by a woman with a fine pair of lungs on her. Musically like early Elvis when he mixed country, rock and roll and anything else he could find. Do yourself a favour and check her out.

9. Regina SpektorFar. Hard to find a dud track on this album. Took her basic quirky sound and made it even better. If you like people like Tori Amos, you'll love it.

10. PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoneix: French indie music? No, don't laugh, this is a bloody great record. Sung in English and if you weren't told they were French I'm not sure you'd guess. A band to watch in the next 12-24 months as I think they're going to become big sometime soon.

11. Dinosaur Jnr - Farm. JM showed he still had it. Memories of 'Start Choppin' came flooding back.

12. Mos Def - Ecstatic The only rap album released in 2009 worth owning. A return to form.

13. Low AnthemCharles Darwin. Last year it was Fleet Foxes, and now it's The Low Anthem's turn. More great folk inspired music. Great stuff.

14 Placebo - Battle for the Sun. The best sounded Placebo since their debut in my mind. Still hit and miss, but a lot more hit.

15. Lisa Hannigan - Sea Sew . Having started off singing with Damien Rice, Lisa at last decide to strick out on her own, and delivered another of the years folk tinged pop offerings.

16. Lily Allen – 'It's Not me , It's You'. I really really didn't like Allen's first album, and a friend who has experienced Ms Allen in person at an event has nothing but bad words to say about her and her behaviour. All that said, you'll be hard pushed to find a better pure pop record this year. Less mockney than before but retaining the witty lyrics, this is actually a very good record.

17. The VeronicasHook Me Up. Released in the UK this year after being released just about everywhere else in either 2007 or 2008. Shameless pop/rock, with catchy hooks, nice melodies and a pair of twins who can belt out a tune – as they proved live.

18. The Hold SteadyA Positive Rage. Recorded on the Boys and Girls in America tour, this is a great record of what THS are all about. Bring on the new album in 2010.

19. Florence and the Machine - Lungs. Top or close to top of many a critics' albums of 2009. Whilst not as great as they would have you believe, it was still an impressive debut.

20. Leonard Cohen Live at the 02. Listening to this certainly make me wish I have been there. He may be in his mid 70s but there is still more grace and power in this record of this performance than you'll find in most Rock bands' entire back catalogues. Add to this the release of classic 70's recording of his Isle of White gig – also excellent – and it was a good year for Cohen fans.

21. New York DollsCause I sez so. So, the remaining Dolls re-united with Todd Rundgren (who produced their seminal debut album) and the result was actually a very good album. The boys wrote some songs,Ttodd added a bit of structure advice, and then kept the sound clean. Good stuff.

22. Pearl Jam - Backspacer . A bit like R.E.M last year Pearl Jam decided to keep things short and sweet, which means this 33 mins of music flies by, which results in your not tiring of it – other bands – including ones in this list take note!

23. Madness The Liberty of Norton Folgate. Yes those nutty boys are back with a rather splendid record, that is at once recognisable as Madness, but also has a new depth in the material that might surprise a few people. Not full of the jolly hits that made their name but still arguably one of the best albums of their career.

24. Ingrid MichaelsonEverybody. A slightly disappointing record to be honest, but hopes were perhaps too high. Why is it in here then? Well, becuase when it's good it is VERY good. 'The Chain' is one of the best tunes of this year.

25. Weezer - Raditude. Not the best Weezer album, true, but enough to make it worthwhile, as well as some surprises - check out 'Love is the Answer' (not not the Todd classic.