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My Favorite Albums of 2009 (including a few shameless links to stuff I’ve already written)

December 24, 2009

I’ve already written about some of my favorite albums of 2009 for TBTS, and I still love ’em for pretty much the same reasons, so I won’t reinvent the review wheel. I also don’t feel like it because I’ve been lit up on some radioactive egg nog for days (a holiday tradition in my household, as are copious amounts of vomiting and apologizing), and my write-bone isn’t very connected to my brain-bone at the present time.

So here are some pretty links to those old pieces about some records I loved this year:

The Clientele – Bonfires on the Heath

The Veils – Sun Gangs

As Tall As Lions – You Can’t Take it with You

The Mary Onettes – Islands

But I can’t just dump links on you—that wouldn’t be very Christmas cheery of me. So here are a few more 2009 albums I really loved and a brief description of each.

[There may end up being 10 total albums in this post, but I’m not quite sure. My count-bone isn’t connected to my brain-bone right now either, what with all the nog. I’m tellin’ ya, this nog is nuclear. It’s noglear, can you dig it?]

Memory Tapes – Seek Magic

There aren’t many years when I can easily identify my single favorite album of the year, but this year I can. I’ve listened to Seek Magic dozens of times since it came out in September, and it never gets old. It is the perfect combination of thumping dance beats, musical complexity, and pop songcraft (the last two of which are so often lacking in most dance music). It’s also a perfectly sequenced album-length experience, not just a collection of singles, though each song works fine on its own. It’s electronic music that is warm, evocative, and vibrantly alive, and it moves your heart and soul even while it makes you want to move your ass.

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Wonderful pop music that will instantly make you popular. Little else needs said here. Skip the two instrumentals in the middle and get ready for eight perfect pop songs with a vaguely 80s aesthetic. Oh, and the third track “Fences” is funkier than any white French guys have the right to be.

The Horrors – Primary Colors

The Horrors’ second album is a bit tarted up in some Goth-lite and post-punk musical fashions, but at their core, these are freakin’ amazing, slightly menacing, modern rock songs with stadium-level sonic dimensions. If you like that whole Joy Division era, or the best among its numerous 2000s heirs, check out this album. [Side note: if the urgency and intensity of this album speak to you, drop everything and check out the bands from the original era that are far too often lost in the Joy Division/Bunnymen shuffle, or worse yet, dismissed because a whole lot of shitty music was coming out of England at that time too. Start with the early 80s albums of the Comsat Angels, the Chameleons, and the Sound. You may find a whole lot of other music starting to sound a bit frivolous by comparison.]

Isis – Wavering Radiant

Many folks who like any/all of the music I’ve described above probably won’t like the gutteral howls and punishing heaviness that permeate the Isis sound. But if you’re on board, Wavering Radiant is their finest album by a mile. If you want to try to get on board, it’s where you should start. The drums sound incredible, the guitars absolutely soar, and the quieter passages have more substance, depth, and beauty than ever. Wavering Radiant is an overwhelming visceral outpouring, one untempered by language (the lyrics are unintelligible) and untethered from any genre restrictions (metal or otherwise).

  1. Caleb permalink
    December 25, 2009 12:41 am

    I heard The Clientele’s album described the other day as “the soundtrack to fall, much like Skylarking is the soundtrack to spring.” I thought that was apt. Thanks for turning me on to it and to the other stuff you’ve featured this year.


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